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The inaugural Tommy Dreamer Wrestling Awards
By TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling


A.J. and CM Punk both are listed on the inaugural "Tommy Dreamer Wrestling Awards." Photo by Minas Panagiotakis, www.photography514.com

As an adult, I really never look forward to the mail. Mail, as an adult, usually consists of bills or advertisements that I really don’t care about.

I could create a real-life-sized home out of the countless catalogs my wife has somehow accrued over the years. It seems like two or three arrive daily.

To be honest, the only thing I look forward to in the mail nowadays is the arrival of my Netflix movies. In fact, I anticipate getting them so much that I even wish Netflix wouldn’t send me an e-mail notifying me of their shipment, so I could be genuinely surprised like when I was a kid.

Ah, the simpler times … when I used to look forward to getting kid mail. There was no Internet or Amazon then, and if you ordered something, you often had to wait four to six weeks to receive it. There were catalog offers and advertisements in the back of comic books and, yes, I ordered sea monkeys and X-Ray glasses.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, after waiting nearly a month, I didn’t have sea creatures roaming and creating a race of sea people in my fish tank. Nor was I able to see through walls, or see what women were wearing under their clothing. I mean, if they really were X-Ray glasses, as advertised, would I not see their bones instead of the bare essentials of the poorly sketched women’s undergarments at a dinner party?

False advertisement, 100%! I think a pre-adolescent Tommy Dreamer would go to Congress on that political stance.

However, my world was made right again, monthly, when I would receive my wrestling magazines. I was a subscriber to The Wrestler, Inside Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I have every issue between 1980 and 1991. After 1991, I only purchased them if my name was in it, and eventually only if my picture was in it. But when I was a kid, I was super excited to see that brown envelope. I would read them cover to cover, maybe 10 times over. Yes, I was obsessed.

My favourite edition each year was the annual Pro Wrestling Illustrated year-end awards issue. I would love reading which wrestlers myself and the other fans voted for as wrestler of the year, rookie of the year, most hated, tag team and so on and so on. I would make my picks months earlier and mail in my results, which I later came to learn had no bearing on the results whatsoever.

Now, more than 31 years later, I can right that wrong by presenting my own awards.

I won’t go into great depth and detail in each category; rather I’ll go on the criteria of what the basis is if the awards were actually legitimate. Which wrestlers made wrestling topical … who ignited conversations (or aguments) via social media — what we used to call “water cooler stories” the next day … who earned the most money for the industry. This really helps break down most of the arguments because, bottom line, it is the financial aspect that makes companies continue to be able to present wrestling shows on a weekly basis.

So, without further adieu, Tommy Dreamer’s 2012 Wrestling Awards:

Match of the year

The Undertaker vs. Triple H, WrestleMania 28. This had everyone talking for months after ’Mania was over. It was a show-stealing match that told an amazing story, had passion, emotion, and brutality, which is what every wrestling match should have.

Woman of the year

AJ. Sadly with the decline of women’s wrestling, this category may not be around in five more years. I am a huge fan of the ladies and their in-ring work, but they are getting less and less on-air time on the main stage. However, AJ has everyone talking and was a major fixture and helped further many WWE storylines.

Inspirational wrestler of the year

Jerry Lawler. The man literally died while doing what he loves to do. The world collectively prayed for The King following his near-fatal heart attack during a live Monday Night Raw broadcast from Montreal. I watched Raw with tears in my eyes, trying to get news on his condition as the events unfolded. He came back from death. Long live The King.

Tag team of the year

Team Hell No. This team gets an ovation from the moment they walk through the curtain. Daniel Bryan has gotten more response from his “YES” chant than Stone Cold Steve Austin did with his “WHAT?” schtick. Kane continues to up his game. He has been on top of this business for a long time and I hope he never stops.

Most improved isn’t a real category. It is based upon who is getting an opportunity to perform on a more top-tier level. So many talents deserve this opportunity and hopefully 2013 gets them that chance.

Rookie of the year

Ryback. Yes, he has been wrestling for a long time. Most people forget he was in The Nexus as Skip Shefield, but the Ryback character debuted in 2012. He was elevated to main-event status and has many people talking. He is the only rookie selling merchandise, creating a buzz and to have people buying tickets to see him.

Comeback of the year

The Rock. Simply put, his match with John Cena drew the largest attendance of any wrestling event this year. It also wins feud of the year.

Most popular, most hated and the coveted wrestler of the year produced a three-way tie.

Every wrestling fan, wrestler and anyone associated with the business owes a great deal of thanks, praise and the utmost respect to three men in 2012: John Cena, CM Punk and The Rock. I am sure the arguments will be heated after reading this, but these three men have made the business profitable and created more mainstream press for wrestling than anyone else.

The Rock: sure, he doesn’t work a full-time schedule, but his box office draw doesn’t seem to matter. He gets TV ratings, pay-per-view buys and entertains like no other. Yes, he is a big Hollywood actor. He has an insane schedule. He competes in the ring when he doesn’t have to. I mean, what if he got cut or injured? His acting career could take a big hit. When he returns, everyone talks about it and awaits his next match.

CM Punk: He went from beloved to hated in the same year. He continues to work an insane schedule and has really good in-ring matches with any and all types. Punk’s promos continuously sent shockwaves through the wrestling community. Whether you love him or hate him, people pay to see him and listen to him. He has held the WWE title for more than a year, which is a big deal in the modern era and, rightfully so, as he carries the title like a champion should.

John Cena: John has been carrying the WWE on his shoulders for quite a few years now. He will be the first to tell you he isn’t the greatest technical wrestler, but yet he still has some of the better main-event matches night in and night out.

Cena continues to say boo or cheer him, but he will continue to be himself. He is a merchandise machine, kids love him and he does so much for charity. I swear he has coffee in his veins, not blood. He works hurt, trains hard and delivers all the time. His motto, “Hustle Loyalty and Respect”, is so deserving. I have been in the wrestling business for a long time. I have nothing but the deepest respect for all three of these guys. They fuel the business and without them, there wouldn’t have been a business in 2012.

Happy new year.

Thanks for reading.

TOMMY DREAMER LINKS

  • House of Hardcore website
  • Tommy Dreamer bio and story archive
  • Tommy Dreamer column archive
  • thetommydreamer.com
  • Twitter: @THETOMMYDREAMER

    Tommy Dreamer is a legendary and influential pro wrestler and a father and husband who has worked for World Wrestling Entertainment, Extreme Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action. His column appears in the Kingston Whig-Standard and on SLAM! Wrestling. Follow him on Twitter @THETOMMYDREAMER and check out his website at thetommydreamer.com. He can be booked for live appearances through his website. Check out his new, custom-designed T-shirts and merchandise on his website as well.