The RSPW Awards are the Internet’s Oldest Awards (now in it’s 20th Year) commemorating the Best and Worse in Professional Wrestling each year. Each year I post my picks as submitted on the official RSPW Awards Ballot. You can check out my picks last year here.
To be given to the athlete who was the best overall wrestler of the year. This includes all facets of wrestling: workrate, technical ability, interviews, charisma, value to his/her promotion, etc. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.
1st: CM Punk
2nd: AJ Styles
3rd: Chris Jericho
Throughout 2009 CM Punk, AJ and Jericho stood head and shoulders above everyone else. I give the best wrestler of the year nod to Punk as it was a break through year of sorts for him. He delivered in the ring as well as on the mic with a solid feud with Jeff Hardy and transitioned into a great heel. In TNA AJ Styles had a banner year finally being pushed back to his rightful place at the top of the promotion. As for Jericho, he’s Jericho and is always gold. More on him later.
Best Tag Team
To be given to the tag team who were the best overall team of the year. This includes all facets of wrestling: workrate, technical ability, interviews, charisma, hot team moves, value to their promotion, etc. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.
1st: Chris Jericho and Big Show
2nd: Beer Money — James Storm and Robert Roode
3rd: Beautiful People – Angelina Love & Velvet Sky
JeriShow take top nods for best tag team. When you talk “Division Killers” these two of the definition as they maintained a dominant stranglehold as WWE’s Unified Tag Champs. Beer Money, TNA’s top team and the Beautiful People round things out.
To be given to the person who was the best villain this past year. This person should bring out the fans’ wrath. Match quality is not paramount here; this award should be based primarily on how over the wrestler was in the past year.
1st: Chris Jericho
3. 2nd: Randy Orton
3. 3rd: Miz
For the second year in a row I give Jericho the nod for Best Heel. While he wasn’t the “dominant” heel that Randy Orton was booked as, NO ONE was more versatile as a heel than Jericho. From punking out aged Legends to dominating the tag ranks as the cowardly heel hiding behind Big Show to delivering top notch singles matches with just about every face on the roster, NO ONE played the bad guy better than Jericho. Orton (by default) and the coming on strong Miz round out the Top 3.
To be given to the person who best portrayed the hero this past year. This person should get lots of fan support. Match quality is not paramount here; this award should be based primarily on how over the wrestler was in
the past year.
1st: AJ Styles
2nd: John Cena
3rd: Rey Mysterio
My top nod for Best Babyface goes to AJ Styles who was allowed to reclaim his spot as the leader of TNA. Cena (by default) and Mysterio (always the great sympathetic babyface) round things out.
To be given to the wrestler with, on average, the best workrate. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.
1st: AJ Styles
2nd: Chris Jericho
3rd: Matt Hardy
Styles, Jericho and Matt Hardy. No one consistently had better matches with a wider range of opponents than these two. Too bad Matt Hardy doesn’t get to do his thing at a higher spot on the card…
To be given to the wrestler who did the most and the best high-flying maneuvers throughout the year. In 1994, this award was split into two: North American and Non-North American. In 1998, it was recombined.
1st: Kofi Kingston
2nd: AJ Styles
3rd: Evan Bourne
Kofi, AJ and Evan. Nuff said.
Best Technical Wrestler
To be given to the wrestler who has the most technical ability. The number of holds and moves you see this person do and the crispness with which the moves are executed makes his/her matches a pleasure to watch. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.
1st: Chris Jericho
2nd: Kurt Angle
3rd: William Regal
Jericho, Angle and Regal. These three names are self explanatory. My pick of Jericho for the top spot is based on the fact that Jericho had solid matches with just about everyone he got in the ring with over the year from guys like Cena to Mysterio to aged vets like Snuka, Piper and Steamboat. Now that’s talent!
To be given to the wrestler who brawled his/her way through the year most convincingly. This award would go to Frank “Bruiser Brody” Goodish if he were still around. In 1994, this award was split into two: North American and Non-North American. In 1998, it was recombined.
1st: Samoa Joe
Most Favourite Wrestler
To be given to the wrestler you like the most, regardless of the reason.
1st: Matt Hardy
2nd: Chris Jericho
3rd: CM Punk
I’m “Team Matt Hardy,” “Team Jericho” and “Team Punk.” 4 Life!
Most Improved Wrestler
To be given to the wrestler who most improved himself/herself in all facets of the sport in the past year.
2nd: Kofi Kingston
3rd: Eric Young
Without a doubt, Miz is the most improved wrestler over the year. He’s always had great mic skills and in 2009 his in-ring skills shot up considerably. He’s most deserving of the push he’s getting and is definitely on his way to being, “Awesome!” Kofi and Eric Young, two other guys who came on strong in 2009, round out the list.
Most Overrated Wrestler
To be given to the wrestler who really has little talent, but has a large place in the spotlight nonetheless. This is a measure of how undeserved a wrestler’s push is.
I loved Big Dave just as much as everyone else did several years back when he made it to the top, but the recurrent injuries and what not just totally took his shine away. The new push with Rey looks promising but it seems the ‘E’ wasn’t feeling him too much when they brought in Flair as his mouthpiece during the brief feud he had with Orton.
Best Wrestling Gimmick
To be given to the wrestler who had the best character gimmick in the past year.
1st: Santino Marella as arrogant Italian
2nd: Zach Ryder
Santino’s hilarious and Zach Ryder just cracks me up. “Woo, woo, woo!!”
Best Wrestling Move
To be given to the move that is just the damn best thing you’ve seen this past year. This should probably be a “finishing” move or something really spectacular.
1st: Hernandez’s Border Toss crucifix powerbomb
2nd: Jay Lethal’s Lethal Combination
Big Toss (brutal) and Lethal Combination (sweet!). Nuff said.
To be given to the feud that gave us the most heated and best wrestling match(es) of the year. In 1994, this award was split into two: North American and Non-North American. In 1996, due to lack of participation on the non-NA side, it was recombined.
1st: Main Event Mafia vs. TNA Frontline
2nd: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy
3rd: John Cena vs. Randy Orton
The Main Event Mafia and Frontline feud set the tone for TNA for it’s year. It wasn’t booked as perfectly as it could have been, but it was innovative and different and gets my top nod for Feud of the Year. Punk vs. Hardy and Cena vs. Orton round it out for me.
Worst Tag Team
To be given to the name tag team who were the worst overall wrestlers in the past year. Minimal technical ability, lousy interviews, non-existent workrate, the charisma of a rock, and lousy team moves should describe this pair.
1st: Legacy – Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase
2nd: Bella Twins – Brie & Nikki
Legacy may have owned DX for a good portion of their feud, but those two guys are still Orton’s lackeys. As a team they sucked. I’d say the Hart Dynasty would have fulfilled the role of “Legacy” with more credibility than these two.
To be given to the person whose casting as a bad guy just didn’t work well. Maybe there was just no heel heat drawn or maybe the fans actually cheered this person, but for whatever reason the heel image just didn’t get over.
1st: Dolph Ziggler
2nd: Chris Masters
Dolph Ziggler’s too cool to be a convincing heel. Chris Masters is booked too funny or to generically to draw any heat, face or heel.
To be given to the person whose casting as a good guy just didn’t work well. Maybe there was just no face heat drawn or maybe the fans actually booed this person, but for whatever reason the face image just didn’t get over.
1st: Bobby Lashley
Most Deteriorated Wrestler
To be given to the person whose skill has deteriorated the most over the past year. This person should be a shadow of his/her former self.
1st: Scott Steiner
Most Underrated Wrestler
To be given to the person whose ability merits a far greater push than the person receives. There may be many such people, but the winner of this award should have the most ability with least push.
1st: Matt Hardy
2nd: Christopher Daniels
Year in and year out I lament the lack of push of Matt Hardy. I don’t know what the deal is. He’s got the workrate, he’s got the fan support. Last year he got the ECW belt. His unreliable brother comes back (albeitly cleaned up) and is shot straight to the top. Within months he flakes out, quits and winds up in trouble with the law. Where’s Matt? Back to jerking the curtain. Yo, Vince!!! PUSH “THE OTHER” HARDY. Daniels is in a similar spot in TNA. He was buried for a few years as Curry Man but made it back as himself and got a big initial push before being shuffled back to the undercard. It looks like things are changing currently with the AJ feud but we’ll see what the next year holds. Christian, being stuck in ECW Purgatory (albeit the top spot there), rounds out the list.
Worst Wrestling Gimmick
To be given to the wrestler who had the worst character gimmick in the past year.
1st: Manu as yet another Samoan barbarian
2nd: Jesse as “Slam Master J”
Blink and you may have missed him, but poor Manu. His push was so short and so generic. Way to develop new stars! Jesse as Slam Master J? Funny in spots but there MUST be a better way to use this guy.
Worst Wrestling Move
To be given to the move that is the worst thing you’ve seen this year. This shouldn’t be given to a move that was flubbed by a wrestler – the move was performed correctly, but was just too stupid for words. This move should probably be a “finishing” move or something that was meant to be spectacular.
1st: Santino Marella’s theatrics & thrust to the throat
Santino’s super throat thrust is hilarious! It would never work in a real fight, but it is entertaining!
To be given to the worst wrestling match you’ve seen this year, either live, on TV, PPV, or in an arena, or on tape. If it took place in the past year, it is eligible.
1st: 04/05/09 25 Diva Battle Royal
Diva Battle Royal at Wrestlemania. Honestly, it looked like a bunch of blondes (so many couldn’t even tell who was who) fighting over stuff at a Black Friday sale. Good for you Trish Stratus for declining the invite!
Most Disappointing News item
To be given to the wrestling news item that most disappointed you when heard of it. When you first learned of this news story, you couldn’t believe that it was true, and when you learned that it was, you were bummed out for a while.
1st: TNA hires Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Ed Ferrara, lays off Jim Cornette
2nd: Shane McMahon resigns from WWE
3rd: Edge injured again
I like to keep an open mind and see the benefits of TNA signing Hogan, but seriously. It DOES look like history repeating itself with Hogan, Bischoff, Russo and Ferrera coming in and someone well respected like Cornette going out. Shane McMahon leaving WWE is pretty shocking!
Most Obnoxious Personality
To be given to the person who just rubs you the wrong way. This could be anybody involved in the wrestling biz.
1st: Abraham Washington
Abraham Washington along with Tony “Ed McMahon” Atlas? Oh boy! Atlas’ McMahon bit gets quite trying after about 20 seconds…
To be given to the manager who outperformed their peers at ringside and behind the microphone in interviews. This award was discontinued after the 2001 awards and reinstated in 2006.
Natalya’s a nice second. She’d make an even better “first.”
To be given to the commentator/announcer who makes the most insightful and entertaining comments while pushing his product. “Ring announcers” don’t qualify here. As of 1992, the difference between this and colour commentator will be enforced.
1st: Jim Ross
2nd: Matt Stryker
Best Colour Commentator
To be given to the colour commentator who provides the most insightful and entertaining comments.
1st: Matt Striker
Matt Striker’s totally awesome on commentary. Much like Tazz or JBL, no one does it better than a guy who’s actually been in the ring. He brings tons of credibility to the broadcast table.
To be given to the person who gives the best interview in the biz. This could be a wrestler or a manager.
1st: Chris Jericho
2nd: John Cena
3rd: CM Punk
To be given to the best angle you’ve seen in the sport this year.
1st: Sting wins TNA title, forms the Main Event Mafia
2nd: CM Punk wants to rescue us from Jeff Hardy
The MEM angle in TNA set it’s stage for the whole year. Sting gathering the veterans to “teach respect” to the young talent was a great concept as was Punk’s preaching to the audience about the evils of living Jeff Hardy’s lifestyle. Both worked as there is grounding in truth to both premises. Great angles.
To be given to the organization/promotion that has the best product. This is the organization whose TV and house shows you just can’t miss.
Best TV Show
To be given to what is on average the best wrestling TV show. In 1994, TV shows and major shows were given separate award categories.
1st: WWE Smackdown
2nd: WWE Raw
3rd: TNA Impact!
Best Major Show
To be given to the best major event. This could be a pay-per-view, a TV special, or any big arena event. In 1994, TV shows and major shows were given separate award categories.
1st: 04/05/09 WWE WrestleMania 25
Best Promotional Move
To be given to the best move made by a promotion this past year. This could include giving somebody a push, demoting someone, firing someone hiring someone, or anything of a promotional nature.
1st: TNA puts World title back on AJ Styles
2nd: WWE makes CM Punk World Heavyweight Champ
3rd: WWE uses Chris Jericho on all 3 brands
At a time when new talent needs to be developed I’m glad both WWE and TNA decided to push “newer” and reliable guys like AJ Styles and CM Punk back to the top. AJ’s the guy TNA was built around at the outset before the import of “old talent” came. With that ship having run it’s time to put him back on top. Same deal with Punk. Charismatic stars like Hardy are good, but it’s old (and clean) reliable talent like Punk (as was Bret Hart back in the day) who are the foundation of a company. Rounding out the list is the E’s recognition of Jericho’s talent and featuring him on all brands as the Unified Tag Champ.
To be given to the worst angle you’ve seen in the sport this year. It may be the worst because of taste or because of execution.
1st: The Beautiful People as Sarah Palin groupies
2nd: R-Truth wanders around arenas as Delicious Pretty Ricky
TNA’s Beautiful People as Sarah Palin groupies was just too horrible and insulting for words. The skits were ridiculously long and totally unbelievable. The Beautiful People are dumb blondes? Ok, we get that. There’s no need to subject as to 10 minute skits about it. R-Truth as Delicious Pretty Ricky was just horrible and a bit offensive.
Worst Promotional Move
To be given to the worst move made by a promotion this past year. This could include giving somebody a push, demoting someone, firing someone hiring someone, or anything of a promotional nature.
1st: TNA hires the players that brought about the demise of WCW
2nd: WWE books weekly guest hosts for Raw
3rd: WWE fails to push Christian to the top on his return
These “worst promotional” moves can go either way. My top two picks, like most people, are the hiring of Hogan and crew by TNA (#1) and the WWE’s “Raw guest host” bit. Hogan does bring great name recognition and will boost attention to TNA. As a strategy it’s a good move to get more mainstream attention, no doubt. Given that, hiring the same crew that put a multimillion dollar company out of business just looks as a no brainer recipe for disaster. For TNA’s sake I hope history does NOT repeat itself. Over on the ‘E’s side: the guest host concept looks good on paper. Again, you bring significant mainstream attention to the E and can create crossover appeal. As a strategy it works. In execution? You get tons of flubbed lines, horrendously horrible skits, etc. For every great host (ie — Shaq or Bob Barker) you get an equally horrible host (the NASCAR guys, Al Sharpton, etc, etc). It’s hit or miss and as John Morrison puts it, “Raw’s become wrestling’s version of Saturday Night Live.” Not what you’re really going for, or is it?
BEST THEME MUSIC
1. “Get Ready to Fly” — AJ Styles
2. “Oh Radio” — Zach Ryder
3. “Crank the Walls Down” — JeriShow
4. “Just Close Your Eyes” — Christian