ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
First off, I hope everyone had a very happy holiday. I didn't receive many wrestling related presents, although my boss did get me a little Diamond Dallas Page beanbag, figure. This overjoyed me, since I can now place word balloons like "SCUM!" and "Please stop beating the shit out of me Scotty!" over his head.
Second of all, thanks to CRZ for putting together the 2000 RSPW Awards, a task a wouldn't wish on anyone, let alone someone who recaps 6 hours of wrestling a week. Go read my scintillating comments on why the Harris Brothers are a poor tag team.
Speaking of year-end awards, I was flipping through my Pro Wrestling Illustrated Almanac (an invaluable source for any wrestling fan), and they have a list of all the old PWI Year End Awards. I was absolutely fascinated by the Rookie of the Year choices, and I thought I'd examine them since 1990.
[And yes, I'm aware that (1) PWI is a mark mag, (2) the awards may very well have been fixed, and (3) a "Rookie of The Year" award is a dubious distinction for wrestling, since someone can wrestle for years in front of small crowds before getting any national notice. Just play along, okay?]
1990: Steve Austin--Winner
Well, the fans got it right with the winner. Austin won this award thanks to a high profile feud against Chris Adams in Texas, but I don't think anyone could have predicted the huge impact he'd have on this sport. Too bad all the runners up were duds. El Gigante went back to Argentina after stinking up both WCW and WWF rings. Brad Anderson was another fabled Anderson relative, but I haven't heard from him in 9 years. You may know Chris Chavis better as Tatanka, or maybe not, since he's been MIA for years.
1991: Johnny B. Badd-Winner
Not a bad choice for winner, since Johnny B. Badd/Marc Mero went on to become a solid wrestler in both WCW and the WWF, but he never became a major player, and hasn't been seen in years. The Patriot in second place is a little silly, since he wrestled as the Trooper a year before, but no matter. He sure seemed like a solid prospect, and had a nice run in the WWF in '97, but also hasn't been heard from in years. You'd know Terri Power better as Tori, and she's doing about as well as a female wrestler can be. The Lightning Kid exists today as X-Pac, and while he has been a figure on the wrestling scene for years, he has greatly deteriorated and isn't much of a factor these days.
1992: Erik Watts-Winner
Now this vote had to be rigged for Bill Watt's scrawny kid to walk away with first prize. DDP would have made a good first place winner, since he's become a major player and won every title in WCW (although who really saw that coming?). Never heard of Koloff (no doubt a "relative" of Ivan and Nikita). Chaz isn't the same as the Lo Down Chaz; this Chaz wrestled in Global and I don't think he ever amounted to anything.
1993: Vampire Warrior-Winner
Not a great year for prospects in '93. You'd know Vampire Warrior better as Dave Heath or Gangrel. It seemed like he could be a success when he debuted with the WWF in '98, but he's been relegated to Jakked duty. Robbie Eagle? Ya got me. The Cole Twins were recent fodder for Ask The Rick, which should key you in as to how much of an impact they've made. The Headhunters have had the most success of the bunch, although almost all of it has been in Japan (they're not very good, though).
911 wasn't so much of a wrestler as a sideshow attraction. He was fun to watch in ECW, but got turned into a total job squadder when he migrated from ECW. I'm surprised Bob Holly got votes, considering he had the awful racecar driver gimmick at the time. He's actually done all right for himself in terms of character and ringwork. Abbudah Singh is actually competing in ECW today. You'd know him better as Balls Mahoney. Mikey Whipwreck isn't (and probably won't ever be) a major superstar, but he has found success in ECW. A pretty good year for prospects (if you don't count the winner, anyway).
1995: Alex Wright-Winner
"Das Wunderkind" may have seemed like a hot prospect way back when, but what's he ever done? A few okay matches, a heel turn, some meaningless title reigns, the Berlyn fiasco, and now teaming with the Disco Inferno. Not exactly living up to one's potential. "Pitbull" Pittman never did much and quickly got turfed from WCW. Can't really commentate on LT since he only had one match. Mad Maxxine? Ya got me.
1996: The Giant-Winner
Here's a mixed bag. Paul "The Giant/Big Show" Wight, despite his current residence in Ohio Valley, has been a major player in both feds and will probably return to that role soon. Mongo McMichael started out awful, got better, but has since dropped off the planet. Rocky "The Rock" Maivia in third place? Hell, I probably wouldn't have voted for him at all. You remember "Desperado" Joe Gomez and his epic feud with Renegade, right? Right?
1997: Prince Iaukea-Winner
God only knows why the Prince won this award. He's had a few meaningless title reigns, but has never had any great matches, heat, or a character people care about, and is currently...hell, I don't know and don't care where he is. Who would have thought that Ernest Miller would be a big part in WCW (despite still being a lousy wrestler)? Chetti's spent his career as an ECW midcarder, but he could get a break with the WWF. Brakus? I don't have to go there, do I?
1998: Bill Goldberg-Winner
Can't complain about the winner: Goldberg will likely carry WCW in the foreseeable future. Sable, however, wore out her welcome in a hurry and is out of the sport altogether. Sadly, we'll never know what Droz was capable of. And big prospect Mark Henry showed such poor ring skills and got saddled with such terrible gimmicks he actually got shipped down to the minor leagues of Ohio Valley.
1998: Shane McMahon-Winner
Seems a waste to vote for Vince and Shane, since they're only part time wrestlers. Evan and Lash had a few meaningless title reigns (Evan helped to wreck the CW division and Lash had the tag title for about 5 seconds) and high profile gimmicks (3 Count and MIA). I don't expect much from either one in the years to come.
And there you have it. No Triple H. No Kevin Nash. No Edge or Christian, or Hardys, or Dudleys. No Rikishi or Undertaker. Chris Benoit and Scott Steiner finished second and fourth in 1988 (behind Madusa, no less!). No Mike Awesome, Lance Storm, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, or Eddie Guerrero. The point? Well, in wrestling, you really never know who's going to make an impact, which is all part of the fun, isn't it?
I hope everyone has a very happy New Year. One of my resolutions is to be a bit more prolific, and I'm going to start with a brand new feature called the Single File, where I'll examine the circumstances and do play-by-play for one single match. Up first is the 2/3 falls main event between Mitsuharu Misawa/Akira Taue vs. Kenta Kobashi/Jun Akiyama from the first NOAH show. Elitism rules! See you then.