The WWE has their Slammy Awards so here at Smark Out Moment, let's take a look at what I'd consider the BEST and the WORST in the WWE for the year of 2011...
Corresponding videos for the different sections are embedded below.
BEST & WORST ENTRANCES
I think Del Rio has a good entrance, but it's getting tiresome. Cody had a good thing going with the bags, but that too got boring. I love the way Air Boom jumps into the ring, but their song is awful. It really came between two choices for me, and Undertaker was just too easy to pick, so unfortunately I had to eliminate the Usos from this. Close call, though, as I like the Samoan chant a lot. Undertaker just has it all - he walks to the ring with purpose and in character, the pyro fits perfectly, the song is immaculate, the lighting is perfect, it's just a flawless entrance.
I'm excusing the NXT folk from this because they have really nothing to work with. I was so tempted to put Heath Slater in this spot, since I hate country music, but what wins this spot for Hunico is the complete lack of reaction from the crowd that goes along with it. Slater might not pop a building but Hunico almost seems to do the complete opposite of what's intentional. It seems like instead of just stalemating things like when Slater comes out, it actually drains the audience's energy. Bad music, has no pyro, no special lighting, and he doesn't even do anything.
BEST & WORST FINISHERS
I have enjoyed Ezekiel's torture rack, I liked Riley's use of the F5, Del Rio's going strong, but really, out of all the finishers, the one that received the most *umph* has to be the RKO. It hasn't lost credibility this year at all and Orton's been hitting some nice variations of it all over the place, making it even more exciting than normal.
WORST: Heath Slater's Finisher, "Sweetness"
There's never a shortage of bad finishers in WWE. This year, Riley started off great but eventually downgraded to the generic DDT finisher, which annoyed me. McGillicutty's swinging neckbreaker? Brodus Clay's choke...thing? I still think Wasteland is a bad finisher (but would be fine if it were just a signature move, like the Five Knuckle Shuffle variety). The winner has to go to Heath Slater. He's had several bad finishers, but the one that particularly bothers me is the variation of the Zig Zag (an awful finisher on its own) that looks even less impactful, if that's even possible.
BEST & WORST MATCHES OF THE YEAR
BEST: Randy Orton vs. Christian @ Over the Limit
This match made me decide to start writing down potential choices for awards ahead of time instead of just looking back, and even though there have been some other great matches (Miz versus Morrison for the title on Raw, Mysterio versus Cena on Raw for the title, Orton vs Christian at SummerSlam, etc), I originally thought this was so solid that it could be my pick for Match of the Year. That to me stands out more than anything else, so I figured since everyone seems to be dead set on giving this award to Punk v Cena at Money in the Bank (a match I think is overrated simply because of the storyline and the ending - if you take those two things out of it, you get something sloppy), I'd go ahead and give the honor to Orton and Christian. Pretty much every match they had together was at least very good, but this was my favorite.
WORST: Take your pick of the Cole, Lawler, Jim Ross matches
It's hard to remember the matches that weren't just mediocre or bad, but were awful. Another hindrance, on my part, is I just can't be bothered to watch NXT and Superstars knowing that each match means nothing and will probably be a candidate for this, so I'm sure I missed a ton of deserving terrible matches. That being said, when I had to think back and contemplate just from memory what was really bad, I kept coming up with the same images in my head: the numerous times Cole, Lawler, and Jim Ross wrestled this year. Every one of those matches was bad. The story at first was interesting, but even that outlived its welcome after the WrestleMania match.
BIGGEST & LEAST IMPROVEMENT
UPPED THEIR GAME: Mark Henry
Some guys have really had one hell of a year in comparison to what came before them. Christian and R-Truth are two of those people that could very well deserve this award. But when it comes down to it, one guy above all shines as having improved the most, and that's Mark Henry. I've always been a fan of Henry, which led me down some long-winded arguments with people that thought he was a slow waste of a paycheck. Ever since they turned him heel, he's just been getting better and better. His world title reign is completely deserved and I'm so glad that they gave it to him.
DOWNWARD SPIRAL: Drew McIntyre
Chosen One my ass. Drew McIntyre is an easy pick for the guy with the biggest decline in his career considering how they were so big on him in 2010. I was critical of Drew's massive push and here we are, after an Intercontinental title reign that was boring and forced other, more deserving people to wait, then a pointless tag team title reign, and all of his upper midcard placements, where's Drew McIntyre now? They got tired of him or he pissed someone off (or they decided to punish him for Taryn) and now, Drew's lucky if he can be on Superstars every other week, losing. How do you go from being "the next Triple H" backstage to lower on the totem pole than Chris Masters at the time Masters was being fired?
BEST & WORST MIC SKILLS
BEST: CM Punk
Very tough call to beat out the Miz, but CM Punk's just been so good on the mic as of late I would feel like I'd be doing a dishonor not to have him win this.
WORST: Sin Cara
Way too many people could have won this award. In fact, I had more potential candidates for this than any other award originally. What do you do when you have people like Lucky Cannon and Heath Slater in the same boat as Michael McGillicutty and Evan Bourne? Simple, you pick the guy that cuts no promos other than the occasional shitty Spanish one.
BEST & WORST RING SKILLS
BEST: Dolph Ziggler
There's a reason Dolph Ziggler keeps talking about how he's stealing the show, asking people to "follow that". It's because he's been SO consistently good in his matches that he has all the credibility to back those statements up. I consider this to be Randy Orton's best year in the ring perhaps, so much appreciation there, but I can't think of a bad Dolph Ziggler match.
Technically, I'd want to say Jim Ross, or then Michael Cole, but since they're not true superstars, I gave them a free pass here. Thus, we fall back to the good old Khali option. Do I really need to explain myself here?
BEST & WORST TV SHOWS
BEST: Monday Night Raw
Sure, it has its hiccups, and Smackdown might be the more wrestling-oriented show, but there's a reason that everyone flat out knows that Raw is the A-Show - the big things happen there. When something goes down, it goes down on Raw. It has more viewers, it has the bigger stars, the bigger matches (usually), and it's just too much to ignore.
WORST: NXT: Redemption
This should not come to surprise anyone. NXT has been beyond awful. It's inexcusably awful. It's so awful it's worse than Impact Wrestling. Redemption is impossible for it. The only positive thing I can say about NXT this time is that it continues to give some people an outlet to wrestle on television - and that it became so bad that it freed up my Tuesday nights from having to watch it, because it became unbearable to sit through. Disgustingly bad show.
BEST & WORST PAY-PER-VIEWS
BEST PPV: Royal Rumble
Royal Rumble matches are always entertaining, even if some parts inside of them are frustrating (like when someone jobs out for no reason, or Hornswoggle takes up too much time). This had the surprise entrances of Diesel and Booker T, the awesome performance of John Morrison, and then the card was enhanced by two good world title matches.
WORST PPV: [TIE] Extreme Rules & Capitol Punishment
I decided that I couldn't pick between these two, as it's hard to judge between bad and bad. Extreme Rules has two good matches while Capitol Punishment has one, so you'd think that would make CP the worse of the two, but Extreme Rules has the Country Whippin' match, which was SO bad that it kind of negates that extra good match. Lots of mistakes, poorly written storylines, weird ends to matches that don't make sense and/or are stupid, and it seemed like a lot of people were just tired when they were performing (which is understandable every so often considering their work schedule). These take the cake for the worst pay-per-views of the year.
BEST & WORST GIMMICKS
BEST: Crazy R-Truth
Goddamn has he been great since he turned heel! The guy went from one of my least favorite people on the roster with me begging for his release to someone I find one of the most entertaining. His gimmick's just hilarious. Talking to himself, the C-O-N-spiracy, Little Jimmy, pigeons, fucking insanity. I loved it.
WORST: Conor O'Brian's a rat man
As much as I hated Jacob Novak pretending to be JTG, it's surpassed by the rat-man gimmick that Conor O'Brian was doing. If you want to make jokes about him looking like a rat, go ahead, but to have him literally go after cheese? I hope whoever thought that was funny got their laughs, cause nobody else did.
BIGGEST SHOCKER / WORST DUD
SHOCKER: Edge's retirement
I didn't see Daniel Bryan winning Money in the Bank coming. I didn't see CM Punk's shoot promo coming. I didn't see quite a few things, but one of them completely floored me, and that was Edge's retirement. This was something I didn't see coming for at least another year, as I thought he and Christian might have a retirement match at WrestleMania 29, which was rumored to possibly be in Toronto. However, just out of the blue, we lose one of the biggest and best stars in the company. As big of a shock as you can get.
DUD: Anonymous Raw GM Storyline Ends
Who was the anonymous general manager of Raw? Did they EVER have a plan for it? Why didn't they just take the easy way out and make it John Laurinaitis, giving us closure to it and transitioning us into the same storyline they have right now? They completely dropped the ball with this and took what could have been a very interesting storyline and just ended it. WWE has a tendency to do that, don't they?
BEST & WORST STORYLINES
BEST: Chief Operating Officer Conspiracy
Is it a bit of a cheat to group everything together like this? Maybe. But really, everything was still connected and working in sync with one another. This included R-Truth's conspiracy with Little Jimmy, Triple H firing Vince McMahon, the introduction and rise to power of John Laurinaitis, CM Punk walking out of WWE and then going against the status quo, and now the reintroduction of Kevin Nash. Even though some elements of it sucked, nothing is perfect, and overall, this was the best storyline of the year for my attention.
WORST: Yoshi Tatsu is mad at Tyson Kidd for breaking his action figure
There's a funny distinction with this category. I had three storylines in mind, and 2 of those involve Yoshi Tatsu and 2 involve Tyson Kidd, so they merged together to make the worst. The first was the whole NXT love fest where Yoshi, Lucky Cannon, and Hornswoggle all wanted Maryse, and then magically Hornswoggle is with AJ, Bateman is with Maxine, and all sorts of other bullshit. The other Tyson Kidd one that didn't quite win was when he continually lost all of his managers each time he'd wrestle. What the purpose of that was, I guess we'll never know. But above all, the worst was the feud between Tyson Kidd and Yoshi Tatsu...over an action figure. And you wonder why NXT went off the air.
BEST & WORST ANCILLARY CHARACTERS
BEST: Michael Cole
Even though he can be overbearing sometimes, and he needs to cool it on the commentary a little bit, one thing with Cole is that whatever he's doing, I tend to be interested in. Props to Ricardo Rodriguez and Vickie Guerrero, who I considered giving this to, but the reason I didn't was that if Vickie came out and just screeched, I'd feel like it was a waste of time, and if Ricardo does nothing but announce Del Rio on a show, then that's not particularly amazing. However, every time Cole says "can I have your attention, please?" I still chuckle.
WORST: Fake Barack Obama
As much as I hate Hornswoggle, the Fake Barack Obama takes the cake. That was just beyond stupid. It wasn't funny, he didn't look enough like Obama or sound like him, it offered nothing to the wrestling, it didn't help build anything for the future, nothing.
BEST & WORST COMMENTATORS
BEST: Josh Mathews
It seems weird that I'm not giving this to Jim Ross, but to be perfectly honest, he hasn't been himself since he returned. Don't get me wrong, JR is the greatest commentator in wrestling history as far as I'm concerned, but this year, it just seems like he isn't really into it. Josh on the other hand has been consistent and has continually impressed me.
WORST: Booker T
In this business. Like I said. Shucky ducky quack quack. Fave five. Call the po-lice. Lemme tell you. Awwww here we, go! - I'll give Booker credit, he did make me laugh out loud when he said that he had had the $2 steak that Jim Ross talks about the previous day at Denny's. Booker's Adamle bad and equally as hysterical. As entertaining as it is for him to be that bad, it still makes him the worst.
BEST & WORST ANNOUNCERS
BEST: Justin Roberts
This is a Di-YEE-vas match. Jyyyyooooooohn Ceeeeeeeenaaaaaah. Good stuff, always solid, never gets in the way of what he's doing but he still keeps your attention.
This season of NXT was the worst by far, for every reason, and this wasn't an exception. Maryse was so, so bad. It was as if she reverted back to being unable to speak English and never bothered to look at the cards to figure out who she was announcing. They just can't seem to find anybody that can announce wrestlers properly on this show, can they?
BEST & WORST DIVAS
BEST: Kelly Kelly
Kelly Kelly wins this because the entire year has basically been built around her. If Kharma hadn't been injured, and if Layla hadn't been injured, they could have usurped it, but Kelly's been the focal point from the stuff with LayCool and onward and has basically carried the division on her shoulders. On top of that, she's improved some more, so I see no reason not to give it to her - and yes, I understand that that sounds like innuendo ;)
Explain to me what she did this year. Exactly. At least Rosa Mendes (the second best option to win this) tried to start some controversy on Twitter by making fun of some of the divas. Tamina did nothing but job.
BEST & WORST ROOKIES
BEST: Sin Cara
This hasn't been a good year for rookies. Sin Cara kind of wins by default as far as I'm concerned, despite how he's been injured, suspended, doesn't cut promos, and I think his ring performance is overrated by a lot of people. There's really just nobody else to contend. I haven't really liked Jinder Mahal, Mason Ryan needs a lot of work, NXT is a train wreck, Epico's had I think one match and it wasn't great...ouch. Bad year for rookies. Some credit goes to Hunico for the time he portrayed Sin Cara, by the way, as it was a joint effort.
WORST: Jacob Novak
Technically, even though NXT was a redemption season (hahahahaha) of previous rookies, they still called them rookies. As much as I'd like to see Titus O'Neil be released as I'm not a fan of his at all, and I was happy for Conor O'Brian's departure from TV because rat boy wasn't impressing me either, they both seemed to have improved if not ever so slightly. Jacob Novak on the other hand, didn't. WWE even seemed to realize this when they had Novak eliminated so quickly from both NXT seasons. He was basically a jobber's jobber.
BEST & WORST TAG TEAMS / STABLES
BEST: Awesome Truth
I enjoyed Santino and Kozlov early in the year, the Usos have gotten better, and I thought that the Corre had some promise (but it didn't deliver on that), but none of them were really that great. Air Boom was kind of randomized, and although they seem to work fine together, there's nothing special to it. I feel like Ziggler & Swagger should have won this, but they dropped the ball with them and haven't had them do as much as they should. Hell, Ziggler even has ring gear that slightly resembles Swagger's and they don't have him wearing that one when they're teaming up! It's a shame, as I like that duo, and I hope they do more with them. By default, the winners have to be Awesome Truth. They haven't done too much, but in comparison, what they've done has been the most entertaining overall. Plus, brownie points for using a finisher that involves both of your finishers at once, along with having a team name and a team entrance.
WORST: David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty
Poor David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. They existed in the horrible version of Nexus and then broke off into a horrible generic tag team. People forgot that they were the tag champs. People forgot that they were even still employed. We had our bad teams, like Khali with Jinder Mahal, but if you're the tag team champions and people don't remember that you exist, then that's just awful. I still maintain my previous statement that I think they should have a stable for David Otunga where people from FCW are his entourage (the A-List gimmick) and McGillicutty should team up with Tyson Kidd, who isn't doing anything.
BEST & WORST HEELS
BEST: The Miz
The Miz was on fire when it came to WrestleMania time, followed it up with an ok feud against Alex Riley, became a focal point in the conspiracy story and the COO revolution, etc. He eclipses everyone else, including Del Rio (who underperformed this year I think). Christian was quite good, but wasn't a heel for a long time, and R-Truth was very entertaining but just can't compete with the Miz overall. I've loved what Mark Henry has done, and he was a close second here, yet when it comes down to picking someone, Miz was who I had to go with.
WORST: Darren Young
I almost gave this to Jacob Novak, but then I figured half the time he was there, he wasn't booked seriously enough to have any self-worth. Plus, I'll admit, I feel a little bad for how many 'worst' awards I'm giving him. Since Novak had no worth, he had no expectations to live up to, so he wasn't as bad in comparison to Darren Young, who from the start was acting like a heel we should buy into, but I never once bought into it. Tyson Kidd's had his share of disappointments with this, but he's still above Darren Young. I can't tell why they haven't noticed that he doesn't work as a heel yet. I noticed it the first heel promo he cut.
BEST & WORST BABYFACES
BEST: CM Punk
It says a lot when you can beat John Cena for best babyface while you were a heel for the majority of the year. Punk's been a face for a short amount of time in comparison, but what he's done in that time clearly surpasses Cena. The fans are more behind Punk than him, partially because he's the babyface OF the fans as opposed to the babyface PRESENTED TO the fans.
WORST: Yoshi Tatsu
NXT just racks up the worst awards here. Yoshi Tatsu was pathetic the entire year, even when he was supposed to be a rejuvenated badass. Oh, you didn't hear about that? Nobody did, because it's NXT, and because it was Yoshi Tatsu. His whole character was just pitiful. He falls in love with a golddigger that uses him, then he gets all upset about an action figure, can't beat rookies, and provides no reason to cheer for him. Noteworthy mentions go to Ted DiBiase for his face "push" if you can call it that, and Johnny Curtis for his promos that made people boo him until he shows up to wrestle one match, that he gets squashed in.
BEST & WORST SUPERSTARS OF THE YEAR
BEST: [TIE] The Miz and CM Punk
It's so tough to pick between these two, considering how they kind of did an even switch-off in the middle of the year. The first half of the year was entirely Miz's and the second half has to go to CM Punk. I kept debating with myself that I should give it to CM Punk, then I'd convince myself I should give it to Miz. Eventually, it just became a stalemate in my debate, so it needs to be a tie. However, that's what having your choices can contribute to, so since we had one overwhelming winner in CM Punk, he gets the edge out if you count those in there.
WORST: Jacob Novak
Bad gimmick, bad matches, bad mic skills, bad ring gear, and even booked worse than everyone else on the already abysmal NXT. He had no chance not to win this award. Honestly, though, anybody from NXT's Redemption season could win this and I don't think a single person would bat an eye at it.