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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

My Take On 1.04.13: The Top 10 PPV Performers of 2012
Posted by Larry Csonka on 01.04.2013

Welcome back to another edition of My Take On! We've been busy this year, as we broke down the PPVs from DGUSA-EVOLVE, TNA, WWE and ROH. I also broke down my top 10 favorite things from 2012. But now it is time to name my top 10 iPPV-PPV performers of 2012! How will I do that? Find out below…

  • What I will do is use my PPV rankings that I have kept all year long. If I watched a PPV or iPPV event, matches from those shows are eligible. Again, this is PPV and iPPV, and I had to have watched the show to consider a match.

  • Matches under ***¾ will not be counted for the purposes of this column. Also, a match like the Royal Rumble or a battle royal will not be counted.

  • Matches that rank on my scale from ***¾ and above are what I will count, because this is a column all about the best in ring performances, and those matches represent the upper tier in match quality.

  • Performers must have at least SIX matches ranking ***¾ and above to qualify for the list.

  • I will take those matches that the performer had that ranked from ***¾ and above, and I will create an average score for that performer using these match rankings, which will help me create my list.

  • Performers with more matches, reflecting consistency, will be given preference as to where they place on the list. So if a wrestler has a 6-match average of 4.0, and another wrestler has an 8-match average of 3.9, the wrestler with 8 matches will place higher on the list. Again, consistency will be rewarded. It isn't that complicated, and I hope that you enjoy the presentation.

    AND NOW….


  • Some people that missed the cut: Akira Tozowa, Christopher Daniels, Bobby Roode, Sami Callihan.


    ***¾ - 2
    **** - 2
    ****¼ - 1
    ****½ - 1
    Total Matches Eligible - 6
    Average – 4.04

    Coming in at number 10 is the man known as Ricochet, and I think that you have to agree that above, that is one hell of a photo. That man looks happy with his birthday cake. But that's not why we are here; Ricochet makes the list because he had a great year in the ring. Ricochet is a guy that I have followed for some time, but hadn't always been able to see a ton of his in ring work, and when I did, it was on a very delayed basis. But in 2012, thanks to Dragon Gate USA and EVOLVE iPPV, I got to see him on a consistent basis. Ricochet appears on the list six times, performing well in singles matches with AR Fox, tag team matches, six man tags and multiple man matches all featured his great work in 2012, and I for one cannot wait to see what the man has to offer in 2013. Ricochet quickly grabbed my attention in 2012, and I hope that people will see how well guys like Ricochet and others still to come on the list have performed and will give Dragon Gate USA and EVOLVE iPPV a chance in 2013, because I think that they will be very happy with the money that they spend on these events.

    Ricochet's best PPV outing of 2012 was - From DGUSA's Freedom Fight 2012 - Open the Freedom Gate Title Match: Johnny Gargano vs. Ricochet vs. Akira Tozawa vs. AR Fox [****½]

    #9 – CM PUNK (WWE)

    ***¾ - 1
    **** - 3
    ****¼ - 1
    ****½ - 1
    Total Matches Eligible - 6
    Average – 4.08

    CM Punk kicks off the list for the WWE roster, and in what will likely make some people upset, he will be the only WWE representative appearing on this list. CM Punk makes the list, scoring with six matches in the criteria, and as listed above, beating out other non-WWE wrestlers like Akira Tozowa, Christopher Daniels and Bobby Roode. As I was breaking down my top 10 list, and in the spirit of complete disclosure, Punk was the only WWE performer to make it into the top 14. The man, to his credit, went out and had great matches with Chris Jericho, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, and a triple threat with Bryan and Kane during the year on WWE PPV. Punk had a lot of success on PPV, and the thing is that he has been a guy that always says he delivers in the ring, and that was the case in the "WWE Universe." Punk worked well with all of the names I mentioned, and is a name that when I see it on WWE PPV, I know that his match will do its best to give me my money's worth. Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Chris Jericho and John Cena had good PPV outings, but in an overall disappointing year for WWE PPV (in my opinion), Punk was one of the few shining stars as far as match quality goes.

    CM Punk's best PPV outing of 2012 was - From WWE Over the Limit - WWE Title Match: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan [****½]

    #8 – KURT ANGLE (TNA)

    ***¾ - 3
    **** - 3
    ****¼ - 1
    Total Matches Eligible - 7
    Average – 3.93

    While 2012 was filled with discussions of his insane Twitter rants (or hackings as he claimed) and what seemed like monthly injury reports post PPV, Kurt Angle makes my list at number 8. I know that most like to mock Angle for things I discussed above, and the rumors that duct tape and painkillers hold him together are always a running joke; but I cannot deny the fact that the man busted his ass on PPV this year for TNA. Angle had great tag team matches (teaming with AJ Styles) against Kaz and Daniels, and was part of the Hardcore Justice ladder match with AJ, Daniels and Joe, which was a match that was highly anticipated as soon as it was announced. He also had good singles outings with AJ and Joe during the year, and while he had good matches with them in years past; he did it again at an older age, and in a year where he was continually banged up and injured. Sure Angle isn't the man he was five years ago, who is, but I feel that in 2012 he was still a valuable part of TNA PPV and deserves a place on the list.

    Kurt Angle's best PPV outing of 2012 was - From TNA Slammiversary – Tag Team Title Match: Kaz and Daniels vs. Kurt Angle and AJ Styles [****¼]


    ***¾ - 5
    ****¼ - 1
    ****¾ - 1
    Total Matches Eligible - 7
    Average – 3.96

    Love him or hate him, Davey Richards can have some great professional wrestling matches. Richards was the best performer on ROH iPPV in the year 2012, scoring with an impressive seven matches under the criteria. From his MOTY candidate with Michael Elgin and a great bout with Jay Lethal to two hard hitting outings with Kevin Steen, a three way with Strong and Edwards, and even tag team matches, Richards was able to work with a wide variety of opponents, in a wide variety of matches and deliver. I may personally not be the biggest fan of the guy, but as a wrestler, he seems to always deliver. While ROH made the call to take Richards from being "the guy" to pulling back and putting him in a position that most feel he belongs (upper card, tag team wrestling), the man still delivered in that role. Again, this is not a popularity contest; this is based on match quality, and in that aspect Richards delivers almost every time out.

    Davey Richards' best PPV outing of 2012 was - From The ROH Showdown in the Sun: Night Two iPPV –ROH Title Match: Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgin [****¾]


    ***¾ - 3
    **** - 2
    ****¼ - 1
    ****½ - 1
    Total Matches Eligible - 7
    Average – 4.0

    I know that I am stating the obvious here, but 2012 was a great year for Austin Aries. He had a great run as TNA X-Division Champion, which turned into the push of a lifetime and ultimately the TNA World Title. Just thinking about the fact that he was going to retire back in 2011 when TNA called is just insane, especially considering the 2012 he turned in. Austin Aries made my list seven times, but most importantly he did it in all singles matches; as both a face and a heel, and with a pretty good variety of opponents. Aries delivered in great matches with Jeff Hardy (twice), Bobby Roode (twice) as well as had good PPV outings with Bully Ray, Samoa Joe and Alex Shelley. That's a great lineup of talent, and Aries delivered with every one of them. In 2012, Aries was easily one of the guys where I saw his name on a PPV and had that feeling that had to watch his matches; Austin Aries was must see for me in 2012. While Aries will seem a bit low, due to all he accomplished, I stated at the beginning that this was on match quality and nothing else. Still, much respect to "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived," because he certainly delivered in 2012.

    Austin Aries' best PPV outing of 2012 was - From TNA Turning Point - TNA World Title Ladder Match: Jeff Hardy vs. Austin Aries [****½]

    #5 – AJ STYLES (TNA)

    ***¾ - 3
    **** - 4
    ****¼ - 1
    Total Matches Eligible - 8
    Average – 3.94

    AJ Styles comes in at #5 for the year, having eight matches that qualify under the criteria. AJ had great tag matches teaming with Kurt Angle, he had great matches with Daniels and Angle in singles bouts, and also delivered in multiple man matches; the bottom line is that whenever AJ Styles appeared on PPV, the man busted his ass to make sure that you got your money's worth. AJ has been nicknamed "Mr. TNA" almost since day one, and when you look back on the history of the promotion, it is more than a nickname. He has stayed with the company, he has performed on a high level for years, and even in 2012, he still delivered, and delivered well. While the shittiest booking in wrestling was tossed onto him in 2012, I cannot stress enough how much the man delivered in the ring. While in horrible angles like the Claire Lynch angle, Styles was able to take chicken shit and on PPV, made some delicious chicken Cordon Bleu. TNA made strides in 2012, but the booking of AJ Styles was not part of that. Thankfully for wrestling fans, AJ Styles was on the case, and when PPV time came, he upped his game as he always had, and despite the booking, had a tremendous year on PPV. In my opinion (and according to my ratings) AJ Styles was the best TNA performer on PPV in 2012, and his hard work has paid off as he makes the top 5.

    AJ Styles' best PPV outing of 2012 was - From TNA Slammiversary – Tag Team Title Match: Kaz and Daniels vs. Kurt Angle and AJ Styles [****¼]


    ***¾ - 5
    **** - 1
    ****½ - 2
    Total Matches Eligible - 8
    Average – 3.97

    At the beginning of 2012, AR Fox wasn't on my radar at all. I rarely watch CZW, and for the most part I hadn't seen anything from him that overly impressed. It wasn't that I thought he was bad, but I just had no real incentive to watch his matches. Now I pride myself on knowing who the must see performers are, but after 2012, I think I have to get the radar adjusted, because much like Samuray Del Sol (OMG SPOILER), AR Fox proved my initial thoughts on him wrong. Fox started to get consistently booked by EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA, and due to that fact I got to see a lot of him in 2012, and I am glad he did. Fox was involved in two of the better PPV matches of the year for Dragon Gate USA, one for the Open the Freedom Gate title, and another in a tag match with CIMA, vs. Del Sol and Generico. His team with CIMA was fun to watch in 2012, also having another great PPV outing against Rich Swann and Ricochet. Fox fit in well in the Dragon Gate style, and it showed in the tag matches. Add in his singles work against Ricochet, Gargano, Calihan and his CZW ladder match against Dave Crist, and Fox not only delivered on PPV, but did it in a wide variety of matches and with a wide variety of opponents. Fox is a guy that, as you watched him over the course of the year, really grew from just a spot guy into a more well rounded performer. Like everyone on the list, I am very curious to see if he can duplicate and or surpass his accomplishments in 2013.

    AR FOx's best PPV outings of 2012 were - From DGUSA's Untouchable 2012 - CIMA and AR Fox vs. El Generico and Samuray Del Sol [****½] and From DGUSA's Freedom Fight 2012 - Open the Freedom Gate Title Match: Johnny Gargano vs. Ricochet vs. Akira Tozawa vs. AR Fox [****½]


    ***¾ - 3
    **** - 4
    ****½ - 1
    Total Matches Eligible - 8
    Average – 3.97

    In 2011 I started to hear about Samuray Del Sol, but it all seemed like more of the same, Indy luchadore dude doing too many moves and almost ending his career too early due to a bad fall on his head in 2011. When I heard that EVOVLE and DGUSA were going to use him, I didn't see the point, because they had El Generico set for several shows. Nothing I had heard sold me on the guy, but then I got to watch him perform, boy, were my thoughts on the man wrong. The man made a huge impact in EVOVLE and DGUSA, working with and against El Generico in seven of the promotions best iPPV matches of the year. Their series of three matches were all excellent (I rated all three ****), and their tag team matches against CIMA & Fox, Saito & Horiguchi and The Super Smash Brothers are also required viewing. This was one of the guys that if he was booked on a show, I was excited, and was going to buy the show. Samuray Del Sol is also getting big time attention outside of the US independents. In the middle of November, while working AAA in Mexico, his mentor Octagon anointed Del Sol as "Octagon Jr," which in the lucha world is a HUGE deal. He was given a new mask, and is the first real protégé of the lucha legend. For a guy that I had zero expectations for at the beginning of the year, he delivered big time on iPPV. I am honestly excited to see if he can do this well or better in 2013; but worry that I will not se him as much as I did in 2013, due to his work in AAA, which may take away from his US bookings.

    Samuray Del Sol's best PPV outing of 2012 was - From DGUSA's Untouchable 2012 - CIMA and AR Fox vs. El Generico and Samuray Del Sol [****½]


    ***¾ - 2
    **** - 4
    ****¼ - 1
    ****½ - 1
    Total Matches Eligible - 8
    Average – 4.03

    For those of you not familiar with this man, meet Johnny Gargano. He has been the Open the Freedom Gate champion for well over 400 days, and is the guy (brother) when it comes to EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA. Gargano is a guy that has improved tremendously over the last two years, going from a guy most thought was just a comedy guy to an excellent tag team performer; but in 2012, he really blossomed as a singles worker, and the top act for EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA. Whether it was in a tag team match in CHIKARA, a multiple man match (vs. Ricochet vs. Akira Tozawa vs. AR Fox), an I Quit match against Chuck Taylor or singles matches with Akira Tozawa, Masato Yoshino, AR Fox or Sami Callihan; Johnny Gargano has been on fire on PPV in 2012. And that is what you want out of your top guy, someone that delivers almost every time out. In the EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA universe, the fans buy him as the top guy, he is booked well as the top guy, and you know someone is getting good when they start catching the eye of WWE as he did this year. But I feel the most important thing is not just the quality of the matches that Gargano had, but I want to stress the fact that he grew so much as a singles performer. This was an outstanding year for Gargano, one that showed that he could thrive as a major player; he just needed the chance. I hate to use a cliché here, but this is an excellent example of getting the ball and running with it. And I expect more of the same in 2013 from Mr. Gargano.

    Johnny Gargano's best PPV outing of 2012 was - From DGUSA's Freedom Fight 2012 - Open the Freedom Gate Title Match: Johnny Gargano vs. Ricochet vs. Akira Tozawa vs. AR Fox [****½]



    ***¾ - 2
    **** - 8
    ****½ - 1
    Total Matches Eligible - 11
    Average – 4.0

    El Generico is a guy that some do not appreciate, but I feel that he is one of the very best guys out there that is 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, and for what we are discussing here that is what matters, El Generico is your man on iPPV. I would like to cite his work with EVOLVE, Dragon Gate USA and Ring of Honor. 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 in EVOLVE and DGUSA, his matches with Kevin Steen in ROH and more. Generico makes the list an astonishing ELEVEN TIMES, which again, leads me to ask, how does this man not have a contract SOMEWHERE? The man has delivered in singles matches, tag team matches, multiple man matches, regular matches, stipulation matches; if he was in the match, it probably kicked ass. El Generico was amazing on iPPV in 2012, and he was one of the things I enjoyed the most in 2012, and he deserves to top this list. Here is the breakdown of Generico's iPPV matches that qualified, and should be required viewing for anyone that enjoys the man's work. If you haven't watched any El Generico, and are interested in seeing what he can do, this will also be a good starting point…
    * From DGUSA's Untouchable 2012 - CIMA and AR Fox vs. El Generico and Samuray Del Sol [****½]

    * From The ROH Final Battle iPPV – World Title Ladder War – Kevin Steen © vs. El Generico [****]
    * From The ROH Showdown in the Sun: Night One iPPV – Last Man Standing Match – Kevin Steen vs. El Generico [****]
    * From DGUSA's Freedom Fight 2012 - Samuray Del Sol & El Generico vs. Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito [****]
    * From EVOLVE 11 iPPV – Low Ki vs. El Generico [****]
    * From EVOLVE 13 iPPV – El Generico vs. Sami Callihan [****]
    * From EVOLVE 17 iPPV – Samuray Del Sol vs. El Generico [****]
    * From EVOLVE 15 iPPV – Samuray Del Sol vs. El Generico [****]
    * From EVOLVE 14 iPPV – Samuray Del Sol vs. El Generico [****]

    * From DGUSA's Mercury Rising 2012 – El Generico vs. Lince Dorado vs. Rich Swann vs. Cima vs. Chuck Taylor vs. Samurai Del Sol [***¾]
    * From EVOLVE 18 iPPV – El Generico & Samuray Del Sol vs. The Super Smash Bros [***¾]

    Looking at EVOVLE-DGUSA on iPPV in 2012
    Looking at TNA on PPV in 2012
    Looking at WWE on PPV in 2012
    Looking at ROH on iPPV in 2012
    The Top 10 Things I Enjoyed About 2012


    Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it…TO CSONKA'S TWITTER!




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