**Warning: These columns (and the next two that I will be typing in the upcoming days are not going to have any Honor Rolls, Detentions, Gold Stars, or anything else. The next few columns will be dedicated to my end of the year awards. If disappointed, my apologies. I hope to maybe do a special “Mr. V” column either on Wrestleview.com or on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DeskofMrV). Until then, pleased be entertained by Mr. V, the host of the Third Annual Golden Yardstick Awards!**
Furthermore, I will present the current standings leading towards our final round in Year Three of the Predictions from the Faculty articles. Readers will check out these standings as well as the very best in professional wrestling as we conclude our final edition of the 2011 Golden Yardstick Awards. Enjoy!
Well my Wrestleview Students, 2011 has finally ended. And since I do not do Year-End Awards until the end of December, it is finally time to hand out the final awards of the month. These awards are given to those who were the best of the best.
With that I say WELCOME TO THE FINAL PART OF THE 3RD ANNUAL GOLDEN YARDSTICK AWARDS!
Of course, thanks to Wrestleview staff member Gregory “Grash” Walek for the logo to celebrate the festivities! Thanks, Grash!
If you read all three parts of the award ceremonies, we thank you. If not for any of the readers, we would not be doing these. Your comments were thankful and feedback commendable. We hope to do this again next year.
This year is going to be a bit different. After doing these awards alone for two years and with a new teaching position I knew this could not be done individually. Hence why there were not any “Mr. V” columns over the past few months. So I decided to bring in some much needed help with a remarkable member of the Wrestleview Staff. So these picks were chosen and debated (twice) by myself and ROH on Sinclair, WWE Superstars, FCW Recapper, and Wrestleview International Roundtable’s Jason Namako! I thank Mr. Namako for his service in helping complete the 2011 ceremonies.
Now, the rest of the rules have been pure for the past two years.
– First off, all biasness goes out the window. So even though I am all about professional wrestling in the Pittsburgh scene, don’t expect to see Kurt Angle, Shane Douglas, or Corey Graves winning any Yardsticks because they are based from “Pittsburgh, PA”.
– Only World Wrestling Entertainment, Impact (TNA) Wrestling, and Ring of Honor Wrestling will be represented. We may have a random nominee from the independents, but the three mentioned promotions are the ones I watch every week.
– There will be 21 Golden Yardsticks featuring various categories (including Wrestler of the Year)
– Mr. Namako and I decided to not have a new category. However, it was agreed that Best Newcomer and Best Guest Host stay retired.
This week, I will hand out NINE out of 30 Awards. By the way, if you want to provide educated and honest feedback on this feature send me an e-mail at email@example.com. If one does not like my selections, don’t expect an apology from any of us. The Internet is a global podium.
Let’s get to the ceremonies, shall we?
Please check out the last two columns to see who won the first 16 Golden Yardsticks and 9 Rotten Apples
ONE ROUND TO GO
First off, I wanted to post the Standings for the Predictions from the Faculty article. As most of you know, This Sunday wraps up season three and we have been renewed for Season #4. Season Four will begin on February 12, 2011 with TNA’s Against All Odds. Season #3 concludes after the WWE Royal Rumble.
For the next-to-last time, here are the standings for both the staff and the readers.
WRESTLEVIEW STAFF (AKA: The Faculty)
1) Jose Marrero (Wrestling Rumblings/The Eye Gouge)……………112-58 (4-4)
2) Ryan Rivera (ROH on HDNet Recapper)…………………………..109-62 (5-3)
3) Gregory “Grash” Walek (WWE NXT Recapper)……………………105-66 (3-5)
4) Mike Tedesco (WWE Smackdown Recapper)……………………..105-66 (5-3)
5) Wrestleview Students (The Readers of the article)………………104-67 (4-4)
6) Dave Stephens (Raw Recaps/That’s a Wrap/Teachers Lounge)…103-68 (3-5)
7) Anthony Valvo (From the Desk of Mr. V/Teacher’s Lounge)……102-69 (5-3)
8) Nicholas Gray (Independent Roundtable Host)…………………101-68 (4-4)
9) Jason Namako (ROH/Superstars/FCW Recaps/Ind. Round. Host).101-70 (4-4)
10) Josh Boutwell (Impact Recaps/LL USA Recaps/Viva La Raza)…….100-65 (4-4)
11) Greg McNeish (WV International Desk)…………………………….98-72 (6-2)
12) Evan O’Brien (WV International Desk)……………………………97-74 (4-4)
13) Darragh O’Connor (WV International Desk)……………………..95-58 (5-3)
14) Matt O’Brien (Notes from the Nosebleeds/WV Polls)…………….90-73 (NR)
WRESTLEVIEW READERS (AKA: The Students)
Top 6 applies
1) Jordan Benterman…………………………………………..113-59 (5-3) (58) – #1
2) Brian Czygan……………………………………………………109-62 (4-4) (59) – #2
3) Wade Bradford………………………………………………..107-64 (4-4) (53) – #3
4) Michael Fox……………………………………………………106-65 (4-4) (51)
5) Sam Newstone……………………………………………….103-68 (4-4) (59)
6) Paul Meade……………………………………………………..102-69 (4-4) (51)
Now that we got that out of the way, I think it is about time to present the final five Golden Yardsticks. These are what are deemed the “Most Prestigious” of the Yardsticks. The final awards will be for the following categories.
The Wrestleview Golden Yardstick Lifetime Achievement Award (2010 Winner: Adam Martin)
Women’s Wrestler of the Year (2010 Winner: Sara Del Rey)
Tag Team of the Year (2010 Winner: Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero (The Kings of Wrestling)
Most Outstanding Wrestler (2010 Winner: Rey Mysterio)
The 2011 Wrestler of the Year (2010 Winner: The Miz)
2011 Wrestleview Lifetime Achievement Golden Yardstick
This award goes to a member of Wrestleview that had devoted so much for the cause. This is not a “Mr. V Hall of Fame” or anything of that sort, but it goes to an individual that experienced the highs and lows of the website. There were a few that were introduced to the site, and few that departed. But “The show must go on”.
I had a tough decision to make on this selection because there are a few that really deserve it, and they will earn the award sooner than later. This year I went with someone that has been a part of the Wrestleview family for years (a few years before this columnist debuted). Not many readers or VIP members read anything he wrote or listened to his own show in 2011 because the man is constantly busy. A family man, he holds the day-to-day development of this website and honestly without this individual no one will ever see a column, a recap, or (if VIP) listen to a podcast. The man has the technology background that millions dream of having one day.
He used to host a show for the Wrestleview Radio Network. Despite its success, he kept his priorities straight but still handled his duties well despite his ever-so-busy schedule. Everyone that reads this column (or ANY column), the news, recaps, and fourms should give him a big “thank you”. Also, on a side note out of all the Wrestleview Staff members he is the man to have sent me the first compliment and I still have the e-mail dated February 5, 2009. I hope he does not kill me for sharing this, but here is the e-mail I received from this legend that is worthy of the award.
Welcome to the Staff – I was half expecting you to ‘put someone in Detention’ at the end of the column; either a booking team or wrestler for effing up.
Great job – I look forward to more.
Thank You. Go Giants!
There are many people that we meet in the world. However, there are few that leave a impression quite like one Tom Van Stone. So with that I am proudly presenting The 2011 Lifetime Achievement Golden Yardstick to…Wrestleview Web Developer Tom Van Stone!
And now, exclusive to my readers, a thank you note from Golden Yardstick recipient Tom Van Stone:
“From the Desk of Mr. Van Stone”
“I’d like to thank Doc Emmett L. Brown, Michael Corleone and Darth Vader for without their influence I would not be the cunning, evil genius programmer I am today.
Oh, and YooHoo and egg sandwiches. Every good morning of my high school years started with a YooHoo and an egg sandwich. Thanks cafeteria ladies. God has a special place for you.
2011 Lifetime Acheivement Golden Yardstick: Tom Van Stone
Previous Winners: Paul Nemer (2009); Adam Martin (2010)
The 2011 Women’s Wrestler of the Year
Though some companies are interested int eh looks of a woman, other are interested in their wrestling ability. As we all know, Mr. Namako and I are interested in their wrestling ability with a hint of out of ring presence. The three women that we nominated we felt had a very good 2011 campaign. The three women represent what pro wrestling is all about.
Last year, Sara Del Rey was the winner of the Golden Yardstick for her impressive work when ROH was featured on HDNet and also for her consistent work for SHIMMER Women Athletics. This year, she is nominated once again for her impressive talents in not only SHIMMER, but also for another independent wrestling organization in Chikara where she wrestled the men on their roster.
Here are the nominees we selected for Women’s Wrestler of the Year.
Sara Del Rey – The “Queen of Wrestling” may have only appeared on ROH’s Sinclair program just once in a non-wrestling role, but she may have had her best year in 2011. She starred in SHIMMER Women Athletics, she battled well in contests with the likes of Ayako Hamada, Current SHIMMER Champion Cheerleader Melissa, Kana, and Ayumi Kurihara. However, she may have wrestled her best matches in Chikara this past year. At JoshiMania, she defeated Aja Kong (regarded as one of the greatest women’s wrestlers of all-time), Tsubasa Kuragaki, and Ayako Hamada. She also had a feud in 2011 with her former allies, Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (BDK). She wrestled her male counterparts well, defeating Claudio Castagnoli and Tim Donst. Despite not winning any championships in SHIMMER and Chikara, she showed great talent that should rank her among the best of the year.
Madison Eagles – Eagles did a lot to deserve this nomination for the first time. She was ranked the #1 Women’s Wrestler in the PWI Top 50 and held the SHIMMER Championship for most of the year until losing it to Cheerleader Melissa in Volume 44. Outside of her appearances around the world and in Chikara, Eagles had great success in SHIMMER this past year as she retained her SHIMMER Championship over the likes of MsChif, Mercedes Martinez, Ayako Hamada, Serena Deeb, and Hiroyo Matsumoto. Near the end of the year, it was sorrowfully reported that she suffered a knee injury that may keep her out of the ring for an extensive period of time, maybe even her career. However, not many women can say they had a more successful career in 2011 than Eagles.
Madison Rayne – Rayne was, in our opinion, the best women’s wrestler to be featured on weekly television. Earlier in the year, she declared herself as “The Queen Bee of the Knockouts” and successfully was able to hold her status as a focal point in the Knockouts Division. She started off aligning herself with Tara and when that ended she latched on to the power team of Karen Jarrett and Gail Kim. Don’t let the stories fool anyone, she was one of the best workers on Impact Wrestling. She encountered feuds with Mickie James, Tara, and Velvet Sky to name a few and won her fair share of matches. She was also the TNA Knockouts Champion for over five months in 2011 and won her 2nd Knockouts Tag Team Championship in October 2011.
This year, women’s wrestling was not featured much in the WWE (let’s face it, after Kharma it was an afterthought). However, when one does their homework one can find some very talented and athletic women in other organizations. Now the top two choices were simple with our third nomination barely qualified for nomination. Mr. Namako and I debated over the top two women, but we found a deciding factor that we will explain in a moment. The 2011 Golden Yardstick Winner for Women’s Wrestler of the Year goes to…Sara Del Rey!
This was the second year in a row that Del Rey won this Golden Yardstick. Now some may say that we gave her the award because Wrestleview had the privilege of interviewing her over the summer, but that was further from the truth. Del Rey was superb in every match she participated in. At SHIMMER, she was her usual best in the ring and was one of the best storytellers in the ring. In Chikara, that was where she shined in 2011 wrestling men and having very good matches with them. Her breakup from the BDK was also done well, as it showed that Del Rey is more than just a wrestler on their roster. Also, when a wrestler in Chikara gets a victory over Claudio Castagnoli that says something.
Eagles was very close to winning this award as well. She is one of the best technical women wrestlers out there and she did not disappoint when we watched her matches on the SHIMMER volumes this year. We ended up going with Del Rey’s diversity of opponents as the deciding factor, but Eagles was a very close #2. We hope that she recovers soon from her knee injury and that she can come back to the ring when she is ready. Rayne on the weekly television shows was featured more than the others, however with the limited time that the Knockouts received throughout the year it was clear cut that she was #3 on our list.
2011 Golden Yardstick for Women’s Wrestler of the Year: Sara Del Rey (SHIMMER/Chikara)
First Runner-Up: Madison Eagles (SHIMMER/Chikara)
Second Runner-Up: Madison Rayne (TNA)
Other women that were considered, but did not make the list: Ayako Hamada; Cheerleader Melissa; Serena Deeb; Beth Pheonix; AJ; Eve Torres; Velvet Sky; Portia Perez; Nicole Matthews; Britani Knight; and Ayumi Kurihara.
Previous Winners: MsChif (2009); Sara Del Rey (2010)
The 2011 Tag Team of the Year
Throughout 2011 we have seen many tag teams try, yet fail to be the best tag team in professional wrestling. Creative teams and bookers tried to blend together what they thought would be the saviors of their Tag Team division. Though these three teams may not remind us of The Road Warriors, Fabulous Freebirds, or The Hart Foundation, these three teams performed far more superior than the other teams in professional wrestling today.
Last Year, I have the Yardstick to The Kings of Wrestling and they deserved it for their mix of wrestling styles and team chemistry. Since then, Claudio Castagnoli signed a deal with the WWE and goes by the name Antonio Cesaro. Chris Hero is in the wings of signing a WWE contract, but appeared on Independent shows and (since the Castagnoli) signing appeared on a couple ROH shows. The question is will we see the Kings of Wrestling in the WWE together in 2012?
Here are our new nominees for Tag Team of the Year.
All Night Express – No team broke out in 2011 more than Rhett Titus and Kenny King. They were introduced as a team back in 2009 with Austin Aries as their manager, and since Aries left ROH this team stayed intact and had their most successful year in ROH. They started off as heels in 2011, but in April they turned face after having some intense brawls with The Briscoes. After coming short vs. The Briscoes for most of 2011 they got their biggest win of the year (in the best feud of the year) by earning a tag team title shot during a Ladder War match at Death Before Dishonor IX. Though they did not win a tag team championship this year, they may be well on their way when Titus recovers from his knee injury. Keep an eye on their finisher, which involves a lot of skill. It is known as the One Night Stand, which is a Powerbomb and Neckbreaker combination.
Beer Money, Inc. – There was talk that this team should not be nominated because they broke up in the last quarter of 2011, but their presence as the top tag team in TNA is unquestioned. James Storm and Bobby Roode defeated The Motor City Machineguns in Genesis 2011 to win the TNA Tag Team Championship for the fourth time in their career as a team and retained the championship for over 200 days before dropping them to Mexican America. They were the best team in TNA because they had great chemistry and rarely did anything wrong. The team defeated their opposition with power, finesse, and occasionally quickness. When they were able to connect on the DWI finisher, it was over. Since then, the team disbanded after Bobby Roode won the TNA Championship over his partner Storm.
The Briscoe Bros. – No tag team in the history of Ring of Honor is more decorated as “#DemBoys” from Sandy Fork, Delaware. Jay and Mark continued to dominate the tag team division in ROH thanks in part to their brawling and intensity in the ring. They were involved in probably some of the most bloddiest brawls in 2011, as one can see while watching any match involving the All Night Express. They also have to be credited for being successful as babyfaces and heels this past year. They were the heel tag team in their feud with the All Night Express, then turned face when they won the ROH World Tag Team Championship over Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin). Easily the best when brawling, the Briscoes shut down their opposition with the Doomsday Device. They entered 2012 as the top tag team in Ring of Honor.
It appears that now the WWE may work on their tag team division with teams like The Usos, Epico and Primo, and Air Boom but none of them made the cut. TNA appears to have lost interest in their tag team division and the depth was not strong in 2011. Even though these three teams are worth the price of admission we must select one team that truly stood out ahead of the other tag teams. In this category, our selection was simple with only two weeks before 2011 ended. The 2011 Golden Yardstick for Tag Team of the Year goes to…The Briscoes!
When The Briscoes won the Tag Team titles in Ring of Honor (in our opinion the best tag team division in any of the US companies), it clinched their status as the Top Tag Team. The Briscoes had the perfect blend of power, brawling, intensity, and the chemistry to keep the fans interested in any match that they participate. When it comes to combination moves, no team showcased that better in 2011 as “#DemBoys”.
Beer Money was extremely dominant in TNA until their breakup in November. Had they stayed a team for the entire year the result may be different. But we give TNA credit for making both of them top-level stars in their company just shortly after the team disbanded. The All Night Express, once the team is healthy, have a great chance to win this award if they are placed in the right program. They have the athletic ability and the talent to compete with any of the team in a stacked tag team division in Ring of Honor.
2011 Golden Yardstick for Tag Team of the Year: The Briscoes (Mark and Jay Briscoes) (ROH)
First Runner-Up: Beer Money, Inc. (Bobby Roode and James Storm) (TNA)
Second Runner-Up: All Night Express (Rhett Titus and Kenny King) (ROH)
The following teams were in consideration, but did not make the final cut: Air Boom (Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne); Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel; The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso); Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin); The Canadian NINJAs (Portia Perez and Nicole Matthews); Seven Star Sisters (Hiroyo Matsumoto and Misaki Ohata); F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano); and Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw.
Previous Winners: The American Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards) (2009); The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli) (2010).
Most Outstanding Wrestler (Pound-for-Pound)
In my opinion, there is a difference between the Best Wrestler of the Year and the Best Wrestler Pound for Pound. With the Most Outstanding Wrestler, the award would go to the wrestler who we thought gave his best efforts in every performance that he had. This wrestler would have to be one that took on all comers and for the most part became the victor. Obviously the standards for this award were difficult, but we were able to come up with three names who we thought excelled in the ring regardless of size.
Last Year, the winner was Rey Mysterio. Despite being one of the smallest wrestlers in the WWE, he was able to overcome the odds against guys at times double his size and gives them a quality match. The first half of 2011 was strong for him as well, with a brief WWE World Championship reign and then his knee was injured once again. We wish Mysterio a speedy recovery and hope for a great 2012.
Here are our nominees for Most Outstanding Wrestler.
El Generico – At the end of 2010, he had one of the best feuds in years when he won the feud with Kevin Steen. He still was a factor in ROH facing the likes of Michael Elgin, Christopher Daniels, and even Jay Lethal. The success carried over to 2011, as he defeated Daniels to become the ROH Television Champion, only to lose it weeks later to Lethal. His ability to be a high-flyer and built-up charisma helped him not only in Ring of Honor (which since has been in an injury angle from a returning Kevin Steen), but in other promotions as well. He is the World Champion for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (defeating Steen) and a champion in Japan’s Dramatic Dream Team promotion. No matter the size of his opponent, Generico will try to wear them down with arm drags, but is quick enough to hit a Coast-to-Coast Missile Kick or connect with the Ole Kick. Simply put, Generico makes everything look easy. Ole!
AJ Styles – No matter where he is placed on a TNA Impact Wrestling card, no man gives it up more than Styles. He was involved in many stories and matches with the likes of Bully Ray, Christopher Daniels, Matt Hardy, and many others. His wrestling is effortless, and he makes his opponents look better when in the ring with him. Just watch how Styles connects on a Dropkick, every time it is spot on. Though he did not win any championships, he was the important to each program because he worked with everyone. Styles uses every discipline in his matches from grounding an opponent with wear down holds to going high-risk and connecting. One move that catches the eye is the Springboard 450 Splash which he used a bit more this past year than in the past. Despite the end of Fortune in early January, Styles still has the potential to have a great 2012 for the company.
Dolph Ziggler – He survived it all in the WWE. He was a caddie, a cheerleader, and a man that just wanted to shake your hand. Ziggler now is the #Heel and the Show Off of the biggest professional wrestling company in the world. Ziggler controls a match with various mat skills and wear down holds. These skills helped him win the World Heavyweight Championship (over Edge), United States Championship (which he held for a good part of 2011), and be part of main event level storylines (with CM Punk). He has an ally in Vickie Guerrero, as whoever is partnered with her achieves great things (well, let’s not talk Escobar). Ziggler showed that using an amateur background can be very entertaining. Along with that, he can put a wrestler to sleep with a Sleeper Hold or quickly end a match with the Zig-Zag. A man with a that much ability can also show-off, which is another quality that Ziggler has at this moment. A 2009 Golden Yardstick winner for “Most Improved”, Ziggler exceeded everything that most (if not all) wrestling columnists thought he could achieve.
Even when the odds were against these three professional wrestlers, they all succeeded in the their respective companies. When we looked down on our list, we may not have went witht eh most popular wrestler, but we went with one that was the most consistent and overcame the obstacles to become one of the best in professional wrestling. When Mr. Namako and I cut down the list, it was an easy choice who was #1, but not for the other two. It was a very easy decision to make to determine the winner. The 2011 Golden Yardstick for Most Outstanding Wrestler goes to…Dolph Ziggler!
What a year Ziggler had in the WWE! Many wondered when he would break out and become a top-notch superstar and now he is there. He can talk a great match and back it up better than what we believe anyone else on the roster. With talent like that, who knows where Ziggler will be in 2012. Maybe he wins the title soon, but if he does not 2012 looks to be a potentially successful year for Ziggler. If he continues to sharpen his skills that made him the Most Outstanding Wrestler, he could be a favorite to be the Wrestler of the Year in the near future.
Generico was just slightly ahead of Styles in 2011 based on how the crowd reacted to Generico. When Generico would hit one of his signature moves, the crowd gave him a better sense of favoritism than when Styles would hit a move at the Impact Zone. Each though had a special quality. Generico was a great storyteller without having to say a word in the ring, while Styles had a fantastic arsenal of offense despite who his opponent would be in a match.
2011 Golden Yardstick for Most Outstanding Wrestler: Dolph Ziggler (WWE)
First Runner-Up: El Generico (ROH)
Second Runner-Up: AJ Styles (TNA)
The following were under consideration, but did not make the final cut: Davey Richards; Christian; Rey Mysterio; Austin Aries; Daniel Bryan; Christopher Daniels; Jay Lethal; Tyson Kidd; Mike Quackenbush; and Eddie Edwards.
Previous Winners: Christian (2009); Rey Mysterio (2010).
The 2011 Wrestler of the Year
Finally, after four weeks of notes, grading, and much debate between Jason Namako and myself we come down to this award. Writers want to end with the best, and that is what we are going to do today.
The Wrestler of the Year always is a tough decision because may have been consistent for most of the year or some of the year. Maybe a particular wrestler was consistent the entire year, but Mr. Namako and I looked at every factor when we made our choice.
We had many on our list, so let’s start from the “under consideration” to the Wrestler of the Year.
Christian – Very talented and was involved in a good summer feud with Randy Orton. However, an injury hurt his stock this year. Keep an eye on Christian and where he is at in 2012. Either it will be a solid or disappointing year.
Sheamus – He struggled in 2011 at the start. However, when he moved to Smackdown he found that spark. He is another wrestler to keep an eye on in 2012 because he is back to being a highly successful superstar.
John Cena – Usually he is in anyone’s top five, but from a wrestling standpoint this has been an extremely disappointing year for Cena. We thought a couple of his main events during PPVs were very weak. However, let’s see if the star shines when he faces The Rock in April.
Rey Mysterio – He easily would have cracked the Top 5 if not for the unfortunate knee injury that put him on the shelf for the next few months.
Daniel Bryan – Sure, he got a lot of steam when he won the Money in the Bank and the World Heavyweight championship. However, most of 2011 was just not there for Bryan to be a Top 5 wrestler.
The Miz – The 2010 Wrestler of the Year fell off the cliff in the second half of 2011. During the first half of the year, he would have been up there. However, a disappointing second half crashed his stock to be among the best.
Bobby Roode – He skyrocketed once he won the TNA world Championship, however most of the year he was part of a great tag team. If he continues this run, he might be in the Top 5 in 2012.
AJ Styles – Still a solid in-ring performer, but just did not get booked enough victories to be considered. It is still surprising that he did not win a single championship in 2011 for TNA.
Jeff Jarrett – As a character and a wrestler, he was one of the best in TNA. However, not being in enough main events did not get him in our Top 5. Top 15, maybe at best.
Davey Richards – He is the current ROH World Champion and he deserves it. He is a good part of the product there. Easily a top 10 when it comes to ability, but the total package still needs improvement.
El Generico – He was considered, but it was a long shot because while he is great in the ring, he is very limited when hyping his matches up.
And now…The Final Countdown
5. Mark Henry
In June of 2011, Henry turned 40 years old. However, 2011 was easily the best in Henry’s career in his long reign in the WWE. One reason why he was not ranked higher was because of his late start. Henry was inactive on the Raw brand for the first part of the year. However, when he left Raw and was drafted to the Smackdown brand he turned heel and attacked John Cena and Christian. In the summer of 2011, he kicked off his Hall of Pain campaign, and took out the two biggest men in the roster (Big Show and Kane). He long wait for a World Heavyweight Championship came to an end when he defeated Randy Orton to win his first World Championship (if one does not count his ECW reign). He held on to the title for three months before losing the title to The Big Show (which kind of now kicked off the Show/Bryan storyline we are seeing today). As a worker, his power and technical ability showed off more than it ever had. Really, who does not enjoy a World’s Strongest Slam? Usually at this time, wrestlers start to show wear and tear. However, Mark Henry withstood the test of time and showed that one can have their best years past the typical “prime” of a pro wrestler’s career.
4. Alberto Del Rio
Stats wise, it is very hard to find someone who had a more successful 2011 than Del Rio. Alongside his personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez, Del Rio achieved great things this past year. He was the winner of the 2011 40-man Royal Rumble and kicked off WrestleMania vs. Edge (he lost, but hey it was a World Title Match on the biggest PPV of the year). After being drafted to Monday Night Raw in April, many thought Del Rio would be lost in the shuffle. It was further from the truth. Though he lost to Christian in Extreme Rules, his destiny towards a world title was still there. Del Rio was put over later by defeating The Big Show at Capitol Punishment. Del Rio then achieved another title, Mr. Money in the Bank when he won the case at the aptly named PPV. Months after his declaration to be a World Champion, Del Rio cashed it on CM Punk after Punk’s match at SummerSlam to become the First Mexican-born WWE Champion. After losing the WWE Championship, he quickly gained it back at Hell in a Cell in October. Now the reason why he was number four was complex. After months of heeling it up and getting over with the Smackdown and Raw crowds, as champion it appeared that he lost his luster a bit. However, he accomplished in one year what millions of aspiring wrestlers would love to get in their lifetime. He was injured late in 2011, and it looks like he will be ready in time for The Road to WrestleMania.
3. CM Punk
Wait? Why is Punk number three? Well, there is a clear reason for it. Punk’s first few months in 2011 were just not there. He joined The Nexus and became their leader in January. And while he was excellent in the ring, the results just were not there at the early PPVs. At WrestleMania, he had the best match of the night against Randy Orton, but was not booked the winner. Punk really started his superb run in the summer, and MAN was it a great summer of wrestling! Fans held onto every single word of Punk’s promos before WWE Money in the Bank, vowing to leave the company with their biggest prize. Punk’s contract expired after that show, but he returned to the WWE a few days later leading to a Unification WWE Championship bout with John Cena, which Punk won only to lose it once Del Rio cashed in his case (Punk was taken out by Kevin Nash after his SummerSlam win). After some excellent promo work hyping up his in-ring appearances, he finally won the WWE Championship at Survivor Series. During that time was Punk’s best work, as a person who spat in the face of authority and did things his way. At the end of the year, he maintained his status as WWE Champion while being involved in a storyline with John Laurinaitis. Again, CM Punk had a GREAT summer, it was just months prior that held down his ranking.
2. Dolph Ziggler
What hasn’t been said about Ziggler? He was a World Champion, a long-time United States Champion while putting on quality matches from the start to end of the year. He started off 2011 losing his Intercontinental Championship, but thanks partly to Vickie Guerrero was part of the World Title Picture against Edge. His associate then took the World Championship from Edge and handed it to Ziggler, making him, in a way, a World Champion. It only lasted minutes, as Edge won back his championship and in the story Teddy Long fired Ziggler and Guerrero. Ziggler made his new presence felt in March of 2011 and was part of a celebrity storyline when he was going to battle a team of John Morrison, Trish Stratus, and Jersey Shore’s Snooki. After an ill-fated move to make him “new and improved” by dying his hair brown, he went back to being at the top of his game by winning the United States Championship from Kofi Kingston in May of 2011. Even though he may have “stooged” it with celebrities (he got one from Hugh Jackman as well), he was still a focus on Monday Night Raw (which is not easy to do). His United States reign ended when Zack Ryder beat him in December, but Ziggler was an active wrestler that was part of the action all year. Also, from the entire year I graded his matches a bit “higher” than CM Punk’s which according to my stats Ziggler was a bit better. Now part of a top-level feud on Raw, things continue to slowly improve for Ziggler. Here’s hoping 2012 is his best year to date.
And Now, the 2011 Golden Yardstick for Wrestler of the Year goes to…
1. RANDY ORTON
No one was more important to any brand than Randy Orton was to Friday Night Smackdown. Well, let’s go over why Orton was our 2011 Wrestler of the Year over all that was mentioned, shall we?
In January, he began 2011 hunting for The Miz’s WWE Championship, only to be foiled by the New Nexus led by CM Punk. Orton then made certain to take out each member of The New Nexus, and he did just that after the Elmination Chamber PPV when Orton eliminated Michael McGillicutty, Husky Harris, David Otunga, and Mason Ryan. Orton even and then ended the Nexus feud by defeating CM Punk at WrestleMania and Extreme Rules. Orton vs. Punk/Nexus was actually a great feud that helped both guys get over as top level stars on their brand. Orton was involved in some of his best in-ring work with Punk to add to this debate.
After he was drafted to Smackdown (opinion: The best decision they made with Orton), he began a flurry of great feuds. It started when he earned a World Championship match against Christian just days after Christian won the title at Extreme Rules. Orton won the match in what was regarded as the best Smackdown match of the year and then retained the title by winning other matches with Christian, whom only wanted “one more match” with Orton. At Money in the Bank, after a heavily contested match Orton lost to Christian via DQ (the stipulation was that if Orton was DQ’d he would lose the title). Orton then won the title once again at SummerSlam in which was regarded as the match of the night. Another strong and successful feud ended at the end of August in a Steel Cage match. Easily, Orton vs. Christian had the best in-ring work of any feud in professional wrestling, though a couple were ranked ahead to do the promo build-up to the matches.
He then started a minor feud with Mark Henry that showcased Orton’s talents as a brawler and a quick striker. However, Henry would be declared the winner of this feud by defeating Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship in September and lost again at Hell in a Cell. Many regarded Orton once again getting the best out of Mark Henry and thus it was another successful feud that Orton was a part of. The facts are the facts and these three feuds alone helped Orton be the Wrestler of the Year. But wait, there is more.
Despite no longer being in the World Title picture, Orton went back to feuding with former Legacy member Cody Rhodes (the current Intercontinental Champion). After Rhodes “paper bagged” Orton, Orton focused on Rhodes and made his life miserable in the ring. The feud was solid and entertaining, with Orton getting the portion of the victories, including a PPV win at Vengeance.
Finally, at the end of the year Orton was used to help get another young superstar over, and that man was Wade Barrett. Barrett’s feud with Orton began weeks before the Survivor Series PPV. Team Barrett found a way to defeat Team Orton when Barrett ended it with Wasteland on Orton. This led to Orton’s final feud of the year, and it was more of a psychological one where Barrett would use cheap tactics but Orton once again secured another PPV victory over a now-established Barrett at TLC. Orton should also get credit for wrestling with an injury and right concluded 2011 ended his feud concluded with Barrett by an injury angle where Barrett pushed Orton down a flight of steps.
So, the reason why Orton was picked as “Wrestler of the Year” was because he did not need to win a feud to still be considered the star. He had quality feuds with FIVE wrestlers in 2011, while the other wrestlers considered would be lucky to have more than two in a year. Orton had skills to surpass the competition as well and rarely had a bad performance. Many say Orton was boring, however he kept our interest in his character and his matches ALL year, which led Mr. Namako and I to happily choose Orton over the rest of the wrestlers on any roster. A big congrats to “The Viper”.
Oh, one more note. The debate was for wrestlers #2-5. Orton as #1 was a no-brainer.
The 2011 Golden Yardstick for Wrestler of the Year: Randy Orton (WWE)
First Runner-Up: Dolph Ziggler (WWE)
Second Runner-Up: CM Punk (WWE)
On behalf of Jason Namako, we thank you for reading all four parts of the Golden Yardsticks and Rotten Apples. If you read all four, send me an e-mail and you will get a special Gold Star next week. I won’t forget this time.
Well, that does it for me. I thank you all for reading this column and I hope you enjoyed this column as much as I typed it out. If you want to get a hold of me during the week, here are the ways:
THE TEACHER’S LOUNGE IS NOW AIRING ON SATURDAYS
The Teacher’s Lounge every week provides a complete rundown of the past week’s events in professional wrestling in a 90-minute program for the Wrestleview Radio Network. Join Dave Stephens (WWE Raw Recapper) and I as we embark on what happened in the past week. We also play a few games as well. For more visit vip.wrestleview.com.
That does it for me. You may now leave my classroom in an orderly line and please do not find cross anyone living under bridges. They may make you solve riddles that you can’t answer. So NO to them! Until next time, you are…DISMISSED!