Figured it’s about time for my bi-annual look at The Observer Awards, to track who’s been doing particularly well or poorly in the first half of this action-packed year.
Just a reminder, the calendar for these awards starts back in December of 2016.
Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)
1. Tetsuya Naito
2. Kazuchika Okada
3. Pete Dunne
Honorable Mention: Bill Goldberg, Matt Riddle
Naito: Los! Obviously Kazuchika Okada has a strong argument for the top spot as well, but I think the drawing successes of NJPW this year are a two-man job (Okada is going on last, so that's his argument, but Naito's Los Ingobernables persona is the biggest variable between 2015 NJPW and late 2016-early 2017 NJPW where business is up, which is his argument), and he's the guy with the bucketload of merch sales to put him over the top (and according to Dave Meltzer, increased merchandise sales are a big part of why NJ’s business metrics are up like they are). And as a solo headliner, he also went up year on year in the same building by 1000 at Toyonokuni in a defense against Juice Robinson who's not exactly an established star in NJPW yet and was the co-main on all the shows with Okada.
I also found him to be the better in-ring wrestler thus far. Most of Okada's best matches felt like a spotlight for his opponents like Shibata and Omega, whereas Naito was the standout in basically all his great matches, especially the Dominion match against a Tanahashi that really should not be wrestling right now and should be getting his arm repaired. He might be the best storyteller in professional wrestling today, and is the second best to Dunne at the little things and attention to detail.
Okada: For Thesz/Flair, his numbers are pretty much undeniable. A 13-day early sellout at Dominion is a huge credit to Okada in his role as the Ace of NJPW, and obviously he main evented Wrestle Kingdom as well, and main evented Sakura Genesis in another sellout. Both Naito and Okada are hugely responsible for NJPW's great business year in 2017.
I'm never going to be the biggest Okada fan in the ring, as his best features are not the ones I tend to consider the most valuable (athleticism, cardio, timing, and execution) and I don’t connect with his character or story, but his resume this year is more than enough to be near the top of Thesz/Flair with the two excellent Omega matches, the classic Shibata match, and the very good match with Tiger Mask W at the Anniversary Show.
Dunne: Yet again, 2017 doesn't always present classical Thesz/Flair winners, or at least not three deep, so you often have to cobble something together for at least a couple, and this year, I think that person is the "Bruiserweight" Pete Dunne. British Strong Style, led by Dunne, has taken the wrestling world by storm this year.
His performances in the UK championship tournament and Takeover Chicago effectively launched this project in a way no one else could have done, he's been the headliner for Progress all year, and will be the headliner for potentially their biggest show yet in Alexandra Palace this fall. And beyond his work in Progress and WWEUK/NXT, he and his BSS brethren have also been prominent all over the UK and Ireland with major appearances in Fight Club Pro, OTT, and Attack as drawing acts. His in-ring work has been absolutely superlative to boot, which will be discussed in Most Outstanding.
Feud of the Year
1. John Cena & Nikki Bella v. The Miz & Maryse
2. Hiromu Takahashi v. KUSHIDA
3. Will Ospreay v. Jimmy Havoc
Cena/Bella v. Miz/Maryse: This category is always an interesting one, because the question is how much do you worry about the in-ring wrestling of a feud versus the storytelling of the feud, and this year sees one of the starkest competitions in that respect, given that the match here was a complete afterthought with this feud, but the television portions of the feud is some of the best stuff WWE has done in years.
These guys weren't cutting close to the bone with their promos throughout, but sawing straight through the bone. There was a real sense of "did they really go there?!" and they went there pretty much every week for the entirety of the feud, culminating in the incredible Total Bella Bullshit segments which managed to be bother brutal and hilarious. It felt visceral and authentic in a way the hyper-sterilized and controlled modern WWE so rarely does. This feud single-handedly tricked people into believing SD as a show was still good for the entirety of the WrestleMania season, and once it ended, it was clear the Emperor had no clothes and the elite top to bottom period of Fall SD was long gone. And in the end, the match, while slight, culminated the feud in the great pro wrestling moment of John Cena doing what even the great Aces of history couldn't, and booking his own marriage proposal in front of a sold-out WrestleMania crowd.
Takahashi/KUSHIDA: On the other end of the spectrum, you have an utterly exceptional in-ring feud with some very good storytelling to boot. I've enjoyed the story of this feud, with the hottest prospect to come into the Junior division showing up and immediately making his presence felt, winning the title in his first match against the Ace, KUSHIDA, at the biggest show of the year and becoming a Gordian Knot for the Junior division. No one could figure out a solution for him, least of all KUSHIDA himself, who rather than giving it a better shot in his second encounter, instead lost in shocking fashion in a mere 1:55 in their rematch at Sakura Genesis.
I think there were some missteps with the presentation of Hiromu during the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, but I respect the endpoint they were attempting to get to when KUSHIDA avenged the comically quick defeat and won the entire Best of the Super Juniors tournament and got his redemption at Dominion by defeating Takahashi and reclaiming his championship. From a booking standpoint, Hiromu is a supernova, so keeping to that story seems unwise when KUSHIDA is getting booed against him, unless they plan some kind of double switch in the back half of the year, but from a storytelling standpoint, it was well told. And the quality of their matches was excellent with the Sakura Genesis squash being a really fun sprint and the two more substantive matches at Wrestle Kingdom and Dominion being exceptional.
Ospreay/Havoc: Progress' defining feud being rekindled this year with the long-time rivals on opposite sides was a brilliant touch. Since the early days of Progress, the story centered around the villainous Jimmy Havoc and his Regression stable and Jimmy's main opponent was the beloved young upstart from Essex, Will Ospreay. Ospreay was initially brought back into Progress by Mark Andrews, as one of Andrews’ awards for winning the first Natural Progression Series, the man who Jimmy defeated for the championship, after owner Jim Smallman was forced to count the pin so Jimmy didn't set Andrews ablaze. Will's best friend and tag team partner, Paul Robinson, betrayed Will to join Jimmy Havoc's Regression stable. And that's not even taking into account all the horrendous things Jimmy and Regression did to Will personally.
But late last year, things started to change. Will returned to Progress after his time with Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the crowd connection wasn't the same as it once was. He was really struggling in the ring as well, losing all of his matches since rejoining Progress. Nothing was going right. And even worse for Will's psyche, after Jimmy Havoc returned from his torn ACL and MCL, he had mended his ways and the crowd forgave him for his sins and embraced Jimmy. How could they do that, after all he's done, Will must have thought.
The multi-man match for the vacant title came down to Havoc and Pete Dunne, but Havoc was screwed by British Strong Style. He knew he would need allies for his fight against the trio and made the decision to apologize to Will Ospreay and request his assistance against BSS. But unlike the crowd, Will couldn't forgive Jimmy. And what's so great about the feud is... should he have? After everything Jimmy did to him, is merely asking for forgiveness really enough? For the Progress faithful, the answer was simple, especially after Will Ospreay kicked Havoc low and re-aligned with the most despicable man in Progress history, Paul Robinson, Havoc's former partner in crime and Will's former Swords of Essex tag team partner. But Will being driven to the darkness Havoc once inhabited made him a flawed and believable villain in the same way Havoc himself once was. Neither were pure evil mustache twirlers from the start, they were both driven to that point after a run of defeats, perceived mistreatment, and having their pain (the pain inflicted on Jimmy from the deathmatches he did at the request of Progress or the pain inflicted on Will by Jimmy himself) taken for granted. Those parallel arcs add even more resonance to the feud.
And their final encounter, a Loser Leaves Progress deathmatch felt like a great capper to their rivalry, of a piece with all of their over the top story heavy matches during their first feud.
2. TK Cooper
3. Mojo Rawley
Honorable Mention: Naomi
Jinny: Jinny has been an A+ character pretty much since her debut as a haughty posh Knightsbridge fashionista, but her ring work didn't really match up with her awesome character work before this year. Her match with Nixon Newell at Progress's Galvanize absolutely blew me away, and might be my favorite women's match of the year that didn't happen in a Stardom ring. And since that breakout performance, she's continued to show improvement as a worker and really feels like she's becoming the total package as a performer. If she can take the in-ring level to even 60-70% of her character work, the sky is the limit for her.
TK Cooper: At a certain point early this year, a switch flipped for TK and he decided that he was sick of everyone only talking about how awesome Travis Banks is when praising the greatness of the South Pacific Power Trip. Since that point, he's become an awesome wrestler in his own right and really took SPPT to a completely different level as a tag team. His work as the face in peril when SPPT shifted face has been crucial.
Mojo Rawley: While Mojo is still something of a work in progress in the ring, he's quickly becoming the best male (Becky ain't losing her top spot anytime soon) babyface promo in WWE. He really feels like a guy that is so close to completely breaking out. I've absolutely loved his promos in recent weeks both on Smackdown and Talking Smack. He's an eminently sympathetic and interesting character, a rarity for a WWE babyface.
Bryan Danielson Award (Best Technical Wrestler)
1. Fred Yehi
2. Pete Dunne
3. Matt Riddle
Honorable Mention: Axel Dieter Jr.
Yehi: Yehi is the successor to Bryan Danielson for me in this category in the sense that I can’t ever imagine voting for anyone else as long as he’s active. Even as good as Dunne has been this year, Yehi is on another level from a technical standpoint. He checks every box for me when I’m evaluating technical wrestling from creativity and style to precision and execution to looking legitimately damaging.
Dunne: Anyone who earns comparisons to William Regal is going to be an outstanding technical wrestler, and Dunne is no different. He’s not quite as creative as Yehi, but he has the execution and painfulness both down pat.
Riddle: Matt Riddle isn’t what you’d typically call a technically wrestler as there’s so much striking to his game, but when he goes to the mat, he’s one of the most exciting and interesting mat workers today. His UFC/wrestling hybrid matwork always stands out in a big way like pretty much everything he does in the ring.
Bruiser Brody Memorial Award (Best Brawler)
1. Jimmy Havoc
2. Oney Lorcan
3. Kassius Ohno
Havoc: Brawling in a classic sense like Brody mythically did and Mick Foley actually did feels like a lost art in modern wrestling. This is a category where I had really no idea who to vote for at all outside of Havoc. Guys like Aleister Black and Katsuyori Shibata are exceptional wrestlers, but they’re strikers. They’re not brawlers. What they do is controlled and with precision. A back and forth strike exchange isn’t really a ‘brawl’ per se, even if it’s often intensely compelling. On the other hand, you have many of the pure deathmatch guys who only do stupid things that are incredibly dangerous, and those matches don’t have the storytelling and making the big things feel important like Mick Foley always did. What made Atsushi Onita an incredible deathmatch wrestler wasn’t the crazy things, it was the way he would build to the crazy things. Sort of like a good horror movie versus a bad one where it isn’t constant scares, but the dread of the upcoming scare. Jimmy Havoc is the one guy who feels like he captures both halves of what I want to see of brawlers. His matches are wild, but the big stuff feels like it matters and has a reason for happening.
Lorcan: Lorcan is the closest guy to capturing the spirit of brawling I’m looking for in terms of non-deathmatch guys. His matches do have that brawler’s intensity to them where you can’t really waste a second on dithering around and need to get to the meat quickly. Oney matches always break down pretty much the second the match starts. A real sprint brawler, which is another kind of brawling I find fitting for this category.
Ohno: Ohno isn’t necessarily perfect here, but he’s at least more of a Stan Hansen type guy than your purely precision strikers. He’s certainly had some particularly fun brawls at times, and I adored the unintentional no-ropes Evolve match with Keith Lee where he adapted to that situation beautifully and put on a hell of an entertaining bout.
1. Becky Lynch
2. Sasha Banks
3. Kassius Ohno
Honorable Mention: Oney Lorcan, Luke Harper
Becky Lynch: The way Becky stays as over as she is given her booking and presentation speaks a lot to how valuable is. She's constantly made to look like a naive fool or an afterthought and yet without fail, whenever she's featured, it's "Becky! Becky!". She's the most complete package they have in the women's division and really isn't treated like that. Sasha is extremely charismatic and a super talented worker, but struggles on promos. Bliss is charismatic and a great speaker, but struggles in the ring. Becky is at least good at every aspect. She doesn't quite leap off the screen like Alexa and Sasha, so she doesn’t seem to have their max level upside, but maybe she might with a better presentation. When her big moment of defiance against the Welcoming Committee still saw her beaten up and left laying like a geek, it's certainly hard to pop off the screen.
Sasha Banks: I had actually only intended to have Sasha in the honorable mentions here, but this week was next level for her and really showcased that WWE has the kind of potential mainstream star they’re looking for and can’t be bothered to use her as such. In terms of people with an external presence in the mainstream out of WWE, it’s basically just John Cena and the Bella Twins, the former has been the top star for a decade and is one of their best top guys ever, and the latter are masters of branding and promotion with two separate reality shows getting their names out there to boot. Sasha is getting things like mainstream awards nominations for Teen Choice and appearances at the BET Awards off solely being a really popular professional wrestler only in her third year on the main roster. It feels like everyone except WWE’s Office gets how big she has the potential to be. Even WWE Shop gets it, with her having a new item on offer pretty much every day. And yet every week on Raw, she barely makes TV, and the division around her is an afterthought. If I didn’t understand WWE’s history with women, it would be genuinely unbelievable how they have handled her.
Not to mention that from an in-ring standpoint, the last two women’s title matches on both brands combined to average .5 stars from Dave, and her matches with Charlotte reached 4 stars on multiple occasions. The top of the division could desperately use both of them from an in-ring standpoint at the moment. I put her behind Becky because Smackdown doesn’t have someone as good as Alexa, and Sasha has been pushed more than Becky, so even though I think her upside is higher, Becky’s path is clearer and she has further to be pushed from where she’s at.
Kassius Ohno: I know what I'd do if I signed a guy discussed as being the best wrestler on the planet in 2016. Have him lose a title match immediately and then barely use him for months. I have no idea if there's some kind of long term plan here if he keeps getting in better shape, but as of this moment it looks like they signed him to keep him from tearing the roof off the place everywhere else. Not the greatest use of resources I've ever seen. At least he had a killer match with Aleister Black on this past episode of NXT TV, but in many ways the quality of that match reinforces why he should be getting more than he does. Hopefully this Itami rivalry has legs, and if so, he could easily drop out of the top three by year’s end.
Oney Lorcan: There are few people who are so unequivocally good in the ring that they can get over solely on their ring work. Oney Lorcan is one of those people. They gave him about 7 minutes with Drew McIntyre and he had one of the most universally acclaimed matches of the year in that spot. Even if you’re not going to push him up the card, he needs to be on TV so much more than he is, because he’s that good in the ring and makes everyone he works with look amazing.
Promotion of the Year
1. New Japan Pro Wrestling
2. Progress Wrestling
3. World Wrestling Entertainment
New Japan: NJPW's success this year speaks for itself. They have built two legitimate draws in Kazuchika Okada and Tetsuya Naito, their business is way up in Japan, especially when it comes to merchandise with the merch volcano that is Los Ingobernables de Japon, and they've had a successful first foray stateside with an immediate sellout in Long Beach for July. This has been a great year for NJPW.
Progress: Progress is really clicking on all cylinders right now. They had their first international show during WrestleMania weekend and drew a great house, and continue to become an increasingly hotter ticket in the UK. Their upcoming show in Alexandra Palace could be their biggest yet, and they are also doing yet another excursion, this time to Germany for a show in Cologne before returning to the United States in August for dates in New York and Boston. And when it comes to the creative, they’re on fire there as well. British Strong Style has been Progress’ best central angle since the Regression days, Travis Banks is one of their biggest babyface success stories, and their gutsy decision to put the Atlas championship on Matt Riddle, the first Progress champion from outside the UK, continuing to get their brand out there as the incredibly talented Riddle works all over defending that title, has been a great one.
WWE: The great thing for WWE is that they have so many properties at this point that you can pretty much always cobble together a case for them in this category. Obviously, they’re always going to be the biggest promotion with their global reach, Network, two separate TV shows and a bunch of other properties besides from a business standpoint. In terms of the product itself, it’s been inconsistent to say the least, but all of their shows have had some periods of quality programming, and it seems like at least one show is always clicking.
1. Stokely Hathaway
2. Daniel Bryan
Honorable Mention: Titus O’Neil
Hathaway: The best manager in wrestling today and it isn’t even close. Stokely is a true national treasure. A great talker, funny, witty, charismatic, but what makes Stokely so special is that he feels fresh in a way wrestling rarely does. He comes off as ahead of the curve, rather than lagging behind it. The idea of a manager promoting wrestlers as a brand is such a perfect modern spin on the more classic wrestling manager archetype. He’s not merely promoting wrestlers, he’s promoting "The Dream Team" and now bought the rights to promote "Catchpoint." It’s not about wrestling anymore for Big Stoke, it’s all about that brand money.
The fact that a poor man’s Stokely Hathaway, Titus O’Neil and "The Titus Brand" is still great shows how damned good Stokely is. A knock off-of his oeuvre is still great!
Bryan: I was not sure where I’d put Bryan on this list, but he was back for one episode of Smackdown and it was instantly better, which is a big feather in Bryan’s cap. It could be coincidence on some level, but he’s been a great character since becoming general manager and it does feel like he elevates the entire show, especially the atmosphere.
Maryse: I still struggle to fathom the thought process behind splitting up Miz and Maryse if that is the plan going forward. She’s so crucial to his presentation and she adds so much weight and force to his words. She makes all of his arrogance painfully authentic. He really is the guy he portrays himself as with Maryse by his side. Miz is a very talented performer, but without Maryse, he’s a comedic midcard act. A great one, but not a top star. With Maryse, he should be the top heel in the company. That’s how much she adds to his dynamic.
Best Television Announcer
1. Corey Graves
2. Brad Stutts
3. Lenny Leonard
Graves: Graves at this point is another one of those locked number ones in their respective category. He’s the best announcer WWE has had in years. While he’s lost a little bit at the main roster versus NXT, he’s still exceptional in his role. Will be interesting with him starting to be a part of the narrative whether he goes down a Bobby Heenan announcer/manager role going forward, but as long as he’s in that chair, I anticipate he’ll finish highly in this category.
Stutts: Whenever I watch CWF-Mid Atlantic, such as to see the incredible Lee/Day match, I’m always extremely thankful for Brad Stutts’ commentary. Having a great commentator like Stutts is such a boon for any indie promotion because so many are awash with terrible ones and bad commentary can make your promotion unwatchable, while great commentary elevates a promotion in a huge way, and even individual matches, such as the aforementioned Lee/Day match can be certainly augmented by great commentary.
Leonard: Leonard is always a great choice in this category. He’s such a steady hand as the voice of Evolve and lends the promotion gravitas from behind the desk. His commentary is one of the single most professional elements of Evolve. Even though the production and look is indie, he makes it feel like a professional broadcast.
Worst Major Wrestling Show
1. WWE Backlash
Honorable Mention: WWE Money in the Bank
Backlash: This one wasn’t fun to bury bad, unfortunately, it was just a show where literally everything except Styles/Owens was mediocre at best. A bunch of largely heatless two star matches and even Owens/Styles wasn’t exactly a classic, although it was very good. At least, whatever you think of the Women’s MITB finish, you had three very good matches on that show. I miss Fall Smackdown.
Worst Match of the Year
1. Bray Wyatt v. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 33)
Honorable Mention: Bray Wyatt v. Randy Orton (Payback), Bayley v. Alexa Bliss (Extreme Rules)
Wyatt v. Orton: I imagine that the House of Horrors match is in the driver’s seat to actually win, but I think the Mania match is actually even worse. Contextually, it’s a world title match at the biggest PPV of the year in professional wrestling, which is more important than a non-title match on a B PPV, so they bombed as hard as they did on the biggest stage imaginable, but I also actually think the schlockiness of Mania is even worse than the vignette. The vignette was bad, certainly, but projected bugs? Projected bugs? That’s how Bray’s powers manifest themselves? Really? This is one of the many reasons why Bray is so bad: his character is so incredibly cheesy. I think in a world where Bray was less of a joke, the House of Horrors match might have been less terrible, but matches like Mania are why he’s such a joke. And the in-ring portions of both were equally dreadful.
1. Jim Smallman, Jon Briley, and Glen Joseph (Progress Wrestling)
Smallman, Briley and Joseph: Honestly, this category isn't even close. These three have absolutely nailed it this year. First and foremost, there is their central angle, with British Strong Style as sellout corporate stooges for New York, and they've played it to the hilt. There is some argument that the angle doesn't have quite the heat it could, because Progress and WWE are openly friendly, unlike when Jimmy Havoc and Jim Smallman kept kayfabe throughout the Regression arc, but I don't think that's really the way to read the core of their characters.
It's not inherently that they work for WWE that is bad, it's that the three of them act like humongous arrogant pricks because they have those contracts and feel like they're completely above the law in Progress that is bad. They're not assholes at the behest of evil WWE, they're just assholes that are way too big for the britches because they're "colleagues" with Brock Lesnar, as Seven once put it when running down Matt Riddle's desire to retire The Beast.
And the other thing Progress has done exceedingly well with this year is their secondary arc of building up a new top face. As great as Progress is, it's been a promotion largely defined by heel champions. Will Ospreay finally won the title culminating the Regression arc flawlessly, but he signed with New Japan shortly after, so Progress never got that big face title reign with him. Then Marty Scurll won the title and the heel reigns continued. Mark Haskins seemed next in line to be that babyface, but injuries and complications made him relinquish the title shortly after winning it, and the title went to Pete Dunne next for yet another heel reign, but now they finally have that opportunity right in front of them for a new top face in one of the most unlikely of places: New Zealand.
"The Kiwi Buzzsaw" Travis Banks arrived to Progress less than a year ago aligning with one of the most loathed acts in Progress, The South Pacific Power Couple, the pairing of Dahlia Black and TK Cooper, a couple that is way, way, way too into each other, and with Banks in tow became the South Pacific Power Trip, a top heel team. But something happened over these past 10 months or so, and the Power Trip got reactions against the grain of their heel personas (a rarity in Progress, as the fans normally respond in the direction that is intended), especially Banks, exploding in popularity because of his tremendous and exciting in-ring prowess. The South Pacific Power Trip by mid-2017 was the best tag team on the planet, immune from having a bad match and getting incredibly over as faces. The sympathy and fan support only grew as TK Cooper and Dahlia Black's work visas expired and they needed to return to New Zealand leaving Banks alone. After an emotional moment at their final show, ruined by Trent Seven, it was clear in the eyes of every fan who the right person to beat Pete Dunne was. While the SPPT was a very successful tag team, going into the Super Strong Style 16 tournament (an annual event where the winner faces off with the champion at any chapter show they choose), Travis Banks had only two singles victories to his name, but that didn't matter, the fans made absolutely clear that Banks was their guy, and this is where Progress excelled.
They struck while the iron was hot. They didn't slow play this unnecessarily, or stick with the Bate turning on Dunne arc they've been building, because Bate isn't there yet in terms of fan reception, and Banks absolutely is. And so, Banks proceeded to steamroll through the Super Strong Style 16, defeating Tyler Bate in the final and now has a date with the champion at Alexandra Palace later this year. This is the kind of nimble and responsive booking that takes good bookers and makes them great bookers. You can have your ideas and plans, and that's all great, but when the fans speak as loudly and as clearly as the Progress faithful have with Banks, you absolutely have to respond to that. It feels reminiscent of the famous story of legendary All Japan booker Giant Baba hearing the AJPW faithful chanting Misawa's name over Jumbo Tsuruta and knowing the time was right to put Misawa over, and did exactly that, and the rest was history.
Compare that to Gedo, who will certainly win this award as he almost always does. Credit to him for the successes of the Okada/Omega series and Naito, but I look at a show like Dominion, and the crowd is absolutely on fire for Hiromu Takahashi and actually booing KUSHIDA, but because Gedo planned this storyline six months ago, that doesn't matter, and Hiromu lost. After the match, as KUSHIDA was promoing, the crowd in Osaka Jo literally popped like it was Hashimoto back from the dead when BUSHI came out to attack him. BUSHI! Not even someone actually good. That would be great if LIJ were the faces. They are not. Gedo is fundamentally not very much different than Vince McMahon when it comes to stubbornness. I give Gedo credit for his storytelling prowess, but his rigidity is what keeps him behind the Progress lads.
Promoter of the Year
1. Takaaki Kidani
Kidani: Kidani has done a great job really reaping the rewards of their building process the past few years. The 200-million-yen project is seeing a return, Naito has easily taken on the Nakamura role as a drawing secondary champion to sell out shows with (and Naito is selling a lot more merchandise), they’re successfully expanding overseas, and they continue to develop strong new talent, including Hiromu Takahashi, who within eight months from his excursion is becoming one of their most exciting and over performers, further building the Los Ingobernables de Japon merchandise empire.
Stay tuned for part two (it’s here!), and let us know what you think of these votes - and give us yours!