It was yet another year in pro wrestling where the business was either linear or down. In the US, WWE continued to plod through with mind-boggling booking, but WrestleMania saved buyrates from being alarmingly down over the year. In TNA, they continued their usual business strategy of booking for TV ratings and not really giving a damn about their PPV numbers. ROH left HDNet and went into syndication, but the jury is still out on how they are doing.
Our pro wrestling awards will be WWE heavy because it’s the number one promotion in the US. But Alan keeps us honest with his independent and international choices. Alan, Duan, myself, Big D from Superfriends Universe, Ryan Pike from Tough Talk MMA give us their picks for the awards.
Most Outstanding Wrestler Of The Year
Alan – Daisuke Sekimoto and Akira Tozawa
I’m sitting on the fence and splitting this between two men who’ve had years that were utterly incredible. Daisuke Sekimoto basically played the NWA touring world champion role in the first half of the year as wXw champ defending the belt in three different continents. Invaded All Japan with Yuji Okabayashi and won the All Asia titles in one of several classics with Soya & Sanada. Had a MOTYC in his home promotion of Big Japan when Soya and Hama came to try to take back the belts. Won the Fire Festival in Zero 1 in a great final with the usually average Kohei Sato. Has had countless other ****+ singles and tag matches.
Akira Tozawa shares the spoils by having two amazing half years. The 1st half was all in the US where he became a hero in PWG with an absurd amount of MOTYCs, and was the best guy on the DGUSA shows too. Then in the second half of the year he made his return to Japan and instantly was in the main event picture. His title match with Mochi was incredible.
Duan – Dolph Ziggler
A huge breakout year for Ziggler – always gave it absolutely everything inside the ring regardless of his place on the card. There’s not a more consistent performer on the roster.
Ryan – CM Punk
Consistently delivered great promos and delivered great performances in the ring at the right times.
Big D – Daniel Bryan and CM Punk
Despite the storyline going from fascinating to lame WWE garbage, CM Punk managed to completely reinvigorate his career and for the first time became a super-over top babyface. Bryan had good matches up and down the card with guys of all shapes and sizes from Sin Cara to Mark Henry. He won Money in the Bank. He does tons of jobs and doesn’t even complain about it, then ends the year as World Champ. The cream rises to the top.
GG – Dolph Ziggler
He was my choice last year for who I expected big things from in 2011. And even throughout horrendous booking, I think he was the brightest star. For one, I looked forward most to his matches on every PPV and TV taping. Secondly, his selling has become Mr. Perfect-like, taking athletic bumps, and really selling the hell out of the beating he’s taking. Thirdly, I’m not sure there’s a better athlete in the company and if they don’t turn him loose in 2012, it will boggle my mind.
Pro Wrestling Show Of The Year
And now we’re into post-Gate Of Anniversary stuff, and on the road to the “DEAD OR ALIVE” PPV.
Fukui City Gymnasium
Cyber Kong & Yasushi Kanda vs. Naruki Doi & Naoki Tanizaki
First time I’ve ever seen DG in this building. Pretty cool looking and the crowd rules. So anyway, yeah A NAOKI TANIZAKI MATCH~!, let the greatness roll. Kong looked good being all powerhousy and Kanda was good in the general type roll for his team. Naoki sold his ass off and brought the charisma and energy. The hot tag to Doi was awesome as he’s up there with Roderick Strong when it comes to great houses of fire. Real Hazard won after a PINEAPPLE BOMBER, and a newly bald Anthony Dubyah Mori hit the ring to get him some but he was overwhelmed. The save was made by Masato Yoshino of all people, and the crowd went nutrageous.
YAMATO & Ryo Saito vs. Masato Yoshino & BxB Hulk
So yeah, this Infinity came along, and I guess due to timing there was really nothing major to show so instead we got a bunch of crap that we’d NEVER normally see and it ruled the earth!!
Open the Owarai Gate Title: Jackson Florida Â© vs. “Hollywood” Stalker Ichikawa
For those unfamiliar, Jackson’s gimmick is that he’s the broken down, crippled remains of the 2004/2005 Florida Brothers faction. And he’s so crippled that he falls all over the place in dramatic fashion. He wrestles with a crutch that he never lets go of and does many crutch related spots. Perfect for a comedy match such as this. If you don’t know Stalker then get the hell out of my column, I don’t wanna associate with your kind.
Anyway, the match was hilarious and Jackson took his usual TERRIFYING bumps (eg Undertaker rope walk -> slip -> bounce off ropes -> land head first on apron). A crutch assisted backslide got the duke and Mr. Florida takes home da gold!
Masato Yoshino, PAC & m.c.KZ. vs. Dragon Kid, Taku Iwasa & Kenshin Chikano
The card for Dragon Gate’s first venture into Sumo Hall is one of the most stacked wrestling cards in years. This is far and away their biggest show ever and demonstrates what great strides the company has made. Word is that the advance ticket sales have been very strong and everyone is expecting a roaring success come Sunday.
3/22/2009 Tokyo, Ryougoku Kokugikan
-Akira Tozawa, Kenshin Chikano vs. KAGETORA, WARRIORS 5 #5
-Masaaki Mochizuki, Don Fujii, Magnitude Kishiwada vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kento Miyahara, Takashi Okita (Kensuke Office)
-Mascara contra Caballera: Cyber Kong vs. Anthony W. Mori
-Open the Brave Gate: Masato Yoshino vs. CIMA
-Open the Triangle Gate: Taku Iwasa, Shingo Takagi, Dragon Kid vs. BxB Hulk, PAC, Naoki Tanisaki vs. YAMATO, Yasushi Kanda, Kenichiro Arai
-Open the Twin Gate: Susumu Yokosuka, Gamma vs. Ryo Saito, Genki Horiguchi
-Open the Dream Gate: Naruki Doi vs. Koji Kanemoto
Thanks to dgusa.puroresufan.com for the card.
DRAGON GATE – Infinity 117!
1.SHINGO & Akira Tozawa vs. Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino
Just like last week, Infinity kicks off with KAMIKAZE vs. World-1 action. Only this week’s version had one key extra – the return of on of the world’s best wrestlers, Masato Yoshino! And boy did things get turned up a notch with the Speed Star back in the mix. This was as slick an 11 minute TV match as you will EVER see, in any style of wrestling. Every was clicking 100%….. Tozawa was great in the underdog role, trying to hang with the higher status guys; Yoshino was great bringing the speed and sheer athleticism; and Doi and Shingo were awesome resuming their hard hitting strike battles from last week. We saw a bunch of the double teams that made DoiYoshi the best tag team in wrestling in 2008 and the crowd were eating it ALLLLL up. It came down to Tozawa and Yoshino, with the former taking everything the latter could dish out until he was put down by the MUTHA of all Lightning Spirals. This was the hot stuff right here.
2.Loser banishment “Real Hazard” match
Gamma vs. Yasushi Kanda