Now, I know there is a lot of news to talk about these days in professional wrestling.
There’s the Carlito situation finally being resolved by cooler heads apparently, there’s the RAW 15th Anniversary Show (which was well done, I think), and there’s apparently a new hero on ECW that comes to us from the great wrestling factory known as
Jamaica. (Again, sarcasm never works well on paper or in columns.)
However, I will be unable to get to any of those things until the first column of 2008, because of the WRES-PY awards columns that I’m doing for the next couple weeks.
With that said, the end of the year means one thing around here: end-of-year awards.
Every wrestling website, message board, columnist, etc. have their own end-of-year awards, and From the Other Side is no different.
However, I tend to believe I bring somewhat of a unique look at awards; so with that in mind, the 2007 WRES-PYs are underway and I’m ready to give you a unique awards column series; unlike any you’ve seen on the internet before.
As you probably already know, I’ve got so many awards to break down, I can’t really do it all in one column; which is why I’ve decided to break it down into three columns, much like I did last year.
Today is a day I honor the ones that get the fans’ attention the most; whether it be by making the fans hate their guts, cheer their hearts out for them, or turn their heads to some of the best entrances in the business, today is their day!
They’re the villains, the antagonists of the storyline.
They’re the wrestlers you love to hate the most, and by the way, I’m sure they wouldn’t want it any other way.
In fact, the absolute best work very hard at pissing us fans off.
So, this is the award I give to the wrestlers we love to hate the absolute most, whether they work for WWE or TNA.
As always, I’ll list the candidates from fifth to first.
Christian Cage (TNA Wrestling)
Christian is still one of the best heels in the business, and arguably the best heel in TNA today.
However, a potential face turn in the next few weeks may have ultimately cost him points here.
He’s still second-fiddle to Kurt Angle on the TNA heel food chain, but make no mistake, we want to hate Christian more in terms of heel heat.
Angle gets heat for other reasons (DUI).
John Morrison (ECW)
The name may have changed, but the attributes John Morrison possesses that make him a great heel on the rise remain the same: the cocky, arrogant attitude, like he’s God’s gift to wrestling or something; the rock star look; the ten nicknames; the blatant disregard for the rules; not to mention some of the best wrestling moves you will ever see in ECW today.
All that’s missing from that is his banshee-screaming girlfriend at ringside.
The Great Khali (WWE Smackdown)
The Great Khali has always been an intimidating figure.
But, it wasn’t until this year during his reign as World Heavyweight Champion that the Great Khali was looked at as the most dominating big man since the Big Show.
Khali re-introduced us to the famous Claw, made famous by the legendary Von Erich family.
Khali would later turn that Claw into his own variation, later known as the Khali Vice-Grip.
Showing little to no remorse for his actions in the ring has helped Khali become the third most hated wrestler today.
Randy Orton (WWE RAW)
Randy Orton has always possessed qualities that made him one of the top heels in the industry.
Ever since his time served in Evolution, Orton has always proclaimed himself to be the “Legend Killer”, and this year, the gimmick took a completely different turn, as Orton was putting legends on the shelf.
Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam, Sgt. Slaughter, Dusty Rhodes, and John Cena all felt the wrath of the new and not-likely-improved Randy Orton.
Plus, it really helped his standing in this field this year that he was almost practically rewarded for his involvement in the Signature Pharmacy article.
Now, as if anybody should be surprised by this, the winner of the Best Heel for 2007 may have spent a good chunk of time earlier this year on the shelf, but the reigning top heel in wrestling is still the king of this mountain…
Edge (WWE Smackdown)
Ever since his involvement in the Camelot-esque love triangle with Lita and Matt Hardy, Edge has garnered the fans’ hatred for years.
And it’s not like Edge is doing anything to sway the fan support in his favor; quite the opposite, actually.
Edge has done everything in his power to make the fans hate him more.
Sneak attacks, stealing championships, and the manipulation of power has all led to more boos and “you suck” chants directed at Edge.
In an interview last year, Edge admitted that he wanted to be the most hated heel in wrestling since “Classie” Freddie Blassie.
So far, it looks a lot like Edge may be on his way to getting his wish.
And, if there is any further proof that you need as to how much of a heel Edge is, here’s some food for thought on the way out the door: he made the crowd chant “Let’s Go Randy” during his match at the beginning of the year with former Rated RKO mate Randy Orton.
If he can make the second-best heel in the business a fan favorite just by going up against him in a match, then that just goes to show just how high on the heel totem pole Edge is.
They’re the wrestlers that get the majority of the fan support.
They get the loudest pops, the loudest chants, and the most positive signs in the crowd.
They are the top faces of 2007, and I’ve decided to divide this category into an award for TNA and an award for WWE.
We’ll start with TNA.
Although he’s nothing more than a mid-card talent in TNA, Eric Young has a fan following in TNA that is just astounding.
It’s almost like a cult following.
How’s that for a scary thought…Eric Young, leader of a cult.
Talk about the blind leading the blind.
And it’s easy to see why people like EY, because they can relate to him.
He looks and acts like any average Joe, and he’s always paranoid about getting fired.
“Black Machismo” Jay Lethal
I have to give TNA a little bit of credit here.
Before the major gimmick change in Jay Lethal’s career, he was nothing more than a flash in the pan.
He has always been good, don’t get me wrong.
He just never really had a good connection with the fans.
But, change up his gimmick to where he’s sort of like the next generation of the Macho Man, and you have arguably the most popular X-Division star today.
And I can really see his popularity going through the roof once this angle with So Cal Val develops further.
Hey, I won’t complain.
Anything that can get that hot looking gal on TV is good enough for me.
Over the course of the last two years, we’ve seen a character transformation to Abyss unlike anything we’ve seen since Kane.
Abyss went from being James Mitchell’s lap dog to giving Mitchell the Black Hole Slam, infuriating Mitchell to the point where he put together a little stable to try and destroy Abyss.
We’ve also seen Abyss make some sort of connection with Sting.
Oh, and Abyss learned how to speak.
So at least he won’t need a mouthpiece anymore.
Any further character transformation and Abyss would be without a mask right now.
Speaking of one of the true legends in the business, Sting may no longer be in TNA but he is still a top face in the business.
Every time I see Sting on TV, I hear a very rousing ovation for him.
It’s just a shame that Sting’s no longer in TNA.
BTW, if WWE does indeed have a Sting-Ric Flair Wrestlemania main event planned, that could potentially be the best and worst thing ever.
I mean, seriously, how many times have we seen that match before?
Just to guess off the top of my head, I’d say at least a hundred.
All of these guys have gotten the fan support at the iMPACT Zone in
Orlando, but none more so than the winner of the Best Face for 2007 in TNA award.
He’s a star on the rise in TNA, a main event megastar waiting to happen and, oh yeah, a member of the Future World Champions list…
To say Joe’s popularity has risen substantially since his program with Kurt Angle would be a mild understatement.
I think it’s safe to say now that Samoa Joe is the most popular wrestler in TNA and especially after his little worked shoot promo at Turning Point recently.
That alone got him enough points in my view to put him ahead of the pack.
He just has the complete package that promotions look for in wrestlers these days.
The only downside is TNA doesn’t know just how much longer he’s staying around, and that’s reportedly why they haven’t yet given him an opportunity to represent TNA as its World Heavyweight Champion.
I could tell you right now that if Joe does leave TNA for the money and the potential fame in WWE, he would get absolutely buried.
WWE does not do well with wrestlers that were made stars by somebody not named Vince McMahon, and if you don’t believe me, ask Tazz, Tommy Dreamer, Goldberg, Booker T., the Sandman, and a few others.
So if Joe’s smart, he’d stay where the opportunity to be the top dog and get top recognition is as good as it’s going to get.
Now that I’ve named the Best Face in TNA for 2007, it’s time to switch over to the WWE side.
A few things factored into my decision to rank Michaels no higher than fifth.
One of them being that when there was a rumor going around that an HBK heel turn was in the works, some fans clamored for it.
It’s never a good sign for a face when fans are anxiously anticipating a heel turn from ya.
Other factors included injury and the fact that he pretty much was the heel in his program with John Cena.
Now, on the same boat, Batista has never had any fans clamoring for a heel turn, has strong ovations everywhere he goes, has not been injured all year, and may have even won some fans over as a result of how candid and honest he was in his recently-released book, “Batista Unleashed”.
So, why do I have him ranked fourth?
He doesn’t get very loud pops initially, at least not much louder than some of the top faces in WWE.
Now, the Undertaker has always had loud initial pops for years.
He has had consistent fan support throughout the year, and really got the fans riled up with his series of mind games with Mark Henry.
However, the reason Undertaker isn’t ranking higher than third is simply because of injuries.
That and we all know right now that the Undertaker’s time is soon running out.
His career is coming to a very sad end, which is why he has already investigated as to what his next career could be: real estate.
Believe me, simply because I respect the guy for all he’s accomplished in the business, I’d buy a house from the Undertaker.
What’s my adjustable mortgage rate for that nice little three-bedroom, two-bathroom house now, Mr. Taker, sir?
I’ve often said in the past that I’m amazed as to how much of a fan following this guy has, and it continues to grow.
The chants of “CM Punk” are getting louder, as well.
Not bad for somebody Vince McMahon thought would never be able to convince the fans that he’s championship material because he doesn’t have the impressive physique; never mind the amount of “Championship Material Punk” signs I see every week on ECW.
All of these guys are considered among the top fan favorites in the business today, but none has had as much fan support in the last twelve months as the surprise winner of the award for Best Face of 2007 in WWE…
I know it’s not a big surprise that Matt Hardy has always been considered a popular wrestler by the fans.
But, for some reason, this year he’s seen his fan support shoot straight through the roof.
The signs came out in flocks.
Signs such as “Matt Hardy for Champion”, “Matt Hardy V1 Owns Edge”, “V1 is Better Than MVP”, and many more could be seen on a weekly basis on Smackdown!
The crowds started to really throw their support behind Matt.
And, the bonus points came for me during the Matt Hardy/MVP program.
Fans really started to actually cheer MVP when he and Matt were in tag team matches; then, when MVP turned on Matt Hardy, he became the second most-hated man on Smackdown! (Behind Edge, of course) Matt Hardy may be recovering right now from the appendectomy, but if he stays healthy and if he picks up right where he left off when he does come back, either at Backlash or Judgement Day, WWE may have no other choice but to put the United States Championship on Matt Hardy and watch his popularity rapidly rise even further.
What makes an entrance great?
Is it the music?
Is it the video shown on the big screen?
Is it crowd reaction?
Is it the lighting?
Perhaps the pyrotechnics?
Does pyro actually take away from an entrance as opposed to adding to it?
Is it that something extra that you don’t find in anybody else’s entrance, a la Mr. Kennedy’s microphone?
Not only will I break down the top five entrances in TNA as well as the top five in WWE, but I’ll explain what makes these ten entrances so great.
We’ll start with the top five in TNA.
Sting’s entrance music in TNA isn’t as good as when WCW went with Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy”, but pretty good nonetheless.
It kinda adds to the religious theme that Sting has said for years now that he wants people to know about him.
He wants people to know he’s a born-again Christian and that, while he may not be preachy about it to others, he’s not straying down the wrong path again, and this video kind of adds to that.
The crowds always come alive anytime they see a legend like Sting.
He can get the crowd’s attention at anytime.
As it pertains to lighting, Sting’s is arguably the best entrance in TNA.
N/A (No pyrotechnics)
N/A (Nothing unique about Sting’s entrance other than what I already mentioned)
Abyss’ entrance music kind of has that edgy, schizophrenic feel to it, which really fits his character well.
Abyss looks like he’s so pissed, he could kick your ass through that big screen.
Taking a chair to the fence is a good bonus, too.
The crowd participation for Abyss’ entrance isn’t as good as some others, so that kind of hurt him here.
Much like Sting, the lighting for Abyss’ entrance is really well done; although it kind of reminds me of somebody on Smackdown.
I can’t quite put my finger on whom…
I like how he’s distancing himself from Kane by having blue fire at the entrance ramp and not red fire.
N/A (Nothing unique about Abyss’ entrance other than what I already mentioned)
The Latin-American XChange (LAX)
They changed the entrance music a little bit for LAX recently to reflect their full-blown face turn.
Good, but not as good as before.
Although the music changed, the video stayed the same, and that may have hurt them here a little bit.
Not very easy to make people believe these guys are faces now when you still have the heel video up.
The iMPACT Zone always gets a kick out of seeing LAX compete, and they let them hear it, right from the beginning of their entrance.
Much like Abyss’ and Sting’s respective entrances, the lighting for LAX’s entrance is very well done, and adds to their appeal.
N/A (No pyrotechnics)
As I said last year, I really enjoy the whole DX-style entrance, where it switches back and forth between the video and the actual entrance.
Joe’s entrance music has also changed recently.
It’s actually better than it was before, which gave him a boost here.
Joe’s video package is really put together very well, and has that theme to it where yes, he’s a Samoan, and he does follow a lot of the Samoan traditions, but at the same time, he’s hyper-competitive and is looking to make you plead for mercy in about ten minutes.
The “Joe” chants always echo throughout the iMPACT Zone anytime Samoa Joe shows up.
Joe’s entrance also has very well-done lighting in that it adds to his mystique and aura.
We don’t need no f-ing pyrotechnics!)
While I can understand the tradition behind the Samoan fire-dancers, I can also understand where some might find that mildly annoying.
Well, the winner of the award for Best Entrance of 2007 in TNA is actually a surprise, but then again, it shouldn’t be, because I’ve always been a huge fan of this guy’s entrance…
Now that Jeff Jarrett is unofficially retired, Christian Cage’s entrance music could very well be the best in TNA.
As I mentioned last year, it’s a generic instrumental rip-off of Evanescence’s “My Last Breath”.
It’s probably the best rip-off of anybody’s song that TNA has ever done because it’s the only one that’s worked.
Just as I’m a fan of the song, the video is a real bonus for me, as well.
The rip-off to the
Jericho countdown adds to just how full of himself Christian Cage really is.
The crowd reaction has somewhat died down this year for this entrance, but you still hear people booing and see others holding up the “CC” hand gesture.
Christian Cage’s entrance has perhaps the second-best lighting of any entrance in TNA behind Sting’s.
N/A (No pyrotechnics)
N/A (Nothing unique about Christian Cage’s entrance that hasn’t already been mentioned)
Before I start on the WWE side of this one, I should mention that I gave some very serious thought to putting Chris Jericho’s entrance in this, but because I haven’t really had a chance to break that entrance down (i.e. watch him enter a match at least three times with that new entrance), unfortunately Jericho’s entrance is too new to put in here, so he’s not qualified.
With all of that said, now it’s time to turn our attention to the WWE side.
Although the entrance music Jeff uses today is the same one they used for the Hardy Boys back in the day, it’s one of those songs that never get old.
The video, on the other hand, is getting old.
They need to update that thing and soon!
Jeff doesn’t get John Cena-esque pops from the crowd when it comes to his entrance, but he does get pops.
Not to mention “Marry Me Jeff” signs from the young girls in the crowd.
The purple lighting has died down a little, adding other colors in the lighting.
I guess this adds to Jim Ross’ nickname for Jeff Hardy, “The Rainbow-Haired Warrior”.
Jeff’s pyrotechnics are freaking cool and very unique because they shoot out at an angle from the stage atop the entrance ramp.
The camera crew always gets a good view of it, too.
N/A (Nothing unique about Jeff Hardy’s entrance that hasn’t already been mentioned)
Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP)
Silkk the Shocker delivers this bumpin’ track for WWE called “I’m Comin’”.
Somebody once compared the beginning of that song to the crocodile that took Captain Hook’s hand.
Somebody else thought it was the beginning of the Evolution theme.
The video is actually good, but it’s slightly outdated, especially by WWE’s standards.
They need to update that one soon.
The crowd participation really isn’t that good when he comes out.
I would’ve thought to hear more boos when that clock starts ticking away.
The lighting for this entrance is somewhat good, but if I were in charge, I’d put in a hint of silver to match MVP’s bling.
One of the best pyrotechnic displays in a WWE entrance today, bar none.
I’m somewhat a fan of the whole tunnel thing.
It’s like he’s coming out to play a football game rather than compete in a wrestling match; kinda cool, really.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m still a big fan of that song.
Cena, along with his cousin TradeMarc, provide the music in this entrance, and the song is entitled “The Time is Now”.
However, I still long for a good ol’ fashioned throwback, and am here to plead with WWE to dust the mothballs off “Basic Thuganomics” one more time.
The video is up to date, but really not the best I’ve ever seen.
It’s good, which is why it got such a high score, but understand that it’s not the absolute best they could’ve done.
The crowd reaction to that first note is always going to be classic.
I still remember when he lost the WWE Championship to Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand last year, and how badly he got booed right from the get-go.
Whether it’s a mixed reaction, a solid face reaction, or a chorus of boos, Cena’s entrance could be argued as having the best crowd participation of any entrance in WWE today.
The lighting is what sets Cena’s entrance back.
I’m not a big fan of it, per say.
I think they should just have him come out to normal lighting, and not bother with the fancy lighting, because that’s what’s setting his entrance back.
N/A (no pyrotechnics)
N/A (Nothing unique about John Cena’s entrance that hasn’t already been mentioned)
“Time to Play the Game” will always be one of the best contributions Motorhead has ever made to WWE, but I wish WWE didn’t waffle a lot earlier in the year between that song and “King of Kings”.
Pick a freaking song, already!
The video is up to date, and is one of the best I’ve seen in a while as it pertains to Triple H; nothing to complain about here.
Crowd reaction is not really that great when he’s walking down the ramp, but at the beginning it’s solid, and when he’s on the turnbuckle, he’s always finding a way to get the crowd to react to him, which gave him some good bonus points here.
Perhaps the second-coolest addition to an entrance in WWE this year is those green laser lights in the entranceway right as Triple H comes out.
The lighting in Triple H’s entrances over the years has always been rock solid, but this was just a cool little addition.
N/A (no pyrotechnics)
N/A (Nothing unique about Triple H’s entrance that hasn’t already been mentioned)
The winner of the award for Best Entrance of 2007 in WWE has always had amazing entrances over the course of his long and storied career, but additions to his entrance this year have made his the absolute best in WWE…
People (especially my brother, the biggest Undertaker mark you’ll ever find) often say to me how they need to go through the cycle of gimmicks with Undertaker all over again.
You know, like slowly alter his character to that of his old Ministry character, before he disappears for a while and comes back with a biker gimmick.
And I often tell them, “Why?”
This music, along with the video for the music, is a perfect way for Taker’s career to come full circle as his finest hours may be dwindling down.
See explanation above.
Crowd reaction and pops have never been a problem with this entrance.
The minute the lights go out and that first gong hits, everybody stands and cheers in anticipation of the arrival of the Dead Man.
Much like crowd reaction has never been a problem with this entrance, neither has lighting been much of a problem.
Even with the biker gimmick, Taker’s entrances have damn-near perfect lighting to match the gimmick.
The newest addition to this entrance was made after Undertaker returned from his five-month injury-induced hiatus: fire shooting higher than any pyrotechnics not at a PBR event.
Perhaps the coolest thing I think I’ve ever seen in a WWE entrance.
N/A (Nothing unique about Undertaker’s entrance that hasn’t already been mentioned)
Unfortunately, that’s all I have for part two of this column series.
Part three should be posted within the next few days.
If you want to react to anything you’ve read so far, here is the email address as always:
To the many that have fallen before this day, God Bless you all, and may you be in a much better place today than you were here.
Your memories will live on, though you are gone.