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OO 2003 YEAR IN REVIEW: CANADIAN BULLDOG EDITION    
Bulldog Plays it Straight, and Says
"Goldberg is Da Man" 

December 22, 2003

by the Canadian Bulldog    
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Hey folks – Canadian Bulldog here with my votes for the 2003 Year-End Awards.  After a bit of debate, I decided to break kayfabe, so to speak, and not be in 'character'. The way I figured, it probably makes a lot more sense to draw upon my 20-odd years of wrestling fan experience, rather than go for the cheap laugh of having Rodney Max or Big Sex Killer win wrestler of the year, so there you go.

In terms of wrestling, 2003 was kind of a mixed bag for me. Not a ton of stand-out moments, but at the same time, only a handful of really awful memories. Compare this year to 2002, however, and it ends up looking a lot better, mainly because the year-earlier period had lots to look back on and cringe.

You'll notice there's not much mention here of anything non-WWE. It's honestly just because I saw only a half-dozen TNA shows over the past twelve months, which is hard to make comparisons to a product I watch (at least) twice a week.

THE VERY BEST OF 2003

BEST WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: Goldberg
The wrestler who not only performed at the highest levels both in the ring and behind the microphone, but did so in important, marquee matches for his/her company.  
1st Runner-Up:
Chris Jericho
2nd Runner-Up: Brock Lesnar

Comments: When the rumor mill first suggested Goldberg was coming in earlier this year, a lot of negative comments made their way to the Internet. Goldberg will screw everything up; he'll refuse to work with Triple H; he'll quit the company within weeks. A lot of those criticisms probably are/were justified. Still, the man has helped to breathe new life into the RAW product and create more than a few fresh `dream' matchups. Not a bad return on investment for someone that many dubbed a one-hit wonder less than a year ago.

Say what you will about Goldberg, but I'll tell you: I marked out like a twelve-year-old when he began pounding away on people during the Elimination Chamber at SummerSlam. That's just what I paid to see – a hero to topple the mighty Triple H. I was never a huge Goldberg fan or anything in the past, but this year I was able to `believe the hype'.

Jericho is kind of a darkhorse pick for me. While we didn't excel at collecting belts, he interacted with just about everyone on the Raw roster and did it well. He's been able to carry lugs like Scott Steiner to halfway-decent matches, which is no small miracle. His program with Michaels was one of the most well-put-together feuds I've seen in some time (but I'm getting ahead of myself). Jericho was definitely a major asset to his brand this year. Which brings me to Brock.

This was a hard choice because, personally, I wasn't crazy about Brock's happy-go-lucky face persona that followed him around for most of the year. However, his bouts with Angle, Benoit, and Big Show were among the best matches of the year, and I daresay the big guy pulled his fair share in those matches; he wasn't just carried. Whereas Angle was by far SmackDown's MVP last year, Brock has picked up that role pretty capably.

BEST TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR: The Dudley Boyz
The tag team that not only performed at the highest levels both in the ring and behind the mic, but did so in important, marquee matches for their company.  
1st Runner-Up:
World's Greatest Tag Team
2nd Runner-Up: Rob Van Dam/Kane

Comments: What a sad year it is when a duo I think have become really, REALLY stale end up the dominant tag team?

I don't think Bubba Ray and D-Von are horrible, per se, it's just that I don't think there are a lot of good matchups left for them. That said, practically any team that has been around as long as they have would have similar problems. The bouts they had with Storm/Morley, RVD/Kane, Christian/Jericho and La Resistance weren't overly memorable, but they were well done, so the brothers from Dudleyville reluctantly get my vote.

Haas and Benjamin are throwbacks to a greater era for tag team wrestling. They have the ability and charisma to become one of the most feared teams in the business; which is saying a lot considering neither had any experience with a mainstream wrestling company at the beginning of 2003. Only a lack of more important matches and competition kept them away from my top vote this year.

The unlikely duo of RVD and Kane may be an unlikely choice, but they were the dominant tag team for a good chunk of the year. I like the fact that there was underlying tension between the two right from the beginning (although I do think they could have milked the feud between the pair a bit more). The fact that WWE brought in Hawk and Animal for a one-shot deal shows me how much they wanted to put over RVD and Kane, which was a nice gesture, if nothing else.

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER OF THE YEAR: Trish Stratus
The woman who, week in and week out, performed at the highest level in the capacity asked of her. 
1st Runner-Up: Victoria
2nd Runner-Up: Molly Holly

Comments: I chose to vote for substance over style, diva-wise, although with Trish, she would have won in any type of competition, in my eyes. Her ring work rose another notch from last year, which in itself was a tremendous improvement. Trish's matches (especially with Victoria) have been among my favorite each week on Raw, and I think that in itself is an important accomplishment. WWE could do a lot worse than to continue to give her the 'Sunny/Sable/Chyna Push', making her a bigger part of the overall product (though hopefully she's grounded enough to take the push a little more seriously than her predecessors).

Victoria is not only a tremendous wrestler, but her character has become very nicely fleshed out over the past year. There are only a handful people of throughout wrestling history who have been able to take a 'crazy' gimmick and make it seem legit (Mankind, I'm looking at you), but Victoria is well on her way. As I said, she had some tremendous matches with Trish over the past year.

I've never been a huge Molly Holly fan (hate mail starts arriving…… NOW), but whenever she was in the thick of things, she managed to make her matches seem important. Character-wise, I like that they finally got rid of the inane `fat ass/prude' gimmick and gave her something with a little more respect.

BEST FEUD OF THE YEAR: Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho
The rivalry that produced the best storylines, matches, angles, and/or promos of the year.
1st Runner-Up: Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon
2nd Runner-Up: Raven vs. Jeff Jarrett

Comments: Long-gone are the days where a feud spans more than one or two pay-per-views, and the merits of the conflict are documented in multiple issues of WWF Magazine (think Greg Valentine vs. Don Muraco, Brutus Beefcake vs. Honky Tonk Man, etc.). HBK and Y2J brought back a little of that spirit, planting the seeds for the eventual WrestleMania match way back in November, unheard of by today's standards. The motive for this feud – the younger, cockier Jericho wanting to be immortalized by toppling the man he patterned his career after – was well planned and slowly brought about. Although I agree that Jericho should have gone over at 'Mania, what's done is done, plus you would have never been able to do that nutshot aftermath had Michaels been pinned. Plus, Jericho did win the return match on Raw, so at least he got away with that.

Hogan vs. McMahon may have been a good five years too late to have an impact, and it certainly shouldn't have been the spotlighted match for WrestleMania XIX. That said, it was as enjoyable and well-thought-out as anyone could have asked for. The series of vignettes leading up to their Mania matchup with Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan, Bob Costas and Roddy Piper were very well done and showed just how long the feud may have been stirring. Even the Mr. America aftermath, while quite silly at times, was a nice continuation. After all, a match THAT important shouldn't have ended after one match. In that sense, it was sad to see Hogan end his contract with WWE before they could have given the whole Mr. America gimmick some closure. I'm probably the only one who feels that way, though.

Raven vs. Jarrett was THE hot issue this year in TNA, and for that reason alone, it gets my second-runner-up vote. As I said earlier, I didn't watch a ton of their events, but from everything I read, and the few confrontations I did watch, this was very well done. Their eventual match – hyped weeks in advance, I should add – was a great contest, and it was partly because of the backstory they used that I wanted to see it so badly.

BEST MATCH OF THE YEAR: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (Royal Rumble)
The match that best combined great ringwork and psychology/storytelling to get fans off their seats and cheering.
1st Runner-Up: Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho, WrestleMania
2nd Runner-Up: Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show, SmackDown

Comments: The Rumble contest between Angle and Benoit ranks right up there with Steamboat-Savage, Bret Hart-Mr. Perfect and Sting/Luger vs. The Steiners as one of the best matches I've ever seen, let alone this year. It was a fantastic give-and-take contest that had the fans giving Benoit, who lost the match, a standing O at the end. How often do you see THAT anymore, outside of maybe Hulk Hogan? Just an awesome, awesome match.

Michaels vs. Jericho came somewhat close to Angle-Benoit, for the reasons I outlined in the feud of the year voting. Again, I wouldn't have personally gone with the finish they did, but it wasn't like the end ruined it for the rest of the match. Plus, who can forget the visual of Jericho apparently going to embrace Michaels (and it would have made sense, too; the fans were ready to eat it up) and then he knees his opponent in the groin instead? Classic!

Speaking of great visuals, who can forget the match where Brock gave Big Show a superplex and the ring collapsed? Not only was there that big moment, but the two actually surprised me with how well they worked together. Despite the fact that Brock easily overmatched Show going into the match, it was still a very good bout for free television.

MOST FAVORITE PERFORMER OF THE YEAR: The Rock
A purely subjective choice; the performer who, regardless of objective talent, entertained this voter the most.
1st Runner-Up: Chris Jericho
2nd Runner-Up: Eddy Guerrero

Comments:  Virtually every time The Great One was in action this year, it was worth watching. His 'Hollywood Heel' gimmick was one of the most consistently funny things I've ever seen. He selflessly gave the rub to Hurricane and, more recently, La Resistance, despite the fact a guy in his position probably didn't 'have to.' Perhaps the fact that he wasn't on television a lot was part of the reason, but either way, there's a reason he has millions…. AND MILLIONS… of fans out there.

Jericho continues to be one of the most important players on Raw, for the same reasons I outlined in the 'wrestler of the year' voting. If he hadn't already won the world title once already, I'd say he was overdue. As it stands, a face run as champion probably isn't out the question in 2004.

Eddy Guerrero has come a long way since recovering from his addiction problems. It's hard to point out too many matches he's had that have been less-than-entertaining, and his work with Chavo has bordered on brilliant at times. I've heard rumblings that he will challenge Brock at the next SD-only PPV, and at this rate, I'm all for that.


THE OTHER BEST OF 2003

BEST TECHNICAL WRESTLER: Chris Benoit
The grappler who displayed the widest variety of wrestling holds and maneuvers and who executed them realistically and crisply.
1st Runner-Up: Kurt Angle
2nd Runner-Up: Eddie Guerrero

Comments: Pretty self-explanatory choices here, I think. Benoit managed to return to his pre-injury level of workrate, and the results show every time he steps in the ring. Angle is close behind, but I just tend to think of him as 'more than a technical wrestler'. Same goes with Eddie Guerrero.

BEST HIGH FLYER: Rey Mysterio
The wrestler who displayed the most jaw-dropping array of cleanly-executed and creative high risk maneuvers.
1st Runner-Up: Sonjay Dutt
2nd Runner-Up: Rob Van Dam

Comments: Rey is simply the most incredible high flyer I've ever seen: not only does he hit spots flawlessly, but he's matured into more of a storyteller over time, so he doesn't hit spot after spot without purpose. I only saw Sonjay Dutt once on a TNA show, which should tell you all you need to know about how highly I rate him. That could, of course, change should he ever make it to WWE and have to adapt his moveset. RVD's execution has gotten better as he's been forced to adapt to the so-called 'WWE style'. As a result, almost every high-flying move he goes for looks crisp.

BEST BRAWLER/POWER WRESTLER: Brock Lesnar
The wrestler who most effectively took a basic punch/kick/slam moveset and still crafted exciting, high-impact matches.
1st Runner-Up: Batista
2nd Runner-Up: Mark Henry

Comments: While Brock still has some amateur/shoot elements to his moveset, let's face it – he's mostly a power type of guy. And he does it quite well; I'm still amazed every time he pulls off an F-5 on Big Show. Batista and Henry look especially good when they're overmatched against the Spike Dudley's of the world; you compare to them to those who you USED to be considered powerful 10, 15 years ago, and you really saw how far they've come along.

BEST INTERVIEWS: The Rock
The performer who could be relied upon to most effectively advance storylines and enthrall the audience with his/her promos.
1st Runner-Up: John Cena
2nd Runner-Up: Chris Jericho

Comments: Even if he just cuts one promo a year, The Rock wins this award, guar-an-damn-teed. Look back at his exchanges with Hogan, Austin and even his hilarious 'rock concerts' to see how well he cleaned up. As for Cena, he comes a close second not only because he can rap like nobody's business, but because he has that rare charisma that can get an audience to really respond with him. Jericho continues to perfect his craft, and had ample opportunity to do on the 'Highlight Reel' show.

BEST HEEL: Kane
The wrestler who, by virtue of promos or ringwork, most easily turned entire crowds vociferously against him/her.
1st Runner-Up: Vince McMahon
2nd Runner-Up: Triple H

Comments: Kane was probably the most pushed non-McMahon on WWE programming this year, so we get loud and clear that we're supposed to hate him. What's more, he's helped to train the fans to hate him despite the obvious torture he had in his storyline childhood. Oh, and he killed his girlfriend. Boo! Vince McMahon is, well, Vince McMahon, and I daresay no one can quite rile up an audience as he can. Like him or hate him (and I'm betting most of you reading this fall into the latter category), HHH has managed to transform himself from foul-mouthed degenerate to evil assassin to Ric Flair Version 2.0, all the while having people jeer him.

BEST BABYFACE: Steve Austin
The wrestler who, by virtue of promos or ringwork, most easily convinced entire crowds to get vocally behind him/her.
1st Runner-Up: The Rock
2nd Runner-Up: John Cena

Comments: Perhaps a surprising choice, considering he had maybe two matches all year (neither of them anything to write home about), but YOU try telling the crowd in Houston at the end of Survivor Series he wasn't the biggest babyface in the building. Also remember that, at this point last year, he was seen by many as a jerk for walking out on the company in mid-2002. The Rock's brief stint as a face this year was enough for me to make him a non-heel, because I considered him a face even when he wasn't supposed to be one. Same thing with Cena; I'll say it again: THIS GUY HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE THE NEXT STEVE AUSTIN. Give him the win at Royal Rumble and a main event match and this character will take off. WWE, are you listening?

BEST CHARACTER/GIMMICK: John Cena
The unique on-screen persona that most aided a performer's ability to connect with the audience through storylines or ringwork.
1st Runner-Up: Goldberg
2nd Runner-Up: Matt Hardy Version 1.0

Comments:  A rapping wrestler?, members of the creative team may have been asking a year ago. Exactly what part of P.N. News, Men on a Mission or Master T left a positive taste in your mouth? Regardless, Cena was able to not only make the character work, but he made it three-dimensional, opening up tons of possibilities for the future.

It took a couple of months to perfect the formula, but WWE finally 'got' that badass shitkicker Bill Goldberg was the right direction to take his character. It's a simple formula and (gasp) one that WCW actually invented but… hey, works for me.

What a niche Matt Hardy has carved out for himself since jumping to SmackDown last year (and subsequently, back to Raw). His character is fun, has tons of potential either as a face or heel, and helped Matt get over enough to where he'd look like a legit threat challenging almost anyone on the roster.

MOST IMPROVED WRESTLER: Trish Stratus
The wrestler who showed the most marked improvement in all facets of his/her performance over the last 12 months.
1st Runner-Up: Randy Orton
2nd Runner-Up: The Hurricane

Comments: Trish wins for the same reasons I outlined in the `best female performer' voting. She really has stepped up her game from an already-impressive 2002. Orton, a/k/a Jeb Lund's all-time favorite performer, has gone from rookie sensation to a credible midcarder, which is probably a good thing given the push he's receiving. Through standout bouts against The Rock, Ric Flair and HHH, Hurricane managed to move up a notch and show that he can be a serious competitor when he wants to be (or, when they don't stick him with friggin' Rosey – ugh)

MOST UNDERRATED WRESTLER: Big Show
The wrestler who most deserves additional air-time, national exposure, and/or respect from fans.
1st Runner-Up: Rey Mysterio
2nd Runner-Up: Sean O' Haire

Comments: I enjoy watching Big Show 9 out of 10 times. There; I've said it. When the guy is motivated and not overexposed, he can help put on one hell of a match. I think people look at the fact that he's overweight and on the slow side and that's way too harsh a reaction. Rey very recently showed me how underrated he really is by going toe-to-toe with Brock and looking good doing it. I'd like to see a lot more from Sean in 2004. He has (er, had) a really intriguing gimmick and look going for him, but what's more, he is not at all bad in the ring. It truly baffles me how Ernest Miller is getting a huge push on SmackDown while Sean stays buried on Velocity.

BEST SECOND: Ric Flair
The non-wrestler (manager/valet/etc) who most effectively added something extra to the storylines and matches of the wrestler(s) whom he/she accompanied to the ring. 
1st Runner-Up: Teddy Long
2nd Runner-Up: Coach

Comments: Whoo! Flair has found his second-calling in life as a cornerman for Triple H and the rest of Evolution. All he has do during a boring match is verbally assault the referee, and he can revive even the most dead crowds. I'm also thrilled that Teddy Long resurrected his manager character from WCW and put a 2003 edge on it with the race card. He's got a great mouth on him and certainly helped to get his clients over. After years of hosting WWE's B shows and doing a god-awful job filling in for JR on Raw, Coach truly has found his niche. People just want to see him get destroyed every time he's on camera, and that is truly a talent.

BEST TELEVISION PERSONALITY: Eric Bischoff
The play-by-play announcer, color commentator, interviewer, or other non-wrestler/non-second who contributed the most to an entertaining TV product. 
1st Runner-Up: Steve Austin
2nd Runner-Up: Michael Cole

Comments:  Criticize Bischoff all you want for what he did in WCW, but admit that he's done a tremendous job playing the asshole general manager on Raw for some time now (uh, yeah… "playing"). Likewise, Austin was equally entertaining playing his foil, though his absences at the beginning and end of the year caused me to rank Bischoff ahead of him. Michael Cole has become a very good play-by-play man on SmackDown, though admittedly, he someone contracts a case of Schiavoneitis by overhyping and using terrible grammar.

"HOLY SHIT"' MOMENT OF THE YEAR: Mick Foley quits Raw during Randy Orton match
The angle, high spot, stunt, or storyline swerve that was the most surprising and effective shocker of the last 12 months.
1st Runner-Up: Roddy Piper makes run-in during Hogan-McMahon match
2nd Runner-Up: Goldberg kicks ass during Elimination Chamber

Comments: I know the Foley thing was extremely recent, but that angle probably caused more 'what?'s among the general public than a Steve Austin convention. As of the week it happened, I truly have no idea where they're going with this, and that's usually a good thing. Piper's run-in at Mania was pretty much a shocker, and a neat little nod to history at that. Goldberg's plowing through the competition wasn't overly surprising, but it did cause me to jump up and down in excitement, satisfying the 'holy shit' requirement there.

FUNNIEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR: The Mr. America Lie Detector Test, SmackDown
The skit, promo, or other segment that, even if it wasn't really integral to storylines, was the most worthy of distinction simply for being hi-fricking-larious.
1st Runner-Up: First Rock-Hurricane exchange on Raw
2nd Runner-Up: First Kurt Angle-John Cena Rap-Off

Comments: The Mr. America/Mr. McMahon/World's Fakest Lie Detector Administrator segment on SmackDown wasn't supposed to be funny. Or maybe it was, according to the hi-fricking-larious creative team. But I'll tell you, there were fewer things this year that gave me a better chuckle than the unintentional comedy behind this sketch.  It was just so implausible, so horrible, so… over-the-top Mad TV style that it gets my vote. The initial Hurricane-Rock confrontation ("Who in the blue hell are you? Hamburglar?") was funny in a more realistic, self-parodizing kind of way. Same with the Angle-Cena rap-off (not the more recent one, but the first time Angle introduced `Huganomics' to the English lexicon). I was on hand in Toronto the night they filmed that, and people were in stitches at the end of that segment.

BEST WRESTLING SHOW: RAW
The regular television program that consistently supplied the most entertaining mix of in-ring action and great storytelling.
1st Runner-Up: SmackDown!
2nd Runner-Up: TNA

Comments: Really simple here: Raw was the show where pretty much everything of consequence happened. They were much better than their brand-split competitor at building feuds and creating marketable pay-per-views. SmackDown, on the other hand, featured some decent free TV matches, but generally weren't able to make an impact when it counted (ie PPV). TNA was an enjoyable alternative, though they certainly have a lot of work to do before I would ever consider watching regularly. Still, they beat out Afterburn, that has to count for something.

BEST MAJOR EVENT: WrestleMania
The one-night event, not shown on a regular/weekly free TV show, that provided the most entertaining (and, on some level, historically significant) mix of in-ring action and storytelling.
1st Runner-Up: Survivor Series
2nd Runner-Up: Royal Rumble

Comments: I hate to stick with three of the big four here, but, hey, there's a reason they're called the big shows. Mania had the most impressive lineup by far, and a number of matches I still watch regularly enough on DVD. Survivor Series had Steve Austin's last (yeahright) appearance ever in WWE and a few other class-act matches. The Rumble featured my aforementioned favorite bout between Angle and Benoit, as well as a decent Rumble itself, which is always one of my favorite things to watch, year in and year out.

BREAK-OUT PERFORMER OF THE YEAR: Matt Hardy Version 1.0
The performer who won over fans and front office personnel to the point that he/she was most-clearly elevated to a new level of importance over the last 12 months.
1st Runner-Up: A.J. Styles
2nd Runner-Up: Lance Storm

Comments: Matt was stuck on the proverbial treadmill to nowhere until his jump to SmackDown late last year. Since then, he's been able to convince folks that he can the ball and run with it given the opportunity. Styles has come from nowhere and made a name for himself in the fledging TNA, having good matches with everyone from Jeff Jarrett to Lo Ki to Abyss. If WWE ever looks past his size and hires him on, who knows what kind of impact he could have? Storm got his first real WWE push this year and handled it adequately. Unfortunately, you kind of get the feeling this is as good as it will get for the man from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

BREAK-OUT PERFORMER OF NEXT YEAR: John Cena
The performer who has developed all the necessary skills and seems most likely to have them recognized and be elevated to a new level of importance in the next 12 months.
1st Runner-Up: Randy Orton
2nd Runner-Up: Batista

Comments: Here's my scenario (provided WWE decides to forego the natural Goldberg-Brock Lesnar matchup for 'Mania): Cena wins the Royal Rumble, which would not be a huge stretch of the imagination. He then defeats Lesnar at WrestleMania in the SD main event, just as his record and clothing line are about to launch. Can you imagine what kind of cross-promotional publicity he'd be able to get as champion while that happens? Orton and Batista are both getting the HHH Officially-Approved Push ™, and thus will be recognized top-flight characters over the next year or so. Orton and Batista probably have enough natural charisma and ability to do well with the advantages they've been given, though I think Cena has worked WAY harder to be in the position he's in now.

BEST "REAL WORLD'' NEWS OF THE YEAR: Goldberg signs WWE contract; wins title
The contract signing, promotional move, or other backstage/non-storyline development that most benefited a company or the wrestling business as a whole.
1st Runner-Up: The Rock achieves Hollywood success in The Rundown
2nd Runner-Up: Kurt Angle's neck surgery deemed a success

Comments: Goldberg was the last big star (sorry, Stinger) not to wind up in a WWE ring and I think, more or less, he proved the critics wrong by having a decent year. Sure, Mania may be the end of the line for `Da Man' as far his contract is concerned, but at least Vince can say he's used Goldberg after failing numerous times with WCW talent. Although The Rundown doing well probably ensures less Rocky on Raw, at least it's great publicity for the company. Not only that, each time he has a mini-return to the ring, it seems special. Angle's questionable choice to have an alternative surgery turned out to be a good thing (at least, so far). Sure, Your Olympic Hero didn't place highly in two many awards from my point of view, but at least he'll be around to try again next year. Angle is one of the few guys I'd say who can still headline any PPV and not be questioned why.


THE bOOby PRIZES

WORST WRESTLER(S) OF THE YEAR: Scott Steiner
The wrestler or tag team who, regularly and in key TV matches, displayed the most frustrating absence of in-ring skill and personality/charisma.
1st Runner-Up: Kevin Nash
2nd Runner-Up: Nathan Jones

Comments: I still think Steiner can be a decent hand when he's used as a heel and in short tag team matches (which is why applaud his current direction), but his `feud' with Triple H was just awful. Between the 62 consecutive belly-to-bellys he landed during his seemingly four-hour long match at the Rumble with HHH, to his slipping off the ring apron during his Bad Blood match with Test, Big Poppa Pump just didn't work for me. Nash silenced his critics by going a full three months without encountering a serious injury this time. Big Sexy has seen better days. Nathan Jones was just atrocious as a wrestler (though he did improve slightly towards year-end), but he's just not needed around here. Go back to Austral… oops, too late.

WORST NON-WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: Stephanie McMahon
The commentator, announcer, interviewer, manager/valet, GM, or other non-wrestler who added the least (or detracted the most) from the TV product.
1st Runner-Up: Don West
2nd Runner-Up: Jerry Lawler

Comments: The new Mrs. HHH was doing fine as an authority character – at first. She actually managed to play both the heel and face as GM, which was different enough for me to work. Then she became a wrestler, and suddenly she was yet another unbeatable McMahon. Her 'matches' with A-Train, Big Show and the epic with her father completely destroyed her character and it will harm her if and when she returns.

A typical Don West-Mike Tenay exchange in TNA, just to give you a sense of what makes him quite so annoying to me:

Tenay: Jarrett clotheslines Raven

West: HOW CAN RAVEN POSSIBLY GET UP FROM THAT, MIKE? HOW WILL BE ABLE TO BEAT THE ODDS AND…

Tenay: … and he's up. Raven suplexes Jarrett.

West: OH MY LORD, MIKE!! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? A SUPLEX, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! ONLY HERE ON TNA!!! WHERE DOES RAVEN GET THE STRENGTH TO PULL THAT ONE OFF?

Tenay: Fuck off.

Lawler just represents the law of diminishing returns. He WAS a competent commentator, booker and announcer… 20-odd years ago. Today, the act doesn't quite work. That's all.

WORST FEUD OF THE YEAR: Test/Scott Steiner/Stacy Keibler
The on-going rivalry that produced the worst in storylines, matches, and promos.
1st Runner-Up: Chris Benoit vs. Rhyno
2nd Runner-Up: Stephanie McMahon vs. Vince McMahon

Comments: Please notice that I didn't say `Test vs. Stacy' or `Test and Scott vs. Stacy' or even 'Test vs. Scott'. I just lumped the three of them together for the full year of nonsense they've put us through. At the beginning of the year, Stacy was beginning to grow sick of Test. So of course, she's still with him now (I think) in December. I mean, what the hell? There's no point in this feud continuing on. There never was. Benoit vs. Rhyno was just plain boring. What the hell was at stake? The McMahon feud ranks up there for obvious reasons: it shouldn't have been a part of WWE television, period, let alone a PPV-caliber feud.

MOST OVERRATED WRESTLER(S): La Resistance
The performer who least deserves all the air time and national exposure he/she receives.
1st Runner-Up: Ultimo Dragon
2nd Runner-Up: Billy Gunn

Comments: With the right personalities and booking, Sylvain Grenier and Renee Dupree (and I guess Rob Conway) could have been turned into Fabulous Rougeau Brothers 2003. Instead, they've just fizzled. Part of the problem is their wrestling; though I'm sure that will improve over time. More importantly, why are we supposed to hate them? Because they're FRENCH? Instead, I just pity them for having been dealt such a crummy hand. Ultimo Dragon as a pick may surprise him because he actually is extremely talented. However, I was expecting the guy who used to dazzle audiences in WCW, and he's nowhere near that level anymore. Gunn is just a useless, pompous lump of crap that is apparently enrolled in the Kevin Nash School of Rehabilitation. Next time, just DON'T come back, okay?

"GODDAMMIT" MOMENT OF THE YEAR: Redneck Triathlon
The awful promo, angle, blown spot, skit, or match that came closest to making you embarrassed to be a wrestling fan; the ugly cousin of the ``Holy Shit Moment'' Award.
1st Runner-Up: Al Wilson funeral
2nd Runner-Up: Zach Gowen gets handed Hulk Hogan's push

Comments: Just when I thought Katie Vick from last year would be the absolute lowest WWE could stoop, they introduce the Redneck Triathlon, featuring some time-honored classics as a burping contest and… a … pie eating contest featuring the return of Mae Young. I don't think I would have found any of that funny in third grade, let alone at the age of 30. Yeugggh. While funeral angles are normally a surefire ratings hit, this one, which featured Dawn Marie and Torrie Wilson tastefully wrestling alongside the corpse of Al Wilson, didn't quite measure up. THIS was the payoff for tons of PPV and television time? The guy dies – that's it? They didn't have a better idea cooked up than that? As far as the Zach Attack goes, I'm all for pushing him as a cruiserweight because of his unique situation, and he IS quite decent for someone his age. However, don't give him a PPV match against Vince McMahon. That's all I'm saying.

WORST ``REAL WORLD'' NEWS OF THE YEAR: WWE Confidential Plays Inside Edition; Mean Gene In The Role Of Maury Povitch  
The contract signing, promotional move, or other backstage/non-storyline development that seemed bone-headed at the time and least likely to lead to any positive results for the company or the wrestling business as a whole.
1st Runner-Up: Raven released by WWE
2nd Runner-Up: Roddy Piper screws up WWE job by his appearance on ESPN

Comments: WWE had no business broadcasting the exploits of Lex Luger and Elizabeth on its faux ``insider'' show, let alone for three consecutive weeks. By their own admission, neither had been part of the WWE family for some time, and thus were irrelevant to the current programming. What a tasteless way to draw ratings, given that they don't ever mention drug abuse problems with their OWN talent on that show. As for Raven, I'm not sure if that was the end of 2002 or early-2003, but either way, what a boneheaded move. Raven's appearances in TNA have already paid in dividends for that group, showing that it was more likely the writers and not the wrestler, that was the problem for him in WWE. Finally, Piper let his infamous mouth get to him one time too many with his stories about drugs and promoters that was equally as delusional as the stories he told in his book. In his most recent WWE role, at least he was in a good position and truth be told, wasn't doing a horrible job. I can't imagine he'll EVER find a job like that again.

That's it from here. Let me know if you agree or disagree at Canadian_Bulldog@hotmail.com.  Happy holidays!

E-MAIL THE BULLDOG    
BROWSE THE ITR ARCHIVES

CANADIAN BULLDOG  is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


  
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