Last year I did an awards article entitled The Viewies® where I handed out my awards for the 2013 wrestling season. With six months already out of the way and six more to go in 2014, it's high time for a mid-season look at the awards. Consider these the Pre-Viewies®
Wrestler of the Year: Kazuchika Okada
What was turning into an exciting sprint to the finish between Okada and Daniel Bryan has turned into a quiet jog in the race for this year's Wrestler of the Year award. Okada lost the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship and Daniel Bryan was injured and was forced to forfeit his own world title. Okada likely won't have a chance to regain his title until at least September or October, and Bryan is on the mend for god knows how long, so there is the possibility that another name could sneak in during the second half of 2014 and win the award, with the most likely candidates being Michael Elgin and AJ Styles.
With all that being said, Okada has had a tremendous start to 2014. He opened the year with a tremendous world title defense against Tetsuya Naito in front of nearly 40,000 fans at Wrestle Kingdom 8 in January and continued to have awesome title matches against Kota Ibushi and AJ Styles. With the growing force of NJPW's other heel stables, Suzukigun and the Bullet Club, Okada and the rest of his CHAOS stablemates have found themselves as babyfaces for the first time, adding a new angle to his character. With the arrival of AJ Styles, Okada's championship reign of nearly 400 days came to an end. However, with his charisma, steady in-ring work and youth (amazingly still just 26 years old) Okada figures to be a major player in the wrestling industry for at least another decade.
Runners-up: Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Adam Cole
Tag Team of the Year: The Young Bucks
More than anybody, The Young Bucks get around the globe. The duo have held tag team championships in three different time zones and are constantly working on all parts of the globe. They have had a fantastic series of matches against various tag teams, from rEDragon, to the best Friends, to Time Splitters. They are a part of two of the most impressive factions in wrestling (The Bullet Club and Mount Rushmore) and are probably the most engaging heel tag team on the circuit. The Bucks are not tough, but they don't pretend to be, they are just classic, dirty rotten cheaters. They work fluidly in the ring in a way that only The Briscoes can match. Simply put, no tag team is doing a greater variety of things with such a high quality then the Bucks.
Runners-up: reDRagon, Time Splitters, The Bravado Brothers, Team Dream Future
Women's Wrestler of the Year: Manami Toyota
This was probably the hardest choice out of all the awards. If AJ Lee had been a constant factor during the first half of 2014, she would earn the award but she had such a long absence that it's hard to give her the award. Cheerleader Melissa has been very good, but has lacked the exposure of some of her rivals. The usually vaunted Knockouts Division in TNA has been without any direction for a while.
That led me to choose Manami Toyota. Toyota is undisputedly the greatest female wrestler in the history of the industry, and despite being 43 years old, is still an extremely profound competitor. She captured the World Women Pro-Wrestling Diana world title in April and has worked all over Japan with talents young and old. Outside of AJ Lee, she is probably has the most drawing power of any women's wrestler, so combined with her still outstanding ring work, she gets the nod.
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