Tuesday 31 December 2013

Year End Awards 2013

For the third year in a row I find myself noting that wrestling attracts lists. As I have for the past two years I thought I’d put together lists of my favourite wrestling related things of 2013.

As with the last two years (2011 is available here and 2012 is available here) there are six categories. Top fives for the best characters, feuds and shows, top tens for the best matches and tag teams, and a top twenty singles wrestlers (which, in the terminology of the sport we all follow, is the main event). Those of you with too much time on your hands may remember that I expanded the tag list from five to ten for last year’s awards post. This year it’s been the turn of the top matches list to grow. I don’t know why it’s taken this long. A list of top five matches seems odd. Ten is a much better number for that.

As with previous years there are no non-North America based grapplers on any of these lists (except one, but that’s for a match that took place in the States). This isn’t a reflection on the quality of wrestling outside of the United States, it’s simply a case of me not following anything outside of North America enough to feel I can fairly judge and compare it.

The way I’ve ranked wrestlers takes into account the company they work for, their spot on the card, what is required of them by their employer and how well they’ve performed within their parameters. Different things are expected of Adam Cole and Randy Orton for example, despite both men being world champions. Even within WWE there are different expectations of wrestlers: more is expected of Alberto Del Rio than of, say, Big E Langston for example.

TNA and ROH made some headway in their standings here last year after 2011 was dominated by WWE. This year things have swung back in WWE’s favour. TNA had to make some pretty severe cutbacks which led to their product become more unfocused and counterproductive than I think it’s ever been before. ROH had a great time in the first six months of the year but things fell apart for them when they decided to vacate their world championship. Had that not happened I think they could have ended up having their best year since Gabe Sapolsky left (left being the tactful term).

As I’ve noted before I’d watch both companies more if they got themselves together and presented enjoyable and compelling television programmes. That they’re not encouraging me to watch means they’re not going to rank highly.

We’ll start, again, with the Character of the Year category. Wrestling ability plays no part in this at all. It’s an award that acknowledges how good performers have been at establishing their character through the art of the promo and with continuous development, as well as interpreting the vision of the writers. All the other awards should be fairly self-explanatory.

Top Five Characters of the Year

5. Christopher Daniels
His antics weren't enough to make people tune in to Impact but there were enough to entertain those who did. 'The Ring General' was routinely amusing and did a great job of turning wrapping up nonsense storylines into a great gimmick. Without this man's ability to produce watchable skits TNA would be even duller.

4. Bo Dallas
Turning a bland babyface heel because they're booed is nothing new in wrestling. But it's not been done for a while and it's rarely been done as well as with Bo Dallas. The guy's brilliant as the oblivious narcissist who thinks everyone loves him and his title reign, with the puns he makes on his own name (Bolivia, the fans chanting "Bo!") warranting particular praise. Perfecting this character is Bo's best shot at getting promoted to the main roster. Bo! Bo! Bo!

3. Bully Ray
Bully Ray has been about the only man to be used in a consistent manner by TNA this year. That's helped him stand out as one of the few reasons to actually watch their shows. Whether he was the relatable, tough guy babyface or the bullying leader of Aces and Eights Ray made his character work. ‘Calfzilla’ was one of the better aspects of TNA in 2013.

2. Bray Wyatt
This is a man who turned talking nonsense into an art form.  Bray has been completely believe as an unhinged swamp preacher. Proof that gimmick characters can still succeed in the modern wrestling world, if they’re introduced well and not treated shabbily afterwards.

1. Tyler Breeze
There’s so much to love about Tyler Breeze. The selfies. The furry phone. The fact that said firry phone is used as a foreign object. The boots. The Zoolander impression. The Blue Steel facial expression. The former Mike Dalton has taken a tired cliché of a wrestling character and reworked it into something that connects with wrestling fans of the twenty-first century. Tyler Breeze has been a joy to watch.


Top Five Shows of the Year

5. ROH 11th Anniversary Show
Ring of Honor didn’t have a great year but they did manage to put on some memorable events in the first six months. The best of these was the 11th Anniversary card. The highlights of the evening were tag matches: The Forever Hooligans versus The American Wolves and the Briscoe brothers’ loss to reDRagon were two of the best ROH matches of the year. The show also featured an enjoyable TV title match and a hectic six man opener. It was a packed show that helped to balance the slightly disappointing teen v Lethal main event.

4. WWE SummerSlam (18.08.13)
SummerSlam 2013 will always be remembered for Triple H’s heel turn and Orton’s surprise cash-in on a prone Bryan. Without that event closing the show it would be a poorer viewing experience, but there’s more to it than just that. John Cena and Daniel Bryan had a fantastic WWE championship clash in which ‘The CeNation Leader’ worked hard to show that Bryan was on his level. If you’re reading this in order I won’t spoil things for you but that match is somewhere on my top matches of the year list. SummerSlam would not be ranked here without Cena v Bryan. The decent-but-not-great undercard and the show-closing angle add to that match to create a show worth watching.

3. WWE RAW 08.04.13
We all know why this show is here. It’s because of the crowd. The post-‘Mania RAW naturally attracts fans already in town for the biggest show of the year, but because wrestling tickets ain’t cheap only the most dedicated splash the cash on going to both ‘Mania and RAW. It creates a wonderful atmosphere and that’s never been more true than this year.

The show was packed with memorable moments. The Shield confronting The Undertaker. The Ryback pwning John Cena. The sensation that was Fandangoing. Ziggler’s triumphant cash-in on ADR. You have to feel sorry for Wade Barrett: he won the Intercontinental championship on this episode and nobody remembers or cares.

2. WWE Payback (16.06.13)
John Cena’s feud with Ryback was never what you’d call enjoyable so this show so this show gets bonus points for featuring the last in the series. It’s the best match they had, fittingly. Genuine reasons this show is ranked here are The Shield’s red hot encounter with the team of Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan (noteworthy considering what would happen with those two later in the year), the fun triple threat opener, and the incredible double turn outing of Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio.

1. WWE Money in the Bank (14.07.13)
No one match stood out enough from this show for me to pick it for the top ten, but there were several that I was tempted by. The all heel ladder match opener was a flawlessly laid out match that not only featured as much stunt work as you could want but also told a nice story. The evening’s second ladder outing wasn’t quite as good but was still one of wrestling’s better stunt affairs of the year. Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio produced the match of the night and capped off their series in style. Even John Cena and Mark Henry exceeded expectations in their WWE championship match, helped greatly by an enthusiastic crowd. It was, all told, a damn fine show.

Top Five Feuds of the Year

5. The WWE roster v The Shield
That sounds unspecific and it is. There’s no accurate way to sum up the various babyfaces ‘The Hounds of Justice’ tangled with from January to April. The Shield slipped from facing one gaggle of good guys to another, all of them big names and all of them united in a common cause: trying to hand a loss to the ne bad boys on the block.

Had they been facing mid-card nobodies Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns wouldn’t be listed here. But they weren’t. In the first four months of the year they faced and defeated Ryback, Sheamus, Kane, Daniel Bryan, The Undertaker, and John Cena, amongst others. No matter your feelings on the abilities of those guys they’re all big names. The various matches The Shield had were big deals that helped get them established.

4. CM Punk v The Rock
Their Rumble encounter could easily have been a flop if ‘The Great One’ hadn’t acknowledged Punk as someone on or near his level. The same is even more true of the Elimination Chamber rematch: by that point Rock had proven he was capable of beating ‘The Second City Saint’. Neither match was that great but through their promos they at least made viewers care about them. Their interactions and the hype for the two bouts were among the highlights of WWE’s first month and a half of the year.

3. Daniel Bryan v The Authority
It’s surprising, when you consider the popularity and talent of Daniel Bryan, that this programme didn’t produce any really classic matches. Randy Orton, the chief pawn of The Authority, may not be blessed with charisma but he can wrestle a fast, physical match and he’d proven earlier in the year that he could have excellent matches with ‘The World’s Toughest Vegan’. They didn’t manage to click in the high profile setting of pay-per-view main events, sadly.

What made this feud a success were the promos, mostly handled by Triple H on the subject of why Daniel Bryan could not be allowed to succeed, and the beatings dished out. The psychology of the programme was designed to let Bryan be a big success. It’s just a shame he wasn’t allowed to win more often and was so easily outsmarted. That would never have happened to ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. More to the point it would never to John Cena.
Triple H explains to Daniel Bryan that wearing only a shirt and trunks is kind of Randy Orton's thing...

2. Antonio Cesaro v Sami Zayn
With the unassuming environs of the NXT Arena as their stage and nothing more than a wrestling ring and their experience as tools Zayn and Cesaro constructed one of the most compelling wrestling feuds in years. Together they proved that wrestling fans can still be convinced of the importance of wins and losses and be drawn in with great wrestling. Their feud was one of the many reasons NXT was the best weekly wrestling show of 2013.

1. Alberto Del Rio v Dolph Ziggler
No two men consistently produced great matches like Ziggler and Del Rio. Their rivalry began when ‘The Show Off’ cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase in what would turn out to be the best four minute match I’ve ever seen. They had a captivating double turn exchange at Payback and a heated return bout at Money in the Bank. By pure coincidence (or perhaps not) my top three shows of the year feature matches from this programme.

They didn’t get much mic time to hype their feud but that was actually a bonus: all people wanted was to cheer Ziggler at this point and ADR turned out to be the man who brought out the best in him. The only bad thing about this feud is that it didn’t stretch to SummerSlam.

Top Ten Matches of the Year
(There’s no analysis here. If you want to know why these matches are in the top ten just go and watch them...)

10. Alberto Del Rio v John Cena – WWE Hell in a Cell (27.10.13)

9. Daniel Bryan v Jack Swagger, Antonio Cesaro and Ryback – Gauntlet match, WWE RAW 22.07.13

8. John Cena v CM Punk – WWE RAW 25.02.13

7. SHINGO v Johnny Gargano – Dragon Gate USA Open The Ultimate Gate (06.04.13)

6. The Shield v Team Hell No and John Cena – WWE RAW 13.05.13

5. Antonio Cesaro v Sami Zayn – Two-out-of-three falls match, WWE NXT 21.08.13

4. The Shield v Undertaker, Kane and Daniel Bryan – WWE RAW 22.04.13

3. Dolph Ziggler v Alberto Del Rio – WWE Payback (16.06.13)

2. Undertaker v CM Punk – WWE WrestleMania XXIX (07.04.13)

1. John Cena v Daniel Bryan – WWE SummerSlam (18.08.13)

Top Ten Tag Teams of the Year

10. Prime Time Players
The latter months of 2013 have seen WWE introduce new tag teams and overhaul existing ones. It's given the company the packed division that's been teased for the last few years. This has been good news for viewers, those who like doubles action (oh!) at any rate, but it's left Darren Young and Titus O'Neil to kill time in mostly pointless matches.

This doesn't seem a big deal until you remember that for much of 2012 they were one of the few WWE teams of note. A lighter division would have meant their interplay earned them a higher spot. Clearly a packed tag roster is not good for everyone.

9. Jimmy and Jey Uso
When it comes to dependable if unspectacular tag teams you don't get much better than the Usos. Throughout the year Jimmy and Jey have had several really fun matches, against The Shield at Money in the Bank and as part of the three-way title match at Hell in a Cell for example, but they've never truly connected with audiences. They're a good team that do good work but I can't bring myself to place them higher because they fall down when it comes to connecting with people. If they can master that they could get a little higher on the card. But they've got their work cut out for them.

8. Adrenaline RUSH
ACH and Tadarius Thomas were always a fun pair to watch. They didn’t win all that often but they always had exhilarating matches that got crowds worked up. That’s the role and job the RUSH boys have been given and they’ve performed very well. I’d like to see them rewarded with a more substantial role in 2014. A series with reDRagon could be gold!

7. Bad Influence
They didn't win TNA's tag team titles this year but that doesn't matter because they're worthless anyway. Daniels and Kazarian did everything in their power to make every ludicrous situation they were placed in (and they were placed in some belters) memorable and fun. On top of that they had good or better matches with every twosome on the roster this year.

6. Forever Hooligans
I didn't follow their New Japan work closely but whenever I did watch their work there it was of high quality. It's their ROH appearances that have got them onto this list. They had a string of worthwhile exchanges with top tandems reDRagon and the American Wolves, won the company's tag gold, and had one of the best ROH matches of the year opposite The Young Bucks. Bringing them on board as semi-regulars has proven a wise decision by ROH.

Big in Japan

5. Young Bucks
Let me be clear. I do not like the personalities of Nick and Matt Jackson. I'm also aware that they're basically living their gimmick and-or are rarely out of character. I don't care. I find their lack of humility irritating, and not in a heel-being-effective kind of way.

That said I can't deny they've had a phenomenal year, especially for two guys without permanent links to any meaningful company. They won the Open the United Gate championship in April, the PWG tag team titles in January (and still have them), and the IWGP junior tag straps in November, plus they won PWG's DDT4 tourney at the start of the year. In addition to these accolades (which illustrate how highly they're regarded around the world) the duo also had cracking matches with Kevin Steen and El Generico, the Forever Hooligans, and Adrenalin RUSH (and those are just the ones I saw). If they worked regularly in a company I can watch more I'm sure they'd be placed higher.

4. American Wolves
The year's ended on a bit of a sour note for these two. They should have enjoyed a swan song at Final Battle but instead Davey was expelled from the company for speaking out of turn during an interview, leaving 'Die Hard' to team with BJ Whitmer against the random unit of Jay Lethal and Roderick Strong.

Before they were robbed of the send-off they deserved (by Richards' big mouth) they'd been one of ROH's most popular acts, helping to remind everyone that the tag titles could be seen as main events prizes too. They had plenty of good matches but I particularly enjoyed their dream match against the Forever Hooligans at the 11th Anniversary and their unsuccessful title challenge at Supercard of Honor VII. ROH will miss having access to the Wolves.

3. Cody Rhodes and Goldust
Had the brothers Rhodes been together for another couple of months they'd probably be number one on this list. They've not had a single bad match since being paired up in October. They bring out the best in each other and the team has benefited greatly from 'The Bizarre One' seemingly being in the prime of his career. I've never wanted a tag team split to be held off more.

2. The Shield
Here I'm talking about Rollins and Reigns, although their six man work alongside Dean Ambrose has been great too. As a pair they had a five month reign as WWE’s tag team champions after besting the incomparably popular Team Hell No. During their time with the gold they had great doubles outings against Bryan and Orton, The Prime Time Players, the brothers Uso, and the brothers Rhodes. They were the most reliable, storyline formidable, and dominant duo in a tag team division which heated up considerably as the year went on. I think the success of Rollins and Reigns as a duo helped convince WWE that the tag scene was worth investing time in. Is there any greater success in a company like WWE than that?

1. reDRagon
Put simply they were the best tag team in Ring of Honor, a company that despite its faults remained the best promotion (that I watch, anyway) for tag wrestling. After capturing the tag team titles from perennial top boys the Briscoes at the 11th Anniversary Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly went to produce great matches with everyone they faced. Their matches against The Forever Hooligans and The American Wolves were amongst the best offerings from ROH all year. And it’s not just in the ring that they shine: Fish’s arrogant heel persona has brought out some long-needed character in O’Reilly and they’ve been one of ROH’s top antagonist acts.

Top Twenty Wrestlers of the Year

20. Big Show
Another year, another ridiculous number of face-heel switches for 'The World's Largest Athlete'. Despite this character inconsistency he remained surprisingly (uncharacteristically, considering his career as a whole) reliable in the ring. He had an above average programme with Alberto Del Rio at the beginning of the year, numerous excellent outings opposite various members of The Shield, and a fine encounter with Randy Orton at Extreme Rules.

The autumn saw Show become embroiled in the Authority plot. The payoff match he had with Randy Orton at Survivor Series was dreadful, the worst WWE pay-per-view main event of the year (a pity they couldn’t recapture the synergy they had at Extreme Rules). But Show kept getting strong reactions throughout the entire thing and his mic work was top notch. I wouldn't be surprised to see him back on top next year. WWE seems happy to have him floating up and down the card, and he's proven he can slot in where needed.

19. Randy Orton
When his return to the main event came at SummerSlam he instantly transformed himself into one of the most irritating wrestlers on the planet. Why? Because he can probably. Before that he’d quietly been having a good year. He met Big Show in ‘The Giant’s’ best match of the year at Extreme Rules, had a wild-by-modern-standards street fight with Daniel Bryan on the June 24th RAW, and was part of the frenetic six man opener opposite The Shield at WrestleMania. And unifying the WWE and World Heavyweight titles has to count for something right?

18. Seth Rollins
Along with his Shield teammates Rollins helped to popularise six man tag matches this year. The number of amazing trios outings they had verges on astonishing. There are far too many to list, but two appear in the top ten matches list and several others have been mentioned elsewhere. Rollins also teamed with Reigns as a duo to enliven the traditional tag scene, and had numerous excellent singles matches, most notably against Daniel Bryan (but doesn’t everyone?).

17. Roman Reigns
His entry could be substituted for Rollins’ for the most part. It was only during the final few months of the year he begun to rack up accomplishments he didn’t have to share. Survivor Series saw him as the sole survivor, being booked as a dominant force that encouraged cheers. The next month at TLC Reigns was once again booked to elicit cheers, and sympathy too. They’ll end up as career highlights one day. And I suspect there’s another one on the way at the Royal Rumble.

A stare that makes butter, ice and women melt

16. AJ Styles
'The Phenomenal One' was, as usual, one of TNA's best in-ring performers this year. Despite being lumbered with a knock off of Sting's fifteen year old Crow gimmick he managed to remain one of the company's most over performers. He ends the year as a jobbing indy talent but I think it's likely he'll resurface in the promotion he's most associated with next year. When that happens a feud with Magnus seems likely. In the meantime there are plenty of fresh matches for him to have in Ring of Honor.

15. Dean Ambrose
The best all-round member of The Shield: solid ring psychology and a damn fine wrestler. It’s the quirky little touches that have helped to set him apart from his compatriots this year. And his singles outings, of course. He’s been called on for non-tag outings more than Reigns or Rollins. The best was his meeting with The Undertaker on the April 26th SmackDown, but he also had worthwhile matches with Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and (astonishingly mayhap) Big E Langston.

14. Dolph Ziggler
Everything went well for Vickie Guerrero's former client in the first half of the year before falling apart in the second. He lasted for nearly fifty minutes in the Royal Rumble and got great reactions at Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania despite being in matches that were basically meaningless. His cash-in on the April 8 RAW was unquestionably the high point of his year and the catalyst for WWE's decision to turn him face.

That happened in a fantastic double turn encounter against Alberto Del Rio at Payback, a match almost equalled by its rematch at Money in the Bank the next month. But that's where things fell apart. After MITB Ziggler found himself in an afterthought bout against Big E Langston and spent the last few months of the year in similar matches on RAW, SmackDown and PPV pre-shows. It's not too late for WWE to get behind him again but I don't think they will.

13. Austin Aries
'A Double' would have really had to go some to better the year he had in 2012. Unsurprisingly he didn't manage it. He remained amongst TNA's best all-rounders and had high quality matches with everyone from Jeff Hardy to Kurt Angle, and had an all too short run tagging with Bobby Roode but Bully Ray's push and too many flips between the heel and face divisions kept him from being TNA's top boy on this list.

12. Johnny Gargano
Mr Gargano was the best thing on every Dragon Gate USA show I watched. His match with SHINGO at Open the Ultimate Gate is ranked seventh in my top matches of the year and his battle with Chris Hero from Freedom Fight came close to making it in too. His lengthy reign as Open the Freedom Gate champion, which started in November 2011 and is still chugging along now, has given that title meaning. I'm interested to see it he can he hold on to it for another full year.

His promos are not as smooth as they could be but they're fine for a headliner in a company that emphasises wrestling ability. As a wrestler he's more than deserving of a mention here. Johnny Gargano is DG USA's best all-rounder.

11. Kevin Steen
'Mr Wrestling's' world title reign started with a bang in 2012. It stumbled to a halt in 2013. After an exciting defence against Tadarius Thomas he had a mild letdown against Jay Lethal at the 11 Anniversary Show before finally losing the strap to Jay Briscoe. From there had a confusing meeting with Matt Hardy at Best in the World, made it to the semi-finals of the world title tournament and then got into a series with Michael 'Don't Call Me Mike, Bro' Bennett. That produced a spirited stretcher match at Final Battle but I can't help but feel nobody in ROH has known what to do with Steen since he lost the title. He remains popular and always does well with what he's given. He's just not being given that much.

10. CM Punk
Although he's remained one of WWE's most consistent wrestlers and promo men he failed to capture spirit and attention as he had in previous years. He started off fairly well, bringing his lengthy WWE championship reign to a close with two underrated outings against The Rock. The match that followed, opposite The Undertaker, was one of the best of the year, but the feud that accompanied it signalled the beginning of Punk's decline.

When he returned in June after some time off he contributed to the list of lacklustre Chris Jericho pay-per-view matches of 2013. The overly long programme that Paul Heyman that followed didn't produce anything of value (yep, including the Punk v Lesnar SummerSlam bout). Punk did have good matches this year, they just weren't frequent enough for a good with his spot and role. Hopefully 2014 will see a return his 2011 form.

9. Sami Zayn
The artist formerly known as El Generico has proven that he can achieve at least some success in "the big leagues". The regulars at the NXT Arena have rallied behind his smooth and charismatic in-ring performances and he's shown that he's a dan hand with a microphone. His series with Antonio Cesaro was the highlight of his year but he's also had great matches against everyone from Bo Dallas to Leo Kruger. Easily NXT's MVP of 2013.

8. Cody Rhodes
Cody is almost the inverse of Dolph Ziggler: his year picked up at Money in the Bank where 'The Show Off's' slowed down. Unlike Dolph Cody had more highlights in his hot portion of the year and his bad period wasn't as bad.

His Rhodes Scholars unit with Damien Sandow was an early highlight of the year for WWE, although they weren't utilised as well as they could have been and didn't get the tag title reign they deserved. Cody did get a reign with those belts though: his team with (half) bro Goldust has continued to keep the tag team scene invigorated since defeating The Shield on the October 14th RAW. That was the best match on the show, a trend that's continued at Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series and TLC. And he had that excellently booked face turn during his near victory in a Money in the Bank match too!

7. Antonio Cesaro
‘The Swiss Superman’s’ year started with his push being halted. Never a good sign. That lasted through WrestleMania, culminating with his loss of the US title to Kofi Kingston in order to get it on to Dean Ambrose. A month later things picked up for him, presumably because WWE had time for him again with ‘Mania out of the way.

In May he started his great feud with Sami Zayn on NXT. In June he formed an on-screen alliance with Zeb Colter and began tagging with Jack Swagger. What could have been one of many random and forgettable WWE pairings has endured thanks to the work Swagger and Cesaro have done making themselves look and wrestle like a unit. He’s not won all that often but Antonio Cesaro has turned everything thrown at him and made it work. He even got the Big Swing over!

6. Bully Ray
It was Bully Ray not AJ Styles who did the most to hold the perpetually sinking ship that is TNA together this year. His work as a hard case good guy from January to March was very good but it was bettered by the heel character he played from Lockdown onwards. Showing a nice blend of bravado and cowardice Ray was easily the best performer TNA had from a promo point of view.

In the ring his cage match with Jeff Hardy was mildly disappointing but was balanced by the manic Full Metal Mayhem (tables, ladders and chairs rules) bout that followed it. The reverse was true for his pair of title switches with Chris Sabin: the first was a shambles but the second was pretty fulfilling. His Slammiversary main event opposite Sting was pretty good, considering 'The Stinger's' limits. Meanwhile Bully’s Bound For Glory effort against AJ Styles, while incredibly strange in its booking, was as good as it could have been. Sadly it wasn't as good as it needed to be to get TNA out of the trouble it's in, but that's normal by now.

5. Adam Cole
The heel turn in ROH is clearly the thing that got Cole here. He teased it for well over six months but always in a way that left you unsure when and where the official turn would come. More importantly he made it believable. His motives for going bad were obvious to anyone watching.

In the ring Cole had probably the best match of the ROH world title tournament when he clashed with Michael Elgin in the final, gave Jay Briscoe the best challenge of his ill-conceived reign, and had good matches with everyone he was pitted against, from Tommaso Ciampa to Roderick Strong. With Elgin not being allowed anywhere near the world championship by ROH management (at least not right now) Cole is the best choice to have the belt.
Adam Cole may have the title but he's not the highest ranking ROH wrestler on this list
4. Michael Elgin
If Michael Elgin's not been the best wrestler in ROH this year I don't know who has. He's not only had some of the promotion's best matches against Jay Lethal, Kevin Steen, Paul London and Adam Cole but he's also become a master of electric finishing sequences. That's an important skill for any wrestler to have, but it's particularly crucial in Ring of Honor. He has grown into a dependable member of the roster.

Will 2014 finally be the year he wins the ROH world championship? I'd like to think so, but I've learnt my lesson about hoping for it. I’ll say it would be nice and leave it at that.

3. Alberto Del Rio
'The Essence of Excellence' excelled this year as the epitome of an upper mid-carder. His feuds with Big Show and John Cena produced matches far better than could have been realistically expected and he had the rivalry of the year with Dolph Ziggler. The two men never had a bad match, even when they were lumbered with disappointing DQ finishes and four minute run times. He also proved he could work as a babyface and survive without Ricardo Rodriguez.

I don't think ADR will ever get back into main events on a regular basis but that's okay. He's found his niche on the card.

2. Daniel Bryan
Four entries on my top ten matches of the year list and only at number two?  Yes. Bryan had more incredible matches than any other wrestler in any company I follow this year. He had dozens of high quality matches. Antonio Cesaro, Ryback, John Cena, every member of The Shield, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow are amongst the men he’s had notable matches with this year. There are others. In the ring nobody has come close to bettering Bryan.

But there’s a reason he’s not at the very top of this list. As good as he was in the ring he wasn’t as good as he could have been with his promos. He’s playing a character that doesn’t really talk very much and when he does he’s capable of putting his point across eloquently and effectively. But the spot he’s in (number one, two or three babyface depending on who you ask and what WWE’s doing with his push at the time) requires just a bit more. Bryan is not the sort of guy who could open up RAW with a twenty minute promo without being interrupted, and he’s now at the level where he should be seen as capable of doing that.

In the ring Bryan is the best in WWE. But as a headliner there’s been one man better than him in 2013…

1. John Cena
The previous two times I've put together a Year End Awards post I've dismissed ranking Cena amongst the best wrestlers of the year out of hand. Everyone knows he's not very good in the ring and that his promos are childish and rivalries and matches with The Miz and John Laurinaitis haven't changed that.

Things have been different this year. This year Cena has lived up to his spot. He appears on my top ten matches list no less than four times, and that's a list that omits his involvement in the six man tag match at Elimination Chamber (opposite The Shield with Sheamus and Ryback), his successful defence of the World Heavyweight championship against Damien Sandow on the October 28th RAW, and the better than expected match he had with Mark Henry at Money in the Bank. Cena has had more great matches in 2013 than I can remember him having in one calendar year ever before. He's proven that he can wrestle to a high standard and draw people into matches with people who aren't CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. As a main event guy that's what he should be doing, along with providing first class promos as and when necessary but that's his speciality.

This is a John Cena I don't have a problem seeing at the top of the card. I hope he sticks around.
The best wrestler of 2013

Sunday 29 December 2013

That Wrestling Podcast Episode 31

It's like this picture was taken just for this episode!
Anyone who listens to every episode of That Wrestling Podcast (which is probably none of you) will be familiar with episodes that cover how far three guys in WWE can make it up the card. This episode is a twist on that theme: we look at three guys from New Japan (Pro Wrestling (a wrestling company)) and discuss how far they could make it in WWE.
The three men in question are Bullet Club members Karl Anderson and Prince Devitt and former six time IWGP heavyweight champion Hiroshi Tanahashi. You can probably guess some of our reactions to the chances of these three succeeding in the WWE system but that shouldn’t stop you having a listen. Should it?

Saturday 28 December 2013


At WrestleMania weekend in 2012 Ring of Honor promoted two shows under the banner title of Showdown in the Sun. Night one was headlined by Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong challenging ROH world champ Davey Richards. It would prove the zenith of the Davey-Eddie-Roddy era of main events. Night two was headlined by Richards defending against Michael Elgin. That would prove the breakout match for Elgin.
Then a member of the House of Truth Elgin had done little except squash expendable talent before SITS. His match with 'The Lone Wolf' showed people that he was capable of so much more than that. It immediately raised his stock amongst fans. He started being given meaningful matches and a long term storyline was begun that would see him split from Truth Martini and the HOT.
The match at Showdown was so good that it could have conceivably worked as a title change. The fans responded incredibly well to the challenger. They not only sensed he was a star coming into his own before their eyes but also that he could be the next major player for the group. The booking throughout the rest of the year backed that up. Elgin did look like a certainty for stardom.
Just another man on the roster
But as time's worn on it's been revealed that this isn't the case. 'Unbreakable' lost to former stablemate Strong when they clashed at the end of 2012. He got the victory in a rematch, fought under two-out-of-three falls rules at the 11th Anniversary Show, but by that point interest in their dispute, not high to begin with, had waned. By the time Elgin dropped Jay Lethal to solidify himself as number one contender to the world strap he was no longer the red hot prospect he had been.
Things could have been so different had Elgin been the man to relieve Kevin Steen of the ROH world championship, in place of long time tag aficionado Jay Briscoe. As the man fans were behind he was the natural successor to the top spot. It seemed like the natural title change, the man who'd seemed to be on course for the top singles title for a year defeating the company's leading man at his peak. That should have been too good to pass up. But it wasn't, because ROH did.
Throughout the rest of 2013 Elgin has had numerous stints as the official number one contender and mounted several unsuccessful challenges. Rather than do the smart thing and switch the strap from Briscoe to Elgin when it was revealed Briscoe would be taking extended leave or moving on completely a tournament was held. Making it to the finals of that only to lose again was a step too far. It's not that Adam Cole wasn't a good choice for champion but everything in the preceding eighteen months had established Elgin was a man on course for the top. After failing to have Elgin be the man to replace Steen and Briscoe, both of which would have been pretty good timing-wise, the tournament was ROH's last chance to deliver on Elgin.
Elgin was once again unsuccessful in challenging for the title at Final Battle 2013. By that point it had become the norm for him to leave title matches without the gold. That he failed to win again simply confirmed how far the man had fallen. The lack of a victory didn’t harm him: it’s not possible for the lack of a championship to harm him anymore.
Elgin has continued to improve as a wrestler throughout the year but in the process become part of the scenery at the top of ROH cards. Instead of slapping the title on him and giving him a lengthy reign to make him look special he's been treated as just another guy. Ultimately this is fine. He's been turned into a star by a combination of his own good wrestling and the booker's good planning. But he could have been so much more with a bit more faith and a willingness to put the company's efforts into creating a new centrepiece attraction. I can't imagine he'd have been the guy to turn ROH into a bigger deal than it is but he could have been bigger than he is.
If and when Elgin wins the world championship now it’s going to be just another run. It’s even possible the fans will turn on him as they’ve turned on other champions in the past, simply because he’s already been floating around the top for a while. He wouldn’t be an undeserving champion, but the chance for him to be a special champion has been and gone. Another instance of poor judgment from Ring of Honor.

Thursday 26 December 2013

That Wrestling Podcast Episode 30

I’m quite a fan of Batista. He’s not my favourite wrestler or anything like that but I appreciate the things he does well and feel the things he’s bad at are minor enough to be easily overlooked. Michael is not a fan of Batista. He can’t overlook any of the things he’s bad at and doesn’t feel the things he’s good at warrant any special praise. We did the natural thing in this situation and recorded a podcast episode arguing for and against ‘The Animal’.

This picture represents an underrated time to be a wrestling fan
And then a week later WWE announced that Batista’s returning.

Needless to say if we’d known he was coming back we would have devoted a lot more time to the topic of Batista. We probably would have altered the approach we took too, discussing who he could feud with and what he’s likely to do when he turns back up on RAW. Unfortunately we’re (again) victims of poor timing.

I remain a Batista fan. I imagine I’ll write something about his upcoming return at some point. For now you’ll have to make do with me arguing in favour of his matches with The Undertaker and Eddie Guerrero.

Monday 23 December 2013

Mr Retirement

March 28th 2010. WrestleMania XXVI. Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker faced each other in a career versus Streak match. Michaels lost. He hasn't wrestled since.

This is an incredibly rare example of a wrestler honouring a retirement stipulation after losing. The norm is for the retirement stip to be used as a way of writing people off of television to undergo operations or to take a break. It’s also not unknown for retirement angles to be tacked on to lengthy feuds to heighten drama and tension with no intention of either party genuinely retiring. See Mick Foley, Ric Flair, Terry Funk and some of the ludicrous stipulations implemented by Vince Russo in WCW for all the examples you could need on wrestlers and retirement.

While he's managed to adhere to the terms of his loss to 'The Dead Man' Michaels hasn't disappeared completely. He's come and gone from television over the last three and a half years. For the most part he's made one off appearances but that changed a couple of months ago when he was made the guest referee of Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton's WWE championship Hell in a Cell match (at the imaginatively titled Hell in a Cell). Before the show Michaels had stated he'd be fair and call the match impartially. On the night that was proven to be a lie when he super kicked Bryan, billed as his protégé1, and allowed 'The Viper' to leave as champion.

The Slammy Award-winning Shawn Michaels
It wasn’t an immediate heel turn for Michaels. He received a mixed reaction on the following evening's RAW, which saw him trapped in the Yes Lock by an angry Bryan (a moment which showed that retirement hasn’t diminished his ability to make you believe he’s in pain one bit). Since then the mixed reactions have continued and he's stuck with playing a character of blurred alignment as opposed to an out and out heel. He'll support lead bad guy Triple H but act in a relatively humble manner when accepting a (prestigious) Slammy. It's the logical way to play it. Not being on the active roster means he has to be presented differently. It’s a reflection of his standing within the company.

He’s also found himself at odds with CM Punk. During the excellent show-closing segment of the pre-TLC RAW Punk manhandled ‘The Game’ and got Sweet Chin Music for his trouble. Michaels in turn was floored with Bryan’s running knee strike. The following week Michaels confronted Punk to tell him that he should be worrying about him, not Tripper. They didn’t come to blows, but Punk did say that if he was kicked by HBK again he’d be kicking him back.

So as 2013 draws to a close Shawn Michaels has established disputes with two of WWE’s most popular wrestlers. It feels very much like a Michaels match against one or both of the former indy stalwarts is being teased.

But teasing and promoting are two different things. I don’t think Michaels will return to the ring for an official match. I’m sure he’d be physically able to, his appearances over the last couple of months have made it clear that he can still throw his finishing move and is just as good at drawing fans in as he ever was (and he was among the best). I just don’t think he’d want to. One thing motivated Michaels throughout his entire career, and that was being seen as the best. It manifested in different ways, the nineties saw him playing some cutthroat political games to ensure the spotlight was always on him, while from his return in 2002 until his retirement eight years later he was more about putting on the best match of the night no matter who he was facing. The latter was a far more admirable approach but it had the same motivation. Michaels wanted to outperform everybody else2.

When he retired Michaels was the best. He was WWE’s top in-ring performer. His last match was the best match of the biggest show of the year and it went on last. There is no finer send-off a wrestler could receive than that, and Michaels would know that. I can’t imagine that he’d come back to have another match and run the risk of it not being quite as good as the masterpiece of a last stand he had with The Undertaker. Even a very good match would be a comedown from what is currently his last outing. Not that he’d have a less than satisfying match. I just don’t think he’d want to run that risk. Seconding Triple H in his matches opposite Punk and Bryan (and I think ‘The Cerebral Assassin’ will be going up against both men next year) seems more likely.

This isn’t to say WWE wouldn’t try to tempt the guy. Michaels versus Punk and Michaels versus Bryan are both fresh matches and would be a great addition to the WrestleMania XXX card. Almost as appealing would be the “dream match” (that’s definitely how they’d promote it) pitting CM Punk and Shawn Michaels against D-Generation X. It’s not the sort of thing that would be added to ‘Mania but it would certainly be a boon to Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber. Planned right WWE could probably find a way to stretch the current disputes out to include Michaels matches at SummerSlam 2014 and WrestleMania XXXI.

I’d love to see another Michaels match. He’s one of the best wrestlers ever and his involvement would benefit WrestleMania XXX in ways that nobody else’s would. That said I’m equally happy not seeing him wrestle again. He went out on top after having one of the most amazing careers the business has ever seen. There are loads of highlights we can look back on. Nothing new is needed.


1 I feel I should clarify this. When Michaels had his four year lay off from 1998 to 2002 (due to what was originally believed to be a career ending back injury) he handpicked a small number of young guys to teach at a wrestling school in Texas. Bryan ‘Daniel Bryan’ Danielson was one of the guys there. How much Bryan learnt from Michaels is impossible to say without speaking to either man (which I haven’t done, obviously) but we can take a guess from the amount of time Bryan stayed there (less than a year) that it wouldn’t have been that much.

Daniel Bryan made a point of travelling all over the world to learn how to be a professional wrestler. His style is not especially influenced by ‘The Heartbreak Kid’, it’s more in line with Japanese wrestling and technical mat wrestling. Bryan’s been much more heavily influenced by KENTA, whom he faced many times before signing with WWE, and William Regal, whom he trained with while under his first WWF developmental contract in the first few years of the millennium. The reason he wears maroon trunks is as a tribute to Regal. No broken heart emblems there!

All of this said I can completely understand why WWE presents the Bryan and Michaels relationship in this fashion. Being the former student of Hall of Famer and ‘Mr WrestleMania’ Shawn Michaels does more for Bryan’s standing with the average fan than an open admission of the same relationship with an NXT commentator would.

2 There is absolutely nothing wrong with this attitude. More wrestlers should attempt to have the match of the night more often. It would contribute significantly to making the output of many wrestling companies more enjoyable.

Sunday 22 December 2013

That Wrestling Podcast Episode 29

Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns, collectively known as The Shield, are all very talented men. Not since the formation of the nWo in 1996 have three wrestlers with such individual star power worked together as a single act. But where Hogan, Nash and Hall for the most part had the best in-ring days of their careers behind them when they came together in WCW the best days are yet to come for ‘The Hounds of Justice’.

The future
As a wrestling fan you can never state with absolutely certainty that someone will become a huge star. There are too many unpredictable aspects to the sport. But with the three men of The Shield we can about as close as is possible. All three will go on to work as singles acts once the group disbands. All three will get their shot at standing alone as a star.
But who’s going to do the best? Inexhaustible bleach fan Seth Rollins? Oddball frontman Dean Ambrose? Hulking, silent brute Roman Reigns? That’s the subject for today’s podcast. We chat about which member of The Shield will go the furthest and what their individual strengths are.
With a breakup for the gang likely next year, this seemed like the perfect time to discuss it.

Saturday 21 December 2013

The First Disciple

There can't be any doubt that Bray Wyatt is the star of the Wyatt Family stable. He's the promo man, the stated leader, and the man for whom the group is named. The act is built around him and without him it wouldn’t exist. It's clear that he's the member most expected to become a star once the Family dissolves (whenever that happens).

It's all with good reason. Bray is the most promising of the three Family boys. But that doesn't mean he's the only member who stands a chance of becoming a singles star.

I'm not talking about Erick Rowan here. The man with the upside down Sheamus face makes a good henchman but nothing about him makes me think he could be a success by himself. His matches so far have been perfectly satisfactory but nothing more. I've yet to hear him speak, which indicates WWE are no comfortable letting him do so. Perhaps most importantly he possesses the look of a hulking mid-carder rather than someone who'd headline a pay-per-view.

The dishevelled look is so in
I have different feelings about Luke Harper. At a glance there’s not that much difference between him and his boiler suit-clad partner. They're around the same height and dress in the same dishevelled manner but Harper does a lot more to set himself apart. He's introduced his alligator roll hold-slash-move and seems to have a better grasp of how to time what he does during matches to get reactions from crowds. The head rocking and croaking combo he does is a suitably eerie addition to the Family act too.

None of these things are going to get him a main event spot, obviously. The day a wrestler lolling their head back and forth while making a sound that may or may not be based on that of an alligator gets them promoted is the day WWE changes beyond all recognition. But they are signs that Harper understands how to make little additions to his act that make the whole far more enjoyable and, more importantly, memorable. Such a trait is what’s needed for a wrestler to set themselves apart in WWE.

I can't imagine him in a pay-per-view main event but I can envisage him as a meaningful part of the middle of the card. That being an area that looks like it’s going to be overhauled over the next couple of years means that this is a good sign for our man, rather than the vote of no confidence it’s been over the last half decade or so. For a man who is currently heavily reliant on his cult leader manager I think that's pretty good.

Thursday 19 December 2013

That Wrestling Podcast Episode 28

This episode of That Wrestling Podcast sees Michael and me continue our habit of discussing WWE pay-per-views just after they’ve happened. My view of the show is already available. I’ve stated that it was WWE’s worst pay-per-view offering of the year, mainly because it featured only one match of significance and an undercard with absolutely no thought put into at all. If a show is shunting CM Punk and Daniel Bryan into meaningless filler and omitting talented guys like Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler then something’s going wrong somewhere.

AJ Styles will be back
In short Michael disagrees with this. He’s got some reasons for doing so, they’re just not ones I agree with. You might though.

TLC was not the only major show from last weekend. Ring of Honor also presented Final Battle. When we recorded that show hadn’t been made available for viewing, but we’d both read the results and discussed the matches, swerves and returns. It sounds like a show designed to set up a new direction for ROH. Sadly that direction doesn’t sound especially interesting. I’m reserving full judgement until the show’s online though, obvs.

The final topic discussed on this episode is AJ Styles contractual status with TNA. Is it a work? Is it genuine? Will he ever be back on Impact? If he is what will he do? All of that’s discussed, along with our feelings on ‘The Phenomenal One’s’ general worth to TNA and ability as a wrestler.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Who Can Win the 2014 Rumble?

Judging by the last few episodes of RAW and the recent TLC pay-per-view WWE seem to be setting themselves up for a very interesting WrestleMania Season. There are seemingly dozens of directions storylines could go in to give us numerous different cards at WrestleMania XXX. One of those will be revealed on January 26th. On that day we’ll see someone win the Royal Rumble and become the number one contender to the WWE championship.

Well, possibly. Since The Streak became such an important part of WrestleMania many people have floated the idea that the Rumble winner could forego the usual title match and instead use the Rumble victory to challenge ‘The Dead Man’ on the big show. I’m not a huge fan of the idea, mainly because I like the tradition of the Rumble winner challenging for the biggest prize in the sport, but it’s something I could imagine WWE doing.

If a Streak match were a potential prize then I think the list of winners would open up slightly. Select members of the mid-card could potentially face ‘Taker while the notion of them appearing in a WWE title match would seem laughable. Damien Sandow, for example, would seem absurd facing someone like John Cena at ‘Mania, but I could just about see him facing Undertaker.

Someone perhaps a little likelier for that spot than ‘The Duke of Decency’ is Brodus Clay. His recent heelish antics make it clear that he’s going to become a solo act. If WWE dedicated themselves to rehabilitating his character so he’s viewed as an unstoppable monster (and they’ve the time to do it) he could be seen as a threat to Undertaker’s record by early April. He, like anyone else at his level, would benefit hugely from facing such a big name at WrestleMania, even if he lost.

The same goes for Ryback. The idea of him challenging for the WWE title is laughable after the last year but it’s just about conceivable he could wrestle Undi’. In fact, if the winner were open to challenge The Streak, then Chris Jericho could be a potential winner. He’s never faced Undertaker one-on-one in a televised singles match. It’s about the only fresh bout left for ‘The Phenom’ from the current roster.

Ultimately I don’t think this will happen. The recent title unification indicates that WWE has things mapped out for the championship and its holder until WrestleMania. Having someone win the Royal Rumble is the perfect way of continuing many of the stories they’ve already got going, they don’t need to introduce The Streak to proceedings. That’s big enough to stand alone.

With well over a month to go there’s plenty of time for WWE to select their winner. The fact that there’s now only one world title narrows the field. For the past decade WWE have been able to have upper mid-card talent like Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and Chris Benoit win the thirty man extravaganza and challenge for the less meaningful World Heavyweight championship. Having a single championship means that the winner has to be a major name or someone WWE has big plans for.

The obvious man to start with is probably CM Punk. Along with Daniel Bryan he’s been one of the most popular WWE wrestlers of 2013. Since losing the WWE championship to The Rock at this year’s Rumble and failing to regain it at Elimination Chamber he’s been out of the title picture. His time has instead been dedicated to his short feud with Undertaker, his disappointing feud with former pal Paul Heyman and taking on heel factions The Shield and The Wyatt Family.

Punk waving to his fans there
Since he started wrestling said factions it’s felt like Punk’s been killing time. Wrestling the ‘The Hounds of Justice’ is something for him to do until the important time of the year rolls around. It’s very much seemed like Punk is due for another shift up the card.

A WWE championship match would certainly fit the bill there. It would also ensure one of the promotion’s bigger names was involved in the title match. That’s something I think WWE will be keen on. Also worth noting is that CM Punk has never won a Royal Rumble match before. While doing so is not a prerequisite for having a great, Hall of Fame career, it is something that, nowadays especially, is something that’s seen as an important part of the careers of all-time greats.

Punk versus Orton is a match we’ve seen before. But we’ve not seen it for a while, and it could lead to an interesting storyline with Punk’s current animosity with The Authority well established. It could happen at the Rumble, making Punk’s inclusion in the thirty man match unlikely. But it could be held off until WrestleMania just as easily.

The same could be said of Daniel Bryan, of course. In a way Orton and Bryan are opposites. Orton is generally incredibly dull and is a specialist at the sports entertainment style. Meanwhile Bryan is the most popular man on the card and a rounded performer. Orton, unpopularity aside, represents the WWE approach of sports entertainment and working up the card based on promo abilities and look. Bryan represents the alternative approach of getting oneself over. Neither is “wrong” or “bad” but it does tend to divide fans.

Having Bryan win the Rumble to earn another title match with Orton would make sense and provide a fitting platform for their rivalry. The match could also be used to fill TV time in the weeks leading up to the show, Bryan pitted against various members of the roster to win stipulations that favour him on the big show, such as non-interference clauses for The Authority. In fact, that goes for Punk too.
This said, the fact that Bryan challenged Orton on the December 16th RAW is a strong indication that it's a match we won't be seeing at WrestleMania.
Then there's John Cena. Another match between he and 'The Apex Predator' is not something that appeals to me. It's probably not something that appeals to you. But it's an obvious thing for WWE to do. Cena being told he has to earn another title match and going on to win the Rumble is standard WWE fare. It would allow Cena to be portrayed as the all-conquering hero by regaining the title from Orty at 'Mania, which is something WWE are always keen on. That it would allow for a Cena heel turn and alignment with The Authority shouldn't be overlooked.

A less obvious candidate to win is Big E Langston. He may not have done anything particularly impressive during his time in the company so far but you only need to look at him to know that he’s going to be around for a long time. He’s a physically huge guy. It’s easy to see him being pitted against a top guy like Randy Orton. Obviously Langston v Cena is the big match. There’s still time for it to be set up for ‘Mania XXX, but a Rumble win and match with ‘The Viper’ looks like the sort of thing WWE would do.

Any man entering 'Mania as champion would be a fresh match for Langston
Not only that but Langston is the Intercontinental champion. It’s easy enough to imagine WWE wanting to relive Warrior versus Hogan from WrestleMania VI with modern players. And this time the newer star seems far likelier to stick around.

I don’t think Langston is actually going to leave the Rumble as the winner. But I do think it’s too early to completely rule him out. At the very least I think there will be a moment or moments in the Rumble designed to make him look incredible.

There are two guys on the part time section of the roster that I think are worth a mention here. The first is The Undertaker. The defence of his Streak has become one of the central attractions of WrestleMania over the last five years, but that doesn’t preclude him from challenging for a title. Putting him into a championship match would (obviously) allow WWE to promote a Streak versus title match. While that may not sound like the most thrilling thing ever I think it would be significant enough for casual fans who only ever tune in around WrestleMania to see what’s going on.

Of course, the real draw would be seeing ‘Taker facing Cena, and Cena’s not actually the champion right now. If he were to win the Rumble and challenge for the title it would almost certainly be Cena he faces. As mentioned above there’s time for Cena to regain the unified gold (although it doesn’t seem a likely thing for them to do). I’ve written many times before that if WWE are going to have anyone beat The Streak it will be Cena. Whether they’d actually go through with it or not is, for our purposes here, irrelevant. People know, consciously or subconsciously, that Cena is the only man whom WWE would sacrifice that incredible record for. Having ‘The Phenom’ make a surprise return to set that match up by winning the Royal Rumble would kick the Season off with a bang.

The other part time name I could imagine winning the Rumble is Brock Lesnar. If this happened I can imagine it leading to a storyline in which Lesnar vows to take down the company by winning the championship on the biggest show of the year. Winning a belt on a big show equating to destroying the company is wrestling logic at its finest. Frankly I think Lesnar would be a better fit for Streak challenger but he’s one of the few names big enough to fit into a WWE championship match at WrestleMania.