Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow and Brian Damage
It’s that time of the year again, it’s time for our end of the year awards, our version of the Slammys. Similar to last year, it’ll be divided into two parts. This week we’ll put forward our nominations for the following awards:
- Best Newcomer
- Worst Turn
- Biggest Missed Opportunity
- Best Pay Per View
- Diva of the Year
- Superstar most needing a change of fortune
- Most Likely to Succeed from NXT
So, without further ado.
Craig: Kevin Owens. From indies to the main roster via NXT in a very short period of time and not looking out of place tussling with the top stars on the WWE roster. The future is bright for him if the WWE can just get beyond promos about his weight…
Jamie: It has to be Kevin Owens. Charlotte is only coming out of her shell now and we are yet to see Tyler Breeze, Braun Strowman, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks or The Lucha Dragons really make an impact. Carrying the NXT Title to the main roster, beating John Cena clean and lifting the IC Title represents a good first year. My only worry is that Owens may have plateaued. We all know that he is capable of more, but will WWE let us see that?
Brian: My money is on Kevin Owens…who made a tremendous impact not only in NXT…but the main roster as well. From day one on the main roster..he challenged and defeated John Cena. He attacked Raw’s musical guest Machine Gun Kelly and won the Intercontinental title. Not bad for a few months with the WWE.
Craig: I guess Sheamus. I know it was long overdue and despite a short title reign, his time as a heel has been wasted. What could be a monster character has instead become a guy that gets “you look stupid” chanted at him. We recently argued that a lengthy title run might make him a superstar, now they’ve cut the legs from under him.
Jamie: Lana. I still don’t fully understand this storyline, purely because they blurred the lines between reality and fiction. I don’t follow the real lives of WWE performers particularly closely, thus I was left somewhat baffled by everything that happened around this angle.
Brian: Brie Bella. So Nikki turns heel on Brie because she feels her sister abandoned her in her time of need. She winds up making Brie her slave girl in some God awful segments. Brie turns on AJ and still is forced to be a slave to her sister? Sorry, but anything involving the Bella twins just plain sucks.
Biggest Missed Opportunity
Craig: Seth Rollins as WWE champion. Injury, rather than poor wwe decision making, robbed us of seeing just how far Rollins could go as WWE champion. Time will tell as to how well he bounces back but fingers crossed.
Jamie: Survivor Series. I will admit that WWE have found a little more traction with Roman Reigns since TLC, but the booking of Survivor Series was terrible in my view. For starters the quarter finals should have been on the show, thus making it more of a big deal with the eventual winner having to win three matches. Roman Reigns had two matches on Raw a couple of weeks prior, so two matches in a night is not a big deal. Secondly, either Ambrose or Reigns should have turned heel in the main event to join The Authority and win the title, preferably the latter. Mankind vs The Rock in late 98/early 99 worked, so just copy that model.
Brian: I cannot help but say that the poor booking of Damian Sandow was a huge disappointment in 2015. Sandow was able to grow as a character and get over very well with the fans after splitting with the Miz. Instead of truly capitalizing on his new found popularity…they gave him the ridiculous ‘Macho Mandow’ parody persona. He is nowhere to be seen on WWE TV. A big waste if you ask me.
Best Pay Per View
Craig: TLC. Sure we had wildly low expectations and yeah it was only a 7 out of 10 sorta show but more importantly it yielded a long overdue press of the reset button. In the last few minutes of the event the WWE booked Roman Reigns better than they have to date.
Jamie: I assume we don’t count NXT Takeover shows? Therefore I vote for TLC. The tag ladder match was fantastic, the IC Title match was good, ditto the tables match. Reigns losing his shit at the end of the show was extremely well done and long overdue too. The show also benefited from extremely low expectations, so most certainly delivered more than it had any right to.
Brian: Wrestle Kingdom 9 at the Tokyo Dome this past January…was by far the best pay per view of 2015. Shinsuke Nakamura versus Kota Ibushi… Aj Styles….reDRagon….Okada…Tanahashi etc. And oh yeah, we saw the return of Jim Ross behind the microphone along with Matt Striker.
Diva of the Year
Craig: Bayley. She’s one of the most over acts in NXT for a reason. Because she’s made a connection with the fan base. Sure, it’s not my age range but you can see how much she means to many of the fans that attend NXT.
Jamie: I’m going to dip into NXT here because it’s clearly Bayley. I think I once counted Nikki Bella’s title defences and she only made eight, so her lengthy run as Divas champ was largely pointless. Paige had an awful run as a lame babyface, Charlotte has only just started gaining momentum on the main roster and Sasha Banks has done little of note since stepping up, despite her cult status. Bayley on the other hand has been the only consistent female wrestler over the course of the year. Always produces a great match and is over as hell. Even better is that she is popular with kids and adults. Take that Mr Cena!
Brian: Nobody has had more 5 star matches in any of the women/Divas divisions than Bayley. She is a true star in the making and might just be the missing piece in the Divas revolution that really gets it going.
Superstar most needing a change of fortune
Craig: Should we just call this the Dolph Ziggler/Miz award? Both guys are solid in the ring – Ziggler better – and both charismatic but just seem completely stuck in a rut. Miz gets a talk show after a fairly entertaining programme with Sandow and Ziggler just lurches from rubbish feud to rubbish feud. Grim for the pair.
Jamie: Dolph Ziggler gets mentioned around this topic far too often for his lack of significance to be down to luck. For me he needs to change more than the length of his tights. I’m casting my vote for Bray Wyatt. He is brilliant, his stable is perfect, his character is outstanding and the matches he is capable of producing are incredible. The problem is he is constantly booked to lose feuds against ‘bigger stars’ and needs to then feud with guys like The Dudley Boyz to rebuild his diminishing aura. That’s two feuds with The Undertaker and two resounding losses for Mr. Wyatt.
Brian: I still feel in my heart of hearts that Stardust/Cody Rhodes can be a main event level star if truly given the chance. It just won’t happen in my opinion as long as he is portraying this Stardust character. He has the look, the ring skills and charisma to go pretty far. Instead, he is used to help get Titus O’Neil over as a singles star and randomly jobs to Jack Swagger.
Most Likely to Succeed from NXT
Craig: It can’t be long before Apollo Crews makes the step up. Why? Just look at him. Then factor in his surprisingly high risk offence and you’ve got the sorta guy that screams money.
Jamie: Chad Gable. A little left field, but this guy is a star all day long. In all likelihood Bayley, Crews, Balor, Joe, Zayn etc. will all transition very well when they step up to the main roster. I just don’t see any of them having the potential to be the next big thing. Believe it or not in Gable I do. He’s compared to Kurt Angle a lot, but I’d also compare him to Daniel Bryan. He’s not the biggest so will likely need the weight of public opinion to propel him up the ladder, but I don not see that being an issue given his talent and charisma.
Brian: My pick this year doesn’t go to just one wrestler…but two! The tag team of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan are headed for big things in both NXT and the WWE’s main roster. They are a little green in the charisma department…but trust me when I say that the duo will be called up much sooner rather than later. They are that good.