Smarks Court Awards: WWE Breakout Star of the Year 2013 (CPR Productions)
By Maz & Joe
Dec 14, 2013 - 3:19:20 PM
‘Sup, Lords of Pain? Christmas coming. End of year. Unification match. You know what’s going on in the world. That’s not why you are here though. You are here to let your voice be heard. The polls for WWE Superstar of the Year and WWE Match of the Year are still open >>>HERE<<< and >>>HERE<<< but today our business is all about...
Breakout WWE Star of the Year
Maz: There have been a hell of a lot of superstars who have begun a rise to prominence in the WWE during 2013. Some have looked like studs every step of the way, others have buckled under the pressure whilst a couple have just seemed intent on pissing their pushes away. But just who deserves to be the Breakout Star of the Year? Well, we have brought a few more special guests in to argue their cases. Looking forward to this one, Joe?
Joe: *Fandandgo-ing* Huh what? Fuck Maz knock next time shit!
Maz: First up is author of the NXT Review, Oliver and rather unsurprisingly he is going to bat for a guy who came from his show of choice.
Big E Langston (Oliver)
Oliver: Others are going to tell you a lot of stuff about a lot of guys in this thing. The truth is, though, everyone else here is talking about someone who should breakout, who should be putting on high quality matches week after week, and who should be getting over with the fans because they have experience, have been booked in a kindly manner, or both. Only one man this year, though, has broken out in spite of some shoddy early booking and his non-wrestling background. Big E Langston’s 2013 has been a serious breakout year.
The thing is, I never expected to like Big Eric. The moment he turned up on NXT and started trucking his way through guys, I kind of shrugged and accepted that here was a new muscle guy. Then he got better and better as time went on, until he was involved in some of my favourite NXT matches. When he turned up on the main roster as Dolph Ziggler’s heavy, it made sense given imposing look, but I was waiting for him to literally breakout from the Show Off’s shadow so he could figuratively breakout as a performer. Needless to say, it happened – and he showed that he’d improved even more from his NXT days, putting on a fantastic best of five series with Alberto Del Rio and getting over with the crowd as both a heel and a face.
But hell, you know what the guy’s done this year. This is the breakout star of the year court, not ‘recap some shit and hope people vote for me’ court. Big Earl’s 2013 is the best breakout year, bar none, because regardless of personal achievements and match quality, it’s unexpected. Mark Henry has taken nearly 20 years to get over with his ‘strong guy who can kill a man’ gimmick – Langston’s taken less than 12 months. Tell me, honestly, that when you saw Langston hit the ring on his debut you expected him to be one of the more over faces on the roster come December? And yet he is. His recent Intercontinental title victory cements his position as a star not just for now but for the future, and he’s someone who will carry WWE on his shoulders in future years. His charisma has forced the crowd to like him, his ability has led to some good matches, and his look is second to none right now. Forget Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose – this is the future face of the WWE.
Actually, I can give you three examples from the past couple of weeks that demonstrate how well Langston is set for this business:
1. He talked about Skip It on commentary on Raw, among other things, and was generally likeable and charismatic like he is on Twitter.
2. He trucked through Fandango on Smackdown, and yet managed to still make it look like Fandango had a tiny chance of success in the match, which is expert stuff.
3. When he won the Intercontinental title from Curtis Axel, it felt like it was a step up for the belt. Like when it went from Marc Mero to Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
We’re watching a future superstar grow week in week out in front of our eyes. For that reason, Big Evan is the breakout star of 2013.
Now, if only we can get him to need five…
Joe: Ok that last bit (the HHH part) lost you major points Oli. But I agree with your points; he has a younger Mark Henry polish to him and we definitely need more Sexual Chocolate in wrestling. But THE Breakout Star? Not so sure about that.
Maz: I’ve still not quite made my mind up about Big E. There are times he looks like he could be an absolute beast in the ring, others where he’s a bit more like a pussycat. There are times where I see loads of charisma shining through, others where he seems a bit lost. There have undoubtedly been glimpses of his potential throughout 2013 but a better year than some of the others on in this column? I’m not so sure, but let’s see.
Next up we have the LOP’s newest main page writer going to bat for the first of three members of a certain little faction.
Dean Ambrose (Skulduggery)
Skul: So Maz informed me that I got to argue Dean Ambrose's case for the Breakout Star of the Year. I said, "Maz - let me get this straight. You want me to argue to the IWC that Dean Ambrose deserves props?" I didn't know if I could fit it into my schedule initially; I've been pretty busy arguing that animals should be protected to PETA and telling everyone at church that God is great.
Eventually, I got around to gathering some research, which was probably as necessary as David Ortiz corking his bat for his participation in the local T-ball game.
I think it more or less boils down to this: when I think breakout in 2013, I think Shield. Sure, Cesaro has played merry-go-round with the 400+ lb job squad, but his list of concrete accomplishments this past calendar is as bare as his noggin. Big Tit-E Langston's second biggest accomplishment, behind mercifully removing the Intercontinental Championship from Axel, is being the one dude to spend more than an autograph signing's worth of minutes with AJ Lee and not bone her. Friend Zone of the Year, maybe.
But breakout? It's gotta be one of the three men in black, whose collective list of victims reads like a Hall of Fame ballot on steroids. Picking one from the group as the standout isn't a great deal harder, mind. Despite literally a handful of weeks - recent weeks - that have nudged Reigns' name into consideration as "the guy", for the bulk of the year, the group's enforcer spent limited time in the ring and even less time barking into the microphone. Don't let the recency effect spoil your memory, friends. Rollins, while providing excitement with his high-flying, has more often than not been the black sheep of the Shield. If his ass isn't getting thrown 20 feet through a table while Ambrose and Reigns are sealing a win, he's tapping out to give the Shield their first clean loss as a team.
Ambrose, though? The guy has spent the last eleven and a half months dusting off the crystal balls of wrestling fans everywhere; anyone with functioning rods and cones can see that this dude is going to be a top heel in WWE's future. Not only has he been given, by WWE, the opportunities his comrades haven't, which is indicative of the confidence WWE has with their resident Joker, he's delivered like a boss every time. WWE chose Ambrose to be the singles champ in the Shield, throwing the United States Championship around his waist; they sat back and watched him perform quality defense after quality defense against former world champs Kane, RVD, and Dolph Ziggler. Want a fact? In 2013 (assuming he closes the year with the strap), Ambrose has spent more time than anyone as a champion.
Kayfabe accomplishments aside, Ambrose oozes starpower like my Saint Bernard oozes drool. Most guys cut promos. Dean Ambrose carves promos. WWE gives the guy the tools to build a house; he constructs palaces. Who else could be placed in a dark match with the Undertaker in 2013 and all but force WWE to put it on TV? Who else would get Taker to wrestle a singles non-WrestleMania match in 2013, for that matter?
X the ballots. Ambrose is your guy.
Maz: I think it is fair to say that Dean Ambrose is the most well rounded sports entertainer on this list. You look at the guy and can tell that he “gets” pro-wrestling. That said, that is no exclusive to this one member of The Shield. I think all three of those guys have played their roles pretty much to perfection in 2013 and this comes down to what each brings to the table. If you like a talker and an actor, then Ambrose could well be your man.
Joe: He’s William Regal without the coke problem but with a cock problem. Ambrose is the man and EXCELS at everything because he’s just so fucking sleazy. I have some doubt that the kids would take to booing him though, but we’ll see.
Maz: Next up is somebody who may have found someone to fill that Edge shaped hole in his life… And probably various other holes.
Roman Reigns (SkitZ)
SkitZ: Ironically enough, my initial assessment of The Shield had me pegging Roman Reigns as the weakest Shield member (when taking everything into account). I couldn’t shake the mindset that Anoa’i was purely a bare-knuckle brawler who provided the muscle and complimented his stablemates. Yeah the powerbombs and spears were visually satisfying but they’re typical big man moves; nothing that Show couldn’t do on a lazy night. Roman’s in-ring game underwhelmed me as I saw little to suggest he could survive once the group inevitably disbanded. So I spent the first several months of 2013 aiming my caulk gun at Ambrose & Rollins instead.
My stance on Roman Noodles however began to evolve as summer arrived. I’d attribute it to Reigns & Rollins setting their sights on the Unified Tag Team Titles shortly after WM29. The deviation from working mostly six-man’ers to tag team matches granted Anoa’i additional ring minutes and a greater opportunity to develop between the ropes. Some genius backstage finally decided to stick Reigns in the flames with a fire poker and the results were explosive. It wasn’t long before Roman Noodles began outshining his allies and fellow Main Pager Doc labeled him a future WrestleMania main eventer. Certainly a bold statement on his part. But despite my own
stiffy growing adoration for Reigns, there remained an inner smarkishness that refused to fully commit. After all, we’d witnessed plenty of dudes with similar promise come up through the ranks and flop worse than erectile dysfunction.
Anoa’i continued to establish himself as The Shield’s strongest asset once the trio pledged their allegiance to The Authority and hasn’t let off the peddle since. Due to a combination of Roman’s maturity and some complimentary booking on WWE’s behalf, the stout Samoan has leapfrogged his comrades over the last few months. To the extent where I believe Reigns should seriously be considered Breakout Star of the Year no matter who he’s stacked up against. And it isn’t just because the dude seems ready to dismember his next opponent at the snap of Triple H’s finger (although I’m pretty sure it doesn’t hurt Roman’s standing with Vince that he resembles a pitbull in a swat vest).
To those who claim Reigns is still largely untested on the stick, I say show me proof that he can’t deliver when called upon. His opportunities in that regard have been pretty limited. Ambrose & Rollins tend to shoulder the bulk of the load during promos whereas Anoa’i is often only afforded The Shield’s closing slogan. When management has given Roman some flex room vocally, he’s performed well. You add in a year of rookie seasoning, traveling with Moxley and I’m confident Reigns will capitalize in said department as his stock continues to climb. If Roman’s promos end up sounding like a hybrid of Miz and Khali on the mic, please feel free to knock my dick in the dirt. I’ll stand there and take my licks like a true pussy.
We’re a mere twelve months into The Shield’s rookie campaign and Reigns is already displaying main event potential. While it normally takes a young star 3-5 years before they really start to hit their stride, Roman Candles has expedited the process (which is how you impress The McMahon clan and cut corners). More importantly though, I respect the fact that Anoa’i didn’t sit back and rest on his family’s legacy after inking a contract with WWE. Rather than being a lazy unmotivated fuck like Manu, Reigns has scratched and clawed for real estate in the company. Romes has poured everything into The Shield’s efforts and, as a result, placed himself in a position to succeed moving forward. Whatever supposed heat Anoa’i had in the locker room he stomped out awhile ago.
Tyson Tomko problem solver is best equipped to win the majority vote for BSOTY because he’s the hot topic; dude’s at the forefront of every discussion. Who else in the running could you realistically picture eliminating almost an entire Survivor Series team by himself? And so goddamn decisively? Roman tried shelving Mysterio before he could properly return… Christmas nearly came early! When the Hounds of Justice branch out in ’14, it’ll be Reigns challenging for a WWE/Unified Title shot whilst Ambrose & Rollins are fucking around with midcard championships. Anoa’i could certainly be in line for a Batista type push (and allowed to show Big Dave what being conditioned for pro wrestling actually looks like). Romes might’ve seemed tame in the beginning but he’s been tearing up assholes ever since. 2013 served as Reigns’ coming out party.
Joe: The guy has the Rock’s handsomeness, Mark Henry’s affinity for glorious shit talk and big man selling and Goldberg’s spear, he’s pretty goddamn good. But I mean...this is Skitz who made the case, not sure if I feel right voting for the guy.
Maz: I love Roman Reigns. There’s no secret about it. I have gone to bat for the guy before in Smarks Court. I think he becomes a world champ in 2014 based on recent booking and is destined to be the immediate breakout star of the faction (although I am fully convinced the others will make it too). The only question here is the same as Joe. Can I bring myself to vote for SkitZ? Whilst I mull that dilemma over, here is a drunken Irishman going to war in the name of Seth Rollins for the second time in Smarks Court history.
Seth Rollins (Randall)
Randall: Just before I start, I'd like to thank Mazza for giving me the opportunity to defend Rollins again, although that worked out well during the last time I was on Smarks Court. As Executive Director of Operations for The Right Side of the Pond, which you can catch every Friday (cheap plug), I shall fine you £20, because I think you're setting me up to fail. Anywho, on with the show.
As 2013 began, there was one difference between Seth Rollins and the other two members of The Shield. What difference, you ask? Why, Rollins was a champion, the (inaugural) nXt Champion at that. Sure, he lost it the second week of January (to another breakout star in Big E Langston no less) but Reigns or Ambrose can't brag about that while Rollins can. Not only that, Rollins was the first of the trio to have a singles match, which was only lost via DQ because The Shield ganged up on The Big Show. In fact, his first singles pinfall loss was to Kane in May, while Amrbose submitted to The Undertaker a month previously. Reigns is still to be pinned or submitted in singles competition but that's not the point (fuck you Skitz). If you were to ask anyone about a Shield single's match, I guarantee Rollins/Bryan will be the one most people remember, or maybe that's just me....
Ambrose may have been positioned as the singles guy due to him winning the United States Championship, but he hasn't had as many great matches as Rollins has. Seth can sell like Dolph Ziggler, he can fly around the ring like a prime Rey Mysterio and he can mat wrestle like Daniel Bryan, as proven when they tore the house down on RAW in June. Meanwhile, Ambrose has had (in my opinion) sub par matches against the likes of Kofi Kingston, Kane (the worst match by far) and Dolph Ziggler. The man is the workhorse of the group, no doubt about it, as the majority of matches see him dealing/taking the damage, setting up Reigns/Ambrose to finish them off and that's a good trait to have.
Sure, Rollins may not have the pedigree/look of a wrestler like Reigns has, but he certainly stands out with his yellow and black hair and an ability to look like he's been shot, even if he was just receiving a kick to the face. He can easily assume the Dolph Ziggler role if and when The Shield breakup, becoming a solid midcard worker/champion that creative can rely on to prodice good matches, although hopefully not too like Ziggler, considering his current state. The guy can talk too, despite how groundbreaking it may not be, but at the end of the day, he says what is needed and it gets the job done. Over time, he can evolve and possibly rise to great heights, which will be backed up by this great first year he has had on the main roster.
So yeah, good luck to the rest of my opponents (except Joe, fuck him), but if Rollins doesn't get the nod, I'm going to deride you all on The Right Side of the Pond for disappointing me. Mazza, if you don't fix this poll for me to win, I'm kicking you off the show #RogueRandallStrikesAgain
Maz: Right, vote for Randall everyone. In all seriousness though, I’d say Rollins is the guy that has stepped up the most in my estimation. I think there is a general equation that you can relate to the Shield. The one you had the lowest hopes for is probably the one that has raised the most in your estimation, essentially because they have all done so well and progressed at a similar rate.
Joe: I agree. Rollins used to be SHIT in ROH (FUCK YOU I’M RIGHT) but he’s been a revelation; he’s always been a good bumper but he’s picked it up even further, he’s learned how to throw great punches from idk where and his selling is great; he has a natural and organic flow the way he sets himself up for peoples finishes. So I think he took the biggest leap of the 3, and I see him forming a super fun and hopefully super over tag team with Evan Bourne.
Maz: Last but not least is a guy with one mission. Solve the mystery of who can pip a Shield member to this title.
Antonio Cesaro (TripleR)
TripleR: “Beast Mode”- that’s the number one thing that comes to my mind when referring to the man who brought back the Giant Swing. When you look at Cesaro, you see a man that’s all business. There aren’t any frills, no flashy pyro, no waving his hand across his face to look cute. You get a wrestler; a hardworking, tough as nails, strong as an ox wrestler that is on the verge of greatness.
Cesaro began the year as the United States Champion, a belt he held for 239 days. It was the longest reign of any US Champion since The Miz in 2009. While some may argue that the importance of the mid-card titles in the WWE has dropped significantly over the years, Cesaro brought a new shine back to the gold, and wrestling fans were excited that the WWE had given one of their favorites a shot at the gold. He lost that belt to Kofi Kingston, but during that time, Cesaro started to turn some heads with his in-ring work ethic and his remarkable strength. Cesaro was beginning to develop some signature moves that the WWE Universe was beginning to relate to, such as his European Uppercut that he delivers to opponents after launching them in the air, or his Double Foot Stomp into his opponent’s midsection.
Cesaro was then paired with Jack Swagger as part of the Real Americans, a move that still confounds me to this day, but despite the odd pairing he continued to shine in his matches. The team has on more than one occasion come close to winning tag-team gold, which I feel is still forthcoming for the duo. It was during this time that Cesaro started using what is now being referred to as the “Cesaro Swing”; a full on swing holding his opponents legs while making rotation after rotation in the ring. What’s even more remarkable is that he’s been able to accomplish this to the likes of Brodus Clay (375 lbs.) and The Great Khali (347 lbs.), both of which weigh over 100 lbs. more than Cesaro. While the Real American are currently on the “heel” side of things, there’s no denying that fans are starting to gravitate towards brawler from Lucerne.
If that wasn’t enough reason to vote for Antonio Cesaro as Breakout Star of the Year, look no further than his Match of the Year candidate with Sami Zayn in NXT. This was a 2 out of 3 Falls encounter that had everything a match needed to be. The only thing missing was a larger audience for it. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see this match yet you’re doing yourself a disservice, so go out and find it. Wait, vote for Cesaro first before you do.
Anyway, personally I think the man’s work speaks for itself. Sure there have been other breakout stars this year, but The Shield did that as a group for most of the year, and Big E. Langston has just come into his own as of recently. If you’re looking for ONE wrestler that epitomizes “Breakout Star”, it’s none other than Antonio Cesaro. So, as Cesaro’s gimmick used to do I’m going to ask for your support, but in 5 different languages
This man is my fucking number 1 wrestler in the world; more than Virus, more than Fujiwara, more than Daniel Bryan, more than Vordell Walker, or Yuki Ishikawa . The guy has learned so much from working with Regal and Finlay; little techniques here and there. FOR EXAMPLE, in a street fight with the Miz, he was pulling out the table and saw the crowd was popping so he hid the table back under the ring for boos. Another guy who stepped up as he was just average at best as Claudio Castagnoli, he used the WWE style to his benefit and WOW; guy has MOTYC all over the place with Daniel Bryan, Samy Zayn, the Miz, Sheamus I mean the list goes on and on. The guy builds his base off a fucking CHINLOCK for fucks sake and it WORKS.
Maz: I absolutely love watching Cesaro in the ring. In terms of the work he does between the ropes I think he should win this hands down. The question marks thrown at him are nothing to do with his wrestling. I think he is more than solid in the promo department. He is not the greatest but can work in an oldschool heel way and with Zeb he doesn’t really need to. I think his biggest problem has in connecting with people. That has some to do with him, some to do with his gimmicks. Lest we forget the yodelling debacle.
Joe: Sadly that’s true. The Giant Swing is a great face move but I’m not sure he can work in the WWE as a face. He just I dunno man he needs to be attached to someone offensive that is actually allowed to be offensive.
Maz: I wonder if the WWE would consider hiring you as his mouthpiece. Guaranteed heat. Right, I think it’s time for us to go now.
Joe: Sweet. Seriously though knock on my door before you just barge in; the fuck are you from Birmingham or are you an actual civilised human being?
Maz: Your learning Joe, that joke kills everywhere over here Birmingham. To be honest I think most Brummies hate the place too. But now it’s time to vote. As always, you can leave your comments and reasonings below, and we are particularly interested in people who are voting for “Other” or just want to abuse Joe. We will be back in a few days with the final category, but until then, you know the deal… Peace!
You can check out SkitZ, TripleR, Skul and Oliver right here on the main pages of LordsofPain.net and you can check out Randy in a pub near you.
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