3. Double-Cross Of The Year
I haven’t seen the Hell In A Cell match between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, so I can’t really comment on special guest referee Shawn Michaels superkicking the bearded one to cost him the vacant WWE Championship. However, I can tell you that after reading about it online I did not approve.
I also haven’t seen the Money In The Bank pay-per-view but Raw and the SummerSlam pay-per-view I saw on DVD recently showed highlights of Paul Heyman battering CM Punk with a ladder to prevent him from retrieving the suitcase in a pivotal moment during one of the MITB matches. Based on what they showed, it’s a worthy nominee. And it set up one of the strongest feuds of the year.
Speaking of SummerSlam, I did see special guest referee Triple H pedigree Daniel Bryan not that long after he beat John Cena for the WWE title. What a horrible ending to a very good main event. As a result, there’s no way I would pick that moment to win this category. It was a terrible decision that reverberates to this day.
But none of these choices could ever stand up to Mark Henry’s fake retirement on Raw back in the summer. Teased on Twitter days before the show aired and billed as a potential big deal during commercial breaks on the actual broadcast, The World’s Strongest Man, looking dapper in a pink sports coat, went up to the ring and gave what sounded like an incredibly sweet and forthright eulogy to his career. An absolutely moving speech sprinkled with nice touches of humour.
But John Cena was out there, too, which should’ve aroused all of our suspicions. (When he tried to leave, the big man wanted him to stay.) After telling his daughter he was finally coming home, Henry suddenly scooped up the WWE Champion and gave him the world’s strongest slam, jolting the announcers, the fans in the arena and the shocked audience watching at home.
In this post-kayfabe era, it’s next to impossible to surprise a modern wrestling audience. (Future plans are leaked all the time.) But Mark Henry managed to do so with the greatest of ease. He may not have won the title at Money In The Bank. But he earned everyone’s respect with one of the best swerves in the history of the business.
My Pick: Mark Henry turns on John Cena during his “retirement”.
4. Insult Of The Year
Stephanie McMahon has a reputation for having the hardest slap in the WWE. The Big Show learned this firsthand during an episode of Raw. In an angle that never really generated much heat with me, Show was at the mercy of the McMahon family because like Shawn Michaels a few years ago, he’s broke and doesn’t have any other options. (Yeah, that’s believable.)
Anyway, while it’s not clear which insult is being singled out here, McMahon deserves this nomination for her overall viciousness. Too bad the story it’s a part of is unoriginal, unpersuasive and still going on.
Zeb Colter, the mouthpiece for the Real Americans, is an old-school heel manager who consistently delivers funny, heat-filled xenophobic promos that are always crafted for specific audiences in specific cities. He’s a worthy nominee, as well.
And I can’t say enough about the microphone prowess of Paul Heyman who is never better when he’s conversing with CM Punk.
But none of these nominees can touch the night Divas Champion AJ Lee went off on the cast of Total Divas on Raw. Her blistering comments were so good it felt completely real. On Twitter at the time, I argued that not only was it AJ’s best promo it was the best female promo of all time.
Maybe I got carried away in the excitement of it all (who’s to say what the best Divas promo of all time really is?) but it was a memorable moment that should be rewarded Monday night.
My Pick: AJ goes off on “Total Divas”
5. LOL! Moment Of The Year
I thankfully missed Prime Time Player Titus O’Neil puking in JBL’s hat on the Thanksgiving edition of Smackdown recently. I’m also grateful to have not seen Santino Marella’s cobra being “charmed” by The Great Khali and Jinder Mahal.
As for the two remaining nominated moments I did experience, was there anything really funny about Vicki Guerrero’s firing or The Rock’s concert on the 20th Anniversary of Raw? I certainly don’t remember. Not a good sign for this category.
As a result…
My Pick: None
6. Match Of The Year
As I write this, I wonder why no free TV matches were included in this year’s shortlist. Certainly, either CM Punk vs. Ryback in a ladder match for the WWE Championship from this past January or Punk vs. John Cena to determine The Rock’s opponent at WrestleMania 29 in February, both very entertaining live Raw matches, could’ve easily made the cut. The triple threat number one contender’s match for The World Heavyweight Championship between Christian, Randy Orton and Rob Van Dam on Smackdown not that long ago also would’ve been a good choice.
Instead, we get the very disappointing Rock/Cena II from WM 29 which was weaker than their WM 28 encounter and clearly doesn’t belong here. I’ve yet to see the Brock Lesnar/Triple H cage match from Extreme Rules so I have no view on it. I’m actually surprised their WM 29 match didn’t get included when it was the best match on the card.
I also haven’t watched The Rhodes Brothers win their jobs back after beating The Shield at Battleground. However, it should be noted that it won a lot of praise so many will be happy it was nominated.
It’s really strange that no Daniel Bryan matches have been singled out. One would think his SummerSlam victory over Cena for the WWE title would be here. But no dice.
That leaves CM Punk vs. The Undertaker which was certainly a good WrestleMania 29 encounter but in my limited view, not the real match of the year. (I’ve only seen three 2013 pay-per-views on DVD, unfortunately, so who knows what the best encounter really was.) In the end, despite not seeing half the matches on this list, it gets my vote.
My Pick: CM Punk vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 29
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 7, 2013