Tombstone Tuesday – WWE Tombstone Awards 2011

Happy New Year Wrestling-News.Net fans! I’m the newest member of staff here at the site and I’ll be writing Tombstone Tuesday every week about this crazy world of pro wrestling that we know and love. I’ll try to not b**** about the product on a consistent basis and try to be positive about the business while remaining honest. Instead of starting off my tenure here with a review of 2011, I thought I’d create the 1st annual WWE Tombstone Awards.

Before anyone comments, these awards are solely based on World Wrestling Entertainment. Shout out to Ring of Honor for having a great product for the up and comers in wrestling. Lets get right down to the awards…..

2011 Diva of The Year

Winner: Beth Phoenix

Runner Up: Natalya

Special Mentions: Kharma

This award was one of the easiest ones to hand out. 2011 has turned into the year of The Glamazon. After forming the Divas of Doom with Natalya, Beth pulled great matches out of Eve Torres and even Kelly Kelly. After winning the Divas Championship in October, Beth goes into 2012 as the dominant champion. As much as we can hope that she will head into WrestleMania and work a program with runner up, Natalya, It’s more likely that Kelly Kelly will be involved. The other Diva of Doom, Natalya, deserves a special mention as the runner up. This past year she’s put over divas from AJ and Kaitlyn to Eve and Kelly Kelly. Following the Hart family legacy, Natalya has a good match with pretty much any diva on the roster.

2011 Shocker of The Year

 Winner: The Rock returns after 7 years

Runner Up: Christian becomes World Heavyweight Champion

Special Mentions: CM Punk shoots on WWE, Edge retires, Kevin Nash interferes in SummerSlam Main Event, Rock and Cena make Mania Main Event 1 Year Early.

There aren’t too many angles or matches that could shock wrestling fans but on February 14th, 2011, fans all over the world were shocked to the core to see The Rock return to the squared circle. I wanted it to happen, but I didn’t believe it would. When his music hit and he walked onto the RAW stage, I got goosebumps like I’m sure millions of fans across the globe did too. The Great One returned as the WrestleMania guest host and started his angle with John Cena. Vince managed to shell out the big bucks to get back one of the greatest of all time. Ratings went up, fans started watching again and the buy rate for WrestleMania went up, thanks to the most electrifying man in all of entertainment. The other huge shock in WWE was Christian finally winning the big one. If we’re honest, it probably wouldn’t have happened had Edge not retired but no matter what Christian became World Champion. Even Captain Charisma’s loyal Peeps didn’t think he would win the belt, but he proved everyone wrong and even won the title a second time in the summer during his exceptional feud with Randy Orton.

2011 Promo of the Year

 Winner: CM Punk/Vince McMahon Money In The Bank Contract Signing

Runner Up: The Undertaker/Shawn Michaels/HHH 3/28 Raw Promo

Special Mentions: R-Truth/Jimmy Hart – SummerSlam, CM Punk Shoot 6/27, CM Punk/John Cena SummerSlam Contract Signing, The Rock return Promo 2/14, John Cena Battle Rap on The Rock – 2/21.

This category was undoubtedly, the most difficult award to hand out. The promos in WWE in 2011 were outstanding. Guys like CM Punk, Vince McMahon, The Rock, John Cena, The Miz, R-Truth, Triple H, Undertaker, Christian and many more delivered epic promos that made us all tune into RAW and SmackDown every week to see what they were going to do next. CM Punk was hands down, the promo man of 2011, he was always going to win this award, but the hard part was deciding which promo stood out as the best. Recently, I revisited Punk’s promos over the summer and leading through to the end of the year and the contract signing for Money In The Bank with Vince McMahon had to get my vote. The key element is they had me believing the angle was real and I got lost in the moment. CM Punk was the voice of the voiceless standing up to the bully that is Vince McMahon. From forcing Vince to apologise to Punk’s buddies to the straight edge star telling Boston what he thought of ‘The Chaperone’ DVD, it was absolute gold. Aside from the Summer of Punk promos, three men delivered a promo in March that made people want to see WrestleMania. When Triple H came back after an 11 month hiatus in February and challenged the Undertaker for his streak at WrestleMania, the build up was a bit lukewarm in parts. The two legends hadn’t gotten physical and relied on separate promos to build the match. When they came face to face on March 28th and were joined by Shawn Michaels, it was magic. The three legends had a verbal joust that left you wondering who would win at the big event, would HBK interfere and many other questions. This promo sold that match to any doubters. It was a fine example of three legends showing us how it’s done.

2011’s Worst Match of The Year

Winner: Jerry ‘ The King’ Lawler v. Michael Cole – WrestleMania

Runner up: Any match involving Kelly Kelly or Michael Cole

Special Mentions: John Cena v. The Miz (WrestleMania)

This match was booked so well. With Stone Cold as the guest referee and Jack Swagger in Cole’s corner, it had all the components for a great special attraction match. Instead we got almost ten minutes of stalling and then offence from Cole that made Vince McMahon look like Ricky Steamboat mark 2. It’s a shame that ‘King’ waited almost twenty years for his match at WrestleMania and he got this. Travesty. I tried to think of a runner up and the common denominator was Kelly Kelly. WWE clearly want to replicate the fitness model success they stumbled onto with Trish Stratus, however between her cartwheel offence and screaming when she hits a move makes it hard to get through one of her matches. Props go to Cena and Miz for pulling off the most boring Mania main event in it’s 27 year history. I don’t know whether it was lack of chemistry or nerves but it just didn’t work.

2011’s Match of The Year

Winner: CM Punk v. John Cena – Money In The Bank

Runner Up: Undertaker v. Triple H (WrestleMania)

Special Mentions: Edge v. Dolph Ziggler (SmackDown), John Morrison v. Miz (RAW), Randy Orton v. Christian (Over The Limit)

2011 was a fantastic year for in ring action. When it came to choosing a winner, It came down to two epic matches but the match with Punk and Cena in Chicago edges out the mania classic with The Phenom and The Game. Rarely, do we get a match in wrestling that is perfect in terms of match quality, crowd, psychology, booking and overall presentation but this match had it all. Nobody knew what was going to happen. That’s what made this match so perfect. After a near 35 minute dramatic battle, McMahon, Laurinitis and Del Rio all helped to give this main event the big time feel it had. Undertaker and Triple H set up their match without saying a word. With two broken down guys in their mid 40’s, the expectations for their Mania battle weren’t too high but they pulled it out of the bag. We all knew going in that Taker would be going 19-0 but from the 3 pedigrees to the tombstone, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands and delivered an all time classic.

2011 Wrestler of The Year

Winner: Randy Orton

Runner Up: CM Punk

Special Mentions: Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan

Randy Orton gets a lot of grief from the internet wrestling community for having a one dimensional character. While this is an argument to be had, the fact that Randy Orton was the best wrestler of the year is a certainty. Orton has had great matches with everyone in the company from Dolph Ziggler to Christian and CM Punk. In the last few months of the year Orton made Mark Henry look like a million dollars and has elevated Wade Barrett to the main event of the blue brand. CM Punk was re-invigorated in 2011 as he had fantastic battles as a heel with Randy Orton and after his face turn in the summer he contested heated matches with John Cena, Miz, Del Rio and others.

2011 Angle of The Year

CM Punk vs. The Establishment (The McMahons/John Laurnitis/John Cena)

Runner Up: Randy Orton v. Christian

Special Mentions: The Rock v. John Cena, Awesome Truth run riot on WWE.

CM Punk wanting out of his WWE contract ended up bringing fans back to the product. Punk didn’t hold back and gave fans an era of realism that had sorely been lacking in the last few years. When the Straight Edged star announced on June 27th that he’d be facing Cena for the WWE title on his final night and then delivered a ‘shoot’ promo, fans had no idea who would win or what would happen. Involvement from Vince McMahon and John Laurinitis just made the angle seem more realistic. For the 4 week period leading up to the event, it was must see TV and gave us magical moments. Randy Orton and Christian gave us an amazing feud that lasted the entire spring/summer season. With amazing matches, intriguing promos and great psychology, these guys are deserving runners up for Angle of The Year.