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Jonathan Leung




With about six months gone in the year 2002, we can look back and reflect on what's happened so far this year. The WWE is currently in a creative slump as it is well-documented over the past months or so. However, this doesn't mean that there haven't been bright spots this year. That being said, here are my awards for the first half of 2002.

WRESTLER OF THE HALF-YEAR: There are some arguable candidates in this category, from Chris Jericho to Rob Van Dam. Jericho held onto the WWE Undisputed Title from the beginning of the year to Wrestlemania and had pretty good outings with Steve Austin and the Rock. Van Dam had a relatively good first half with a couple of Intercontinental title reigns and a nice feud with Eddie Guerrero. However, my pick for Wrestler of the Half-Year is KURT ANGLE. He's been consistently both entertaining and good in the ring. His matches with Edge at Backlash and Judgment Day were both at or over the four star range, in my opinion. I also have to say that his in-ring segment on Smackdown where he mocked Triple H and his "future fatherhood" (Baby Game) was just classic.

COMEBACK OF THE HALF-YEAR: Right off the bat, you could say Hulk Hogan. Nobody really expected the response Hogan would get, with the return of Hulkamania. He hasn't exactly been burning up the ring though and that may or may not have to do with some injuries. My pick for Comeback of the Half-Year is EDDIE GUERRERO. His return on the first episode of the "new" RAW was a pleasant surprise and has had pretty good matches with Van Dam in the past couple of months, including the Edmonton RAW Ladder Match. With his personal problems hopefully behind him, he's in line for a big push, being a part of the mini faction with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and Chris Benoit. His feud with Steve Austin may be what both men need....Guerrero to prove that he belongs up there at the top and Austin to show that he's still got it.

ROOKIE OF THE HALF-YEAR: Really no question that it's BROCK LESNAR. The only real competition to Brock was Randy Orton and Rico, but Orton hasn't been that impressive compared to Brock and Rico rarely gets the chance to work. The general consensus is that Brock has the potential, but is lacking the charisma to make it far in the WWE. I would have to agree somewhat with this theory, but I think with time, he'll get more comfortable in the ring with his work and emotions. Giving Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece is nice, but I sort of expected a little more from this. I guess I'm spoiled by the Paul E. Dangerously gimmick. Maybe we'll get to see Lesnar's version of the Shooting Star Press that some people have seen while Lesnar was in OVW or competing in dark matches.

TAG TEAM OF THE HALF-YEAR: There was no real competition as BILLY & CHUCK win by default. The Hardy Boyz, despite good reactions from the crowds, really look stale and lately, it seems that Jeff Hardy in particular has been working in slow motion. The other tag teams like the Dudley Boyz and the APA were broken up with the roster split. Billy & Chuck's competition since Wrestlemania has basically been against Al Snow & Maven and Rikishi. The Rikishi-Rico partnership angle was just dead on arrival. While their gay gimmick is sometimes funny at times, they haven't been good in the ring and that may be due to themselves or the lack of competition. No doubt about it, the WWE needs to build the tag team division back up to respectability.

UNDER APPRECIATED WORKER OF THE HALF-YEAR: There are so many to choose from. From the RAW brand, you have D'Lo Brown, who has only appeared on RAW once and that was a run-in after the Regal-Spike European Title change. From what I've seen on Heat, D'Lo looks in great shape and definitely deserves a shot. Booker T's lack of push is just mind-boggling, but that could be changing with his impending face turn in the future. From the Smackdown brand, a bunch of Canadians lead the list. Test's push has gone from big to none. Lance Storm is severely under appreciated. My pick though is CHRISTIAN. He has the look, the entrance, and the skills to make it big, but hasn't really been given a chance, due to either backstage events or an overpopulated roster. Even though he's best friends with Edge, it must be hard for him to see him main-event while he's stuck in matches with the likes of Mark Henry and Maven. The glass ceiling wins again.

OVERPUSHED WRESTLER OF THE HALF-YEAR: Otherwise known as a waste of space on valuable WWE television time. Mark Henry's "World's Strongest Man" gimmick hasn't really won me over. Tommy Dreamer's grossout gimmick is entertaining sometimes, but his television time could be used to add time to matches or give guys like D'Lo a shot to shine on RAW. Bradshaw is still over to the APA gimmick, but it's obvious that he's not worthy of the push he's getting. My pick though is SHAWN STASIAK. You can literally hear people talking or the crickets whenever he comes out to his futuristic theme music. Even though it's supposed to be a comedy act, the Planet Stasiak gimmick is just stupid in my opinion. Nobody could give two craps about him.

LETDOWN OF THE HALF-YEAR: Here's where you got some fierce competitiom. The nWo invasion started off promising with the "injecting of the poison" buildup, but it fell flat on its face. The Tough Enough 2 finale was controversial with Linda and Jackie winning both contracts, leaving the men Jake and Kenny out in the cold. The tag team division on Smackdown needs serious help and the cruiserweight division just can't rely on the same three or four guys each week. My pick though is the TRIPLE H RETURN. Ever since his MSG return that I was in attendance for, it looks to me that he just doesn't seem comfortable in his face role. He's much better as a heel than a face and certain moves like his choke takedown don't work as a face. His best match since his return has been the Hell In A Cell match with Chris Jericho at Judgment Day, but his matches with Hogan were stinkers and his upcoming match with the Undertaker at King of the Ring might be one as well. Political stroke and banging the boss' daughter gets you unimaginable's a shame.

MATCH OF THE HALF-YEAR: Wrestlemania had the historic Rock-Hogan match that had incredible heat to it. It also featured a decent HHH-Jericho title match and a good Undertaker-Flair brawl. Steve Austin and Kurt Angle had a fantastic RAW match that determined the #1 contender for then-champ Chris Jericho's title at No Way Out. Kurt Angle and Edge, as mentioned, had good matches the past couple of PPVs. My pick is the GUERRERO-RVD LADDER MATCH on the Edmonton RAW. Even though it was marred by both a stupid fan and a commercial break during the match (which I hate), the match was spectacular, from RVD's apron moonsault to Guerrero's sunset flip powerbomb off the ladder and his flipping senton off the ladder. The angle with Benoit turning on Austin in his hometown was also great and with that addition, the Ladder Match wins my pick.

THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN THE NEXT HALF-YEAR: The returns of some decent mid-carders like Mike Awesome and Kanyon. The possibility of a revamped cruiserweight division, now with the addition of Jamie Knoble. A chance to see either Rob Van Dam, Eddie Guerrero, or Edge given the ball and the opportunity to run with it. The return of my personal guilty pleasure, the man-beast Rhyno. The nWo revamped with the addition of Shawn Michaels. But of course, most of all, the return of CHRIS BENOIT to in-ring work should help the WWE. Perhaps this is the year where Benoit finally becomes WWE champion. I doubt it, but all of we internet Benoit people can pray for it, can't we?

You know what the WWE needs? Merchandise for every superstar. I mean, who wouldn't buy a Lance Storm t-shirt? Or a Funaki action figure! Ok fine, that was a bit much...

Anyways, these are my opinions and if you have any beef or questions, you know the drill.

Jonathan Leung

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