Minor Shows: 0-0-0 Raw: 19-3-3 Smackdown: 7-0-3 PPV: 5-6-0 Title Matches: 3 Raw/SD Main Events: 14 PPV Main Events: 3 2012: 6th (267pts)
Year in Review
Well here we go starting the second half of the countdown and coming in at 15 we find another wrestler you would expect to find near the top of the rankings. Punk started the year off as the longest reigning modern day WWE Champion. That would not last long though as he would lose the belt to The Rock at the Royal Rumble and then would lose the rematch at Elimination Chamber. No longer apart of the title picture and Wrestlemania looming around the corner he decided to try his luck at another major milestone, beating The Streak. This of course would not be the case as like the 20 times before at Wrestlemania The Undertaker walked away with the victory.
After taking a two month break after Wrestlemania Punk returned at Payback to earn his first PPV victory of the year against Chris Jericho. This match would also start to sow the seeds of what would become one of the feuds of the year between Punk and his at the time manager, Paul Heyman. It would be at the Money in the Bank PPV (where Punk became 1 of 5 wrestlers to main event at least 3 PPVs in 2013) that Heyman would turn on Punk and thus setting the feud in motion.
Over the next few months Heyman Guys Brock Lesnar, Curtis Axel & Ryback prove to be obstacles that Punk had to overcome so that he could finally get his hands on his former manager. After losing to Lesnar at Summerslam and to Axel and Heyman in a handicap match at Night of Champions things were not looking to bright for Punk but he was able to reverse his ilfortune by beating Ryback at Battleground and then again in a handicap match at Hell in a Cell where he finally got his hands on Heyman and thus ending the feud for now.
The loss to Axel and Heyman at Night of Champions also marked another important part in Punks year as that would be his last loss for 3 months. That match took place on the 15th of September and for the next 3 months he would win 20 matches with 2 going to no contest (both of which took place in the same week in mid November). This streak would come to an end on the December 16 edition of Raw when teaming with the Usos they would lose to the Shield. He would then get back on his winning ways to end the year winning his last 4 matches to start a new streak (which of course has been ended as he has lost all 3 matches he has been involved in this year).
Rumours keep popping up that Punk is going to retire soon. While there might be some truth to it I think that a rumour is all it is. What I see for Punk is him fluctuating between challenging for the title to being in a high profile feud, basicly what any top flight main eventer should be doing.
30 Day Challenge
Day 16: Johnny Gargano
Since I was talking about the guy who this year ended the longest reign as a major champion in the WWE that I would highlight a guy who knows about holding a belt for a very long time. Johnny Gargano won DGUSA's major title (Open The Freedom Gate Championship) on November 13 2011 and as I sit here typing this he has held the title for 796 days and counting. Over those 2 years he has defended the belt 19 times against some of the biggest names on the Indy scene, including some names that I have already showcased (Ricochet, AR Fox, Chuck Taylor & Jon Davis), some names who are currently on the WWE's payroll (Samuray Del Sol & Sami Callihan) and some names that were on their payroll (Brian Kendrick & Chris Hero).
The match I have for you below is from July and is from the Bushido: Code of the Warrior show put on by DGUSA (a show which I watched live on wwnlive.com) which sees Gargano facing his former tag partner Rich Swann.
14. Curtis Axel
Minor Shows: 8-12-0 Raw: 11-13-1 Smackdown: 10-6-1 PPV: 5-2-0 Title Matches: 12 Raw/SD Main Events: 4 PPV Main Events: 0 2012: 47th (64pts)
Year in Review
2013 started off for Michael McGillicutty exactly where 2012 left off, in the middle of obscurity. In the first 4 1/2 months of the year he would only manage to have 9 matches on TV, 7 of which were on Superstars and the other 2 on NXT. Of those matches he was only able to win 1 match, the first of the NXT matches where he teamed with Bo Dallas to beat Epico and Primo in the first round of the NXT Tag Team Title Tournament. However on the 20th of May things would turn in the fortune of Michael McGillicutty.
On the May 20 episode of Raw Paul Heyman came out and introduced the audience to the newest Paul Heyman guy, that guy was McGillicutty who now went by the name of Curtis Axel in honour of his father and Grandfather. Over the next 2 months Axel would go on a 13 match winning streak which would include 3 wins each over Triple H and Sin Cara, 2 wins each over John Cena and Wade Barrett, a victory over Chris Jericho, a Triple Threat win over Wade Barrett and the Miz and a tag victory against The Prime time Players when teaming with CM Punk.
The Triple Threat victory marked a milestone for Axel as it landed him his first ever singles gold when he won the Intercontinental Title which was at that time held by Wade Barrett. he would hold that title for 5 months successfully defending it against Barrett, The Miz, Chris Jericho, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth x2 and Dolph Ziggler before losing it to Big E Langston at the Raw Country episode on November 18.
While a Heyman guy Axel was involved in Heyman's feud with CM Punk. While Punk did have Axels number for the majority of the time Axel did manage to beat him on occasion to take his total number of ex-World Champions he beat in singles competition in his first 3 months of his gimmick change to 5 (his successful title defence against Ziggler 2 months later would see that tally raised to 6).
After splitting from Heyman things did not seem as rosy for Axel and he has been floundering with the support of a manager. He ended up teaming up with other ex-Heyman Guy Ryback in a quest for the tag titles but has so far came up empty handed. To finish of the year Axel was on the receiving end of 5 straight losses, something that has already been added to 4 times in 2014.
In 2013 we saw a vast improvement in Axel thanks to his gimmick change but once again he is floundering with no direction. I feel like most likely after Mania season the WWE will give him another go which some sort of push again. I don't know where it will lead but I will take a guess in saying that he will once again end up on the cycle of lower careers who appear on random weeks.
30 Day Challenge
Day 17: Jigsaw
On the first day I presented to you a stable (The Colony) from CHIKARA and I thought today might be a good day to go back to that company and present another guy from there who I think might be. A benefit for the WWE roster. That man is Jigsaw. TNA fans might recognise Jigsaw as he has appeared on their shows from time to time under the name of Rubix. Jigsaw is what you would expect out of your normal Cruiserweight. He has the moves that will wow the crowd but he still has enough talents to not just rely on the high spots.
The match I have for you here is from the pre-show of the same PPV I took the match for The Colony from, High Noon, which took place on November 11, 2011 and sees Jigsaw facing El Generico who you may all recognise as the NXT wrestler Sami Zayn.
13. Kofi Kingston
Minor Shows: 19-10-0 Raw: 6-21-0 Smackdown: 5-13-1 PPV: 1-5-0 Title Matches: 7 Raw/SD Main Events: 5 PPV Main Events: 0 2012: 5th (273pts)
Year in Review
When I had to write Kofi's part in this countdown last year at the end of January it was starting to look like I may not have had to this year.The lead up to Wrestlemania, while still winning matches on the minor shows, would see Kingston not win a single match on Raw or Smackdown losing to The Big Show, Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger x2, Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Mark Henry & Dolph Ziggler x2. Thinks would then look worse for Kofi when he was snubbed for the Wrestlemania card and was instead positioned on the pre-show panel. The next night things carried on the way they were with Kofi losing to Fandango.
Things would change on that weeks Smackdown however when Kofi would be able to get a victory over Antonio Cesaro. This victory of course awarded Kofi a title shot due to the fact that Cesaro held the US Title, a match that Kofi would also win on the following weeks Raw thus making Kofi champion and forcing me to write a column about the poor booking that WWE had for its champions at the time.
This title reign was obvious though at the time to just be a transitional reign as the WWE needed to get the belt off Cesaro, who was a heel, onto a face so that it could be passed onto another heel. Everyone at the time thought it would be Fandango who he passed the belt to but in fact it would be Dean Ambrose who beat him at Extreme Rules, just a month after Kofi had won the belt.
The remaining of 2013 was majorly uneventful for Kofi. He did have feuds with The Shield and The Miz and was involved in the beginning of. The Authority angle. Other than that he appeared on the shows and did his matches, mostly winning on the minor shows and losing on the major ones. That win/loss record for Kofi is the major indicator that he did not have the greatest year in the ring. For a guy who used to wrestle with a win rate of 60% (currently 55% for his WWE career) he only managed a win rate of 38% in 2013, 27% if you take out his minor show results and look solely at his Raw, Smackdown and PPV matches.
2013 might be a year that Kofi will want to forget going forward and by the looks of it he might already have put it out of his mind with his victory against WWE World Champion Randy Orton on last weeks Raw. With a win against Curtis Axel on Main Event last week after the Orton victory things are already looking better for Kofi with a 100% win record in 2014 so far. With reports circulating that Kofi is about to get an overhaul I predict we are going to see big things on the horizon for Kofi very soon. Will it be a major title run, well I doubt it but it may just be a leap into the main event arena.
30 Day Challenge
Day 18: Santana Garrett
Time to take a look at another girl from SHINE who I think would be a major asset to the Divas edition and that girl is Santana Garrett. When I watched my first ever SHINE show back near the beginning of 2013 it was Santana who jumped out at me at the time of who on the show could become a major star. While I have now gravitated to a few others in my favouritism it does not change the fact that I think she could be a big star. I don't think it will be long before she is signed as both of the big two have had her perform for them, she lost to Brooke Tessmacher at the Knockouts One Night Only PPV and lost to Charlotte on an episode of NXT in October.
The match I have for you is from May 11 from PWS and sees Santana facing La Rosa Negra.
12. Jack Swagger
Minor Shows: 9-5-0 Raw: 15-14-1 Smackdown: 11-14-3 PPV: 3-5-0 Title Matches: 3 Raw/SD Main Events: 6 PPV Main Events: 0 2012: 24th (133pts)
Year in Review
If I had little expectation to be writing about Kofi in this years countdown I had even less of a feeling that I was going to have to talk about Jack Swagger. Between Wrestlemania 28 and the end of 2012 Swagger only managed to win 1 time on TV in 25 matches, consisting of a 13 match losing streak and finishing with an eleven-match losing streak. When he took time off in September for the rest of the year things were not looking good to for his return, everyone thought he would just come back as the jobber he left as.
Fast forward to the 1st of February and Jack Swagger is back and the first thing he does is beat Kofi Kingston on Smackdown ending his losing streak. Then he beat Santino Marella on Raw and Justin Gabriel on Smackdown and Zack Ryder on both shows the following week thus finding himself turning his losing streak into a winning streak. This was all thanks to his new found outlook on life thanks to his new manager Zeb Coulter. The winning streak would continue at Elimination Chamber when he would win the chamber match and thus becoming the number 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania. He would stretch the winning streak out another 4 matches before he would lose to Jim Duggan by DQ on the March 4 edition of Raw.
In the lead up to Wrestlemania he would get a few more wins but would eventually fall short at the last hurdle losing to Alberto Del Rio when it mattered. Over the next few months he would feud with Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler over the title but would not be able to earn himself another shot. Eventually at the end of May Swagger would take some time off to have surgery on his hand thus ending his attempt at becoming World Champion.
At the beginning of July Swagger made his return but he was no longer alone as Coulter had got himself a new client in Antonio Cesaro and the two of them joined forces as a tag team calling themselves The Real Americans. For the remainder of the year these two would start to make a name for themselves as a team winning about the same amount as they were losing. As a team they have always seemed to be on the verge of getting a shot at the titles but just falling short at the last step. They did manage to get a shot on the November 22 edition of Smackdown and were involved in a 4-way match at TLC, both times coming up short.
Well I will be the first to admit I got this section wrong last year as I said Swagger would be gone from the WWE by the end of 2013. While I do think he will be gone soon after the more prosperous year he had last year I don't think it will be in 2014. Eventually the Real Americans will break up to slingshot Cesaro into the singles division again but before that I hope they get a run with the titles as they have been one of the more entertaining teams in 2013.
30 Day Challenge
Day 19: Jay Lethal
The Indy wrestler I am highlighting today would be easily recognised by any TNA fan as Jay Lethal spent many years plying his trade there. I debated if I should put Lethal in here due to the amount of time he spent in TNA but he still fits the idea of what this 30-day challenge is all about, he is an Indy wrestler who has impressed me this year and who I think would be a great addition to the rosters of either WWE or TNA. Granted I was already a massive fan so it wasn't easy to impress me but hey it is what it is.
The match I have for you here is from the English promotion Britannia Wrestling Promotions and took place on the 24th of August and sees Lethal going up against Dylan Roberts.
11. Damien Sandow
Minor Shows: 20-14-0 Raw: 12-21-1 Smackdown: 1-20-2 PPV: 1-4-0 Title Matches: 4 Raw/SD Main Events: 4 PPV Main Events: 0 2012: 17th (157pts)
Year in Review
Over the last few days I have taken some flack for my numbers dishing out the short end of the straw to CM Punk and John Cena. I have had many back and forwards with people on why my stats are stupid and that they are a total waste of their time. While this column series is called the WWE Superstar of the Year, and the eventual winner just like last year is worthy of that title, it is more like the Best and Fairest award you used to get in your junior sporting days where you get points for each match you play and extra points for certain achievements. Maybe next year I will rename the column but for now it stays as is. The main problem for those who are complaining though are not necessarily the positions of Punk and Cena and it is now time to feed them more ammunition by revealing the number 11 placing.
2013 started off exactly where 2012 left off for Damien Sandow, teaming with Cody Rhodes as part of the Rhodes Scholars and chasing the Tag Team titles. They would have a title match at the Royal Rumble against Team Hell No, a match they were not successful at. This would be their last shot at the titles for they would disband before they would get another. In fact when they disbanded in July it was the second time they had done so for they had disbanded the night after the Rumble on Raw but rejoined forces on the pre-show for the Elimination Chamber PPV and continue tagging for a couple of months.
July would be a big moment in Sandow's career, not because of the disbanding of The Rhodes Scholars, but in fact what led them to break up. At the Money in the Bank PPV Sandow became the holder of a contract to have a World Heavyweight Title match at his convenience when he was victorious in that titles Money in the bank match. Sandow would hold the briefcase for 3 months before he unsuccessfully cashed it in on John Cena on the October 28 edition of Raw.
As I said in the first paragraph though I was adding more fuel to the critics fire with Sandow coming in at 11 and the main reason that is is because of his record on Smackdown. While picking up wins consistently on the minor shows and at least 1 in every 3 matches on Raw Sandow was only able to get 1 win in 23 attempts when wrestling on the Friday night show. And it was not like he won that match mid year or anything either, in fact he managed to go 21 matches on the show without a win before finally being victorious against The Miz on the second last Smackdown of the year do December 20. The thing to remember in all this though was that for 3 months he held the briefcase for the World Heavyweight title which of course was supposed to represent Smackdown. How could always losing make Sandow a threat for the title?
I'm really hoping things change for Sandow this year, that record was shocking for someone who to be honest is a pretty entertaining wrestler compared to some others in higher positions. While Sandow had a glimpse at the main event scene by holding the briefcase I think he would be better off doing things the old fashioned way by winning himself some minor titles before he sets foot in the upper leagues. I believe there is a good chance he wins one of the minor titles this year.
30 Day Challenge
Day 20: Rich Swann
Todays wrestler is someone who I have come to appreciate more as the year progressed as he was someone who did not catch my eye early on. Rich Swann was a wrestler who at first I thought was there more for just entertainment purposes but as his feud with Johny Gargano progressed throughout the year on DGUSA I realised just how much more he had to offer.
The match here is from DGUSA's event Open The Ultimate Gate 2012 and sees Swann going up against AR Fox.
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