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End of another year
By "Hotshot" JOHNNY DEVINE - SLAM! Wrestling
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As the end of another year approaches, one is inclined to look back on the year and review what made it good or bad. What stood out as memorable? How is next year going to compare? I decided to do a little of that here but also to focus on next year and what could be.

It was definitely a great year for wrestling fans in North America as they got a new promotion to follow in TNA on Spike TV. WWE had some memorable and forgettable angles come down the pipe. The Indy scene, with ROH's strong example, continued to grow stronger as houses were once again on the rise.

The story of the year ultimately for me and many others will be the untimely passing of the great Eddie Guerrero. A star in every aspect Eddie will be, and already is, sorely missed. But let's not focus on the negative today. It's a positive time and we will be positive along with it.

Who had a breakout year or went above and beyond previous years? To me the first standout is Kurt Angle. The vicious streak his character has had has added so many levels to an already great character it has been mindblowing. I love the mouthguard! And rare is the time you see Angle in a bad match or promo. Who else? What about Rey Mysterio? Again some great angles and feuds. The Eddie/Domenic feud was a little much but the matches were so damn good I could look past the lame angle.

Who to look out for? Hmm, good question. Who in the "E" will step it up in 2006 and break out? From the RAW roster I would say either Chris Masters, who has done a great job IMO with the push he's been given so far, or maybe Shelton Benjamin if he can nail a promo style to suit him. His work is already really good. From Smackdown I would say look out for Bobby Lashley, one word -- freak. Or my boy Kid Kash. Kash is a heat machine and definitely what the cruiser division needs: a character to build around.

What about TNA? Samoa Joe obviously comes to mind as a breakout star. The build of his character and his matches have been nothing short of superb! I would say look for lengthy X title reign from Joe. Or what about Rhino? Can we say dropped the ball!? WWE sure did with this guy!! The Man Beast is a savage and definitely a go-to guy as far as main events and storylines go! How about Christopher Daniels? Definitely another go-to guy as far as main eventing and bringing meaning to angles!!

Who's the ones to watch in '06? First I would say Christian Cage! He's finally getting his due as a main event caliber performer and will run with whatever ball he's given. Same goes for Monty Brown who keeps improving weekly. Remember folks, Monty's only been around a short time and look how good he is already. Think of what he's capable of achieving! In the X division I would say to watch Alex Shelly. If the king of Brit Lucharesu gets a character push, his work will be noted as exceptional and he'll earn the respect he deserves. I am also gonna say watch my boy "Showtime" Eric Young! Expect big things from Showtime; he's got all the tools to go a long way and if people get behind him there'll be no stopping him.

What about ROH and the indies? Bryan Danielson is already a standout as ROH champion. Definitely a great standard bearer for a top company! He exemplifies the ROH style and creed. Colt Cabana has really come on as of late as well. He's definitely one to watch in '06 as it could well be his year. Nigel McGuiness is another guy to keep your eye on. A solid worker from top to bottom and possessing a brilliant mind to boot makes him a real blue chipper.

So many guys are left out of lists like these that it's almost unfair, but my columns really are never that long! I could go on and on but in the end it is always anybody's year! It comes down to who wants it most! Just remember not to count out one Johnny Devine.

For those of you that keep asking, I am scheduled for surgery January 27th to fix the hernia surgery I had in '04 after getting stabbed. I will be out another six weeks and then back in the gym and ring around mid-March. My resolve to return to TNA has never been greater and the fire in me to remake my name is volcanic in its intensity!

2006 could be the start of a lot of things in the wrestling business. A new Monday night war? A two-hour program for TNA? An upswing in business? Who knows. All we do know is that is a great time to be a fan 'cause there's so much to see and take in. And I for one couldn't be looking more forward to 2006.

For those of you able to get the Fight Network here in Canada, check out AWE Overload January 2nd and the AWE Harsh Reality PPV January 18th. There's some good stuff on there and, of course, yours truly, so what more reason do you need! ;)

Take care all, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Kwanza, etc., and a happy New year to everyone. Support your local indies and feedback is always welcome and appreciated at johnnydevine@shaw.ca.

Stay Hot
Devine

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Hotshot" Johnny Devine's column will run on Saturdays (or whenever he delivers) on SLAM! Wrestling. Be sure to visit each week!

For more on Devine's career, see his biography in our Canadian Hall of Fame
.


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