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2014 Rif Rasslin Awards

Rif Rasslin Awards 2014

Welcome to the 2014 Rif Rasslin Awards. It’s the 3rd annual awards show and it’s my favourite topic to write about. All awards were voted by us here at Rif Rasslin, a lot of back and forth discussions were made and we all agreed that we made the right choices regarding the winners. Remember, The Rif Awards is World Wrestling Entertainment related only so no TNA, ROH, NJPA or any other promotion other than WWE. There are the awards celebrating the best and worst of the WWE in 2014 and I’ve also included the winners from the previous two years. Let’s get to it.

Wrestler of the year: Dolph Ziggler (Runner up – Dean Ambrose)

Previous winners – 2012: CM Punk/ 2013: Daniel Bryan

I had to have a long hard think about this one because there wasn’t a runaway favourite like there was in the previous years. It all boiled down to who entertained me the most and that was undoubtable Dolph Ziggler. Dolph has been a part of World Wrestling Entertainment for a number of years now. It’s been up and down for him throughout but I felt that this was the year where everything began to click. He’s always been popular. No doubt about it. I just felt that management didn’t believe in him the same way the fans do, I don’t think that’s the case anymore. He’s had a really strong second half of the year, from his feud with Miz and his performance at Survivor Series proves how strong his work ethic is. He’s getting more TV exposer but I do wish he had more time on the mic. Hopefully he continues to rise in 2015; nobody deserves it more than him.

When the Shield spilt in the summer, everybody was quick to talk about what laid ahead for Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns but nobody really mentioned Dean Ambrose. All those worries about him being disregarded in mid-card obscurity were soon forgotten with that awesome feud with Rollins. Ambrose has been somewhat of a journey man in the indy circuit and he has brought everything to the dance this year. Like Ziggler, he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. He’s great as a face, could be even better as a heel but there isn’t any need to turn him just yet. He could very well be a future winner of this award within the next three to five years. He’s that damn good!

Feud of the year: Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority (Runner up – Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins)

Previous winners – 2012: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan/ 2013: CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman)

The first four months of the year were dominated by Daniel Bryan’s run in with the Authority. I know I give WWE Creative stick from time to time but they did an incredible job of making Bryan a sympathetic babyface by having him fight against the higher powers. Whenever it looked as if he would fall, he would fight and claw his way back to the top. Whenever the odds were stacked against him he always came out the other end smelling like roses. I loved the “Occupy Raw” segment which also involved a guest appearance from WWE super-fan, Sign Guy. This segment set up the TripleH/ Daniel Bryan match which opened WrestleMania as well as the inclusion of D-Bry in the main event. We got the great ending at WrestleMania 30 with Bryan winning the WWE Title in a great match against both Randy Orton & Batista. The only mistake in the story was that Bryan should have won the Royal Rumble, but thankfully they corrected that mistake.

I loved the Rollins/Ambrose feud. What an outstanding feud that was. It started with the split of the Shield in July and ended in October with their big match at Hell in a Cell. The intensity was great. Ambrose’s approach to the feud made you feel that being a part of the Shield was a big deal. If this was so great then why is it the runner up? They didn’t have any great matches with a clean ending. It left us wanting more. We still got some unfinished business here in this one.

Match of the year: The Wyatt Family vs The Shield – Elimination Chamber (Runners up- Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista – WrestleMania XXX/ Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd – Smackdown)

Previous winners – 2012: Undertaker v Triple H –WrestleMania 28/ 2013: Brock Lesnar v CM Punk – SummerSlam

The moment I watched this match I knew it was going to be a contender for match of the year. They had a wild chaotic brawl which lasted for 22 minutes in front of a hot crowd who were very appreciative of their work. It started off slow with a different guy getting a chance to shine but the final 7 minutes or so made it for me. They took it to another level. Reigns was incredible as the lone man on his team but the star of the show was Luke Harper, he’s so damn talented for a big guy. It was weird that Ambrose was basically written out of the match after the brawl with Harper. I like how Rollins was taken out. It was a huge bump to have him put through a table with a Double Chokeslam. It seemed like Reigns might pull it off, but Wyatt turned it in his favour at the last minute. It was flawless; it’s my match of the year!

The WrestleMania triple threat match was more of the same. The right man went over and the fans fucking loved it. Imagine if Batista won? With Undertaker losing that would have been a kick in the balls. The RKO through the table was a memorable spot. What I was expecting was to see the ref get knocked out, Hogan clears the ring of Triple H, call for the submission and present the title over to Bryan. That would have been awesome to have seen a legend like Hogan put over the new champion like that. Through all the screwjobs, the twists and turns, Daniel Bryan reached the top of the wrestling world at the biggest show of the year.

Tag Team of the year: The Usos (Runner up- Goldust & Stardust)

Previous winners – 2012: Team Hell No/ 2013: Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns

It wasn’t that long ago when WWE actually considered splitting up The Usos. I think it was around 2011/2012 time when the draft was still in existence and the idea was one Uso to appear on each brand. In other words, there wasn’t going to be a storyline regarding their split. Now, they are the Tag Team of the year. It was the right call at the right time for WWE to get behind the Usos. They are an old-school tag team which the fans can really get behind. They wrestled on TV as much as anybody this year because they are popular as I said and you’re always guaranteed to be entertained. The twins are 29 years old and should remain as the top team in the tag division for years to come.

I enjoyed the Goldust/Stardust team. Yes I know they are brothers but you have to admit that their chemistry is first class. A split is happening soon. I predict Stardust will revert back to a heel Cody Rhodes and they will have a match at WrestleMania which Goldust has campaigned for so long. The Miz and Mizdow are a fun comedy tag team which won’t last too long, but they have been very entertaining throughout their short run.

Pay Per View of the year: WrestleMania XXX (Runner up- SummerSlam)

Previous winners – 2012: Extreme Rules/ 2013: SummerSlam

The 30th edition of WrestleMania had to deliver. No question about it. The past few Manias have been sub-par so the pressure was on. Did it deliver? Hell yeah. From beginning to end, WrestleMania reminded me why it’s such an important event filled with so many memorable moments. That opening segment involving Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold and Rocky was awesome; Daniel Bryan picking up the victory over Triple H plus overcoming the odds in the main event was tremendous and well deserved. Cesaro bodyslamming Big Show had shades of WrestleMania 3 where Hogan body slammed Andre (that reminds me, Hogan accidently calling the arena “Silverdome” was pretty funny) and of course, Undertaker losing. That was so surreal! Overall, there was a lot of hype going into WrestleMania with it being an anniversary year and they truly put on a hell of a show. Not only is it pay per view of the year, it’s also the 3rd greatest WrestleMania (behind WM17 & 19) of all time.

SummerSlam was the stand out runner up although there weren’t any match of the year contenders, there wasn’t any bad matches either. Everything flowed perfectly here and to top it all off, Brock Lesnar’s dominant win over John Cena is something that we’ll not forget in a hurry.

Diva of the year: AJ Lee (Runner up- Paige)

Previous winners – 2012: Eve Torres/ 2013: AJ Lee

The trend continues for AJ Lee as she is once again my pick for Diva of the year. AJ is one of the best talkers in the Divas division today. Management have a lot of confidence in her because she has a lot of confidence in herself to deliver memorable promos. Her matches this year have been decent. Not as good as the previous year but still good nonetheless. Her match against Natalya on Main Event was fantastic. It went for 15 minutes, one of the longest Divas matches in recent history, and it backs up why she such a great talent. 2014 has been a funny year for her with the whole situation surrounding CM Punk. There were all kinds of rumours about her being pregnant and even now with her apparently leaving after losing to Nikki Bella at TLC. I don’t know how long she’ll stick around in WWE, she’s been around for three years but she’s still a valuable assent for the Divas division.

Norwich born Paige made an immediate impact after ending AJ Lee’s lengthy title reign on the Raw after WrestleMania (a move which I predicted would happen). It was a memorable move which put Paige on the map. She started off as a face but it wasn’t working out so they turned her heel and it’s paid off. She has a bit of an edge to her and her offence is more suited to a heel as well. She grew up in a wrestling family and it shows with her ability to deliver promos, constantly having good matches and playing to the crowd. It’s in the blood. We’re only beginning to scratch the surface with what Paige is capable of, 2015 is going to be a massive year for her. Her stock continues to rise.

Comeback of the year: Hulk Hogan (Runner up- Tyson Kidd)

Previous winners – 2012: New for 2013/ 2013: Goldust

Hulk Hogan made his return to WWE in February and was appointed the guest host of WrestleMania 30. It’s only fitting for them to do that because of Hogan’s involvement at the original show. They even paid tribute to the WrestleMania 1 main event by having a backstage segment involving Hogan, Piper, Orndorff, Mr T and Pat Patterson (who served as referee). Whenever Hogan appears in front of a crowd it’s always going to draw a huge response from the fans. I’m a huge Hogan fan and I’d be the first to admit that he does have a selfish attitude towards the business from time to time but you can’t deny him his achievements. I need to share this story with you guys, when Hogan returned it got me thinking about realising a boyhood dream of seeing Hogan live one day, that day came true in May when Hulk Hogan appeared at the Smackdown tapings in London. The crowd reaction was deafening. One of the loudest reactions I’ve ever been a part of and it’s something that will live with me for the rest of my life.

Tyson Kidd missed most of 2013 with a knee injury.  He spent much of 2014 on NXT and he was one of the best performers on that show. It’s awesome to see WWE using Kidd the right way. He’s one guy that I would love to see succeed.

TV Show of the year: NXT (Runner up- Raw)

Previous winners – 2012: Raw/ 2013: NXT

What can I say about NXT that hasn’t been said before? It’s taken a life of its own from humble beginnings which were tough to watch (Remember the all Divas series they done? My god it was horrible) to what can only be describe as a second promotion within a promotion much like what Smackdown was in 2002 during the early stages of the draft. Their recent R-Evolution show was a massive hit, so much so, it put pressure on the main roster to succeed. That’s how awesome their talent pool is. I honestly believe that NXT is good enough to have their own tours. Will it happen? Yes. I’m confident of that.

I’ve been watching every episode of RAW this year, it’s a very inconsistent show I must say. Sometimes it feels like a chore to watch, that’s why I’ve given NXT the nod here. It’s one hour of solid wrestling whiles RAW is a mixed bag full of short matches and lame comedy segments. 2015 needs to see change in the booking for both Raw and Smackdown.

Worst feud of the year: Brie Bella vs. Nikki Bella (Runner up- El Torito vs. Hornswoggle)

Previous winners – 2012: Kane vs. John Cena & Zack Ryder/ 2013: Big Show vs. Triple H/ Randy Orton

The idea of the Bella Twins feuding could have been good I admit, but the execution was terrible. The only good thing about it was Nikki turning at SummerSlam. Their acting sucks (would probably get a role in a WWE movie still) and when Nikki told Brie that she wished she died in the womb was horrible. Remember those “growing up Bella” segments? Yep, me too. Brie’s acting wasn’t exactly Meryl Streep either; it wasn’t even Rosie Huntington-Whiteley standards! It was that fucking bad. They had one match where Brie was forced to become Nikki’s assistant for 30 days which ended with Brie turning heel and helping her sister win the Divas title from AJ Lee at Survivor Series. Her turn wasn’t fully explained other that her saying, “blood is thicker than water”. It made no sense! Let’s be happy we don’t have to see them feuding anymore……I hope…..

Vince sure as hell loves his midgets, huh? I bet he thinks seeing a little guy dressed as a bull is greatest thing since dancing fat guys! Sure the feud wasn’t supposed to be taking seriously and they did manage to have a pretty entertaining match but it went on for far too long. That’s what happens when the Chairman has a midget fetish.

Worst match of the year: Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio – Elimination Chamber (Runner up- Cameron vs. Naomi – Raw)

Previous winners – 2012: John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis-Over The Limit/ 2013: Divas Tag Match – Survivor Series

Batista’s victory at the Royal Rumble was met with a VERY strong negative response from the fans both at home and in the arena. Mick Foley was so mad that he even threw a brick at his TV screen! Fast forward to Elimination Chamber, this match against former employee Alberto Del Rio was designed to make Batista look like more of a star as he headed into WrestleMania. The fans thought over wise. From the moment the bell rang, the fans just shat all over the match with random chanting (“BOO-Tista”) whiles cheering for Del Rio. I re-watched the match for the purpose of this article and it’s painful to watch, they had no chemistry and it was an absolute shambles. Management must have thought with that Batista would return to a hero’s welcome and because of his involvement in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film, it just never worked out as they intended. Speaking about Guardians of the Galaxy, Batista’s movie career has started to take off. Will he wrestle again? I have serious doubts, be very surprised if he did.

The Cameron vs. Naomi feud sucked. Their match from the September 14th edition of Raw included a ridiculous moment where Naomi hit a leg split on Cameron’s back and demanded that the ref counted the fall. Huh? That was Kamala’s gimmick during the early 90’s. Me and my friends were watching it when it happened and we broke out in a sarcastic “referee’s a wanker (jerkoff)” chant. Do you’re damn job, ref!

Worst PPV of the year: Royal Rumble (Runner up- Battleground)

Previous winners – 2012: Hell in a Cell/ 2013: Battleground

I always look forward to the Royal Rumble as it’s the starting point on the road to WrestleMania; this year’s show was disappointing. Daniel Bryan should have won the Rumble but spare a thought for poor Rey Mysterio who was given unfair hate for being the final guy to enter. It still boggles the mind as to why he wasn’t even in the damn match. The only highlights from that show were Bryan vs. Wyatt and Reign’s dominance in the Rumble eliminating 12 superstars. Batista won the Royal Rumble and the fans were not happy at all as you can understand. After the show, the fan reaction must have annoyed Batista for him to flip off the fans like he did. That was totally uncalled for and damn right unprofessional. A veteran like him should have known better.

Battleground wasn’t too bad of a show because the guys and girls worked hard in the ring. The problem is there was nothing that was groundbreaking or that will really get people talking. When we watch a PPV we want to see something special. Aside from that opening tag, it felt like an episode of Raw for the most part.

Best talker of the year: Paul Heyman (Runner up- Stephanie McMahon)

Previous winners – 2012: CM Punk/ 2013: Paul Heyman

For the second year running, Paul Heyman is the best promo man of the year. That’s no surprise as he has a gift of delivering memorable promos. He’s in a league of his own. He wasn’t on the show every week due to Brock Lesnar’s absence for much of the year, but he had moments where he would do promos for Lesnar when he wasn’t there or when he was managing Cesaro. Heyman is so damn gifted as a talker, younger members of the roster need to learn from this guy about cutting promos. With Lesnar rumoured to be leaving after WrestleMania 31 I hope he sticks around for a long time because any show is better with him on it. Remember his rap against John Cena? It was classic.

Steph is awesome. There were times throughout the summer when I found her to be so evil it was remarkable. She’s so much like her father’s Mr. McMahon character in many ways. She can play an evil bitch or a condescending heel. Like Heyman, I hope to see more of her again in 2015, she’s so darn good.

Next Big Thing: Bray Wyatt (Runner up- Luke Harper)

Previous winners – 2012: Wade Barrett/ 2013: Roman Reigns

Bray Wyatt should be more of a main event player, TLC was the only pay per view of the year in which he main evented. Look for Wyatt to have high profile feuds with top babyfaces like Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler and perhaps Daniel Bryan again. Keep him away from John Cena, though. That feud didn’t really go well for him. He should have got the win at WrestleMania 30, he would have really benefited from that. I would like to see him be more vicious but other than that, everything is going great for the eater of worlds.

I mentioned  Luke Harper in my match of the year segment where I talked about his talents; I also attended the London TV tapings where he was made to look like John Cena’s equal. There was a part of the match where he performed a hurricanrana and it drew a great response from the crowd. Mick Foley has been very complementary about the guy and he truly deserves the recognition. Already a former Intercontinental champion I hope his stock continues to rise.

Face of the year: Dolph Ziggler (Runner up- Dean Ambrose)

Previous winners – 2012: John Cena/ 2013: Daniel Bryan

Dolph Ziggler is the guy that clearly stood out as a top face even though he didn’t get booked like a main eventer. His first half of the year was very average, but once he became a more featured performer he really broke out. It appears as though WWE has finally found the magic formula with him. That performance at Survivor Series showed he belongs. He’s had multiple intercontinental title runs but it’s time now for him to have a solid main event run. He’s starting to turn the corner and management are fully behind him.

Ambrose is an awkward babyface because he’s not out there catering to the fans like some others are with corny catchphrases. What Ambrose brings to the party is likable unpredictability. He’s a crazed wildman that the people can relate to much in the liking of Brian Pillman and Roddy Piper. He could win this award next year.

Heel of the year: Stephanie McMahon (Runner up- Seth Rollins)

Previous winners – 2012: Daniel Bryan/ 2013: Paul Heyman

I love Steph! Seriously, she was head and shoulders above the rest as a heel. She’s come a long way since her “Daddy’s Little Girl” act way back in 1999. She’s only wrestled once this year, a win over Brie Bella at SummerSlam, but she still had an excellent year. She was one of the leaders of the Authority with Triple H so they carried a lot of the storylines this year. During her feud with Daniel Bryan, she really played the role of a condescending bitch with made people genuinely hate her and doesn’t mind being made a fool of when the occasion arises (The mud pool incident with Vickie Guerrero). I honestly felt that her heel promos where a whole lot better than Hunter’s. It was the right time for the Authority to go, but Stephanie shouldn’t be blamed for anything. She always found ways to entertain. She was the kind of heel her father would be proud of because in a lot of ways she was a lot like him.

Seth Rollins is the complete package right now. When he turned heel over his former Shield team mates it propelled him a main event level heel instantly. If that never happened he wouldn’t have got there so quickly. Working with guys like Triple H, John Cena and others helped a lot and not forgetting that feud with Dean Ambrose. He delivers the goods in the ring and his promo ability is solid.

Best newcomer: Rusev & Lana (Runner up – Paige)

Previous winners: New for 2014

It’s a new category for 2014 and I’m cheating by rewarding it to two people. They deserve it. Sue me! Rusev is pretty decent in the ring unlike previous big men that Vince wanted to push. Early on, it was hard to see that as he was picking up victories in a dominant fashion to help put over his character, but as the year progressed, he’s been involved in high profile matches against Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, Big Show and eventually, defeating Sheamus for the United States Championship. I hope he can at least restore some much needed prestige into the title as it’s been treated as an afterthought for far too long now. Lana is a very good talker who has grown in her role as Rusev’s spokesperson. She’s catching on the eye (dat ass) and confident on the mic. When The Rock made his surprise return in October, he confronted Rusev and Lana. For a rookie to be in the same ring with a legend like Rocky it would be moment in time for them to freeze on the spot or become star struck, not Lana. She nailed it. She took all his insults and stood up to him.  It’s obvious that she belongs in this role, she’s going to continue to get stronger over time. She’s great at it!

Since making her debut on the Raw following WrestleMania XXX, Paige was involved in the title picture from the start (a move which I called, just a little reminder) and hasn’t looked back since. Looking back on her matches this year, her best performance was the one against Emma because they got over ten minutes. When she had matches on the main roster, they suffered from the same lack of time issues that was the norm with other Divas. Her feud with AJ was good but it dragged out and the amount of title changes hurt it. Paige is one of the youngest talents on the roster yet she doesn’t look out of place. She belongs in WWE.

DVD of the year: Macho Man – The Randy Savage Story (Runner up- Ladies & Gentlemen, My Name is Paul Heyman)

Previous winners – 2012: CM Punk: Best in the World/ 2013: The History of the WWE

It’s hard to choose here because both DVD have fantastic documentaries and a lot of insight in the personal lives of these two men. There can only be one winner and that has to be Macho Man Randy Savage. He was so dedicated to his craft, sometimes a little too dedicated. That’s not a negative in anyway, it shows that he gives a shit about the fans and his urge to leave a lasting impact night after night. They even touched upon why he left the company in 1994, a subject that has been so taboo in many years, and yes, they even hint towards those Stephanie McMahon rumours without going head on with them. The DVD has some good matches which are hard to find. If you haven’t seen this I strongly recommend it.

Most memorable moment of the year: Undertaker loses at WrestleMania (Runner up – Sting appears at Survivor Series)

Previous winners – 2012: Brock Lesnar returns/ 2013: Bruno Sammartino inducted into the Hall of Fame

How do you silence 70,000 people at one time? Have Undertaker lose at WrestleMania. It feels so odd just saying that. I truly, honestly believed that Undertaker would retire with the perfect record at WrestleMania, but it wasn’t to be. I was watching this with a group of friends and we were in utter shock. Our jaws just hit the floor as we asked each other, “What happened?” At first, I thought the ref screwed up. I was expecting Hulk Hogan (who was serving as the host) to come out, restart the match and have Undertaker get the win, but once the “21-1” graphic appeared, we all knew history had been made. The stunned faces of the crowd said it all, especially that of the “shocked Undertaker guy”. Hell, even the “Brock Lesnar Guy” was stunned! Nobody saw it coming, and if anyone says different, then they are lying. A friend of mine who attended the show said it was as if someone had been shot. You could hear a pin drop, some people were crying! That’s how much the streak means to so many people. At time of writing (December 22nd) Undertaker’s future in wrestling is unclear. Has he retired? Will he come back? I honestly don’t know. At the time I said he would retire. Guys like Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair have retired at WrestleMania after losing so why not Undertaker?  Whether he decides to retire or not, who are we to argue? He’s a legend who deserves our respect. They’ll never be another guy like the Undertaker.

It was such a surreal moment seeing Sting at Survivor Series. He’s one guy I always wanted to see compete in a WWE ring. I think he will at WrestleMania against Triple H. We all knew he would appear in WWE eventually after his inclusion in the WWE 2K15 video game was announced, it was always a question of when. I don’t know where his future lies or if he’ll ever have that match against Undertaker at WrestleMania but he’s heading into the Hall of Fame. Still be a crazy sight seeing  Mr WCW in a WWE ring.

Biggest annoyance of the year: CM Punk chants (Runner up- “9.99”)

Previous winners – 2012: New for 2013/ 2013: Continuous plugs of the WWE App

I like CM Punk as much as the next guy and I genuinely wish him luck in his new found UFC career but my God the chants annoy the hell out of me. I feel sorry whenever AJ Lee appears and all of a sudden, the CM Punk chants begin. Guarantee it. Punk addressed his in his pod-cast with Colt Cabana, he said that he doesn’t have a problem with it but don’t chant it when hard working guys are busting their asses off. Show them the respect they deserve. I agree with him there. Fans just need to accept that he’s moved on.

The WWE Network is fantastic. That isn’t reflected in the sales though and a lot of that has to go down to the promotion of it. How many times do you see wrestlers encouraging fans to chant “9.99”? Most of the time it’s the heels saying that. Aren’t we supposed to hate the bad guys? And whenever they say 9.99 it’s always done in a condescending way. That’s not going to attract buyers. It’s still early days for the network, once it’s released in the UK (I’m still fuming from the last time) they’ll get the numbers that they are looking for.

Biggest off-screen moment of the year: Ultimate Warrior passes away (Runner up- The launch of the WWE Network)

Previous winners – 2012: New for 2013/ 2013: Darren Young comes out

WrestleMania week was insane. Undertaker’s streak came to an end at the hands of “The Beast” Brock Lesnar and two days later, Ultimate Warrior passed away. Huh? Over the past few days leading up to his death, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, appeared at WrestleMania, delivered a passionate speech on Raw and then died on Tuesday! It was hard to believe. When you listen to his speech on Raw, it felt like a suicide note! According to eye witness reports throughout WrestleMania weekend, Warrior appeared frail and that he was breathing heavily and sweating buckets. Perhaps it was all too much for him, I don’t know. From all of his appearances that he made during those few days you could tell that he was happy to have made peace with Vince and was looking forward to his new role as company ambassador. He may have been a controversial figure behind the scenes but he is rightfully recognised as one of the legends of the company.  Aside from the Hall of Fame induction, the biggest thing to come away from all this is forgiveness. RIP Warrior.

The WWE Network finally arrived in February. To have access to a large archive of not just WWE programming but WCW, ECW and as well as all live pay per views for just 9.99 is incredible. It a money saver for us fans but it’s also cost the company a lot too. They’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way including cancelling the UK launch just 20 minutes before it was set to go live. A lot of people including myself were not happy at all. I’m sure it’s worth the wait. I’ve heard a ton of great things about it and hopefully it’s launched just in time for WrestleMania season.

Also want to mention that Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal were released this mean effectively ending the legendary trio known as 3MB. Never forget.

Poorly used Superstar: Cesaro (Runner up- Titus O’Neil)

Previous winners- 2012: Zack Ryder/ 2013: Wade Barrett

It’s been up and down all year for Cesaro. After winning the Battle Royal at WrestleMania and was given Paul Heyman as his manager, the sky was the limit for the Swiss Superman. It just never took off as well as I thought. Even as a Paul Heyman guy, he was always in the shadow of Brock Lesnar and once Heyman left, he sipped up big time. His tag team with Tyson Kidd has potential but it’s going to be hard for him to regain that same momentum he had back in March.

One of the reasons why the Prime Time Players split up was to elevate Titus O’Neil. That hasn’t happened. He’s stuck in jobbersville with Mayor Zack Ryder. It’s a shame because Titus is a charismatic guy who could get over if the booking is right. No long-term booking their lads, might as well kept the PTP together.

Poorly used Diva: Natalya (Runner up- Emma)

Previous winners – 2012: Natalya/ 2013: Layla

It’s been a mixed year for Natalya. There has been some times where you would think that management were really going to get behind her, only to give up and move on to someone else. It’s a shame because Natalya is a damn good in-ring performer. What she brings to the table is consistency. Whoever is in the ring with her always comes out better, something that her uncle Bret Hart was famed for. She always delivers. Management knows that, but she should receive more. When you consider her level of talent it’s a shame she’s only held the Divas Championship once. Will she win it again? I don’t know. She should though because she deserves it. Looking back on 2014, she should be proud of her in-ring work, just a shame she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves.

Emma is so much fun. You can tell that he loves what she does and the smile on her face isn’t fake. She’s pretty good in the ring, just doesn’t get a fair crack of the whip at times. The way management handled the whole shoplifting episode was a shambles. It was a genuine mistake on Emma’s behalf (seriously those self-checkouts would be the death of me) yet she still got released over it. WWE must have realised that they overreacted so they re-hired her all on the same day. I still don’t think they’ve forgiven her over it, just hope 2015 brings her more luck.

Announcer of the Year: William Regal (Runner up- JBL)

Previous winners – 2012: JBL/ 2013: William Regal

I love Regal’s commentary. 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. He’s starting to focus on his role as NXT GM now but for the majority of the year, he was a commentator so it’s only fair that I reward him with announcer of the year.  On the main roster, JBL is the best just because the other main announcers are average or below average. JBL’s solid as a heel announcer, but he can still improve.

Overall year rating (out of 10): 5.5

Previous ratings – 2012: 7/ 2013: 7

I’ll remember 2014 more the absence for two key players; Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. Their presence has been missed immensely.  I miss Daniel Bryan a lot while I lost some respect for CM Punk because of the way he quit on WWE back in January. I understand his frustrations on a lot of things, but there are better ways to do what he did. It was disappointing to watch WWE programming for three months with no sign of the WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar. They were always going to put the title on him, but they should have at least tried to convince him to work more dates, the silver lining here was having guys like Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler and Bray Wyatt main event pay per views.

There were highlights this year thanks to the performances of guys like Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns. All four of them are a big part of WWE’s future, so it’s nice to see them in featured roles towards the backend of the year. Dolph Ziggler has been in WWE for nearly 10 years, yet he might be the most over that he’s ever been right now, 2015 is going to be a huge year for him. It’s hard for all of them to get huge pushes when John Cena and Randy Orton are still around with no signs of going anywhere, but at least the future is there. The seeds are planted for the future, nothing happens overnight. Let’s not forget NXT, there’s so much talent there from the top singles guys to tag teams and the divas too. It’s been a very successful year for the NXT brand. Keep your eyes on that brand!

It’s been a rebuilding year for WWE. There’s a lot of talent on the roster, it’s all about the booking though and that’s the key. Less of the camp comedy and let the wrestlers wrestle. Simple. The first few months of the year will be interesting as always since its WrestleMania season, they just need to be more consistent all year round.

Thanks for reading guys. I don’t expect everyone to agree with the choices I’ve made. It will make some discussion that’s for sure. Be sure to send me your thoughts on the awards whether it’s by commenting on the article itself, via email, Facebook, Twitter or however you want to get in touch with me. Your feedback means a lot to me. I read it all and try to reply to everything.

Once again, thanks for reading guys and I wish you the very best in 2015.

Cheers you guys

Rif.

 

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