Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Year End Awards!

Jim and I are excited to give our votes to the categories below.  We hope you enjoy them and appreciate your readership in 2011.  We hope to grow Two Spot Monkeys in 2012!!!

(For clarification sake, Jim put his choices in after Tom, and has intentionally not chosen the same, so as not to bore you with two people talking about the same thing.)

Wrestler of the Year

TOM: In 2011, there were so many wrestlers that had great years.  I think there are a number of ways that that one could look at this award: a wrestler draws money, a wrestler has consistently good to great matches, a wrestler is entertaining both in the ring and out of the ring and more.  For my purposes of this, and for all of the awards, I will use a combination of all of those factors and more.

My wrestler of the year for 2011 is CM Punk.

CM Punk had a great year, was a focal point in WWE, despite many things being somewhat against him.  Punk is a true WWE success story; he’s remained true to who he is as a person and made his roads doing things his way.  That way is a way that fans could connect to, both going back to his ROH and Indy days and multiplied that en masse as a part of the WWE Universe.  Punk’s run from mid-June through the end of the year, despite WWE and creative inspired head scratching, was a great run, highlighted by 2 World Title runs, good to great matches and some of the most captivating WWE TV of the year.

JIM:  Punk probably is the best choice here, but since I want to be sure to highlight someone different from Tom, I will go with a complete dark horse here, and in the vein of Pro Wrestling Illustrated once picking Dean Malenko #1 in the PWI 500... 

My wrestler of the year for 2011 is Dolph Ziggler.

Ziggler has not been put in a position to draw money yet, and for that reason, if someone said I was crazy to pick him, I could totally understand it.  But week in, and week out, he has the best matches on WWE television shows.  He’s got great presence, is a strong promo, and frankly, I don’t think he needs Vickie Guerrero anymore.  His “show off” character who keeps challenging people to “top that” is just awesome.  In a post back in February, I looked at who could have a breakout year in 2011, and Ziggler was one of those guys.  Now, in that article (still available here in the archives), I said that I figured he’d be World Champion by summer, well, I was wrong, but at this point, if he doesn’t get a more meaningful run as champion in 2012, WWE will have lost their mind.  This guy is money, and I think can be a huge star for them for years to come.  He’s already one of the best in the ring, and has been all year, now just strap the rocket to him.

Tag Team of the Year

TOM: My tag team of the year for 2011 is Jay & Mark Briscoe.

At the beginning of 2011, The Briscoes were pretty stale and surprisingly bland.  This was a duo who was 6 time ROH World Tag Team Champions, had toured Pro Wrestling NOAH and been staples in ROH from Day 1, but were in desperate need for re-invention.  That re-invention occurred in March, when they finally turned full heel and #DemBoys truly were re-ignited.

Jay & Mark were arguably when of the more fresh acts of 2011, which is a credit to them, just simply being them and it being real, raw and genuine.  Even as heels, they were entertaining and captivated all fans, without losing any of the edge they needed to maintain and be unlikable against their opposing teams.  Their year was highlighted by a brutal feud with The All Night Express of Kenny King and Rhett Titus and Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team of Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas.

JIM:  I mean, the Briscoes likely win this thing hands down, but as I sat and thought about other Tag Teams for this award, I was saddened that I really couldn’t come up with a lot of other worthy teams.  There are a couple of up and coming teams on the indies, and then when you look at the “big two”, there are very few teams that stay together for any length of time. 

With all that being said, my Tag Team of the Year for 2011 is no longer together right now, yes, my award goes to the Kings of Wrestling.

While they left Ring of Honor after the August TV Tapings, for the first 8 months of the year, you knew if you saw the Kings on a card, there was going to be a hell of a good tag match on that card, no matter their opponents.  They had great matches this year with World’s Greatest Tag Team, The Briscoes, Future Shock, and my personal favorite, the American Wolves.  Will the Kings re-form in Florida Championship Wrestling, and then later in WWE?  Time will tell, but for now, with Claudio’s new career as Antonio Cesaro in FCW, and Hero’s unknown future, we may have seen the last of the Kings for some time…I hope that isn’t true though, they are just too darn good together.

Match of the Year

TOM: 2011 for me, felt like I watched a lot less wrestling than I had ever seen before.  I still consider myself a huge fan, one who follows many promotions and talents.  Choosing something in this category, without feeling like I have seen “enough” is something that I do struggle with.

I’ll try to see more in 2012, but my choice for Match of the Year, 2011 is: CM Punk vs. John Cena, WWE Money in the Bank PPV, July 2011.

This was a match that I made sure I went out of my way to watch live and on PPV.  I’ve been invested in CM Punk since his ROH days and I am a John Cena fan.  The build for this match and the atmosphere that was sure to result with the event being held in Punk’s backyard of Chicago, was something that to me, was just doing to deliver.

And it did.

This was lightning in a bottle and the WWE captured it, as they so often tend to do, just for one night.  Of course, Punk came out on top and delivered a career making performance, along with John Cena, being just about the perfect foil to play off of Punk.

JIM:  Lots of great action this year.  I am going to go with the match that when I was done watching it, and having seen 3 other good to great shows that weekend, I said to friends that it was by far the best match I’d seen that weekend, PAC & Masato Yoshino vs. CIMA & Naruki Doi from Dragon Gate USA: Mercury Rising in April 2011. 

This match was just a beautiful ride with some crazy high flying and great mat work and everything in between.  I was disappointed after Ricochet got hurt the night before because I wouldn’t get to see PAC and Ricochet go at it, but Doi is one of the absolute best in the world and just meshed in this match perfectly.  This match may not be for everyone (if you don’t like the Dragon Gate style), but for me, it was a match that just blew my mind, even though I have seen tons of Dragon Gate matches.

Feud of the Year

TOM: Other than Match of the Year, this is my toughest category to choose.

I choose Kevin Steen vs. Ring of Honor/Steve Corino.

This was storytelling at it’s best, to me.  This feud had one match, right at the end of the year and it lived up to the hype.  Kevin Steen, all year long for the most part, terrorized Ring of Honor in an attempt to get back in.  He first returned, physically, in June at Best in The World and it was a roller coaster ride from that point on, incorporating Steve Corino, Jimmy Jacobs, Jim Cornette and more. 

Not just that snippet above, but there were layers to this story with Corino’s history with Steen, his redemption from not being “evil”, his battle with needing to face Steen, the Monster he created and more.  Whether on ROH DVDs or through the SBG TV show, I recommend strongly seeking this storyline out if you have not seen it.

JIM:  Hard to argue with Steen vs. Ring of Honor.  Honestly, this one should have been CM Punk vs. John Cena.  It absolutely had the legs to run the rest of the year once it really kicked into gear at Money in the Bank.  However, WWE was insanely short sighted and killed it off after Summerslam, costing it the win here. 

I’m choosing PAC vs. Ricochet as my feud of the year. 

These two went at it on two continents, but here in DGUSA, and over in Dragon Gate in Japan as well.  PAC may be one of the best, most well rounded wrestlers on the planet right now, and I can only hope that DGUSA gets hotter next year so that more people can see it.  Ricochet on the other hand went from a guy who had some cool flippy moves to a guy who has also become very well rounded, and has been reborn as a cocky heel.  This one was great to watch in 2011, and I see them meeting up again in 2012, and I, for one, will be very interested in seeing it. 

Promotion of the Year

TOM: My promotion of the year is UFC.

The Ultimate Fighting Championships continued to grow in 2011 and will continue to do so in 2012.  They have such a great array of world-class MMA talent and have successfully had both strong pay per view and television events.  Towards the end of the year, they announced their multi-platform deal with FOX and they will finally be on non-cable, National Broadcast TV, highlighted with a strong card coming up with UFC on FOX 2, with Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis as the headliner.  I don’t see any of the momentum already captured coming to a halt and I do see UFC just continuing to grow in 2012 and beyond.

JIM:  Good looking out Tom, our MMA coverage here on Two Spot Monkeys has been pretty non existent lately, and that is something we will be addressing in 2012 for sure. 

My promotion of the year though goes back to the wrestling theme we’ve mostly covered here at 2SM this year, and I have selected Ring of Honor as my promotion of the year. 

They have graduated to a national TV deal, albeit a national TV deal through one distributor, and one that desperately needs to get ownership of stations in major markets like NYC and Chicago.  They seem to have also learned from the HDNet shows that really had matches with no meaning so much of the time and have tried to make the show have meaning each week, whether it’s building towards the iPPV’s, building towards big shows, or matches with title ramifications with the “Proving Ground” matches, they have a show that has meaning, and that’s really refreshing.  Also, the in ring action is usually far and away better than anything WWE or TNA puts out each week.

Two Spot Monkeys Interview of the Year

TOM:  The best idea hatched by Jim and other than the beginning of Two Spot Monkeys was our “13 Questions” Interviews.  We greatly appreciate all of those involved with professional wrestling who have given their time and energy to share what they have in helping to get more publicity for their efforts and work.

My favorite interview of the year was with Rhett Titus.  Ahead of arguably the biggest match of his career, Rhett was very candid and open interview before Death Before Dishonor IX and “Ladder War 3.”

JIM:  I love that we’ve gotten a chance to get some great interviews here on the site this year, and can’t wait to see who we’ll be able to land in 2012.  Agreed with Tom that we appreciate all who have taken the time to answer our questions, and to help us set up those interviews as well. 

My favorite interview this year was our interview with Johnny Gargano.  He comes across down to earth and like a guy that would be a lot of fun to sit and have a beer with.  You can tell that he truly appreciates the opportunities he’s been given in DGUSA, and is going to keep working hard to keep showing everyone he is worthy of those opportunities.  Going into 2012 as the Open the Freedom Gate Champion, we will certainly see him live up to those opportunities!

Come back next week as we take a look at our top 3 wishes for 2012!  Also be sure to check us out on Facebook by clicking here

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