Monday, December 8, 2014

The 2014 Bloggie Award Nominations!

Is Ambrose the Wrestler of the Year?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Welcome to the nominations announcement for this year's Bloggie Awards, the only awards sanctioned and presented by The Wrestling Blog. In years past, I announced the nominations via slow release over several days. This year, thanks to assorted factors, you will get the nominees all in one shot. The winners will be announced on December 31. The award nominees and winners are chosen by me, and they are a reflection more of the critical side of wrestling rather than things like drawing power or ratings. Without further ado, let us begin with the announcements.

Wrestler of the Year - This is the award for the wrestler who excelled highest critically inside and out of the ring.

Prior Winners:
2009 – Chris Jericho
2010 – The Miz
2011 – CM Punk
2012 – Daniel Bryan
2013 – The Shield

And the nominees are…

Bayley - Being a true babyface is hard work in a WWE-owned property, but Bayley had it down to a tee. In addition to stellar wrestling and a hot feud against Sasha Banks, she helped prove that the focus of a women's division in the mainstream can be independent of the superficial.

Dean Ambrose - Whether as The Shield's lunatic fringe or his own special kind of solo madman, Ambrose held crowds rapt and elevated bad writing into compelling television. He brought a return to organic unpredictability, and every match he was in benefitted from his presence.

Eddie Kingston - Kingston's work in local indies such as AAW and AIW helped bring him here, but his run in Chikara in 2014 is the main reason he's up for this award. The company's main storyline wouldn't have worked without him as nexus through which all the action ran.

Rusev - A bona fide midcard attraction is almost as hard to find in WWE as a true babyface, but Rusev electrified the sub-main event scene. One could argue he's been the hottest thing in WWE this year through a combination of an oddly supportable mission and excellent HOSS FIGHTING in the ring.

Sami Zayn - NXT's main narrative and Sami Zayn were inexorably linked in 2014, and in fact, his year this year is what John Cena's between-Manias-XXVIII-and-XXIX should have been. He was engaging on promos, and his matches have been must-see without exception.

Ricky Steamboat Award - Named for one of the most universally respected and beloved professional wrestlers of all-time, this award is for the wrestler who excelled the most between the ropes during matches to tell stories and build characters through the physical art of professional wrestling.

Prior Winners:
2009 – Christian
2010 – Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson
2011 – Dolph Ziggler
2012 – ACH
2013 – Daniel Bryan

And the nominees are...

Dean Ambrose - Despite most of his singles matches having unsatisfactory endings (nothing that's his fault), Ambrose delivered in the ring whether as part of a team or on his own. His combination of unpredictability, intensity, and situational whimsy helped craft his resume in the squared circle.

Kimber Lee - No matter where she was booked, Lee proved she was one of, if not THE best worker on the card. Her versatility has been unmatched, and every opponent who went into the ring with her came out looking better for it.

Sami Zayn - NXT without Zayn would be okay, but the fact that one could see him take on any given opponent on any given episode has made the weekly serial worth the Network subscription fee. Whether against Cesaro, Tyler Breeze, or any opponent in between, Zayn turned in masterpieces all year long.

Sasha Banks - Wrestlers who make it look easy aren't too uncommon unless they're women working under a WWE banner. Even if Banks can't change the main roster right away, her work in NXT has been arguably better than any one individual's except possibly Zayn.

Sheamus - While his character work in 2014 more often than not sucked, Sheamus never failed to bring the heat in the ring. His matches against a variety of opponents helped salvage a subpar week-to-week year in WWE.

Talker of the Year - For the wrestler who showed the most prowess at inciting a crowd, building a story, or entertaining the audience via the spoken word

Prior Winners:
2009 – CM Punk
2010 – The Miz
2011 – CM Punk
2012 – Damien Sandow
2013 – Zeb Colter

And the nominees are...

Bray Wyatt - While his material often bordered on the esoteric, his overall message and cadence helped hold crowds' attentions and make for compelling feuds even when the booking had failed him.

Enzo Amore - His manic delivery and crazy-eyed charisma made his entrance of all things must watch. His rapport with Big Cass is even more fascinating to watch. Amore has the gift of gab that nearly everyone else in the company wishes they had.

Lana - Cheap heat never sounded so good. In the hands of a lesser orator, the Putin-based rabble-rousing might not have gotten as over, but Lana is as much responsible for Rusev's rise as he himself is.

Sami Zayn - Amazing for a guy whose grasp of English didn't come around until recently, Zayn not only gets the point across, he does so with fire and conviction. His mic work is a huge reason why he's developmental's most valuable player and a bona fide future WrestleMania main event player.

Stephanie McMahon - McMahon has perfected the passive-aggressive "mom" character to the point where she was carrying the main heel faction for most of the year. When McMahon spoke, everyone listened whether they wanted to laud her for her truth or boo her for her corporate representation.

Independent Wrestler of the Year - For the wrestler who excelled the most outside the confines of the corporate environment, thus promoting the critical and artistic growth of wrestling

Prior Winners:
2009 – Austin Aries
2010 – Claudio Castagnoli
2011 – Sara del Rey
2012 – Rachel Summerlyn
2013 – Chuck Taylor

And the nominees are...

Biff Busick - Despite spending a good chunk of the year out with a knee injury, Busick remained a huge reason for anyone to head to Fete Music for a Beyond Wrestling show. His billing as perhaps the "next Bryan Danielson" is legit.

Candice LeRae - LeRae did the nigh-impossible; she made Joey Ryan relevant again. No matter where she went, she energized the card and continued to prove that women rule the roost on the indies.

Eddie Kingston - Kingston was not only the creative force behind Chikara's rebirth, but he was a stalwart in indie promotions from the Delaware Valley all the way across the Midwest.

Nicole Matthews - Matthews' SHIMMER run in the fall is a huge reason for her inclusion here, but she also brought so many eyes to the Canadian Pacific Northwest, showing amazing versatility and fire (pun kinda intended here).

Ricochet - He continues to defy gravity and expectation. He's a huge reason why anyone should watch DGUSA/EVOLVE, and his runs in PWG and Lucha Underground continue to cement his standing as a must-see wrestler.

Tag Team of the Year - For the tandem that in addition to displaying optimal entertainment value and wrestling prowess on their own, also displayed the best teamwork and cohesion as a unit both in and out of the ring.

Prior Winners:
2009 – Chris Jericho and the Big Show
2010 – The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin)
2011 – The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson)
2012 – The Super Smash Brothers (Player Uno and Stupefied)
2013 – The Young Bucks

And the nominees are…

Goldust and Stardust/Cody Rhodes - Their first big run ended abruptly, but then Rhodes reinvented himself as Stardust and arguably upped the creative ante on their residence as a team. Their in-ring chemistry has done nothing but improve over the year.

reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly) - The Ring of Honor tag scene would be poorer without their inclusion. The ring work has been a given, but Fish has brought out an edge in O'Reilly that none of his partners could have.

The Usos (Jey and Jimmy) - No team in WWE was more ubiquitous than the Usos in 2014, and while their characters wore thin towards the end of the year (especially in this odious jealous husband thing Jimmy has going with Naomi), their in-ring work has been consistently excellent.

The World's Cutest Tag Team (Candice LeRae and Joey Ryan) - Again, everywhere they go, they elevate the show. Whether in blood matches in PWG or fun exhibitions across the Midwest, the Joey and Candice Show

The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) - Honestly, the Bucks will continue to have a nomination for as long as they remain active. No one does more to advance tag team wrestling in the States than these two.

Manager of the Year - For the character who did the best to enhance another wrestler's status and artistic value without actually being a full-time wrestler.

Prior Winners:
2012 – Veronica Ticklefeather
2013 – Chris Trew

And the nominees are…

Chris Trew - He cuts the same promo every time out, and yet he continues to make it sound compelling and interesting. His willingness to get involved in the action is not only beneficiary to his charges, but more often than a super-entertaining addition to any contest.

JT LaMotta - A relative newbie to the managerial scene, LaMotta is able to add cache to his charges and get physical in any match. He's a solid addition to the Inspire Pro tapestry.

Lana - Again, without Lana, would Rusev be as effective? She's integral to the act, and she knows how to play crowds like a  yo-yo.

Sidney Bakabella - They don't call him the "King of Manager" for nothing. His loving homage to the old school, chickenshit bad guy manager is powerful, essential, and whimsical at the same time.

Veda Scott - She was just about as integral to The New Streak as the actual streak was. Her final turning on RD Evans at Final Battle was about as much of a dagger as any turn could be, which is the mark of how essential she was in her role.

Group of the Year - For the group, stable, or cadre of wrestlers who best exemplified teamwork, continuity, and entertainment value.

Prior Winners:
2009 – Team FIST (Chuck Taylor, Gran Akuma, Icarus)
2010 – Bruderschaft des Kreuzes (Claudio Castagnoli, Ares, Tursas, Sara del Rey, Daizee Haze, Tim Donst, Jakob Hammermeier, Lince Dorado, Pinkie Sanchez, Dieter von Stiegerwalt)
2011 – Not Given
2012 – The Submission Squad (Davey Vega, Evan Gelistico, Gary Jay, Pierre Abernathy)
2013 – The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins)

And the nominees are…

The Carter Administration (Dixie Carter, Ethan Carter III, Rhyno, Rockstar Spud) - This group was perhaps the most compelling reason to tune into Impact every week. Carter and Spud have been doing yeoman's work trying to elevate the action with their performances.

The New Movement (Cherry Ramone, Chris Trew, Delilah Doom, Keith Lee) - Trew's group exemplified diversity and versatility in all forms. Whether good for comic relief, crushing domination, or prolonged matches, the Movement has been an essential part of Inspire Pro through its history.

The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins) - Despite breaking up in June, WWE's best stable ever still made a huge indent on the year. Their series' of matches with the Wyatt Family and Evolution continued WWE's in-ring hot streak. I'm still sore that they broke up.

Sidney Bakabella's Wrecking Crew (Blaster McMassive, Flex Rumblecrunch, Jaka, Max Smashmaster, Oleg the Usurper, Sidney Bakabella) - The Flood as a whole would have been listless without Bakabella's collection of throwback hoss-types. Each member of the group is so good at what they do that they make you forget how well-protected they've been.

The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper) - This group was a victim of bad booking, but even though the Cena, Usos, and Jericho feuds submarined the group in terms of momentum, one can't argue that the three men comprising it didn't hold up their ends of each bargain.

HOSS of the Year - For the wrestler who exemplified the essence of HOSS with nobility, pride, and massive feats of strength.

This is the first year the award will be given out. And the nominees are…

Keith Lee - Lee looks like a block of granite come to life, and he can move with the dexterity. Inspire Pro was under constant threat of SMASH SMASH SMASH once he came to town.

Luke Harper - Harper's weird eyes and sweat-stained muscleman T-shirt make him the most distinctively weird HOSS of the group.

Max Smashmaster - In a trio of exceptionally HOSSY HOSSES, Smashmaster has stood out for knowing how to throw his weight around in a literal sense.

Rusev - Pусев удря! Русев мачка!

Sheamus - Sheamus is old reliable. You know what you're getting with him, but what you do get is hossy as fuck.

The New to Me Award - For the best rookie or heretofore new wrestler to major promotions known to me in the last year or so.

Prior Winners:
2009 – Sheamus
2010 – Wade Barrett
2011 – Mia Yim
2012 – Mark Angel/Angelosetti
2013 – The Estonian Thunder Frog

And the nominees are…

Charlotte - Charlotte may have been lurking around NXT in 2013, but she didn't come of age really until 2014, where she hit the ground running as Women's Champion. She's gone from "the girl-version of David Flair" to a legitimate anchor for the women's division in WWE in short time.

Danny Cannon - Cannon may have spent a lot of the year on the sidelines thanks to injury or airport snafus, but man, he was an exciting ball of energy. The weekend he broke out in Beyond Wrestling was so surreal for how much buzz he created, and the hype was justified.

Deucalion - Of course, those who saw the Chikara finale know he was only bound as a single-use character, but as far as symbols of destruction go, he was pretty effective at his job.

Paige Turner - Turner is one of the most unique wrestling characters to burst onto the scene in a long time. A wrestling librarian who gets people to chant "shhhh" has to get some recognition, right?

"Smooth Sailing" Ashley Remington - Yeah, Dalton Castle has been around for awhile, but the Remington character is new enough that I want to recognize it on its own. It's such a unique take on a wrestling persona, and Castle puts EVERYTHING he has into it.

Comedian of the Year - For the wrestler/act that has done their best to make people laugh and master the art of wrestling comedy.

Prior Winners:
2009 – Santino Marella
2010 – Santino Marella
2011 – Colt Cabana
2012 – 3.0
2013 – Los Ice Creams

And the nominees are…

Damien Sandow - I considered giving Sandow a nod for Wrestler of the Year based off how he's consistently elevating his cosplayer shtick. The work he's doing as Miz's stunt double is nothing short of amazing.

Hornswoggle - Hornswoggle gets a lot of shit, but this year, he made the most of his limited appearances and actually got great laughs out of me, especially during the WeeLC feud.

Los Ice Creams - Los Ice Creams remain the most consistently delivering funny act on the indies and in all of wrestling. Honestly, any team that deigns to use sprinkles or jimmies (sup, Philly) in place of thumbtacks gets my eternal love.

Prakash Sabar - The X-Pac "tribute" had danger of wearing thin after the first time, but Sabar is so dedicated to it, especially with the tongue hanging off his mask and the mannerisms in the ring.

The Submission Squad - Whether as dastardly villains with a comedic flair or as all-out slapstick costumes, the Squad never fails to get a rise out of any crowd it works in front of.

Feud of the Year - For the rivalry between two or more wrestlers or groups of wrestlers that best exemplified storytelling or match quality

Prior Winners:
2009 – CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy
2010 – Kevin Steen (and Steve Corino) vs. El Generico (and Colt Cabana)
2011 – CM Punk vs. John Cena
2012 – Daniel Bryan vs. Kane
2013 – Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn

And the nominees are…

Bayley vs. Sasha Banks - Every match they had built upon the previous one inside the ring. Outside of it, they played up their clash of personalities so well. They could be the Ambrose and Rollins of WWE women for years to come.

Chikara vs. The Flood - This feud had a chance to be overwrought and spiral out of control, but it was kept in check thanks to solid writing and great performances from several key members, including Eddie Kingston, Jimmy Jacobs, and Archibald Peck.

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins - Speaking of Ambrose and Rollins, even when the writing betrayed them, the two combined for memorable segments and matches for a good chunk of the lean months of WWE programming.

Evolution vs. The Shield - The matches were terrific, and it re-energized Triple H and Batista as viable evil characters, even if just for a short while.

The World's Cutest Tag Team vs. The Young Bucks - The Bucks went all out putting LeRae especially over here, and performances were great all around.

Announcer of the Year - For the announcer who best was able to convey the action in the ring with clarity, charm, and bemusement

Prior Winners:
2009 – Matt Striker
2010 – Bryce Remsburg
2011 – Excalibur
2012 – Bryce Remsburg
2013 – Excalibur

And the nominees are…

Bryce Remsburg - Remsburg remains old reliable behind the Chikara announce desk, no matter with whom he is paired.

Eamon Paton - Paton is super new and relatively young, which makes his mastery of the play-by-play seat for Inspire Pro all the more astounding.

Excalibur - Another ol' faithful entry, Excalibur continues to provide entertaining and informative commentary for PWG.

Portia Perez - Perez remains a refreshing voice behind the microphone both in SHIMMER and during her handful of matches for Inspire. She brings the opposite point of view from the norm without it being forced.

Rich Brennan - Brennan has been the glue that has held the NXT announce team together since William Regal went off to be the commissioner. He even is able to tame Alex Riley's douche.

Moment of the Year - This award is for the point on a show that provided emotional impact, memorability, and contribution of overall quality to the show.

Prior Winners:
2009 – Jeff Hardy gives CM Punk a Swanton Bomb from the top of a ladder in the ring to the announce table
2010 – The Nexus debuts
2011 – CM Punk exits Chicago with the WWE Championship held hostage
2012 – Matthew Palmer leaps from the balcony at the Mohawk and takes Rachel Summerlyn with him
2013 – Mark Henry suckers John Cena into believing he'd retire and attacks him

And the nominees are…

Chikara is reborn at National Pro Wrestling Day as the promotion's faithful, led by the Submission Squad and Icarus, beat back The Flood - I was trembling with tears in my eyes as the run of awful, terrible events in the Chikaraverse were finally paid off in cathartic glory.

Deucalion "kills" Kobald with his chokebreaker at You Only Live Twice - The endgame of The Flood became deadly real, squelching the good feelings brought upon by Icarus winning the Grand Championship. It was poignant, but it also provided a good grounding point for the story going forward.

Nicole Matthews looses a fireball into Madison Eagles' face at the end of the four-way elimination match for the SHIMMER World Championship at Vol. 68 - Matthews going FULL MEMPHIS in her bid to win the World Title was not only a shock felt around the wrestling world; it legitimized her as the ultimate trickster badass in all the land.

Seth Rollins leaps from a mezzanine concourse onto Randy Orton and Triple H at Extreme Rules - WWE has overdone big spots so much in the last few years that it was surprising how organically jaw-dropping Rollins' big dive was here. It set the tone for the feud that no matter how many times The Shield would beat Evolution, they'd have to pull out crazy stunts like that to get the job done.

The Yes Movement invades the ring live on RAW, forcing Triple H to give Daniel Bryan his opportunity at WrestleMania - This moment was the most important in Daniel Bryan's career, and oddly enough, it showed when wrestling could be at its most liberal. I mean, could any conservative-leaning person justify painting the Occupy movement as the good guys like WWE did when Bryan's fans all rushed the ring?

Promotion of the Year - For the company who best furthered the creative, critical, and/or qualitative boundaries of professional wrestling in the calendar year.

Prior Winners:
2009 – ECW (WWE)
2010 – Chikara
2011 – Chikara
2012 – Anarchy Championship Wrestling
2013 – Beyond Wrestling

And the nominees are…

Beyond Wrestling - Beyond continued its momentum from last year, and despite having two major shows cancelled for reasons out of their control, they rebounded to deliver yet another Tournament for Tomorrow that rocked the wrestling world.

Chikara - The rebirth was legitimately one of the top two or three wrestling moments in my life, and the follow-up from You Only Live Twice through the finale was masterful.

Inspire Pro Wrestling - The new kids on the scene in Austin found their niche in 2014. The unique cast of characters along with the pastiche of power guests have made it a must-follow.

SHIMMER Women Athletes - A raucous set of fall tapings sealed SHIMMER's spot here. Not only did the promotion deliver in the ring, but it actually supplemented it up with some powerful shock moments and bold booking.

WWE NXT - How the main product can be so dreadful when NXT is consistently the best weekly show on television is baffling. The show has tremendous world-building and consistently solid wrestling each week.