by Daniel Johnson, Kyle Childers, Jeremy Cundiff and Bad Booking
What wrestler do you think deserves to be called Mr. 2012 or Ms./Mrs. 2012?
Daniel Johnson: CM Punk deserves the title of Mr. 2012 beyond a shadow of a doubt. He held the WWE Championship for the entirety of the year and had some good to great matches with the likes of Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, John Cena and others. While not nearly as well known in the United States Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada have also been tearing the scene up in NJPW and perhaps deserve some honorable mentions. As for female performers, AJ Lee hogs enough time each week that regardless of quality she almost has to be the choice for Ms. 2012.
Kyle Childers: Mr. 2012 is, without question, CM Punk. Was there anyone that could outclass him in 2012? He started the year as WWE champion, had a great series of title defenses against the likes of Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and John Cena. Some people may say the character has gotten stagnant or that the heel turn shouldn’t have happened but even after the turn and the Heyman team up Punk was one of, if not the, most interesting characters in the WWE. Without question, 2012 was the year of the Punk. The question of Ms. 2012 is a bit harder for me since I’m a wrestling fan that exists in this odd sort of WWE, BJW, DDT bubble which really aren’t the best promotions for women. Based on my viewing habits, I’ll give the title of Ms. 2012 to Paige. She’s still very new on the American scene and hasn’t made it to either of the main shows yet but her in-ring talent shined in NXT this year as she put on some of the most enjoyable women’s matches the WWE has produced in a long time.
Jeremy Cundiff: CM Punk. Everyone else who’s been on top this year was already on top. Punk is now elevated to that level. They got behind him, and it’s paid off. Cementing yourself in the upper echelon and only needing one full year to do it? You earned that, Punk.
Bad Booking: Mr. 2012: CM PUNK! The man’s been the champion for the whole year, a feat that hasn’t been matched since Hulk Hogan in 1987. He has had a great variety of title defenses against many different characters. He can virtually work with anyone, anywhere, any time. He may very well be the best overall WWE Champion since Shawn Michaels in 1996-1998. The late addition of Paul Heyman only adds to the intrigue. Both heel and face, amongst the best and freshest things WWE has had going in the last little while. Ms. 2012: AJ Lee. I’m only writing this because she is the best overall woman in the WWE. That was a sad but true sentence to write. WWE has pretty much told us sports entertainment fans that women just don’t matter unless they have a vague presence of authority. At least with AJ, we have an unstable skippy who makes everything unpredictable and fun. That’s more than I can think of for anyone else eligible.
Who was 2012 the worst year ever for?
Daniel Johnson: Two names come to mind as far as 2012 being the worst year for them ever. Christian is the first to come to mind. With more injuries and lack of a serious push when he was healthy it solidified that he would never be at the level of World Heavyweight Champion again even if he is tremendously talented. Speaking of the World Heavyweight Championship Jack Swagger would be my second choice. With how little he did in 2012 it is tough to imagine he once carried that strap.
Kyle Childers: The TNA fans. I know I said I exist in a bubble of fandom and that’s true but there was a time earlier this year when Impact Wrestling was among my weekly watch-list and that was before Aces & 8s. That’s not to say the whole angle was terrible, it wasn’t, the starting few months were pretty good TV but then Devon was revealed as not the leader and things all went to hell. After months of rampant speculation, very little development, no resolution, and the rumor that TNA creative plans to extend the feud at least until Lockdown, possibly to Bound for Glory, 2012 was a bad year to be a TNA fan.
Jeremy Cundiff: Zack Ryder, easily. He started 2012 as being one of the few, if not the only, guys in WWE to get himself over WITHOUT the company pushing him in any way, shape or form. The fans got behind him moreso than anybody they’ve been forcefed in the last decade. WWE repaid this man’s extra effort by promptly burying the ever-loving piss out of him, letting every single wrestler in the industry know that you’re never going to make it in this business unless WWE SAYS YOU ARE. Zack Ryder not only had the worst year ever, but to me, that killed the dreams of every youngster in the indies. How could I expect to bust my ass knowing that even if the fans do like me, I’ll just get buried if I’m not what corporate wants?
Bad Booking: This is a tough one. WWE hasn’t really had a bad year in terms of Raw, Smackdown, or any of the other shows. However, there are two downsides to their current programming mantra: One, there is too much of WWE’s product on television. Three hours of Raw, two hours of Smackdown, one hour of Main Event and countless other online shows done on the WWE site. That’s at least six hours a week of original programming, not including specials and pay-per-views. OVERKILL! In turn, there is a big hint of indifference towards the product. Raw has pretty much been labelled the “must see” show. The effect of this is that all the other shows not named Raw have significant amounts of time devoted to recapping major angles on the flagship show. Geez, isn’t that what the Internet is there for?
What is the one match that you want to see for Wrestlemania this year?
Daniel Johnson: I love dream matches and WWE having The Rock, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, HHH, John Cena, CM Punk and others has a ton of potential. Yet, I’d rather see a match between two full-time wrestlers with proven chemistry on the biggest show of the year. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXIX would be a match people could still talk about positively 20 years later. They nearly had a 5 star match on a B pay-per-view. Imagine what they could do at Wrestlemania?
Kyle Childers: Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker in a street fight. Lots of speculation points to Lesnar taking on HHH again at Wrestlemania and while I’m sure the creative team thinks that’s awesome and HHH is itching to get his win back, it’s not what the fans want. Give Taker and Lesnar 20-25 minutes to just beat the hell out of each other, no end of an era, no overly dramatic stipulations, just two dudes attempting to punch each other into comas on the grandest stage of them all.
Jeremy Cundiff: The Rock vs. CM Punk. Only feud going on right now that might convince people to pay for the show. Everyone else is doing well, but they ain’t doing well enough to sell Wrestlemania. The Rock is guaranteed to have that show built completely around him, and since he’s already put John Cena down I believe they have no choice but to feed Punk to The Rock. Punk will at least make The Rock’s vacation in the WWE entertaining. And there’s always a chance that Punk will win, as opposed to anybody else they throw at Dwayne.
Bad Booking: The match I want to see for Wrestlemania this year is Undertaker/John Cena. Although these two have had run-ins here and there, their last major feud occurred in 2003 as completely different entities. Think of how these two men have evolved since then. Undertaker is an outlaw elder statesman, capable of getting a great match from anyone. John Cena is in a point of his career where not only does he still draw like gangbusters, but just his name recognition gets main event status. Undertaker’s career is coming to a close, and there is no better time than now to have the face of the WWE versus a man who is practically WWE.
In the WWE by the end of 2013 what wrestlers will have held the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships, respectively?
Daniel Johnson: For the WWE Championship CM Punk, The Rock and John Cena will have all held it. I see The Rock beating CM Punk at the Royal Rumble and Cena getting his win back at Wrestlemania. Perhaps someone could beat Cena later in the year as well, but if that happens I just see it going back to Punk. Sheamus will win back the World Heavyweight Championship either from Alberto Del Rio or possibly from The Big Show if he gets it back.
Kyle Childers: By the end of 2013, most of the people will be old faces and I’m okay with that. The WWE Championship is the top tier prize in the company to be given to whoever is established enough for WWE to promote him as THE face of the company (barring Sheamus and The Miz) so 2013′s WWE title holders will likely consist of CM Punk, The Rock and John Cena. There’s an off chance that Bryan or Ziggler will get a run with it but it seems more likely Ziggler willl get a World Heavyweight Championship reign along with Damien Sandow. I’m still holding out hope that Wade Barrett sees a title run soon.
Jeremy Cundiff: I see Sheamus holding one of the titles for sure. The other is a total blank to me. It’s a tie between Cena and Punk, although if there was ever a year to pull a Tommy Rich and shock people, this year would be it. I’d love to see Ziggler get at least a chance, but as I said once before—until Dolph turns face, he’s not going to get that big win. He just can’t. It’s the Shawn Michaels effect—the cocky heel who sells so good he can’t help but turn face. The turn has to be done right—gradually and logically. If that turn does not happen in 2013, then expect the same old guard until the next level is ready.
Bad Booking: WWE Championship: CM Punk and John Cena. World Heavyweight Championship: Big Show, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton and Damien Sandow.
By the end of 2013 what wrestlers will have held the top titles in TNA, ROH and the NWA, respectively?
Daniel Johnson: Jeff Hardy will drop the TNA World Heavyweight Championship to Christopher Daniels if TNA is smart (meaning we may never get a Daniels run). If TNA does go with Daniels don’t expect him to have it for long as he will likely transition it to another face. My money is on James Storm since he was on fire in the last few months of 2012. For the ROH World Heavyweight Championship it is tough to see anyone defeating Kevin Steen at the moment. Still, Steen will probably drop it sometime before the end of the year. Possibly Davey Richards or Adam Cole could upset him. Lastly, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship will be around “The Tokyo Monster” Kahagas’ waist for some time. I see NWA eventually deciding to give it to a more well-known indie wrestler though. For some reason I’m thinking Steve Corino.
Kyle Childers: TNA: If Christopher Daniels or Bully Ray haven’t been champion by the end of the year, TNA hates their fans. ROH: I would answer this question but I don’t follow ROH well enough to have the slightest idea. I couldn’t even tell you who their champion is currently. NWA: The highest bidder for the belt.
Jeremy Cundiff: Austin Aries will get a second run with the TNA belt. Count on it. In ROH, I’d expect El Generico to finally get his run at the top, if Kevin Steen still isn’t. As for the NWA, I can’t even begin to tell you anymore. I’m shocked there’s still an NWA to begin with, and the only two guys I knew who were in the NWA World title picture (Colt Cabana and Adam Pearce) just walked out on them.
Bad Booking: I can really only answer for TNA mainly because I don’t follow the other two.TNA: Austin Aries, Bully Ray and Jeff Hardy.
What independent star will make it big in 2013?
Daniel Johnson: El Generico would be a predictable answer since he just got signed to WWE, but I see WWE botching his push. This is perhaps cheating a little, but I think Steen will make it big (or bigger). WWE or TNA (the latter of which I find more likely) may sign him at some point and give him a decent push. I could definitely see Steen being put in the Aces & 8s’ angle. Whether he could survive that angles’ inherent goofiness is tougher to say.
Kyle Childers: 2013 will be the year I keep the dream of Kenny Omega finally making it in the U.S. alive.
Jeremy Cundiff: I don’t see anyone catching fire really. If Joey Ryan couldn’t do it in TNA this year, I don’t know who will this year.
Bad Booking: Either Tony Nese or Sami Callihan. Both are great talents who don’t need any developmental work.
By the end of 2013 what will be the most impressive use of foreign talent by WWE/TNA?
Daniel Johnson: This one is really tough especially since WWE’s plan to sign Kazuchika Okada just fell through (if it ever actually existed). I’m reaching here a bit, but I wouldn’t be shocked if WWE finally unlocked some of Sin Cara’s true potential. Maybe he’ll just have a little more success with Rey Mysterio or actually be pushed in the upper midcard for a bit. Alternatively, Del Rio is a safer bet, but is pushing him down people’s throats really a sign of success? As for TNA they would be crazy not to do more with Magnus (which again may be a good sign that they won’t).
Kyle Childers: I think 2013 will be a big year for Antonio Cesaro, he’s got all the right tools and he’s finally starting to get a foothold in popularity. Hopefully the WWE gets behind him as a legitimate star in the next year.
Jeremy Cundiff: Alberto Del Rio actually gets over.
Bad Booking: Foreign talent…hmm…I just really hope WWE and TNA can promote talent for their talent and not predictable stereotypes.
What wrestler do you think will be Mr. or Ms./Mrs. 2013?
Daniel Johnson: I could see Bryan breaking away from Kane to become Mr. 2013. The guy is more phenomenal in the ring than AJ Styles and while I don’t care for a lot of his mic work all those people chanting “yes” or “no” seem to disagree with me. As for Ms. 2013 I’ll say Kaitlyn. Like AJ Lee, WWE love her. Unlike AJ Lee, WWE are actually willing to showcase her in-ring skills.
Kyle Childers: I really hope that when I write my portion of this next year I can spend most of my time talking about what a great year Dolph Ziggler had.
Jeremy Cundiff: Anybody but Garett Bischoff.
Bad Booking: Mr. 2013: Dolph Ziggler sounds like a damn good bet. He’s catching fire just as we go to Wrestlemania season. He looks really good right now. Ms./Mrs. 2013: Kaitlyn will be promoted as a big-time women’s player. Too bad we’ve all come to expect piss breaks for diva matches/sketches.
Any other thoughts on what will be in 2013?
Daniel Johnson: 2013 has the potential to be an incredible year. Wrestlemania in particular looks exciting with all of the aforementioned dream match potential. On a different note NXT has also been working to turn out a fine crop of talent. As for non-WWE related stuff NJPW can do no wrong with Okada and if his upward momentum continues he has a shot at succeeding Hiroshi Tanahashi as the true face of the company. TNA while not having the dream match potential of the WWE will continue to put out quality programming (as mistake heavy as it may be). Finally, the indies as always are unpredictable and I look forward to seeing what talent debuts and what talent steps up.
Kyle Childers: With NXT running strong with a deep talent roster of varied superstars, 2013 and will be looked at much in the same light as 2002 was in terms of introducing us to the next line of talent that will be the focus of the company for the next ten years.
Jeremy Cundiff: This is the year the fan will not be ignored.
Bad Booking: WWE and TNA need to prove they can rejuvenate an audience and promote new talent. Especially on WWE’s side, the main event scene needs a little shuffling with the midcard looking ready to cross over big time. 2013 could be a fruitful year if the chess pieces are placed properly.
Photos 1-6, 8-9: en.wikipedia.org
Photo 7: tribalwrestling.com