December 16, 2014

2014: Our Year in Wrestling

Sure, we've got two weeks left, but with all of the major shows behind us, now's as good a time as any to do a recap thing.  There are a few huge, obvious things to make note of, but I had more fun thinking back to some of the little things that I appreciated here and there.  So, kick back, relax, grab a frosty mug of your favorite beverage and your personal electronic device, peruse this latest blog post, and let's all ask the question, "What on Earth just happened?"

 WWE launches the WWE Network.

AJ Styles (released by TNA in December 2013) becomes (probably) the top free agent in the world, and wins the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his first NJPW match.  TNA loses it's contract with Spike, and signs on to a channel called Destination America.

NJPW's 24th G1 Climax is widely hailed as the best singles pro wrestling tournament of all time.

ROH has their first and second Pay-Per-Views (as opposed to Internet Pay-Per-View).  With the downward spiral of TNA, they become the USA's second biggest wrestling company.

In my opinion, these are the big news items of the year.  There's also the CM Punk walkout and subsequent trash-talking.  There's Daniel Bryan's huge, but manufactured Wrestlemania "moment".  There's Brock Lesnar winning the WWE title and only coming around once in a while to defend it against John Cena. These are things we might look back on fondly, with disappointment, or which we might just forget about altogether.  Who knows.  But here are some things I did like about 2014:

Character: Jay Lethal.  I never thought I would see him as a bad guy.  I never thought he could pull it off, he's just too likable, and I always liked that about him.  But he's grown to be a great heel, and just as fun to watch as his babyface persona.  The TV title (which he's held for most of the year) has been the heart and soul of ROH, and is way cooler than the World title, which has been surrounded by grumpy assholes since Adam Cole dropped it.
Match: Cedric Alexander vs Roderick Strong, submission match, Best in the World PPV.  Not the biggest or flashiest ROH match of 2014, but one that I really liked.  Perfect for what it was.
Shoutout: reDRagon.  Possibly the tag team of the year.  Next to Young Bucks and the Dust Brothers, which is great company.  Also, Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino win my coveted Best Commentary Team Award for the second consecutive year.

Character: Low Ki.  I fucking love Low Ki.  He's so over-the-top in everything he does.  His promos are wicked intense, and he's got the ringwork to back it up.
Match: You know what?  I didn't actually watch a whole lot of TNA this year.  Probably something with Austin Aries.  Let's say Austin Aries vs. Samoa Joe for the X-Division championship.  I watched that on Impact one week.  There were some good shows there toward the end.
Shoutout: Daniels & Kazarian.  X-Men trunks are totally appropriate, cuz I think Christopher Daniels must be a mutant.  Kaz was never my favorite on Impact, but I have really been appreciating his wrestling smoothness and range of ability after seeing him work ROH and PWG shows.  They left TNA around April.

Character: Jakob Hammermeier.  Even if he spent most of the year under a cube, I really like Jakob's dedication to the side of evil, even after his terrific face-turn at Never Compromise.  Other contenders (this is a heavily-contested field in Chikara) would include Ophidian, Jimmy Jacobs, and Sidney Bakabella.)
Match: Silver Ant vs Shynron, Moonraker.  I just watched this the other day.  I know there were other good ones, but I can't remember all the Chikara shows this year.  They seemed to come out in spurts, so that I went months without seeing any, then binge on it for a week.  Anyway, the Colony rules, and whatever match I picked would probably either be a Colony or Silver Ant match.
Shoutout: Deucalion.  Not just anyone could've played the monster so convincingly.  That dude was freaking people out.  Nice monster voice.

Character: Hmmm.  The crowd?
Match: Candice Lerae vs Adam Cole, Mystery Vortex II.
Shoutout: Excalibur.  I think the rotating cast of wrestlers who join him can outshine how fun and great he is on commentary.

Character: Dust Brothers.  Sorry Bray Wyatt, your promos are amazing, but your ringwork is weak.  Stardust y Goldust est le package totale.
 Match: Tough one, since I barely watched this year.  Elimination Chamber match?  Bryan at Mania?  Why can't Cesaro and Fandango get 20 minutes on PPV so that I can answer this?  Actually, I'm pretty sure my favorite WWE match this year was with Seth Rollins.  Did he wrestle Daniel Bryan early in the year on Raw?  Rollins has been killin' it.

Character: Sami Zayn.  What character?  The character that somehow makes me care about everything he does.
Match: Sami Zayn vs Adrian Neville, Takeover REvolution.  The hype is still fresh offa this one, but I know I can stand by it.  It was awesome.

Character: Nakamura?  Okada?  Maybe a tie.  These guys are so top-shelf it's ridiculous.  I'll go with my dude Okada, the shiny-clothes-wearing unstoppable buck.
Match: Okada vs Nakamura, G1 Finals.  The culmination of the best wrestling thing ever.  Easily my Match Of The Year.
Shoutouts: Hiroshi Tanahashi and AJ Styles, who haven't had anything but great matches all year, either against each other, or whoever.  More shoutouts to Gedo and Jado, who will surely win the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's "Best Booking" award for the fourth consecutive year.

Well, that wasn't so bad.  Remember when I used to write two to three times that much about one week's worth of wrestling?  Maybe a hundred other things I should have added to this will occur to me later, like my favorite match from Superstars, and my favorite character from OVW (it's the Body Guy).  Until then, this is Quarter Marshall wishing you a joyful and staph-free New Year.

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