The 2012 411 Wrestling Year End Awards – Part Three: Worst Tag Team, Worst PPV, Worst Match, & More
REVIEW: Before we get to it, let’s take a look at the winners we’ve already announced to this point…
Announcer of the Year: JBL
Worst Announcer of the Year: Michael Cole
Overall Rookie of the Year: Saturyne
Breakout of the Year: Daniel Bryan
Comeback Wrestler of the Year: Brock Lesnar
Disappointment of the Year: Brock Lesnar Loses His first Match Back Against John Cena
Best Indy Show of the Year (non-PPV) : Threemendous III
Free TV Match of the Year: C.M Punk vs. Daniel Bryan RAW 02/27/2011
Story/Surprise of the Year: Jerry Lawler Has Heart Attack On Air
Worst Story/Surprise of the Year: WWE Shows Footage Of Jerry Lawler Getting CPR Backstage
Feud/Storyline of the Year: John Cena vs. The Rock
Worst Feud/Storyline of the Year: Claire Lynch
Worst Fed of the Year: ROH
Now let’s get to today’s awards….
411MANIA’S WRESTLING YEAR END AWARDS 2012!
WINNER – TIE: John Cena/Star Wars & Zack Ryder Changes A Tyre
1st RUNNER-UP: Hearing Jeff Hardy’s Thoughts
2nd RUNNER-UP: Vince McMahon and Vicki Guerrero Rebook Survivor Series.
Brock Lesnar/John Cena Contract Signing – 8 Votes
Joe Gacey running Down Masada At Cage of Death – 5 Votes
John Cena Makes C.M Punk vs. Ryback Match For Hell In A Cell – 5 Votes
Pepper Parks & Cherry Bomb Run Down CZW Fans At Cage Of Death – 3 Votes
Claire Lynch Debut – 3 Votes
Roddy Piper At RAW 1000 – 3 Votes
The Era Ends: HHH & The Undertaker – 3 Votes
C.M Punk Fakes A Heart Attack – 1 Vote
Kyle O’Reily Doesn’t respect Davey Richards – 1 Vote
Johnny Gargano Buries Jon Davies at EVOLVE 18 – 1 Vote
Pipers Pit with Heath Slater, Wendi Richter and Cyndi Lauper – 1 Vote
C.M Punk Takes A Lie Detector Test – 1 Vote
Dixie Cart Welcome Brook Hogan – 1 Vote
The John Cena promo in question is a case of the goofy, can’t stop winking at the audience John Cena going too far. It’s an annoying habit of the character and performer: the inability, at times, to sell the serious nature of what’s happening by spewing forth a series of popculture references. Usually, it’s just a short moment of popculture Tourette’s that passes. In this case, it was just went so far over the top that it lost most of the charm that could make it amusing. And the less said about Zack Ryder trying to escape Kane with Eve and being stuck changing a tire the better. Kane was meant to be a monster… not literally, of course, and this was bad comedy from a slasher flick. Suspension of disbelief is a necessary thing when watching wrestling, but this was ridiculous.
*Big inhale of breath* “A short time ago, in a WWE Universe not so far away…” is how John Cena began his terrible promo that night on Raw, already it was contrived and seemed forced, the big inhale seemingly being Cena’s own way to mock what he was about to say (But then why say it at all John?). People always say that John Cena shouldn’t be blamed for his promos or his booking because he is not responsible for them, but he has a choice in the matter, especially as the ten time WWE champion, as the WWE loves to point out to us on a weekly basis. This is one of those times where he could have said no to a scripted promo, based on its stupidity and mockery of the product at large, but he didn’t/ Maybe he thought it was funny, maybe he wrote it himself, or maybe for the most part he just doesn’t give a fuck anymore what comes out of his mouth because no matter what he says half of every arena that he turns up to will boo the crap out of him anyway.
Whatever the case his decision led to what has now been named the worst promo of the year, and deservedly so. “The evil Emperor John Laurinaitis convinced the world’s largest Jedi to join the dark side and become Show-Vader.” Already there are boos, perhaps for the Big Show from some, but the distinctly masculine tone of the boos makes me think that they were mostly responding to the weak line of comparison that Cena had drawn between the WWE and the beloved Sci-Fi franchise, and let’s not forget he described this as a ‘bad episode of Star Wars’, so he’s having a go. If we are going to talk about bad Star Wars episodes then we should probably look at episode one, where there was an annoying character who made light of the entire movie, apparently for the enjoyment of the kids in the audience, and was mostly there to sell merchandise…but I digress.
“No chance in hell have you.” That was pretty much the only slightly funny line in the whole three minutes that Cena spent weakly comparing Star Wars to elements of his steel cage match with the Big Show, sorry Show-Vader (John Cena-Walker, Jesus!). A match that he described as being held in a “fifteen foot high Death Star”, R2-A-Rye? Jabba the Funkasaurus? Santi-3PO?! This promo just makes you angrier and angrier as it goes on because it starts with a terrible premise and then gets weaker and weaker as it goes along. What’s more it takes events that should have been a big deal, as in the firing of John Laurinaitis, and trivialises them beyond belief. Now sure the whole Johnny Ace thing was pretty much a joke from start to finish, but if something you’ve produced is shite then you don’t point it out to your audience by using another of your shite creations that no one takes seriously. This is just like when Michael Cole started to make a mockery of NXT, if you think your own programming is terrible then why still air it? Don’t keep it on air but have someone else there that the audience hates making fun of it, that just makes things look like an even bigger shambles. Sure it is good to be able to take a rye look at yourselves every now and again, but this promo just felt like nobody even cared about the entire Laurinaitis arc, and surely the point of the angle was to get people to spend money on the PPV to see what would happen to him, if you as a company think the whole thing is a joke then why did you expect people to shell out for the PPV?! So basically by getting their top performer to ridicule the events of the past few months, that he himself was involved in, you and he are basically saying that the audience are all mugs for buying into any of it, nice one. This promo was bad as a promo, it was bad as a narrative, it was bad from a business standpoint, it was bad from a moral standpoint, and it was bad from a copyright standpoint, frankly I wish it never existed, oh yeah and what was John Cena’s big announcement again?
Sometimes two options for a “worst of” award are just so equally and terribly bad that you can’t choose just one. 2012 is one of those cases. Let’s tackle these two one at a time, and consider the painful fact that these were both, somehow, legitimately worse than Jeff Hardy’s audio thought bubbles on Impact. The first of these problematic promos is one of those things that sounded good on paper. WWE has been increasingly investing itself with pop culture references in order to appeal to a more savvy kind of user over the last year or so. So having John Cena, the face of the company, create a promo that used Star Wars references to explain a situation surrounding one of his feuds had to have seemed like a good move. Unfortunately, when it came to execution they fell completely flat. Cena was off to a bad start even before he launched into the LucasFilm-inspired dreck, as he prefaced that by discussing his “historical” Tweet. Yes, I’m gonna be a grammar Nazi here for a moment; an historical Tweet would be a Tweet that is characteristic of history or past events. An historic Tweet would be one that is important and significant. Cena is supposed to be one of the big talkers in the company, he should have researched the difference. Anyway, once that was done he proceeded to launch into an inane, nonsensical story about Show Vader, Yoda McMahon and a fifteen foot tall Death Star. The only funny moment in there, “No Chance in Hell You Have,” was ruined because Cena paused to bust up laughing at his own joke. When Jericho showed up to cut him off, I can honestly say I hadn’t been more thankful to see him all year.
Now as for the second promo/segment, there was nothing even good about this in concept. I suppose under some light the overall segment makes sense to some degree; Zack Ryder is trying to get his girlfriend, Eve Torres, to safety after Kane showed up to threaten her and is delayed by car trouble, allowing Kane to assault Zack. Okay, that I can go with. Now, let’s narrow it down to specifics. “Kane appears to be showing up for match against Eve Torres instead of Beth Phoenix, drawing out Zack Ryder who tries to get Eve to safety which leads to Zack unsuccessfully trying to change a tire for like ten minutes before Kane finally wakes up and goes to beat him up.” Yeah, you lost me here. Not only did this run way too long and never even approach funny, it made Zack look like a complete idiot. I’m aware that Ryder’s gimmick is basically that he was an idiot, but they were starting to give him some credibility and while it shouldn’t have, this segment completely shot him in the foot. WWE fans sent a very clear message about the segment and turned off Raw across the country; the segment lost 544,000 viewers and was the lowest-rated Raw segment in almost a decade. Ryder was damaged goods as a result of that segment and a guy who looked to at least be heading toward the midcard was dead in the water in one of the dumbest segments on wrestling television all year.
WINNER: WWE Over The Limit – 15 Votes
1st RUNNER-UP: WWE No Way Out – 12 Votes
2nd RUNNER-UP: TNA Victory Road – 8 Votes
Death Before Dishonor (ROH) – 5 Votes
EVOLVE 10 – 5 Votes
Royal Rumble (WWE) – 3
Elimination Chamber (WWE) – 3 Votes
Hell In A Cell (WWE) – 2 Votes
No Surrender (TNA) – 1 Vote
Oh hey look, I disagree again. But really, Over The Limit wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t as bad as the Royal Rumble, ROH’s Death Before Dishonor X or TNA’s Lockdown. I haven’t seen Victory Road so I don’t know about that, but OTL was better than the PPV’s I just listed. Over The Limit had a good match between Christian and Cody Rhodes, two really good matches in the opening tag and the World Title four way, and a classic MOTYC in Punk/Bryan. It ain’t the best card ever, but it’s sure as shit better than the terrible Rumble card. Hell, any show with Punk/Bryan has a hard time being the worst in my eyes. OTL was just lucky there were a few other good matches.
In my eyes, I think people call Over The Limit the worst PPV of the year because of the awful main event between John Laurinaitis and John Cena. It was an ill-fated and ill-advised move, and it sucked as much as most people predict. However, one crap match does not a bad show make. Maybe the multiple squash matches did for everyone, I don’t know. I still don’t think it’s the worst.
I don’t know what it is about Over the Limit, but that show never seems to be any good. This year, it seemed like the show that best represents the lackluster approach to booking PPVs that plagued the WWE this year. They would focus on a few matches (Cena/Laurinaitis, and the two world titles) and forget everything else, leading to a card that seemed half-empty heading into the Sunday. Throw in a few squash matches that seemed eerily similar to ones you saw on Raw six days previous (and would see again on Raw the next night), neither world title match as the main event, and John Cena in a lame feud that, somehow, gets the main event spot, and you’ve got a recipe for another forgettable WWE PPV. It was like 2012 was the year that they forgot how to book a show, unable to see past its top three feuds. It just happens that Over the Limit had a weaker overall card, save the Punk/Bryan match. Really, it could have been any other random show from this year to take this top spot since few of these problems were unique to Over the Limit.
I have a theory about why Over The Limit finished atop of voting for Worst PPV…the main event. Even then I could make a case for that to fall under Entertaining Crap. It’s actually a decent PPV that has a great CM Punk/Daniel Bryan MOTYC which hits ****1/4 easy, a World Title Three Way that’s ***+, The Tag Team Title/IC Title/Divas Title match all hit around **1/2 or more and depending on what mileage you get a half decent battle royal with a Christian face turn. If that was the PPV it would be an easy thumbs up.
The main event however really pissed people off. Firstly the politics…CM is the longest regning champ of the modern era and John Cena headlines all the PPV’s regardless. Couple that with the fact your main event is John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis which is voted Worst Match Of The Year in most quarters and should have been relegated to a RAW main event just seems to have pissed people off.
The main event for me, was Sports Entertainment and if looked through that filter it was enjoyable. Just as a match it was shite but did anyone expect a match classic out of John Laurinaitis? It was going to be all sizzle and no steak and we knew a fuck finish was coming from a mile off. However, it was entertaining for what it was. Perhaps if it was buried half way down the card and the night finished with Punk/Bryan everyone would have been turning cartwheels for one of the PPV’s of the year.
A coda to PPV in general this year…while there were only a few blow away shows there was nothing actively sucky this year. TNA turned a corner creatively and managed to put on a series of shows that were perfectly serviceable and in some instances highly entertaining. ROH had issue with iPPV over the last 12 months but the actual shows themselves were still good. While you could speak about Urban Wrestling or Juggaloo and the poor PPV’s they put on, I don’t think anyone was expecting them to be any good and really in fairness the shows put on by these two groups should have easily topped the list.
WINNER: John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis Over The Limit – 32 Votes
1st RUNNER-UP: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus WrestleMania 28 – 18 Votes
2nd RUNNER-UP: C.M Punk vs Ryback Hell In A Cell – 10 Votes
DJ Hyde vs. Drake Younger (DGUSA Heat) – 6 Votes
QT Marshall vs. Mike Mondo (ROH Caged Hostility) – 3 Votes
Jesse vs. ODB – 3 Votes
The Briscoe Brothers vs. The Headbangers – 1 Vote
Personally, I think Bryan/Sheamus from WrestleMania got robbed a bit, but it’s hard to actually call that a match with a straight face, right? I guess the same applies to Cena/Launaitis despite it lasting over 17 minutes. 17 minutes of Cena beating on Laurinaitis as he ran away, weaseled out of getting his comeuppance, showed that his in-ring ability was about as good as his mic work, and finished with a contrived, illogical heel turn by a man who openly wept while beggining Laurinaitis for his job back six days previous. 17 minutes of the Raw/Smackdown General Manager fighting the WWE’s top star because… did we ever get a good reason for that? And, then, of course, the WWE’s top star losing to a washed up barely-was to extend a feud no one ever really wanted. That’ll sell some t-shirts! What the hell were they thinking?
The rebellious fan favourite against his megalomaniacal boss is the most overdone story in professional wrestling, but this match between John Cena and John Laurinaitis still should have been decent viewing. Cena is an underrated storyteller who has brought decent matches out of limited perfomers before (see his series with the Great Khali in 2007) and while Laurinaitis wasn’t exactly in pristine ring shape, he still went into the bout an accomplished wrestler with a run at the top of All Japan and a Wrestling Observer Five Star Match to his name. But this bout was the very definition of a disappointment, a miserable conclusion to an Over the Limit PPV that had previously offered a fair amount of entertainment. The actual body of the match wasn’t all that bad, with Cena and Ace playing out a passable brawl with some enjoyably goofy comedy spots and even a semblance of story with the troubled Raw GM targeting his opponent’s injured arm. What wins this match this least prestigious of trophies is the horrendous booking behind it, with the lamest of lame swerve turns to finish, kickstarting a feud nobody had any interest in. This was meant to be the culmination of a lacklustre angle, but instead it pushed forward another lacklustre angle, while making sure everyone involved stagnated and nobody got over. I’m not sure this was quiiiite the worst match of the year, but I have no real objections to it taking this award.
If there was any sign of how badly the entire Johnny Ace experiment went, the tall for this match is it. First of all, this was utter crap. It was horrible to watch and completely boring. It had the main event slot for no reason, a turn that made no sense (and one we’re still dealing with), and was another in the long line of main events that Cena took over while CM Punk vs Bryan had to play second fiddle. There was absolutely nothing redeeming about this match, and there was far too much shit that hurt everyone else. From Ace being able to withstand an STF, to Cena looking so inept it’s not even funny. And all of this took 17 minutes.
On the other end of the spectrum, we had an 18 second match that took months to repair (and some say it has yet to be fixed). I recall watching the match at a friend’s house. He had himself a little Mania party, and during Bryan’s entrance, he got up to grab a soda from the fridge. By the time he came back, Bryan had lost the title and Sheamus was standing proud with the belt. My friend, threw his coke across the room into his photo of Darth Vader that he had planned on hanging a few months prior. (He may have over-exaggerated). Anyways, this was just a bad decision, and a worse “match” that made very little sense and hurt someone who I bet they didn’t even consider it would hurt. No, Bryan was able to survive the stain of the 18 second loss (even though, they bring it up from time to time still). It was Sheamus, however, that was hurt because of the win – and that’s something I feel they had no idea was going to happen. Boos would spatter all over him when he came out, and I strongly feel that he hasn’t recovered since. That win did nothing for who they thought it was going to.
WINNER: Brooke Hogan -28 votes
1st RUNNER-UP: John Laurinaitis 26 Votes
2nd RUNNER-UP: A.J Lee – 16 Votes
Claire Lynch – 11 Votes
Vicki Guerrero – 6 Votes
Jim Cornett – 5 Votes
Larry Dallas – 5 Votes
WINK – 3 Votes
Eve – 3 Votes
SAKAMOTO – 1 Vote
Hulk Hogan – 1 Vote
There were some prime candidates for this award, but Brooke Hogan stands out as being the most deserving if only for the fact that she adds nothing to the TNA product and only serves to highlight what a joke the once proud Knockouts division has become. Others like Claire Lynch and Johnny Ace deserve some criticism for being pretty terrible in their delivery, but at least we could on occasion laugh at their awfulness, as for AJ I’m not too sure what everyone’s beef is with her. Sure at first I criticised her wooden acting when she was with Daniel Bryan, but since then she has really found her stride and I think she was at least an interesting choice for GM, at least for the short period that she occupied the position, hell it was better than Vickie Guerrero, who apparently needs to be force fed booking decisions by Vince McMahon on live television. While AJ might have grown as a character and actress, Brooke Hogan has remained as pointless as ever, her new affiliations with Bully Ray only serve to drag the once great heel down and her interactions with the other women on Impact Wrestling are painful at best.
To me that is why Brooke Hogan has taken the top spot, because it is painful having to watch successful female wrestlers like Mickie James and Tara beg for scraps from Brooke, who certainly doesn’t belong in a wrestling ring. Now I myself hate the whole ‘Hogan decides’ angle where Hogan brings in a bunch of guys and assesses their assets to see who should get a shot at some gold, but at least Hulk has been there and done that, he has some right to pick and choose who is and who isn’t worthy of getting an opportunity. Brooke on the other hand has no real experience bar being her father’s daughter, and it isn’t enough. It must be really hard for any woman in the Knockouts division to swallow what Brooke tells them, handing out ‘sage’ advice like she is some kind of expert on women’s wrestling, it is just awful to watch.
What’s more Brooke is perhaps a herald of things to come, her on-air promotion of Miss Tessmacher, the most diva-like Knockout on the roster, and her own bleached-blonde generic appearance are exactly what the Knockouts division needs to avoid. It used to be a thriving division of diverse characters, and now at best it is the place where former WWE divas come to actually have more than five minutes wrestling a week, and even in TNA right now they are sometimes lucky to get that. Brooke Hogan sums up what is wrong with mainstream women’s wrestling today and really the sooner she leaves the product the better, if only Aries had taken her out with a Brain-buster at Final Resolution, rather than just taking off her top.
TNA did a lot of things right these year, and they’re reaping the benefits by avoiding many “Worst Of” awards that they used to win in our year-end awards. This one is still theirs, although it was certainly close. Honestly, some would be hard-pressed to decide whether John Laurinaitis or Brooke Hogan was the worst non-wrestling character of the year, but it’s not much of a contest to me. I hated Johnny Ace, but he at least served a purpose in his role in WWE television. He is a man with a history in the wrestling business who was in fact the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations, so putting him on the air after CM Punk made references to him made sense. I may have cringed whenever he opened his mouth and fumbled his way through basic promos with a level of awkwardness that was painful, but I knew why he was there.
With Brooke Hogan, I have no such understanding. What exactly does she do in terms of the Knockouts Division? Why does the Knockouts Division have its own authority figure again? And for the sake of all that is holy, why is she consulting the Knockouts on their development as wrestlers? That is the approximate equivalent of Rebecca Black giving Adele singing lessons, or Uwe “Bloodrayne” Boll telling Christopher Nolan how to direct a film. Then TNA apparently decided to pair her up with Bully Ray, which didn’t improve her standing as an on-screen character at all. For a woman who has spent a ton of time in front of cameras, Brooke is incredibly awkward in promos and acting and she looks like she doesn’t belong anywhere near Impact Wrestling, the Divas division or anything else TNA-related. And the reason for her appearing that was is simple: she doesn’t belong there. The one positive thing I can say about this is that the longer she is screwing around in TNA, the longer she doesn’t release her third album that she’s working on. I’m not looking forward to that at all.
Huh. Who would have guessed that sticking people in positions of authority on-screen based on their backstage connections rather than their ability would result in people hating them? Take a look at the top two vote-getters for worst non-wrestling character of the year and you’ll see two such examples. Brooke Hogan’s role came from family connections, while John Laurinaitis got the gig because of his behind-the-scenes role as advisor to Vince McMahon. Neither are good on the mic, which is the main job of non-wrestling characters. Worse, everyone knew why they had those roles on screen and hated them simply for that. Maybe if Brooke or Johnny Ace came out and blew people away, those criticisms would have subsided. But, both sucked the air out of rooms the minute their mouths opened. Remember: AJ seemed like a step up when she replaced Laurinaitis. Both companies have access to so many talented, respected members of this industry who would do stellar jobs in those roles that there’s no excuse. Just nepotism and cronyism.
WINNER: Co-Bro – 21 Votes
1st RUNNER-UP: Eric Young & ODB – 19 Votes
2nd RUNNER-UP: The Scene – 13 Votes
3MB – 7 Votes
Curt Hawkins & Tyler Reks – 6 Votes
Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez – 5 Votes
The Worlds Greatest Tag Team – 5 Votes
Mexican America – 4 Votes
R. Truth & Kofi Kingston – 3 Votes
Robbie E & Robbie T- 3 Votes
Prime Time Players – 1 Vote
Joey Ryan & Matt Morgan – 1 Vote
It was a good year for tag team wrestling in WWE; Triple H apparently has a genuine interest in the division and wants to see it thrive, and his influence has seen several exciting new teams spring up, with The Rhodes Scholars, Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara and especially Team Hell No providing bags of tandem entertainment. But with so many new duos forming, there were always going to be anomalies, and Team Co-Bro certainly proved to be a lowpoint of WWE’s doubles division. Both Santino Marella and Zack Ryder have the potential to be entertaining components of WWE’s undercard, but this tag-team was not the best way of utilising it to say the least. Both men floundered in a teaming that could have revitalised them, and finish 2012 in much weaker positions than they started it in.
The biggest problem, for me, with the pairing of Santino Marella and Zack Ryder is that there is no straight man. There’s a reason why Santino and Kozlov were a good comedy duo: Kozlov was the stoic-faced straight man to Santino’s wackiness. With Santino and Zack Ryder, there’s just two goofballs trying to compete for the spotlight and, instead of being funny, come off as obnoxious. They would have made great opponents in a comedy feud, but there’s no balance in pairing them together. It’s like a tag team with two big men. It’s doomed to fail. Especially when no one, including the bookers, care. At all.
Team Co-Bro…the single worst thing I can say about this team is that they mean nothing. Now consider you have two over guys that have managed to capture the attention of the general wrestling public and always get a reaction, well…it’s a bit of a head scratcher.
For started I am not part of the Cult of Ryder. The only thing that he does that I even care for is the “Woo Woo Woo” thing which I get my two year old to do to annoy my wife. Santino on the other hand…let’s just say I’ve made a case in the past about him winning the Royal Rumble and getting an underdog shot at WrestleMania just based on how he can get people behind him. On paper this team should be great but in reality the truth is well short of that.
But why? Why do two over guys that have similar appeal fall so short? I don’t have an answer for you, It just does. Do I think that they can be a good team? Sure and it all comes down to the booking. Booking them equal to the response they draw from the audience and you will make money. Book them like no-one cares and you get what we have now.
You could say the same for a bunch of other teams this year and none more so than Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. Ziggler is so talented he jobs to everyone. Swagger must have shit in HHH’s cereal because I have not seen a more blatant waste of a wrestling talent in the last 10 years than the shit that’s happened to Jack Swagger. Ditto Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks.
The continual jobbing of Reks was most baffling since they guy was big, tall, muscular and athletic. He had a good look and serviceable promo skills. Yet he jobs to Ryback in a few minutes. He’s now quit the business.
WINNER: Aksana – 35 Votes
1st RUNNER-UP: Kaitlyn – 15 Votes
2nd RUNNER-UP: Tamina Snuka – 4 Votes
Madison Rayne – 4 Votes
Eve – 3 Votes
Kelly Kelly – 2 Votes
Alicia Fox – 1 Vote
I wind up writing about this category almost every year, and every year I feel bad about doing it. I feel like when, reading about a “worst of” category, what readers are hoping for is that the writers will absolutely tear into the subject of the write-up for the sake of comedy. I just can’t bring myself to rip in to most WWE or TNA female wrestlers when they win this award. Why? Because, in 99% of the cases, the person in question isn’t “winning” the award primarily because of lack of natural talent or lack of effort. In 99% of the cases, the person in question is winning the award because she was placed in a position to be a professional wrestler in a high level promotion with virtually no training on how to be a professional wrestler. Once again, that is the case this year, as the honors for worst female wrestler of the year go to WWE’S Aksana. Though she technically had her first professional wrestling match back in 2010 and has been part of the WWE roster since then, she has never really been used consistently as an in-ring performer, instead bouncing back and forth between wrestling and managerial/valet roles. She has had a very short career to date, and the short career she has had hasn’t even been devoted solely or primarily to professional wrestling. This year has been the year that she has probably seen the most bell-to-bell action on mainstream WWE television, and her exposure has shown the masses exactly what she is . . . a barely trained person trying her best to be a wrestler but not succeeding all that well, in part because of the lack of training and in part because she just doesn’t seem to be that great of a natural athlete. It’s not her fault, but that’s what she is.
You know, I’ll be honest…I was pretty damned surprised when Aksana made her main roster debut with WWE. It seemed pretty obvious that, during her run on NXT in 2010, she was basically there for comic relief based on how bad her promos were and she had never shown anything resembling much in the way of talent in the ring. I don’t hold that against her; she’s never been a trained professional wrestler and was a bodybuilder before she signed a developmental contract, which she had for all of nine months before she was thrown into NXT. Regardless, it was surprising to me not only that she made it onto the main roster, but that she did so in a relatively quick manner. But I was more or less okay with it, because during her main-roster time in 2011 she was used almost exclusively as a non-wrestling personality and only appeared in the ring for WWE during a battle royale on Raw.
Sadly, that strategy to her character was not meant to last, and in 2012 WWE started putting her in the ring. And they didn’t just toss her in every now and then; they did so on a fairly regular basis. Aksana competed seventeen times on WWE television in 2012. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you consider how much of her time was spent as a manager to Antonio Cesaro or a girlfriend to Teddy Long, it does mean that she had a pretty regular focus on her. And in those seventeen matches, not once did she put forth a good effort. This isn’t to say she didn’t try, but she still stunk up the ring nonetheless. Sure, Kaitlyn had a lot of detractors and earned the #2 spot in the process, but she has made some strides in her ring work since she hit the main roster and the big problem with her is just her placement near the Diva’s Title scene. Even if you consider Kaitlyn terrible, you have to acknowledge that she can wrestle circles around Aksana. What is perhaps most frustrating about Aksana is that she could serve a very useful spot as a manager without ever needing to get in the ring, but WWE seems more interested in seeing her fumble attempts at basic wrestling holds. Can we please get her back in the corner of someone? That’s where we need her, not in the ring.
All but one woman that received votes are Divas in the WWE. From what I hear, the Knockouts in TNA haven’t been setting the world on fire, but 2012 was an absolutely abyssmal year for the Divas. It’s not so much a strong of awful moments that stand out as a complete lack of positives. The Divas were just there this year with the same short, bland matches that end up with a ‘surprise’ roll-up pin and feuds that did nothing to engage, if only because it’s hard to care about people on your TV for four minutes every week. They simply were not given much of a chance to make a good impression — and when that chance was there, they didn’t take advantage. Usually, there’s something good to say about the Divas. Some standout performer, a memorable match… SOMETHING! Not this year. Instead, we have an entire division basically monopolizing the votes for worst women’s wrestler of the year.
WINNER: Tensai – 24 Votes
1st RUNNER-UP: Garrett Bischoff – 23 Votes
2nd RUNNER-UP: The Great Khali – 20 Votes
The Miz- 5 Votes
DJ Hyde – 5 Votes
QT Marshall – 4 Votes
KENSO (AJPW) – 1 Vote
Mike Mondo – 1 Vote
Robbie E – 1 Votes
Joseph Parks – 1 Vote
Zack Ryder – 1 Vote
Brock Lesnar – 1 Vote
This result just shows you that being a success abroad or anywhere else for that matter, does not mean you can succeed in the WWE, even if you have a history there. That is perhaps why we are all so surprised with the rise of a guy like Ryback, someone who showed promise as Skip Sheffield when he was on TV before, but also was a figure of ridicule at points before his injury put him on the side lines. Matt Bloom, formerly Albert, formerly Giant Bernard, and formally Lord Tensi, now just plain old Tensi was billed for a big run when he returned, with several weeks of mysterious promos before his debut. Honestly while I hear smatterings of results from Japan I don’t make it a practice to watch the shows myself, so I can only go by his success over there and what others on this site have said, but it must come as a shock to some that he would have won worst wrestler of the year.
Khali and Otunga are obvious choices, their sloppy in-ring work is standard fair, but they also have acceptable characters that fit in with the WWE programming. After all Khali is still useful to bring out whenever an arrogant heel shoots their mouth off and challenges ‘anyone in the back’, and Otunga has been great as Johnny Ace’s legal adviser and could easily play the role of seedy lawyer for years to come. The runner up Garrett Bischoff has some bad associations and was certainly pushed a little too early, Hulk Hogan’s proclamation that Garrett was ‘the future of wrestling’ didn’t exactly help with people’s opinions that the guy was only where he was due to who his father was, still he is young and could easily improve. What makes Tensi just that little bit more deserving of the title was the fact that he didn’t fit in with anything the WWE was doing at this point. He was built to be this unstoppable monster, but at the same time The Ryback was just coming in and Brock Lesnar basically stole his spot as the man who would further seek to destroy the figure of John Cena after he had lost to the Rock at Wrestlemania. Left directionless and seen as less exciting than monsters like Ryback and Lesnar, Tensi got his one victory over John Cena, and it ended up meaning very little. He then carried on crushing jobbers meaninglessly until the WWE put him against one of the men who had arguably cost him his push; Ryback.
This is where things took a turn for the worse and all I can imagine is that with all the bitter feelings and resentment he must have felt at getting screwed over by the company he decided to make a stand by sandbagging and making their newest monster look not so monstrous. In hindsight it was a pretty poor decision as he still ate the pin and Ryback went on to be bigger than ever, whereas Tensi looked pretty unprofessional and is now a jobber himself, losing to smaller guys through lucky pins and the like. If he had instead swallowed his pride and towed the line he might have continued to squash jobbers in the background until finally getting his own shot to shine, but now that is not likely to happen and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tensi is one of the first out the door after Wrestlemania. So basically Tensi is here for being a disappointment, but not a big enough one to end up in biggest disappointment of the year, he had so much potential coming off his Japan run, for reasons outside of his control that never happened, but then for reasons very much in his control he made sure it never would, as Randy Orton would say; ‘Stupid!’
Poor Tensai…I really don’t think he’s the worst wrestler of 2012. We all know he’s a solid hand and the past few years in Japan he’s certainly been a fantastic “big man” worker where the smaller Japanese wrestlers play to his strengths. It was only a matter of time before the WWE came calling for another go ‘round. While Tensai certainly hasn’t sucked that badly in the ring I do honestly think in terms of “potential vs. actual” it’s fair to call him one of the most poorly performed.
Throw a dart at all the reasons you can think of as to why he didn’t connect and you’d easily hit a valid one since there are so many and this is the point…the re-debut of Matt Bloom was fucked up on so many levels he never had the chance.
From the silly name, the goofy gimmick, the stupidly slow moveset and so-on down the list the deafening silence condemned what should have been a big return to a massive non-event. I’m not going to go into lots of detail and fantasy book how this should have gone but suffice to say that Bloom was brought back in as Albert and just been given license to explode on opponents for a couple of months then the world would have been a better place.
Overall when you look at the list of guys that were voted on in this category the only real out and out bad wrestler is Great Khali since you can put a guy like Garrett Bischoff in the “way to green rookie” basket and really ditto for David Otunga since he’s only been wrestling for a couple of years. The rest of the wrestlers are worth of scorn but surprisingly there’s only one person on this list that is irredeemably bad while everyone else will improve with experience and time.