In a couple of weeks, we'll be halfway to Wrestlemania XXIX in "the shadow of New York City" at Metlife Stadium, home of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants and that other team that plays there. I think they wear green or something. Random thought: what is it they have against New Jersey? I mean, they could probably do a show in Atlantic City and I can imagine them saying they're in the shadow of the Atlantic Ocean. I can totally see that happening. But I digress.
Time to look back at some of the best...and worst...of the first half of the 2012-2013 season in WWE. For purposes of this column, only matches and events that happened after Wrestlemania XXVIII count.
There's supposed to be a jump somewhere, isn't it?
Best WWE Superstar (so far): CM Punk. Is it really close? Chick Magnet (or Chicago Made, if you prefer) Punk has been the WWE Champion since last November. He should be the name and face on the marquee, although until recently, he's been treated as anything but. Until Night of Champions last month, CM Punk has main evented exactly one PPV as WWE Champion since he won the title, and that was at TLC in December. His quest for respect may have garner him ire among some of the WWE Universe, but there are just as many that still support Punk. He's called himself the "Best in the World" since the summer of 2011, and he's proven it. Oh, and his DVD/Blu-Ray Best in the World is moving off store shelves like crazy.
Best WWE Diva (so far): AJ Lee. She wins by default. WWE's Geek Goddess is the one diva that just about everyone can agree on: a hellcat that you can hang out and spoon with. AJ spent the spring and early summer involved in a love quadrangle with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Kane before leaving "Mr. 18 Seconds" (I wondered if that applied in the bedroom, too. BA-ZING!) at the altar at RAW 1000 to become the signature show's new GM. Now the skipping pantsuit boss lady with the Metal Gear Solid crazy alert in her head (trust me people, it exists) wields her power with a smile on her face and a soft spot in our hearts. Just don't call her the "C" word.
Best Tag Team (so far): Team Hell No. To think, this almost didn't happen. WWE had originally booked Daniel Bryan and Kane to face off at Night of Champions. Then the therapy sessions aired. Instant hit. Their out-of-ring segments have been COMEDY PLATINUM (that's better than comedy gold, I believe). WWE, in their infinite wisdom, put the belts on the duo and they have become this generation's Rock and Sock Connection. The duo with nothing in common other than perpetual, constant anger (and having relations with AJ) has accidentally become the center of the revival of the tag team division. It'll be a sad day when these tag team champions split up.
Breakout Star (so far): Ryback. Oh, you were thinking Dolph Ziggler, weren't you? Well, he's a close second with his Money in the Bank contract win at Money in the Bank. While he's a win away from becoming world champion for the first time (no, that eight minute reign in 2011 doesn't count. Sorry), Ryback literally came out of nowhere. The former Skip Sheffield returned from injury on the first Smackdown after Wrestlemania XXVIII and was beating jobber after jobber (sometimes two at a time) before taking-and beating-more "competent" talent. Now, the dude's got a rocket strapped to his back, as he's been thrust into his first major feud: the WWE Champion CM Punk. "Goldberg" chants have been replaced (even if forcibly so) with "Feed. Me. MORE!" We may be seeing more Ryback in the foreseeable future.
Biggest Disappointment (so far): Tensai. If you follow me on Twitter (@notoriouseddie, I would appreciate the follow, thanks!), every time the 6'8", 350 pound former Prince Albert is on my screen, I would say this man is stealing money. He is. He was brought back at the beginning of the season, and he was going to be pushed as a big deal. Then they put him in the ring. The masses were not impressed. Though he dominated in Japan as Giant Bernard, outside of a fluky win over John Cena, Tensai has done very little to justify his spot on the roster. I wouldn't be surprised if he's let go by the end of the season. By the way, the guy that got fired for writing in his superstar blurb that Tensai was an overhyped disappointment was right.
Biggest Surprise (so far): The return of Brock Lesnar. Remember how Brock left the WWE at Wrestlemania XX? To say he left in disgrace would be an understatement. It was pretty much understood that the man labeled "The Next Big Thing" would not walk through that door again. Ever. Brock tried and failed at the NFL. Then Brock tried and succeeded at mixed martial arts, winning the UFC heavyweight title before two bouts with diverticulitis flamed out his run. Then on April 2, after John Cena called out The Rock to congratulate him on his Wrestlemania win, out came "The Next Big Thing". American Airlines Arena in Miami went apeshit. Then Brock dropped Cena in the F-5 and kicked Cena's green hat, capping off what probably was the worst 24 hours of John Cena's professional life. His personal life, on the other hand...
Most Shocking Moment (so far): Jerry Lawler's heart attack on RAW. Yeah, I could have gone with John Laurinitis' win on PPV over John Cena, or Chris Jericho taking a bottle of Jack Daniels to CM Punk's head, or Chris Jericho taking a boot to the Brazilian flag, or John Cena losing his Money in the Bank cash-in match, or CM Punk suddenly going heel at RAW 1000. None of those moments could have resulted in a death on live television. This one did. During the #1 contender's match for the tag team titles on RAW on September 10, Jerry Lawler collapsed at the announce table. If it wasn't for the quick work of medical personnel nearby and whatever hospital in Montreal Jerry Lawler ended up in, we would perhaps still be mourning the loss of one of wrestling's most charismatic performers. Lawler is recovering in Memphis, and he made an appearance at the Smackdown tapings this week. Best wishes to "The King" as he continues to get healthy.
Best Match of the Year (so far): CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan (The Over Limit). 24 minutes of goodness, my dudes. This, by the way, was on the same show that was main evented by John Cena vs. John Laurinitis. Kinda puts that CM Punk heel turn in perspective, don't it? I could describe and tell you why this will probably win match of the year, but a video is worth a million words.
Worst Match of the Year (so far): John Cena vs. Michael Cole. I can give you at least five things wrong with this match without looking at the video: (1) John Cena's in the match, so there's a chance it'll be bad (don't get me wrong, he's capable of good matches. See Money in the Bank 2011). (2) Michael Cole, a non-wrestler, is in the match. (3) Michael Cole gets stripped down to his underwear. (4) Michael Cole gets drenched in barbecue sauce. (5) This is Michael Cole getting his comeuppance 14 months too late. It should have happened at Wrestlemania XXVII. Speaking of which... (6) Jerry Lawler should have delivered said comeuppance. (7) This goes against everything that the B.A. Star anti-bullying message is, and guess who is the face of that campaign? (8) John Cena could have chosen anyone on the WWE roster (other than Johnny Ace, who inexplicably announced his retirement after The Over Limit). Big Show? Tensai? (actually, Tensai was picked for him...at first...by Johnny Ace) CM Punk, maybe? This has to be the very definition of MINUS... FIVE... STARS. Here's the video for the sadomasochistic.
Promo/Out-Of-Ring Segment of the Year (so far): Daniel Bryan and Kane's anger management sessions. After Daniel Bryan got stiffed at the altar, RAW general manager AJ Lee ordered Daniel Bryan into anger management therapy, with his counselor being EVIL WELDER KANE of all people. The two wind up in anger management together and were forced into mandatory classes to return to the roster. Naturally, hilarity ensued. Daniel Bryan, who clearly didn't want to be there, was frustrated, especially when the counselor's son dressed up as a goat. But the clincher was Kane's deadpan delivery of his "life story". Seriously, if you're not laughing (or at least snickering) at the end of those two minutes, you are either at work, at a library, or don't have a soul.
Best show (so far): RAW 4/2/12. The Over Limit PPV could be a strong contender for show of the half-season, but it was ruined by Johnny Ace defeating John Cena in a match that quite frankly, he had no business winning. The Night of Champions PPV was also solid, but the Dusty Finish at the end rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Hell, RAW 1000 was pretty good, but for some, it was too much talking and not enough wrestling. I'm gonna give it to a non-PPV: the first RAW of the new season. There was a different energy to this show not seen in YEARS, and hasn't been matched since. It grabbed you by the balls with The Rock taking his victory lap AND declaring he wants to be WWE Champion again. (Side nugget: he'll get a crack at it in about three months at the Royal Rumble event.) Dolph Ziggler gets MURDERED Zinedine Zidane style by Brodus Clay. Prince Albert returned as Tensai (to the excitement of few people). CM Punk and Mark Henry had a pretty decent WWE title match, followed by Chris Jericho cracking Punk with a bottle of Jack Daniels. Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio felt the rage of 13,000 Floridians, at least half of whom probably aren't from Florida. Then Brock Lesnar threw dirt on a buried John Cena and pissed on the grave (figuratively, of course). Easily the best two hours the WWE has put on since Wrestlemania XXVIII. Don't believe it? Watch the show and try not to get goosebumps.
Agree? Disagree? What's your best and worst from the first half of the 2013 season?