The Slammy's are rigged, PWI's awards are based in kayfabe and the Observer's take forever to come out. That leaves us with The Viewies® as the go-to wrestling awards for 2013. These awards are completely based on my opinion so keep that in mind. Also, while I have seen my fair share of wrestling from 2013, I haven't seen it all. There could have been a great, 5-star match that happened at an independent show in Iowa that 50 people saw, but I haven't seen it so it doesn't get consideration.
Now onto the awards…
Wrestler of the Year: Kazuchika Okada
The reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion left all other competitors in the dust in 2013. Okada spent most of 2013 as the World Champion, as was the driving force behind New Japan's impressive 2013. As a member of CHAOS, New Japan's leading heel stable, Okada pieced together a powerful year, the highlight being his victory over New Japan superstar Hiroshi Tanahashi on April 7th at New Japan's Invasion Attack PPV. Okada, who adopted his "Rainmaker" persona in 2012, established himself as being the coolest of cool, and backed it up by having one of the most successful years a wrestler could possibly have. Okada defended his title against everyone, from a vengeful Tanahashi, to veterans like Satoshi Kojima, to young up and comers like Karl Anderson. His recent feud with Tetsuya Naito has fallen a little flat heading into NJPW's biggest show of the year, January 4th at the Tokyo Dome, but at just 26 years old, Okada has a lot to build off of.
The biggest difference between Okada and his closest rival for this award, Daniel Bryan, was that Okada was a much more prominent player. While Bryan was probably the most popular wrestler, he just didn't get the same opportunities that Okada has to be THE top guy in the company. Bryan has been overshadowed by John Cena, Randy Orton and Triple H, Okada has been overshadowed by nobody. Okada has headlined every PPV since he won the title, Bryan has headlined a few, but recently has been more of an afterthought. Bryan was spectacular, but he just didn't have a better 2013 than Kazuchika Okada.
Best Technical Wrestler: Daniel Bryan
Bryan has won a slew of these awards since he burst onto the national scene in ROH, but these last few years, his awards have been different. It is one thing to have great matches with Samoa Joe, KENTA and Nigel McGuinness, it is another thing to get good matches out of limited workers like Ryback or John Cena. Bryan has simply out-classed everybody else when it comes to technical wrestling, and has put on a clinic in every single match he participated in 2013. He has had several Match of the Year candidates, against all types of opponents, and doesn't look to be slowing down heading into 2014.
Pro Wrestling NOAH hasn't had a lot to cheer about in 2013. Dwindling attendance numbers and a mass exodus of veteran talent has done a number on the once prosperous promotion. However, they still have an absolute ace in KENTA, who has carried the GHC Heavyweight Chmapionship since late January. With the abrupt retirement of Low Ki, KENTA is probably the undisputed best pure striker in wrestling right now. KENTA's emphatic, in your face style has made sure that brawling, which is beginning to fade away stateside, is alive and well in NOAH.
Honorable Mention: Roderick Strong, Tomohiro Ishii, Samoa Joe, Sami Callihan, Kevin Steen
Best Power Wrestler: Michael Elgin
Power wrestling has long been WWE's calling card, but no power wrestler in WWE could top Michael Elgin in 2013. Elgin, while devastating opponents with his Elgin Bomb or holding them up for a solid minute in vertical suplexes, Elgin has torn up the independent circuit in 2013. The burly Canadian has been a beast for both ROH and PWG, and is likely the best candidate for being the next ROH World Champion. At 26, Elgin certainly has a bright future in front of him, likely involving a stay in Stamford.
I will have to admit, Kota Ibushi is my favorite wrestler in the world right now, so I might be a little bit biased. However, Ibushi has won the "Best Flying Wrestler" award from the Observer 3 of the last 4 years, so it isn't an exaggeration to give Ibushi this award. Ibushi may not be as overly athletic or as spectacular as guys like Ricochet or Rich Swann, but he is the best at utilizing his aerial abilities within the context of a match. Ibushi has had two match of the year candidates, against Shinsuke Nakamura in the G1 Climax, and another against Okada at a show for the Dramatic Dream Team promotion. Now working with a full-time contract with New Japan, Ibushi has teased making a full-fledged jump to the heavyweight division, but for now seems content to wrestle in the junior heavyweight division.
Most Charismatic: Daniel Bryan
Bryan is a rare talent in wrestling, able to capture both the best technical wrestling award AND the most charismatic award. Bryan has gotten over with wrestling fans more than any other wrestler on the planet in 2013, and WWE may have not had this much universal support for a wrestler since Steve Austin. Bryan has rocked it in and outside of the ring, and he is almost guaranteed the biggest pop of the night every single event he is at. If you haven't been to a WWE show with Daniel Bryan in it, than you really ought to go, because you can never fully understand just how great Bryan is until you are a part in the sea of YES! chants. So much for being a vanilla midget.
Best Heel: Prince Devitt
It wasn't a great year for heels, as two of the world's best; CM Punk and Kevin Steen, turned face during 2013. Prince Devitt, with the formation of the all-gaijin Bullet Club, has really upped his game as a straight heel. Devitt, dubbing himself the "Real Rock'n Rolla" has been vying for the top heel slot in New Japan, and few would doubt that he isn't capable of doing so. Devitt has backed up his brash talk and attitude with big victories over Okada, Satoshi Kojima and other former IWGP World Champions. Devitt also worked a long and successful feud with New Japan's top babyface, Hiroshi Tanahashi, culminating in Luberjack Deathmatch in September. Devitt has since moved onto defending his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, a title he has held since November of 2012, against Kota Ibushi, while also looking like a viable world title contender for 2014.
Honorable Mention: CM Punk, Shinsuke Nakamura, Steve Corino, Johnny Gargano
Best Tag Team: The Young Bucks
In multiple companies, the Young Bucks have been a dominant tag team. Mixing classic heel tactics with impressive high-flying, both Matt and Nick Jackson enjoyed their most successful year yet as a tag team. Currently, they are the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Tag Team Champions, as well as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Also in 2013, they won PWG's annual Dynamite Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament for the 3rd time, won the NJPW Super Jr. Tag Tournament, Dragon Gate USA's Open the United Gate Championship, and were Chikara's Campeonatos de Parejas. The combination of in-ring ability and accomplishments make The Young Bucks second to none in what was a pretty loaded year for tag teams.
Come back Monday for part two of The Viewies® where I hand out more awards, including Best Event, Match of the Year, Worst Announcer and more.