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Welcome to the Rif Rasslin Awards, voted by the staff here at Rif Rasslin. When I look back over the last few years, we’ve all come a long way. I (Rif) originally started writing the Pay Per View predictions with the guys in 2012 along with some match reviews and the odd article here and there. This year was a massive step forward. We’ve got a website and a twitter account. More blogs have been written (The Attitude Era Classics are a huge hit. The best thing going on the website so far) A Facebook account is currently underway, a YouTube channel is in the development stages and we’ve already inducted our first members into the Rif Rasslin Hall of Fame. The future of Rif Rasslin is bright.
Last year was the 1st edition of the Rif Rasslin Awards and we had a hell of a time writing the blog up. Choosing the winners for each category was difficult because of how strong this year was but in the end we were happy with what we’ve went for. There are the awards celebrating the best and worst of the WWE in 2013 and I’ve also included the winners from last year. Let’s get to it.
Wrestler of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: CM Punk
Winner: Daniel Bryan (Runner up: CM Punk)
I admit, this was very difficult to choose from between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. In the end, I went with Daniel Bryan because I felt that he showed everything it takes to earn such an important award. No one else connected more with the fans than D-Bry. His work rate has been at a high all year without taking any time off. I also felt that his matches were of a high standard and that’s crazy when you think of all the matches he’s had over the course of the year. I remember one episode of Raw where he faced three different opponents in one night which showed how versatile he is. As a talker, he has improved. I loved his heel work but he’s in his element as a babyface. I wish he was booked better at times but that’s out of his control. As a performer, he was the best in 2013.
As for Punk, he always brings his A-game to the big matches. His matches with Undertaker (WrestleMania), Brock Lesnar (Summerslam), The Rock (Royal Rumble/ Elimination Chamber) & John Cena (Raw) were outstanding. His promo skills are as good as any. He’s well on his way to becoming one of the best promo men of all time. Perhaps if he remained a heel he would have won Superstar of the year but for now, he is the runner up.
Feud of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan
Winner: CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman (Runner up: CM Punk vs. Undertaker)
This was again very close to choose from but Punk v Heyman just edged it for me. The seeds were planted around “Payback” time where Punk told Heyman that he doesn’t need him at ringside again. Then Brock Lesnar showed up and that lead to an epic showdown at Summerslam with Brock getting the victory in a no DQ match. It’s a shame Brock has a limited schedule because the feud has a ton of potential, perhaps 2-3 matches left in the feud. That would have been incredible. Personally, with Brock getting the victory I’m guessing that a re-match is still in the pipeline. Punk still has unfinished business with “the beast”. After going after other Paul Heyman guys, Curtis Axel & Ryback, the feud came to an end at Hell in a Cell where Punk took on Ryback & Paul Heyman in a Hell in a Cell match. Punk finally got his revenge on Heyman after knocking him out with a GTS on top of the Cell. It wasn’t a traditional “wrestler vs. wrestler” feud, but it was the feud of the year.
Another high profile feud involving CM Punk was the one he had with the Undertaker. The feud was also highlighted by the untimely death of Undertaker’s former manager, Paul Bearer. Paul’s death was also added to the feud which made the feud more personal. I remember on the Raw before ‘Mania where Punk poured the ashes over the Undertaker and himself. A lot of people though it was too edgy and tasteless but I thought it was brilliant. It made Punk look like a total dick. The match itself was great. Sure we all knew Undertaker was going to win but it didn’t take away from the match. It was very entertaining and accompanied by a great feud.
Match of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Undertaker v Triple H WrestleMania 28
Winner: Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk – Summerslam (Runner up: Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena – Summerslam)
Wow! What a match! It was contested under a no DQ match that also involved Paul Heyman getting involved helping his client Brock Lesnar to victory. It was very back and forth with both guys looking very likely to win at certain points. Brock is incredible when he works with a smaller guy like Punk because he comes across as such a bad ass bully whiles Punk was the babyface who showed a ton of heart and refused to quit. Will we ever see a rematch? I believe so. The Paul Heyman interference certainly suggests that.
Tag Team of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Team Hell No
Winner: Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins (Runner up: Cody Rhodes & Goldust)
The tag team division is stronger than it ever has been before. I remember getting excited when Triple H talked about his desire to revamp the tag team division. He’s delivered on his promise. The one tag team that’s stood head and shoulders above the rest is Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins. They’ve carried the division for the majority of the year and had some awesome matches along the way. It’s very likely that they’ll split in 2014 but what a run they’ve had. A runaway choice for tag team of the year.
I also enjoyed Cody & Goldust. They are so old school in their approach and I mean that as a complement. Their match at Battleground against Reigns & Rollins was one of the best tag matches of the year. I guess if they were around longer then they could very well be tag team of the year but I had to give it to the Shield because of their longevity.
Pay Per View of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Extreme Rules
Winner: Summerslam (Runner up: Money in the Bank)
This was too easy to decide. I would rank Summerslam as one of the best pay per views ever. It hosted two match of the year contenders (Brock v Punk/ Bryan v Cena), plus a solid Christian v Alberto Del Rio match and the Randy Orton heel turn to end the night. I had high expectations of Summerslam and I’m pleased that it lived up to them too.
Money in the Bank is always a great event because it has two ladder matches that get a lot of time. I also feel that in recent years the Money in the Bank pay per view has strengthened its reputation as one of the most important events of the year. I dare go ahead and say that it’s starting to become more important than the Survivor Series.
Diva of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Eve Torres
Winner: AJ Lee (Runner up: Kaitlyn)
I think it’s an easy choice this year. Last year, AJ wasn’t wrestling as she was the Raw GM for most of the year. I almost made her Diva of the year last year but because of that, it would have been unfair on Eve who had been wrestling on a regular basis. This year, AJ has been wrestling more and what a fresh of breath air she has been for the division. She finally captured the Divas Championship at “Payback” and has held it ever since. She posted a picture on Twitter of a tattoo she got done commemorating the date she won the title. That shows how much it means to her. You can tell she’s having a whale of a time as Champion. She seems to be the only Diva that’s allowed to cut promos, that shows the level of confidence management have in her. AJ is the most popular Diva in the WWE right now and I’m looking forward to what they have store for her in 2014.
I placed Kaitlyn as the runner up because she’s come on leaps and bounds over the year. I still remember that match she had with Maxine on NXT a few years ago. It was pretty terrible but as I say, she’s improved. Just a shame she wasn’t used in the second half of the year just because she wasn’t on the Total Divas show.
Comeback of the Year
Previous winner – New for 2013
Winner: Goldust (Runner up: Rob Van Dam)
Dustin Runnels went from competing on the indies to going against Randy Orton in a high profile match. He impressed WWE officials so much that they offered him a contract. This lead to a series of high profile matches against the Shield and a run as the tag team champions with his brother, Cody. How long that contract is for I don’t know but I’m certain we’ll finally see a Goldust v Cody match at WrestleMania that Goldust has been pushing for so long. He’s 44 years old now and I don’t know how long he’s got left but I’m glad he’s having another run in the WWE because Dustin Runnels is a very talented wrestler.
The return of Rob Van Dam has surprised me. I never expected him to return. He’s a notorious pot smoker and with the WWE’s strict wellness policy I thought that would be off putting for him. He put in a good shift at Money in the Bank. It showed that he can still go. When will he back? My guess is at the Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant.
TV Show of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Raw
Winner: NXT (Runner up: Raw)
NXT is a show that I enjoy and it’s deserving of TV Show of the year. I understand that NXT isn’t as important as Raw or Smackdown but in terms of best show week to week, NXT beats them both hands down. I just love its roster. You’ve got the likes of Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, Leo Kruger, Aiden English, Conor O’Brian and Corey Graves. That’s just the male side; the divas roster is also outstanding. Raw can be tiresome at times with it being 3 hours but NXT has that old school feel about it and it’s the show I enjoy right now. The early years of the show were pretty terrible (especially the all Divas show they did); I wish they adopted this format from the start. Such a great programme.
Worst Feud of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Kane vs. John Cena/ Zack Ryder
Winner: Big Show vs. Triple H/ Randy Orton (Runner up: Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio)
The whole feud made me scratch my head and ask, where’s the logic? There wasn’t any. I thought it was hilarious how Big Show was portrayed as the world’s largest humanitarian who was reduced to tears whenever he was asked to knock out Daniel Bryan. It started with him being fired, than re-hired and given a title match even though he barely wrestled leading up to Survivor Series. He also dropped a lawsuit that apparently could have given him “control of the company” because one WWE Title match is better than owning a company. As for their match, the fans didn’t care. That’s not a very good sign for a pay per view main event!
The Alberto Del Rio/ Jack Swagger feud never worked out either. That feud shouldn’t have happened. They should have had Ziggler vs. Del Rio at WrestleMania instead.
Worst Match of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis Over the Limit
Winner: Divas Tag Match – Survivor Series (Runner up: Heath Slather vs. Santino Marella – Smackdown)
It was brutal it has to be said. I would have accepted a 10 Diva tag but 14? That’s far too many. Also you had to include people like JoJo & Eva Marie who struggle as performers. It was one of the most rushed elimination matches ever with 12 eliminations in 12 minutes. They actually did a rematch the following night on Raw which was slightly better. I just hope the WWE rethink next time they do another match like this.
The Heath Slather/ Santino Marella match has been dubbed the “Snake Charmer” match by the IWC. Santino brought out the Cobra, then Jinder tried the charm the Cobra with a flute whiles Khali did the same thing whiles fake music was dubbed on the taped show. I’m sure some 8 year olds thought it was hilarious but I thought it was a waste of time.
Worst Pay Per View of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Hell in a Cell
Winner: Battleground (Runner up: Survivor Series)
I honestly don’t remember much about Battleground other than the outstanding Rhodes Brothers vs. Shield match where the Rhodes Brothers won their jobs back. It was perfect booking and yet another contender for match of the year. One of the best tag matches I’ve since Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio from No Mercy 2002. The booking for the main event, Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton, was brutal with Big Show’s interference. One of the worst pay per view finishes in years!
Survivor Series was a very forgettable show with the card being put together at the last minute. It was a poorly built card with a main event (Big Show vs. Randy Orton) which people didn’t care about. I still remember when Survivor Series was a big deal. I miss that. I wish it would return to the same stature it once had but I very much doubt it. It just feels like another pay per view.
Best Talker of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: CM Punk
Winner: Paul Heyman (Runner up: CM Punk)
I honestly believe that Heyman is the rightful winner of this award. Remember his promo back at One Night Stand ’05? That was awesome. I think one of Heyman’s biggest strengths is his ability of putting people over. He’s tremendous at displaying the right emotion in his promos too. He can be funny, brutal, honest and cruel. I think he’s at his best when he’s playing the coward. For the whole of the year he’s been on the ball with his promos so it’s only right to select him as the best talker of 2013.
CM Punk is my runner up after winning the award last year. I thought his promos when he was feuding with Undertaker and The Rock was great especially the “box with God” promo at the start of the year. I could have easily made him the winner of this award but maybe I just prefer his heel promos rather than his face promos. I just think he’s an all-time great as a heel.
The Next Big Thing Award
Previous winner – 2012: Wade Barrett
Winner: Roman Reigns (Runner up: Big E Langston)
There’s a lot of good young talent coming through the ranks in the WWE but my winner or “next big thing” is Roman Reigns. When the Shield debut back in 2012, I knew a lot about Seth Rollins (Tyler Black) & Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxey) from their ROH & CZW days respectively. I didn’t know much about Reigns though. He was a former Football player who had family ties in the wrestling business as part of the huge Samoan family. As the year went on, Reigns has started to stand out more. As a talker, he isn’t quite there yet but he can improve. I love the Spear. He hits it with so much impact it looks devastating! I think working with guys like Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and more has been beneficial for his growth as a performer. Keep your eye on him; he’ll be a star in 2014.
Big E Langston is another guy who’s impressed me. His run on NXT was great and he excelled in his role as the bodyguard to Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee. The only negative thing I’d say about him in that time was that he was unable to show any charisma and he has a ton of it. He’s got the body which management like plus he’s got the ability too. I hope he has a long and meaningful run as Intercontinental champion. That title needs to regain some credibility and perhaps Big E is the guy to restore it too.
Face of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: John Cena
Winner: Daniel Bryan (Runner up: John Cena)
Nobody has connected more with the fans than Daniel Bryan. The fans absolutely love him. The “yes” chants have a massive cult following. Bryan’s title win at Summerslam was an awesome moment for me as I’ve followed his career since his early days at ROH and this NXT run. He has truly fought hard to get to the top. It was also a painful moment too considering the way he lost the title. He still in the prime of his career and the best is yet to come.
Cena does get booed of course but he’s very popular with the younger members of the WWE Universe. He’s like their version of Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold. Like or not, Cena is a popular guy and he isn’t going to go away anytime soon.
Heel of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Daniel Bryan
Winner: Paul Heyman (Runners up: The Shield)
Heyman is right up there with Bobby Heenan as the best non-wrestling heels. The role of a manager is to talk for your clients, help them and to take an arse kicking when the time is right. Heyman excels in all of that. He’s the type of guy who says it to your face and hides behind whoever he’s managing to avoid getting a beating that he deserves. With him moving away from Ryback & Curtis Axel and Brock Lesnar being a part-timer, it’s interesting to see where the future lies for Paul Heyman. I hope he gets the chance to manage a young, up and coming star because Paul Heyman is an absolute must for WWE programming.
The Shield are also worthy for this award. They are a main event level tag team which is rare nowadays. I’m glad they were pushed the way they were because it was one of the highlights of 2013. Their future is bright.
DVD of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: CM Punk – Best in the World
Winner: The History of the WWE (Runner up: Triple H Thy Kingdom come)
The History of the WWE DVD is a must for anyone’s Wrestling DVD collection. The documentary was over two hours long and did a tremendous job of providing insight into how WWE has grown over the 50 years of its existence. The match selection may be questionable but the documentary portion is as good as any. They truly do a fantastic job on them.
I also need to acknowledge the Triple H DVD because that was really well done too. Say what you want about Triple H but you can tell he’s passionate about the business. The changes he’s making to the development side is great and long overdue. You could say, it’s “best for business”.
Funniest Performer of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Daniel Bryan
Winner: Daniel Bryan (Runner up: Santino Marella)
He was my winner last year and he was retained the title this year. Daniel Bryan is fucking hilarious. I remember at the Raw TV tapings in London where he hugged Undertaker. This was done off camera but it was fucking class. Undertaker remaining in character made it that much funnier and of course this lead to some “YES” chants from the London crowd.
Most Memorable Moment of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Brock Lesnar returns
Winner: Bruno Sammartino inducted into Hall of Fame (Runner up: Mark Henry’s fake retirement)
I was debating between the two as to what will be worthy enough to win this award. In the end, I had to go with Bruno’s Hall of Fame induction. It was a long time due. He was WWWF Champion for almost 7 years. That’s quite the achievement. An achievement which will never be broken (sorry Cena) and it’s an achievement that deserves to be recognised. I never imagined that Bruno would ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame but I’m glad that he is. He’s put the past behind him and mend the fence with Vince McMahon. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Bruno. I also need to mention Mark Henry’s fake retirement promo. It was done to perfection. Henry has gone through periods where he’s been side-lined with injuries. He’s in his early 40’s and been competing for 20 years so when he announced his retirement, we believed him. Mind you, I started tearing up too. Never a Mark Henry fan but I do respect the guy. Cena held up his arm, then went in for a hug and Henry dropped him with the World’s Strongest Slam. I was legit stunned! It was very well done. Defiantly promo of the year.
The Biggest Annoyance of the Year
Previous winner – New for 2013
Winner: The WWE App (Runner up: Awful PPV finishes)
Yes the WWE have an App don’t you know. There isn’t a TV show or PPV that goes by where they don’t mention it. I don’t have it so I can’t comment what it’s like, perhaps one of you guys could fill me in on it?
There were a ton of awful pay per view finishes in the second part of the year. There was the fast count at Night of Champions, the non-finish at Battleground, the overbooked finish at Hell in a Cell and the boring finish at Survivor Series which put an end to Big Show’s main event run. There were poor finishes which didn’t do anything for anyone.
Biggest off-screen moment of the Year
Previous winner – New for 2013
Winner: Darren Young announces that he’s gay (Runner up: The death of Paul Bearer)
When the news broke about Darren Young coming out, I was pleased for the guy. I think he’s a talented performer who has a clear passion for the business and I praise him for doing what he did.
Sure it was so staged with the TMZ crew meeting him in a deserted airport, but it was brave of him for doing this in a business where it’s so hard to be accepted. It was a landmark moment in sporting history and I hope it paves the way for others to come out too.
Paul Bearer’s death was a complete surprise. When people talk about the greatest managers in wrestling history, Paul Bearer always gets overlooked. He did an amazing job of helping to get the Kane character over. Kane didn’t cut promos back in the early days so Bearer had to act as his mouthpiece and did an excellent job in the process. They incorporated his death into a storyline for the CM Punk/ Undertaker rivalry which was a bit over the top at times but I guess that’s what Paul would have wanted. Will Bearer be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Sure he will. Will it happen next year? Maybe but I wouldn’t like to say for sure. RIP Paul Bearer, thank you for the memories.
Poorly Used Superstar of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Zack Ryder
Winner: Wade Barrett (Runner up: Dolph Ziggler)
Last year I selected Wade Barrett for the “next big thing” award and this year he wins the dreaded poorly used Superstar award. That’s a crying shame. I had high hopes for his run as Intercontinental Champion but it sucked big time. Just look at all the defeats he suffered. He looked more like a loser and for a title holder that’s unacceptable. Now he’s doing the “Bad News Barrett” gimmick which isn’t going to do him any wonders for him in the long run. I would love to see Barrett return to the main event scene but all of that hope is fading fast! Ziggler has more chance reaching the main event scene. Last year, he was in the main event of TLC and this year he was in (and lost) in the pre-show event. I don’t know why they’ve downgraded him so much. Hopefully thing turn around for both guys as they are so damn talented.
Poorly Used Diva of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: Natalya
Winner: Layla (Runner up: Natalya)
What the hell happened to her? She went from being the star of the Divas division to being thrown to obscurity. When she turned heel I was optimistic about it. She plays a good heel and I imagined her to form a good partnership with AJ but nothing materialised from it. Instead, Tamina was thrown into the partnership role and with Total Divas being the strong promotion tool for the Divas; it seems as if Layla has been given the Ezekiel Jackson treatment. I hope they find something for her. I may surprise a lot of people for selecting Natalya as a runner up because of the push she’s received since September but over the over the entire course of the year (or the pre-Total Divas days), she hadn’t been doing much. Hopefully she has a strong 2014. Nobody deserves it more than her.
Announcer of the Year
Previous winner – 2012: JBL
Winner: William Regal (Runner up: JBL)
I absolutely love Regal’s commentary He’s so damn good at what he does. What I enjoy most is that he puts over the moves, the wrestlers and the story, something which is missing from the main shows. I’m guessing the commentary team has more freedom on NXT then those on Raw & Smackdown. He gets the balance right. I don’t mind the commentary teams putting over certain angles or characters but when it’s done for the entire broadcast it ends up being background noise. I’d rather see him as a heel commentator much like what Bobby Heenan and Jesse Venture were like back in the day but other than that, he’s perfect at what he does. I hope he gets a run on Raw or Smackdown because he deserves it.
Overall Year Rating (Out of 10): 7 (2012-7)
I’ll rate this year a 7 just like the rating I made for last year but I’ll rank 2012 higher than 2013. I felt the final four months were hard to watch. The hottest period for the company was between May to August. So much good stuff happened in that period. Once Summerslam was other, things started to go back down. I hope they find that consistency on a regular basis. The first few months of 2014 will be exciting as we head onto the “road to WrestleMania”. They always are, just hope it’s consistent all year round.
When you look at the talent, the WWE is in safe hands. If NXT is anything to go by I’m excited for their future. I’m attending a few shows in May so that should be great. Love going to WWE shows. If you haven’t attended a WWE Live Event before I highly recommend it. It’s so much fun. I’m hoping for an improvement in 2014. Who’s going to become wrestler of the year next year or who will win match of the year? Obviously I don’t know the answers to them questions but it’s going to be exciting to find out.
Whatever you’re doing for New Year, enjoy and be safe.
All the best for 2014.