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1999 R.S.P-W Awards

Best Wrestler

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

351 first place votes
345 second place votes
344 third place votes

 79 49 20  582   Chris Benoit
 73 53 26  576   Rock
 33 39 34  350   Mankind
 23 34 41  299   Chris Jericho
 30 28 20  274   Steve Austin
 18 17 29  199   Rob Van Dam
 12 18 13  140   Triple H
 16  7 15  131   Bret Hart
  8  6  6   70   Mitsuharu Misawa
  3  8 12   63   Eddie Guerrero
  6  6  6   60   Owen Hart
  5  5  9   58   Taz
  4  7  6   53   Jerry Lynn
  1  6 11   45   Goldberg
  6  1  5   43   Vader
  2  7  5   41   Sting
  3  6  1   35   Kenta Kobashi
  2  5  4   33   Edge
  2  3  3   25   Dean Malenko
  3  1  3   24   Ric Flair
  0  3  7   23   Lance Storm
  2  1  4   21   Kane
  0  4  4   20   Kidman
  2  3  0   19   Jeff Hardy
  1  2  3   17   D'Lo Brown
  0  2  4   14   Juventud Guerrera
  1  0  4   13   X-Pac
  0  3  1   11   Jushin Liger
  0  1  4   11   Perry Saturn
  2  0  0   10   Joe E. Legend
  0  2  2   10   Diamond Dallas Page
  1  0  2    9   Toshiaki Kawada
  1  0  2    9   Norman Smiley
  0  1  3    9   Jeff Jarrett
  1  1  0    8   Mona
  1  1  0    8   Manami Toyota
  0  0  4    8   Hardcore Holly
  1  0  1    7   Lexie Fyfe
  1  0  1    7   Al Snow
  0  0  3    6   Mike Awesome
  1  0  0    5   Yoshahiro Tajiri
  1  0  0    5   Test
  1  0  0    5   Tatsuhito Takaiawa
  1  0  0    5   Steve Regal
  1  0  0    5   Scott Hall
  1  0  0    5   Mariko Yoshida
  1  0  0    5   Great Sasuke
  1  0  0    5   Disco Inferno
  0  1  1    5   Vampiro
  0  1  1    5   Raven
  0  1  1    5   Masato Tanaka
  0  1  1    5   Booker T.
  0  0  2    4   Super Crazy
  0  0  2    4   Shane McMahon
  0  0  2    4   Billy Kidman
  0  0  2    4   Aja Kong
  0  1  0    3   Undertaker
  0  1  0    3   Taka Michinoku
  0  1  0    3   Nova
  0  1  0    3   Lioness Aska
  0  1  0    3   Kyoko Inoue
  0  1  0    3   Ken Shamock
  0  1  0    3   Jun Akiyama
  0  1  0    3   Hulk Hogan
  0  1  0    3   Hijo del Santo
  0  1  0    3   Christian
  0  1  0    3   Brandi Alexander
  0  0  1    2   Val Venis
  0  0  1    2   Strawberry Fields
  0  0  1    2   Shinjiro Otani
  0  0  1    2   Shiima Nobunaga
  0  0  1    2   Sabu
  0  0  1    2   Rey Mysterio Jr
  0  0  1    2   Randy Savage
  0  0  1    2   Psychosis
  0  0  1    2   Pete "Gas"
  0  0  1    2   Meng
  0  0  1    2   Little Guido
  0  0  1    2   Lenny
  0  0  1    2   Keiji Mutoh
  0  0  1    2   Evan Karagias
  0  0  1    2   Eiji Ezaki (Hayabusa)
  0  0  1    2   Chyna
  0  0  1    2   Bill Goldberg

CHRIS BIRD:  With no North American wrestler being both a major draw AND a
provider of great matches, that means we have to look to Japan, where
Vader singlehandedly revitalized All-Japan and his career at the same
time. The closest North American equivalents to Vader's success are Steve
Austin (who hasn't had as many good matches as Vader, putting him in the
#2 spot) and Goldberg (whose popularity more or less kept WCW afloat for
the year, giving him #3).

JEREMY MORAN: I halfway wonder if this category shouldn't be renamed "best
performer."  My choice, The Rock is not the best "wrestler" of the year,
but was the best showman of the year.  "Best wrestler" at this point is
closer to "best worker" than "best performer", at least in my crazed mind.

EDC: Benoit is great in the ring. He can wrestle all styles, and do them
well. His persona is a bit boring, and dull. Mankind on the other hand, is
great outside the ring, but his ring skills all center around Brawling
tactics. Saturn is becoming a Benoit Jr., And his mic-skills and
personality are coming around.

CYBERAL33: Kenta Kobashi has had an incredible year as far as great
matches, great workrate, and terrific face heat from the All Japan crowds.
Not even putting over Vader three times has stopped him from still being
the most over babyface in the league. His moveset is the best of anyone's
in wrestling as he has a wide variety of high flying moves, suplexes, and
slams. Kobashi also has the best and most over lariet in wrestling. And
this is made all the more spectacular when you consider the shap this
man's knees are in. He's been in pain in every match he's wrestled this
year and still manages world class performences everytime. Chris Benoit
has stepped up as the number one heaveyweight in WCW and should be
main-eventing any minute now. He has had great feuds with the Triad and,
of course, the spectacular three way feud with Rey Jr./Kidman and
Raven/Saturn. And also a match of the year canadate with Bret Hart. Misawa
has had a so-so year for him, but he's still one of the top wrestlers in
the world. He took some of the most vile bumps of the year and is now
paying the price for his recklessness, but it still didn't stop him from
having consistenty great matches.

RFLAGG13: Is there any doubt that Benoit owned 1999? This guy never fails
to impress me when he steps in the ring, and the only bad match he had was
against a truly impossible opponent (Sid). Austin continues to defy the
wishes of the workrate freaks by cranking out great matches everywhere he
goes--contrary to popular belief, he has an excellent sense of match
psychology and truly one of the great brawlers of all time. Third place
goes to Bret Hart--while he may be deteriorated, he still goes out and
proves that he's one of the best wrestlers on the face of the Earth.

K. CANZANELLA: Mitsuhara Misawa is the wrestler of the year. He was in 4
MOTY candidate matches. No one else comes close to this feat.  It's a
shame that his incredible work is starting to take it's toll upon his body
though... Santo Jr. gets second, as I don't think I've ever seen him in a
match that was less than good. It's been 13 years now and he's still going
as strong as ever. Benoit gets third, for basically smoking everyone in
the US in terms of good matches.

MR. JF: The Rock combines many of the element that I think should be
included in this category: Excellent mic skills, ring presence, nice
offense. His selling leaves a bit to be desired, but since being a good
showman is what wrestling is all about in North America, he gets it. Chris
Jericho would be # 1 if he had been more visible throughout the year. Eddy
Guerrero would be on the list if he had, as well.

GREG DILLARD: As far as "best wrestler" goes, I think that although the
amount of actual wrestling he performs has dwindled greatly you can't
dismiss the heights that this guy rose to over the year.  The Rock has
managed to climb from a mid card also ran to a guy that actually gets more
heat than Steve Austin, and the majority of that all happened this year.  
As a face or heel The Rock managed to keep the fans interest all year long
while engaging some entertaining angles along the way.  Steve Austin
remains my second choice for simply staying over despite the rash of
injuries and outside commitments that have more or less relegated him to a
part time performer as of late.  Goldberg gets my final vote simply by
remaining the "next big thing" in wrestling and the shimmering hope that
WCW has of regaining prominence.

SVEN MASCARENHAS: I always try to give best wrestler to the people who I
have the most fun watching in the ring, not necessarily those with the
best ringwork or interviewing skills. And there's no one in any fed that I
appreciate watching more than D'Lo, with Benoit and Lynn a close second
and third, respectively.

FALCONARROW: Benoit is God, enough said. The Other 2 get on because they
are over even if I personally hate them both.

MIKE SONBY: Benoit carried just about everyone to a good match.  The Rock
took the step forward into becoming the main focus of the league.  And
Lenny, along with Lodi, took a bad gimmick, and through good in-ring work
and brilliant mic work, got over.  They were so hot that WCW, in their
infinite wisdom, took them off camera indefinitely.  Only in WCW is doing
a great job rewarded by being buried.

AARON: The Rock and Triple H are the most over heel/face combo in the
world right now. Misawa gets a nod because he's holding about 20 belts
right now.

OCTAVIAN:  I took the "value to the promotion" aspect of this award very
seriously in my considerations.  Obviously in technical wrestling Benoit
surpasses the Rock, but it is hard to say that Benoit has been as
important to WCW this past year as Rock has been WWF.

DON BECKER: While some folks may equate this with "Best Worker" or "Most
Favourite Wrestler" (love the anglophile spelling there, Chris), I've
viewed it as "Who's had the best year, career wise?"  In that case, is
there anyone who deserves it more than Vader?  At this point last year,
he'd been cast out of the WWF as a "fat piece of shit" and is now a
two-time Triple Crown winner, and has seen his career revitalized in a way
it never would've if he'd stayed in the States.  In North America, though,
it was all about The Rock and Triple H, who jumped from mid-card to main
event and have made the most of their opportunity.  Granted, if Triple H
remained the heatless wonder he was towards the beginning of his WWF title
reign, he wouldn't have rated at all, but he's actually become something
the WWF has been lacking: a heel.

Y2J MANIA:  This is a crowded field this year with many strong candidates
between the WWF's superstars Steve Austin, Rock, & Mankind; New Japan's
super talented juniors Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani;  All Japan's
heavyweights Mitsuhara Misawa & Kenta Kobashi, Toryumon's rising stars
Magnum Tokyo & Shiima Nobunaga, plus Great Sasuke who put on great matches
for several promotions.  I went with Austin and Rock for #1 and #2 for
putting on strong matches more often than not while being the two top
stars in the business, followed by Misawa for #3 who carried All Japan
this year with his wrestling, booking, and willingness to put opponents
over clean.

SHAWN MULLIN: I know a lot of people online are down on Austin.  "He's
getting old, his workate has gone downhill, the act is wearing thin, he's
not as over as the Rock" but lets make this simple.  Steve Austin was the
main draw of the most successful wrestling company in history (that's the
WWF in 1999). Steve Austin gets a huge pop no matter where he goes,
whether it's falling from his god-like 1998 pops or not.  Steve Austin, a
man with supposedly no workrate and 2 moves, had good to great matches at
Survivor Series, St.Valentine's Day Massacre, WrestleMania, Backlash,
Fully Loaded, SummerSlam and No Mercy.  He also carried most RAW matches
he was in with an intensity unmatched by no one, and even Herb Kunze, a
staunch WWF critic, will admit that.  So tell me, who's done more than
that this year?  That's all I've got to say about that :)  Mankind
continues to be the best mic workerin the business, and carried the Rock
and the Big Show through the first half of the year.  That's quite the
feat.  Chris Benoit makes every match he's in watcheable, and has in-ring
charisma that no one seems to recognise.  He was also involved in several
key midcard angles, each of them getting over. I'd say that's a good top

MAX CHITTISTER: All three guys can do just about anything in the ring. So
many wrestlers are just one-dimensional; these are multi-tool guys.

JBELL55146: Beniot<1st> had more quality matches this year then anybody.  
Rock<2nd> had entertaining matches against Foley, Austin, HHH, etc..etc...  
And Foley<3rd> is well...Foley!

BLOB: This year was THE year for Jerry Lynn. He carried RVD to his best
matches the entire year, thus also creating the feud of the year. Benoit
gets #2 because he's Benoit! He put on great matches with the likes of
Bret Hart, Sting, Malenko, Saturn, etc etc etc. The Ayatollah of Rock and
Rollah gets my third place vote for his wonderful mic work and great
matches scattered throughout the year.

ADNAN VIRK: there are many better technical wrestlers than the Rock, but
the value to the promotion and charisma are big things...and the other
techies just don't have it.

BRUNO PULVER: Goldberg has gotten way better

GEORGE CARTER: Chris Benoit has had a break-out year. From the tag titles
to the US belt to the TV one, he held bumourous belts. He wrestled Dean
Malenko, Saturn, Raven, Dallas Page, Ric Flair, Curt Hennig, Sid, Bam Bam
Bigelow, Kidman, Rey Misterio Junior and even Hulk Hogan. He even holds
victories over each of these men (including DQs and COs wins). He wrestles
on every show from PPVs all the way down to Saturday Night. After hearing
from what Russo wants to do to Benoit next year, I expect the Crippler to
have main evented at least one PPV. My third choice is quite strange is
DDP but he had a good year. WHen he was the WCW Champ, he became earned
'Hardest worker in wrestling'. He put the title on the line on Thunder and
Nitro almost every week. He put the title on the line against Ric Flair,
Sting, Kevin Nash and even Bam Bam Bigelow. And in each of those matches,
there weren't many screwjobs IRRC, something which is unheard of today.
Plus his jobs to Kidman and Benoit were 'the right thing to do' which only
helps him win this place.

JOHN C.:I chose Austin, Foley, Rock because they were the best this past
year with Triple H probably being the fourth. It was tough picking Austin
but his feuds with Rocky, McMahon and HHH were well done while Foley was
injured for a few months and Rocky just isn't the worker Austin or Foley
is. I think Taz stood out a lot too but I didn't get to see ECW regularly
till August. WCW didn't really have one person that stood out for the
entire year (Goldberg and Hart were injured for a while). WCW also focused
the promotion around Nash, Hogan, Savage and Sid which was just a horrible
move. That's why I decided on those three from the WWF.

JON RICHARDSON: This year was hands down the year of The Rock.  There was
no other performer whom the fans wanted to see and see more often than The
Rock. With Steve Austin's decline due to injury and the fact that he
didn't always do his catchphrases in interviews the WWF crowds were more
than ready to eat up the
catchphrase-spewing-audience-playing-to-posing-before-every-move Rock.  
2nd place goes to the man who had the Internet abuzz for 7 months
wondering where he would sign.  Chris Jericho was hands down the most
sought after free agent in wrestling history and upon his signing with the
WWF, the Internet ate it up.  Third place goes to Chris Benoit for being
the ultimate company man.  He jobbed whenever asked, continued working
hard in every match and it is finally looking like he's being rewarded for

RICHARD BEAUBIEN: My votes for Best wrestler cover my tastes in wrestling,
which are moslty work rare oriented. Thus Chris Benoit takes the number
one position, producing good matches most of the time and taking two swan
dives headbutts to get himself over (and then having both moves buried by
WCW...). Eddy G and Juvi round out my top 3, being the two best workers in
North America. Eddy G also gets big props for coming back as a man sized
worker after his horrible car accident.

JAN-MORTIZ KAEDING: Here's something WCW still has to learn: Let your
wrestlers do what they can do best. Use their potential. While Stone Cold
and Rock are not my favourite wrestlers, they are the most over, most
important wrestlers today. Eddie Guerrero just never disappoints me, so I
chose him over Mankind, Goldberg and Sting. (1st: Austin, 2nd: Rock, 3rd:

ELLIOT SPARKS: Best Wrestler? Kenta Kobashi gets the nod here, chiefly for
being the most consistent grappler on the planet. Every Kenta match in
1999 was worth watching, and the Triple Crown match with Misawa is easily
the best of the annum. These performances have been miraculous considering
his body has recently resembled a surprisingly animate corpse, what with
Special K suffering injuries to his foot, knees, arm and back. In addition
to that, he's got the swankiest goatee beard in Japan. So while it wasn't
his greatest year in terms of championship success, it was one of his best
in terms of gutsy wrestling performances and facial hair growth. Jushin
Liger gets number two, as he's been great once again (albeit not as great
as Kobashi). Like Kenta, he gets the spot for performing well against all
odds, including a roadmap of injuries and the general decrapitation of
aging. Also notable is the fact that he's worked a super-solid schedule
and is still one of the five best all-round wrestlers in the world today.
His record-setting tenth IWGP Junior title win didn't hurt his case
either. The Rock gets number three despite his inconsistencies, for his
incredible rise to the top of the business. I'm not praising Rocky's push
as opposed to the man himself; I'm giving him credit for making his
ascention believable, and seizing the opportunity to showcase his skills
on the mic and in the ring. His matches might have been riddled with
fault, but that didn't stop him being one of the few guys in the WWF able
to hold together a decent match while keeping the crowd conscious. Those
two qualities are rarely found in the same State, let alone in the same
wrestler, so Maivia must be doing something right. Spare props go the the
Great Sasuke and Chris Benoit, for being the Great Sasuke and Chris

JOE GENTILE:  1st goes to the Rock. He really Upped his Game. HHH is
second. Whoever says this guy is STILL not ove ris out of his or her mind.
Austin takes third. While not close to 100%, this guy is still all over
the media.

CHANCE50JR: Yeah, Jericho got my second.  He's a real good wrestler
already, and has tons of potential.  I'm sic of hearing that he isn't over
in the WWF--he's only been here four months...he wasn't going to get the
championship his first week in...he has to earn it.  And I really don't
buy the locker room hating him and vice versa.  But for best wrestler, I
gave Rock the 1.  Yes, he can wrestle and his matches are entertaining.  
And his interviews are great.  I actually think that it's a good thing he
hasn't had the title since WrestleMania...they're making us want another
Rock title reign even more.  Austin got my third, because I'm still a fan
of this great sport.

TOXICENEMA: Benoit is the model for consistency, in a very uneven field.
Injuries to others, and bad booking hasn't allowed others to shine this
year. DDP is a very underrated wrestler, and hopefully, people can put
aside their personal feelings and see this.

DAVID HANNA: Without any doubt, since his win at Surviror Series 1998, the
Rock has been the most consistently over wrestler for the past 12 months.  
He rarely was out due to injury during the year.  He carried the promotion
when Austin was out after the Rock Bottom PPV.  No one desevers a long
title reign more than the Rock.  I think the fans will riot soon if they
don't put the strap on him.  His mic skills are unmatched.  He won the
title 3 times in the last 12 months.  Stone Cold is a close #1 but gets
2nd place to me.  To many injuries and his act is not as fresh as it once
was.  I give Chyna #3. Chyna has had a lot of firsts these past 12 months.  
She was the 1st women in the Royal Rumble, in the King of The Ring, to be
the #1 contender and of course the first IC champ.  Pretty impressive.

JAMES GOWDEY: Rob Van Dam IS the whole F'n show, dammit!

MYKLL42:Chris Benoit had a breakthrough year in every area of wrestling
aside from workrate.  Mic skills improved (granted they couldn't get
worse. MYKLL42:, position on the card has vastly improved, and he is more
over now than he has ever been in the United States.

SEAN FLYNN: He who keeps me watching gets these votes.  Jericho is God,
The Rock is a technical bore but the most entertaining mike work in the
world, and well, Meng=Best Wrestler Votes.  Why?  Just because he does.

PEG AND/OR PATRICK: Sentimental Favorite

BEN MILLER:  For Best Wrestler, I think workrate and drawing power should
weight equally.  Austin drew the most again and worked hard all year.  
Vader had even better matches and kept All Japan going, but didn't draw
enough to get number one.  The Rock is also a great draw, but his work
knocks him to number 3.

KEVIN WONG: If there were a "best gymnast" category, Rob Van Dam would be
number one. The best WRESTLER in ECW was Jerry Lynn, the New F'n Show.

ROB HUNTER: The obvious choice for most people would be The Rock, but I
opted to go with Mankind. He's proved in an out through the year that he
can have good matches with anybody. Sure, he's not as over as The Rock or
Steve Austin, but most of the smarts generally prefer Mankind. Austin had
a good year, but Rock and Mankind both had more title reigns than Austin.
Austin was also out with injuries for weeks at a time several different
times throughout the year. Nobody from WCW really comes to mind here as
they shifted who their top guys were in an out the past year.

B. SZPAKOWICZ: This year clearly belonged to the Rock, who clearly
established himself as a genuine main eventer. Indeed, he's probably gonna
win this, but I for one am not voting for him. Mankind gets the top vote
instead, since (a) I like him better, and (b) he's a better wrestler and
interviewee. RVD gets third. I don't particularly like him, but he's had a
hell of a year and been involved in some damn good matches.

EDDIE KIM: Lets finally give Mankind the Best Wrestler award for busting
his ass off before he retires.

RYAN GRANT:  The Rock is the most popular wrestler in the most popular
federation in North America; it's easy, then, to pick him as number 1.
While the WCW has been a clustercluck for most of the year, Goldberg has
been a constant that the fans could hang their hats on.  Third place
belongs to HHH, who I think has made the shift to Main Event Heel
admirably well.

COLIN MACKINNON: Finally, Chris Benoit starts winning some titles.  He put
on some great performances this year, and for once, wasn't *really*
buried. 1999 could well be looked at as Benoit's "breakthrough" year in
WCW. It's scary how popular Maivia is, however.

RICK SCAIA:  I think of the Wrestle of the Year as the MVP of the entire
industry. That means not only solid in-ring performance and mic work, but
a position as a company's top performer, and a proven business commodity.  
With that in mind, the Wrestler of the Year for 1999 was the Rock.  
Starting with his heel turn at the very start of the voting year (which
set up a hot run against Steve Austin) all the way through his present
status as the Fed's top babyface, the Rock was integral to everything that
happened in the industry's biggest company all year long.  And he cut
plenty of killer promos and had some entertaining matches along the way.  
Rob Van Dam has almost single-handedly kept ECW viable, with his always
excellent matches, 20 month long TV Title reign, and loyalty to the
company even when others are jumping ship.  Steve Austin, still the most
recognizable man in the business and still busting his ass in
brawling-style main PPV main events, gets third.

JEREMY SORIA: I figured that there's no one in the WWF that wrestles
anymore, or at least folks in the upper tier. WCW may have its problems,
past and present, but it still has more than its fair share of wrestlers
that can, you know, wrestle.

JUSTIN JONES: To me, "Best Wrestler" is sort of like the MVP of wrestling;
like him or not, the Rock was unquestionably the MVP of wrestling over the
last year.

SELENA KYTE:  Lexie Fyfe has been in a lot of places this year, and seems
willing to travel anywhere she wanted.  She even made brief appearances in
the WWF and WCW.  While I admit some surprise that a major promotion
hasn't signed her by now, I'm not 100% sure she wants to work in the
current climate of the big three. Strawberry Fields is a rising star who's
on the verge of receiving national attention, and we may be talking about
her as being the best female wrestler next year.

HEATM:  I see a lot of Japanese names on this list, and none ring a bell
unfortunately.  My pick for best wrestler is Chris Benoit because I don't
remember a bad match he had.

MDB: Most over?  The Rock.  Sports entertainer of the year?  The Rock.  
Best wrestler?  Chris Benoit.  I know it, you know it, the Rock knows it.

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 (C) 1999, 2000 Christopher Robin Zimmerman & KZiM Communications