Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Top 5 WWE Wrestlers and Matches of the Year (Who is #1?)
By Mr. Tito
Dec 26, 2013 - 8:21:05 PM

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And another year has passed... Here I am, writing another year-end column after completing many in my 15+ years as Mr. Tito. Overall, I thought pro wrestling had a decent year, at least WWE wise. Some frustrating booking at times but I thought we saw some incredible matches throughout the year. Seems like the WWE has a strong workrate right now but the booking just lacks logic and in the case of depushing Daniel Bryan, is becoming anti-fan. However, the WWE developmental territory has injected some decent names into the the WWE who could have some real potential to be stars, unlike previous generations of developmental talent. The Shield continued to grow, Big E Langston has been pretty good so far, and Bray Wyatt could have potential if the WWE is just a little more patient with his booking. Ditto with his "family".

Overall with my columns, I thought I had a pretty good year and I'm seeing your reactions in the comments, Tweets, and emails. I'll admit that after my infamous "Blog is Tito" year during 2011 in which I was much more aggressive (try grouchy due to writing daily and enduring insomnia at the time), I have scaled back my tone a bit. Instead of being a tad mean spirited on a topic or purposely trying to spark reaction from readers (some would call that "trolling"), I've toned down my language and presentation while attempting to bombard my columns with facts and history to thicken my argument. Seems to work... I'm seeing a lot more "hey, I never thought of it that way" from the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) regarding my columns, if not outright agreeing and echoing my opinion elsewhere.

With that, I want to thank ALL of my readers, both new and old. I hope that you've enjoyed my columns and as long as you keep reading them, I'll keep writing them. Writing weekly columns and when I want has really made writing columns fun again. Throwing in the occasional What IF, Final Countdown, or On this Day in Pro Wrestling History columns keeps writing fresh and allows me to get away from the current WWE/TNA products, which could be depressing at times.

For the rest of the year, I'll write this column (of course) and then I'll write my 2014 Predictions Column at year-end. I'm looking back at my 2013 Predictions and I'm cringing. There are some predictions that I nailed but a few that I was way off... After a strong 2011 predictions column, critics ripped the predictions for being "too easy" or "too obvious"... So I stepped up the difficulty in my predictions and now I'm missing more... But damn, I nailed a few goods like Triple H/Stephanie's promotions and Hogan/Bischoff's last year in TNA. What I usually do is review the previous year's predictions to see how I did, provide a "year in review" and discuss where pro wrestling is headed, and then I'll provide my 2014 predictions. I usually write that column with a big smile on my face as it's an incredible amount of fun to write that one.

We'll see if another column or two is sprinkled in between those. Family, Nintendo games, and work wearing me out is always a factor into motivating the man known as Mr. Tito to sit down for 2 hours and bang out a column.

BUT FOR NOW, I give you the 2013 MR. TITO AWARDS... However, I'm just going to keep it limited to the TOP 5 "Wrestlers of the Year" and "Matches of the Year", with obviously #1 in each category being my award winners. I could go into detail as to who won the Diva of the Year (AJ Lee), Tag Team of the Year (Goldust/Cody), Comeback of the Year (Goldust), Feud of the Year (Heyman vs. CM Punk), etc... But the Wrestler and Match of the Year, in my opinion, are the REAL important awards.

DISCLAIMER: These awards are strictly about the WWE and WWE only!! TNA bored me throughout the year and I just don't have time to dig deep into the independents or international scene for wrestling. Being a working and family man, the convenience of wrestling being delivered via Cable TV helps me greatly. Thus, these awards are WWE only (no NXT!).

Without further delay... Before I dig deep into my Top 5, I want to wish everybody out there a MERRY CHRISTMAS or HAPPY HOLIDAYS, along with a HAPPY NEW YEAR. I greatly appreciate my readers and I hope that you'll stick around for 2014. Hopefully, I can start dabbling into other stuff beyond columns, but we'll see.


#5 - Cody Rhodes - This guy seemed to be stuck in the mud as a midcarder heel but then the WWE opted to break up the Rhodes Scholars and have them feud. After turning in a solid outing with Sandow at SummerSlam, Cody went on to challenge the Authority. Actually standing up to the Triple H/Stephanie regime and then fighting for his job, twice, helped cement him further as a babyface. Right now, he's in a good position to be WWE Tag Team Titles to increase his television time on RAW until the right moment is switch him to a singles wrestler. This guy has nothing but upside as a babyface especially if they keep honoring his family heritage.

#4 - Alberto Del Rio - Most reading this are like "WTF???". Sure, he was the lame World Heavyweight Champion for the year... But lost in that is how good he was in the ring. Consistently, this guy brings good match after good match and I could argue that he's one of the best in-ring performers in the WWE today, if not the best. Most people gush over the Brock/Punk or Bryan/Cena matches at SummerSlam, but his match against Christian was very impressive by example. Being poorly booked (flipped between heel and face, or overpushed) and stuck on the Smackdown roster has made Del Rio overlooked for 2013. But the guy can flat out wrestle.

#3 - Daniel Bryan - His epic rise to the top was a fun ride while it lasted but the WWE management had other plans. Still, a black mark on his record remains the inability to pull a 4 to 5 star match out of Randy Orton despite the multiple match attempts. Granted, Orton is a very selfish in-ring opponent, but great workers can make anyone look great. Otherwise, from the Shield to John Cena, Daniel Bryan has had a remarkable year in the ring. The guy is crazy over with the "YES!" chants and I hope that the WWE reconsiders his push given the early failures of Randy Orton as the top guy. If the WWE wants Bryan in the midcard, at least we'll see his magic in making others look incredible I suppose.

#2 - John Cena - I know, he's not the IWC darling, but the guy had a great year even with a few months off. He had great matches with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan while doing the best he could with the Rock at Wrestlemania 29. What I've noticed about Cena is that he's been less lame with his character than what we've seen in previous years. His promos that have stung the Rock and Randy Orton were some of the best for 2013 and it really enhanced his character. The entire WWE still revolves around John Cena but for 2013, he brought it as both a character and as an in-ring performer. The guy is one of the all time greats and to have one of his best years this late in his career is quite impressive. Despite the elbow injury, he doesn't appear to be slowing down.

#1 - CM Punk - In my opinion, this guy carried the WWE promotion during 2013 both in the ring and storyline wise. As you'll see below, he wrestled in multiple "Match of the Year" candidates. When the WWE needed CM Punk to deliver a great match in a big spot, CM Punk delivered well against John Cena, Undertaker, and then Brock Lesnar. The only strike against CM Punk was against the Rock but has struggled in the ring since his 2011 in-ring return. Punk gave the Undertaker, in my opinion, his best Wrestlemania match outside of matches against Shawn Michaels and Triple H. He continues to have great chemistry with John Cena and put over Cena well before Wrestlemania 29 on RAW. Then, he takes a complete ass whooping against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Overall on RAW and even Smackdown, the guy's matches were always solid during 2013.

Storyline wise, nobody beats CM Punk as a character. He dove right into the darkside with Paul Heyman and it got him cocky heading into his matches with Rock, Cena, and Undertaker. Soon realizing that Heyman wasn't leading him properly, Punk began to question his alliance with Heyman and soon Heyman unleashed Brock Lesnar. Punk vs. Lesnar/Heyman was compelling television for its time and it hyped the incredible Lesnar vs. Punk match at SummerSlam 2013. Now, CM Punk is beginning to flirty with battling the Authority and Triple H. Nobody has been close to CM Punk in terms of character development and telling a story in and out of the ring. For now, CM Punk is the "Best in the World".



#5 - Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian from SummerSlam 2013 I'm sure this will bring on the Del Rio haters, but this match was excellent. Most, including yours truly, were ripping on how poorly booked Del Rio was champion and how the WWE settled on Christian to be the #1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam. Lost in all in that critique was the fact that both Del Rio and Christian were great in-ring workers. For the 12 minutes or so given, they packed lots of action in that match and it wouldn't surprise me if Christian suffered many injuries from that match. As I was reviewing the show, I could just feel that with this match delivering strong, the rest of SummerSlam would be fantastic in attempting to one up their match. And then, 2 matches out did it as you'll see in my countdown.

#4 - John Cena vs. CM Punk from Monday Night RAW The finish of this match is painful because if there was one wrestler who had a leg-up on John Cena, it was CM Punk based on their matches from 2011 and 2012. However, John Cena was heading into Wrestlemania 29 with some unfinished business with CM Punk to prove himself worthy to wrestle the Rock. Thus, for a main event of Monday Night RAW, they did battle and delivered an epic match for free television. It's hard to admit, but Cena had to win that match to build himself up to defeat the Rock who had just beat CM Punk twice in a row. But the match itself was excellent and the chemistry between Cena and Punk has to be commended. In my opinion, it's the WWE's top 2 stars colliding and it delivers that everytime.

#3 - Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena from SummerSlam 2013 Many in the internet have this as their #1, but the two matches above it were better in my opinion. In my opinion... Honestly, nothing wrong with this match other than the aftermath of not giving Bryan a worth celebration for a great match and then a title reign afterward. The crowd was so hot for this match, as they were hyped to see Bryan finally win the WWE Title. The best part was that John Cena lost the match 100% clean and put everything he had in that ring despite the injured elbow. Bryan was full of energy for this match, knowing that it would be the match that defined his career. Unfortunately for him, the WWE Creative Team defined his career soon after the match ended and kept ruining it in the months to follow. Regardless, this match was awesome.

#2 - Undertaker vs. CM Punk from Wrestlemania 29 In my opinion, of the matches consisting of the Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak, only the matches with Shawn Michaels and Triple H can top the CM Punk Wrestlemania 29 match for the Undertaker. The match was worked well between both parties, as CM Punk seemed to aggressively go after the Undertaker while the Undertaker took quite a beating in this match. This match is like night and day compared to their 2009 efforts in particular with how the Undertaker respected Punk as an opponent and as an equal in the ring. The heat heading into this match was tremendous. CM Punk acted like a true heel and as luck may have had it, Punk and Heyman had the recent passing of Paul Bearer to not only add some heat to the feud, but give a source of inspiration to overcome Punk/Heyman. This match remains the only true highlight of Wrestlemania 29 and that's with Rock vs. John Cena on the same card.

#1 - Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk from SummerSlam 2013 This IS the best SummerSlam match of all time, but I'd argue it a step further... It's a top 10 match of ALL TIME... It was CM Punk and Brock Lesnar taking the formula that John Cena and Brock Lesnar introduced at Extreme Rules 2012. With Brock, he's a former ultimate fighter and now prefers a much more aggressive brawling style of wrestling as opposed to the slower paced and multiple Irish whip style that most WWE wrestlers employ. But unlike John Cena during 2012 against Brock, CM Punk was delivering offense of his own. As an attempt to equalize Brock, CM Punk was delivering kick after kick to Brock. The striking blows delivered by Punk seemed to add some credibility to Punk taking on a former UFC Fighter. The match was 25 minutes of pure excellence and should be a roadmap on how the WWE could modernize its product.

What the WWE lacks these days is realism... Nobody believes in the titles, the storylines are lame, and the matches lack realism in comparison to mixed martial arts. I've always wondered... Why does a wrestler keep running when thrown at the ropes? How does a Suplex not hurt the person delivering it? How does John Cena's Attitude Adjustment knock people out when it's the equivalent of a bodyslam? If the RKO is such an effective finisher, why doesn't the entire roster do it? Ditto the Pedigree. Surely, everybody would be teaching themselves how to deliver the Pedigree to other wrestlers if it's such an effective knockout move. Do the WWE wrestlers know that there are cameras around and do their lives revolve around just the actions of the television shows? Why don't they watch replays of shows to see what other wrestlers say about them on the same show?

The WWE has failed to evolve its style from the Attitude Era and it's costing them greatly. MMA is raiding the teenage fanbase and for good reason. With the Brock Lesnar matches, it's a model on how the WWE could evolve in the ring. Adding more realism to matches instead of using the same goofy tricks could go a long way towards driving up television ratings and greatly improving buyrates. Brock Lesnar and CM Punk delivered the "business model" for the WWE to use to modernize pro wrestling at SummerSlam but instead, we're treated to Randy Orton being pushed hard at the top and no-selling everybody's offense. I would wish Brock Lesnar on Randy Orton as an opponent, but we've already seen 3 boring Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar matches and Orton/Triple H are essentially the same no-selling kind of wrestler. Give us CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar #2, please...

Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk was an all time great match and should be a model on how to evolve the WWE.

Comments and debates are welcome on Twitter. Bring it on. @titowrestling



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