Friday, December 28, 2018

The 2018 Enuffa.com Pro Wrestling Year-End Awards

Welcome to Enuffa.com's 5th Annual Year-End Awards!  Hard to believe this website is already almost in kindergarten....


Like 2017, 2018 was a year of amazing highs and infuriating lows in the world of pro wrestling.  NJPW had just as spectacular a year as they did in 2017, with literally dozens of incredible matches, significant financial and global expansion, continued focus on creating new stars, one of the all-time great tournaments in the G1 Climax, and another IWGP Title match that got EVERYONE talking.  Narrowing down the five or ten best NJPW matches of the year is a tall order; there were so many ***** classics to choose from.  As we roll into 2019 the future continues to look very bright for the number-two promotion in the world, and they've led a non-WWE resurgence that's making it possible for talent to earn a living outside of Vince's umbrella.  Several of these stars have either turned down or intend to turn down WWE contracts in favor of launching their own new promotion that will presumably help New Japan gain even more North American fans.  We'll see how that pans out in 2019.  Also the NJPW-ROH Supercard booked for Madison Square Garden (WWE's home arena for decades) the night before WrestleMania sold out immediately (the first non-WWE show to accomplish this feat since before WWE existed), illustrating how hungry millions of fans are for something different in the North American market.  New Japan Pro Wrestling has been a beacon of hope for so many of us who are fed up with WWE's creative ineptitude, and they show no signs of letting up.

Speaking of said ineptitude, in 2018 Vince McMahon once again proved his seeming commitment to perpetuating a "worker bee" structure in his company, where no one gets over, no one is an attraction, and the WWE brand itself is what sells tickets.  No promoter with even a modicum of understanding of the business could take a roster exploding with talent like this one and actually get stars LESS over the longer they're on television.  Virtually every call-up from NXT (the one part of WWE programming that consistently works) has been immeasurably hurt by being on the main roster, and the few RAW and Smackdown stars who have managed to separate themselves from the pack have more or less lucked into it.  Between embarrassingly awful scripted promos, nonsensical storylines, 50-50 booking, and Vince's ever-shortening attention span, you're more likely to enjoy main roster PPVs if you avoid the weekly shows.  Ya know, the exact OPPOSITE of the way it's supposed to be?  Things started out very promising from January until WrestleMania, with stars like Nakamura and Asuka being built up as title challengers, Braun Strowman continuing to get over as a monster babyface, and Ronda Rousey being added to the mix.  Then at 'Mania the company went with baffling booking decisions and things went into a creative tailspin for months.  It were as though Vince's XFL commitments kept his focus off the product from the Royal Rumble until early April and he came back just in time to almost ruin WrestleMania.  Going into 2019 there are a few bright spots - the women's division currently boasts some of the most over stars in the entire company (their Evolution PPV in October was one of WWE's best offerings of the year), and Daniel Bryan (who miraculously came out of retirement in April) has reinvented himself as an asshole heel champion and actually gets to cut his own promos.  Smackdown has been on the upswing the past few months, while RAW is in the crapper, creatively and ratings-wise.  The company desperately needs to re-examine its approach or their programming won't be worth nearly as much in five years.

But enough blathering on - let's hand out some awards!





Promotion of the Year

Once again this award should be no surprise to anyone.  This promotion equaled and in some ways surpassed the creative heights they enjoyed in 2017, while continuing to grow financially and expand their global presence.  Between increased visits to the US and an immediate sellout show slated for next year's WrestleMania weekend, at Madison Square Garden no less, this promotion is poised to make even greater strides in 2019.  New company president Harold Meij has made it clear he wants global expansion to be a major priority going forward, and with booker Gedo at the creative helm this promotion is quickly becoming an even more viable alternative to working for the 'E.  The four sweetest sounding letters in the business continue to be N, J, P and W, in that order.

The winner is: New Japan Pro Wrestling





Major Show of the Year

We have a bucked trend in this category.  For the last three years New Japan's WrestleKingdom has blown away every other PPV on the calendar.  This year it had to settle for second place.  Not to worry though, we're keeping it in the family.  While WrestleKingdom 12 was a top-to-bottom excellent show, it was missing that one incredible match to put it over the top.  Its cousin, held in June, featured a slew of good-to-excellent bouts as well (Bucks vs. Evil & Sanada, Jericho vs. Naito, Takahashi vs. Ospreay), but also a main event that transcended the art form and got the entire industry buzzing.  This earth-shattering IWGP Title match was enough to earn this PPV the duke this year.

The winner is: NJPW Dominion 2018





Most Disappointing Show

For the second year in a row, WWE put on a very good WrestleMania, and then followed it up with a shitburger.  Last year's Payback show was garbage on a plate, while this year the 'Mania aftermath PPV featured some decent wrestling but terrible creative decisions, one of which ruined what should've been the best match on the show.  How do you put together a PPV featuring Seth vs. Miz, AJ vs. Nakamura, and Roman vs. Samoa Joe, and fuck up the card to the point that people are calling it the worst WWE PPV of all time (I personally don't agree with that assessment, but still...)?  AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were in the middle of a helluva good No Disqualification match but WWE decided they should simultaneously kick each other in the nuts (a great spot in a vacuum) and both get counted down for a draw, thus ruining what should've been a Feud of the Year contender.  WWE decided that since Roman wasn't getting cheered, the best course of action would be to make sure his opponent wrestled the most boring match possible to turn the crowd around.  It of course backfired and fans actually started LEAVING the arena during this main event.  Couple that with poor matches like Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass, Carmella vs. Charlotte Flair, and Strowman/Lashley vs. Owens/Zayn, and this show was a massive letdown.

The winner is: WWE Backlash 2018





Feud of the Year

This year's landmark feud was one of the most personal and tragic in recent memory.  Once best friends, these former NXT Tag Team Champions imploded in late 2017 when one partner brutally attacked the other.  After being stalled due to injuries, the rivalry was rekindled in early 2018 when Tomasso Ciampa blindsided Johnny Gargano following the latter's unsuccessful NXT Title challenge, and the battle lines were drawn for an all-out war.  Ciampa-Gargano would headline three consecutive NXT TakeOver shows, first in an Unsanctioned Match, then in a Chicago Street Fight, and finally in a Last Man Standing NXT Title match.  That these two main evented two shows without the championship being involved illustrates how deeply invested the NXT faithful were in the feud.  All three matches were epic, brutal, escalatory affairs that seemingly made it impossible for these two former besties to ever reconcile.  While I found the matches perhaps overly long, they were never dull, and the storytelling on display was head and shoulders above anything else in WWE.  Rather than being exhilarating, the bouts were actually upsetting, as the babyface Gargano poisoned his own soul to exact revenge, ultimately turning heel himself.  This is fucking theater, folks.

The Feud of the Year is: Tomasso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano





Match of the Year

In this category we have a repeat from last year, a match I never thought could be topped.  At WrestleKingdom 11 Okada and Omega wrote a new chapter in main event pro wrestling.  At Dominion 2018 they wrote a whole new book.  This 64-minute 2/3 Falls match was the perfect culmination of the greatest championship reign of all time (in my opinion) between the two best wrestlers in the world, who each delivered the greatest single performance of their respective careers to date.  Like their first encounter, this match was split into three acts, but with an even greater emphasis on storytelling, tone, and attention to detail, including numerous callbacks to their previous three bouts.  After an exhausting hour-plus, Kenny Omega finally put an end to Kazuchika Okada's unparalleled title run and ushered in a new era in New Japan.  I said a year ago that Okada-Omega 1 was one of the greatest matches I'd ever seen.  One year later, Okada-Omega 4 is THE greatest match I've ever seen.

The award goes to: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega at Dominion 2018





Woman of the Year

This year there are a few notable candidates.  For example Asuka began and ended 2018 on a major high note.  She won the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble but failed to unseat Charlotte Flair for the Title at WrestleMania (in a match that nearly stole the show, mind you), and after struggling through the summer she rebounded this month, finally capturing the Smackdown Women's Title in the first-ever women's TLC match.  Becky Lynch became an unlikely breakout star over the summer after turning on her best friend Charlotte and becoming an anti-hero, dubbing herself "The Man."  As the year closes Becky is the hottest star in WWE, male or female.  But this award really has to go to a woman who jumped from the MMA world, made her pro wrestling in-ring debut in April, and has picked up the fundamentals of the game faster than anyone since Kurt Angle, delivering a slew of memorable and unique matches against a variety of opponents.  The Baddest Woman on the Planet has surprised us all, and she's just getting started.

The award goes to: Ronda Rousey





Tag Team of the Year

We have another repeat winner in this category.  This crossover star tag team began the year by regaining the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles, and by the summer had moved up to heavyweight and captured that division's championship.  That alone is a major accomplishment, but they also found the time to co-promote an indie PPV event that sold more tickets than any non-WWE show since WCW folded.  As of now this team and their closest associates are on the verge of launching a whole new promotion in the wake of that PPV, continuing to open doors for anyone who wants to make a living outside of WWE.  For the second year in a row, Matt and Nick Jackson take this award.

The winners are: The Young Bucks





Wrestler of the Year

Last year this man was the runner up for most people, in no small part due to his rivalry with the 2017 winner.  This year he finally eclipsed that man, capturing the IWGP Championship in jawdropping fashion and delivering numerous other top-notch main events, while joining his Elite cohorts in the beginning stages of launching a new promotion.  Easily the biggest gaijin star in Japan, this incredible athlete helped WrestleKingdom 12 sell more tickets than any Tokyo Dome show in 20 years and remained one of New Japan's most exciting game changers.  As we head into 2019, the sky is the limit for the Best Bout Machine.  Hey, that rhymed! 

The winner is: Kenny Omega




Congratulations to all the winners (none of whom are even aware of my existence).  Before you go, below are my awards for every year since I started watching the wrasslin'....



1987

Wrestler of the Year - Ric Flair
Tag Team of the Year - Hart Foundation
Woman of the Year - Sherri Martel
Match of the Year - Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat (3.29.87)
Feud of the Year - Four Horsemen vs. SuperPowers/Road Warriors
Major Show of the Year - WWF WrestleMania III
Most Disappointing Show - WWF Saturday Night's Main Event #10 (Savage vs. Steele, Battle Royal)
Promotion of the Year - WWF


1988

Wrestler of the Year - Randy Savage
Tag Team of the Year - Road Warriors
Woman of the Year - Elizabeth
Match of the Year - Team Powers of Pain vs. Team Demolition (11.24.88)
Feud of the Year - Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger
Major Show of the Year - WWF Survivor Series
Most Disappointing Show - WWF WrestleMania IV
Promotion of the Year - NWA


1989

Wrestler of the Year - Ric Flair
Tag Team of the Year - Demolition
Woman of the Year - Sherri Martel
Match of the Year - Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair (5.7.89)
Feud of the Year - Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk
Major Show of the Year - NWA Great American Bash
Most Disappointing Show - WWF Royal Rumble
Promotion of the Year - NWA


1990

Wrestler of the Year - Ultimate Warrior
Tag Team of the Year - Hart Foundation
Woman of the Year - Sherri Martel
Match of the Year - Brian Pillman & Tom Zenk vs. Midnight Express (5.19.90)
Feud of the Year - Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger
Major Show of the Year - NWA Capitol Combat
Most Disappointing Show - WWF Survivor Series
Promotion of the Year - NWA


1991

Wrestler of the Year - Ric Flair
Tag Team of the Year - Legion of Doom
Woman of the Year - Sherri Martel
Match of the Year - Rockers vs. Orient Express (1.19.91)
Feud of the Year - Undertaker vs. Ultimate Warrior
Major Show of the Year - WCW/New Japan SuperShow
Most Disappointing Show - WWF Survivor Series
Promotion of the Year - WWF


1992

Wrestler of the Year - Randy Savage
Tag Team of the Year - Steiners
Woman of the Year - Elizabeth
Match of the Year - Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith (8.29.92)
Feud of the Year - Sting vs. Vader
Major Show of the Year - WWF SummerSlam
Most Disappointing Show - WCW Halloween Havoc
Promotion of the Year - WWF


1993

Wrestler of the Year - Vader
Tag Team of the Year - Steiners
Woman of the Year - Alundra Blayze
Match of the Year - Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect (6.13.93)
Feud of the Year - Sting vs. Vader
Major Show of the Year - WWF Royal Rumble
Most Disappointing Show - WWF WrestleMania IX
Promotion of the Year - WCW


1994

Wrestler of the Year - Bret Hart
Tag Team of the Year - Headshrinkers
Woman of the Year - Alundra Blayze
Match of the Year - Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (3.20.94)
Feud of the Year - Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart
Major Show of the Year - WWF WrestleMania X
Most Disappointing Show - WWF SummerSlam
Promotion of the Year - WWF


1995

Wrestler of the Year - Diesel
Tag Team of the Year - Owen Hart & Yokozuna
Woman of the Year - Alundra Blayze
Match of the Year - Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog (12.18.95)
Feud of the Year - Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero
Major Show of the Year - WWF Survivor Series
Most Disappointing Show - WWF King of the Ring
Promotion of the Year - WWF


1996

Wrestler of the Year - Shawn Michaels
Tag Team of the Year - Harlem Heat
Woman of the Year - Sunny
Match of the Year - Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind (9.22.96)
Feud of the Year - Undertaker vs. Mankind
Major Show of the Year - WWF King of the Ring
Most Disappointing Show - WWF SummerSlam
Promotion of the Year - WWF


1997

Wrestler of the Year - Steve Austin
Tag Team of the Year - The Outsiders
Woman of the Year - Chyna
Match of the Year - Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (10.5.97)
Feud of the Year - USA vs. Canada
Major Show of the Year - WWF SummerSlam
Most Disappointing Show - WCW Starrcade
Promotion of the Year - WWF


1998

Wrestler of the Year - Steve Austin
Tag Team of the Year - New Age Outlaws
Woman of the Year - Sable
Match of the Year - Undertaker vs. Mankind (6.28.98)
Feud of the Year - Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon
Major Show of the Year - WWF SummerSlam
Most Disappointing Show - WWF Survivor Series
Promotion of the Year - WWF


1999

Wrestler of the Year - Steve Austin
Tag Team of the Year - Kane & X-Pac
Woman of the Year - Chyna
Match of the Year - Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz (10.17.99)
Feud of the Year - Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon
Major Show of the Year - WWF Backlash
Most Disappointing Show - WWF WrestleMania XV
Promotion of the Year - WWF


2000

Wrestler of the Year - The Rock
Tag Team of the Year - Edge & Christian
Woman of the Year - Stephanie McMahon
Match of the Year - Triple H vs. Cactus Jack (2.27.00)
Feud of the Year - Triple H vs. The Rock
Major Show of the Year - WWF Fully Loaded
Most Disappointing Show - WWF King of the Ring
Promotion of the Year - WWF


2001

Wrestler of the Year - Steve Austin
Tag Team of the Year - Dudley Boyz
Woman of the Year - Lita
Match of the Year - Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon (6.21.01)
Feud of the Year - Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
Major Show of the Year - WWF WrestleMania X-7
Most Disappointing Show - WWF Invasion
Promotion of the Year - WWF


2002

Wrestler of the Year - Kurt Angle
Tag Team of the Year - Los Guerreros
Woman of the Year - Trish Stratus
Match of the Year - Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio (10.20.02)
Feud of the Year - RAW vs. Smackdown
Major Show of the Year - WWE SummerSlam
Most Disappointing Show - WWE Survivor Series
Promotion of the Year - WWE


2003

Wrestler of the Year - Brock Lesnar
Tag Team of the Year - World's Greatest Tag Team
Woman of the Year - Trish Stratus
Match of the Year - Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (1.19.03)
Feud of the Year - Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar
Major Show of the Year - WWE WrestleMania XIX
Most Disappointing Show - WWE SummerSlam
Promotion of the Year - WWE


2004

Wrestler of the Year - Chris Benoit
Tag Team of the Year - America's Most Wanted
Woman of the Year - Victoria
Match of the Year - Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit (3.14.04)
Feud of the Year - Randy Orton vs. Mick Foley
Major Show of the Year - WWE WrestleMania XX
Most Disappointing Show - WWE SummerSlam
Promotion of the Year - WWE


2005

Wrestler of the Year - AJ Styles
Tag Team of the Year - MNM
Woman of the Year - Trish Stratus
Match of the Year - AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe (12.11.05)
Feud of the Year - AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels
Major Show of the Year - WWE Vengeance
Most Disappointing Show - ECW One Night Stand
Promotion of the Year - TNA


2006

Wrestler of the Year - John Cena
Tag Team of the Year - AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels
Woman of the Year - Mickie James
Match of the Year - Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness (8.12.06)
Feud of the Year - John Cena vs. Edge
Major Show of the Year - WWE No Way Out
Most Disappointing Show - WWE Survivor Series
Promotion of the Year - Ring of Honor


2007

Wrestler of the Year - John Cena
Tag Team of the Year - Briscoe Brothers
Woman of the Year - Gail Kim
Match of the Year - Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness (6.7.07)
Feud of the Year - Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima
Major Show of the Year - ROH Driven
Most Disappointing Show - WWE Night of Champions
Promotion of the Year - Ring of Honor


2008

Wrestler of the Year - Samoa Joe
Tag Team of the Year - Beer Money Inc.
Woman of the Year - Awesome Kong
Match of the Year - Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair (3.30.08)
Feud of the Year - Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels
Major Show of the Year - ROH Take No Prisoners
Most Disappointing Show - WWE Survivor Series
Promotion of the Year - Ring of Honor


2009

Wrestler of the Year - Randy Orton
Tag Team of the Year - JeriShow
Woman of the Year - Maryse
Match of the Year - Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (4.5.09)
Feud of the Year - CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy
Major Show of the Year - TNA Turning Point
Most Disappointing Show - WWE Royal Rumble
Promotion of the Year - WWE


2010

Wrestler of the Year - Randy Orton
Tag Team of the Year - Hart Dynasty
Woman of the Year - Natalya
Match of the Year - Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (3.28.10)
Feud of the Year - Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
Major Show of the Year - NJPW WrestleKingdom IV
Most Disappointing Show - WWE SummerSlam
Promotion of the Year - WWE


2011

Wrestler of the Year - CM Punk
Tag Team of the Year - Beer Money Inc.
Woman of the Year - Beth Phoenix
Match of the Year - John Cena vs. CM Punk (7.17.11)
Feud of the Year - John Cena vs. CM Punk
Major Show of the Year - WWE Money in the Bank
Most Disappointing Show - WWE WrestleMania XXVII
Promotion of the Year - WWE


2012

Wrestler of the Year - CM Punk
Tag Team of the Year - Team Hell No
Woman of the Year - AJ Lee
Match of the Year - CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan (5.20.12)
Feud of the Year - CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan
Major Show of the Year - NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling
Most Disappointing Show - WWE SummerSlam
Promotion of the Year - WWE


2013

Wrestler of the Year - Daniel Bryan
Tag Team of the Year - The Shield
Woman of the Year - AJ Lee
Match of the Year - John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan (8.18.13)
Feud of the Year - Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority
Major Show of the Year - WWE SummerSlam
Most Disappointing Show - WWE Battleground
Promotion of the Year - NJPW


2014

Wrestler of the Year - Seth Rollins
Tag Team of the Year - The Usos
Woman of the Year - Paige
Match of the Year - Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan (4.6.14)
Feud of the Year - Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority
Major Show of the Year - G1 Climax 24 Day 7
Most Disappointing Show - WWE Royal Rumble
Promotion of the Year - NJPW


2015

Wrestler of the Year - Seth Rollins
Tag Team of the Year - The New Day
Woman of the Year - Sasha Banks
Match of the Year - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi (1.4.15)
Feud of the Year - Kazuchika Okada vs. AJ Styles
Major Show of the Year - NJPW WrestleKingdom 9
Most Disappointing Show - WWE Royal Rumble
Promotion of the Year - NJPW


2016

Wrestler of the Year - AJ Styles
Tag Team of the Year - The Revival
Woman of the Year - Charlotte Flair
Match of the Year - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles (1.4.16)
Feud of the Year - Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks
Major Show of the Year - NJPW WrestleKingdom 10
Most Disappointing Show - WWE SummerSlam
Promotion of the Year - NJPW


2017

Wrestler of the Year - Kazuchika Okada
Tag Team of the Year - The Young Bucks
Woman of the Year - Asuka
Match of the Year - Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega (1.4.17)
Feud of the Year - Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega
Major Show of the Year - NJPW WrestleKingdom 11
Most Disappointing Show - WWE Payback
Promotion of the Year - NJPW



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