Everybody who comes to Cageside Seats has an opinion about what's going on in pro wrestling - the Smark's Shoot Standings (S3) are where YOU let us know YOURS.
And for over a year now, you have. With charts, graphs and good old fashioned text, we're here to breakdown the 2012-2013, WrestleMania XXVIII - WrestleMania XXIX season of your reactions to all that TNA and WWE offered up to us.
Below you'll find an in-depth look at the top ten as well as some other notables, and a complete breakdown of everyone who received a vote over the last 52 weeks.
Let's look at YOUR mark, smarks!
Before we get to the top ten, some interesting groupings occurred just below that threshold.
(click images to enlarge)
21. Sheamus: 36 points
Nine times in the top ten; highest finish = fourth; most consecutive weeks in Standings = three (6/10 - 6/24)
We just didn't care for this guy that much, Wrankings be damned. His mini-run came during a brief feud with Dolph Ziggler around a third of the way through his 210 day World Heavyweight Championship (WHC) reign.
20. Ryback: 37.5 points
Nine times in the top ten; one first place finish; most consecutive weeks in Standings = two (three times)
His peaks and weekly Standings victory were in the fall, when he was stood up to Punk and was hot-shotted into a feud with the WWE champion that also saw the debuts of Brad Maddox and The Shield.
19. Jeff Hardy: 43.5 points
Eight times in the top ten; highest finish = third; most consecutive weeks in Standings = two (1/6 - 1/13)
Despite a 147 day reign atop TNA, the Charismatic Engima's charisma was enigmatic, as he was rarely the first place vote getter - even among our Impact faithful. His high finishes were around the rise to and claim of the title, and his streak came when he was feuding with Austin Aries and Bobby Roode.
17. Randy Orton: 48 points
Eleven times in the top ten; highest finish = third; most consecutive weeks in Standings = three (11/11 - 11/25)
A guy who was pretty aimless for much of the year in question, he still has his supporters and occasionally gets moments in the spotlight. His streak came during a feud with Alberto Del Rio and his membership in Mick Foley's Survivor Series team.
16. John Cena: 48.95 points
Eleven times in the top ten; one shared first place finish; most consecutive weeks in Standings = two (twice)
You've got to be, well, you've got to be John Cena to get so much exposure, some of which you even respond to in matches against smark darling CM Punk, and get so little love from the internet wrestling community (IWC). Maybe he really did have a horrible, no good year?
15. Brock Lesnar: 62.75 points
Nine times in the top ten; one first place finish; most consecutive weeks in Standings = two (twice)
When he was on our screens, we voted for him. Even when he was feeling feelings.
14. Kane: 66.5 points
Eleven times in the top ten; two first place finishes; most consecutive weeks in Standings = six (9/2 - 10/7)
Here's a case of a hot story and a guy who knew what to do with it. After being ignored in the voting despite being a part of the WWE Championship scene and rise of AJ, from SummerSlam on Kane sold us on the anger management skits and in the process recreated himself as a smark favorite.
13. Bully Ray: 70.5 points
Fifteen times in the top ten; two first place finishes; most consecutive weeks in Standings = four (9/23 - 10/14)
The former Bubba hung around the fringes of the Standings all year, doing strong work (twittah masheen!) when the stories TNA was pushing would let him. He made an initial surge with the start of his babyface turn and somewhat surprising rush past James Storm into the Bound for Glory finals. The romance with Brooke Hogan kept us more interested than we thought possible, and then his stock went through the roof with his heel turn/championship victory/reveal as President of a certain motorcycle gang.
12. Paul Heyman: 71.5 points
Fourteen times in the top ten; one first place finish; most consecutive weeks in Standings = three (3/24 - 4/7)
The standard by which all future manager/mouthpieces will be judged didn't even make a WWE appearance until May. And we weren't even sure he was really back enough to get our votes until the build to SummerSlam saw him interacting with the Billion Dollar Princess. But when he rolled down the window of that black sedan to gawk at CM Punk's handy work on a beaten down John Cena, your votes were secured.
10. Big Show: 94.2 points
Twenty-one times in the top ten; three first place finishes; most consecutive weeks in Standings = five (10/21 - 11/18)
A three week period early in the year where Show was hanging with Big Johnny, punching out Cena and earning his iron clad contract looked like it might be the giant's peak. But when he returned in the fall after a few weeks off to end Sheamus' WHC reign
of terror, he embarked on one of the best runs of his career and you rewarded him for it.
9. Bobby Roode: 96.25 points
Twenty-two times in the top ten; highest finish = third; most consecutive weeks in Standings = three (three times)
The most points for someone who never finished first, Roode started the year entering the final stretch of his record setting run as TNA World Heavyweight Champion. And the votes came steadily if unspectacularly. After a lull for much of the middle of the year, the bickering rivalry with the man who took his belt and would soon become his tag partner started grabbing our attention again. A solid Standings year for a solid hand, and the second highest finish for a TNA wrestler.
8. Alberto Del Rio: 101.45 points
Eighteen times in the top ten; four first place finishes; most consecutive weeks in Standings = five (12/30 - 1/27)
For someone who we repeatedly hear isn't over, ADR has his backers. Most of his points came with the new year and his underdog babyface turn in his battles with Big Show. But he accumulated quite a few points over the summer in his interminable feud with Sheamus, who seems to also share with Cena the ability to get smark love for anyone with whom he feuds.
7. Chris Jericho: 101.5 points
Sixteen times in the top ten; two outright and one shared first place finishes; most consecutive weeks in Standings = five (4/29 - 5/27)
If he was wrestling, he was in your top ten. Looks like, with us at least, he's right in thinking that wins and losses don't matter for his character any more.
6. Damien Sandow: 125.83 points
Twenty-three times in the top ten; one first place finish; most consecutive weeks in Standings = five (7/15 - 8/12)
Actually placed in 13 out of 15 weeks in the summer, and then only twice since December. WWE either has no idea how to sustain momentum, or they systematically de-push people for reasons we'll never know.
5. AJ Lee: 152.2 points
Twenty-eight times in the top ten; four first place finishes; most consecutive weeks in Standings = fifteen (4/22 - 8/19)
There was nothing hotter in the world of professional wrestling than WTF AJ of last summer. She left her abusive boyfriend, dressed like a Batman: The Animated Series character and skipped her way into our hearts. June and July saw the diminutive Diva win four consecutive firsts followed by four consecutive seconds.
And then Vince decided to co-opt her heat by making her an authority figure.
It was a bad fit that she almost didn't recover from. But allying her with another IWC fave (and the persistent support of her biggest fan, at cSs and maybe anywhere) keep her in the bottom half of the weekly top ten and earned her a top five annual finish.
4. Austin Aries: 155 points
Twenty-eight times in the top ten; two first place finishes; most consecutive weeks in Standings = twelve (6/10 - 8/26)
A-Double was the longest reigning X Division champ in history when Hulk Hogan gave him the rub (luckily for Aries, not the infamous Hogan family rub) and a shot at the TNA WHC. His feel good victory at Destination X and subsequent tweener role would keep him near the top of the chart for several months, until losing the strap to Jeff Hardy at Bound for Glory. Like his Dirty Heels cohort, their rivalry turned partnership would put him back in your votes and cement his place as the highest ranking non-WWE worker in the Standings.
3. Dolph Ziggler: 155.5 points
Twenty-three times in the top ten; six first place finishes; most consecutive weeks in Standings = five (6/3 - 7/1)
This freaking guy. Never far from the hearts of a lot of smart fans, his Money in the Bank win in July produced his first run at the top of the S3. He was then booked back to oblivion and/or failed to get over until being the sole survivor at Survivor Series. Cena shit all over him, literally and figuratively, but the twin corollaries of a) we'll vote for whoever's feuding with Cena and, b) we loves our AJ, sustained his best streak in the Standings of the year (seven out of eight weeks from 11/11 - 12/30; four of his first place finishes). He bounced back as the iron man of the Royal Rumble.
2013-13 should be very interesting for our man Dolph.
2. Daniel Bryan: 182.2 points
Twenty-seven times in the top ten; seven outright and one shared first place finishes; most consecutive weeks in Standings = nine (4/8 - 6/10)
Won more weekly S3 crowns than anyone. Only missed four Standings in the first half of the year...then only appeared in five during the second half. I'm as happy for DBD as the next guy that his place in the company is secure and that he's making bank. But Hell No has him stuck below where he could be as a worker and a popular entertainer. Will he be allowed to break out in the new year, and can he keep the goodwill he's engendered as Kane's petulant little buddy?
1. CM Punk: 318 points
Forty-four times in the top ten; five outright and one shared first place finishes; most consecutive weeks in Standings = twenty-three (4/8 - 9/16)
I'm not sure what to say, except that I'm pretty sure we just witnessed a couple of the best years any pro wrestler ever had. The reason that some of us came back to pro wrestling and that many of us stayed placed in the S3 every week until late September, even through a widely derided face run where he said a lot of the same crap that Cena does, only, you know, better.
He basically needed to be injured and off our TVs to not get votes. The longest reigning champion of the modern era didn't lose our support after he lost the belt either; he carried his feud with The Rock and got cheered while (kayfabe) defiling the remains of the dead.
If he is taking time off, it's well deserved. And it might be the only way anyone else has a chance to win the new season of the S3.
So what did we learn?
• Wins and losses do matter, even to the so-called 'smart' set.
• No matter how much they win or get top billing, we weren't buying the WWE super-babyface character.
• We will support almost any heel who battles that character, however.
• Impact has a big hill to climb, as even many diehards don't make a point of catching their product on the regular. But when they push guys we like and tell logical stories, we will reward them for it.
• You have to innovate and adapt to stay on top. We even lose interest in our favorites when they do the same stuff week in, week out. But the smallest tweak can wake us right back up again.
What were your thoughts on the first year of the S3, fellow smarks? Are there surprises that jump out at you, or connections I failed to make?
What are you expecting from the new year? Anyone want to offer some bold predictions for the next 52 (or so) weeks?
Let's talk it out in the comments.
Thanks as always to all of our regulars
- this thing doesn't go without you all.
Hopefully everyone sticks with us for the new year and we can pick up some new names to gauge as wide a range of fan reaction as possible.
See you every Sunday at Cageside Seats for YOUR Smark's Shoot Standings!