Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The 2013 TWB 100 Epilogue #1: Unpacking My Ballot

Martinez and Kurihara were two wrestlers who made my ballot but not the final TWB 100 list
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
The TWB 100 has finished up, with the votes tallied and collated and results posted. However, the fun has not ended. I will be posting two epilogue posts. Today's entry will unpack my own ballot. I believe in transparency, and since I'm the guy running the thing, I might as well lay bare my thoughts on the whole process. The wrestlers for whom I voted who made the list will have links to their entries, because I'm not writing another blurb for them. Everyone else gets a paragraph, because you need to know about the people who didn't make the list, dammit.

1. Daniel Bryan
2. Antonio Cesaro
3. Goldust
4. Seth Rollins
5. Sami Zayn/El Generico
6. Kevin Steen
7. Dean Ambrose
8. Roman Reigns
9. TJ Perkins/Manik
10. John Cena
11. Green Ant

12. Kyle Matthews

Kyle Matthews remains the best wrestler you're probably not aware of, thanks to a lack of penetration by mainstream independent coverage in Georgia and an utter lack of desire by promoters to seek out anyone in the state. Thankfully, he popped up quite a bit on YouTube in 2013 and showed why he's in demand all across the South. He remains as one of the best babyfaces in all the land, showing an uncanny knack for timing his comebacks and getting the crowd pumping in any situation. He's also the one wrestler who has hybridized Southern style traditional pro wrestling with the modern indie ethos the best. Seek out his match with Vordell Walker from Rampage Pro Television (pbui) in January. The finish may be frustrating, but the two put on a clinic.

13. ACH

14. Vordell Walker

A lot of guys did "agile big man" well in 2013, but few did it better than Walker. A staple of televised local wrestling in Tennessee and Georgia, Walker had his working boots on in 2013, throwing down with a diverse slate of opponents of all shapes and sizes. For as robust and crisp as his mat skills were, his bread and butter was still tossing smaller guys around the ring. Few wrestlers are able to pull that off on the independent level without looking like a fish out of water, but Walker made it look like it belonged, like it was modern.

15. Jack Swagger
16. Athena
17. Drew Gulak
18. Kimber Lee
19. Sheamus
20. Nick Jackson
21. Matt Jackson

22. Paul London
23. William Regal
24. Damien Sandow
25. Randy Orton
26. Dolph Ziggler
27. Ophidian
28. Emma
29. Alberto del Rio

30. Mercedes Martinez

She's as good a brawler as anyone will find on any level in any gender. She shows the savvy of a veteran, and it adds to any match she's party to. She was the perfect going-away opponent for Ayumi Kurihara at SHIMMER because no one would have embraced being hated by the crowd and working to put the retiring beloved star over during the match the way Martinez would have. She also had a vicious, falls-count-anywhere melee with LuFisto in February for WSU. I don't know how much Martinez can do in the indies story-wise, but as a wrestler, she still has plenty of gas in her tank.

31. Frank O'Rourke/Biff Busick
32. AR Fox
33. Paige

34. Fred Yehi

Footage of Yehi dried up a bit, but what I could find of him still impressed the hell out of me. He works such a fresh, inventive style that I think it a crime that he hasn't spread further out of his Georgia/Tennessee footprint so far. His match with Chip Day from February at the Main Event in Porterdale is a must-see. Yehi is a guy who deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. He could be the wrestler who bridges the gap between the indie highspot fans and the people who love mat wrestling.

35. Jimmy Uso
36. Jey Uso

37. Mike Cruz

Cruz is getting a little play in FIP, although I've seen most of his work in other Georgia and Florida indies. He's the one of the best prop-bumping spot dudes out there. Check out matches he's had with Vordell Walker and Chasyn Rance. He really shows a mastery of the ring in addition to all the flippy stuff that gets the people who aren't dorks for match stuff like me noticing.

38. Chiva Kid/Andrew Everett

As the anthropomorphic goat, he burst onto the scene at National Pro Wrestling Day. Over the course of the year, he shed his gear, took a more "professional" name and expanded all across the country. Everett's performance at NPWD nearly singlehandedly put my focus on his home promotion of CWF Mid-Atlantic, and his matches both before and after that date were one of the big revelations in 2013.

39. Amasis

Amazing that in virtually his first match back in a Chikara ring that didn't end in an angled beatdown that he went 30 minutes in crushing heat to perform one of the best single matches of the year. He went from perhaps not being able to walk again to restoring his spot and even improving, both in singles and in tags.

40. Jessicka Havok
41. Mike Quackenbush
42. Cody Rhodes
43. Davey Vega
44. Ricochet
45. CM Punk

46. Cedric Alexander

He was in a similar boat as ACH in 2013, mired in tags in ROH while his landmark singles stuff happened elsewhere. However, he was excellent enough in all facets to warrant a top-half vote from me. I expect even bigger things from him in 2014 as he gets a far bigger and better singles push in more promotions.

47. Nicole Matthews

I always knew she was a great heel worker through her SHIMMER appearances. Then, I saw some ECCW footage of her playing the babyface, leading the crowd, taking heat, and nailing her comebacks. Nicole Matthews is a victim of me not having seen enough footage of her, but she's definitely a wrestler who could be a bigger critical darling than she is now if given the platforms.

48. Big E Langston

49. Eric Corvis

Corvis is another wrestler who played both sides of the alignment ledger sheet with great aplomb. Whether taking an ass-whupping from Eddie Kingston at Wrestling Is Cool or lording over Jewells Malone at Beyond, Corvis had himself a grand ol' year.

50. Rey Mysterio
51. Rich Swann

52. Shynron

While I was a bit taken aback by him co-opting some of ACH's in-ring spots, he still added more than enough to show he forged his own identity. His match against AR Fox to kick off the Beyond Wrestling Tournament for Tomorrow tapings is a must see.

53. Sami Callihan

54. Jewells Malone

Malone showed a lot of fire and spunk for Beyond Wrestling this year. She was the ultimate underdog all Tournament for Tomorrow weekend, and I'm looking forward to her making more of an impact both in Beyond and WSU in 2014.

55. LuFisto

Poor Lufi had her year cut short thanks to a knee injury at SHIMMER on WrestleMania weekend. Still, she had time to turn in some super performances, especially vs. Mercedes Martinez at WSU in February and in the four-team tag match where she got hurt.

56. Luke Harper

57. Jervis Cottonbelly

If you think Cottonbelly is all gimmick, you're going to be sorely mistaken when you see him in the ring. He has a surprising fluid grapple game, and more often than not, his matches end up being one of the best on the show.

58. El Hijo del Ice Cream
59. Ice Cream, Jr.

Los Ice Creams are the perfect comedic wrestlers. They are a laugh riot every single time out, and rarely do their antics take away from the story told inside the ring.

60. Christian
61. Ryback

62. Ayumi Kurihara

Sure, this ballot placement was based off one match, but it was a pretty spiffy one against Mercedes Martinez on the SHIMMER Mania Weekend show. Kurihara's not only going to be missed by joshi fans who saw her regularly, but her place at the SHIMMER weekends in Berwyn is going to be pretty hard to fill.

63. Samoa Joe
64. The Big Show

65. Christina von Eerie

von Eerie was the perfect gritty, grimy wrestler on the women's scene this year, providing a hardcore, raw edge to any match she was in.

66. Fandango

67. Frightmare

I still think he's not fully recovered from his knee problems, but regardless, the smallest, bounciest member of the Spectral Envoy provided his moments in 2013.

68. Brian Cage

Cage was the best possible feats of strength guy in the limited footage I saw of him last year.

69. JT Dunn
70. Adam Cole
71. Adrian Neville

72. Juan Francisco de Coronado

While his character still needs a lot of polish, the Ecuadorian Elite is right there when it comes to wrestling ability.

73. Hallowicked
74. Curtis Axel

75. Willie Mack

Even though he's inexplicably being moved down the card in PWG by the year, Mack still busts his ass in the ring, referenced by his main event from Championship Wrestling from Hollywood against Samoa Joe.

76. Rocky Romero
77. Alex Koslov

They made a match with the American Wolves entertaining, fun, and blithe in ROH, which I think means they get automatic canonization upon their deaths.

78. Mark Andrews
79. Pete Dunne

They had a nice little tour of America over the summer, including a raucously fun match against the Osirian Portal.

80. The Undertaker

81. Dasher Hatfield

Hatfield continues to be another one of those Chikara masks whose wrestling ability gets overlooked because of the sheer goofiness of his character.

82. Kane
83. Chris Hero/Kassius Ohno
84. Tim Donst

85. TaDarius Thomas

I dig his capoeira-infused offense, and he and Kyle O'Reilly actually found a way to make the generic trading-strikes trope feel fresh and new at AAW in January.

86. Brock Lesnar

87. Allysin Kay

She's still as ruthless and brutal in the ring as ever, and she'll be getting even more of a chance to shine with longer matches with more importance in the coming year across the land.

88. Heath Slater

Slater is still one of the best guys in WWE at making everyone else look like a million bucks, no matter how bad it makes him look.

89. Darren Young

Young's work within the Prime Time Players might get overlooked because of how infrequently they were booked, but he at least got a chance to show he could hang in a singles match against CM Punk.

90. AJ Lee

91. Mark Briscoe

The younger Briscoe seems to be floating and floating further into his goofy-ass redneck kung fu every year, but I'm not complaining one bit.

92. Max Smashmaster
93. Blaster McMassive

The Devastation Corporation got markedly better as the year progressed and may have perfected the late '80s/early '90s WWF muscular stiff persona into something that is actually entertaining to watch in the ring.

94. Fire Ant
95. UltraMantis Black
96. Estonian Thunder Frog

97. Saturyne/Hania the Howling Huntress

Another Chikara wrestler who improved by leaps and bounds, Saturyne dumped the mask, tweaked her in-ring game, and now looks to be one of the hottest risers in '14.

98. Michael Elgin
99. Chris Jericho

100. Ricardo Rodriguez/El Local

He was involved in WWE's best comedy match of the year, throws better punches than half the roster, and did a lot of yeoman's work getting over guys in matches both on the main roster and NXT.

Tomorrow (or Thursday, depending on my schedule), I'll have some cool alternative analytics!