We have made it over six months through 2013 and it has been one half-year on the independent wrestling scene. There was much change on the independent scene with many staples signing with WWE, the death of CHIKARA(?), ROH ending iPPV, and two of the best turns in all of wrestling this year (Gargano and Icarus). Throughout all of this change, independent wrestling continued to deliver some of the best action in all of professional wrestling. With that in mind let's get to the awards.
Men's Indie Wrestler of the Mid-Year: Johnny Gargano
No one on the independent scene has put on more great matches this year so far than Johnny Gargano. His list of matches that I personally have rated at ****+ include vs SHINGO at Open the Ultimate Gate 2013, w/ Ricochet and Rich Swann vs CIMA, EITA, and Tomahawk TT at Mecury Rising 2013, vs Jon Davis at Revolt!, vs Tomahawk TT at Evolve 21, vs Del Sol at Evolve 22, and w/ Chuck Taylor vs the Young Bucks at PWG All-Star Weekend Night One. Those are just the great matches, Gargano has been consistent in the ring and put on very good matches across many promotions with whoever was thrown across the ring from him.
Gargano's year has not been great solely because of his ring work. While continuing to be entertaining for CHIKARA, in DGUSA/EVOLVE his character work took him to the top of the independent scene. During his long reign as Open the Freedom Gate Champion, Gargano has been the squeaky clean face of the promotion until his match up with SHINGO. In a surprise move, Gargano cheated at the end of the match to secure the victory and proceeded to cut his typical post-match face promo thanking the fans and telling them to drive safe as the boos reigned down upon him. This was just a hint of things to come. Gargano's heel character is what we want Bo Dallas to be right now. The delusional heel that truly believes he is a face and doing the right thing whether it be upholding the prestige of the title, trying to elevate DGUSA to its Japanese older brother, or leading the charge for America against the ills of the world as its champion.
Gargano has continued the momentum he built in 2012 and elevated it a completely new level. With his turn going full bore and his recent PWG debut- the independent wrestling scene is his oyster. If Gargano keeps up this level of work he will have a great claim as best wrestler on the independent scene and will be in the conversation for Best in the World.
Runner Ups: Adam Cole, Kevin Steen, Icarus, Sami Callihan, AR Fox
Indie Tag Team of the Mid-Year: The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson)
There is a lot of fantastic tag teams running through the independents right now, but none of them are on par with the Young Bucks right now. That isn't a knock on those teams, but simply propping up the work the Young Bucks have been doing across the spectrum of independent promotions. They simply have been incapable of having a bad match this year, even with such a large sample size.
Their work is being rewarded in spades by their promotions as they won the 2013 DDT4 (during which they won the PWG World Tag Team Championship for the third time), continued their run with CHIKARA's Campeonatos de Parajas until 3.0 successfully capture the titles, and defeated AR Fox and CIMA to capture the Open the United Gate Championship.
Runner ups: Dojo Bros, Pieces of Hate, Inner City Machine Guns, Unbreakable F'n Machines, reDRagon
Women's Wrestler of the Mid-Year: Athena
This was the toughest category for me to decide on due to the outstanding level of work from the likes of Jessicka Havok, Allysin Kay, LuFisto, Cheerleader Melissa, Saraya Knight, Hamada, Christina Von Eerie, Mercedes Martinez, and many others but they were just edged out in my book by Athena. Honestly you could switch a couple of those names with Athena and it would be perfectly satisfying answer in my book. Two specific events gave the edge to Athena in my Mid-Year Awards though, her match with Hamada at Shimmer 53 and her tournament WSU/CZW Queen and King of the Ring 2013 tournament win with AR Fox. These two performances were some of my favorite of the year from either male or female.
If you aren't watching Athena, then you need to get on that immediately.
Runners up: Jessicka Havok, Allysin Kay, LuFisto, Cheerleader Melissa, Saraya Knight, Hamada, Christina Von Eerie, Mercedes Martinez
Indie Match of the Mid-Year: Johnny Gargano (c) vs SHINGO for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship at Open the Ultimate Gate 2013
In a Wrestlecon weekend full of great matches and performances, Gargano and SHINGO stood above the rest in a masterpiece of professional wrestling. The story they told was great throughout the match and culminated in the excellent heel turn I mentioned before and the in-ring action lived up to the story as well. Gargano and SHINGO laid it all on the line that night with great technical work in the ring and brutal spots outside the ring in a great clash of styles. From the first ring of the bell the match puts you on the edge of your seat and you only leave it to hop up and mark out like crazy at what they were doing.
Runner ups: Athena vs Hamada at Shimmer 53, Archibald Peck vs Mr. Touchdown at All the Agents and Superhuman Crew, Inner City Machine Guns vs AR Fox and Samuray Del Sol at PWG All-Star Weekend Night One, The Young Bucks vs The Dojo Bros at PWG All-Star Weekend Night Two, CIMA, EITA, and Tomahawk TT vs Johnny Gargano, Rich Swann, and Ricochet at Mercury Rising 2013
That's it for the Mid-Year Indie Awards for 2013. What are your thoughts Cagesiders?