Friday, January 18, 2013

Top Ten Cases: WWE 2012 Year-End Awards - Superstar with the Most Disappointing Year

My Pick:  Randy Orton
Wanna hear something really depressing?  I struggled immensely even trying to find Superstars other than CM Punk and MAYBE Sheamus to offer as options for my Superstar of the Year survey.  But when it came to picking a wrestler who has had an especially lackluster year, there was no shortage of potential candidates.  Aside from Cena, Punk, Sheamus, and – shockingly – the Big Show, has any full time Superstar been made to look good for any consistent amount of time?  Guys like Christian and the Miz – who were World Champions in 2011 – were relegated to short Intercontinental Championship reigns when they weren’t on losing streaks.  Then there were “newcomers” like Tensai and Brodus Clay, who came in with a roar but ended the year with a whimper.  And then, at a different level, you had somebody like Wade Barrett:  A guy who seemed to have a promising year ahead of him, but an unexpected injury kept him on the sidelines for much of the year.  Ultimately, though, I went with Randy Orton.

Since his debut, WWE has seemed to stuff Randy Orton down our throat.  Consider the following:  Randy Orton held the World Heavyweight Champion twice in 2011, the WWE Championship once in 2010, the WWE Championship three times in 2009, and the WWE Championship two times in 2007 (one of which was a six month reign that went into 2008).  For the better part of five years, Randy Orton has been a fixture in the World Title picture – and yet his 2012 was completely unremarkable.  Think back to the past year.  Can you remember one memorable Randy Orton feud?  While his somewhat equivalent John Cena appeared in the biggest match in WrestleMania history, Orton was in the second match of the show.  In a thrown together feud with Kane.  Which he lost.  Clean.  And while top stars like John Cena, CM Punk, Sheamus, the Big Show, and Ryback were super protected, Orton tapped out to Alberto Del Rio’s arm bar on more than one occasion.  When was the last time a top babyface tapped clean?

And even when Orton did take part in high profile feuds, he was hardly the focus.  In the ONE Pay-Per-View World title match he appeared in all year, the focus was mostly on Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio (Jericho and Orton were seemingly only added because the feud wasn’t gaining any traction).  And in the original imagining of Team Punk vs. Team Foley at Survivor Series, Ryback was clearly portrayed as the star of the team.

Randy Orton’s 2012 wasn’t just disappointing – it was completely forgettable.

What You Said – Zack Ryder
Unlike the Daniel Bryan pick, I don’t disagree with your overall consensus.  When 2011 came to an end, Zack Ryder – and all those that were emotionally invested in his ascension up the ladder – was on top of the world.  He was a self made man.  Somebody who defied the odds and seemingly found himself a relatively high placement on the card.  He went from never appearing on Raw to being one of the most over guys in the company to being the United States Champion.  As 2012 was approaching, Ryder was a central figure on Raw (as one of the few Superstars that directly feuded with Johnny Ace) and was regularly interacting with top stars.  And then 2012 happened.

While certainly not the ideal situation, things didn’t seem all that bad.  For example, his US Title reign was cut short – but he was super protected when he lost (taking Swagger’s finisher numerous times, and the later revelation that he wasn’t even cleared to compete).  And he was the face-in-peril in the featured storyline dealing with the biggest star on the flagship show.  However, Jack Swagger just as quickly dropped the title to Santino Marella (who did get a five month reign with the gold, despite being a similar comedy character) and Ryder went from face-in-peril to damsel-in-distress.  And things only got worse.  While he did get a WrestleMania match, it was in the token “fit everybody on the card” match.  And for storyline purposes, Teddy Long only settled to have him on the team so that he could get the Great Khali.  And he ate the pin.  Against the Miz.  Who was in the midst of a losing streak storyline.  Slowly but surely, Ryder returned to his role as a glorified jobber, decisively losing to anyone from Alberto Del Rio to a debuting Damien Sandow.  He even stopped appearing on Raw on a regular basis, being completely left off of shows that would guarantee a huge reaction.  Sure, there were signs of life (like his July 4th Smackdown battle royal win, or his Night of Champions pre-show battle royal win and PPV title shot), but overall it was a massively disappointing year for Ryder, when things seemed so promising when the year began.

So why did I go with Orton, then?  Quite simply, I feel like Orton’s drop was further and more significant.  Orton has been in the main event scene for close to a decade.  He’s a nine time World Champion.  And 2012 was honestly the first year that he was a complete and utter afterthought.  And it was the first time since 2007 that he went a calendar year without a World Championship of any sort.  In my view, that’s a lot worse than things not working out as great as you thought they would.

No comments: