The Annual Christopher J.

Garcia Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Wrestling Excellence This has been a rough year. The year started out strong with a good Rumble and a Mania that was nearly off the charts. TNA was doing good numbers, and they’ve only sagged for brief periods, and UFC was having hot stuff all over the place. Then the Bad hit. For wrestling as a whole, it was Chris Benoit. The WWE took a pretty serious ratings hit as the initial interest in seeing how things played out faded away. The Benoit murder-suicide was without question the most damaging thing that has ever happened to the world of wrestling. The questions came and almost never got any good answers. The WWE had parts of its business exposed that it never wanted to be seen. But worst of all was the death of three people. There were other passings this year. The Fabulous Moolah left us after 84 long years. She was a controversial figure in the history of wrestling and one of the best remembered women in the sport due to her time in the 1980s. We lost Sensational Sherri, an important part of Woman’s wrestling in the 1980s and a great manager too. Bam Bam Bigelow, a star in every company he went to at some level and one of the best big men in history. Karl Gotch. John Kronus. Bryan Crush Adams. While it is a year that will be remembered for the one massive passing, there was no shortage of others. The steroid scandal that the Benoit investigation brought out was coupled with the scandals of MMA fighters using roids. The suspensions were mired in charges that the tests were catching the results of legal supplements and not actual roid use. That’s a possibility but who knows for sure. The Baseball investigations didn’t help either and the WWE’s testing is found to be highly questionable. The scandal continues, though the Congress isn’t planning hearings at this time, which is a good thing. There were injuries, including losing most of the WWE’s top starts, including John Cena, Edge, Lashley, The Undertaker, Kennedy, Shawn Michaels, HHH, you name it, they went down. While Cena’s probably hurt the most, the lack of depth was very obvious. OK, now some awards The Trish Stratus Award for Woman of the Year- TNAs Gail Kim (Last Year’s Winner- Trish Stratus) They’re building the woman’s division around her, but they’re making her work and she’s had some good matches. I’ve always thought she was pretty good. Beth Phoenix is second, and if she’d been around all-year, she’d have won. Mickie James and ODB both tie for third. I miss Trish. Best on Interviews- Santino Marella (Last year’s winner: Jim Mitchell) Santino isn’t great in the ring, but the guy can talk and his interviews have been really good. He’s made me want to claw his eyes out a few times and when he talks, he gets himself over. I totally love a heel Santino, though the only reason he won is that it was a weak year for Mic work. Second goes to Shawn Michaels, who had some really good

ones but slacked a bit and was gone for a good while. Gotta give third to John Cena, though he could have won if he’d been around all year. Most Misused Wrestler of the Year- Samoa Joe If you’d told me that Samoa Joe would mean almost nothing at this point in 2007, I wouldn’t believe you. It’s sadly true and that’s a shame. While Shelton Benjamin was never pushed hard, Joe was, but in ways that didn’t get him over as a monster any longer. Here’s a guy who could have been the biggest thing in wrestling but was ruined by tit-fortat booking, being passed up in favour of bigger and older names, and just flat-out poorly booked. Shelton is second and Cody Rhodes is third. There are a lot of names that I thought of, including Ric Flair, London and Kendrick, Chris Daniels and AJ Styles. Tag Team of the Year- Rated RKO (Last year’s winners- KENTA and Marifuji No question that this was a weak year for tags, but the Rated RKO guys did really well working with DX and were the top heel team at the time. The guys also did some really good interviews and felt like an important team. Kendrick and London are second and third is The Briscoes in Ring of Honor. The Lou Thesz Award for Good Wrestling- Bryan Danielson (Last Year’s winner- KENTA) There’s no one who works better matches that Danielson and his work is being noticed by the bigs who won’t sign him. His matches with Morishima were great, but so were the ones with KENTA and others. He’s a huge talent and eventually he’ll end up as a player in one of the bigs. KENTA is second and Morishima is third. No one in the WWe was really at the level of any of these guys, and TNA’s booking kept a lot of guys from shining in-ring. MMA Show of the Year- The Ultimate Fighter IV Finale There’s never been a better up-and-down show than this. Every fight felt important and two of them were Fight of the Year level. A star was confirmed and several fights had people talking. I’m not sure which is second and which is third, but the Shamrock vs. Baroni Strikeforce show and the Couture vs. Gonzaga show for the UFC both come right up there. Wrestling Show of the Year- WrestleMania (Last Year’s Winner- Glory by Honor) Well, what can you say? Mania was a huge highlight with some great matches and some fun stuff. It was a wonderful show that was well-booked and had the aura that the best wrestling shows always seem to have. Rong of Honor gets the nod for second and third with the September 15th match from the Frontier Fieldhouse featuring Danielson vs. Morishima and the Driven PPV where Kenta and Danielson had such a great match. I also want to give the Shimmer Title Tournament and the Pro Wrestling NOAH show where Kenta Kobashi came back honourable mentions. Feud of the Year- Shamrock vs. Baroni

(Last year’s winner: Edge vs. Cena) Well, it was short, and the match itself was really good, but Shamrock and Baroni had a huge deal going and got interest in Strikeforce huge. I’d say they built it better than anything else going this year. DX vs. Rated RKO is second and the final slot goes to Morishima vs. Danielson in RoH. Not a great year for feuds. MMA Match of the Year- Frank Shamrock vs. Phil Baroni There’s no other match this year that had heat going in and that delivered. Both guys went all out, as is obvious by the pain they put themselves through fighting the match. It was great to watch and it’s one of those matches I’ll be talking about for years. Better than the Shamrock vs. Ortiz match from 1999 that really turned me into a fan. Second will have to be the Roger Huerta over Clay Guida match from a couple of weeks back. It was a great match that felt like it mattered. I’ll then say Randy Couture over Gonzaga as number three. Wrestling Match of the Year- Danielson vs. Morishima from RoH This was the match that I was most excited about. Morishima is awesome. Danielson is awesome. The match was great with all sorts of heat and a legit-looking finish that made use of the fact that Danielson had a legit eye injury caused by Morishima and they had an agreement that Morishima wouldn’t attack the eye. Beautiful story-telling. I’m going the Rumble second because it told a good story and was exciting and the Batista vs. UT Hell in the Cell third as I thought it was a masterfully booked match. Nothing from TNA seems to come close this year. MMA Fighter of the Year- Randy Couture Sure he quit, but the guy still had two of the best, most exciting matches of the year and proved that you can still go when you’re over 40. He beat Gonzaga which was a wonderful fight and he was the champ when he took off. I still think he’d have taken either Quint Jackson or Mirko Cro Cop. Hell, he’d have beated Fedor if they fought! Second will have to be Rampage Jackson for beating a solid Liddell and keeping his belt this long. Cung Le is third for the fine fighting he’s been doing in Strikeforce. Wrestling of the Year- Morishima (Last Year’s winner- Edge) Here’s a rarity: a Japanese wrestler who gets over with an American crowd by not playing the xenophobic race card. Morishima wasn’t taken to early, but after a while as RoH champ, he got into the groove and became a favourite. His matches were solid with the likes of Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness. He did great things in Japan too. The guy is the future of Japanese wrestling. Second is harder, but I’m going with John Cena who really worked hard and tough and though he finished the year on the DL, was the biggest draw all year. Third will be Undertaker for having such great matches with Batista and for having all that heat even after he came off an injury.