Thursday, April 2, 2015

The 2014 TWB 100 Epilogue #1: My Ballot

Both Athena and Hania made my ballot this year
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
As the tradition goes every year, after the completed TWB 100 list is posted, I make my ballot known to the public and blurb the people that I voted for who didn't make the list. I like transparency when it is warranted, and honestly, I like letting people know my thought processes. So, without further ado, the following is how I voted for this year's TWB 100.
  1. Sami Zayn
  2. Sasha Banks
  3. Fred Yehi - I've been singing the praises of Yehi for three years now, and the thing about him is he's kept improving since I first caught wind him those years ago. He's still as hard as they come on the mat, working a stiff, lightning-fast amateur-influenced style that works well with nearly every opponent. He's evolved to add flamboyant heel work to his repertoire and it has made watching his matches a billion times more enjoyable. He doesn't just stall at the beginning, but he makes it a spectacle. He will counter a move and tell you how much better he is that he countered it. He has skill and personality coming out his gills, and I can't wait until one of these enterprising promotions either up North or out West decides to give him a shot. He will light the world on fire when he gets a shot, but seeking him out now is just as gratifying.
  4. Sheamus
  5. Biff Busick
  6. Drew Gulak
  7. Cesaro
  8. Daniel Bryan
  9. Kimber Lee
  10. Timothy Thatcher
  11. Dean Ambrose
  12. Bayley
  13. Green/Silver Ant
  14. AR Fox
  15. Charlotte
  16. Luke Harper
  17. Jey Uso
  18. Jimmy Uso
  19. Randy Orton
  20. Nick Jackson
  21. Matt Jackson
  22. Vordell Walker - Walker is still kicking around the indies and still doing his thing. He's mostly in Georgia or North Carolina, but he's all over YouTube, having great brawls or tremendous ROH-style movez matches with various opponents. He's stiff and strong, and he can work big or smaller depending on the environment. He even dragged a quality match out of Jesse Neal. JESSE NEAL. C'mon now.
  23. Seth Rollins
  24. ACH
  25. Athena
  26. Dolph Ziggler
  27. Max Smashmaster
  28. Heidi Lovelace
  29. Mickie Knuckles - Knuckles is another veteran still makin' towns in the here and now. Her presence is unique and unmatched, and it led to tremendous matches even against inferior opponents. However, against great talent like Kimber Lee, it provided some of the most entertaining matches of the year.
  30. Kalisto
  31. Hania the Howling Huntress - The former Saturyne has come a long way since shedding the mask and going out on her own. She's learned to control her body, and she's added a great brawling presence that adds to her game immensely. Check out anything she's done in WSU for a primer.
  32. Danny Cannon - Cannon stormed onto the scene for a short while in 2014, but before his injuries and retirement, he put on some of the most exciting, unique matches of anyone. His acrobatics were the stuff of Beyond Wrestling Secret Show legends. Plus, he was involved in some of the Mid-South's best action this year.
  33. Alberto del Rio/el Patron
  34. Dirty Andy Dalton - Dalton is revolutionizing the heel game in Austin, TX, sinking to Marianas Trench depths in order to get matches and his opponents over. His command of pacing was able to get a good match out of Icarus when he wasn't having good singles matches, and his gross-out factor made it easy to hate him.
  35. Blaster McMassive
  36. Ricochet/Prince Puma
  37. Davey Vega
  38. Juan Francisco de Coronado
  39. Rusev
  40. Rich Swann
  41. Cedric Alexander
  42. Dan Barry - Barry may look more like a grizzled detective, but the man flew with the best of the luchadores in 2014. His pyrotechnics were a big reason why Team Tremendous was a smash in the Northeast and New England, and he also took some pretty big bumps that helped put matches over the top.
  43. Jeff Hardy - Basing this ranking off his indie work alone (I didn't watch a minute of Impact), Hardy was one of the top special attraction workers in 2014, especially in tags. He worked great as the face in peril and the hot tag. The best thing about him though was how he integrated the Final Smash into pro wrestling by "transforming" into Willow the Wisp at opportune times.
  44. Mark Briscoe
  45. Adrian Neville
  46. Candice LeRae
  47. Matt Hardy
  48. Jay Freddie - It can be easy to overlook Freddie, but he had just an impressive Secret Show run as his dance partner, Danny Cannon. He worked well as both a canvas for big moves, but also as a counterwrestler and a striker. He represented upstate New York well.
  49. Shynron
  50. AJ Styles
  51. Jay Briscoe
  52. Goldust
  53. Dasher Hatfield
  54. Nikki Bella
  55. John Cena
  56. Brian Cage - Cage makes the HOSS arts fun. He was tremendous as a battering ram who also knew how to fly around the ring, and his role in PWG tag clusterfucks cannot be ignored.
  57. Matthew Palmer - Palmer spent most of the year in the top portion of Inspire Pro cards, proving he belonged there for more than just his amazing high-flying skills. He was a natural in main events on any card.
  58. Bill Carr - If anyone was a perfect pairing for Barry in Team Tremendous, it was the HOSSY Bill Carr. He cracked skulls when he needed to, but even he had the agility to keep up with quicker matches.
  59. Christian - Christian's comeback was short-lived, but he made the most of it with a quality in-ring feud with Sheamus and a boss showing in the Elimination Chamber. 
  60. Barbi Hayden - Hayden's residency as NWA Women's Champion in Inspire Pro was a beautiful run of matches. Her work as the big bruiser as well as a subtle heel helped buoy main events, especially on women's division-heavy shows.
  61. Kevin Steen/Owens
  62. Andrew Everett - Everett got hurt and missed a good part of the year, but I can't deny him a spot on my ballot, especially for that balls-out crazy PWG three-way where he was arguably the best worker in the building.
  63. Angel Ortiz - EYFBO is one of those tag teams that always delivers no matter what card they're on, and Ortiz and Draztik turned in a fine year for Beyond Wrestling among other promotions.
  64. LuFisto - Although she's hung up her hardcore boots, LuFisto has proven that she can remain as violent and stiff just using her body as a weapon.
  65. Chris Hero
  66. Triple H
  67. Mike Draztik - See Ortiz.
  68. Damien Sandow
  69. Steve O'Reno - He transitioned from gutty handicap-match wrestler into a perfectly cromulent junior-heavyweight worker during his year in Inspire Pro.
  70. Mark Angelosetti
  71. Delilah Doom - She didn't light the world on fire with big matches, but what she did do was pick a character oeuvre (the petite underdog who has to use leverage and balance against EVERYONE) and master it, which deserves a lot of praise.
  72. Erick Rowan
  73. Ashley Remington/Dalton Castle
  74. Bray Wyatt
  75. Shaun Tempers - Tempers was solid for the entire year and spectacular when he needed to be, like in the ultra-violent dog collar match that kicked off Empire Wrestling's year.
  76. Jervis Cottonbelly - Don't let the character trappings fool you; if Jervis Cottonbelly's on the card, you're going to get some great wrestling action to go with your handshakes and hugs.
  77. Eddie Kingston
  78. Reed Bentley - Bentley spent a lot of the year as Heidi Lovelace's running buddy/feud partner, but he had a snazzy year in his own right.
  79. Tyler Breeze
  80. Jewells Malone - I'm not sure Malone knows that wrestling is worked, but regardless of whether it's safe or not, her brawls always look tremendous on the screen or live.
  81. JT Dunn - Dunn's goal in 2014 was to become the next great indie knockout artist, and he took some major strides towards taking that mantel, especially against Kimber Lee. 
  82. Slim J - He turned in some great babyface underdog performances down in Georgia, and he may have been Fred Yehi's best opponent all year, which is saying something.
  83. TJ Marconi - He was the best possible Kevin Nash in any match he was in, which isn't a backhanded compliment in the least.
  84. Keith Lee - Not only did he debut for Inspire Pro Wrestling by turning in one of the most fun battle royale performances ever, he turned up the swag meter and combined some slick moves along with his huge HOSS rampages.
  85. Brian Fury - Best described as a walking piece of obsidian, Brian Fury was the best at tossing around little dudes and giving them something to sell for the duration of their matches with him.
  86. Jessica James - James spent time in Japan, and she came back with a new sense of focus and authority that has allowed her to take the next step in the ring.
  87. Eric Corvis - Corvis has a unique style that he was able to utilize to become one of Beyond Wrestling's steadiest hands in the last year.
  88. Roman Reigns
  89. Kyle Matthews - Matthews spent a lot of the year hurt, but when he did make tape, he made the most of it with his complete, babyface in-ring repertoire.
  90. Alpha Female - Anyone brazen enough to throw someone through a gypsum wall is good enough to make my ballot.
  91. Tyson Kidd
  92. Pinkie Sanchez - He brought a spider monkey's frenetic energy to his matches in 2014, creating an aura of unpredictability that can be missing from the ring in modern days.
  93. Fire Ant
  94. Joey Ryan - Candice LeRae was the headliner of the act, but Ryan did his part in tag matches, helping the World's Cutest Tag Team be one of the best in the country.
  95. Ray Rowe - Rowe, before his injury, was meanness personified, attacking opponents like a pitbull and giving his contests a much-appreciated dangerous atmosphere.
  96. Missile Assault Ant - More than a catchphrase, Missile Assault Ant was one of Chikara's best heel workers in the last year.
  97. Batista
  98. Adam Cole
  99. Byron Wilcott - Wilcott was out to reinvent the HOSS genre in Inspire Pro, and he did a great job in his mission.
  100. Flex Rumblecrunch - Rumblecrunch wasn't as notable as his partners, but he played his role well in trios matches for the Devastation Corporation.
And the above is my list. If you're so inclined, I urge you to share your own ballot with explanations if you'd like. I will post anyone's ballot and write-ups who desires.