Welcome back to the final instalment of the Best in Show Awards for 2011. Try to ignore the smell of the vegetable stalls that are now, let’s be honest, slightly past their best and avoid stepping in that unfortunate patch left behind after the sheepdog display… Settle down with a jam tart and we’ll go through the last awards. These are the big ones: the awards that, were they even slightly aware of their existence, every wrestler would want to win. So, with no further ado, I would like to welcome to the stage a lady I am proud to call not only my boss here in the Bunker but also my best friend and a glorious human being – Miss Ray Davies! (is that OK Boss? I read off the card you provided…)
This was a very difficult one to decide upon. Apart from the fact that we both have memories like sieves (seriously, sometimes it’s a miracle we even remember where we live) there were also a lot of excellent matches to choose from this year. We got there in the end though and we settled on Chris Jericho vs. Evan Bourne at Fatal-4-Way.
Cast your minds back. Chris Jericho had been drafted to Raw earlier in the year. Much like Egde he was a lost soul trying to crawl through all big hitters to get some TV time. Jericho was drifting and started losing. He started losing a lot. He didn’t know how to process this situation. Evan Bourne, on the other hand, was John Cena’s new best mate and riding the crest of a happy wave. After delivering his introspective soliloquy to the crowd, Jericho was joined by smiley-Evan. They went on to have what we believe is the bestest match of the 2010. It felt even more special because it hadn’t been on the card. Everything is a little sweeter when you’re not expecting it and haven’t spent a week or so analysing every possible twist and turn.
If ever there were two wrestlers who fit together perfectly in the ring, it’s Chris Jericho and Evan Bourne. This match was real ‘passing the torch’, ‘legend vs. young pretender’ stuff. When they’re old and creaky I expect to see them swinging back and forth in their padded armchairs mumbling about that awesome match they had at Fatal 4-Way back in 2010. I’m not sure how I’d actually see this without getting myself a job in the their nursing home, but you know what I’m getting at.
Pinfall-after-pinfall, signature after finisher, sharpshooter after shooting star press, the match was brilliant from start to finish. Having watched it a couple of times since we decided it should be our match of the year, we’re wholeheartedly convinced it was the right decision. Evan won the match and left to rapturous cheers from the crowd. Jericho was broken and on a downward spiral of self-doubt. Read that as ‘heading towards his rock-star world tour’. Unfortunately for Cutey McSmile-Pants (Evan Bourne if that wasn’t clear enough) he got injured and had to spend the next few months hoping that wasn’t his last big push. Rewatching that match has made me realise how much I miss them both; especially Jericho. Any chance he could come back as a face, WWE? Pleeeeeeeease?
Here’s the highlights in case you’ve forgotten how it went down, after which I’ll pass you back to my denim-clad colleague to give the award for Best Major Show:
There was a strange combination of shows last year. The big WWE PPVs were generally quite disappointing other than the odd highlight such as the Royal Rumble match and the Undertaker/HBK rematch, whereas the lesser PPVs held some very pleasant surprises such as the Jericho/Bourne match mentioned above and the great Divas TLC Tag Match at TLC. But there wasn’t a WWE PPV we felt could honestly fit here, and although the one ROH show I watched in 2011 (Final Battle) was great it wasn’t quite as good as the 2011 King of Trios show by Wrestlegasm favourites CHIKARA.
This was a show so impressive that it made Boss Lady Ray write in her diary about how “AMAZING” it was (capitals all hers) to the point where I had to remind her to breathe towards the end of each match when we watched in The Bunker. Now, I’m obviously I’m supposed to be writing about the show in some kind of humourous yet moderately informative manner, but sometimes pictures (especially moving ones) speak louder than words. But before the pretty videos…
King of Trios is CHIKARA’s biggest show of the year, pitting 16 teams of three wrestlers against each other in a three-day tournament. This year was a big one storyline wise due to the involvement of an invading faction known as the Bruderschaft des Kreuzes going up against the CHIKARA faithful. The show included ROH Tag Team champion Claudio Castagnoli, TNA wrestlers Generation Me and Christopher Daniels and ex-WWE stars Tommy Dreamer, Colin Delaney and Scotty Goldman (as Matt Classic) as well as representatives from a number of US, Mexican and Japanese promotions.
Actually, you know what, scrap all that. I’m not happy with it and quite frankly it’s nowhere near doing the show justice. Here’s a highlight video for each night of the show which should give you an idea of just how exciting the wrestling is in CHIKARA.
Don’t worry, you’re eyes weren’t deceiving you. I appreciate you might feel like you’ve had a tad too much Buttercup Syrup and you’re having one of your “episodes” after seeing some of the competitors in those videos. Ice Creams, Ants, 7′ Vikings and our new favourite; Cuije, the 3’7″ Pink Ladybird Monster Thingy!
Now, you don’t believe that the King of Trios deserved to win this award, then you’re a lost cause and you possibly smell funny. Speaking of smelling funny, time to hand you back to Ray for the next award.
We know what you’re thinking…. this whole awards show is masquerading as a virtual love-in with CM Punk and Beth Phoenix. And why would we give this award to Ms. Phoenix when she was injured for such a long time during 2010? True, we both have crushes on Beth – different kinds of crushes, I might add. And yes, Beth spent a lot of time away from the ring this year. But round here we believe it’s not how much you do, but what you choose to do with the time you have. The Bellas have been on almost every episode of Raw for the past year, but that doesn’t make them the best wrestlers, or the most interesting Divas or anything to be honest.
Beth was the only woman to appear in last year’s Royal Rumble. Her appearance may have been short but she actually wrestled CM Punk before he eliminated her and she eliminated Khali herself. It was such an amazing moment and I was so proud of her.
Beth played her part in the horrendous Mickie/Piggy James storyline. It wasn’t a pleasant thing, but it was still one of the most memorable storylines of 2010. Beth endured LayCool’s jibes following that Piggy strangeness, ending in that now infamous Extreme Makeover match. *shudder* Injury put her out of action for a few months, but on her return Beth won the very first ever Divas tables match with Natalya. A real tables match with no gimmicks or silliness. This was by far the best Divas match of the year and felt very special.
We don’t just love Beth for being our favourite lady in the ring, we also like that she’s a lovely girl and throughout her injured months she managed to emanate so much positive energy. She must have had a few down days, but she never tweeted anything but good vibes and happy thoughts. In short, we think she’s fantastic.
Very British Nods of Appreciation go to Layla and Sara Del Rey. We’ve covered why we love Layla in the other awards posts, but we haven’t mentioned Sara yet. As I mentioned in our Christmas audio message, this was the year I finally gave myself over to indie wrestling and Sara Del Rey become my absolute hero. I never get bored of watching her wrestle. Maybe I’ve had too much strawberry wine from the local produce tent, but watching Sara Del Rey do what she does best truly inspires me. When I emailed her about a t-shirt I was buying and I thanked her for RTing my Intergender Match post on Twitter, she thanked me for writing it and said she wanted more people to read it. It was so chuffed. I always feel a little more fearless when I’m wearing my Sara Del Rey t-shirt. *hiccup* I think Andrew better take this last award. I’m feeling queasy and need to sit down. No more strawberry wine.
Unlike giving Beth Phoenix the Best Female Wrestler award, we’ve somehow managed to award this one to someone other than CM Punk. If you’ve only seen WWE shows you might not recognise Claudio Castagnoli, but trust us he’s the best wrestler you might not know.
Claudio has been recognised as one the best wrestlers in the world for some time now, but 2010 was definitely his most successful year to date. Within a 12 month period he became the ROH Tag Team Champion, the CHIKARA Campeones des Parejas (tag team) champion and King of Trios winner, the PWG World Champion and the JCW Tag Team champion – not bad for a nice guy from Switzerland.
As well teaming with indie-favourites Chris Hero and Sara Del Rey as the Kings of Wrestling in ROH and in Japan, Claudio also leads the aforementioned Bruderschaft des Kreuzes faction in CHIKARA. The fact that Claudio has managed to have very strong years in a number of promotions should show how well thought of he is by the business as a whole, and the fact that Boss Lady Ray drew lipstick hearts around his picture should be testament to her feelings on his appearance at least.
Again, like Beth, we don’t just like Claudio for being an amazing wrestler. He genuinely comes across as a nice guy outside the ring, whether it’s talking incessantly about the wonders of Starbucks on his blog, having Q & A sessions on Twitter or making videos of his travels at Claudio’s Cafe…
So here’s to Claudio, one of those wrestlers you’ll happily watch a show just to see his match, and one of the nicest (and fine, I’ll admit it, better looking) guys around. A man so stylish, so suave, so “Very European” that CHIKARA broke their 4 year streak of awesome comic book inspired covers just so they could use this picture. Claudio, if you’re reading this, “Mis Luftchüssiboot isch volle Aal!”
Our Very British Nods of Appreciation are slightly more predictable, with the first going to CM Punk. We know, we know… Punk again, but he had a great year while he was around. Obviously he had some time out due to injury, but his sterling work on commentary made up for that. From an amazing run in the Rumble back in January, through great work on the first series of NXT and the eventual dissolution of the SES and creation of the New Nexus; it’s been a great year for Punk. As for the second Nod, that goes to Dolph Ziggler, a man who has consistently had great matches throughout the year and surely a future world champion. I should point however that the fact that Boss Lady Ray finds all three wrestlers in this category to be “easy on the eye” is a complete coincidence. It’s just that the really ugly wrestlers *coughMattHardycough* also happen to be terrible 😀
That’s all from me folks, but before the sun sets on the inaugural Wrestlegasm Best In Show awards, I’d like to hand back to the lady that started it all. Boss Lady Ray, the floor is yours (don’t forget that the council said we have to have this wrapped up soon so the caretaker can sweep the Village Hall for the Whist Drive in the morning)…
RAY: Ummm, yeah. What he said. Someone else is going to have to judge the scone baking contest. I need to lie down. Take me back to the Bunker, Andrew. Thanks for coming, folks. *hiccup*