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Tom Dean




Voting for the awards has opened. And you know what that means... yup... INSTANT COLUMN SUBJECT. Now, keep in mind that, disliking train wrecks, I was not following WCW or ECW too closely towards the end there. Conveniently, if I want to justify my ballot, I can make the excuse that neither of them existed (as separate promotions) for the majority of the voting year. And, I don't know a damn thing about Japanese or Latino wrestling. So, here are my WWF-biased opinions. I'm gonna keep each one short because there are so many of 'em... hopefully you'll get the jist. (Gist? Whatever.)

Best Wrestler:
1. Steve Austin: Duh. Austin completely re-invented his already incredibly over character... came up with a totally new type of heel... had unbelieveable matches with everybody... and made the word "What?" into the world's most unlikely catchphrase.
2. The Rock: Yeah, he'll be due for an Austin-esque revamp in a couple of years, but for now, the WWF needs him to be exactly what he is. The directionlessness of the product during his absence demonstrated his value.
3. Kurt Angle: Had a lot of blah storylines during this period, but a hell of a heel and flawless in the ring.

Best Tag Team:
1. Edge & Christian: Continued to pile up excellent matches and title wins. The nicely done slow-burn disintegration of the team led to a big mark-out moment when Christian turned, although the resulting feud was disappointing.
2. Filthy Animals: At least the dying WCW had excellent cruisers, most notably these two.
3. Hardy Boyz: Less played out than the Dudleyz, although it's a tough battle. Certainly more over, at this point.

Best Heel:
1. Kurt Angle: That's what he was born to do.
2. Booker T: Wasn't supposed to be a heel at first, but threw himself into it and came up with all sorts of inventive ways to get booed. I enjoyed everything about his feud with the Rock, except that Booker never pinned him even once.
3. Triple H: Certainly would be higher than #3 if he hadn't gotten hurt. "The man you love to hate" becomes more than a cliche with HHH.

Best Babyface:
1. The Rock: Takes the crowd in the palm of his hand whenever he feels like it.
2. Chris Jericho: Managed to get tremendous face reaction despite much boring booking and Rock-beating-upping.
3. Undertaker: No one said *I* had to like him.

Best Worker:
1. Steve Austin: Look, Austin had better matches with Benoit than Angle did... better matches with HHH than Angle did... better matches with Rocky than Angle did. Austin was in nearly every truly outstanding match the WWF put on.
2. Kurt Angle: See above for why I rank Austin above him.
3. Chris Benoit: Feud with Angle was a slight letdown, but had some great matches with Jericho and REALLY stepped it up against Austin.

Best Flyer:
1. Rob Van Dam: The guy deserves SOMETHING for getting so over so ridiculously quickly. And I think his aerial-based style is the main reason why that happened.
2. Low-Ki: I miss Jakked having indy talent. From my brief viewings, this guy looked like The Total Truth.
3. Jeff Hardy: Continuing to innovatively destroy himself for our amusement.

Best Technical Wrestler:
1. Kurt Angle: And I don't consider it to be a contest really.
2. Chris Benoit: Not only was he hurt, but I don't think he is as smooth or perfected as Angle.
3. Dean Malenko: See ya, Dean.

Best Brawler:
1. Steve Austin: The singin' cowboy smells blood as soon as he steps into the ring. Hey, he ain't putting on killer matches with his lucha skills.
2. Kurt Angle: Despite his usually dorky character, could easily be #1 here. Bled like a stuck pig all year in brawl after brawl.
3. The Rock: If you wanna be mean, say the WWF main event style perfectly hides his limitations; if you wanna be nice, say that he squeezes everything out of that style that's there to be squozen.

Most Favorite Wrestler:
1. Chris Jericho: I don't have to justify myself to you!!
2. Riot
3. Edge

Most Improved Wrestler:
1. Steve Austin: And I'm damn dead serious. At the beginning of this voting period, Austin looked like a candidate for Most Deteriorated. I would NEVER have thought he had this string of matches in him.
2. Kurt Angle: He's the type of guy who could win this more than once.
3. Edge: Knocking on the main event door... should at least have one foot in by this time next year.

Most Overrated Wrestler:
1. Kevin Nash: Doesn't like wrestling. Not a guy who the casual fan cares about. Pain in the ass. Who needs him?
2. Sid Vicious: Does anyone think this guy sells tickets? C'mon now.
3. Rhyno: Got a monster push, pinning damn near everybody, yet still didn't get that over as a heel. Of course, had he been allowed to talk, perhaps it could have been different.

Best Wrestling Gimmick:
1. Steve Austin as paranoid WWF champion: Set up the classic WMX7 match and all of the other awesome stuff Austin was to do for the rest of the year.
2. Kurt Angle as "Dangerous Dork": We saw a lot of different sides of Kurt Angle this year. Undergirding them all, though, was the arrogant, clueless, and vastly entertaining "Dangerous Dork" character.
3. Scott Steiner: The "killer" was pulled off realistically by ol' Mesh Head Mush Mouth, and helped make WCW occasionally watchable as they played out the string.

Best Wrestling Move:
1. Shane Helms' Vertebreaker: We'll probably never see it again... and I guess I understand why... but damn, was it cool.
2. Chris Benoit's flying headbutt: I sure hope we at least see this one again... but we may not :(
3. Triple H's Pedigree: Ol' Reliable.

Best Match:
1. 4/1/01, Rock vs. Austin: If you didn't go nuts during this one, I dunno what to tell ya.
2. 5/21/01, Austin/HHH vs. Benoit/Jericho: Incredible intensity by wrestlers and announcers alike made this one feel like the start of something special... even if it ultimately wasn't. The injury suffered by HHH in a way makes the match even more amazing, but by ending the underlying angle, may also hurt its standing.
3. 8/19/01, Austin vs. Angle: Screwjob ending that didn't even turn out to have a point ultimately... but UNGODLY good brawl. (BTW, close #4 is 5/31/01 Austin vs. Benoit, but the difference is that no one seriously coulda thought Benoit would win that one.)

Best Feud:
1. Steve Austin vs. Triple H: Literally a killer feud... well, except for the part where Triple H was ok after all. But this bloody battle between the guy WWF fans loved to love and the guy WWF fans loved to hate threatened to blow the roof off the place many, many times.
2. Rock vs. Chris Jericho: Timing's gonna hurt this one... it might very well deserve to be #1, if we knew now how it would turn out. Terrific dueling promos, constant one-upmanship, distrust, slow-burn fun.
3. Rock vs. Booker T: Hard to call this a fair feud -- Rock pretty much demolished him -- but both Rock and Booker were immensely entertaining, and despite not winning matches, Booker was put over anyway.

Worst Wrestler:
1. Buff Bagwell: Almost killed wrestling's most anticipated angle dead... decked Shane Helms... had his mom complain about his travel arrangements or some crap... then wondered what everyone was so mad about. With Hogan out of the picture, I really hope you win this one, Buffy. You deserve it.
2. Chyna: "I wanna get a huge raise, and win the World title, and..." "Good working with you, Joanie. There's the door."
3. Billy Gunn: They will never, ever give up on this guy entirely. That thought keeps me up nights.

Worst Tag Team:
1. Kronik: One soul-scarring WWF match, and see ya.
2. Rikishi & Haku: Their feud with the Brothers of Destruction killed crowds so dead that they had to abandon ship and go with the much better HHH-Taker feud for Wrestlemania.
3. Right to Censor: The gimmick was around too long, and the wrestling was ALWAYS painful.

Worst Heel:
1. Rob Van Dam: Just not a heel to the WWF fans, and it's hurt some of his matches.
2. Rikishi: Heel Rikishi was a total nightmare, and may have killed the once hugely popular face Rikishi too.
3. Riot: Although simple economics stopped WOW from having a chance, it didn't help that they made everyone who was even sort of cool a heel.

Worst Babyface:
1. X-Pac: When you're the only person in your entire federation to get booed (Invasion PPV), you deserve this honor.
2. Vince McMahon: Invasion got him a bit of a babyface reaction at times, but it just felt so wrong!
3. Terri Gold: See "Worst Heel", #3.

Worst Worker:
1. Buff Bagwell: See "Worst Wrestler", #1.
2. Kevin Nash: Can't believe someone beat him out, but Buff pulled it off.
3. Chyna: See ya in the movies (cough).

Least Favorite Wrestler:
1. K-Kwik. Too insignificant a presence for me to vote for him elsewhere, but I can damn well vote for him here.
2. Billy Gunn
3. Justin Credible

Most Deteriorated Wrestler:
1. Undertaker: I don't even hate the guy, but he used to be AGILE for cryin' out loud.
2. Tommy Dreamer: Can he even move anymore? Poor guy.
3. Tazz: I could give him a break because he doesn't wrestle much and has done a lot of squash matches when he does... but that's probably happening for a reason... look at him, he's a fat fuck.

Most Underrated Wrestler:
1. Raven: Unfortunately, his schtick has nothing to do with an "invasion" storyline, but it can be damn compelling television. If they're not gonna let him talk, they should seriously just drop him, because it's frustrating.
3. D'Lo Brown: Is this guy seriously not on TV because of Droz? 'Cuz that's not a good enough reason anymore.

Worst Wrestling Gimmick:
1. Lo Down in turbans: We really, really never need to see this sort of thing again.
2. Diamond Dallas Page as stalker: Didn't help the Invasion one little bit, plus it was super corny anyway.
3. Misfits in Action: Just got dumber and dumber as it went on...

Worst Wrestling Move:
1. Chris Jericho's Lionsault: A lame finisher that he screws up half the time anyway.
2. Rock's Sharpshooter: Simply sucky, but not his primary finisher so he gets a break.
3. Rikishi's Stinkface: So, so very old.

Worst Match:
1. 7/2/01, Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell: See "Worst Wrestler", #1. This better win, is all I have to say.
2. 8/20/01, DDP vs. Sara: DDP jobbing to a 100-pound non-wrestler never seen before or since... kinda hard to say it helped anyone.
3. 2/4/01, Disciplinarian vs. Bronco Billie: I'm trying not to go too hard on WOW here, for the same reason I'm picking a lot of the business' top guys in the "worst" categories. But Billie blew a damn bulldog, REDID THE SPOT, and then the match was followed up by a truly retarded angle.

Worst Feud:
1. Undertaker v. Diamond Dallas Page: Said enough about it in these last couple categories. Lemme point out that I am not a DDP fan particularly, but he was one of the two biggest names coming from WCW, and that's all that matters here.
2. Lita v. Chyna: Any feud where neither person can do a promo without breaking out into a giggling fit has major problems.
3. WCW v. Battledome: Not that it ever amounted to much, but completely inexcusable anyway.

Most Disappointing News Item:
1. All nationally televised promotions besides WWF go under: A nice catch-all that pretty much sums it up, don't it?
2. WWF books subpar Invasion angle: It'd be fair to put this #1 based on the time period these awards cover. But history might not look upon that choice kindly if they do end up saving the angle, so I'll back off and put it #2.
3. Eddie Guerrero misses several months undergoing rehab: And gets fired after this nomination was submitted... "disappointing" is an understatement, really. Pull thru, Eddie.

Most Obnoxious Personality:
1. Vince McMahon: He hasn't won it in seven years... he's due!
2. David McLane: Just a damn clown.
3. Goldberg: I can take people who think highly of their abilities, but an air of *moral* superiority really gets to me.

Best Second:
1. Paul Heyman: I don't know whose second he is, but if you're asking me who the best "spokesperson" is, I think it's him.
2. Ric Flair: Right behind, and hopefully we will see him style and profile in this role again real soon.
3. Steven Richards: Has kept his career going with his mouth.

Best Announcer:
1. Jim Ross: Hamming it up can irritate, but in the long run, it is so much better than not trying hard enough to get the product over. So many announcers do the latter, and it's just unforgivable.
2. Joey Styles: Lapsed into cliche as the product got worse, but had a ways to fall from, and who else you gonna vote for?
3. Mike Tenay: Umm... at least he knows the names of moves.

Best Color Commentator:
1. Paul Heyman: I am not a huge fan of Heyman's announcing -- I'm not sure he gets over the heels with his "oh, it's EDGE who's jealous of CHRISTIAN" type schtick -- but who else is there?
2. Jerry Lawler: I think it'd be easier for Lawler to address his weaknesses (easing off the puppies and screeching) than for Heyman to address his.
3. Stevie Ray: He was FUN, and if you disagree, you get United Nations most favored FRUIT BOOTY status.

Best Interviewee:
1. Steve Austin: Face Stone Cold was an entertaining interview, but heel Stone Cold took us through the entire range of emotions... his character development carried the entire promotion.
2. The Rock: Catchphrase-oriented, sure, but note that he makes an effort to at least change up the catchphrases frequently, and probably is not as reliant on them as the stereotype would have it. Can't remember last time the crowd was indifferent to one of his interviews.
3. Ric Flair: May he never leave the list.

Best Angle:
1. Steve Austin sells his soul for the WWF Championship: See "Best Wrestling Gimmick", #1.
2. Vince almost buys WCW, but Shane steals it: No matter where it ended up going afterwards, this was a true mark-out moment.
3. ECW joins WCW, forms Alliance: See #2.

Best Organization:
1. WWF: Umm, I would hope it wins...
2. WCW
3. ECW

Best TV Show:
1. WWF Smackdown: Time and again this year, Raw was self-indulgent and draggy, while Smackdown (even with far worse announcing) flowed smoother and was easier to watch.
2. WWF Raw Is War
3. WWF Tough Enough: It seems like you either loved or hated this... I loved it.

Best Major Show:
1. 4/1/01, Wrestlemania X-7: And you know this.
2. 3/26/01, Nitro finale: They went out simply and with class.
3. 7/9/01, RAW (ECW invades): Ehh, why not. I was gonna put Summerslam here, but the Taker & Kane/DDP & Kanyon match BURNED ME, MOMMY

Best Promotional Move:
1. WWF pushes Rock/Austin at Wrestlemania: Biggest PPV ever, and you know it will set up more down the line.
2. WWF simulcasts final Nitro & Raw: It was the right beginning, anyway.
2. WWF signs Booker T: And at least they got ONE of the guys worth having.

Worst Second:
1. Debra: Tons of screen time, said virtually nothing, said nothing worth saying when she did, and is looking really... leathery.
2. Moppy: Like most WWF comedy angles, this started out funny and ended up as a big waste of my life.
3. Goon (WOW): Shockmaster 2000!

Worst Announcer:
1. Michael Cole: Not an ounce of genuine emotion. Doesn't know moves. Has no feel for the business. He just sucks.
2. Tony Schiavone: At least he USED to be good, when the product was.
3. Jonathan Coachman: Why does he need to be employed, again? I need a reminder...

Worst Color Commentator:
1. David McLane: Maybe the easiest pick here.
2. Mark Madden: An annoying presence, there's no disputing it.
3. Al Snow: I'm sure he'll be good one day, but he is very far away right now. Obscure references, unfunny jokes, and far worse than any of that, not trying to get the guys in the ring over.

Worst Interviewee:
1. Lita: Can't seem to say a sentence without getting lost somewhere in the middle.
2. Chyna: Too damn easy to poke holes in her constant "I earned all of this myself" self-promotion.
3. Chris Benoit: Just imagine how over he'd be otherwise.

Worst Angle:
1. Triple H crushed inside dropped car...but survives!: Laughably ridiculous.
2. Stacy Kiebler's baby revealed as stack of Stasiak photos: What more can you say besides, "what the fuck??"
3. Chyna receives injured neck from Right to Censor: I actually am very much in favor of writing out faces who need time off by having heels injure them in the storyline. But faking a *crippling* injury is really bad taste.

Worst Organization:
1. XPW: I just bet I would hate it.
2. GLOOW: Ditto.
3. WCW: Given that they've won it four straight years, I suppose a sendoff is appropriate.

Worst TV Show:
1. WWF Excess: I really tried to give this a shot, but there's just no there there.
2. ECW on TNN: This became extremely painful to watch after a while.
3. WWF Sunday Night Heat: Just because totally wasting a prime time hour on MTV really is a crime.

Worst Major Show:
1. 2/4/01, WOW Unleashed: I wish I could defend this, but it truly was a nightmare. I'll be very interested to see if it actually does win. With the WWF putting on few truly bad efforts and WCW out of business, it's gotta have a shot.
2. 1/15/01, WCW Sin: So much ridiculous stuff went on here, ugh.
3. 4/29/01, WWF Backlash: Duchess of Queensbury speaks for itself... boring Benoit/Angle and 2-Man Power Trip/Brothers of Destruction... I dunno if you would consider Rhyno crashing into a shopping cart and Shane falling down to be "highlights" normally, but they were here.

Worst Promotional Move:
1. WWF books subpar invasion angle: Many of the nominations in this category point out good reasons why exactly the angle was "subpar", but let's try to sum it up all with this one.
2. WWF fires Kat, lets Jerry Lawler resign: The ratings immediately plummeted... the Smackdown announcing is now a major problem... Heyman being a full-time writer would be awesome... how much of a pain could Kat have been to make up for all of this?
3. WOW pays for nationwide syndication: If you look at the financial reports, you really have to wonder how they possibly could have expected to break even.

And... that's that... unless Survivor Series screws it all up... which will probably happen. Hey, if something incredibly cool happens at Survivor Series -- and I think chances are it will -- I'll be too busy marking out to notice or care! See ya next week.

Tom Dean
from the ezboard: Teenage Riot

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