Welcome to the first annual Chinlock.com Year End Awards. Here we examine some of the most important, game-changing moments and members of the WWE Universe, and give them Chinlock Awards. They’re like Slammy’s, but crappier.
Most improved wrestler of the year:
I’ll admit, I was hard on Rusev throughout the year, especially early on. But once I learned how little time he’d actually been actively wrestling (only about 2 years), I started to better understand his position in the company. Forget Roman Reigns, Rusev is the future big-star of the company. Just look at how much he’s improved over the last year. While his gimmick may need a little more work going forward (you can only keep up the silent-tough-guy angle for so long before it gets old), there’s no denying that Rusev has improved by leaps and bounds since his debut at last year’s Rumble.
Justin: SETH ROLLINS
I’ll be the first to admit, when Seth Rollins sold out on The Shield, I wasn’t exactly buying in to him being the biggest star coming out of that group. My pick, with the most to offer, (and I think this can be unanimously agreed upon) was Dean Ambrose. With that said, Seth Rollins has not only had a career year, he’s grown incredible leaps and bounds as a professional wrestler year over year for the past three years. He went from an “okay” promo guy to an anchor of the first segment of Monday Night RAW in less than a year. And every single time he’s in the ring, you know you’re in for a treat. His triple threat Royal Rumble main event match is of my favourite matches of the year, and his contributions to that match, amongst super-heavyweights (literally, and politically figuratively speaking) is astounding. My hats off to Seth Rollins.
Jan: DAMIEN MIZDOW
Damien Sandow is the new example of someone you could hand a broomstick to and he could work an entertaining match, and the leadup to it. The company continually throws crap at him and he turns it into pure gold. Not only that, he makes those around him better and more interesting. The Miz is just the latest superstar to enjoy the rub from one of the most talented all-around performers on the WWE roster. Sandow, or as he is currently Mizdow, is one of the MVPs of WWE. He just keeps raising the bar.
Tyler: THE DIVAS DIVISION
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I’m a big fan of women’s wrestling, but I hate Divas wrestling. Women’s wrestling hasn’t been given this little time since the late 80’s. The worst part is, not only are the perennial Divas not all that great (I’m looking at you, Bellas), the new talent is so underused and underdeveloped that they can’t even make an impact, despite having already established themselves in NXT. Paige, Natalya and Emma all had great runs down at Full Sail, and they’ve only gotten worst since coming up to the main roster. With the #givedivasachance hashtag possibly gaining some momentum, we might see some progress going forward. But right now, today, the WWE’s women’s division is the most undervalued talent on the roster.
Justin: DOLPH ZIGGLER
Boy has WWE missed the ball with Dolph Ziggler. Toiling away in the mid-card, we all know Dolph Ziggler could be so much more to the company. Turning in excellent matches, regardless of who he’s in the ring with, he’s every bit as entertaining as any of the “main eventers”, but rarely gets to “play with the big boys”, so to speak. More frustrating yet is when Dolph Ziggler does get a taste of something a little bit more than a dead-end feud, wand the carpet inevitably gets yanked out from underneath him, you’re left wondering if anybody in the WWE will ever truly understand what tool they have in their shed. Often it feels like they’re trying to smash a boulder with a ball-peen hammer when they have a jackhammer at their disposal.
Oh, and to Tyler’s point, SOMEONE in the office should realize that Divas wrestling could be so much more than it is. I mean, after all, they did give Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella a considerable push leading into SummerSlam 2014, which has a lot of emotional investment. If only someone important in the company, someone, somewhere, with a little bit of stroke, saw what that match was able to draw, and then subsequently was able to #GiveDivasAChance.
Sorry Tyler, not trying to hijack your pick.
While I believe Justin is spot on with his Ziggler pick, I also believe Cesaro doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Some of the feats of strength and athleticism we’ve seen from him in high-pressure and spotlight situations have not gone unnoticed by fans, but have by WWE brass, it would seem. Vince McMahon himself even made a point of singling out Cesaro as someone who he’s disappointed in during Stone Cold’s podcast interview. That said, Cesaro has all the tools to deliver, but the creative push has never backed him up. Pound for pound the strongest guy in the WWE, I think he should get the opportunity to run with the ball. I bet he doesn’t drop it.
Tyler: Dolph Ziggler
This one was a little tough to call. With the Authority and John Cena dominating the mic night in and night out, it’s really tough for any of the “good guys” to advertise themselves. Except for Ziggler, who spent all of 2014 proving himself by putting on all-star performances every single night. With the Intercontinental belt being pushed to the forefront, here’s hoping that the show-off gets into the main event picture.
Justin: DANIEL BRYAN
I swear to you, I’m not just picking wrestlers than Tyler isn’t. He makes a good argument for Dolph Ziggler. But there is nobody that the WWE Universe is more in-tune with than Daniel Bryan. Case-in-point: When Daniel Bryan was eliminated from this year’s Royal Rumble, the WWE Universe boo’d EVERYBODY thereafter. Roman Reigns isn’t such a bad guy…until you put him in the same room (hell, the same town) as Daniel Bryan. I understand he spent half the year on the shelf, but his WrestleMania moment at last year’s WrestleMania elicited more raw emotion than any other moment in recent memory. His involvement with Connor the Crusher has me pushing for him to win Humanitarian of the Year, for God’s sake. I’m a firm subscriber to YES-leMania, the YES! movement, and yes-sirree Daniel Bryan is who I believe to be the babyface of the year.
Jan: DANIEL BRYAN
Anyone who can’t see that Daniel Bryan is in his own stratosphere with fans is just plain blind. Or not all there upstairs. This man is easily the most beloved man in the company. I won’t lie, sometimes I wonder if it is a result of people just climbing aboard the “what’s popular” train, but then I watch Bryan work, I watch his interview and I see how fun he makes wrestling and I’m reminded of how he got to be where he is today. Give Bryan some more time to work his way back from serious injury and wat
Tyler: SETH ROLLINS
This one, on the other hand, had a clear favourite. No one has gone more out of their way to build themselves this year than Seth Rollins. If you would have told me last year that Rollins would be the stand-out guy when the Shield broke up, I would have laughed my ass off. But my goodness would I have been wrong. Rollins fully embraced his role in the Shield breakup and used it as an opportunity to sell himself as the company’s biggest heel, all while putting on great performances. Who would have thought that Seth would steal the show from both Cena and Lesnar at the Rumble? 2014 was definitely Rollins’ year, and here’s hoping that he keeps up the momentum post-Mania.
Justin: SETH ROLLINS
You know, I almost typed Brock Lesnar, but when I really consider what Seth Rollins brought to the table from WrestleMania to WrestleMania this year, it’s hard not to pick him. He’s a sleazeball, and that’s money. And, I also realize now that Tyler basically repeats what I say about Seth Rollins in the “Most Improved” category. Tyler submitted his picks first, and I’m adding my thoughts to his original column. So this much we can agree on; Seth Rollins is the very best at being bad this year. Besides turning his back on his best friends, and selling out to the Authority, oozing an incredible amount of ego, and backing up his cockiness, he threatened to put Edge in wheelchair for the rest of his life. He’s a frigging Canadian icon. Unforgivable. Seth Rollins, it has been my pleasure hating you this year.
Jan: BROCK LESNAR
Find me a more legit bad guy in wrestling history than Brock Lesnar. I dare you. Can’t find one? No, you can’t. You know why? Such a person doesn’t exist. Brock Lesnar is the very best there is in the WWE today, bolstered by his manager/friend Paul Heyman. Yes, Heyman’s mic work makes Brock more credible in your mind. But then Brock steps in the ring, destroys an opponent and you remember what a legitimate bad ass he is. I will give WWE full marks for how they’ve handled the Lesnar situation over the last year. Last year, they handed him the keys to company and said ‘Here, let’s see what you can do with this.’ Lesnar more than answered the call. He did they unthinkable by ending The Undertaker’s WrestleMania unbeaten streak. He then made quick work of then face of the company John Cena. He embarrassed all challengers. Now he’s one win away at WrestleMania from putting the finishing touches on one of the single best runs in company history. Remember his last loss? Me either. Brock Lesnar is the best there is in the company today and hopefully for another few years to come. The WWE is better with Brock Lesnar. Easily the heel of the year.
Top tag team:
Tyler: THE MIZ AND DAMIEN MIZDOW
Tag-team wrestling died a little this year, what with the Shield and the Wyatts breaking up in fairly quick succession. So it really fell to only a few performers to keep the style alive. Nobody, and I do mean nobody, did this better than Miz and Mizdow because, more than any other team, Miz and Midow figured out how to let the crowd involved and interested. The “boo/yeah” chants for the mismatched team were perfect, and matches quickly embraced Mizdow’s comically-perfect antics to the point where this would-be throwaway gimmick quickly stole the show from the more conventional teams on the roster. While their breakup is inevitable, there’s no denying that Miz and Mizdow were THE tag-team this year.
Justin: THE ASCENSION ….. hahaha just kidding. I don’t have a tag team of the year.
It’s hard to pick a Tag Team of the year. We had the Usos….and…..uhhh….well, we had the Usos. I see the argument for Miz and Mizdow, but that was less about tag team wrestling, and more about the dynamic between Miz and Mizdow leading to their eventual breakup than it was about actual tag team wrestling. And then we had the Ascension. So, we had the Usos. Difficult for me to give them the award by default, but I guess if we had to be sticklers, fine. I’ll take the Usos. BUT I’M DOING IT UNDER PROTEST.
Jan: NEW AGE OUTLAWS … just kidding.
I’m with Justin, I don’t see any team that jumps out at me, at least not on the main roster. The closest there is would be the Usos. So I’ll take them, too. How depressing that we have to have a winner by default. I hope next year at this time, things are different.
Match of the year:
Tyler: DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. CESARO (Hell in a Cell, October 2014)
The little match that could! What’s really impressive about this match is just it had almost no buildup. Cesaro called out Ziggler two nights before the pay-per-view, and with the exception of an absolutely amazing YouTube-promo that did more for both guys than months of WWE programming, there was really little effort put into making this match into something. That was until Ziggler and Cesaro hit the mat. Through a combination of showmanship, athleticism and an undeniable desire to prove themselves to the higher-ups, these two put on the best one-on-one match of the year and completely stole the show before it could even start. A lot of people throw around comparisons to “Savage vs. Steamboat,”but this match may just be the spiritual successor to that classic showdown.
Justin: EVOLUTION vs. THE SHIELD (Extreme Rules, April 2014)
Since Tyler and I had an unspoken rule that we wouldn’t include NXT in this year’s awards (as it would end up being entirely NXT heavy), and I couldn’t choose Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville from NXT: R-Evolution, I’m taking the only other match this year that made me literally jump out of my seat. The only disappointment in this match was that I felt that Batista was just hitting his stride in his late 2013-early 2014 quasi-return, and this would be the last major event he would be involved in. The second chapter to this storyline was fast-tracked (Rollins “buying in” to his “evolution” against The Sheild). However, as a single event, this match was ridiculously off-the-charts good. And further, it was a 6-man tag match, known to be difficult to pull off. The Shield had done it with The Wyatt Family in February 2014 (narrowly missing our loosely defined “Year End Awards” definition), but then outdid themselves again against Evolution. If you haven’t seen it, subscribe to The WWE Network now specifically to see it. And the Daniel Bryan WrestleMania moment. And NXT: R-Evolution. Sorry, sorry, I’ll stop talking about NXT, which is available exclusively on the WWE Network for only $9.99. Okay, on to the N(e)XT award….
Jan: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam, August 2014).
This match signified a long-overdue changing of the guard. John Cena, for more than a decade the face of WWE, the poster boy, the fallback champion versus the so-called Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar, himself a veteran of the squared circle but with nowhere near the accolades of Cena. Many expected more of the same. Brock would dominate the smaller Cena, but somehow Cena would rise up, become invincible to Brock’s offence and pull out the win, taking the title for the umpteenth time in the process. Instead, what we got was something rarely seen in wrestling nowadays; a total beatdown, the utter annihilation of John Cena and a bell-to-bell victory be Lesnar, firmly cementing his current run as dominating WWE World Champion and signalling the beginning of the end for Cena’s long and storied run. This might not have been the best “wrestling” match of the year, but this was easily the most significant and telling match of the year. When we look back in history, when we point to the end of Cena’s Hall of Fame and absolutely dominant run, it will be this very match we look to as that moment. To me, nothing challenges this match.
Tyler:DEAN AMBROSE vs. SETH ROLLINS
It’s actually surprising how crazy good this feud turned out to be. Don’t get me wrong, the pieces were all set in place really well. The Shield breakup lent itself well to a post-team feud, but Ambrose and Rollins took it to a whole new level. While Triple H may want to take credit for “making” Seth Rollins in 2014-2015, the truth is that it was a three-month series of outstanding matches and great promo work from both guys that established them as fan favorites. This was also the first time (at least in my limited wrestling memory) that a Hell in a Cell match resembled the logical conclusion of a feud in recent years, as we evolved from one-on-one to lumberjack to a full on no holds barred cell match. Also of note is that, in a PPV that featured Cena and Orton in a cell as the co-main event, this one got the top billing. While the finish was less than ideal and kind of anti-climactic, Rollins and Ambrose definitely gave the fans some of the best storytelling of 2014-2015.
Jan: BROCK LESNAR VS. JOHN CENA.
For all of the reasons I mentioned in the previous post, and more, I believe this was the feud of the year. First consider how dominant Cena’s run as the face of WWE was:
- World Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- World Tag Team Championship (2 times)
- WWE (World Heavyweight) Championship (12 times)
- WWE Tag Team Championship (2 times)
- WWE United States Championship (3 times)
- Money in the Bank (2012 – WWE Championship contract)
- Royal Rumble (2008, 2013)
- Slammy Awards (nine times)
Now consider that WWE effectively ended that run, handing the title to a guy who was working on the last year of a contract that featured limited appearances and how was coming off of ending the most storied record in wrestling history, perhaps the last untouchable record. That’s pretty significant. Even if Lesnar drops the title somehow at WrestleMania next week and leaves the company, the pieces are already in place for others to become the next wave of faces in the WWE (Rollins, Reigns, Rusev, Bryan all come to mind). It’s hard to ignore this significant development in WWE history. This, to me, was the top feud for its significance, if nothing else.
Tyler:SURVIVOR SERIES (November, 2014)
When the WWE announced that Survivor Series was going to be offered for free to the non-subscribing public on the Network, they clearly realized that they needed to deliver if they wanted to convert those free views into subscribers. And you know what? They totally did. November was a great month of programming. While the Survivor Series buildup is a pretty basic set up (individual feuds join together to form a team feud), the idea of raising the stakes by putting either the faces’ jobs or the Authority’s position in power on the line really helped to make the match seem important. Factor in a surprise appearance by the man called Sting, and you’ve got a great main event. But the rest of the card was strong as well, with a great 8-man tag that really built off of Mizdow’s popularity and an actually pretty good Divas Survivor Series match. Put all of those pieces together, and you’ve got a great month of programming that resulted in the best PPV of the year.
Justin: WRESTLEMANIA XXX (April, 2014)
It’s really hard not to choose Survivor Series 2014 as the Pay Per View of the year. REALLY hard. But, when I think about the Pay Per View that I was most excited for, versus the Pay Per View that created the most “moments” for me, it boils down to WrestleMania XXX. The Streak ended. Daniel Bryan was finally awarded the brass ring. Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and eventually the Rock nearly blew the roof off the
SilverSuperdome, Bray Wyatt and John Cena had an excellent match, and so did Triple H and Daniel Bryan. It has to be WrestleMania XXX. WWE’s stacks the deck in favour of WrestleMania every year, and as heavily as they weighted Survivor Series with the Cena/Authority storyline and Sting debut, WrestleMania still felt bigger, as it should.
Jan: SUMMERSLAM (August, 2014)
For the reasons I’ve been harping on, plus the fact that Stephanie McMahon returned to action for the first time in more than a decade, to face Brie Bella. That’s significant in and of itself. We also saw Randy Orton and Roman Reigns in what was until this weekend the biggest singles match of Reigns’ career. But I digress. Those 16, count ’em, 16 German suplexes. Enough said.
Talker of the Year:
This one was a close race. Let’s be clear: Paul Heyman is an outstanding talker. He can sell anyone on the roster and make the people believe (except for Cesaro, Axel, and Ryback apparently). But I always know where a Hayman promo is going. It’s always “my guy is the best” or “the reigning, defending, conquering champion” type of thing. I get it, and it works. But whenever Bray Wyatt gets the mic, it’s always a new show. If this whole wrestling gimmick doesn’t work out for him, he could sell out Broadway. Everything he does is magic, and his current crop of promos calling out the Undertaker have just been pure genius, especially considering that Wyatt sold the match almost entirely on his own. Let me put it this way: I don’t usually watch Raw, but I’ll go on Youtube to load up Bray Wyatt’s new promo every week.
Justin: PAUL HEYMAN
The one behind the one in twenty one and one. Also the one who stands above one and everyone when it comes to having me invest in whatever it is that he’s selling me. Paul Heyman is the untouchable. It would be easy for Paul Heyman to rest on his legacy. After all, Paul Heyman is the mastermind behind Extreme Championship Wrestling, the beloved little engine that could that is still chanted for to this day. Trot Paul Heyman out a handful of times per year, and have him say “EEEEEEE-SSSSSEEEEE-DOUBLE YEEEEEEW!” and you’ll sell a metric sh**load of tickets. But no, Paul Heyman has become so much more than that. The evolution of Paul Heyman has been fascinating all on it’s own. And with that in mind, make no mistake about it, Paul Heyman rescued Brock Lesnar. When Brock Lesnar was left to his own devices, with a live mic in his hand, he sounded every bit like the hillbilly he (proudly) is. But with Paul Heyman by his side, he has become The Beast Incarnate, and is no longer the Next Big Thing. He’s IS the biggest attraction in professional wrestling, and was through-out 2014. His matches felt like an event, and that was thanks in large part to Paul Heyman’s weekly weaving of storytelling magic. Hands down, my pick, is Paul Heyman.
Jan: PAUL HEYMAN
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and again. Paul Heyman has no equal. He is absolutely polarizing and captivating with a microphone. In fact, I watch (listen to) Raw as I work most weeks. When Paul Heyman walks out, or grabs a mic, I stop what I’m doing and I’m lost in his words. He’s that damned good.
Surprise of the Year:
Tyler:BROCK LESNAR ENDS THE UNDERTAKER’S UNDEFEATED STREAK AT WRESTLEMANIA XXX
Not only is this the biggest surprise of the last year, it will likely be the biggest surprise of all time. The absolute shock that reverberated throughout the arena when the ref counted 3 could be felt through the T.V. set, and will likely never be forgotten. Going into Wrestlemania 30, we all thought the same thing: There is no way that the Undertaker’s Streak will end, especially to a part-timer like Brock. On paper, Brock was the logical choice: He’s the biggest, meanest guy around. But we’ve seen this show before. We’ve had 21 guys who could’ve ended the streak, and some of them even came close. But the Streak remained untouched, and like many I believed that the Streak would have endured until Taker’s retirement. But the WWE shocked the universe when Brock ended a Streak over two-decades in the making. People will argue for years over whether or not this was the best decision, but there is no denying that the ending of the Streak was the biggest surprise of the year, and possibly of all time.
Justin: BROCK LESNAR ENDS THE UNDERTAKER’S UNDEFEATED STREAK AT WRESTLEMANIA XXX
There are some things in life that are untouchable. Grandma’s plastic covered couch in the unused family room, for instance. Purchased before you were even born, no one has ever sat on it. Ever. When someone actually gathers up enough balls to sit on it, you know sh** is about to go down. The Undertaker’s streak was the untouchable couch. It was a World Wrestling Entertainment icon, and part of the very fabric by which WrestleMania had been built upon for the past two decades. Absolutely nobody would ever break the streak. You were sure of it. I was sure of it. Hell, I bet Vince McMahon was sure of it. That is, of course, until somebody did. Brock Lesnar is responsible for ending what will go down as the longest WrestleMania winning streak of all time, and one of the only sure things in life; The Undertaker always wins at WrestleMania. That was, of course, again, until he didn’t. It’s still mind-boggling to think that the streak has been ended. However, it is. It’s a shock that is still felt today, and will continue to be felt for a long, long time. I might have to bend the rules, and include this in next year’s awards too. It changed the landscape of every WtrestleMania that follows it, forever. The Undertaker is no longer undefeated at WrestleMania. You can send your thank-you cards and letters to Brock Lesnar. I’m sure he’ll appreciate them.
Jan: BROCK LESNAR ENDS THE UNDERTAKER’S UNDEFEATED STREAK AT WRESTLEMANIA XXX
Absolutely no one saw this coming. This was one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history, bound to long be remembered for the outcome, the silence that followed, the dude with the shocked look (pictured above), Paul Heyman’s reactions and the destructive path it sent Lesnar down following the win. One of the top-5 biggest moments in wrestling history, hands down.