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2001 R.S.P-W Awards

Best Wrestler


Award Description:

To be given to the athlete who was the best overall wrestler of the year.
This includes all facets of wrestling: workrate, technical ability,
interviews, charisma, value to his/her promotion, etc. In 1994, this award
was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall.  
In 1998, it was recombined into one.

Previous Winners:

  1990: Curt Hennig
  1991: Ric Flair
  1992: Ric Flair
  1993: Big Van Vader
  1994: Bret Hart
  1994: (NA)         Sabu
  1994: (non-NA)     Chris Benoit
  1995: (overall/NA) Shawn Michaels
  1995: (non-NA)     Chris Benoit
  1996: (overall/NA) Shawn Michaels
  1996: (non-NA)     Jushin Liger
  1997: (overall/NA) Shawn Michaels
  1997: (non-NA)     Taka Michinoku
  1998: Stone Cold Steve Austin
  1999: Chris Benoit
  2000: Triple H

**2001**: Stone Cold Steve Austin

302 first place votes
299 second place votes
299 third place votes

133 49 31  874   Steve Austin
 78 99 33  753   Kurt Angle
 20 32 54  304   Chris Benoit
 25 20 30  245   Triple H
  7 15 18  116   Chris Jericho
  2 16 24  106   Rock
  7  8 22  103   Rob van Dam
 10 11  5   93   Keiji Muto
  0  8 10   44   Booker T
  1  6  9   41   Tajiri
  1  3  5   24   Yuji Nagata
  0  3  6   21   Lance Storm
  1  3  3   20   Toshiaki Kawada
  1  1  5   18   Edge
  2  1  2   17   Momoe Nakanishi
  0  4  2   16   Christian
  0  2  5   16   Rhyno
  1  1  3   14   Minoru Tanaka
  2  1  0   13   Jushin Liger
  2  0  1   12   Lexie Fyfe
  2  0  1   12   Jun Akiyama
  2  0  0   10   Super Dragon
  0  0  5   10   Low Ki
  0  1  3    9   El Hijo del Santo
  1  1  0    8   Hayabusa
  0  0  4    8   American Dragon
  1  0  1    7   Scott Steiner
  0  2  0    6   Brandi Alexander
  1  0  0    5   Tetsuhiro Kuroda
  1  0  0    5   Mikey Whipwreck
  1  0  0    5   Kaoru Ito
  0  1  1    5   Riot
  0  1  1    5   Meiko Satomura
  0  1  1    5   CIMA
  0  1  1    5   Beckie the Farmer's Daughter
  0  0  2    4   Undertaker
  0  1  0    3   Sean O'Haire
  0  1  0    3   Matt Hardy
  0  1  0    3   Masato Tanaka
  0  1  0    3   Magnum Tokyo
  0  1  0    3   Kid Kash
  0  1  0    3   El Satanico
  0  1  0    3   Eddie Guerrero
  0  1  0    3   Dr. Wagner Jr.
  0  0  1    2   Val Venis
  0  0  1    2   Steve Corino
  0  0  1    2   Noki-A
  0  0  1    2   Mr. Gannosuke
  0  0  1    2   Michael Modest
  0  0  1    2   Kanyon
  0  0  1    2   Kane
  0  0  1    2   Jeff Hardy
  0  0  1    2   Esse Rios
  0  0  1    2   El Samurai
  0  0  1    2   Bam Bam Bigelow

MICHAELANGELO MCCULLAR: This was a tough choice.  But, ultimately, I had
to give the nod to Angle due to Benoit and HHH's injuries.

RYAN HALL: Austin, HHH, Angle. Austin has been consistently the most
interesting part of TV and PPV

EDDIE BURKETT: Frankly, Austin has been phenomenal in these last few
months. Angle has stepped up his game, and HHH was great before he got
hurt.  The Rock has been also been good this year, but not as good as last
year, and in a different mood, these last three guys could easily be
re-ordered to knock someone else out of getting my vote.

JESSE HARALDSON: Steve Austin took a heel turn the fans did not want to
accept and forced them to hate him.  I don't know of anybody who was as
intensely popular as Steve Austin who could do that, especially one B.
Goldberg. No that is too obvious, how about Bill G.

NATE GURNETT: Austin's paranoid heel has made the WWF watchable this year.  
He's more or less carried the promotion since April (No Rock, no H, not
even Benoit).  Angle had a good year, if his face turn were better booked,
he might have been #1.  Multiple title reigns plus good work in the ring
plus some great skits (and some lousy ones) adds up to 2.  Jericho was
thrown in for being there all year, whereas Booker T, my alternate choice
for 3 spot, had about 4 months off.  Eh.

VIKRAM BIRRING: Steve Austin transformed himself from a mindless brawler
losing credibility into an old school heel. His heel turn is fresh, and
Austin makes the crowd laugh, then turns around and destroys someone. He
is the best heel since Ric Flair.

STEPHEN TISZENKEL: Let's hear it for Stone Cold Steve Austin. Say what you
want about whether or not his heel turn was good for business -- it
probably wasn't -- the guy managed to do what others like Goldberg
couldn't: He took his phenomenal popularity and turned it into genuine
contempt from the fans. After years of doing the same act and doing it
well, he completely reinvented himself and made himself more entertaining
in the process. He had a hell of a year, and he deserves this award.

KHENYIAN CHEUNG: Stone Cold Steve Austin.  What can you say?  The heel
turn worked and the chicanery and humor he injected to programming helped
quite a bit, as he's moved away from the regular "who cares" face wrestler
to a bad ass heel.

DEAN RASMUSSEN: Jushin Liger was awesome this year. Consistently great
anchoring the madly resurgent New Japan Junior division and especially
mentoring the promising slew of rookies, Lyger was on the top of the game
for a longer period of time than Kawada, Santo or the injured Benoit.
Meiko Satomura was consistently great this year, delivering the ass-stomp
when in with TRUE queens of ass-stomp Aja and Akira Hokuto. Low-Ki had a
phenomenal year, having mind-blowingly stiff matches one day and being
king rudo in a high-flying affair in the next, then being the Ricky Morton
of the '01 in a Southern tag the next day.

CHIP BOOTS: No one has been better than Steve Austin this year.

MARKUS: I miss Benoit.

GREG NECASTRO: Kurt Angle had an exceptional year and is a rare example of
a cross-over athlete.

SCOTT WORDEN: Kurt Angle is the best wrestler out there..  Benoit is right
behind and if that injury did not happen, may have been number 1 again..  
The Tajiri mark in me gives a 3rd place vote.. :)

CHRIS BIRD: Steve Austin is head and heels above the rest this year, with
tons of fantastic matches and a killer heel character that was the sole
saving grace of the Invasion. (What? The Invasion. What?) Kurt Angle is
clearly deserving of second, with a nearly as strong run and,
surprisingly, a strong (if short) face run. After him, there's a crop of
guys who are all in the same level: Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Rock,
HHH, and Booker. And all of them can make arguments to be in the top
three. I'm going with Jericho based on the most consistence and longest
consecutive time spent wrestling, as all the others took breaks for
injuries and/or contract problems this year.

SEAN FLYNN: This was Austin's year.  He put on some amazing matches with
Benoit, Angle, Helmsley, and anyone else not named Undertaker or Kane.  
His character as a heel was one of the shining lights of the year, as his
interviews seemed beamed down from another planet they were so funny and
bizarre.  One day people will look back on heel Austin as the template for
the heel of the future.  He was the undeniable top guy for the WWF, and
did all he could to keep them afloat without Rock and HHH.  Angle had a
major year where he became a solid main eventer, and his match with Shane
at KOTR was a brutal classic.  Benoit was on an amazing roll until he got
injured, had he stayed healthy, he likely would have gotten the top spot.

CANZ: Steve Austin carried the WWF on a broken back and weakened spine and
bad knees. He is the man.

SHOCKER 2K: Angle made himself the hands-down best man in the WWF in his
sophomore run. Just absolutely amazing.

DONNY L: Steve Austin came back and is without a doubt wrestler of the
year, his compenation of ringwork and interview is the most amazing thing
I've ever seen.

PETER HAZLETT: Rock has shown ability to wrestle all types of matches and
kept the WWF afloat while HHH was out

SIMON GRIER: In my opinion, five wrestlers stand out over all others in
terms of overall ability, but are on a roughly equal footing with each
other. Kurt Angle, Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin are all excellent
in the ring and on the mic. The Rock is slightly less adept in the ring
than those, but better on the mic, while the exact opposite is true of
Benoit. My vote therefore goes to the only one of the five who wrestled
week in, week out all year - Angle. Austin comes second as the WWF based
their whole product around him and he came up big, while Rock is third
because of his sheer importance to the company.

ESTRAGAND: Angle worked every match, every role and every character
required of him.  Consistent, entertaining and stayed relatively healthy
in 2001.

MICHAEL STAKELY: Wait... what's wrestling again?  That's that two or three
minutes when they get in the ring and don't talk or sing, right? Do they
even do that anymore?

EDC: Kawada get the number one spot thanks to not being dumbed down by his
own promoter...Angle FLurished in the WWF and is quickly becoming the go
to guy in the fed with the absense of Benoit and HHH. Hopfully if the
promotional split goes through, He'll land in the Workrate half... Muto,
on his last legs, earned his spot on shear guts and determination.

JOHN C.: Steve Austin had one of the greatest years ever in 2001. He had
top matches with everybody from Rock to HHH to Benoit to Angle on TV and
on PPVs. His mic work was top notch as usual and his heel character made
him the most intriguing character in wrestling. I'll refrain from saying
"What?"  since I'm sure everybody else is doing it now. It's all because
of the best wrestler for the past twelve months, Steve Austin. Even though
there was no question as to who was the best, there was a question
regarding the runners up. In the end, Angle and Benoit round out the top
three just ahead of The Rock and Triple H.

CHRIS GRIMM: It's a tossup for wrestler of the year between Steve Austin
and Kurt Angle.  Austin returned to top form in the ring, and is more
entertaining than he's been since he was hiding in Bret Hart's ambulance
and breaking into Brian Pillman's house.  Kurt Angle continued on the
awesome year he had last year, holding onto the WWF title a lot longer
than anyone expected and managing to pick it up again later in the year
(albeit for, what, about a week?).  He also got a hell of a lot more over
as a face than I ever thought possible.  I mean, in the age of "Attitude",
did you think a face would *ever* be able to lead the crowd in the Pledge
of Allegiance (which he did before September 11).  I gave the edge to
Angle, mostly due to Austin's long period of inactivity during the summer,
and the simple fact that, up until Austin's heel turn at Wrestlemania, the
character was almost a characiture of his former self, and really, really,
really sucked.  Balance out the category with Chris Jericho, who the
lesser half of the "Canadian Chrises", I'll grant you, but was active the
entire year and finally got his world title. (And held onto it for, what,
about as long as Angle?)

SCOTT CHRIST: Austin dominated the year. His improvement in the ring after
his sub-par post-injury performances in late 2000 was remarkable. Not only
that, but from an entertainment standpoint, he kicked the crap out of,
well, everyone else. What?

JOE GENTILE: The man has a neck injury that would cripple anyone else. Not
only does he come back, not only does he single-handedly grab the reigns
of a federation so desperately in need of a spark, but he takes
superplexes, and other bumps that would expose the Undertakes as the fraud
that he is! Ladies and gentlemen, that is why Steve Austin is your
wrestler of the year. Kurt Angle gets second for his overall flexibility
and talent. The same guy who was wrestling classic matches with Chris
Benoit altered his style to put on one of the most brutal harcore matches
EVER with Shane-O-Mac. RVD gets number three for making the incredible
impact that no one thought he could.

BLAZEJ SZPAKOWICZ: Steve Austin has been the focal point of nearly every
main event angle of the year, has consistently been wrestling fine matches
(including, *gasp*, technical matches too. Shame he can't do that more
often :P), and delivering great promos. With Rock, Triple H and Benoit all
out for long periods, he's been carrying the WWF on his back for most of
the year (even when *he* was injured), and is clearly the wrestler of the
year. Kurt Angle had three World's title reigns this year, and has
consistently worked good matches year long. If he hadn't completely
flopped as a babyface he might have gotten number 1. Rock should probably
be third, but I can't stand him, so he ain't. Yes, I'm biased. Bite me.
Instead, I'm giving it to Chris Jericho, who's worked a number of good
matches, won his first World's title, and is one of the best in the world
when properly motivated. He was also by far the fed's top face whilst Rock
was out making movies. And he beat Rock, too.

CHRIS LENING: Steve Austin was entertaining almost every single time he
was on TV, and as great as he was talking, he was even better wrestling,
telling a story over a time period that is gargantuan by modern standards.
Keiji Mutoh put on a whole bunch of really good matches in the time
period, which all interested me enough to get more and more of his stuff,
inevitably becoming interested in many of his fellow workers, to which I
owe him bunches. Kurt Angle is always fun for me to watch, even when he's
fighting someone I don't normally care for.

MATTY TONKIN: Austin was overall most entertaining, in the ring & on the
mic. The Rock didnt skip a beat on returning & deservedly took his place
back at the top of the roster.

JEREMY SORIA: Stone Cold Steve Austin might literally be on his last legs,
but he has proved in his matches with Benoit and Angle that he still has a
healthy amount of athleticism in him. And no matter what you think of his
gimmick, he is simply charming at times. Benoit and Angle are the two
major athletes in the WWF, and they take their roles as wrestlers very,
very seriously.

SHANE SPEAR: Steve Austin is always in the main-event it seems. Whether he
is a babyface or a heel, Austin always gets a reaction from the crowd. He
held the WWF title twice this year, and has held the title longer than
anybody else.  Kurt Angle was one of only three wrestlers to hold onto the
WWF title this year. He also picked up the WCW World title, the WWF
Hardcore title, and the WCW US title.  Booker has been a three time WCW
champion this year. He has also been the WCW US champ, and a WCW tag
champ, making him the first person since Scott Steiner to do that. Also,
he was the number one face in the old WCW, and the number one heel in the
new WCW until Austin came over.

CHRIS McMURTRY: Mutoh not only carried a near dead company to a watchable
year and another 12 months of existence, but he carried wrestlers that
might as well be dead (Steve Williams) to decent matches throughout 2001.
He started off kind of slow, but once he got on his game, there was no one
better in 2001 than Keiji Mutoh. That said, if anyone is close, it's Steve
Austin. Though, as a drawing card, heel Austin can't exactly be called a
success, in terms of quality matches with a range of opponents and
entertaining out of the ring bits, Stone Cold as a heel was tremendous.
When he first came back from the neck injury, he looked quite out of
place, but he's silenced his critics with maybe his best year yet. And
what can be said about Angle that already hasn't been? The man's
incredible. Though it's tough to say now, at this rate, I don't think it's
unrealtistic to think that he'll go down as one of the greatest ever, if
not the greatest.

ROB HUNTER: Tough call for wrestler of the year.  In terms of workrate,
you've got to go with Kawada.  He has carried the weight of the world on
his shoulders and has managed to drag ***+ matches out of workers than
anybody else this year.  However, All Japan's pitiful booking kept him
away from the important matches he could have been having.  On the other
hand, Keiji Muto has had a hell of a comeback, and, quite frankly, has had
more to work with a lot of the time than Kawada.  He also doesn't wrestle
as frequently as Kawada, making each singles match he has "special."  
Yuji Nagata had a breakout year, coming from behind to win the G-1 Climax
Tournament.  Had he captured the IWGP Heavyweight Title from Fujita, he'd
be a shoe-in for first place.  As it stands, Muto is first, Nagata is
second, and Kawada is third.

WILL SCHLICKENMAIER: Steve Austin carried the WWF pillar to post.  No
question he wins.  Chris Benoit is the best wrestler in the WWF, and
AmDrag is the best wrestler in the indies.  They both make their opponents
look better... in fact, all three of these men do.  Next?

JUSTIN SHAPIRO: Rock and Chris Benoit both had lengthy absences, but I
guess I picked Rock because he's with us right now.

MATT SPAULDING: What a year for Stone Cold Steve Austin.  After a slow
start to his comeback from yet another neck injury, he starts having
killer matches, pulls off a heel turn by completely reinventing his
character, and keeps on having killer matches.  Kurt Angle just kept
getting better, even getting over as a face for a few months.  Benoit gets
my third-place vote over Jericho since Benoit's overall work was more
consistent until he got hurt, and Jericho didn't turn it up until after

SHAWN MULLIN: What a story Steve Austin has been this year.  When he first
came back, it seeemed like maybe he had lost a step.  However, after the
match he worked with Benoit on RAW in December, it's been one hell of a
ride.  Austin probably had his best year overall in the ring wrestling
match of the year candidates with Angle on RAW, HHH at NWO, Rock and
WrestleMania, in a tag against Benoit and Jericho on RAW, a title match
with Benoit on Smackdown, a triple threat with Benoit and Jericho at King
of the Ring, and a couple more matches with Angle at SummerSlam and
Unforgiven.  Nobody approaches that kind of performance.  On top of that,
he was part of the highest grossing show of all time, and he's been
probably the most consistently entertaining performer on the microphone.  
People will probably always look at the heel turn as a failure, but I'll
look back fondly on it because of the entertainment it provided and the
spark it gave him.  Angle also had a breakout year, showing he had the
skills to carry a company (although not as a face character), and showing
himself to have perhaps the best pure wrestling skills in the company.  
Lastly, the Rock may have missed a few months, but he (with Austin) is
probably also the most entertaining overall performer in the company.  To
look at Rock's PPV matches now and compare them to when he first started,
you wouldn't even know he was the same wrestler.  The Rock that used to
need carrying is now able to drag very entertaining matches out of a guy
like Rikishi when he's called upon.  Lets hope he'll be around for several
more years.

General Comments
Best Wrestler
Best Tag Team
Best Heel
Best Babyface
Best Worker
Best Jobber
Best Jobber to the Stars
Best Flyer
Best Technical
Best Brawler
Most Favourite
Most Improved
Most Overrated
Best Gimmick
Best Move
Best Match
Best Feud
Worst Wrestler
Worst Tag Team
Worst Heel
Worst Babyface
Worst Worker
Least Favourite
Most Deteriorated
Most Underrated
Worst Gimmick
Worst Move
Worst Match
Worst Feud
Most Disappointing News item
Most Obnoxious
Best Second
Best Announcer
Best Colour
Best Interviewee
Best Angle
Best Organization
Best TV Show
Best Major Show
Best Promotional Move
Worst Second
Worst Announcer
Worst Colour
Worst Interviewee
Worst Angle
Worst Organization
Worst TV Show
Worst Major Show
Worst Promotional Move
'netter Suggested Awards


Copyright © 1999-2001 Christopher Robin Zimmerman & KZiM Communications