My Take On 01.02.13: The Top 10 Things I Enjoyed About 2012
Posted by Larry Csonka on 01.02.2013
From the return of Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan becoming a big-time player in WWE to the Rock's return to WrestleMania, the rise of Bully Ray and more, 411's Larry Csonka counts down the top 10 things he enjoyed about wrestling in 2012!
Welcome once again to another edition of My Take On. We've been busy to close out the year, discussing the PPVs for EVOLVE-DGUSA, TNA, WWE and ROH. From there I discussed who were, in my opinion, the top PPV performers of the year. But now, now I close out my look back at the year 2012 by discussing my favorite things about the year. There are no set criteria for the column other than this is the stuff I enjoyed. Hopefully after you check out the list, you'll share what you enjoyed about the year 2012 in wrestling. Thanks for reading…
THE TOP 10 THINGS I ENJOYED ABOUT 2012!
#10. Brock Lesnar Came Back
When Brock Lesnar lost to Alistair Overeem on December 30th of 2011, many thought that we would never hear from him again. But many of us thought he would return to the WWE, and on April 2nd, he did so by attacking John Cena. The early weeks of Lesnar's return were great, with the attack on Cena, busting him open after that, and the tremendous UFC Primetime inspired interview were all spectacular. What keeps Lesnar so low on the list is the booking by WWE. While the match with Cena was very good, and had a very different feel as far as WWE Main Event matches go, booking Lesnar to lose was completely stupid. The follow up feud with Triple H was all right, but could have been so much better. But the best part of all of that was the fact that with Lesnar, we got the WWE return of Paul Heyman, which also seemed impossible in 2011. The return of Brock Lesnar has not been perfect, but it was something I enjoyed in 2012.
#9. Daniels And Kazarian
Daniels and Kazarian, who are now know as Bad Influence, were certainly a shining spot for TNA in the year 2012. Besides consistently delivering good wrestling on both TV and PPV, these guys simply made everything they did work. While I think that we can all agree that the Claire Lynch angle was incredibly horrible, and really, it was shit, they did their best to make it work as best as possible. Now do not get me wrong, I am NOT defending the angle, but these guys were extremely entertaining in their promo work, which saw Daniels get even better and actually saw Kazarian branch out and improve on promos, which were his weak point. Add on top of that the matches they had on TV and PPV through out the year, and I do not see how you could hate these guys. I know it is all the rage to love and appreciate Team Hell No, and they have been wildly entertaining, but the facts are that Daniels and Kazarian have been just as entertaining to me, if not more. Unfortunately, TNA still has a lot f detractors, and they do not get the attention and appreciation that they deserve.
First up for my list this year is CHIKARA. While CHIKARA is not for everyone, and I fully understand that, I love the product. I like the wrestling, I like the wrestlers, I like that it different from the other companies I watch and most importantly, I love that I can watch it with my daughter. Yeah, that's her with her Green Ant mask, posing with one of her favorite characters, Green Ant. I never am afraid of what she will see at a CHIKARA show when I take her, she always has a great time, and every show is "the best show she's ever seen." I love that there is wrestling out there that I can share with her. I like the smaller venues, because they make you feel like part of the show. You've never seen a happier kid than when the Colony carried her around the ring after a victory over the Batiri. And they sure the hell didn't do that because I write for 411, they do stuff like this all the time. While I will admit that 2012 was a down year for the promotion as compared to the last two years, (the way the grand Championship was booked and the GEKIDO didn't pan out like many wanted) it still provided a great time for my family, and for that, I appreciate CHIKARA.
PS: I still have heat with the Batiri for getting their troll makeup on my sweet Oscar the Grouch shirt. Never forget Kingsport...
#7. Bully Ray: Do You Know Who He Is?
I praised the man last year, and I will do so again this year. Bully Ray is a great pro wrestler, and until the face turn, was one of the best heels in all of wrestling. He had a great 2011, really emerging as a singles star, and continued that into 2012 with little to no effort. The man is 41 years old, and he is in great shape for his age and considering the size he was most of his career. Shit, I pray I can look that good in 5 years. He has continued to be greatly entertaining on the mic, in the ring, and on the FIRE BREATHING TWITTAH MACHINE. This guy is simply a pro wrestler in his most basic form. When he is a heel, he gives you no reason to love him (but we appreciate his skill) and as a baby face, he has been equally as great. The story of his begging to be Sting's partner (which everyone thought was going to be another screwing of Sting) the way he changed to wrestle as a fire filled baby face, the great reaction when Devon was revealed as a member of Aces and 8s (he did SO MUCH to try and make people care there) and the awesome promo with Devon on Impact were all highlights of his year. He was tremendous during the BFG Series with good to great matches, and the guy has simply gotten better with age. For everyone that shit on him when Team 3D ended, and didn't want to give him a chance, he has busted his ass and proven a lot of people wrong.
#6. Daniel Bryan Becomes A Big Time Player in WWE
When Bryan Danielson was signed by WWE, people slammed him as a spot-monkey vanilla midget that would never get over. They celebrated when he got fired, and groaned when he was re-hired. When he won the world title they said he would be a complete flop, and then when he lost in 18-seconds at WrestleMania, everyone thought he would be done. But in all honesty, when you look back at that, the 18-second loss was the best thing to ever happen to Daniel Bryan. From that point on the YES catchphrase really took off, and the crowd reactions could not be denied. Yes, he has great matches, but he has shown more character depth and mic skills, two things that people thought that he did not and would never have. He has been prominently featured on WWE programming, feuding with Punk, the AJ Lee angle, and now in the very fun and entertaining pairing with Kane. While some people don't like it, Daniel Bryan has become a big time star for WWE, and I for one am glad for him. This was a guy in the early 2000s's that put together a tremendous portfolio of performances, almost second to none, but he did it on the small scale, and the question was always could he succeed in the WWE environment. He has survived and thrived, and most impotently for him, he is getting paid for his years of hard work.
#5. El Generico
As we head into the top five, we shall discuss El Generico. El Generico is a guy that some do not appreciate, but I feel that he is one of the very best guys out there, not under a contract to anyone. This is a man that could have bitched and complained when Cornette decided that he didn't fit into his vision of ROH, but instead, the man has had one of the best years as far as putting on great matches as anyone in recent memory. Whether it is his work in PWG, wXw, DDT (winning their KO-D Openweight Champion) or CHIKARA, the man delivers. But that is the work that not many see, due to the fact that they are not available on iPPV (CHIKARA only occasionally), and you have to wait for DVDs. But if you want instant gratification, I would like to cite his work with EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA. This man has been can't miss on these shows. If you want to see the goods, you have to watch his matches against Samuray del Sol as well as his matches teaming with Del Sol. El Generico has been money on iPPV in 2012, and I am still amazed that ROH has not re-signed him, or that TNA has not made a real play for him. Why a guy of his talent doesn't have a good contract somewhere is beyond me. Maybe it is by choice, maybe he likes traveling to these different companies and being awesome, and if he is happy and making a living he is happy with, then I am happy for him. But the bottom line is this, he is awesome, and he deserves the praise.
#4. New Japan Comes to iPPV
I have been a fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling for a long time, but as the years have gone on, and finances have changed with having a family, it has been harder and harder for me to follow the product. I know that some will say to Torrent shows and such, but to be honest, I have never been into that. I don't mind paying for a good product, so when the news broke that New Japan Pro Wrestling was going to test iPPV and go world wide with it, I was a very happy man. The King of Pro Wrestling iPPV was a tremendous show featuring the completely awesome Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki match, as well as many other great matches in what was a clear PPV of the year contender. They followed that up with another great show in the Power Struggle iPPV, which saw Hiroshi Tanahashi in another MOTY caliber match, defeating Yujiro Takahashi. Finally in December, they hit iPPV with the World Tag League tournament finals, which featured Hirooki Goto & Karl Anderson defeating tag team champions Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith in the finals to win the 2012 NJPW World Tag League tournament and a title shot in January. While 2012 was an overall strong year for PPV as a whole, but New Japan Pro Wrestling hit the scene and served notice to everyone that they need to up their game, because there's a new sheriff in town.
#3. The Colt Cabana vs. Adam Pearce Series For The NWA Title
Coming in at #3 is the Colt Cabana vs. Adam Pearce Seven Levels of Hate series of matches for the NWA Title. Now, I fully understand that in the year 2012 that the NWA Title doesn't exactly mean much of anything. But I will tell you this, when I grew up, the NWA Title was THE WORLD TITLE to me. Hell, a young Larry even got into a fight at school because some kid tried to tell me that Hulk Hogan was the world champion. Anyway, I have a nostalgic love for the "10 Pounds of Gold," and it doesn't hurt that I am a big fan of both Adam Pearce and Colt Cabana. Pearce challenged Cabana to the series to put an end to their feud, with the NWA Title on the line in ever match, each with different stipulations and with the added stipulation that is Pearce lost, he would leave the NWA forever. The men waged war for the better part of the year, beating each other to a pulp, and culminating in Australia. Unfortunately the series ended on a down note, and the NWA wouldn't sanction the title match in Australia (some say money issues, some say politics) which was won by Colt Cabana. Cabana basically did an updated Shane Douglas on the NWA Title, and Pearce kept true to his promise to leave the NWA, and the title was left on the mat. I know that this will not be a popular choice because of the status of the NWA Title, but in 2012, Pearce and Cabana actually made me care about the title, because they gave everything that they had to shine a light on that title belt for one last time, and for that, I thank them.
#2. OKATO Becomes Kazuchika Okada
In 2010, New Japan Pro Wrestling sent Kazuchika Okada to TNA to gain more experience in his, at that time, young career. For the 18-months or so he spent there, he was in miss matched tag teams, dark matches, XPLOSION matches and generally underused. Now while no one expected him to be pushed to the moon, I don't think that anyone expected him to become OKATO, a poor Green Hornet rip off. To say that his TNA run was poor would be an understatement, and unfortunately most remember him to be a goof in mask being tortured by The Pope D'Angelo Dinero. Okada would return to New Japan, and adopt the "Rainmaker" persona. He would challenge Hiroshi Tanahashi to an IWGP Title match, and on February 12th, he surprised the wrestling world by winning that title. While Okada lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship back to Hiroshi Tanahashi after 125 days, he was cemented as a main player in New Japan. Okada would go on to win the 2012 G1 Climax tournament, breaking Masahiro Chono's record for the youngest G1 Climax winner in history, and announced he would cash in his title shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on January 4, 2013, at Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome. Okada then went on to defend the title shot like it was a title, and has been unstoppable ever since. In two short years the man went from being a complete joke to one of the top men in New Japan, delivering in the ring and showing off a completely new persona and set of abilities. Kazuchika Okada has been a joy to watch in 2012, and I am highly looking forward to the rematch with Tanahashi.
AND NUMBER ONE IS...
#1. The Rock Came Back
FINALLY…the Rock came back to the WWE in 2012, and I for one was very happy. When WrestleMania XX closed, we were left with the image of Benoit and Guerrero in the ring, but also with the realization that the Rock was leaving, and he wasn't going to come back for a while, if ever. Sure he made some sporadic appearances over the years, but it was nothing that important, just a tease of him coming back, and a reminder of what was missing from wrestling for many of us. Whenever he appeared, there were always rumors of a comeback, but they were never a reality. But the years of teases finally became a reality when The Rock was announced as the host of WM 27. This is what set in motion the feud with John Cena, and the announcement that the two would face at WM 28. For some reason, after years of begging for the rock to come back, his return was met with resentment by many, but not from me. I knew it was a limited return, but I embraced it, because I had asked for it. I wanted the Rock to come back, and I was happy. They say be careful what you wish for, because you may get it, and that's what happened. I was glad the Rock came back, I enjoyed the programming more, and I liked the match with Cena. I also thought that WrestleMania felt more important, and WWE made a lot of money from it. I know that it was cool for many people to knock the Rock's return, and that is all well and good, because that is personal opinion. But I personally loved the fact that he was back, and it made 2012 a lot more enjoyable for me personally.