As we close in on the end of yet another year, 2007 will forever be remembered for many things, good and bad. Gas prices skyrocketing, famous young female celebrities getting in trouble with the law, and radio icons finding their way to satellite radio are just a few things we will take with us from this day forth. Also, as wrestling fans, 2007 will be remembered as a year of fallen heroes.
Sherri Martel, Bam Bam Bigelow, Fabulous Moolah, and most notably Chris Benoit will all forever be missed by their fans, despite what many would believe about Benoit’s death; whether he killed his wife and kid or somebody else did it, unfortunately, we’ll never know with 100% certainty.
Also, 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 have arrived 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 I look at the Worst Idea of 2007, the Best (and worst) Announcer, and the Best Wrestling Moves, Maneuvers, or Holds of 2007.
Worst Idea of 2007
This award was previously known as the “Worst Idea Ever”, but because that just confused everybody, I’ve renamed it to make it more fitting and pertinent to this year.
Basically, I’m taking all the really bad ideas of 2007 and picking my top five worst ideas.
Winners of this award in the past would include the Katie Vick storyline, the WCW/ECW Alliance, and Taking the “Extreme” Out of “Extreme Championship Wrestling”.
And, unlike last year, TNA has two ideas that made the top five as opposed to just one.
“The Failed Test, Andrew Martin” /TNA
Andrew Martin’s 2007 started as a regular on ECW, as he was constantly getting main event spots against the likes of Rob Van Dam and Bobby Lashley, before an ill-fated match with Lashley at the Royal Rumble, coupled with yet another failed drug test, forced Vince McMahon’s hand to end Test’s short-lived WWE comeback. That left Andrew Martin to test other avenues, including the independent circuit as well as TNA. If Martin’s WWE comeback was short-lived, his TNA stint was…well…so short that if you blinked, you missed it.
Martin was told by Dixie Carter and other members of TNA management that he needed to lose body mass in order to stay onboard. So what does Mr. Stanozol do? He gets even bigger, of course! The smartest thing TNA did for months at that point was telling Martin to go home…forever. Of course, I do have to make a shout-out…memo to Ring of Honor: if Andrew Martin calls you, let it go to voicemail and erase the voice message immediately. He’s not worth the trouble! Just go ask Vince McMahon and Dixie Carter.
“The Pac-Man Jones Publicity Stunt” /TNA
An even worse idea for TNA than that, if there is one, would have to be bringing in troubled Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam “Pac-Man” Jones. I made a critical mistake of defending that move at first, saying that if the Titans let Jones wrestle then it’s a good gamble. So much for that, because the Titans didn’t let Jones wrestle; not even after several meetings with TNA representative Jeff Jarrett. Jones ended up being a joke in TNA, and the plug was mercifully pulled soon on this wasted experiment.
But, give TNA credit for getting ESPN and Sports Illustrated to talk about them by name…for about ten seconds.
“The Half-Assed Bud Selig-esque Drug Crackdown” /WWE
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying WWE cracking down on drugs is a bad idea, far from it. What I’m saying is they should’ve made some of the decisions they’ve made in the wake of the Signature Pharmacy article a while ago, and they still didn’t even get half of that right. Remember, WWE initially created the Talent Wellness Program in large part because of what happened to Eddie Guerrero.
Yet, they couldn’t prevent over a dozen wrestlers being reported by Sports Illustrated as taking drugs from Signature Pharmacy, which is still being investigated by the federal government for distributing illegal drugs, nor could they prevent what happened to Chris Benoit from happening. But, to be fair, I’m not sure anybody could’ve prevented that. But everybody knew steroids and painkillers were running rampant throughout WWE, and it finally took Signature Pharmacy going down for somebody to act. Since the Signature Pharmacy article was written in Sports Illustrated, the following has happened: Chris Masters has been fired from WWE, and has since been trying to negotiate his way into a TNA contract, with little to no success so far; Booker Huffman, aka King Booker, was suspended for 60 days by WWE, felt he was getting blackballed by Vince McMahon, and has since quit and joined TNA under the old Booker T. persona; Chavo Guerrero was suspended for 60 days and has since been wrestling dark matches before SmackDown! tapings; John Morrison was suspended for 30 days, had to drop the ECW Championship to CM Punk (best decision ever) and is now one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions with The Miz; Umaga was suspended for 30 days; Mr. Kennedy was suspended for 30 days and continues to be the epitome of a guy who just needs to keep his mouth shut about the Wellness Program; William Regal was suspended for 30 days and currently reprises his role as RAW General Manager; Snitsky was MIA for approximately 30 days, nowhere to be seen or heard from until 30 days later (call it coincidence if you want); both Gregory Helms and Edge were suspended for 30 days each, suspensions that were served as they were both recovering from their respective injuries; and Randy Orton gets out of this Signature Pharmacy incident without a single strike added to the two he has already accumulated in the past. Oh, and he became the WWE Champion since then, as well.
I get Vince McMahon’s paranoia about Randy Orton going to TNA.
I get Vince wanting to hang onto every last big name he can since he’s spent a good part of 2007 without some of his biggest names. Undertaker was injured for a while, Rey Mysterio was out, Triple H was on the injured list, John Morrison was suspended, Chris Benoit killed his wife, his kid, and then himself (allegedly), Shawn Michaels was out for a few months before coming back, and now John Cena’s out until April at best. But, to give Orton the WWE Championship almost smacks, at least to me, of rewarding him for taking steroids and getting over on the Wellness Program. How I’d love to hear Vince McMahon try to explain that to Congress. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.
“Movie Stunt McMahon” /WWE
In a storyline that ran from mid-May to mid-June, Vince McMahon appeared to be in absolute shock and terror after losing the ECW Championship to Bobby Lashley. So much so, that he started rambling incoherently, making unusual mannerisms, and even appearing almost at peace with himself and everything around him during a special three-hour edition of RAW entitled “Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night”. At the end of that same three-hour edition of RAW, we saw Vince McMahon walk peacefully out of the building and to his white limousine, only for that limousine to explode, presumably taking Vince McMahon with it. I call this candidate “Movie Stunt McMahon” because it’s the oldest stunt in movie business: the old “exploding car” stunt. The fact that he pulled this stunt off wasn’t bad at all; at least not until Chris Benoit died. Then, Vince McMahon had to suck it up, appear on camera only a few weeks later, and kill the “Death of Mr. McMahon” storyline altogether; so much for that. It was a bad idea because it was a wasted idea, an idea that should not have happened given the circumstances surrounding it. Plus, involving “federal authorities” wasn’t exactly a great idea, either.
Now, you’re probably wondering to yourself as you’re reading this, “What could possibly be a worse idea than what I just read?” Well, to say that the winner of the Worst Idea of 2007 would make David Arquette cringe would be a mild understatement.
It’s an idea that I had to think all the way back to January 1, 2007 to find…
“K-Fed Pins John Cena” /WWE
I realize that not every wrestling fan, or every WWE fan for that matter, is real big on John Cena. The list of complaints against Cena is about as long as the list of wrestlers he’s had matches with in his year-plus-long reign as WWE Champion.
But, no amount of Cena-hating, no amount of spinning, and certainly no amount of rationalizing can even begin to justify WWE’s decision to allow a wanna-be celebrity to score a pinfall victory over the WWE Champion, whomever that may be. I cannot stand the fact that Randy Orton is currently the WWE Champion, and I’d have as big a problem with K-Fed pinning Orton as I do with this. And for those that care enough to ask why I have a problem, I’ll lay it out.
Kevin Federline’s fame comes from the fact that he is a wanna-be rapper who was once upon a time married to Britney “I Used to Be Hot and Talented, Honestly” Spears and is now in sole custody of their two kids while courts investigate allegations of child abuse against Ms. Spears. K-Fed pinning John Cena, regardless of WWE’s intent, is almost every bit as bad, if not worse, than WCW allowing David Arquette to win the World Heavyweight Championship. AT LEAST ARQUETTE WAS IN MOVIES!
AT LEAST ARQUETTE WAS FAMOUS FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN WHOM HE WAS MARRIED TO!
Now, the people in favor of that decision will argue, “Okay, well, John Cena is a wanna-be rapper who just happens to be the worst WWE Champion of all-time.”
Personally, I don’t buy that. First off, John Cena is Eminem compared to K-Fed when it comes to rap.
I’ve heard both albums (Cena’s “You Can’t See Me” and K-Fed’s “Playing with Fire”) and Cena crushes K-Fed. And as far as Cena being the worst WWE Champion of all-time, I have two words for you: Vince McMahon.
For all the reasons that I laid out and explained and maybe some more that I was unable to get to, K-Fed pinning John Cena on New Year’s Day is far and away the Worst Idea of 2007.
Best Announcer of 2007
Before I get to list the top five announcers in both WWE and TNA of 2007, I have to tell you about somebody that is really getting on my nerves as of late.
Normally, I’m not one in favor of somebody losing their job (well, unless it’s the Miz then it’s okay), so I’m not going to suggest that the employer in question outright fire who I feel deserves the title of Worst Announcer for 2007; they can always keep him around to do some things on their website. I’m talking, of course, about TNA iMPACT! color analyst Don West.
Before this year, Don West was one of those unknown guys that I was willing to give an honest chance to.
But, after a few years of listening to this clown over-sell and over-hype every damn thing under the TNA umbrella, I’ve finally had enough! I am happy that TNA has brought in the likes of Hector Guerrero, Sylvain Grenier, and Hermie Sadler to fill in their announce teams, because I don’t know if I can stand any more of Don West. He is by a very wide margin the worst announcer in wrestling since Tony Schiavonne was calling play-by-play on WCW Monday Nitro. Okay, enough about who the worst is; let’s look at who the best is, starting with the fifth-best all the way to the top:
Jerry “The King” Lawler, Color Commentator, WWE RAW
This year, I think Lawler has really stepped his game up and provided an actually-soothing color side to Jim Ross on Monday nights.
In the past, I’ve been very critical of Lawler always marking out for the Divas and those “puppies”. But, give the monarch his due in that he’s toned down dramatically this year. There was talk of possibly teaming Lawler with ECW play-by-play man Joey Styles, and I have to ask, “Why?”
Lawler and Jim Ross have once again proven that, when they’re at the top of their game, there isn’t an announce team that’s even on their level.
Tazz, Color Commentator, ECW
Tazz has officially made the full transition over from being the color side to Michael Cole on SmackDown! all this time to now being the regular color side to Joey Styles on Tuesday nights for ECW. I’ve always been high on Tazz’s commentary abilities, and he did little to nothing to lose me in any way. Tazz is for real, folks.
John “Bradshaw” Layfield, Color Commentator, WWE SmackDown!
As some of you already know, I’m gaining more and more respect every day for JBL the commentator. JBL, to me, is a lot like Charles Barkley. Barkley used to be a basketball player, and a damn annoying and hateful one at that, for years, before injuries forced him to retire.
Now, he sits on the set of Inside the NBA on TNT, and he blows me away every time I see him on TV. He just says things that make sense.
JBL is a guy that says things that make sense.
Now, the only reason he’s not the top dog this year is the same reason I didn’t put him in the top position last year; the fact that he rambles on and on, and seems to play favorites to Chavo Guerrero, MVP, and Edge above all else.
Now, to his credit, he has also shown that red-blooded American male side that he used to display proudly as a member of the APA. By that, I mean he’s calling every hot Diva on SmackDown! “the next Mrs. Layfield”.
I think we know where he’s going with that.
Joey Styles, Play-by-Play, ECW
Now, wait a minute…last year’s winner for Best Announcer has been dethroned?
Well, yes, and I’ll explain: Styles has not been his usual self this year. Maybe that was a call from upper management, or perhaps of his own doing, but Styles is clearly no longer the top dog in the announcing game. He just sounds different this year for whatever reason. But I will say this much: he’s still one of the reasons I still watch ECW every week.
A surprise at the top has seen the reigning champ fall, and a new Best Announcer in wrestling rise. Let’s just say he’s been here before…
Jim Ross, Play-by-Play, WWE RAW
A man that many hardcore wrestling fans would argue is the best play-by-play man in professional wrestling history would argue that he is just another broadcaster doing the best he can. I beg to differ. Anybody that can make Todd Grisham sound good at the announce table deserves major kudos.
Jim Ross is, without question, back on top of his game after a mild layoff last year in which he kind of let off a little. But, that’ll happen when you miss out on work for nearly six months.
Best Wrestling Move/Maneuver/Hold
Yes, the look, the mic skills, and the entrance all add a very important component to the overall picture in wrestling. But, when it comes right down to it, the name of the game is still wrestling. And in order to be successful in this business, you need to have mat skills. The guys I’m about to name off certainly have that, and their moves that have made the top five of the year prove just that. Because TNA and WWE both have unique moves and wrestlers, I will divide this award into two major categories: one for WWE, one for TNA. We’ll start with TNA.
The Warrior’s Way
We didn’t get to see much of Senshi before, and now, according to inside reports, we may not get a chance to see him ever again, as he has quit TNA Wrestling and has decided to work mostly on the independent circuit. He reportedly has no intention of signing with WWE or Ring of Honor.
But, basically this move is nothing more than a double-foot-stomp off the top rope right onto the opponent’s chest.
How he has yet to crack an opponent’s ribs with that move is beyond me.
The Canadian Destroyer
Now, ask yourselves a simple question, “How can last year’s winning move fall from first to fourth in the TNA ranks?” Well, quite frankly, we haven’t really seen much of Petey Williams this year, and if we haven’t seen much of him, we don’t get much of a chance to see that sick flip piledriver he calls “The Canadian Destroyer”. Still puzzles me how it’s even humanly possible to pull off a move like that, but he has found a way.
The Muscle Buster
Now, unlike Petey Williams, we do get a chance to see a lot of Samoa Joe on iMPACT!. His “Muscle Buster” maneuver has really been damn-near perfected over the last twelve months, which would explain why it’s on this list. Nobody pulls it off quite like Samoa Joe, a member of the Future World Champions list.
“Black Machismo” Jay Lethal
The Lethal Combination
He may have borrowed Randy Savage’s elbow off the top rope as his finisher to complete the “Macho Man” gimmick, but make no mistake about it, this is a far better move. This is actually more often than not Lethal’s setup maneuver that he pulls off right before he goes to the top rope to drop the elbow.
For those that don’t get much of a chance to watch TNA, what the “Lethal Combination” is is a two-move-rolled-into-one maneuver.
Lethal takes his opponent and first pulls off a Randy Orton-esque backbreaker, then before you can even blink from watching that, he puts his opponent in the Rock Bottom position and falls backwards, bringing his opponent down face-first into the mat. One of the best moves I’ve seen in a while, but alas, not good enough to win.
All of these moves are very exceptional, even by TNA’s standards, but they don’t have nearly the appeal, the degree of difficulty, or the excellence level of the winner of the Best Wrestling Move, Maneuver, or Hold for 2007 in TNA. In fact, this was last year’s winning move on the WWE side…
The Flux Capacitor
First off, anybody that names their move after something from a movie is either a really big fan of that movie or has been watching too many movies. But, if you remember, Paul Burchill used an identical move to this one during his short stay in WWE; only Burchill called it the “C-4”. Kaz, however, has taken it to another level, as he has now incorporated a top rope variation of this maneuver, and actually pulled it off perfectly in his main event match recently with Kurt Angle. While Kaz may only be on the bubble right now, he’s just one or two rock solid programs away from becoming yet another member of the Future World Champions list. Here’s hoping he goes the way of CM Punk as opposed to the way of Charlie Haas or Carlito.
With that said, I now take a look at the WWE side of things, from fifth all the way to first.
The Crippler Crossface
Regardless of what people believe did or did not happen at the Benoit residence on that dreaded weekend in June, this move is still one of the best wrestling submission holds I’ve ever seen. Even more interesting is the fact that after Vince McMahon supposedly banned this move, Shawn Michaels apparently used it during his match with Randy Orton at Survivor Series. Now, because of financial circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to watch that match, so I don’t know for certain. I only know what I read in the fans’ breakdown of the match from a wrestling website.
Hopefully, this move won’t be forgotten entirely, despite the wishes of one Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
BTW, memo to Vince: as a WWE fan, and a wrestling fan first and foremost, I am begging you to stop attempting to rewrite history by erasing Chris Benoit from all archived material in your tape library. If you choose to continue with your scorched earth policy on Benoit, I will have no other alternative than to cancel my current subscription to WWE 24/7, regardless of how good the rest of the content is.
I’m not sure that’s the official name of it, but that’s what I’m calling it. This move, in my honest opinion, is better than Jeff’s Swanton Bomb, his Twist of Fate, or even that Matrix move he does. Basically, the opponent is sitting in the corner, in the same position as when Umaga backs his rear end up into your face at about 90 miles per hour. Except with Jeff Hardy, he goes over to the corner, launches himself to the top rope, and pulls off the most beautiful dropkick you will ever see. There are very few moves in wrestling anymore these days where every time I see it, I just mark out and yell, “Damn, I love that move!” This is one of them.
GTS: Go To Sleep
I don’t know who came up with the idea to get rid of both that one move CM Punk used to do as a setup to the Anaconda Vice, as well as the Anaconda Vice itself, but I do have to admit that I’m starting to like the GTS a lot more. Sure, CM Punk on occasion will still use the Vice, but not nearly as often as he used to. Basically, if you haven’t seen it, the GTS is where Punk takes his opponent into Fireman’s Carry position, like he’s about to pull off the F-U, but instead of doing a Fireman’s Carry, he drops his opponent forward, and drives his opponent’s face right into his left knee.
Punk has been the master of many great holds in his young but already amazing career. Never forget, back in his Ring of Honor days, he would use a Pedigree from the top rope that he used to call the “Pepsi Plunge” as his finisher, but officially retired the move because it’s admittedly hard on your knees.
Twist of Fate
Now, I know I said just a minute ago that the Turnbuckle Dropkick that Jeff Hardy uses is better than Jeff’s Twist of Fate.
But, notice I never said anything about Matt’s Twist of Fate. And yes, there is a difference. They’re actually surprising me with the way they’ve helped Matt evolve this move. Have you noticed that Matt’s Twist of Fate is now starting to go down the same road as many other great holds in the past, where it could just happen out of nowhere without any warning whatsoever? Matt’s Twist of Fate is now starting to take its place alongside other moves like Diamond Dallas Page’s “Diamond Cutter”, Randy Orton’s “RKO”, and Steve Austin’s “Stunner”. Like it or not, the Twist of Fate is here to stay.
All of these are great moves, no doubt about it. But, remember what I said just a minute ago? About how there are few moves left that I just yell every time, “Damn, I love that move!” Well, the winner of Best Wrestling Move, Maneuver, or Hold for 2007 in WWE just happens to be on the short list…
The Outer Limits Elbow
If ever there was a conflicting moment that happens every time a move happens where I’m both jubilant and pissed, this is one of those times. Jubilant because the degree of difficulty to pull off the Outer Limits Elbow has to be off the freaking charts, and pissed because…well…it’s Elijah Burke, not exactly the most likeable guy in the world.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure he’s very likeable backstage, and very respectful, unlike others whose names I won’t mention. Although, Elijah Burke is starting to really become a mid-level heel in ECW. He’s just got all the tools you need in a top-level heel: the complete disregard for the rules, the arrogance, the cocky attitude, the loud mouth, the wicked-cool entrance music, and an out-of-this-f-ing-world maneuver that gets the fans’ collective attention almost immediately. Congrats, Elijah. You now possess the coolest move in all of WWE.
Unfortunately, that’s all I have for part one of this column series.
Part two 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.