The Wrestling Observer Awards are some of the few awards from anywhere in the world I genuinely look forward to every year. There's no elaborate masturbation ceremonies, no inane speeches, and no bullshit. Just a select number of nerds and the watchful eyes of über nerds Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez. And being a massive nerd myself, I like to comment on the awards to people who actually care about pro wrestling. I'm also more than happy to read the comments of my fellow Cagesiders, and catch their feelings on the awards, so please, don't be afraid to make your voices heard.
Except you, Miz.
Note: Originally, this article was supposed to cover both Category A and Category B Awards in the Observer, but it was way too long. I'll post my thoughts on the Category A awards another time. I've also trimmed the awards down to first, second, and third place winners to help keep the article below 2000 words, and bolded the highest placing WWE awards for each category.
"CATEGORY B" AWARDS - WINNER DETERMINED BY FIRST PLACE VOTES
WORST MAJOR WRESTLING SHOW
1. WWE BATTLEGROUND 10/6 BUFFALO 532
2. WWE Survivor Series 11/24 Boston 134
3. WWE Night of Champions 9/15 Detroit 31
As terrible as Battleground was, this really should've gone the other way. Survivor Series had by far the two worst PPV matches of the year on the same card, and one of them was the main event. It just goes to show how little love fans have for shows that so deliberately waste their time by putting a non finish in the main event.
It's no coincidence that the top three recipients of this award are all PPVs that happened during the period WWE decided to make the main focus of the Authority angle and title picture Show and Orton rather than Bryan. All discerning fans should perform the wave at shows until this mistake is corrected.
BEST WRESTLING MANEUVER
1. KAZUCHIKA OKADA RAINMAKER 329
2. Antonio Cesaro Giant Swing 273
3. Daniel Bryan Busaiku Knee 64
Okada's Rainmaker's just a wristlock that transitions into a clothesline, but the execution of the move, and the degree to which it's protected, is what makes it special. Up until this year, no one's ever kicked out if the Rainmaker, and even the company's biggest stars fell to it. It's the most brilliantly booked move of any full time wrestler in the world today.
On the subject of Cesaro's Swing, like all his moves, it's quite impressive, but it's a mid match move that'll get him to the midcard at best, and really doesn't deserve to place over the Knee That Beat John Cena.
MOST DISGUSTING PROMOTIONAL TACTIC
1. WWE EXPLOITING DEATH OF BILL MOODY 183
2. TNA treatment of Jesse Sorensen 180
3. CMLL not delivering Atlantis vs. Guerrero mask match 35
I hoped this'd make number one all year. It's probably the only time since '06 a WWE angle legitimately offended me. Still more mystifying is that the match the angle led to was one of the best of the year.
But to be honest, the Sorensen thing's probably the worst thing any pro wresting company's done in awhile. Even if TNA went under this year, Panda should've kept Sorensen on the dole for life after what he went through for them.
WORST TELEVISION SHOW
1. TNA IMPACT 449
2. WWE Raw 113
3. WWE Smackdown 61
There wasn't really any competition. TNA's gone through a type of living death throughout '13 not seen from any promotion since '01 WCW, and the mortification only grows more vivid with every expired contract. Aside from the particularly stupid bits like the Heel Dixie/AJ angle and the Tito/Rampage incident, it's not even that funny to watch.
WORST MATCH OF THE YEAR
1. NATALYA & NAOMI & CAMERON & BELLA TWINS & JO JO & EVA MARIE VS. FOX & AKSANA & LEE & SNUKA & MENDES & KAITLYN & SUMMER RAE 11/24 BOSTON 142
2. Randy Orton vs. Big Show 11/24 Boston 126
3. Kane vs. Bray Wyatt 8/18 Los Angeles 118
The number one and two worst matches of the year all from the same show. But which was truly the worst?
This was a close call. The crowd was actually more lifeless, and the work more clumsy and awkward, for the 7 on 7 Diva's match. It was even a few seconds longer, so the WMOTY should be obvious.
But the Orton/Show match represents the most vivid example in awhile of WWE fans just not accepting what they're presented with. By far the most over guy in that match was a man who wasn't even involved, with numerous "DANIEL BRYAN" chants throughout the course of the match. Nothing Orton and Show did got anything but dispassionate loathing from the Boston Garden's crowd, and for a WWE main event, a match with embarrassing botches, no reaction for any spot, a botched finish, a ref bump, interference from outside parties, "BORING" chants, and "TAKE IT HOME" chants are just unacceptable.
In the end, I think this should've gone the other way. Mostly because even though Show and Naomi's asses are roughly the same size, one's a lot more pleasant to look at than the other.
WORST FEUD OF THE YEAR
1. BIG SHOW VS. AUTHORITY 145
2. TNA vs. Aces and 8s 98
3. Total Divas vs. WWE Divas 77
Probably the most obvious pick on the list. Even with the SummerSlam buyrate taking a dip from last year, WWE should've known better than to turn their back on the fans by putting Big Show in the spot Bryan deserved. It didn't even benefit them in terms of buyrates. Show/Orton did, at best, the 9th best pro wrestling buyrate of 2013.
It's been the one major misstep of 2013 WWE, which has been an excellent promotion throughout the year.
WORST PROMOTION OF THE YEAR
1. TOTAL NONSTOP ACTION 485
2. All Japan Pro Wrestling 158
3. CHIKARA Pro 110
For the seventh year in a row, and like every year, a landslide "victory" for Total Nonstop Action wrestling. The good news is this'll probably be the second to last year TNA wins this award, but only because this'll likely be the second to last year they're even eligible.
1. GEDO & JADO 643
2. Joe Silva 142
3. Hunter Johnston 43
This is the third year in a row the NJPW tag team has picked up this award, and yet again, it's a landslide.
Just as well. 2013 NJPW's done incredible business and has had by far the best matches of the year. Thanks to reliable iPPV access from Ustream, their incredible product can even be accessed legally and live anywhere in the world, and show attendance has finally attained respectable numbers for the first time in many years.
All Cagesiders should make an effort to watch NJPW.
PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
1. DANA WHITE 449
2. Takaaki Kidani 315
3. Vince McMahon 98
Here's a depressing fact for you: not only has no pro wrestling promoter won this award in a dozen years, no sane person would even argue they deserve it. Dana White's had a rough year with the loss of his two top draws, and there eventual superfight, in as many months, but as far as doing great business overall throughout the year, the UFC's still untouchable.
Weather Dana White extends his record of eight Promoter of the Year wins to nine depends largely on how well NJPW and the WWE Network perform in the next year. 2014 looks to be the roughest year for UFC in many moons.
1. THE WYATT FAMILY 307
2. The Bullet Club 141
3. The Shield 139
The sixth straight obvious win on the list. The Shield is clearly the more talented trio, but the Wyatts have the better gimmick, and with Bray, the better promo.
1. ACES & 8S 129
2. Heel owner Dixie Carter 99
3. Los Matadores 69
The streak of obvious winners comes to an end.
This is the second win in a row for Aces & 8s in this category, and the second time they probably should've lost to the woman who came in second place. For some reason, neither Claire Lynch nor Heel Dixie managed to beat Aces and 8s for the title of pro wrestling's worst gimmick.
Fret not, fellow Cagesiders. For at least Crackhead Claire and Dumbass Dixie have secured the 2012 and 2013 Gooker Awards.
BEST PRO WRESTLING BOOK
1. MAD DOGS, MIDGETS AND SCREWJOBS BY PATRIC LAPRADE & BERTRAND HEBERT 444
2. The Hardcore Truth by Bob Holly & Ross Williams 203
3. The Squared Circle by David Shoemaker 50
Yup, that Bob Holly is the one in second place.
There wasn't a single WWE produced book in the awards, but Bob Holly's autobiography's actually quite interesting. Or, for those who want a cliffnotes version, all you need to do is buy a one month subscription to the Observer, and listen to the May 21st, 2013 and October 18th, 2013 Wrestling Observer show interviews with Bob Holly. The man deserves to have his story heard by the community who's mocked him for so long. But unlike when you heard Vince Russo's shoots, you'll actually gain a new appreciation for the man.
As for the first place Mad Dogs, Midget, and Screwjobs: it's a pretty interesting chronicle of Montréal's importance to wrestling, with loads of English translations of French material to boot, but it's a pretty dense tome, so know what you're getting into before buying.
BEST PRO WRESTLING DVD
1. JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS: THE GOOD OLD DAYS 227
2. Legends of Mid South Wrestling 215
3. Barbed Wire City 115
A pretty good selection of DVDs this year, but the most notable part of this award is that this is the first time a WWE DVD didn't end up winning first place. JCP: The Good Old Days is a series of shoots done by Highspots, and contains never before seen arena footage, which is the only known JCP footage not owned by WWE.
As for the highest placing WWE entry, the Legends of Mid South DVD, WWE finally acquired the footage of Bill Watts' legendary promotion in 2012, and finally made the footage easily available on Amazon in high quality to the world. Any fan of wrestling is encouraged to check it out.
Well, that's all of the Category B awards. I'll be back with the Category A analysis at another time. It's been a pleasure, Cagesiders.