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Wrestling Today's Date:

The Third Annual Christopher J. Garcia Awards
For Outstanding Achievement in the Field of
Wrestling Excellence...

For the Tribute to Eddie Guerrero, go here.

Because I say so, that's why.
2004 was not a strong year for wrestling at the box office. Mexico and at times Puerto Rico were exceptions, but very few groups turned strong profits. Ratings dropped, some companies folded, others slowed down and let folks go. It happens. Wrestling seems to have run out of new and original ideas. Interest keeps dropping and bad ideas keep floating to the top.

And yet I still had a good time.

There was a lot of great wrestling this year from guys like Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. TNA stepped it up and put on one of the greatest PPV matches I’ve ever seen. Ring of Honor had a World Champion who acted like a World Champion. Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama worked well above the level their broken bodies should allow. It was a year of solid wrestling, though there was a lot of crap to wade through, too.

Perhaps more than any other year, the WWE presented awful angles and ideas. Much of the Diva Search was terrible. A lot of the ideas used in the Tough Enough contest were terrible and the fact that they missed the ball in pushing Daniel Puder into a feud with Kurt Angle is still hotly debated. The Lita and Kane angle killed viewership dead at points. Maybe the lack of quality today is what drove the upswing in Tribute shows bringing back the legends of the 1970s and 80s.

The one upside has to be the fewer deaths compared to earlier years. Big Bossman passed away, which was sudden and sad. James Dudley, a WWE office guy for nearly 50 years, died at 93. A young Mexican wrestler, Espirito de la Muerte, died on impact when trying to do an out of ring dive, catching his knee on the ropes, falling head first to the floor while his brother, who was supposed to catch him, and his father, the ref, watched. Hercules Hernandez passed away, another victim of heavy roid use. Still, compare to last year, when we lost The Wall, Miss Elizabeth, Crash Holly, Curt Hennig, Freddie Blassie (tap-tap-kiss-point), Road Warrior Hawk, and Stu Hart.

Illnesses, like those suffered by Mean Gene Okerlund, Steve Dr. Death Williams, and Sabu also put a downbeat on the year. Tribute shows have become more and more common and have raised good money. There have been a few miracles, like the recovery of Ernie Ladd and Bobby Heenan. Wrestling is still subject to intrusions from real life.

While wrestling has certainly dropped from the lofty heights of just a few years ago, The Rock is still on the verge of being the top action star, HHH has made his first step into film and both Austin and Goldberg got into the acting game again. WWE Films is producing two movies, one for Kane, one with John Cena. HHH is now being looked at for roles like Prince Adam in Masters of the Universe and Conan.

All in all, it was a year that many would like to forget, but not as bad as some of the harshest years.

Lovingly served with garnish.
Best on Interviews
(Last Year’s Winner- Ric Flair)
John Bradshaw Layfield.
Yeah, he’s over-pushed. Yeah, he can’t work. Yeah, his gimmick is way over the top and doesn’t draw, but the guy can deliver a great promo. I will say that he built to it with strong promo after strong promo and that it was the bad taste left in people’s mouths from the way he got his reign that really stopped a lot of people from seeing how good a talker he is. Second is Chris Jericho, followed by Eddie Guerrero.

Woman of the Year
(Last Year’s Winner- Trish Stratus) Trish Stratus
Threepeat for the Toronto-born and bred Diva. This year saw a certain downgrade of women’s wrestling, but Trish still managed to main event an edition of Raw and have some strong matches. She played her role with Christian. She wrestled good matches with just about everyone. She had a strong feud with Lita. She did some good promos. Trish repeats and I’m betting she’ll have a couple of more of these before she’s done. Second is Lita, followed by Jenny Taylor in indies.

Tag Team of the Year
(Last Year- Los Guererros) KENTA and Marafuji from Pro Wrestling NOAH
OK, if you haven’t started searching the web to get tapes of these guys, you are a fool! The pair is the best Tag Team since the Rock ‘n Roll Express and Midnight Express. KENTA is so solid, and if he were a little bigger, I’d say he was the next big thing in Japan. Still, the two blow everyone else away. Team Canada and Elix Skipper and Chris Daniels are on the list too.

Lou Thesz Award for Good Wrestling
(Last Year’s Winner- Tie: Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit) AJ Styles
TNA wins one and with good reason: AJ is awesome. He works a style that isn’t hard to love. I’ve seen non-wrestling fans really get into his matches, something that you can hardly ever expect. His matches have always been great, and he’s the one guy that the WWE could really do something with. Second goes to Chris Benoit, followed by Eddie Guerrero, with honorable mentions going to KENTA of Pro Wrestling NOAH and Samoa Joe of Ring of Honor.

Best Match
(Last Year- Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa from the Tokyo Dome)
Chris Benoit vs. HHH vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania.
This was the hardest category. Jun Akiyama vs. Kenta Kobashi and last month’s cage match on the TNA Pay-Per-View both come so close, but the atmosphere of WrestleMania coupled with the impact the match had on the career of Chris Benoit put it on top. It reminded me a lot of my favorite match of 1997, where Bret Hart, Vader, Steve Austin and Sycho Sid met in a four way match for the belt. Benoit certainly stepped beyond his old self here and just looked great, but I’d say that Shawn Michaels was the general in this one and made the match move up to that next level. Special mention to the 60-minute Draws between CM Punk and Samoa Joe in Ring of Honor and Eddie Guerrero beating Brock Lesnar in the Cow Palace.

Feud of the Year (Last Year- Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar) HHH vs. Chris Benoit
There were a couple right up there, CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe and Eddie vs. JBL, but I’d say the one that had the most impact was Benoit/HHH. Both in the ring and out, Benoit and HHH made the middle portion of the year for the WWE. HHH was back in his 2000 form, and Benoit was as good as he ever was.

...and we made it through 2004 without any jokes about his name...
Wrestler of the Year (Last Year- Shawn Michaels)
Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit has probably wrestled more great matches in the last ten years than anyone else. He’s a star, a Hall of Famer, and he finally got his run on top. If not for HHH’s ego, he could have made a much bigger splash. Benoit deserves the push and he’s been floundering a bit ever since they pulled it off of him, but he’s also the best wrestler in the WWE right now. Still, the first 8 months of the year were all Benoit’s. Second goes to Eddie Guerrero, with Kenta Kobashi, Samoa Joe and Jeff Jarrett all trailing.

Fanboy Planet Reader Awards.

We got 75 votes. Not a lot, but enough. They came from Tribe.net postings, my personal e-mail list and from my readers. So, without hesitation, here are the winners.

Best Babyface (Last Year’s Winner- Goldberg)
Eddie Guerrero
Here’s how this one broke down: 40 votes Guerrero. 20 votes for Chris Jericho. Ten for RVD, which is a lot for a guy without a push. One each for Booker T, John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton and Mick Foley. Such a resounding win for Latino Heat. He did well last year, though I didn’t expect him to do as well this year. Randy Orton and John Cena only getting one vote each could be a bad sign for the two guys the WWE figures to be building around next year. Jericho’s second place finish, and the more stunning third place for RVD, shows that perhaps the WWE doesn’t know what it’s looking at by pushing Cena and Orton when they have those two under contract.

Best Heel (Last Year- HHH) Kane
OK, here’s a bit of the break down. With a week to go, Kane had 12 votes, HHH had 13, JBL had 10. Four days before it looked like JBL was gonna win by a total of 22 to HHH’s 17 and Kane would pull third with 14. Final two days I received a ton of votes, and ten for Kane, all with different comments and half of them from folks I know personally, so it wasn’t a stuffing the ballot thing. Final total: Kane 24, JBL 22, HHH 17. The only other people getting more than one vote were Edge with three, while Snitsky, Maven (What?), and Flair each had two. The only non-WWE vote in the entire reader’s poll went to Jeff Jarrett, while Kurt Angle and Spike Dudley also got votes.

Fanboy Planet’s Favorite Wrestler (Last Year- Brock Lesnar) Eddie Guerrero.
Tight race again with four guys getting good numbers of votes. Eddie won with 20 votes to HHH’s 17. Benoit got 14, while Rey Mysterio took home 9. Flair got 5, which is a shocker, and then the dregs were Trish with two (HUGE shock to me), Shelton Benjamin with two, Booker T and John Cena with two, and then votes going to Randy Orton and RVD.

Chris Garcia

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