Smarks Court Awards: WWE Superstar of the Year 2013 (CPR Productions)
By Maz & Joe
Dec 7, 2013 - 4:29:16 AM
‘Sup, Lords of Pain? Well Joe and I are still recovering from all the fun and games of the Daniel Bryan Road to WrestleMania case but we have rest on our laurels. It’s awards season in pretty much every little corner of the internet and despite the best part of a month still left, it’s time to start thinking about the best of 2013. The awards columns will be coming from LoP’s finest no doubt but this year Smarks Court want to let you have your say. So over the next couple of weeks, we will be presenting arguments for nominees if four categories and asking you to vote on the best of the WWE for 2013. We will keep all four polls open and bring you all the winners at some point between Christmas and New Year. Helping us out with the nominations will be a whole host of columnists from the main page of LoP and the forums. Of course, Joe and I will be chipping in here and there as well. So, without further ado, let’s get the first category underway. And it’s a big one...
WWE Superstar of the Year
Maz: Now our last column has seen a lot of hate thrown the way of my fellow Smarks Court co-judge. Thinking Shawn Michaels sucks is simply an unacceptable opinion to have. The WWE won’t have anybody not believing he is the greatest wrestler to ever lace up a pair of boots and the IWC are here to enforce that rule. And the Smark Gods have had a word with me. They are very upset and are threatening to cancel Smarks Court altogether. I have had to come to a compromise with them and that is that Unc presents a nomination for HBK as WWE Superstar of the Year 2013.
Shawn Michaels (Uncle Joe)
Joe: When I watch wrestling, I’d like to think that I have a pretty firm grasp on what should suspend the average person’s disbelief, regardless of taste, and the WWE has done a rather marvelous job at it; don’t listen to the detractors.
When you watch Rey v Big Show, I know lots of you are thinking “Rey would literally stand no chance IRL” to which I say...meh probably, who the fuck knows? But thankfully we don’t have to worry about that since these two happen to be some of the smartest workers around. Notice Rey’s penchant for speed work two fold; not only can show NOT MATCH Reys speed (allowing Rey to get in quick strikes) but Show’s larger Frame merely attempting to catch old Rey will spend up his stamina, thus exposing him to easier damage. The magic starts when the bear finally catches the salmon, and the salmon’s attempts of escape thereafter; David V Goliath is some of the best stuff around when done right.
Or how about good old fashioned slugfests? Take, for example, Luke Harper (one Brodie Lee) vs Sheamus in NXT a few months back. There’s nothing pretty and elegant about this; just two guys with credible and nasty looking offense just beating the shit out of each other. This match is notable for probably being the one where Sheamus injured himself, either initially or the straw that broke the camels back so to speak. Like I mentioned before, stiff workers tend to have more believable offense, which goes back to suspension of disbelief thing.
Selling and bumping are also two great things that while might not win you the WWE title, should keep you very much employed in the world of wrasslin’. Dolph Ziggler seems to be one of these fine specimens, to which there no shame. While Ziggler may be inept and boring on offense, much of the praise he gets and deserves is from his selling and bumping. Dolph strikes the right balance between conveying pain and just overacting. He understands the tiers to selling, that in most cases you don't sell the opening collar and elbow tie up as if you just contracted malaria, and also gets that late in the match you should be more susceptible to his opponents offense. And it’s safe to say Dolph has never seen a dangerous over the turnbuckle bump he never liked; Punk, Del Rio and Chris Masters are also rather loving of these.
I could and should go on longer, but I don’t want to take up anymore of yall’s precious time. So if you’re looking for good wrestling; someone who doesn't oversell like a writhing fish out of water, who has credible offense and doesn't seem like someone whos punches can't break a paper bag, who works smartly and follows through with the nuances of pro wrestling, then forget all that shit and just watch a Shawn Michaels match.
Maz: WOAH WOAH WOAH!! Joe, you are going to get us in trouble. I think we better move on. Up next is author of The PEN15 Mightier and one of LoP’s more controversial and outspoken personalities going to bat for one of the WWE’s...
CM Punk (Pen15)
Pen15: It's strange how every year, I find myself struggling to figure out if WWE presented their best 12 month calendar year of wrestling, or their worst. 2013 is no different. While the Road to Wrestlemania and the event itself was disappointing, SummerSlam was another story. While the John Cena sequels were reaching Friday the 13th level repetition while not being nearly as much fun, the rise of Daniel Bryan made up for it. While we suffered through the shitty ending to CM Punk's record breaking WWE Title reign, we saw his work vs Paul Heyman to be an old school refresher course as to how wrestling should be booked. For the lame amount of disappointing main events on PPV, WWE delivered a stunning amount of amazing tag team matches.
Basically, it's been a complex year to be a WWE fan.
That's why it's a complex debate when choosing the 2013 Superstar of the Year. It doesn't help that WWE likes to sweep so many things under the rug that can help evaluate the possible answers (Slammy nomination for Cena vs Rock, but not Punk vs Lesnar...), How much are we swayed by WWE revisionist history?
Thankfully, I pride myself for being able to balance WWE perspective, my own, the IWC's, and the casual fan's as well. By taking all the opinions from all sources, I think it’s pretty clear who stands out as the 2013 Superstar of the Year. It’s not the WWE Poster Boy who they’ll want us to get behind, and it’s not the Internet darling who found himself headlining against the poster boy in August. It’s the man who headlined against the poster boy the last 2 SummerSlams.
It’s very easy to forget how the entire year went by when we are in the middle of a great storm of Daniel Bryan awesomeness. There’s no denying how much the underdog story has rejuvenated the hopes of so many fans, and for a short while going into SummerSlam and after it we all felt like WWE was back on track. At this point, we struggle to get through pushes for other talent who are completely undeserving of the spot Bryan rightfully earned. All this is to show how glorified we have raised the stock of the once American Dragon.
We’re likely to forget that for most of the year he was in a tag team with Kane, and not doing much of importance. He still delivered more than Vince ever expected of him, but it still wasn’t burning down the house until June or July. That’s when the tornado took off, and Daniel Bryan won the WWE Universe over like he had over the last decade to the internet fans.
But while all this was happening, CM Punk was pulling a Dolph Ziggler and stealing the show. Punk vs Rock was strong enough that WWE decided to book a rematch. Then Punk had a match of the year candidate vs Cena to determine who would get the next shot at the Rock. Then Punk had another match of the year candidate vs Undertaker, which was easily the match of the night. After a short leave, he came back to give us a solid bout vs Jericho, which led to the feud with his former manager Paul Heyman. I won’t say that the wrestling was stealing the show too often, but the fact that Punk carried Ryback and Curtis Axel to such a strong and high profile position says a lot for what he brought to the table. And of course, his match vs Brock Lesnar wasn’t nearly as forgettable as WWE.com and the Slammys would like us to believe (my match of the year).
The biggest argument I have for CM Punk as the 2013 WWE Superstar of the year is comparisons to his dreadful 2012 as a background character. After dropping the WWE Title, CM Punk was treated with more respect than while he was champion, and his work showed why. As a character, as an in-ring performer, as a face or a heel, on TV or on PPV, CM Punk gave us one of his best years to date.
The future is bright for young Daniel Bryan, but he didn’t do enough in the last 4 months to surpass everything CM Punk did for the 10 months he was around.
Joe: LOOK IN MY EYES; WHAT DO YOU SEE!? THE 5TH BEST DUDE of 20 13!
Punks (up until late november, he really looks hurt as his soft looking offense looking worse) had a great 2013. He was on PAR with Lesnar in their fucking sweet Summerslam match. He’s a very thoughtful wrestler, but I think he falls short of SS of the year to me, but that’s not to put him down.
Maz: The rest of the nominees are really going to have their work cut out to beat Pen and Punk here in my view. Two excellent matches at the two biggest PPV’s of the year, another MOTY contender on TV, back to back matches against The Rock and brilliant (if slightly too long) feud with Paul Heyman. But “The Best” certainly isn’t a lock for this thing just yet.
Next up we have a relative newcomer to the CF who has been coming on leaps and bounds over the last few months as a Columnist. Repping our Indian fanbase on the forums and repping our Goatface fanbase for this award...
Daniel Bryan (Subho)
Subho: Daniel Bryan had been massively over for a very long period of time. After WrestleMania 28, the Miami crowd was so pissed off that they made it clear to the Management that Bryan deserves to be a Champion by blowing the roof off with ‘Yes!’ chants when he entered the arena for RAW, the next night. The voices kept getting bigger and bigger and Bryan received one of, if not the largest reactions of any wrestler on the roster. No matter what the WWE asked him to do, Bryan made it work. Despite losing most of his matches, being booked in comedy skits, which could have very easily failed, he continued to have the support of the fans and was slowly becoming a star.
So, it was inevitable that the WWE will wake up to the star potential of Daniel Bryan and give him a chance at the main event level. And give him a chance they did. The push came organically; one of the most organic pushes of recent memory, and he became somebody who they knew would not only take the opportunity with both hands, but also put together excellent matches with just about anybody. And this is not just a hyperbole. Bryan’s match quality has been unparalleled this year. And while somebody like Alberto Del Rio has also been very consistent with his in-ring performances, Bryan has also been able to get the crowds to react massively. If you consider the intangible aspects of wrestling matches, taking into consideration crowd reactions, intensity of performances and the stories being portrayed in the matches, Bryan has outshined all.
Bryan’s matches with Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Antonio Cesaro, John Cena, Randy Orton etc. have been some of the best matches of the year, if you were to look at average individual performances. Hell, he even carried Ryback to a couple of entertaining matches. The best sign of the magnificent year he has had is that there was a period of time, somewhere between April and June, that his matches were the only parts of the show that the crowds woke up to. While The Shield were also pivotal in that, Bryan’s role cannot be ignored. Bryan was perhaps the biggest reason that the fans still stuck around, even in that pathetic phase. His 6 man matches with The Shield, whether it was teaming with Orton, Cena or The Undertaker, along with his Team Hell No partner, Kane, are some of the best 6 man matches you’ll ever see. Like I said, his stock hit the ceiling this year and he backed it up with amazing matches.
If we are talking win/loss records, then Bryan carries a 60.86% win ratio this year, up till the 10/25 RAW, whilst only losing 30.43% of his matches. In these wins are ‘clean’ victories over John Cena, Randy Orton and Sheamus; a massive, massive feat if there ever was one. Bryan’s image has been elevated to a very high level. Added to his resume were a couple of WWE Title reigns, however little they were. Plus, he was the Tag Team Champion for more than a third of the year. While a case can be made that Bryan was called many a things on TV, fans have also seen Bryan accumulate these wins based on pure wrestling talent. I will reiterate it again, not only has Bryan won his matches, he has given fast paced, enthralling and downright awesome matches. Seriously, I’ve lost count of the number of times his matches have been the Match of the Night; even his Survivor Series match teaming with Punk against The Wyatts. Bryan has also improved on his mic skills and proved that the stick is no longer a weak point of his. Channeling all that intensity into the mic was a thing he needed to do, and he has done just that.
Daniel Bryan has main evented 5 PPVs this year, which will only be rivaled by John Cena when the latter will main event TLC. Get that around your head for a while; at this moment, Bryan has main evented more PPVs than Cena in 2013 - that’s just absurd. Yes, Cena was away for a couple of months, but 2 of these PPVs were main evented in Cena’s presence, Hell in a Cell and Money in the Bank, while both of them main evented SummerSlam together. With any match of the other Contenders you throw at me, I’ll give you a Bryan match that was better or at least on par. CM Punk had two of the best matches this year against ‘Taker and Brock Lesnar, but the rest of his matches don’t match up to Bryan’s average quality. The Rock feud was underwhelming, and the matches with Axel and Ryback ranged from below average to average, frankly speaking. More than that, Bryan was involved in one of the best storylines to hit WWE TV in a long, long time in The Authority saga. And it is apparent that Bryan will get more chances to shine in 2014, if Management has any sort of common sense. Bryan cannot be solely blamed for the low business during the fall. He was put in the main event scene when, like I said, fans didn’t have much to stay for. He did more than he could have. He elevated the crowd interaction levels, a thing sorely lacking for a long time. That’s perhaps his biggest accomplishment this year.
So, has Bryan surpassed all the other contenders this year? Yes!
Will his stock only get better in 2014? Yes!
Does he deserve to be named the Superstar of the Year? Yes! Yes! Yes!
I rest my case.
Maz: YES! YES! YES! That is damn fun to do, isn’t it? When it comes to all round performance in 2013, I think you can’t look past Bryan. He’s delivered in and out of the ring from the bottom to the top of the card. The crowd reactions he has received have been insane and he has pretty much made a main event spot for himself in the company.
Joe: MY personal choice for WWE superstar of the year (not wrestler of the year, although he came in at 4) I’m glad someone decided to go with one of the obvious choices.
Maz: So far we have had nominations for three of the IWC’s biggest darlings. Next up is a bit more of a controversial nomination but a damn strong one, certainly in kayfabe. We have another relative newcomer to the CF going to bat for the current (and possibly last ever) World Heavyweight Champion.
John Cena (Kleckamania)
Kleck: Hello all! First things first. Ever run out of great columns to read here on the MP? Have time to kill between beating a certain body part like it owes you money? Then check out the column forum (CF), where we routinely rock the casbah! Now that all shameless plugs are aside, and before I get relegated back to my hole, let's get on with it!
I'm gonna preface what I am about to say by stating that I have never really liked this guy much if at all. So why in the robotronic Prototype am I about to make a case for him being WWE Superstar of 2013? Well I try hard to be unbiased when discussing things of this nature, and the man has arguably had a pretty awesome year.
With a television win/loss record in 2013 as of Dec. 4th of 29-5 (22-3 as a singles competitor = 88% win percentage), a Royal Rumble victory, the longest WWE title reign of this entire year (133 days, nearly doubling the closest reign of 70 days by the Rock), being current World Heavyweight Champ, and potentially by years end, only the second ever unified world champ (The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla became the first man ever to accomplish such a feat in 2001 at Vengeance). Mix all that in with him co-authoring arguably the two best matches WWE has put on in 2013 (Feb. 25th Raw vs. CM Punk, and @Summerslam vs. Daniel Bryan both 4.5/5 Star ranked matches by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter), being named the #1 singles competitor of 2013 by PWI, and despite the IWC hate, generating more revenue than any other superstar in the WWE this year (you really think 5-12 year old's would herald D-Bry or Punk in the top face spot? Ask my nephews Jesse and Josh, or a million other kids in their age group, who happen to be the #1 target audience of WWE...yep, we're all old. You're welcome for the reminder.) While we are at it throw in a year of very underrated promos, among which he schooled The Rock in my opinion, along the road to Wrestlemania, and I can't understand why Mr. You Can't See Me isn't more closely considered for this coveted distinction.
So put the Cena hate aside as I have, and see the unseen while considering everything I mentioned here when deciding as to just who reigned supreme in 2013. Did I mention this is all coming from an avid D-Bry & CM Punk fan? It hurts to admit it, but Mr. John Cena is the WWE Superstar of 2013. Now I take my leave back to the depths from which I came. Thank you Mazza, Smarks Court, and all you readers out there for humoring my demented mind!
Joe: I’m happy to see that in 2013 more people are starting to understand that Cena is really a great wrestler.
Maz: If you look at it purely from a kayfabe sense, this title belongs to Cena. He’s had a great year after his “nightmare” 2012. Now the IWC generally doesn’t care a great deal for what kayfabe says but even with our preferences, he has a couple of MOTY contenders, potentially one more coming at TLC and I think he has been a different man since his return. Definitely not resting on his laurels. But is that enough to get the interwebs to vote for the man they despise?
Right, that is the last of our guest nominations but for me there has been a huge omission here and it’s time to put that right...
Bear: Damn right there has been a huge omission, cock boy. Luckily for you I am about to put that right.
Maz: Chris, what are you doing here? I specifically didn’t send you an invite.
Bear: I could sense your travesty from a mile off and I;m not having it. I’ve got to do the nomination for the guy who clearly deserves to win this award.
Maz: You know what? It’s going to be easier just to let you get on with it. Go ahead.
William Regal (Bear)
Bear: What can I really say about William Regal?
1. He has superb hair
2. His real name is Darren
3. He’s straight up Gangster Trippin’
4. He’s still damn better than 95% of the roster
Maz: Right, that’s enough of that. You’ve made your point. Besides, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that argument somewhere no so long ago.
Bear: Doesn’t make it any less valid. I’ve got a lot more to say on the subject too.
Maz: I tell you what, if you fuck off now, you can come back and nominate him again for the next category.
Bear: Don’t think I won’t. To be continued.
Maz: Right, now I guess I can move on to the guy who truly deserves the nod as WWE Superstar of the Year.
Alberto Del Rio (Mazza)
Maz: When Dos Caras Jr burst onto the WWE, the IWC almost had a collective orgasm. Here was this international superstar with an MMA as well as lucha background, had a look suited to the WWE, spoke English and had an awesome gimmick. He talked about his destiny and we lapped it up. Then he did it again. And again. And again. A couple of years down the line and the IWC hated the guy. He became known as a black hole of charisma who seemed to have a permanent main event spot and nobody could see why. So when he won the world heavyweight title from the Big Show in early January this year, the IWC groaned.
But something magical also happened. No, he didn’t become uberinteresting overnight. No, he did invest in a thesaurus to broaden his vocabulary (I know, I know, that’s a bit rich coming from me). No, his face turn didn’t suddenly give him something he could talk about without making us fall asleep. What happened is that he grabbed the big gold belt and found a place where he could channel some hybrid of the SmackDown 6 and the IC title of old. He basically bought consistency to the WHC. When you think about that belt in 2013, you will think about great matches. And he had great matches with everyone he came up against. On PPV that ranged from The Big Show, through the likes of Swagger, Ziggler, Christian and RVD, all the way to Cena. That’s a huge range of styles there and Del Rio clicked with them all. And that is not counting TV where he mixed it up with pretty much everybody whilst leading one show and supporting another.
For the reason has really excelled is his in-ring story telling. If Del Rio tries to read you a story in a promo, you’re still likely to fall asleep. When he does it with his wrestling between the ropes though, I honestly don’t think there is anyone better in the company right now. He told brilliant stories in his work with Show and Christian. He got the very best out of Cena in their two PPV encounters but the masterpiece was his Payback match and clever double turn with Ziggler. Whilst it is a damn shame nothing has come of it for Dolph, it turned ADR back heel and a more ruthless one at that. In ring storytelling is not so prominent in this day and age but with Del Rio about, it isn’t going to disappear on us. He may not have done his work as high up the card as others, he may not be as exciting or as good a talking, but in that ring, nobody has been as consistently good in 2013 as Alberto Del Rio.
Joe: Del Rio confuses the shit out of me, many times; the guy bumps great, sells very well, eats offense like a motherfucker, and often has a grasp on the fundamentals of wrestling. Yet his offense leaves a bit to be desired. While not as inept on offense like Ziggler, for someone who works stiffish he leaves WAY too much daylight in his punches too often. His walk up enziguiri also is rather weak looking, but I’ll just chalk that up to his funny lookin calves. But overall on a pro wrestler scale from 0-100, Del Rio is about an 81, which is pretty damned good. But no way he even sniffs Superstar of the Year in the year 2013. No way.
Maz: Maybe his sniff’s your Auntie’s knickers instead. How d’ya like them apples?
Joe: He’d be dead Maz, trust me.
Maz: So vote using the poll below. I have included the option other if you think the title should go to somebody else. Feel free to tell us who in the comments section below or give us any other thoughts you may have on the subject. We will be back in a few days as we give you a chance to right the hot mess that was the Slammy Match of the Year nominations. Until then you can catch us on the usual social media and you can check out some of the work of our guests (links below). Peace!
You can read Subho’s latest column “Sub’isms: Story of the Ring” >>>HERE<<<
You can read Kleckamania’s latest column “Abuse” >>>HERE<<<
And, of course, you can check out the latest thoughts from PEN15 on LordsofPain.net one column down from this one.
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