“It’s Christmastime, there’s no need to be afraid… At Christmastime… We let in light, and banish shade…”
It might be the festive Christmas spirit, or just the spirits I’ve had to drink over the last week or so, but that intro from a well-known Christmas song is a great metaphor for this edition of FATP, especially the “…let in light, and banish shade…” bit. Normally, I’m sarcastic and angry, but what the hell… it’s Christmas, so I’ve lightened up a bit!
Welcome one, welcome all to just the 2nd ever FATP Awards. A time where I throw off the shackles of my intolerant views on wrestling and celebrate all the good things we’ve seen over the last 12 months. As you’ll know, almost every industry has an annual awards ceremony: whether it’s the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, The Brit Awards or, to a lesser extent, WWE’s Slammy Awards.
I don’t quite know how, but I came up with the idea to do my own end of year awards ceremony called the FATP Awards. It’s a comprehensive awards article, encapsulating the good and bad that we’ve seen from the year in both WWE and TNA. I’m not educated enough in terms of independent wrestling or Japanese wrestling to include them here, so apologies if that disappoints you.
Now, to explain how the whole thing works. There are 12 categories in total, including the FATP Hall of Fame induction, which is given to a superstar from either TNA, ECW, WWF/E or WCW who I think deserves recognition for everything that they accomplished in their career.
Both WWE and TNA will be represented here and as such, for each category, half of the nominees will come from WWE and half will come from TNA. The nominees for each award are the wrestlers/matches that I think were the best that we saw this year.
It’s totally subjective so just because I think those people should be nominated doesn’t mean that you’ll think the same. I haven’t missed anyone or anything out. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into coming up with the nominees and categories, so the people mentioned in the rest of this column are my choices. If you don’t agree, that’s cool. Leave your suggestions at the end of the column, or send them to me on Twitter. I’m @George_SLTD.
Hopefully I’ve explained the premise of this column, so without any further ado, let’s get started!
FATP Newcomer of the Year 2013
Last year’s winner: Damien Sandow (WWE)
Nominees: Bray Wyatt (WWE), The Shield (WWE), Zeb Colter (WWE), Doc (TNA), Manik/TJ Perkins (TNA), Taryn Terrell (TNA)
3rd Place – Manik/TJ Perkins (TNA): When I saw that TNA were bringing back the Suicide character earlier this year, I cringed a bit because I’d never really liked it the first time round. In fact, the only thing I liked about the “original” Suicide gimmick was that The Pope, D’Angelo Dinero, used to refer to him as “Suicidey”. Childish I know, but what are ya gonna do?!
Anyway, when TNA scrapped the Suicide character, changed it to Manik and revealed TJ Perkins as the man behind the mask, I got more behind it. TJ’s backstory is really good and his style works well with the other guys in the X-Division hunt, like Chris Sabin, Kenny King and Austin Aries.
There’s always something different in Manik’s matches. I especially like the double-team moves he’s able to do on his own. They’re really impressive. It’s been a good start to his time in TNA and hopefully, his character will be developed a bit more over the next 12 months.
2nd Place – Zeb Colter (WWE): Brought in as Jack Swagger’s mouthpiece, Zeb Colter immediately grabbed my attention. A very harsh, borderline xenophobic/racist character, Colter was exactly what Swagger needed – a mouthpiece to add a bit of character to his excellent wrestling skills. And Colter brought character by the shedload too.
He’s just a fantastic orator. Colter is playing a “bad guy” character, but he’s over almost as a babyface. You hear “WE…THE PEOPLE!” chants getting louder by the week and that means either one of two things – either some WWE crowds are really racist, or they just love the Colter character. Either way, Colter’s been tremendous value this year, but there was another new entity that impressed me more…
And…the award for the FATP Newcomer of the Year 2013 goes to…
1st Place – The Shield (WWE): OK, so it’s a slight cheat to name a faction as the newcomer of the year, but The Shield have been utterly dominant in 2013. From their debut at Survivor Series last year, through to now, I’ve been HUGELY impressed by the way they’ve gone about their business.
I love everything about Dean Ambrose – the way he carries himself in the ring reminds me of a classic Roddy Piper/Jake Roberts. There’s a purpose to everything he does – his offense, his selling, his psychology and his promos.
Seth Rollins reminds me a little bit of CM Punk/Jeff Hardy. I know that sounds weird, but he’s technically sound and can fly as high as the best of them. His style is a bit frenzied/frenetic at times and he’ll be a huge babyface in the future. As for Roman Reigns? Well, he’s just a beast isn’t he? A big, bad, bruising, no-nonsense ass-kicker. And his finishing move, The Spear, looks like it hurts like hell!
It’s the mixture of those 3 styles, as well as their chemistry with other top stars, that made 2013 a stand-out year for The Shield.
FATP Break-Out Star of the Year 2013
Last year’s winner: Austin Aries (TNA)
Nominees: Magnus (TNA), Bray Wyatt (WWE), Taryn Terrell (TNA), Bully Ray (TNA), The Shield (WWE), Antonio Cesaro (WWE)
3rd Place – Antonio Cesaro (WWE): Cesaro’s been on the main roster for about 18 months or so now I think? His pretty uneventful run with the United States Championship came to an end and he was kind of just “there” in the mid-card until Zeb Colter took him under his wing and declared him to be a “Real American”…who fights for the rights of every man.
OK, only part of that last sentence was true. Anyway, aligning himself with Colter, however strange their alliance may be, has allowed Cesaro to do what he does best – be an excellent pro-wrestler. He’s a fantastic worker and over the last 6 months, he’s really shown what he can do.
His moves pop the crowd, despite the fact he’s “supposed” to be a heel – whether it’s The Neutraliser, his sickening European uppercuts, or the impressive Giant Swing he’s done on countless other mid-carders. He’s a future main-eventer. I’ve got no doubt about that. Whether he becomes a main-event level champion, or even gets the opportunity to be, is another matter entirely.
2nd Place – The Shield (WWE): I don’t know if it’s possible for me to wax lyrical any more about The Shield. Whether in singles, tag or 6-man action, The Shield have probably been in more main-events than any other faction in recent memory. And they’ve rarely failed to deliver.
I don’t think I’ve seen a Shield match that I’ve not enjoyed. Whether it was against Cena, Orton and Sheamus, Team Hell No and Orton, The Uso’s and Christian, The Uso’s and Mysterio, or lately against the Rhodes Brothers, they never fail to put on excellent matches. As a trio, there’s still so much they can do with The Shield and hopefully, 2014 sees them continue to dominate.
And…the award for the FATP Break-Out Star of the Year 2013 goes to…
1st Place – Bully Ray (TNA): I’m going to conduct a telepathic poll here – who among us would’ve thought that, in 2013, Bully Ray would have his breakout singles year. He’s in his 40’s, he’s predominantly been a tag-team wrestler (as part of arguably the best tag-team of all-time) and it just never occurred to me that he’d be a main-event guy.
But credit to Bully. He’s in incredible shape, he was able to draw heat for Aces & 8s – which is a minor miracle in itself – and his mic work has been outstanding.
You believe that Bully is a nasty son-of-a-bitch. He’s an old school heel. Just imagine how much better he would have been if he hadn’t have had the Aces & 8s albatross around his neck. Or if Hogan didn’t have his grubby paws all over Bully’s main-event (and subsequent World Title) runs…brrrotherrr!
FATP “You F***ed Up” Moment of the Year 2013 (formerly known as the WTF Moment of the Year)
Last year’s winner: The AJ Styles & Crack-Whore Claire storyline
Nominees: Dixie Carter’s Heel Turn/Hogan Walks Out (TNA), Chris Sabin wins the World Championship (TNA), The Bellator Invasion (TNA), The Rock ending CM Punk’s 434-day reign as WWE Champion (WWE), John Cena “choosing” Daniel Bryan as his #1 contender (WWE), Los Matadores’ debut (WWE)
3rd Place – The Bellator Invasion (TNA): Jesus, where to start? Well, I suppose I’d better start by saying that I understand that, under the terms of TNA’s TV deal with Spike, they’re almost contractually obliged to do cross-promotion with other shows on the network. However, The Bellator Invasion was taking it too far.
Instead of perhaps playing pre-taped segments about the Bellator fight between Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson, TNA Creative – in their infinite wisdom – decided to put them in the 2 factions that they built the summer around – Aces & 8s and The Main Event Mafia. What in the name of fuck Almighty?
They had two beat-up, broken-down MMA stars taking precious TV time away from guys who could actually wrestle. I’d love someone to explain how TNA Creative can justify that.
2nd Place – John Cena “choosing” Daniel Bryan as his #1 contender (WWE): Ah my good friend Mr Cena.
Worry not my loyal friends. I’m not going to shit all over Cena. This segment wasn’t his fault. I place the blame firmly in the hands of the creative team who, I’m assuming, wrote the line “I select Daniel Bryan”.
Not Cena’s fault. Creative’s fault. Cena didn’t select Bryan. The fans chose Bryan. Months before that. And they still do now. Don’t feed the wrestlers lines that we know they’d never say. It was just…No. And YES…you did read that correctly. I’m not blaming Mr Cena for that. Christ. I think that’s one of the harbingers of the apocalypse!
And…the award for the FATP “You F***ed Up” Moment of the Year 2013 goes to…
He’s an incredibly talented athlete, a great performer and a very good pro-wrestler. For him to have come through the serious knee injuries he’s had in recent years and the fact that he’s even been able to make a comeback in the first place is an incredible testament to him. You know there’s a however coming don’t you!
However, I don’t think Sabin should have won the World Championship…this year. You build the anticipation. Give him a lengthy run with the X-Division Championship. Then make him look strong heading in to Destination X. THEN have him win it.
The way it went this year, I don’t think Sabin was physically ready, and didn’t have a character that was developed enough, to carry the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
I’m a cynical bastard, yes, but I don’t think Sabin would’ve won the World Championship if TNA hadn’t have sacked/let go/got rid of about 14 talents in the summer. I reckon giving Sabin a run with the World Championship was a PR move by TNA to try to distract people from the fact they’d halved their active, main roster.
And it’s a shame because Chris Sabin doesn’t deserve that. He’s a great talent, but his run will be remembered as being poor at best, especially considering he was booked like a patsy for the Main Event Mafia. He deserved better.
FATP Tag-Team of the Year 2013
Last year’s winners: Bad Influence (Kaz/Daniels)
Nominees: Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns (WWE), The Uso’s (WWE), Team Hell No (WWE), Bad Influence (TNA), Chavo & Hernandez (TNA), James Storm & Gunner (TNA)
3rd Place – The Uso’s (WWE): When I say “Uce”, you say “Oh!”… UCE … That’s it! We’ve got some Uso fans in the hizzouse!
It seems weird to say it, but the resurgence (?) of the Uso’s has been spectacular this year. See what a difference it makes when the WWE give two shits about their tag-team division?!?!
They’re clearly two very talented guys. Their family legacy speaks for itself, but they still have to go out there and put together the pieces to make the jigsaw. They’re charismatic and since they’ve been re-introduced, we’ve seen them have great matches with a variety of different tag-teams like The Shield, The Real Americans, Prime-Time Players etc.
The crowd is always into their matches and surely there’s a Tag-Team Championship run in the not-too-distant future for them. Just DON’T turn them heel. The crowd WANT to like them. And they do. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.
2nd Place – Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns (WWE): I had to think long and hard about this. It’s probably the toughest decision I’ve had to make so far.
Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns have had a great year. They had a lengthy run with the Tag-Team Championships from Extreme Rules til just after BattleGround.
They’ve had some great matches on Raw, SmackDown and PPV. You can’t argue with that. Hell, you could even argue that they have the “Match of the Year” category sewn up all by themselves (more on that later), but… I just feel that they were more impressive as a trio. That’s not to say they were bad, because they weren’t. They just weren’t the best tag-team of the year. Not to me at least.
And…the award for the FATP Tag-Team of the Year 2013 goes to…
1st Place – Bad Influence (TNA): Last year’s winners scoop up the prize again. Sometimes, TNA is hard to watch. Storylines make no sense. Characters make no sense. But… Bad Influence are there as the shining lights through the mist of disappointment that is Impact Wrestling.
Entertaining? Check. Great promos? Check. Terrific workers? Check. So WHY are they not the TNA World Tag-Team Champions of the World (not redundant)? Easy answer. Because they don’t need the belts for their characters to matter.
They’re as relevant as anyone else on the TNA roster, probably more than most, and they keep the main-event storylines fresh because they’re able to work with all different kinds of workers like Angle, Hardy, Magnus, Joe and Sting, and you know that they’re credible.
My personal Bad Influence highlight of 2013? The promo they cut in England where they came out dressed as William Wallace in Braveheart and paid tribute to the true warriors of Britain – the Scots! I don’t think I’ve stopped popping for that line yet, and they said it about 10 months ago!
Bad Influence just shaded this category this year because of the overall impact (pun intended) and value that they bring to Impact every week.
FATP Most Improved Wrestler of the Year 2013
Last year’s winner: Brooke Tessmacher
Nominees: Cody Rhodes (WWE), Magnus (TNA), Jesse Godderz (TNA), Roman Reigns (WWE), Brie Bella (WWE), Taryn Terrell (TNA)
3rd Place – Jesse Godderz (TNA): I’ll be honest here. I’ve never been a fan of Mr Pec-Tacular. I felt like he was just a body guy with zero personality taking a paycheck when there were other guys who deserved his spot.
Having said that, I’ve been impressed with him since he started teaming with Robbie E. He’s started to show a little of his personality and you can see that he’s been working hard to develop his in-ring skills.
His team with Robbie E is actually pretty and they’re a great little heel tag-team. They’re harmless and comedic, and they’re by no means the most offensive thing about watching Impact. He’s definitely improved this year.
2nd Place – Brie Bella (WWE): Again, not a fan of pointy-faced Divas. And certainly not a fan of the bitchy Bella Twins. But…Never let it be said that I don’t give credit where credit’s due.
Brie has improved dramatically in the ring, which means that she’s now able to put on decent matches. She doesn’t bother me as much as her sister, but… Who is she?
Are we supposed to cheer for her just because she’s on Total Divas, or because she’s engaged to Daniel Bryan? Develop the character, give us a reason to cheer and perhaps she’ll get more over with the crowd and win the Divas Championship again in 2014. Only time will tell.
And…the award for the FATP Most Improved Wrestler of the Year 2013 goes to…
1st Place – Cody Rhodes (WWE): It might seem stupid or weird for me to say that Cody’s been the most improved wrestler of 2013, considering he’s already a multi-time Intercontinental and Tag-Team Champion, but I think he’s had his best year on the main roster to date.
Like I mentioned with the Uso’s earlier, Cody’s family history speaks for itself. His father, The Dream, Dusty Rhodes baby, is one of the greatest of all-time and his brother Goldust was one of the lynchpins of the Attitude Era, but Cody hadn’t really stepped up.
That might sound harsh and I know he’s still a young guy, but it’s true. He’s got all the talent in the world, but he hadn’t found his niche. Now, he has.
It all started with his spectacular showing in the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank match in July. He wrestled like a man possessed. Cody was taking risks and the crowd were popping for everything he did, despite the fact he was a heel at that point. He came up short and was screwed out of the briefcase by his tag-team partner at the time, Damien Sandow.
Looking back now, it’s the best thing that could’ve happened to him. The crowd were sympathetic towards him, got behind him and wanted to see him get his revenge. He was involved, albeit briefly, in the main-event with The Authority, and it’s been great to see how far Cody’s come this year, capped off by winning the Tag-Team Championships with his brother, Goldust.
If he keeps going at this rate, Cody could be a main-event singles guy in the next 12-18 months.
FATP “This Is Awesome” Moment of the Year 2013 (formerly known as the “Tell Me I Didn’t Just See That” Moment of the Year)
Last year’s winner: Brock Lesnar returning the night after WM28 (WWE)
Nominees: Chris Jericho returns at the 2013 Royal Rumble (WWE), Mark Henry’s retirement speech (WWE), the Raw crowd the night after WM29 (WWE), Bully Ray is revealed as the leader of Aces & 8s (TNA), Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell tearing the house down at Slammiversary (TNA), AJ Styles wins the TNA World Heavyweight Championship (TNA)
3rd Place – the Raw crowd the night after WM29 (WWE): Simply put, that crowd on THAT night was phenomenal. They were just fucking with whoever was in the ring at any given time and they made that show better than it was.
It also featured one of the loudest crowd pops I’d heard in years when Dolph Ziggler cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Alberto del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship. If you’ve not heard that pop for a while, then go back and listen to it again. The crowd pop was INSANE. Just an incredible moment that gave me goosebumps.
I can’t really remember what happened on the show in terms of actual in-ring action, but the crowd were phenomenal and in party mood. Great stuff!
Equal 2nd Place – Chris Jericho returns at the 2013 Royal Rumble (WWE): My God. Just thinking about this makes me mark out like a total fanboy.
Hands up here. I’m a complete mark for the Ayatollah of Rock & Rollah, Chris Jericho. I’m not even gonna deny it, so maybe this is a bit biased, but it’s my list…I don’t care!
The Royal Rumble’s the only PPV of the year where you get genuine surprises. And Jericho’s return in 2013 was definitely a mark-out moment for me. I remember watching the Rumble at my parents’ house. It must’ve been about 3am in the morning when the Rumble started.
Dolph Ziggler’s been handed the #1 position in the Rumble, so he’s waiting in the ring. The pyro goes off, Jericho’s music hits and the arena ERUPTED. Like properly ERUPTED. An Attitude Era pop if ever there was one. And there was an Attitude Era sized pop from me at my parents’ house. I was jumping up and down, screaming at the TV, ecstatic at the return of Y2J! Christ, I was still buzzing when the event finished!
You know why this stands out? Yes, partly because I’m a Jerichoholic, but partly because WWE managed to deliver a big-name return in the Rumble that very few people, if any, expected. It’s made even more incredible by the fact that Jericho had been away for about 6 months, and STILL proved he could hang with the full-timers by going 40-odd minutes in the match.
An excellent performance, moment and crowd pop that stands out from almost everything else we saw in 2013.
Equal 2nd Place – Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell tearing the house down at Slammiversary (TNA): There’s one thing that revitalised mainstream women’s wrestling this year and it’s this match from TNA’s summer PPV. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Gail Kim, who looks like she’s enjoying herself so much in TNA these days, went up against a less-experienced opponent in Taryn Terrell and they brawled, they wrestled and they just, as the nomination says, tore the house down.
It was a fantastic wrestling match that reminded me of why I’m such a huge fan of women’s wrestling. It was match of the night at that PPV and THAT’S one of the reasons why WWE suddenly started to take an interest in the Divas division again.
I don’t care what anyone says. TNA are still leading the way as far as mainstream women’s wrestling is concerned, and this match highlighted just what the ladies can do if they’re given the time and investment, instead of being treated just as eye candy.
And…the award for the FATP This is Awesome Moment of the Year 2013 goes to…
1st Place – Mark Henry’s retirement speech (WWE): I’m going to give credit here to my good friend @GameOverGary here. His Raw Revisited from June 17 sums this segment up perfectly. I’m not going to say anything, and let Gary do the talking:
“Wow. Just wow. He got me. The bastard got me. I love Mark Henry. I love that he didn’t get good until he was in his 40′s and is still better than most guys in their 20′s. I love that he’s just so angry, but can flip into crying/nice guy mode like it was a schizophrenic disorder!
Going into this, I never believed that Henry was retiring, especially when Cena said that he wouldn’t know who his next opponent was until Money in the Bank. Nice try Cena. No WWE Championship match on PPV? Who do you think you are? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?! But I’ll admit, Henry got me.
He was so utterly, utterly convincing in this segment that everyone believed he was leaving. When I believed it was happening, I was annoyed by the fact that Cena was there to horn in on another man’s retirement ceremony. It’s the equivalent of HHH back hugging Shawn Michaels at the end of his retirement: Unnecessary!
But then Henry, the gigantic magnificent bastard, hugged Cena only to drop him with a World’s Strongest Slam. I was shocked at first, and then I was happy because, haha… Cena got chumped! But in truth, so did we. We were all taken in by it. We all believed it, and we were all made to look like fools.
Mark Henry, I love you. Please never retire. Just show up every week and World’s Strongest Slam people that I don’t like and shout at them. Also the phrase “I GOT A LOT LEFT IN THE TANK” should be used as much as possible now.”
Sums it up perfectly.
FATP PPV of the Year
Last year’s winner: Bound for Glory 2012
Nominees: SummerSlam (WWE), Bound for Glory (TNA), Payback (WWE), Slammiversary (TNA)
3rd Place – Payback (WWE): Overall, the card was pretty good.
We saw Curtis Axel and AJ Lee pick up the Intercontinental and Divas Championships respectively. CM Punk made his return to the WWE to go up against Chris Jericho and won in what was probably the best match on the card.
Alberto del Rio defeated the newly-returned Dolph Ziggler for the World Heavyweight Championship in a match which saw both men switch roles on the roster. I was furious that Ziggler lost and still feel that WWE made the wrong call, but what can I do?
The main-event “3 Stages of Hell” between Cena and Ryback for the WWE Championship was what I like to call “7 Shades of Shit”. It stunk the house out. Other than that, a good show with some great wrestling.
2nd Place – Slammiversary (TNA): TNA might only have held 4 PPV’s this year, but Slammiversary was a very good PPV. We saw 9 matches, most of which were announced before the PPV. A novel idea in wrestling these days!
The stand-out matches for me were the Angle/AJ Styles match, the 4-Way Elimination Tag-Team Match, the aforementioned Gail Kim vs Taryn Terrell match and Sabin winning the X-Division Championship.
The main-event saw Sting go up against Bully Ray for the World Championship in a No Holds Barred match where, if Sting lost, he could never challenge for the World Championship again. Needless to say, Sting lost.
The match itself was brutally physical. Bully pulled out ALL the stops to retain his belt, including him cutting the canvas away from the ring and delivering a couple of piledrivers. The best-built PPV of the year from TNA. By far.
And…the award for the FATP PPV of the Year goes to…
One of the biggest negatives for me was the involvement of the huge-hootered HHH. After Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship, HHH lurked around like a one-night stand waiting for you to make her breakfast. The Game-Ah screwed Bryan after the match and delivered a Pedigree, allowing Randy Orton to cash in his MiTB briefcase on the fallen hero.
The Punk/Lesnar match was a perfect example of how to book a Brock Lesnar match. Make it a fight. Not a wrestling match. Lesnar’s not a wrestler. He’s an ass-kicker. He’s there to beat people up. And Punk worked so well with him. He made it believable. As did Lesnar to be fair. Just a great match on a good PPV, but like I said – WWE can do better.
FATP Female Wrestler of the Year
Last year’s winner: Brooke Tessmacher (TNA)
Nominees: Mickie James (TNA), Velvet Sky (TNA), AJ Lee (WWE), Kaitlyn (WWE), Gail Kim (TNA), Brie Bella (WWE)
3rd Place – Gail Kim (TNA): After all the crap she had to go through in her second run with WWE, it’s great to see Gail back at the top of her game in TNA. It’s a place where they respect her for what she truly is – one of the best female professional wrestlers on the planet.
She’s helped so many other Knockouts raise their game over the last few years – Madison Rayne, Velvet Sky, Brooke Tessmacher and this year, Taryn Terrell. Her experience is invaluable to TNA, especially with their dwindling Knockouts division, and she’s the one Knockout who makes the entire division credible.
2nd Place – Mickie James (TNA): This year, we got a heel Mickie James! Praise Jeebus, Allah, Buddha and any other mythical…whoops, I mean spiritual overlord. While Mickie’s great as a babyface, I prefer her work as a heel.
She did that throughout the course of 2013, turning on Velvet Sky to become the Knockouts Champion and it breathed new life into her career. Mickie playing the super-confident, cocky, smart-ass, know-it-all champion was fantastic to see and I loved every minute. But mainstream women’s wrestling has been all about one woman this year…
And…the award for the FATP Female Wrestler of the Year 2013 goes to…
She’s been Divas Champion since Payback and to be honest, nobody’s really come close to properly threatening her title reign. The other Divas are OK, but AJ’s got one thing they don’t have – a loyalty card for an STI clinic! I’m just joking…
Anyway, AJ’s got a character that’s fully developed, which gives her an advantage over every other Diva. Hopefully in the next 12 months, the diminutive Ms Lee gets some real competition because to be honest, I think she’d thrive on it.
Right folks. We’re heading towards the business end of proceedings, so here’s a quick recap of the winners so far:
- FATP Newcomer of the Year 2013: The Shield (WWE)
- FATP Break-Out Star of the Year 2013: Bully Ray (TNA)
- FATP WTF Moment of the Year 2013: Chris Sabin wins the World Championship (TNA)
- FATP Tag-Team of the Year 2013: Bad Influence – Christopher Daniels & Kazarian – (TNA)
- FATP Most Improved Wrestler of the Year 2013: Cody Rhodes (WWE)
- FATP “Tell Me I Didn’t Just See That” Moment of the Year 2013: Mark Henry’s retirement speech (WWE)
- FATP PPV of the Year 2013: SummerSlam (WWE)
- FATP Female Wrestler of the Year 2013: AJ Lee (WWE)
We’ve run through 8 categories so far and the observant ones amongst you will have noticed that it’s 5-3 in favour of WWE. There’s not an awful lot that’s separated WWE and TNA this year. Both companies have had mixed years, so it makes sense that it’s almost a 50-50 split in these awards so far! :-)
OK, back to business with the next part of these awards.
FATP Hall of Fame Inductee 2013
Last year’s inductee: Edge
The criteria here is fairly simple. Each year that I write this column, I will induct a former ECW, WCW, TNA, WWF/E wrestler into my Hall of Fame. They have to be a wrestler that I’ve seen enough of to make a balanced opinion on the impact that wrestler made on me as a fan. And more importantly, they CANNOT be an active wrestler.
With all of that being said, this year, I couldn’t think of a better inductee for 2013 than the late, great Eddie Guerrero.
Eddie was something special and earlier this year, I contributed these thoughts to a tribute column on the life and career of the great man, which you can read here. I genuinely can’t think of a better way to put how I feel about Eddie, so forgive me for using the same words twice, but they pretty much cover everything I have to say about Latino Heeeeeeat!
“2005 was a different time for yours truly. I wasn’t as angry as I generally am now. I wasn’t carrying as much insulation as I am now, and although I considered myself an intelligent wrestling fan, I didn’t have an internet connection. Yes, that’s right. In 2005, I had NO internet connection. Plays right in to the stereotype of Scotsmen being ‘careful’ with their money right?
With no internet and the advent of social media a couple of years away, I had no idea that Eddie Guerrero had passed away until I tuned in to that week’s edition of Raw.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I saw Eddie’s lowrider and the tribute graphic and I thought “Oh no… Tell me it’s not true”. It was, and I can’t describe to you how devastated I was. I was properly buckled. I looked at the WWE stars I’d admired for years standing in front of the Titantron with tears running down their face, and those same tears started to stream down mine. I’ve actually got a lump in my throat now just thinking about it again.
I knew of Eddie Guerrero before he appeared as part of the Radicals in 2000, but I wouldn’t say I was a Guerrero fan because I hadn’t seen enough of his work.
Guerrero had, for want of a better phrase, the X factor. The thing that every true superstar in whatever their chosen genre of entertainment has. He had that spark. That charisma. The ability to make people care about him. And that’s what most of today’s wrestlers lack. I mean come on… Who truly cares about Curtis Axel, Kofi Kingston or The Miz? I’m guessing not a lot of people. But everybody cared about Eddie Guerrero.
Look at his body of work throughout his all too short career. From his legendary matches in Japan and Mexico, to his work in ECW, WCW and WWE, you’ll rarely see Eddie have a bad match. That’s a credit to the man’s talent, and his passion to work at his craft to make sure he was the best that he could possibly be.
The strength of character he showed to not only overcome his demons, but to inspire others to do the same is an incredible testament to him not just as a wrestler, but as a man. Eddie Guerrero should be lauded for the tremendous wrestler that he was, and for the man that he became later in his life.
I’m not someone who gets emotional very easily. It takes something massive for me to break down and cry, but I’m not ashamed to say that Eddie Guerrero’s death was one of those moments in my life when it happened.
I LOVED watching him perform with the likes of Rey Mysterio, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Edge and more. Guerrero made wrestling look easy. He was such a natural, charismatic performer. When you see him wrestling, there’s no wasted motion. It looks so crisp and fluid. It didn’t look like Eddie’s matches had been strategically put together when, in all likelihood, they were. That’s a credit to Eddie’s unbelievable talent, and it’s a tragedy that he’s no longer here. It just means that we appreciate the performances he did give us just that little bit more.
I bet that a lot of you won’t know who Eddie had his last televised match with off the top of your head. It was Mr Kennedy. And how did the match end? With ‘vintage’ Guerrero – a ref bump, Eddie picking up a chair, smashing it off the canvas and throwing it to his opponent before hitting the deck.
Just thinking about Eddie Guerrero makes me smile. He was a terrific performer, an amazing wrestler and someone who deserves a hell of a lot more credit than he gets for the career he had.
The pinnacle of his career of course, was winning the WWE Championship from Brock Lesnar. Listen to the crowd pop for the last 5 minutes or so of that match. That’s a genuine, emotional investment from thousands of fans who wanted to see Eddie get that moment. It’s an organic outpouring of emotion from the crowd towards a man who they loved.
Eddie deserved to be called champion because he embodied everything a champion should be – he was courageous, talented and the best at his craft. You’d be hard pushed to find someone to disagree with that statement. It’s tragic to think that just over 18 months after winning the WWE Championship, Eddie passed away.
I hate the fact that Eddie’s no longer here, purely for selfish reasons. I miss seeing him on TV every week and there are so many matches I wanted to see him have. I think he was just hitting his peak as a performer when he was tragically taken from us. He had so much more to give the wrestling business and it’s a sadder place without him.
In terms of the wrestling industry, Eddie’s legacy lives on with his wife Vickie and his daughter Shaul in particular, both of whom are under contract with WWE.
Vickie is probably still the most over heel in the WWE (and she’s arguably been the best heel in wrestling for several years now) and Shaul is full of potential. From the footage I’ve seen, she looks to have inherited some of her father’s talent and hopefully, she goes on to become one of WWE’s top Divas.
My favourite Eddie Guerrero moment wasn’t when he won the WWE Championship from Brock Lesnar. It wasn’t when he celebrated with Canadian Wrestler X (you know, that guy) after the triple-threat World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania 20.
It was when Eddie went up against Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship at the same PPV and not only walked in as champion, but walked out as champion, retaining his belt in a 20-minute classic that remains one of WrestleMania’s most under-rated matches to this day.
I started this section off by mentioning the episode of Raw that was dedicated to his memory. It might be 8 years down the line, but I still can’t watch it without shedding a few tears. They’re not crocodile tears, but genuine emotion for someone who shouldn’t be gone. He should still be here, and it’s criminal that he’s not.
Eddie Guerrero, I love you and I miss you. RIP.”
I’ve got properly emotional just reading that again. What a wrestler and what a legendary performer. I’m sorry if I’ve made you all cry thinking about Eddie, his phenomenal career and his legacy, but he’s someone who shouldn’t be gone. He should still be here and it’s a fucking tragedy that he’s not.
Now that the lump in my throat’s gone and I’ve dried my eyes, it’s time to get back to business and continue with the 2013 FATP awards.
The next category is chock-full of talent and it’s to crown what I thought the 2013 Match of the Year was.
FATP Match of the Year 2013
Last year’s winner: HHH vs Undertaker with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee) at WM28
Nominees: CM Punk vs The Undertaker at WM29 (WWE), CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam (WWE), Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs The Shield at BattleGround (WWE), Austin Aries vs AJ Styles at No Surrender (TNA), Gail Kim vs Taryn Terrell at Slammiversary (TNA), Bobby Roode vs Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory (TNA)
3rd Place – Gail Kim vs Taryn Terrell at Slammiversary (TNA): I kinda spoke about this earlier. They probably exceeded everyone’s expectations except their own.
It was a story that had been built over months with Gail attacking Taryn who, until that point, had been the Knockouts Referee. She was fired as a ref, but brought back as a Knockout and they slowly built the feud up to this crescendo, and it was just amazing.
They did things that we’d not seen in a Knockouts/Divas match for years and it showed us just what the girls can do if they’re given the proper time and care. Gail and Taryn were amazing. Just terrific.
2nd Place – Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs The Shield at BattleGround (WWE): You’ll begin to see a recurring theme throughout this particular category.
I can’t remember the last time I was THIS invested in a tag-team feud in the WWE. And why’s that? Because WWE actually gave us a reason to care about the Rhodes’ boys fight against The Authority, who used The Shield as their um…shield.
Cody was “fired” unfairly after losing an excellent TV match against WWE Champion Randy Orton, then Goldust made what was, at that time, one-off appearance to try and win Cody’s job back. Again, he came up just short and lost another great TV match against Orton.
To cap it all off, the patriarch of the Rhodes family, the ‘Merican Dream Dusty Rhodes got involved and this match was booked with the stipulation that if the Rhodes boys won, Cody got his job back, Goldust would get hired and Dusty wouldn’t get fired.
The crowd were so into this match. The Shield were great in their roles as the cocky enforcers for The Authority and kept Goldust isolated until Cody got the hot tag and the Rhodes boys won to cap off an outstanding 6 weeks of wrestling. Fantastic, fantastic stuff and if this next match hadn’t have happened, this would be my match of the year. Without any question. Terrific stuff.
And…the award for the FATP Match of the Year goes to…
1st Place – CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam (WWE): What a fucking match. I alluded to it earlier, but this is how you book a Brock Lesnar match. Not as a catch-as-catch-can style match, but as a fight.
This was tremendous stuff. They both looked tough, neither of them lost any steam as a result of the outcome and it just clicked amazingly well. Punk looked great, Lesnar sold really well and it was Lesnar’s best performance since returning last year, because he was put in a situation that plays to his strengths – it looked like a fight.
You also can’t underestimate the involvement of the mad genius that is Paul Heyman either. He’s a tremendous performer and adding him into the Punk/Lesnar mix was brilliant.
Everything about this made it the stand-out match of the year. From either company.
FATP Wrestler of the Year 2013
***(This award is based purely on the wrestler’s in-ring performance alone, not their promo work or crowd reactions. It’s about who I thought had the highest quality matches on a consistent basis throughout 2013)***
Last year’s winner: CM Punk (WWE)
Nominees: Alberto del Rio (WWE), CM Punk (WWE), Daniel Bryan (WWE), Austin Aries (TNA), AJ Styles (TNA), Bobby Roode (TNA)
3rd Place – CM Punk (WWE): Punk won last year because he had a series of stunning matches with a huge variety of different opponents. This year, he’s been good, but not as good as he was in 2012.
He had great matches with The Rock, Undertaker, Jericho and Lesnar, but when you’re saddled with the shite-states that are Curtis Axel and Ryback for a quarter of the year, it’s gonna be tough going to be the best wrestler of the year.
He was still better than 95% of the roster, but there were 2 other guys better than him in 2013. Sorry Punk!
2nd Place – AJ Styles (TNA): Ain’t no grave… gonna – Get ready to fly! Seriously, what is that mash-up of AJ’s music all about?! Mixing a poor man’s Johnny Cash song, probably recorded by a guy called John Money knowing TNA, with his original theme song? Answers on a postcard please!
Despite TNA fuck-booking AJ’s character into oblivion as a moody, depressed, borderline self-harming emo biker, that didn’t really affect him. AJ’s performances from bell to bell this year have been phenomenal, whether he’s been wrestling guys like Bully Ray or his old foes Kurt Angle, Christopher Daniels and Kazarian.
We also got to see AJ go up against a couple of guys he’s not worked with a lot – Austin Aries and Magnus. Those are two feuds I’d love to see in 2014, depending on how AJ’s current storyline and contract negotiations go.
And…the award for the FATP Wrestler of the Year goes to…
Hell, for the Match of the Year category I’ve just done, I could’ve nominated Daniel Bryan 40 times and still left out some of his great matches. Whether it was in 6-man tags against The Shield, or in singles matches with Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Ryback, John Cena and so many more, Bryan’s just been on fire for the last 18-24 months.
He’s able to adapt his style to work with different shapes and sizes of opponents, and the quality of his matches never drops. Bryan might not be the corporate Champion. He may not be the WWE Champion. But I’ll tell you one thing. He’s the people’s champion!
And now we come to the final award, the headline award, the main-event. I might have just committed some form of gimmick infringement there, I’m not sure! Haha…
This next award is the Superstar of the Year award. It’s different to Wrestler of the Year because it covers all bases of wrestling: match quality, promos and crowd reaction. It’s the all-round, complete award for the man who has stood out more than ANY other in 2013, whether he wrestled in TNA or WWE. Without any further ado, let’s find out who’s won the FATP Superstar of the Year award for 2013.
FATP Superstar of the Year 2013
Last year’s winner: Daniel Bryan
Nominees: CM Punk (WWE), Daniel Bryan (WWE), John Cena (WWE), Austin Aries (TNA), Bully Ray (TNA), Bobby Roode (TNA)
3rd Place – Bobby Roode (TNA): I’ve got a confession to make my friends. And it’s a confession that my friends Mark and Emma will probably never let me forget – I’ve become a huge fan of Bobby Roode.
When he was TNA World Heavyweight Champion last year, I genuinely couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. People were saying he was the best thing in TNA and that he was this incredible wrestler, but I just didn’t see it. I didn’t think he was crap, but I didn’t think he was as good as everyone else said he was.
Fast-forward almost 18 months and I’m happy to say that I made a mistake. Bobby Roode is a tremendous wrestler.
He’s had a quiet varied 2013, which started with his tag-team alongside Austin Aries, before Roode began to focus on his singles career and the Bound for Glory series, culminating in the formation of E.G.O and his feud with Kurt Angle.
Bobby’s technically sound, very charismatic and he’s a great promo guy. He might not have held a singles championship in 2013, but next year should see Roode back at the top of the pile in TNA.
2nd Place – CM Punk (WWE): Once again, Mr Punk finds himself safely nestled in the top 3 superstars of the year and while it’s by no means been a vintage year for CM Punk, he’s still been better than almost every other superstar in either WWE or TNA.
The crowd loves him. It’s clear to see that. Even back at the start of the year when he was a heel going up against the Rock, there was an element of the fans who didn’t want to boo him. Punk has a hardcore element of fans who will cheer for him no matter what role he’s playing – which is something that very few wrestlers can say these days.
We may not have heard any pipebombs from Punk this year, but we did get an epic promo from him right at the start of the year. After going through a 20+ minute TLC match with Ryback on Raw, Punk proceeded to cut a 10-minute promo on The Rock, calling him out for his BS routine. The promo was even better considering that he’d just been through a physically brutal match with Ryback.
He’s had tremendous matches in various ways, shapes or forms with the likes of The Rock, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Brock Lesnar, John Cena and The Shield among others, and it’s safe to say that, as long as he’s around, there’s a very good chance of Punk at least making the top 3 every year.
And…the award for the FATP Wrestler of the Year goes to…
He’s been excellent this year, no matter who he’s been in the ring against. I mentioned earlier that Bryan could have had the Match of the Year category sewn up all by himself, and I’d still probably have missed something out.
There’s not an arena in the country that doesn’t get behind Daniel Bryan. And you know what the BRILLIANT thing about it is? They’re not just chanting “YES!”, they’re chanting his name. So for all the detractors out there who say he’s only over because of the “YES!” chants, you’re out of your goddamn mind.
Bryan’s someone who, because of his size, probably shouldn’t be in the WWE, let alone at the top of the card. But guess what? The people love him. And it’s not just the “smarks”. It must KILL Vince McMahon inside when he hears the people chanting for Daniel Bryan.
Make no mistake about it, no matter what WWE are calling their champion these days, it should be Daniel Bryan. They completely fucked his push to try to bury him, but wait…This just in…It HASN’T worked. The people love him more than ever now and even if the fans don’t get the pay-off they deserve – Bryan becoming the WWE World Heavyweight Champion – it won’t stop them supporting him.
You can’t force people to like someone. The relationship that Bryan has with the fans is organic and natural. It’s not been fabricated. And it’s about time the WWE stopped kidding themselves and realised that the fans WANT Daniel Bryan as the champion.
I’ll be genuinely astounded if he’s not given at least a 2-3 month run with the title in 2014, and if that happens, it’ll just prove to me what a senile, clueless, demented old bastard Vince McMahon truly is. 2013 has been all about Daniel Bryan and if there’s any justice, 2014 will be as well.
DANIEL BRYAN!!! CLAP CLAP…CLAP CLAP CLAP…DANIEL BRYAN!!! CLAP CLAP…CLAP CLAP CLAP…
Well my friends, that’ll wrap things up for the 2nd-ever FATP Awards. I’ll just run through the winners again because to be honest, I’ve forgotten who’s won what and I’m the one who’s written the fucking thing! Haha… Here we go:
- FATP Newcomer of the Year: The Shield (WWE)
- FATP Break-Out Star of the Year: Bully Ray (TNA)
- FATP “You F***ed Up” Moment of the Year: Chris Sabin winning the World Championship (TNA)
- FATP Tag-Team of the Year: Bad Influence (TNA)
- FATP Most Improved Wrestler of the Year: Cody Rhodes (WWE)
- FATP “This Is Awesome” Moment of the Year: Mark Henry’s Retirement Speech (WWE)
- FATP PPV of the Year: SummerSlam (WWE)
- FATP Female Wrestler of the Year: AJ Lee (WWE)
- FATP Hall of Fame Inductee 2013: Eddie Guerrero
- FATP Match of the Year: CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam (WWE)
- FATP Wrestler of the Year: Daniel Bryan (WWE)
- FATP Superstar of the Year: Daniel Bryan (WWE)
The further down the list I got, from Newcomer to somewhere like Match of the Year, it got really difficult to decide which was best because to be honest, the standard of some of the individual performances and the PPV matches were just outstanding.
I think that the top guys in WWE just did a little bit better, but not by much. It’s amazing how close the standard has been between some of the work in TNA and WWE this year, and not always in a good way! 2013 was a really poor year overall for both companies.
Apart from a few stand-out wrestlers, performances and matches here and there, most of what we saw was shocking, especially when it came to WWE PPV’s. When the fans are expected to hand over their hard-earned cash (especially in the current economic climate), they deserve more than they’ve been getting. PPVs are NOT the place to do screwy finishes to matches. And I’m sure that people would like to know what they’re paying for before they buy an event. Let’s hope things improve in 2014.
Honourable Mention: Paul Heyman
Along with Bryan, Punk and The Shield, at times, Heyman has been the only thing that kept me watching the WWE for as long as I did. Whether it was his alliances with CM Punk and Brock Lesnar, his presence at ringside, or his epic promo work during his feud with CM Punk, Heyman was just fantastic.
He’s exceptionally good at getting people to hate him and he knows how to draw heat better than almost anyone else in the company. Heyman’s a smart guy and the wrestling world was a better place in 2013, just by Heyman being in it. WWE should offer him whatever he wants to have his creative input on the shows, and just leave him to it.
I’m entirely sure that if they just left Heyman to his own creative devices, he’d be able to put together a compelling product for us to watch, instead of what we’re being served up now.
Please Paul. Stick around in 2014 as well will you? WE NEED YOU!!!
I know it’s Christmas, but what do you guys think? Did I get things spot on, or did you disagree with the choices I made? Either way, you know the drill by now. Whack a comment in the space below or find me on Twitter @George_SLTD. It’d be interesting if you guys use my categories and tell me who you’d have gone with as the winners. That’d be pretty sweet!
I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this and it’s not a kick in the arse off of 10,000 words, so for those of you who stuck with it right til the end, thanks! I think we might have lost some people on the way! Haha… It’s been a blast doing this, so depending on how well it goes down, I might bring it back next year and let you (the readers) decide a few of the categories, either by Twitter or polls. Just don’t send me any fucking Tout videos OK? ;)
I’d also like to give a huge thanks to my buddy @AdamOB_SLTD for creating the custom images you’ve seen throughout this column. He went out of his way to do it for me when he should’ve been studying, so I really appreciate it!
Thanks a lot for spending some of your Christmas holidays reading this. Have a fucking amazing Christmas and I’ll be back in 2014 to make you laugh, cry and tear your hair out!