These are the awards where we honor the hard working employees of World Wrestling Entertainment based on their work over the last twelve months. I come to you today to present the very “prestigious” awards that I call the third annual 2011 WWE Johnny Awards! They’re like the Slammy Awards except with better writing, at least I think so. Before I begin, it’s worth pointing out that this is World Wrestling Entertainment stuff ONLY. It says it in the title, but I want you to remember that when you ask why there’s no TNA or ROH in here. It’s WWE only.

I enjoyed writing this column a lot more this year than I did in 2009 and 2010. It was a better year for WWE because of the rise of CM Punk, the return of The Rock and a number of high quality PPV events that made everybody raise their game. The roster is in a lot better shape right now than it was especially two years ago. I’m posting this hours after the TLC PPV, which ended with CM Punk as the WWE Champion & Daniel Bryan as the World Champion. Who would’ve thunk it? I’m ecstatic about it. It goes without saying too that 99% of this column was written before TLC aired, so remember that before you ask questions about it.

THE 25 MAJOR JOHNNY AWARDS
There will be 25 major awards. Each one will have a description of what the award is, a lovely banner made by my buddy Steve listing some of the nominees, the winner of the award, the runners-up for the award, the previous winners of the award (if the award existed in the last two years) and then my extended thoughts on the award. The bigger the award, the more thoughts there will be. I did polls for 13 of the awards, so there will be poll results for those as well. I was going to include reader thoughts for all of the awards, but maybe I can do that another time. This is going to be a really long column even without those. There are some “worst” awards too although not as many as there were in the past. I’m not a hater, but some things deserve it.

1. BEST WRESTLER
To be given to the person that best combines workrate, character, mic work and everything else into one. This is similar to WWE’s Superstar of the Year award.
Winner: CM Punk
Runners-Up: Randy Orton, Christian, John Cena
2010 winner: Randy Orton, 2009 winner: Chris Jericho
Poll Results: CM Punk 67%, Dolph Ziggler 8%, Christian 6%, Randy Orton 5%

This was an easy pick. It’s CM Punk all the way. No question about it. There’s not a single performer in 2011 that best defines what it means to be excellent at everything. Can he have great matches? Yes. Can he cut money drawing promos? Yes. Is he entertaining? Yes. Does he have a passion for the business? Yes. Does he have a well defined character that fans can relate to? Yes, as a heel and face this year. In 2010, Punk finished third for this award as a heel and in 2009 he finished second for this award as a babyface that turned heel. This year he won as a heel turned babyface because thanks to him, 2011 was a fun year especially in the summer. I’ll never forget the “shoot” promo that Punk did on the June 27th edition of Raw. “I am the best in the world,” is what the message was about. From the moment he said that, what did he do? He proved that he was the best in the world. His performance leading up to the Money in the Bank PPV gave us some of the best promos in the history of the business. Yes, I said history of the business. They were that good. Then the match with John Cena at Money in the Bank was one of those special moments that didn’t seem to end. From the moment the raucous crowd started chanting Punk’s name to the goodbye kiss to Vince McMahon while holding the WWE Title, it’s a night we won’t soon forget. The title win at Survivor Series was special too. There were a lot of memories from 2011 that I’ll always remember. The majority of them involve CM Punk. It wasn’t just the Summer of Punk as a lot of people said, it was the Year of Punk. CM Punk is the Best Wrestler of 2011. No question about it.

Randy Orton had a better year in 2011 than he did in 2010 or any year of his career. Because CM Punk was so good I couldn’t give Orton the award. You can see the way he’s improved in the ring as a babyface worker. He’s really done a great job of putting together quality matches with a number of different opponents. His best feud and matches were with Christian of course (more on that later), but he had a strong feud with CM Punk in the spring and ended the year doing a great job working with Wade Barrett. There have also been a number of quality matches with rising midcarders like Dolph Ziggler & Cody Rhodes that have me very excited to see what’s in store for the future. Promo wise he’s not better or worse because it’s rare to see him talk too much. That’s part of his gimmick, which is fine by me. He’s still generating huge pops with the crowd and the RKO is arguably the most popular finisher in the company. At 31 years of age, after nearly a decade on the main roster, Orton’s coming off his best year and he’s in the prime of his wrestling career. He’s on a roll.

Christian! Christian! At last a World Champion! Sorry, had to pay homage to his old theme song there. When Christian won the World Title in that excellent ladder match at Extreme Rules, I was genuinely happy for the guy because we saw how long it took him to reach that level. I never thought it would happen, honestly. Two days later at the Smackdown tapings, he lost the title to Randy Orton. Fans online were pissed. All over the websites, Facebook walls and Twitter feeds people were furious about it. After seeing the match, I wrote an article saying it would be great if Christian turned heel. He did. And it was. There was a heel void on Smackdown. Not only did he fill it, but he solidified himself as a main event level player thanks to a four month feud with Randy Orton that included a second, albeit brief, title reign. He was given more promo time, wrestled in more TV main events and had arguably the best matches of anybody on the roster. The best part? He deserved all of it. Whether he wins the WWE or World Title again doesn’t matter. The fact that he was given the chance to hold it this year makes me a happy Christian fan because I didn’t think it would ever happen. I’m happy to be wrong about that one.

I realize that Cena being a runner up may get me some heat with some of the haters out there. That’s fine. Bring it on. He deserves his spot up here. Without him, The Rock’s presence wouldn’t be as impactful. Because of Cena’s history, the feud with Rock seems like a big deal because Cena has been the top guy for so long. Then there was CM Punk, who benefitted from a rivalry with Cena in the summer. If he cut those promos against anybody else would they have meant as much? No. If you look at in-ring performance, Cena had a pretty good year thanks to those matches with Punk although his feud with Miz left a lot to be desired for a main event level feud. Cena’s value to the company is in his name. When he’s involved in something people pay attention because they either love him or hate him…or in my case neither love nor hate, but have a lot of respect for him.

Other people that deserve praise for their performances this year are The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and even Mark Henry to name a few. It was a good year for a lot of people. The roster is very talented right now, which means the future is very bright.

2. BEST FEUD
To be given to the best rivalry between two or more performers.
Winner: Randy Orton vs. Christian
Runners-Up: CM Punk vs. John Cena, The Rock vs. John Cena
2010 winner: The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan, 2009 winner: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy
Poll Results: Orton/Christian 40%, Punk/Cena 35%, CM Punk vs. Vince/HHH/Laurinaitis 11%, Ziggler/Ryder 5%

It’s been a great year for epic feuds, much better than last year. This was very close for me. It was tough to decide between Orton vs. Christian and Punk vs. Cena, but ultimately I chose Orton vs. Christian. While Punk/Cena had some great matches, Orton/Christian had more of them. Also, the Punk/Cena rivalry didn’t end in a decisive manner. They just moved onto different opponents although they wound up having a common enemy in Alberto Del Rio. In the case of Orton/Christian, they had the most PPV matches against one another and all of them were very good to great. No bad matches between them. They also had some epic matches on Smackdown too. What I liked most about the rivalry is that it elevated Christian to a level that he had never been at before, a main eventer.

Why Rock/Cena as another runner up? Because the mark fan in me wanted to see it. I drove twelve hours to WrestleMania 27 because immediately after Rock’s return promo in February I wanted to be there to see him confront Cena in Atlanta. I did. And it also made me want to go to WrestleMania 28, which I am going to be at. They’ve done a great job of building this feud. I want to see what’s next…Other feuds I liked this year were Ziggler vs. Ryder, Orton vs. Rhodes and Orton vs. Punk just to name a few…I see that Punk vs. Vince/HHH/Laurinaitis got 10% of the fan vote too. I don’t like it as much as others. The HHH aspect of it was silly and led to Kevin Nash returning, which is not something I’m a fan. It could have been a lot better.

3. BEST MATCH
To be given to the best match.
Winner: CM Punk vs. John Cena @ Money in the Bank
Runners-Up: The Undertaker vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 27, Randy Orton vs. Christian @ Summerslam, Randy Orton vs. Christian @ Over The Limit
2010 winner: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 26 (****3/4), 2009 winner: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 25 (*****)
Poll Results: Punk/Cena @ MITB 61%, Undertaker/Triple H @ WM27 12%, Miz/Morrison @ Raw 3%, Orton/Christian @ Summerslam 3%

There were a lot of questions going into the Punk/Cena match at Money in the Bank. Was Punk leaving WWE legitimately or was it just some angle? If he won the title and left what would happen? What if the Money in the Bank winner cashed in on Punk to end the show? We ended up getting our answers within a week or two, but the match itself is a true classic. I remember how loud the crowd was when Punk made his entrance in his hometown. A month earlier he was a heel. Now he was the most popular guy in the building. It was one of the loudest ovations I’ve ever heard. Then, when Cena came out I’d say that 95% of the crowd was booing him as loud as any crowd has ever booed him. With all that pressure, they went out there, worked a very competitive match for 35 minutes that ended up being my 2011 match of the year. In my write-up I gave it ****3/4 because there were a few slipups and I didn’t like the way it ended that much with Cena decking Laurinaitis on the floor only to walk back in to eat a GTS. I would have had a more decisive ending. That’s just nitpicking though. This is one of the best matches in WWE history.

I can say without much doubt that Undertaker vs. Triple H is the greatest match I’ve ever seen live. Going into the match I didn’t know what to expect because neither guy had been in the ring much prior to it. We ended up seeing one of the best brawls in WWE history. I’ll never forget how loud it was when Hunter hit the Tombstone. Then Taker won while in a defensive position. The best matches are the ones that make you feel like a kid again. This one did that for me…The Orton/Christian series produced a number of gems. The two that stand out to me are the Summerslam match and the Over The Limit match, which were completely different matches. The OTL one was a face vs. face match that was the second in their series. It built up Christian’s turn well. The amount of nearfalls were impressive. The Summerslam one was the end of the feud with stipulations added to make it a more physical match. They took some nasty bumps in that one. The end result was the same: another Orton/Christian classic…Other matches I really liked: Miz/Morrison from the first Raw, the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match (Edge’s last great match), Christian/Del Rio at Extreme Rules, the 12 man tag match on Raw Oct 3 & Punk vs. Ziggler on Raw Nov 21.

4. BEST PAY PER VIEW
To be given to the best pay-per-view.
Winner: Money in the Bank
Runners-Up: Summerslam, Elimination Chamber, Survivor Series, Extreme Rules
2010 winner: WrestleMania 26, 2009 winner: Summerslam

It’s rare that a PPV not named WrestleMania or Summerslam wins best PPV, but that’s what happened this year. We all know about the Cena/Punk main event being great, which I already went over in the best match award. What about the other matches? The PPV opened with a great ladder match won by Daniel Bryan, which was a surprise to me. It was a four star opener, the best opening match on PPV this year. That was followed up by poor Kelly vs. Eve and Mark Henry vs. Big Show, both of which were poor matches. The action picked up with the Raw MITB match won by Alberto Del Rio. It wasn’t as good as the Smackdown one, but still a three star plus match. Then we saw Christian win the World Title from Randy Orton although a notch below some of their previous matches. Of course the final hour ended with the Punk/Cena story, which was absolutely phenomenal. On a related note, Sunday July 17th is still the busiest day in TJR history in terms of page views. The wrestling world was watching that night. Lucky for us, WWE delivered the goods with one of the best PPVs ever.

It was a very good year for WWE PPVs. They do an excellent job of giving the big matches a lot of time. That’s what PPVs should do…The runners-up were all solid PPVs with Summerslam being the one with the two really good major title matches (Orton/Christian & Punk/Cena) plus a memorable ending as Alberto Del Rio left with the WWE Title…Elimination Chamber was solid because of two really good EC matches. The Smackdown one was the better of the two…Survivor Series didn’t have a match of the year contender, but the booking was very good from start to finish. The crowd made it fun too…Extreme Rules had a lot of rematches from WrestleMania plus that Christian/Del Rio ladder match that I liked so much.

5. BEST FEMALE PERFORMER
To be given to the best female performer.
Winner: Beth Phoenix
Runners-Up: Natalya, Vickie Guerrero, Kelly Kelly
2010 winner: Natalya, 2009 winner: Mickie James
Poll Results: Beth Phoenix 49%, Natalya 14%, Vickie Guerrero 12%, Eve 8%

It was another tough year for the women of WWE because as has been the case in recent years, the company doesn’t want to invest too much time in them. The standouts in the division are Beth Phoenix & Natalya (my personal favorite), who are the best wrestlers in the group while also looking great at the time. I chose Beth for the award because she’s been a more featured performer. It’s tough to differentiate the two. They’re both very capable in the ring, solid on the microphone and do an excellent job of helping the other divas improve in the ring. The problem is the talent level of the babyface divas isn’t close to what these two have, so they’ve yet to have a truly memorable feud as a tandem. With that said, Beth needs to be commended for carrying the likes of Kelly & Eve to some decent PPV match. That Glam Slam off the top rope at Survivor Series was an awesome spot.

Vickie Guerrero has been consistently good all year although they didn’t do much with her this year aside from managing Ziggler & Swagger. Still, you can’t deny that she is a heat magnet…I put Kelly as a runner up because she did improve a lot this year, but does she have to yell so much? Holy crap it’s annoying. You’re a babyface. You’re not supposed to be that annoying. There are ways to sell a move without shrieking at the top of your lungs…Hopefully Kharma comes back healthy and motivated in the spring because the divas division could really use her. The return of Layla in the new year, likely as a babyface, will be a nice boost for the division too. It could use a new booking philosophy too…By the way, what 8% of you voted for Eve? WHAT DA HAYELL!?!?!

6. BEST TELEVISION SHOW
To be given to the best television show.
Winner: Friday Night Smackdown
Runners-Up: Monday Night Raw, Tough Enough
2010 winner: Friday Night Smackdown, 2009 winner: Friday Night Smackdown
Poll Results: Smackdown 55%, Raw 31%, Tough Enough 10%

It was a tough call this year. Smackdown was my top show the last two years, but this year Raw was better than in past years. It was better because guys like The Rock showed up only on Raw, CM Punk was the best performer of the year and he was on Raw, plus there were a lot less guest stars on the show. However, I still like Smackdown more. I like the way they have longer matches that are usually better, give more time to the midcarders and generally have booking that makes sense. Raw has the advantage of being live, but that doesn’t make it better. Unpredictability isn’t better. The booking is more important. On Raw the booking is too inconsistent while on Smackdown you know you’re going to get more wrestling on the show. For me, Smackdown is better once again. Here’s to hoping it gets moved to Tuesdays permanently because as I’ve written many times in the past, they are only hurting themselves by putting it on Fridays.

I liked Tough Enough. I thought Stone Cold was great as the host of the show. The way he chose which competitors would be eliminated was very entertaining. I’m shocked that it didn’t get picked up for another season, but that could happen soon. I hope so…I watch NXT once in a while. It’s actually on TV here in Canada on Wednesday nights, so I tend to DVR it and watch it when I can. It’s a good way to catch up on some midcarders that you don’t always see on the two main shows…I’ll watch Superstars matches once in a while if I see people on there that I like. It allows the lower card wrestlers a chance to have good matches in front of a big crowd. It’s a necessary show.

7. WORST FEUD
To be given to the worst rivalry between two or more performers. Formerly known as the Katie Vick award. RIP Katie.
Winner: Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler & Jim Ross
Runners-Up: Kelly & Eve vs. The Bella Twins, Great Khali vs. Jinder Mahal
2010 winner: Kane vs. Edge, 2009 winner: Triple H vs. Randy Orton
Poll Results: Cole vs. Lawler/Ross 60%, Kelly/Eve vs. Bellas, Triple H vs. Locker Room 9%, Great Khali vs. Jinder Mahal 8%

As you can see above, the previous worst feud winners were ones that involved the World & WWE Titles. To me, a feud for one of those titles should never be that bad. Those ones were. This year, though, I have to go with Michael Cole’s never ending feud with Jerry Lawler & Jim Ross. I wish there was a way to measure how much time they actually spent on this feud because it feels like the longest feud of the year. Even at the Slammys they were still playing up the Cole/Ross stuff even though it was technically over. The Cole/Lawler feud resulted in THREE PPV matches, none of them good or even watchable. I kept trying to justify it saying maybe it will lead to something big for Swagger, but no. They basically had Swagger as Cole’s manager when it should have been the other way around. Remember when Cole mentioned Lawler’s dead mother in a promo? His same mother that died a few weeks earlier. Whoever gave them the green light to say that in a promo is just as stupid as Cole is for saying it. What a stupid feud from start to finish. Is it finished? I don’t even know. Vince McMahon has some kind of fetish that makes him want to have his announcers feuding, so it’s the feud that will never end.

How many matches did Kelly & Eve have versus the Bellas on Raw? It felt like they either had a tag match or a combination of those four working with eachother every week for about four months. They were never good. None of them are that competent in the ring. It showed when they worked together. Twin Magic vs. The Smiling Models was brutal…The other runner up was Khali vs. Mahal. They started out feuding, then Khali was forced to join Mahal because Mahal was married to Khali’s sister. If he didn’t join, something bad would happen to his family. Or something. Then within about three months, Khali went back to being the world’s worst babyface, attacked Mahal and they feuded although thankfully it never made it to PPV. It was an awful storyline and poor performances all around. I wish Khali the best in his future endeavors…The Wade Barrett vs. Ezekiel Jackson feud was bad too, mostly because Jackson’s so limited…If I had to pick a main event level feud that was bad I’d go with Cena vs. Miz. It wasn’t bad enough to earn consideration for this award, though.

8. WORST PAY PER VIEW
To be given to the worst PPV. They wanted us to pay money for this?
Winner: Over The Limit
Runners-Up: Capitol Punishment, Night of Champions

It wasn’t a bad year for PPVs. It’s not like anything was that unwatchable. They generally do a good job of booking PPVs and making them entertaining to watch in some way. I don’t remember the bad PPVs. Here’s what I do: I watch them live the first time, I write about them, I go back into the archives and I read what I wrote then to see if it still sucks to me now. Guess what? Over The Limit sucked. For one thing, the name is awful. It doesn’t remind me of a car. It reminds me of an alcoholic that has had too much to drink. The only good thing about OTL was the Orton/Christian ****1/2 match I referenced earlier. Everything else? Very average to downright awful. The Cena/Miz main event was a two on one match with Alex Riley involved that saw Cena get beat up for 20 minutes, hulk up, make Miz tap in two seconds and retain his title. That was it. Yawn. Other matches were R-Truth beating Mysterio easily, a very bad Barrett/Jackson match, Sin Cara over Chavo Guerrero in an okay match, CM Punk teaming with Mason Ryan’s muscles to lose to Show & Kane. What did I write about Punk in the PPV writeup? “I’m not sure what Punk’s future is, but I wish it was something that led to a push.” I’m so glad he got one. This was the low point of his year. The other two matches were Kelly vs. Brie in a stinker and then a Kiss My Foot Match with Lawler over Cole. A literal stinker there. Bad show, aside from Orton vs. Christian.

The other two I put in there as runners up were boring shows in the sense that nothing really happened. Capitol Punishment actually had some good midcard matches (Ziggler/Kingston, Punk/Rey, Orton/Christian) although none of them were fresh in any way. They all felt like repeats. The Cena/Truth main event was anticlimactic because Truth basically jobbed to a “fan” that threw a drink on him…Night of Champions was a show that felt like a bunch of TV matches they put on a PPV. The selling point was Punk vs. Triple H. It wasn’t that exciting. Maybe if Hunter went heel it would have been better. Instead, it just led to a boring Hunter vs. Nash that only those two guys want to see.

9. WORST MATCH
To be given to the worst match. What else?
Winner: Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler @ WrestleMania 27
Runners-Up: Kelly Kelly/Eve vs. The Bella Twins (Pick a match), John Cena vs. The Miz @ Over The Limit
2010 winner: Kaitlyn vs. Maxine from NXT3, 2009 winner: Divas battle royal @ WrestleMania 25
Poll Results: Cole/Lawler @ WM27 34%, Divas Mistletoe on a Pole @ SD Nov 15%, Cole/Lawler @ OTL 12%, Kelly/Eve vs. Bellas 10%

What more can I say the Cole/Lawler matches? They won worst feud, they were featured at the worst PPV and now they won worst match to complete the trifecta. I’m having painful memories just thinking about it. I actually walked out on the WrestleMania match, choosing to make it my bathroom break at the Georgia Dome. I’m so glad that I did. I watched it later on DVD and it was even worse. Not only did they get too much hype for the match and way too many promos, but they wanted Cole to actually wrestle out there. If that wasn’t messed up enough, they changed the finish to get even more heat on Cole. Lame…Pick any Kelly/Eve vs. Bellas match as a runner up because they were all awful. Not once was I entertained by them. Thankfully Beth & Natalya saved us from them…The Cena/Miz “I Quit” match was poorly booked with Cena getting beat up for twenty minutes and then winning after hitting a couple of moves. That’s not his usual match. It was even worse than usual match…I’m sure there was probably something bad on NXT that was bad enough to warrant a mention here. I don’t remember NXT matches. It’s probably for the best.

10. BEST TALKER
To be given to the best person at cutting promos.
Winner: CM Punk
Runners-Up: The Rock, Christian, John Cena, The Miz
2010 winner: CM Punk, 2009 winner: Chris Jericho
Poll Results: CM Punk 70%, The Rock 18%, Christian 3%

Pipe bomb! The best talker in WWE for the second consecutive year is CM Punk. There’s no question about it in my mind. From his “shoot” promo on Raw in June to his interactions with the likes of Cena, Vince McMahon, Triple H & John Laurinaitis during various contract signings, Punk has been gold on the microphone. He’s always been a good talker, even going back to his Ring of Honor. The difference now is that he’s on the biggest stage that there is cutting these same kinds of promos that are more realistic than your average performer. He’s got the right mix of seriousness, sarcasm and the ability to sell a big match. If you give him the opportunity to talk he’s going to deliver the goods. He proved that many times in 2011, even at the start of the year when he was in that failed New Nexus angle.

If The Rock was a full time performer he could win this. Since he’s only part time, obviously that makes it difficult to give him this award. When he was live in the arena a few times this year, he did deliver the goods. He’s arguably the best talker in wrestling history and he showed this year that despite being gone for seven years he still had the magic touch…I’ve always liked the promo work of Christian, Cena & Miz. All three are confident when they speak. Christian had a bigger spotlight this year, so he was able to shine even more on the microphone as a “creepy little bastard” to borrow an old phrase. Cena’s good unless he delivers his poop jokes. Miz is better at being sarcastic than he is when he does his serious faces. It makes him look like he’s constipated when he does that.

11. THE “NEXT BIG THING” AWARD
To be given to the wrestler that is most likely to be the “next big thing” in 2012.
Winner: Cody Rhodes
Runners-Up: Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, Zack Ryder
2010 winner: Alberto Del Rio, 2009 winner: John Morrison
Poll Results: Dolph Ziggler 47%, Cody Rhodes 19%, Daniel Bryan 11%, Wade Barrett 8%, Zack Ryder 7%

The upper midcard roster in WWE is very strong right now, which made it hard for me to pick a winner here. Ultimately, I chose Cody Rhodes for the honor. In my opinion he’s got the best mix of promos, in-ring ability and upside. Remember, he’s only 26 years old right now. He just edged out Ziggler as my pick for this one. As you can see, nearly half of the people that voted in the poll picked Ziggler, which is fine by me. Both of them had lengthy reigns holding secondary titles this year, which is a sign that management is grooming them for the WWE and World Titles in 2012. I hope that’s the case. Both guys have a very bright immediate future. To me, though, Cody’s star shines a little brighter.

I had Daniel Bryan as my runner up for this award a year ago. He had an up and down year. Winning Money in the Bank in July was big for him, then he lost to Barrett at Summerslam and hasn’t wrestled on PPV since. I don’t understand the logic behind that. Still, he is holding the MITB briefcase with the idea being that he’ll use it for a title shot at WrestleMania, so let’s hope that they go through with putting him over the World Title there…Barrett had a rocky year too. The Corre group didn’t work and his feud with Big Zeke was one of the year’s worst. He’s ended the year on a high thanks to a feud with Randy Orton, which is similar to how he ended last year…I don’t think Ryder’s going to be a main eventer in 2012. I think he’ll be in that next tier of talent though. Like Cody, he’s young with a bright future.

12. THE “KTFO” AWARD
To be given to the person that deserves to be KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT~!
Winner: Michael Cole
Runners-Up: Anonymous Raw GM, David Otunga
2010 winner: The anonymous GM angle, 2009 winner: Michael Cole
Poll Results: Michael Cole 55%, the creative team 15%, Anonymous Raw GM 5%, John Laurinaitis 5%

I can’t believe they did it, but they have managed to make Cole more obnoxious this year than they did in the last two years. It’s not good heel heat. It’s “turn off the channel” heel heat. Do I really need to go into why I want to see him get his ass kicked? I don’t think I have to. He’s the most overexposed person in WWE. I don’t understand why Vince McMahon likes him so much. A good heel announcer was Bobby Heenan or the 90s version of Jerry Lawler. It is not Michael Cole…Just because the “Anonymous Raw GM” angle does not mean I will avoid it in these awards. It was a stupid angle. I’m glad it got ignored. I don’t wish it the best in its future endeavors either…Then there’s David Otunga. What purpose does he serve? Bad wrestler, very average on the microphone and…uh yeah that ‘s it. I don’t know what else there is to say about him. Knock him out for me, please…I threw the creative on the poll. Looks like 15% of you hate them enough that you picked them for this award. That’s pretty funny.

13. BEST BABYFACE
To be given to the performer that is the best at receiving the adulation of the audience.
Winner: Randy Orton
Runners-Up: CM Punk, The Rock, John Cena, Zack Ryder
Poll Results: CM Punk 34%, Zack Ryder 31%, Randy Orton 10%, John Cena 8%

This is a tough category. I couldn’t justify voting for CM Punk because frankly he was a heel for the first half of the year. Zack Ryder, for all excitement he’s brought to Raw in the fall, deserves some praise too. However, I went with Randy Orton for this one. He had a phenomenal year working with heels like CM Punk, Christian, Mark Henry (who he put over clean for the World Title), Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler and others. He surprised me with how good of a babyface he’s become. While he isn’t the type of face that sucks up to fans in promos like Hulk Hogan or John Cena, if you listen to the ovations he consistently gets he’s obviously doing a great job at being a good guy. Punk’s face work has been great too, but Orton’s done it for the whole year rather than half a year. I have to go with Orton here although it was not easy. I wonder how Orton would celebrate this award? Maybe he’d react like this? Jump for joy! You’ve won a Johnny Award!

I’d assume Punk stays babyface for all of 2012 because he’s proven to be a hot commodity in that spot. That makes him a favorite for this award next year…I think The Rock proved his value when he returned. If he was around full time he’d probably win this award. Nobody can consistently earn the crowd support the same way that he can…Cena had a good year, but the boos have grown as he worked with Rock & Punk. It’s almost like he’s a tweener now although they don’t book him that way. They still book him like a Hogan era babyface…Ryder’s a babyface on the rise. From barely being on the radar a few months ago to being somebody that is top five babyface. It’s impressive.

14. BEST HEEL
To be given to the performer that is the best at drawing the ire of the audience.
Winner: Christian
Runners-Up: Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Cody Rhodes
Poll Results: Mark Henry 22%, Michael Cole 20%, Christian 15%, Dolph Ziggler 15%, The Miz 15%, Cody Rhodes 8%, R-Truth 6%

This was another tough one. In the case of Christian and Mark Henry, neither started the year as heels, but they both did such a great job in their roles that I made them the top contenders for this award. Henry got pushed harder as he took out giants like Big Show & Kane while also beating Randy Orton clean for the World Title. This award is not for the best push. It’s the best overall performance. That’s why I went with Christian. The quality of his matches destroy those of Mark Henry. I can’t give best heel to somebody like Henry, who I never want to see in the ring because he’s so boring. Christian not only got the fans to boo him after a solid face run, but he did it while having some of the best matches on the roster. He’s got the smarmy heel act down pat. His work this year reminded me a lot of Chris Jericho’s awesome heel run of 2008 and 2009 although Jericho won more often. As good as Christian is as a face, he’s better as a heel. He proved it in 2011.

I think it’s fair to say that Dolph Ziggler was the best midcard heel. A year from now in the 2012 Awards I wouldn’t be shocked if he wins this award. It all depends on what kind of push he gets too…The Miz had a solid year. The problem is none of his feuds were that memorable. The stuff with Lawler was okay, the Cena feud was a failure, the Riley storyline was boring and then he was made to look like a punk while feuding against Rock to end the year. He needs a great feud to become an even better heel…I don’t know why I asked Steve to put Michael Cole on that banner. Oh right, to say that the 20% of you that voted for him are interpreting the word “best” in a completely wrong manner. Best means good performance. Cole doesn’t represent that. At least to me…Also worthy of praise are guys like Alberto Del Rio & Cody Rhodes, both of whom were very good heels from start to finish in 2011.

15. BEST PHRASE
To be given to the best WWE word/phrase of the year.
Winner: “I don’t hate you John Cena. I hate this idea that you’re the best…I am the best wrestler in the world.” – CM Punk
Runners-Up: “WHAT DA HAYELL!” – Booker T, “My heart don’t pump Kool Aid.” – Mark Henry, “You run around here looking like a big fat bowl of Fruity Pebbles!” – The Rock, “Randy! Riley! Randy! Riley! Randy…JIMMY!” – Miz, Christian, Truth, “OMG Kevin Nash WTF! Thought he was dead LOL!” – CM Punk & sister
2010 winner: “Let’s hear it for friendship!” – The Flame/Jon Heder, 2009 winner: “Summerfest” – Jeremy Piven
Poll Results: “Want a beer?” Austin to Punk 5.23%, “OMG Kevin Nash WTF! Thought he was dead LOL!” – CM Punk & sister, “Where or where are my WWE ice cream bars?” – CM Punk 5.21%, “You run around here looking like a big fat bowl of Fruity Pebbles!” – The Rock 4.95%, “Randy! Riley! Randy! Riley! Randy…JIMMY!” – Miz, Christian, Truth 4.68%

This was seriously the hardest category for me. I’m looking for something funny to pick here, but how can I pick just one? When I set up the poll for this, I put 40 phrases on there, asked people to pick their five favorite. The end result was that nothing got over 5.23% of the vote. There were so many tough choices that even after nearly 5,000 votes there was no runaway winner. What did I end up choosing? A CM Punk line: “I don’t hate you John Cena. I hate this idea that you’re the best…I am the best wrestler in the world.” It was from his infamous speech in June that made the summer of 2011 the most fun time to be a WWE fan in a very long time. There were other gems from that speech like “Hey Colt Cabana how you doing?” and later how he brought up the WWE ice cream bars. The text message from the sister about Kevin Nash being dead was particularly awesome too. There are so many little ones. Punk was the shining star on the microphone this year. It’s his quote about being the best in the world that I will remember as the best of the year.

“Does he have a pulse?” Shoutout to the EMT that said that when HHH got knocked out by Kevin Nash. What a stupid line…For runners up, I listed a bunch of them up there. As I’m sure anybody that reads my columns knows, I enjoy quite a few Booker Tisms with “WHAT DA HAYELL!” being my absolute favorite. I love “Aww shucky ducky quack quack” too whenever he sees a pretty woman. Booker’s great. Love that guy…R-Truth had a lot of gems on the microphone too. The whole “Little Jimmy” phenomenon provided a lot of laughs along the way…I’d be remiss in not mentioning Mark Henry’s Kool-Aid line too. I called him Kool-Aid man for two years of writing the Raw Deal because that’s what he looked like. For him to say “my heart don’t pump Kool-Aid” in a serious way had me laughing hard. That may be the greatest moment of his career! Kidding. I think…Lastly, The Rock deserves mention here. The Fruity Pebbles, Power Rangers and “Cena’s lady parts trending worldwide” lines were particularly awesome.

16. BEST DVD
To be given to the best WWE produced DVD that was released in the 2011 calendar year.
Winner: WWE Greatest Rivalries: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart
Runners-Up: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin: The Bottom Line on the Most Popular Superstar of All Time, OMG! Top 50 Incidents in WWE History

If you would have told me even three years ago that in 2011 I’d be watching a WWE produced DVD that has an extensive sitdown interview with Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart I’d tell you that you’re crazy. The good news, crazy person, is that it happened and it was a fantastic DVD. I’m not giving it away. I’m just telling you to go watch it you haven’t bought it yet. It’s worth your time…The Stone Cold DVD was pretty solid too. The documentary portion is great. The match selection is terrific too. My favorite aspect of that is that Austin sits down with Jim Ross to provide commentary on three of his most famous matches, including my favorite match ever against Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13…My other runner up is the OMG DVD because it brought back a lot of fun memories. I watched it with my teenage nephews, explaining to them some of the older stuff on there and it was cool to relive it. Not as thorough as the other two DVDs, but still an enjoyable viewing experience…In 2012 there are career DVDs expected about The Rock, Edge, Triple H and a CM Punk one too. The guys that put those DVDs together do an amazing job.

17. BEST CROWD
To be given to the city that had the best fans for a particular WWE event.
Winner: Chicago for Money in the Bank
Runners-Up: New York City for Survivor Series

I wanted to make this category because the crowd is so important for a WWE event. There were two crowds that stood out for me, so they’re the only two I’ll mention here. Of course I’m speaking about the Chicago crowd for July’s Money in the Bank PPV and the New York City crowd for November’s Survivor Series PPV. The Chicago crowd was as good as any crowd I’ve ever heard. They blew the roof off the building when CM Punk appeared. They also booed John Cena mercilessly when he made his entrance. Then, when the match came to a conclusion and CM Punk left with the WWE Title through the crowd they went nuts for that too…The New York crowd was equally great. They went crazy when CM Punk regained the WWE Title and he celebrated in the crowd. Then, in the main event, when The Rock made his in-ring return after a seven year absence he got one of the loudest ovations you’ll ever hear…I’m sure there were other good crowds this year two, but those are the two that stood out the most to me. Hey WWE, how about a PPV in Toronto? We deserve one!

18. MOST IMPROVED PERFORMER
To be given to the performer that has shown the most improvement in the last year.
Winner: Zack Ryder
Runners-Up: Mark Henry, R-Truth
2010 winner: Cody Rhodes, 2009: Kofi Kingston

It was an interesting choice this year. I thought of three names immediately: Zack Ryder, Mark Henry & R-Truth. In the case of Henry & Truth, they’ve each been over the business for well over a decade while Ryder is a talent in his mid 20s that is on the rise. He’s my pick. Ryder went from barely being on TV the last few years to being one of the most over babyfaces and top merchandise sellers in the company. Over the last 40 weeks, his “Z True Long Island Story” Youtube show has garnered a lot of attention. In the last few months, management noticed too. As a worker Ryder’s always been solid. He’s not at the level of a Christian or Ziggler, but he’s skilled enough that I can see him improving as long as he gets a chance to show what he can do. I’d expect him to hover around the US Title level for most of the next year. I’m not sure when or if he’ll make it farther than that, but when it comes to improvement this year there’s not a single person more deserving than Ryder. His future is very bright.

19. BEST TURN
To be given to the best babyface or heel turn that benefited the performer the most.
Winner: Mark Henry
Runners-Up: Christian, R-Truth, Sheamus, CM Punk
2010 winner: Kane, 2009: CM Punk

To everything turn, turn, turn. There is a season turn, turn, turn. Wait that’s a song! Where was I? This was tough. I could have gone with CM Punk because obviously his babyface turn has led to a lot of success for him, but in my opinion he was already an elite talent before and it was only a matter of time before he became the true top guy. It’s not like the turn elevated him that much. That’s why I’m going with Mark Henry for this award. As a babyface people laughed at him. We called him the “Kool-Aid Man” because of how ridiculous he looked in that red outfit of his. Early in the year, Henry apparently signed a new contract with WWE to stick around for a few more years. Along with the new contract, Henry was given a massive push that saw him injure Kane & Big Show while also beating Randy Orton clean for the World Title. He’s done a great job this year, at least when he’s not in the ring. When the bell rings it’s still a Mark Henry match. Don’t expect greatness, but he does make up for it with his promos and violent attacks when the situation calls for it…Christian has always been better as a heel to me. He showed it with this performance this year. It’s the perfect role for him…I’m not sure what R-Truth’s roll will be when he returns from suspension, but I enjoyed his heel run. I can see him being a comedic babyface heading into 2012, though…They didn’t change Sheamus’ gimmick too much, but he’s adapted to being a babyface since he turned in the summer. He’s already won the WWE Title as a heel. He could do win the World Title as a face sooner rather than later too…As mentioned, Punk thrived as a face, but he was already somebody at the main event level anyway with multiple World Title reigns under his belt. Plus, I think he’s already won enough awards at this point!

20. BEST VIDEO PACKAGE
To be given to the best video package that highlights a feud, performer or other event.
Winner: The “Macho Man” Randy Savage tribute video
Runners-Up: CM Punk/John Cena Money in the Bank promo, Edge retirement video, Undertaker/Triple H WrestleMania 27 promo
2010 winner: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
Poll Results: Cena/Punk MITB 36%, Randy Savage 34%, Edge 24%, Undertaker/HHH 6%.

I think a lot of people would agree with me when I say that WWE’s video production team produces some incredible videos on a regular basis. As the year has come to an end, there are a few videos that stood out to me. My favorite of the bunch was the tribute video in honor of Randy Savage, who passed away in the spring. I re-watched it recently and felt a lot of sadness when I saw it, but also appreciation for my favorite wrestler from my childhood. They did a great job of capturing what made him special…The Punk/Cena video package prior to Money in the Bank was one of the best ones the production team has ever done in terms of hyping up a match. It captures everything that made it a one of a kind type of match…The video covering Edge’s retirement in April showed the emotion involved with his sudden retirement, but also captured the moments that explained why he had no regrets about anything he did in his career…The Undertaker/Triple H video wasn’t as good as the epic Undertaker/Michaels one from a year earlier, but it did a masterful job of setting up the showdown at WrestleMania 27…It should be noted for the fan vote that I only gave you four options to vote. I should have included the video about The Miz that they aired at WrestleMania. That was pretty great too.

21. FUNNIEST PERFORMER
To be given to the performer that makes you laugh the most.
Winner: R-Truth
Runners-Up: Booker T., The Rock, CM Punk, Santino
2010 winner: Santino, 2009 winner: Santino

The wrestling business is supposed to fun. If you’re watching it and not having fun then why are you watching? As an art form there is some seriousness to it, but it’s silly too. The idea of grown men pretending to fight while in their underwear is a little much, no? That’s okay though. It’s entertainment. Part of that entertainment is the ability to make the audience laugh. With that in mind, there were some standouts in the comedy department this year. My winner of this award is R-Truth. Here’s a guy that went from being a boring babyface because he did the same rap on his way to ring before every match. He didn’t add much to the show. Then in the spring he turned heel by smoking a cigarette, drinking water in between matches and using the water bottle as a weapon. It was meant to be serious, but it was pretty silly when you think about it. They cranked up the silliness as the heel turn continued with the hilarious “Little Jimmy” line that involved truth referring to fans as that while also talking to imaginary “Little Jimmy’s” that were all around him. I particularly liked that “When Little Jimmy come marching home” song while Vince McMahon & Steve Austin were in the ring. There are so many things he did this year that made me laugh that when I came up with this award I knew it had to go with him. Congrats Ron Killings, you’re one funny dude.

For the runners up, I immediately thought about Booker T. His various phrases that he uses while on commentary have me laughing on a consistent basis. From “oh my goodness” to “did you see dat?” and my favorite “aww shucky ducky quack quack” he’s a guy that always cracks me up…The Rock is here because obviously he’s a very funny man. He mixes it in well with a serious promo. The lines used against John Cena such as the Fruity Pebbles, Power Rangers and of course “Cena’s lady parts” all became instant classics the moment he said them. He has a way with words…Once again CM Punk needs to be mentioned. He’s got the kind of sarcastic sense of humor that I love. So many one liners. Do I need to really go over them all? Probably not, but he deserves a spot here…Santino’s not pictured, but he’s always a source of comedy. After all, that’s his gimmick. It goes without saying that The Cobra is the funniest move in WWE. His role became lessened a bit this year. That doesn’t matter. He’s still comedic gold.

22. BEST PROMOTIONAL MOVE
To be given to WWE for the best move they made as a company.
Winner: The return of The Rock
Runners-Up: The Summer of Punk, Ending the anonymous Raw GM…kind of

The best move WWE made all year was getting The Rock to return to their television & PPVs this year. No question about it. The box office tells the story. WrestleMania 27, which was a very average show to be fair, earned a bigger buyrate than what was expected. The Rock’s in-ring return at Survivor Series drew a sellout in NYC in a reported 90 minutes. Whenever Rock appeared in person on Raw, the ratings jumped up for him. In June 2010 I wrote that WWE should pay Rock $5 million to come back to the company. I’m not saying I’m the reason for it obviously. I’m sure they had discussions for years. I’m just saying that he’s proven to be worth every penny. Don’t be shocked if WrestleMania 28 is the most watched WWE PPV in company history. The main reason will be because of The Rock….The main reason why the “Summer of Punk” angle didn’t win this is because what happened after he came back fell a little flat with Triple H being the man in charge. Involving Kevin Nash wasn’t great either. It was still a compelling “worked shoot” angle that was the shot in the arm that WWE needed to soar to greater heights…The other nominee was the ending of the anonymous Raw GM angle. I hated the angle so much. Technically they didn’t end it by saying who the GM was supposed to be, but they chose to ignore it and that’s good enough for me.

23. BEST TAG TEAM
To be given to the two men that function best as a tag team.
Winner: Air Boom (Evan Bourne & Kofi Kingston)
Runners-Up: Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger, The Usos
2010 winner: The Hart Dynasty, 2009 winner: Chris Jericho and The Big Show

It was a bad year for tag team wrestling in WWE. At least it was at the beginning of the year. Teams like Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel and David Otunga & Michael McGillicutty were focal points of the decision. Yawn. Once the summer rolled around there was supposedly a renewed focus on the division. Fine by me. They teamed up Evan Bourne & Kofi Kingston, two babyfaces that had nothing going on in their singles careers. Great. They are both high fliers with a lot of talent in the ring, so they could work. They quickly showed that they had great chemistry, captured the tag titles and won the Johnny Award for best tag team…After that it was slim pickings. I chose to honor the Ziggler/Swagger duo because I’m a fan of both guys and I think they could have had a decent run with the gold if they chose to do it…The Usos have proven to be solid when I’ve seen them. Problem is they haven’t had a spotlight shine on them consistently enough. They do have one of the coolest entrances in the business…The future of the tag division could be good with the Epico/Primo team getting more TV time while the duo of Tyler Reks & Curt Hawkins is on the rise as well. All it takes is some backing by the booking team for the tag division to regain the form it had a decade ago when it was at its best.

24. THE SUMMERFEST AWARD FOR UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY
To be given to a funny moment that wasn’t planned to be funny.
Winner: The mouse on Raw
Runners-Up: Camera guy falls down on Smackdown, Teddy Long’s botched speech about Smackdown

I had to honor Jeremy Piven’s infamous 2009 “Summerfest” speech somehow. It was one of the funniest moments that wasn’t supposed to be funny, hence the name of this award. The winner of this award goes to the mouse on Raw. While John Cena was talking trash to Del Rio & Rodriguez out on the floor, a little mouse ran by the former WWE Champion because I guess he just wasn’t that interested in what Cena had to say…I got a kick out of the camera guy falling on Smackdown as well. Here you had Teddy Long trying to calm Randy Orton down while Christian taunted him, but in the background was the poor camera man falling down. Poor guy…The other runner up is that blooper of Teddy Long that they showed during the Pipe Bomb award at the Slammys where he goofed on the announcement of Smackdown being the second longest running episodic television show in history after Raw. Too bad they edited it on television…I’m sure there were more, but those were the funniest to me this year.

25. MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT
To be given to the most memorable moment of the year.
Winner: CM Punk’s Promo on Raw June 27
Runners-Up: Rock’s return promo on Raw February 14, Edge’s retirement in April, CM Punk’s WWE Title win at Money in the Bank, Christian’s World Title win at Extreme Rules
2010 winner: Bret & Shawn embrace in the ring, 2009 winner: The Undertaker/Michaels match
Poll Results: CM Punk’s “shoot” promo on Raw 6/27 58%, CM Punk leaves Money in the Bank with WWE Title 14%, Rock’s return promo on Raw 2/14 13%, Edge’s retirement speech(es) 7%s

The last major award. Guess who wins it? CM Punk of course. I decided to go with the promo on Raw that, quite frankly, was one of the most surreal moments I’ve seen on WWE TV in many years. To see him break the fourth wall, as he put it, was something I never would have expected this year. This wasn’t your typical promo. It felt real. For a lot of fans, it was real even though they really knew better. That’s what made it work, though. Wrestling is at its best when it feels real. CM Punk, on that night and even for that week, made it feel real. We didn’t expect him to reference the doofus son-in-law, or to see rip on “Dwayne” or John Laurinaitis, who was not a regular TV performer at that point. It was the one moment from 2011 that I’ll remember the most.

The other moments are all ones I’ll remember fondly as well. The Rock’s return promo on Raw on Valentine’s Day was highly anticipated because he hadn’t been in a WWE ring for many years. He had appeared at the Hall of Fame and done a video for Smackdown’s tenth anniversary, but to see him in the ring again was a special moment. As mentioned earlier, after his speech I made the decision to go to WrestleMania 27. That’s how impactful it was to me. The Rock’s a special talent and he showed it in that return promo…Edge’s retirement came out of nowhere. They didn’t advertise his Raw appearance until a few hours earlier on their Twitter page. He went out there, told us that his neck injury had worsened to the point that he had to retire and that was it. Another speech followed on Smackdown where he also forfeited the World Title. It was sad to see him go, but at least we can be happy in knowing he’ll be able to walk for the rest of his life. If he takes one more bump, who knows? His legacy is intact. He’s a future Hall of Famer for sure…I think I’ve gone over the importance of Punk’s Money in the Bank WWE Title win enough. Huge moment. The visual of him waving bye to Vince McMahon was great even though he would return eight days later…I put Christian’s World Title win there too. It wasn’t even the main event of Extreme Rules, but that didn’t matter to me. I never thought he’d win the World Title. For that to happen made me a very happy wrestling fan. Nobody on the roster deserved it more than him.

THE MINOR AWARDS
These are other awards/random thoughts that I basically made up off the top of my head without going into full details. There are 10 of them. I could do more, but this is a long enough column as it is.

Biggest off screen news story – The death of Randy Savage
Nothing could top this for me. It hit me hard when I heard that he died because he meant so much to me as a fan when I was growing up. I can honestly say that without Macho Man I wouldn’t be a fan today. He could do it all and he did. I think all of us as wrestling fans should be forever grateful to him for that.

Most annoying habit – The constant plugging of Twitter
I’m a heavy Twitter use. I have been for two and a half years. For whatever reason, WWE started to love it towards the end of the year. They never shut up about it. I think my favorite thing about Smackdown is that they can’t plug Twitter on it because it’s a taped show unlike Raw, which often times gets ruined by all the Twitter plugs.

Favorite theme song – Edge
It’s my favorite wrestling theme song. I guess it’s the last year I can pick it too. After it being my favorite so long, I guess I need to pick a new one for next year. I’d say that the theme songs of Drew McIntyre (remember him?), Sheamus & The Miz are near the top of that list now.

Best celebrity appearance – Hugh Jackman
I’m a not huge fan of the celebrity appearances on WWE TV, but none were better than Hugh Jackman this year. His bits with Zack Ryder were a lot of fun while also elevating Ryder’s stock as a performer. The punch to Dolph Ziggler was very memorable as well.

The feud I want to see in 2012 – CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler
We saw them wrestle a few times this year. I want to see more of it in 2012. I think a longer feud between these two guys will be the feud of the year if they are given a chance to show what they can do. Of course I want to see Punk vs. Jericho too, but I wanted to pick somebody that was on the current roster.

Most anticipated return – Kharma
I loved her debut. I was excited about. Then she found out she was having a baby, so she had to take the rest of the year off. I’m not sure when she’ll be back, but the spring time seems likely. The Divas division could really use her whether she’s a heel or a face. It will be interesting to see what happens upon her return.

Best announcer – Booker T
None of the announcers stood out to me this year. I’m biased to Booker T’s lingo, so I went with him. I’m fine with the work of Josh Mathews, though. You know I don’t like Cole and I think Lawler’s best days were over a decade ago now. I think William Regal has been very good on NXT. I want to hear more of him.

Most disappointing injury – Edge
He’s not coming back, people. I hate to say it, but it’s the reality of the situation with his neck injury. It was tough to say goodbye to him as a regular performer because he was so good for so long. I’d also include the injuries to Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara here as well. I was looking forward to seeing them have a match at WrestleMania. Now that they are both hurt it doesn’t look like that will happen. Perhaps Summerslam?

Most poorly used performer – Jack Swagger
Another wasted yea for Swag, as Booker calls him. I don’t understand the creative team’s reluctance to use this guy in a better way. Give him a chance to shine. That’s all I ask.

Personal favorite markout moment – Edge Appreciation Night in Toronto
There were a lot of moments that I’ll never forget from this year. Attending my first WrestleMania was a lot of fun. Meeting Mick Foley recently is very high up there. For one moment, though, I have to say that when I attended Edge’s Appreciation Night at Smackdown in Toronto back in September it was like a reunion of an old classmate. It was our chance to thank him for all of his work while also wishing him the best in the future. I’ve never seen so many standing ovations in my life.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON WWE IN 2011
Since I always like to rate the shows out of 10, how about a rating for the year? I rate 2009 a 5.5 and 2010 a 5. This year was better than both of those. Thanks to the return of The Rock, the rise to the top by CM Punk and a very healthy midcard full of rising young talent I will give 2011 a 7 out of 10. It’s surreal to think that to end the year the WWE Champion is CM Punk while the World Champion is Daniel Bryan. Two independent wrestling darlings of the 2000s have made it to the very top of the biggest wrestling company in the world. Yes Vince McMahon, I said wrestling. Deal with it.

I guess you could say it was the year of CM Punk. Now where oh where are his WWE ice cream bars?

This was a lot of fun. If you made it through these 10,000 plus words I thank you so much. It’s been a good year for WWE. Let’s hope for an even better 2012. I think they’re on the right path. Fingers crossed.