Outside of Alan, we’re mostly following WWE closely these days. But thanks to Alan, we have some diversity in our awards.
Here’s our pro wrestling awards:
Most Outstanding Wrestler Of The Year
Duan: Daniel Bryan
Bryan is up there with the most perfect in ring performers of all time. Throughout this year he delivered at main event level on a stage few felt he would ever reach. The crowd backed him even if WWE didn’t. His fall out of favour in recent months can’t be attributed to any flaw of his own.
Alan: Kazuchika Okada
It’s hairs splitting Okada and Tanahashi this year. Both had incredible years. I’m giving Okada the nod though because I thought he was marginally better than Tana in their matches with each other. He worked great with Kojima, Devitt, Suzuki and Makabe too, and he carried himself like such a star all year. It’s now two years in a row as the best wrestler in the world. If he stays healthy for the next 10 years (and doesn’t go to WWE), it’s going to be hard to envision him not becoming the best Japanese wrestler of all-time.
Big D: Daniel Bryan
Against all odds – got himself over despite week to week burials, both verbal and physical. He’s too small. He’s too thin. He’s too ugly. He’s too pale. And he got over. Had the most consistently great matches of anybody, great segments (both funny and passionate), and great merchandise. And of course, to punish the fans, let’s keep burying him. Fuck this company.
GG: Daniel Bryan
In WWE, he had the best year and I’m not sure CM Punk was all that close of a number two. It’s amazing to me to see how WWE fans have opened their arms to him. It’s almost surreal. He had the best matches consistently and for a guy who isn’t best for business, he sure cuts a better promo than just about anyone else on their TV.
Show Of The Year
Two of my top five matches this year on one card and the culmination of a rare hot streak in WWE booking. For the build up and for 99% of the show, it looked like WWE was finally moving forward and letting new acts take center stage, but by the time they went off air, they’d already reverted to type. The money in the bank cash-in to end the show pinpoints the moment of WWE’s creative death in 2013. How good things were during the summer has only been magnified by everything that has gone on since. Another false start from a company that has specialized in them for the best part of a decade. Still, the Lesnar/Punk and Cena/Bryan matches were great, right?
Alan: August 4th G1 Climax Day 4
I think this will probably always be the first show that comes to mind for me when people ask me what the best show of all time was. I can’t see how it can ever be topped. That crowd was just at a fevered pitch all night. You had two five-star matches that were totally different in style, and you had at least three or four other matches which would have stolen most shows.
Big D: SummerSlam
Pretty much the best top to bottom US pro wrestling show since Money in the Bank 2011. I loved the New Japan Dome Show quite a bit, but this show ekes it out. Danielson vs. Cena and Lesnar vs. Punk were both match of the year contenders PLUS an awesome Christian vs. Del Rio match, a decent women’s match, Ziggler vs. Big E and RVD vs. Ambrose – all fun, all awesome, and really the peak of GOOD WWE in 2013.
I have to agree with Duan and Big D. And while D called out other good things about that show, all that mattered was that Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena delivered. Those were my two favorite matches of 2013.
Match of the Year
Duan: Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk at SummerSlam
Whatever WWE are paying Lesnar, it has been worth it. For a guy with questionable motivation coming into this deal, Brock has proved he doesn’t do things in half measures. Every appearance so far has been must-see TV and he’s the only person on the roster capable of injecting that type of excitement into the product. Punk, as one of the most consistent and creatively smart performers in the business was the obvious fit as an opponent. They produced one of the best matches of either man’s career.
Alan: Kota Ibushi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (8/4) (NJPW)
The best possible match these two could have had with each other. It was everything I hoped and then some. The closing stretch was as gripping as wrestling got this year. This was magical.
Big D: Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk at SummerSlam
Running Liger Bombs. F-5s to chairs. Amazing near falls. Submission exchanges. Who’da thunk it that a kid who I saw work in front of 20 people in Sebring, Florida in 2005 would grow up and battle the 2nd biggest PPV draw of the past decade on the 2nd biggest pro wrestling PPV of the year. Well it happened and it was awesome!
GG: Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena at SummerSlam
Really, it was a close battle between Duan and D’s pick and this match. The reason I chose this match is because of Daniel Bryan. He’s simply my favorite wrestler to watch in wrestling today. He’s the only wrestler whose matches I stop to actually watch these days. My pro wrestling watching habits have changed because there’s so much product on TV these days, but I watch Bryan’s matches and segments like I’m 10 years old and he’s Hulk Hogan in the mid 80s. Cena played an absolutely perfect foil.
2014 Breakthrough Star
Duan: Seth Rollins
With Dean Ambrose being the voice of the group and Roman Reigns being the muscle, Seth Rollins could be the one lost in the shuffle when the eventual Shield breakup goes down. He will almost certainly be the least protected of the three, but I just have the sense he’s going to rise above it. He’s an excellent hand in the ring and he makes all his opponents look fantastic, so I expect guys are going to want to work with him. His personality and look standout in WWE too; he might have the most rounded potential of the lot.
Even more than PAC, the most spectacular jaw-dropping wrestler on WWE’s books is the former Samuray Del Sol, Kalisto. I think that the Chicago native takes NXT by storm this year and he’ll be the guy having stand out matches like Sami Zayn did in 2013. Never mind all the Sin Cara/Fake Sin Cara crap. WWE will soon realize that it’s this kid who is the next Rey Mysterio.
Big D: Roman Reigns and Big E. Langston
I’m picking two. If WWE were smart, and they aren’t, I’d do individual pushes for these two guys ala Batista/Cena from 2005. Different paths to the top until they collide at a future PPV. I see Reigns breaking away from the Shield in 2014 and having a babyface turn. Big E will PROBABLY be buried at some point because thats just how they book, but hopefully his athleticism will get him through it. I’ve just given up so much hope in these people that it doesn’t matter what I say – they will screw it up.
GG: Big E. Langston
Rollins was my original pick, but unlike Duan, I think that no matter what he does to standout, WWE won’t want him to get over and he’ll be buried. (But, to me, he’s the second best guy going in WWE to only Daniel Bryan.) Langston is more bullet proof because of his size and athleticism. I truly believe that by the end of 2014, Langston will either have a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight title, or he’ll be in line for a run in early 2014. He’ll need to talk more and continue honing his craft, but sometime in 2014, we’ll be looking at him as one of the best guys in the company.