WWE End of Year Awards 2012
Now that the WWE's final pay-per-view of 2012 is officially behind us, now seems like a good time to look back on the year as a whole. While not one of the greatest years in company history, the last 12 months have contained a number of memorable moments.
Both The Rock and Brock Lesnar returned to singles competition after respective eight-year hiatuses from the company, and both stars provided a financial boost for the events on which they appeared.
Elsewhere, rogue faction The Shield made an instant impact with regular attacks of the WWE's elite talent, and Ryback was successfully established as the newest member of the company's upper echelon.
With the Slammy Awards also out of the way, here is an alternative take on the best and worst of the WWE in 2012; my End of Year Awards.
Worst Match of the Year
John Cena vs. Michael Cole (June 4)
The fact that this 'contest' was the main event on the company's flagship television show was bad enough, but it somehow managed to get worse.
The worst kind of comedy match, Cena absolutely humiliated his opponent and ultimately drenched Cole in Jim Ross' barbecue sauce after the face of the company forced the announcer into a groveling apology to JR and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.
Ill-advised, poorly conceived and terribly executed, this was without a doubt the worst match to feature on WWE television this year.
Worst Wrestler of the Year
It boggles the mind that talents including (but not limited to) Christian, Ted DiBiase and Tyson Kidd are rarely given anything to do on WWE television, yet David Otunga is devoted so much screen time.
Not only that, but he captained the victorious Team Johnny at WrestleMania XVIII, and shared the ring with main event stars John Cena, Sheamus and The Big Show over the last 12 months.
However, someone must have cottoned on to the fact the man can't wrestle as by November, he was jobbing to Santino Marella on Superstars.
The reason I have awarded Otunga this unfortunate accolade is that despite the number of high-profile opportunities he has been presented, he has still yet to show any aptitude for the business, either in the ring or the microphone.
Pay-Per-View of the Year
Extreme Rules (April 29)
The focal point of this year's event was Brock Lesnar's first match in a WWE ring for eight years, as he went up against John Cena in an Extreme Rules match.
Although many (myself included) disagreed with the decision to put Cena over, the match was an intense, hard-hitting brawl that was unlike anything else seen on WWE television in recent years.
Elsewhere on the card, Sheamus and Daniel Bryan made up for the brevity of their WrestleMania encounter with an excellent 2 out of 3 falls match that saw the 'Celtic Warrior' retain the World Heavyweight Championship, and CM Punk ended his personal rivalry with Chris Jericho by retaining the WWE Championship in an entertaining Chicago Street Fight.
This gets my vote for pay-per-view of the year as all of the big matches on the card delivered, and the typically raucous Chicago crowd provided a great atmosphere.
Non-Wrestler of the Year
Heyman's return to WWE television was an inspired move by the creative team, and as usual he delivered on the microphone, reminding us why he is one of wrestling's greatest ever personalities.
Initially resuming his onscreen alliance with Brock Lesnar, Heyman was revealed to be working in tandem with WWE Champion CM Punk on the Sept. 3 episode of Raw. This added a fresh dimension to Punk's heel character, and the two have given us consistently excellent work since.
Since his return, Heyman has reminded us with his passionate promos why his presence was so sorely missed on WWE television.
Most Improved Superstar
Many thought that 'The Big Red Machine' was finished as a top-level performer after spending most of 2011 treading water in meaningless feuds, yet he has managed to surprise almost everyone this year by putting in some of the best performances of his 15-year WWE career.
A short feud with Randy Orton did nothing for either man's momentum, but entry into the WWE Championship picture in late May saw a seemingly-rejuvenated Kane enter solid efforts in his collisions with opponents CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.
Following the end of his title pursuit, Kane became one half of Team Hell No, the hottest tag team the company had seen in years, and current doubles champions.
The chemistry between Kane and Bryan has provided some of the most memorable segments of 2012, and 'The Devil's Favorite Demon' showed a new side of his personality as well as keeping a consistently high standard in the ring.
The big man deserves his trip to Disneyland.
Despite only debuting at the end of Survivor Series on Nov. 18, the three men from developmental have made a huge impact in a short space of time.
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns immediately made their presence known, establishing themselves as a legitimate threat by taking out top-level stars such as Ryback, Team Hell No and Randy Orton.
Their atmospheric camcorder promos have given the segments a unique aesthetic, and the promo skills of Ambrose cover the shortcomings of the other two members.
Despite only having one match under their belts, the trio picked up a huge win over Ryback and Team Hell No in a TLC match on Dec. 16 in what instantly became a match of the year contender. Proving they could back up their words with actions, The Shield will undoubtedly be a major part of the WWE landscape in 2013.
Tag Team of the Year
Team Hell No
For the first time in years, the WWE is actually devoting time to rebuilding the tag team division, and there is no question that it was these two that provided the catalyst.
Demonstrating great chemistry in hilarious anger management segments, the odd couple dynamic worked a treat and the duo became one of the most over acts in the entire company.
Capturing the tag team championships at Night of Champions on Sept. 16, they have successfully the belts against the likes of Kofi Kingston and R-Truth and The Rhodes Scholars.
Featuring prominently towards the top of the card whilst also leading the charge in a rejuvenated doubles division, Team Hell No are the obvious choice for this award.
Breakout Star of the Year
Beginning the year with an unsuccessful pursuit of the WWE Championship, 'The Showoff' capped off the best 12 months of his career with a pay-per-view win over John Cena that saw him retain his Money in the Bank briefcase.
And in between this, Ziggler established himself as one of the top in-ring talents in the company and is destined for the main events in 2013. If you don't believe me, just listen to the reaction he got from the crowd in his match against Cena at TLC.
Putting in show-stealing efforts against the likes of Chris Jericho and Randy Orton, as well as being the captain and sole survivor of a victorious Survivor Series team. A clean win over the face of the company would surely thrust him into the top tier of company talent, a place he has fully earned.
Feud of the Year
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan
Despite the somewhat unnecessary addition of Kane midway through, the rivalry between the ROH alumni was still the best in-ring feud of 2012.
The first pay-per-view encounter over the title was a Match of the Year candidate at Over the Limit, which finished in controversial fashion as Punk tapped out immediately after pinning Bryan.
A triple threat match also involving 'The Big Red Machine' saw Bryan yet again fail to capture the belt, before a third and final loss to the 'Second City Saint' at Money in the Bank saw Bryan drop out of the championship picture.
This feud gave us some of the best in-ring clashes seen in the WWE this year, and the fan support for both stars ensured the audience were captivated every time the two men shared the ring, whether it be a promo or a match.
Match of the Year
The Undertaker vs. Triple H (April 1)
Billed as the 'End of an Era' match, two of the company's all-time greats went head-to-head inside Hell in a Cell, with Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels as special guest referee.
For over 30 minutes, the veterans showed the younger generation how to build a match; the action was crisp, the violence as brutal as it can be in today's PG era, and the ring psychology was second to none.
The addition of 'The Heartbreak Kid' really upped the emotional stakes due to his storied history with both competitors, and the tension was palpable in the final few minutes as many believed 'The Streak' was in real jeopardy.
One of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time, this epic clash is the only logical choice as the best of 2012.
Wrestler of the Year
No doubt I will receive a lot of hate in the comments for not opting for CM Punk, who carried the WWE Championship for all of 2012, but allow me to make my case for Daniel Bryan.
Beginning the year as World Heavyweight Champion, Bryan was involved in a world championship match on every pay-per-view until Summerslam, created two of the most simple and popular catchphrases since Steve Austin's 'What?', and as part of Team Hell No revived a tag team division that had been neglected for years.
Despite being booked to lose the World Heavyweight Championship in 18 seconds in his WrestleMania debut, and the nauseating wedding angle with AJ Lee, Bryan has taken every opportunity and run with it and become arguably the most popular star in the company.
I know not everyone will agree with my decision, but I feel Daniel Bryan deserves to be named as 2012's Wrestler of the Year.
So there are my alternative WWE End of Year Awards. It's most definitely been an interesting 12 months for the company, and with the number of new stars appearing on the roster, the future is looking more than bright.
Do you agree with the awards?
Who would you choose instead?
As always, sound of in the comments below!
On a personal note, I have been absent from Bleacher Report over the last few weeks because of a lot of recent bad news in my personal life. I would just like to take a moment to thank the team at B/R for keeping me on as a Featured Columnist, and to everyone who reads this article.