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I know we are a little bit beyond the halfway point, but because I didn't do it earlier and because there is nothing super important going on this week, I thought it would be a good time to hand out my mid-year awards for 2013.
One quick note: I haven't seen or am I aware of every single wrestler, promotion, match or storyline that has taken place in 2013. These awards are open to just about anything, but it would be impossible to declare that I have seen or heard of everything int he wrestling universe, so I'm only going to evaluate what I have seen in 2013.
Wrestler of the Year: Kazuchika Okada
New Japan has had an incredible 2013 so far, and you don't have to look past IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada to see why. Between him and Hiroshi Tanahashi, NJPW has done a tremendous job in presenting the best possible matches in the biggest of spotlights. The 26 year old Okada has worked a beautiful feud with the veteran Tanahashi, and has guaranteed New Japan a main event player for decades to come.
Best Babyface: Daniel Bryan
Although his actions would suit him as more of a tweener in 2013, no man has achieved a greater success with the fans then Daniel Bryan. It is funny to think of a man that was originally dubbed to be too generic and boring to be a WWE star is now arguably the most charismatic man inside a wrestling ring. I don't think any performer has a greater percentage of the fans pulling for him then Daniel Bryan.
Best Heel: Steve Corino
It hasn't been a particularly strong year for heels. Most of top heels talent either turned babyface during the year ( CM Punk, Kevin Steen) didn't make a ton of appearances (Brock Lesnar) or have suffered from poor booking (Bully Ray). I decided to go with the flammable Corino, whose constant boasting and hypocrisy have made him one of the most deplorable characters in wrestling. He also helped reinvigorate the career of a previously-washed-up Matt Hardy.
Best Technical Wrestler: Hiroshi Tanahashi
This was tough for me to choose because on a purely talent based level, I think a guys like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk are a bit better then Tanahashi. However, Tanahashi works for a company that lets him use 100% of his ability, and it shows in the amount of stellar matches he has put on so far in 2013. He is really the closest thing we have to Shawn Michaels in his ability to put on the best matches in the biggest of moments.
Honorable Mention: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Austin Aries, Robert Roode, Prince Devitt, Davey Richards
Best Brawler: Roderick Strong
The way of the brawler has gone by the wayside in favor of more technically sound and high-flying maneuvers. However, a few talented men still hold down the fort, led by Roderick Strong. Strong works a style solely unique to him, and although he has been hampered by some questionable booking in 2013, he has still gone out and had some incredibly hard-hitting matches.
Honorable Mention: Sami Callihan, Bully Ray, Kevin Steen, Eddie Edwards, Minoru Suzuki, Karl Anderson
Best High-Flyer: Kota Ibushi
If the brawler is dieing then the high-flyer is thriving. The independents are filled with top-ranked talent, as well as Japan. Even WWE is starting to take notice as they have signed PAC and El Generico, arguably the most premier talent in high-flying, to contracts. Ibushi is a veteran in an a division filled with young athletes, but nobody puts on as many high-quality matches as Ibushi. His repertoire is unmatched and his ability to space out his moves for the right times in his match set him apart from other "spot monkeys."
Match of the Year: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada at NJPW Invasion Attack
There could have been a five star match that took place in front of 15 people and a goat in the Ukraine, but from what I saw this year, Tanahashi vs Okada for Tanahashi's IWGP WHC from April's Invasion Attack was the best. Great storytelling, great psychology and great use of finishing manuevers made the match special, as Okada beat the veteran Tanahashi with his devastating lariat dubbed "The Rainmaker" to regain the IWGP WHC.
Event of the Year: NJPW Invasion Attack
A lot of strong contenders, but from top to bottom, Invasion Attack was the best. In addition to the tremendous Okada/Tanahashi bout, Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA vs Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi, Shinsuke Nakamura vs Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Masato Tanaka and Yujiro Takahashi vs Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma were all great contests. There really was not a bad match on the card, and I see it very unlikely that another event will top this one between now and the end of the year.
Honorable Mention: NJPW Dominion, WWE Elimination Chamber, PWG All-Star Weekend 9
Tag Team of the Year: The Young Bucks
After being denied from major promotions, the Bucks have continued to apply their craft on the independents. The Bucks are extremely athletic, and are very good heels, playing the pompous pretty boy card to perfection. They have consistently supplied great matches in Evolve, DG USA, CHIKARA, PWG and many other promotions. They slightly Edge out the Shield it the closest contested award so far.
Honorable Mention: reDragon, The Shield, Time Splitters, Bad Influence, The Briscoes
Female Wrestler of the Year: AJ Lee
Normally a WWE Diva is passed over for this award in favor of a women who actually laces them up and wrestles for a living. However, AJ is much more then the typical diva, as she controls storylines and has had probably the most significant womens feud in the last few years with Kaitlyn. She is pretty solid in the ring and can hold her own against anyone. She also might be the most marketable American female wrestler in history.
Honorable Mention: Gail Kim, Cheerleader Melissa, MsChif
Best Finishing Move: Ricochet's Double Rotation Moonsault
It is hard for someone to have a move that is uniquely their own, because if a move is good, people will use it in their own repertoire. However, Ricochet's Double Moonsault is completely his own, as only a handful of talent have the athletic ability to even attempt the move, never mind hit it consistently. If you haven't seen it, look it up on youtube, as it is the most jaw-dropping move in wrestling today.
Honorable Mention: Okada's Rainmaker, Adrian Neville's Corckscrew Shooting Star, Young Buck's More Bang for your Buck, Chuck Taylor's Omega Driver.
Most Underrated: AJ Styles
AJ Styles is still one of the best performers in the world, although it is almost impossible for him to be presented in a good way while he is still in TNA. AJ combines great athleticism with fantastic in-ring psychology and charisma to be the man for a company, but he never gets the ball to run with it.
Honorable Mention: Samoa Joe, Wade Barrett, Doug Williams, Daniels
Most Overrated: Jeff Hardy
Despite being dubbed the savior of TNA and the guy to put the company on the map, Hardy's run in TNA has been very mediocre. His diminishing athleticism has made him rely on his half-hearted brawling and sloppy mat skills. He still has his fair amount of fans though.
Next Big Star: Dean Ambrose
Nobody has star written on him quite like Ambrose, whose combination of in-ring ability and captivating presence on the microphone have accelerated him into a great position within the WWE. A World Title reign by the end of the year is certainly not out of the question. Bray Wyatt may surpass him, but since he just recently debuted, I find it hard to give him the award.
Best on Interviews: CM Punk
No wrestler is quite as captivating as CM Punk when he has a microphone in his hands. To sell a ppv match, the WWE just needs to give Punk a microphone and some tv time and he gets the job done. He is also extremely versatile, being able to get a crowd to cheer for him like thunder, or to boo him from the bottom of their hearts.
Honorable Mention: The Rock, Kevin Steen, Bully Ray, Steve Corino, Tim Donst
Best Promotion: Dragon Gate USA
Being led by the supremely talented Gabe Sapolsky, DG USA has combined good storylines with an incredibly diverse and exciting group of talent to form the most engaging product in wrestling. With some of the larger American promotions struggling, DG USA may be on its way to skyrocketing in popularity.
Honorable Mention: New Japan Pro Wrestling, CHIKARA, Dramatic Dream Team, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
Worst Promotion: Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
From a booking and financial standpoint, things could not be going much worse for TNA. In the long run, they will have to significantly change their booking and management to turn things around. And they better do it soon, or it may end up being too late.
Honorable Mention: NOAH, Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling
Who do you think should win these awards? Sound off below.