The 2010 year end awards issue of Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter came out yesterday. The awards, voted by subscribers for close to three decades, haven't gotten as much attention in recent years, but they're still the biggest "insider" awards for pro wrestling. Most notably, Chael Sonnen won the Best On Interviews award, the first MMA fighter to do so. With 473 first place votes and 2,783 poins, he blew away the competition, with The Miz coming in second place and CM Punk in third. Batista, while gone early in the year, was incredible, and he was an honorable mention in 11th place.
I don't care if anything thinks I'm trolling for hate mail and whatnot here (or trolling Dave Meltzer, who I respect as a great reporter whose analysis can get really odd), because I'm not, but thae. Never mind the fact that combining pro wrestling and MMA (and K-1) for some awards but not others doesn't make any sense, but Sonnen was not cutting wrestling promos. He was being a racist, homophobic, and xenophobic loudmouth, conman, and possible psychopath who was not performing. He was doing it to get a reaction, but that makes him a true believer troll, not a guy doing pro wrestling style interviews. Hell, he's made fun of Meltzer on Bryan Alvarez while being interviewed by them when they suggested that he was cutting wrestling promos.
I don't care that he "called Roddy Piper for advice" as the story goes. They've both shown themselves to be crazy racists over the years (the stories that have been told about Piper semi-privately would blow your mind), and finding new ways to demean black men, foreigners, and "gay looking" things like pink shirts, earrings, and Brazillian Jiu Jitsu while telling ridiculous lies doesn't make him a wrestling-style talker or a great promo. If you voted for him, then...why? Because Dave and Bryan were an awe of a terrible person showing he was a terrible person on TV? Would you have voted this way if it was a racist heel cutting racist promos in WWE like Triple H did during his feud with Booker T? This is far from the first time that Dave's opinions dictated certain results in the awards. The only time that a Mexican match won match of the year (the Atlantis vs Villano III mask match in 2000 at CMLL's first PPV event, which deserved to win), it was the only one that he pushed heavily.
Anyway, it's not a surprise that Dave enjoyed Sonnen's "shtick" after he posted the infamous AC Transit Bus fight featuring "Epic Beard Man" being interviewed afterwards as an example of great pro wrestling, but it's still annoying. I just don't get it. Saying that "EVERYTHING INVOLVING COLORFUL SPEAKING IS PRO WRESTLING!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111111111" doesn't make it true.
Let's tak a look at Meltzer's analysis of the results:
Chael Sonnen, 33, became the first MMA fighter ever to win what has always been, for obvious reasons, a pro wrestling dominated category. Not only that, but he blew away the field. Sonnen took a nothing fight in a month that already had a big show, coming just a few weeks after a big show, and made it one of the bigger events of the year through his incredible promotion of the Anderson Silva fight.
Not really. The card drew about 600,000 buys, considered the maximum that a Silva fight could do, which was what the level that the more reasonable predictions were at.
He, through his mouth, took himself from being a journeyman fighter to being a major star.
Well, that's true.
If he had not tested positive for testosterone in the fight, his rematch with Silva would have likely been among the biggest non-boxing PPV events in history. So when it comes to talking people into seats, which is the ultimate role of promos, Sonnen harkened back to the days of The Rock and Steve Austin.
Since hypothetically, Silva-Sonnen II probably would've been huge, that means that he's factually a Austin/Rock level draw as far as talking people into spending money? Seriously? I know that Dave likes to use the results of the awards as scientific proof that the winners factually are what they were voted to win, but what the hell is he talking about?
The fight didn't do a huge number by UFC standards, just the best a Silva fight could do. Sonnen may have even hurt the potential business of the event via his offensive interviews. The rematch didn't happen. It's a strong possibility that it never will happen because Sonnen cheated and then pleaded guilty to being an actual conman who laundered money.
Even if he ever comes back, his allegedly amazing gift of gab has gotten him in hot water with the Nevada State Athletic Commission because he blatantly lied about his interactions with their executive director Keith Kizer (that never actually happened) on more than one occasion. He's a laughing stock now thanks to his habit of trying to lie his way out of everything, included hypocritically claiming that Lance Armstrong, possibly the most beloved athlete in the US, gave himself testicular cancer via steroid abuse and then denying that he gave the interview, attributing it to a guy who sounded "Hispanic" (there's that racism again!).
Will he become a flash in the pan, because of his test failure, and follow-up legal troubles in a mortgage brokering scam that caused him to lose his real estate license and pull out of politics, Sonnen has been quiet. Currently on suspension, there is no timetable for his return. And a long layoff at his age is usually not a good thing.
Yes, he will become a flash in the pan, and he deserved it.
The rest of the names on the list are the normal fare. Miz, Punk and Jericho were probably the best in WWE and you could really put them in any order and it would be fine. John Cena should be top five except the material he's given is so bad it has moved him down the list.
"The normal fare." What, did Chael Sonnen innovate something new? Real life racists doing racist interviews is nothing new.
Again, Dave is generally the best wrestling reporter and does some amazing work a lot of the time, especially with history features, but I have a hard time understanding his (and business partner/podcast co-host) Bryan Alvarez's thought process behind their analysis much of the time.
After the jump, I'll look at the other Sonnen-related awards news and some of the more interesting results from other categories.
In other Sonnen-related awards news:
- He tied Urijah Faber for 8th place in MMA MVP (Brock Lesnar won, followed by Georges St. Pierre). That's realistic enough I guess, but he was way too much of a negative to the sport in general.
- He came in 6th in Best Box Office Draw (Lesnar and GSP were #1 and #2 again). I've never understood why an objective fact is voted on, but whatever. He finished ahead of Rey Mysterio, which is pretty ridiculous given how Mysterio has allowed WWE to break into Mexico and draw huge crowds while charging what are essentially UFC level ticket prices relative to the economy. Sonnen just helped Silva get up to his peak number level as a draw again.
- Sonnen vs Silva came in 2nd place for feud of the year, behind Kevin Steen vs El Generico in Ring of Honor and ahead of Quinton Jackson vs Rashad Evans. Again...seriously? I don't understand fictional story arcs competing with real life sports rivalries, and it wasn't even a feud. It was a idiotic conman making hurtful, racist, xenophobic, and homophobic comments about the black Brazillian class act who happens to enjoy dancing as well as wearing earrings and pink clothing (As far as the pink, it's not the norm here, but in Brazil, it's not a big deal at all). Silva never gave him the time of day, and he shouldn't have. Sonnen didn't dignify a response. But OMFG, what great pro wrestling it was! If it was a work, many of the same people talking about how great Sonnen's promos were would blast the bookers/writers for such a distasteful storyline. When it's a real racist/xenophobe/homophobe, it's a new paradigm of great pro wrestling style interviews. Same goes for the racial comments in the Jackson and Evans interviews leading up to their fight.
- Sonnen was 10th in most charismatic, but he was still ahead of Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy, Batista, and Wade Barrett. You could argue Barrett, but to compare Sonnen to the others is laughable.
- Silva vs Sonnen came in 2nd place for MMA fight of the year behind Leonard Garcia vs Chan Sung Jung and ahead of Chris Leben vs Yoshihiro Akiyama. The race between the top two was really close and rightfully so. They were pretty easy picks. Sonnen may be a terrible human being, but that was a great fight.
- Sonnen came in 8th place for best gimmick. What?!?!?! He got very few votes with no honorable mentions listed behind him, but...what?!?! He was a...do I have to say it again?
Meanwhile, in non-Sonnen news:
- Nobody from Mexico got enough votes for best technical wrestler (won by Daniel Bryan) or best brawler (won by Kevin Steen) to get a mention, which would be bad in any year but was beyond ridiculous for 2010.
- Kane won most overrated (which means most overpushed in WON Awards terms). He finished ahead of Abyss and waaay ahead of Tommy Dreamer. Kane may be broken down, but he's still a solid worker who can have good matches with the right opponents and deserved a real title run before he retires.
- For at least the second year in a row, with few legitimate rookies in the major promotions, Meltzer pretty much ignored the results when giving his comments.
- Joe Rogan won best TV announcer, followed by Michael Schiavello of all people and CM Punk. Though Punk's run was short, I expected him to win since it was fresh in everyone's heads and widely well regarded.
- UFC matchmaker Joe Silva won best booker for the third year in a row. Writing fictional storylines is not the same thing as being the matchmaker for a prize fighting company, so it's ridiculous to compare them. Cue response about how they're both businesses trying to make money.
- Orlando Jordan thankfully won worst gimmick. Since the lesser categories get a lot less votes, I'm going to guess that none of the people who voted for Jordan here voted for Sonnen in any category other than MMA fight of the year.
- Mick Foley's awful "Countdown To Lockdown" was voted best book, destroying the competition. I have no idea why.
- As has been the trend since the Observer went online as part of the Figure Four Weekly website, Japanese
- wrestlers, matches, promotions, etc. that had been ignored for years since the business and product there went downhill made strong showings, seemingly thanks to the western European fans (a large portion of the site's subscribers) who have inexplicably embraced current/recent Japanese wrestling as the best thing ever. Mexicans went largely ignored even though there's more current Lucha Libre available than ever before.