The Live Wire - By Tony Cottam

TLW: 2003 Awards

Well, hello. Happy post-Christmas, pre New Year greetings! I trust I find you all well, happy and full of the Christmas Spirit… Southern Comfort in my case. Wahey! Just because it’s Christmas, the jokes don’t get any better… Anyway, by my reckoning, this is the last column of the year… and that can mean only one thing… that’ 52 weeks of hell gone by, and another 52 to go. No, apart from that! It’s the Annual Live Wire End Of Year Awards spectacular!!!

Well, hello. Happy post-Christmas, pre New Year greetings! I trust I find you all well, happy and full of the Christmas Spirit… Southern Comfort in my case. Wahey! Just because it’s Christmas, the jokes don’t get any better…

Anyway, by my reckoning, this is the last column of the year… and that can mean only one thing… that’ 52 weeks of hell gone by, and another 52 to go. No, apart from that! It’s the Annual Live Wire End Of Year Awards spectacular!!!

Will things have changed from the Half Year Awards in July? Will anyone repeat from last year’s awards? One way to find out… and that is to read on as we begin – with :

Best Face
1. Rob Van Dam
2. Eddie Guerrero
3. Trish Stratus

Yes, it’s one of the Diva’s sneaking into the awards – and why not, says I? Trish has been gathering momentum pretty much the whole year, and the excellent angle between her and Chris Jericho has built up Trish’s role over the past few weeks. Trish is gaining a huge amount of reaction from the crowd, and it’s not just because she’s blonde and busty – Trish is definitely one of the top faces this year.

No matter how much the WWE have TRIED to turn Eddie heel this year, the ‘Lie Cheat and Steal’ gimmick has just kept him over as a huge face… who would have thought that Eddie could stay a face so long, so easily? The fact is – Eddie is easily the top face on Smackdown right now, and is surely deserving of a title shot – let’s face it – his ring work would easily grant him one. Eddie has been awesome this year, in every way.

Only one man could keep Eddie from top face billing – and that man is RVD. Doesn’t matter how he gets buried, forgotten about, written out, walked over, whatever – give the man 5 minutes in a ring and bang! The fans forget about it all and just get caught up in the RVD experience. It’s hard to explain, but he’s just a natural… I’m not sure he could play a heel in the WWE now without resorting to Foley-like headlocks and armbars. But at the moment, he’s a face, and should have had a World title run by now.

Best Heel
1. Chris Jericho

2. John Cena
3. Triple H

Loathe him or just plain hate him – Trips is a good heel. Despite his motives, his methods or even the reasoning, Trips is positioned as the top heel on Raw – while it might now come off quite that way, Evolution is developing into a fine heel stable, and Trips’ presence benefits that. At the moment, he is the top choice for the title… although San Antonio tonight could change that…

Cena’s evolution from mid card jobber boy to top level star has been nothing short of meteoric. Good booking and solid, if unspectacular ring work has been at the heart of it – but Cena’s ruthless heel persona and mic work has put him over the edge. Cena should be odds on to go to WrestleMania, given his recent face turn, and upswing in popularity. If he’d turned face earlier, he could have been pushing for best face too…

Good, or bad, as Cena was, Jericho has been downright devious all year. Bar 10 minutes in Canada when Jericho was as hot a face as anyone in the WWE in the past 5 years, Jericho has been gathering heat like practically no-one else in the WWE. Jericho plays his role so well, a prime example being the latest angle with Trish, that he just oozes heel-ish-ness (if that is a word, and if it’s not, then I just copyrighted it, OK? OK!)

Best Mic Work
1. John Cena
2. Chris Jericho
3. Ric Flair

Flair… what can be said about The Man? While Flair in the ring is but a shadow of what he was, Flair on the mic is still up there. His promos to hype up Evolution and it’s members have been classic Flair crazy old man stuff… the Raw where he had to face Triple H is probably Flair’s defining moment since his return to the WWE, although his confrontation with Maven runs it close for classic Flair arrogance. This old dog may not know any new tricks, but who needs ’em? Whoooo!

Jericho’s Highlight Reel has been just that – one of the highlights of Raw, and pretty much most of that can be marked down to the mic skills of the host with the most, the highlight of the night, Mr. Chris Jericho himself. Jericho hasn’t had a whole lot to do all year, and has more or less pootled along in auto pilot ring wise, but give him a mic, and he’ll steal the show. Only one man made more use of the mic in 2003 than Jericho did…

John Cena. We all know what Cena is capable of on the mic – he took what looked to be a poor gimmick, and not only made it work, but made it his own, pretty much 90% of that down to how he handled himself on the mic. It’s not just what he says and how he says it, but how it’s always tailored to wherever he is or whatever’s going down… simply put, on the mic, Cena’s been IT in 2003.

Worst Mic Work
1. A-Train
2. Lita
3. Chris Benoit

Poor old Saint Christopher of Benoit… destined to wander the rings of the world and never really discover how to talk to the public. If he could just raise his game in that area, then he would be in the top echelon of guys ever – his ring work already puts him there, being able to talk would just cement it. Sadly, I don’t think it’s ever gonna happen now. He should still get a title run though. Just because, right?

Lita’s absence didn’t soften the blow of her terrible, terrible use of the mic. What makes it worse is that she’s given so much time to talk and dig herself deeper into a hole of uselessness that she invariably does. Molly can talk. Trish can talk. Ivory can talk… a lot. Jazz can talk. Lita? No. She can’t. So STOP LETTING HER!!!

But hey, not even Lita comes close to the monstrosity that is the A-Train and his barely decipherable growls. If he wasn’t six foot plus and 300 pounds plus, and had a unique (if hairy) look, even Vince would have given up on this guy by now, surely. No redeeming features, bar a tendency to drop people on their heads…

Best Tag Team
1. Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero
2. Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas
3. Spanky and Paul London

If you’ve not been watching Velocity, then you won’t have witnessed the second coming of The Midnight Rockers that is Spanky and London. They only get 5 or so minutes to shine, but they manage that admirably. If they get booked right (and in the WWE, it’s a BIG if) then Smackdown may just have a breakout sensation on their hands here. They are unique in the WWE tag division, and their lack of size should be a nice selling point, rather than a disadvantage.

Benjamin and Haas have really not set a foot wrong since their induction into the WWE tag team ranks. I stand by my feelings that Benjamin is perhaps the more rounded of the two, but there’s a lot more mileage in them as a team before the inevitable break up and singles careers. These two add genuine class to the Smackdown tag division.

And the Smackdown tag division rules supreme, as not ONE Raw tag team makes it to my top 3. There’s nobody on Raw can even come close to the glory of seeing Eddie and Chavo in full flight. Los Guerreros have the family links helping them, and they are 100% smoothness when working in tandem. It’s perhaps a shame for Eddie that they are so good as a team, in that it’s held his singles career back slightly, but when a team are as good as this, you don’t complain about seeing more of them!

Worst Tag Team
1. 3 Minute Warning
2. Renee Dupree and Sylvain Grenier (La Resistance v1)
3. Lance Storm and Val Venis

No offence to Lance and Val, as they are undoubtedly great singles wrestlers… it’s just as a team, they make Cade and Jindrak look exciting. And people – that’s not a good thing. Give them a name, matching trunks, and an angle, then push them. Throwing peeps together and hoping just doesn’t work. A prime example of why Raw’s tag division is in disarray.

I really felt sorry for Dupree during version 1 of La Resistance’s existence. He had the look of someone that could really go places, yet he was hampered by the buffoon that was Sylvain Grenier. Since Grenier has gone away to heal, and Rob Conway has stepped in, La Resistance have looked a different team. I wonder if Grenier could take this award on his own?

The Three Minute warning had everything going for them – a good heat magnet manager, a nice gimmick, and experience of the business running through their veins… but it all went wrong in and out of the ring. For some reason, they never really seemed to click. The ‘Three Minutes’ gimmick was nice while it lasted, but ran out of steam quicker than Scott Steiner in an Iron Man match, and Jamal decided to go nutso, and got himself fired. At least Rosey’s made something of a bad situation.

Best Angle
1. Trish Stratus/Lita and Chris Jericho/Christian
2. Michaels and Jericho – Highlight Reel in Montreal, Canada
3. Team Austin and Team Bischoff at Survivor Series

Out of nowhere – a Survivor Series match with a genuine reason to fight on the line. A solid build up, and an incredible pay-off match to boot – the Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff storyline going into and out of Survivor Series was superbly played out. Yes, we all know Austin will be back before long, but the angle was booked, executed and completed in fine style… quality booking, for a change…

If Chris Jericho was ever gonna turn face… it would have been in Montreal. Some would say he should have, as the Montreal edition of the Highlight Reel was just an incredible piece of TV. Jericho, basking in the cheers, told Shawn Michaels, exactly what Canada (and a lot of fans round the world) thought of him, and Michaels (even if only for one moment) became the Michaels of Degeneration-X in a crazy about turn of roles… No matter the outcome, that 10 minutes of Michaels and Jericho verbally sparring was just genius.

There’s really only one angle I can pick out as best of the year- the whole storyline between Jericho, Trish, Christian and Lita. It was kept sizzling for a while, and even what looked to be the pay-off to it, with Trish overhearing the dastardly heels boasting of their bet, looks as if it’s just a means to keep the angle going further. It’s one of the few angles that has really grabbed me and made me think about where it can go next. Good booking, and good TV. Shock!

Worst Angle
1. Torrie & Sable
2. Nathan Jones
3. The Cat

Please, someone call the Cat’s momma, and tell her he’s making a fool of himself on TV all over the world. It wasn’t funny in WCW, it didn’t work on Velocity… why on EARTH would it work on Smackdown? Ernest may be Bisch’s buddy, but it doesn’t help that he just stinks up the TV when he’s on… will he ever wrestle? WHO CARES?

Why didn’t they ever put Nathan Jones into a Tag Team with The Cat and they could really have made me sick… I feel kinda sorry for Nathan, the WWE pushed him as this great star, when he was just trying to find his feet. And if nothing else, he showed how smart he is by getting a flight home to Australia before quitting… smart man!

But nothing compares to the awkwardness and general all around crapness of the Torrie and Sable “will they-won’t they-did they-oh who cares” lesbian angle. Just low quality, badly acted, crap that was really nothing than Vince lusting over two Playboy centrefolds and playing out his fantasy on TV. Look, either just get them out there, and get them to take their clothes off and have done with it, or get them BOTH some acting lessons. PLEASE.

Best Commentator
1= Michael Cole
1= Tazz

3. Coach

Yes, The Coach. Lawler’s heel act has gone to hell recently, and The Coach has been left to shore up the heel commentator’s workload. And you know what? He ain’t done too bad. His heel turn is easily the most exciting thing he’s ever been involved in, and allowed him to show the world that he does have at least a smidgen of personality. All he needs to do now is build on it in 2004, and we’re laughing!

I still don’t want to separate Michael Cole and Tazz as a team – I heard Tazz on Velocity with Josh Matthews, and it wasn’t the same. I heard Michael Cole on Velocity with Josh Matthews, and it wasn’t the same. Tazz and Cole work well as a team, as Tazz is better at some things, and Cole is better at others – it gels well, they get the action in the RING over more than themselves, and they are still getting better each week. You can’t ask for me than that. Cole and Tazz – #1 in the WWE… who would have thought it?

Worst Commentator
1. Jerry Lawler
2. The Cat
3. Josh Matthews

Josh, Josh, Josh… he still reminds me of a rabbit stuck in the headlights. He tries to call the moves, he tries to crack jokes, he tries to be JR… he just can’t seem to settle on a style, and it just doesn’t work for him. At one point, he seemed like he could make an impact as a commentator… but the time has passed. Let’s hope he can pull it out of the fire in 2004 and improve some.

On the other hand, it looks like we’re spared The Cat’s inane warblings by the fact he’s become a Smackdown ‘talent’ and not just a commentator… whoopdie doo! NEXT!

Out of all the commentators in the WWE… Lawler still annoys me the most. His act hasn’t changed any in the past 5 years! I did notice one week, there was a slight heel tone to his commentating, but the next week, it was back to his usual gibberish. Time for the King to abdicate, methinks…

Best Match
1. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit, Royal Rumble
2. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania
3. Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff, Survivor Series

This 5 vs. 5 classic Survivor Series rules match from Survivor Series was a great, fast paced match, with a supreme performance from a blood soaked Shawn Michaels. Even the interference that ended it made sense, and added to the drama of the finish. Can’t ask for any more out of anyone involved.

Trust HBK to turn on the style at WrestleMania. The old warhorse may have talked about hanging the boots up, but why should he when he’s in a rich a vein of wrestling as he perhaps ever has been? A near classic from HBK and Chris Jericho, with both men adding something to the match and occasion… the great swerve after the match from Jericho just added the goodness to this one.

Hey – you knew it was gonna be this one, right? What else could it be? Perhaps the two finest technical wrestlers on the planet right now going at it in a 20 minute long mat classic. No interference, no run-ins, no dodgy counts from referees – just two men, one ring and a classic contest. THIS match will be talked about long after both men have retired, mark my words…

Worst Match
1. Triple H vs. Scott Steiner, Royal Rumble
2. Al Snow & The Coach vs. The King and JR, Unforgiven
3. Lita vs. Molly Holly, Survivor Series

On what was a great PPV in my book, the Lita vs. Molly match was the only clunker. I know some peeps out there enjoyed it, and hey, each to their own. I just couldn’t get into it, and to cap it all, watching Lita damn near kill herself again isn’t my cup of tea. Thankfully, Molly kept the belt, and Lita lived to fight another day… although she still tries to kill people (including herself) at random with the worst looking moonsault in history…

The Coach and Jim Ross in a match, on PPV. With no commentators. And a crowd that just don’t care. Then the faces lose. Vodka helps understand crap like this, I find.

Having gone back and looked at two horrible, HORRIBLE matches, two thoughts come to mind – 1. The Rumble match was worse – JUST – and 2. Poor, poor Triple H. The guy might be the most hated man on the Internet bar Bill Gates, but he didn’t deserve TWO PPV main events against a Scott Steiner who is way past his sell by date. Scott, please – it’s over, give it up for your own good. If ever wrestling was to be taken seriously be the mainstream, just show this match, and it’ll swing right back to being laughed at no problem.

Best Moment
1. Kane unmasks
2. Flair and Michaels feud
3. Ric Flair vs. Triple H on Raw

For one night, it was the 1980’s all over again… for one night, Ric Flair was The Man… for one night, the entire Wrestling fanbase would have bought Ric Flair having one last title reign. The entire angle had no build up, bar the one episode of Raw where it began, developed, and ended… and it was brilliant. The promo work, and the actual match itself… it was just a joy to see Flair in all his glory one last time. Whooo!

Speaking of The Man, as I was, the mini feud between Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels is stuff dreams are made of. Michaels ruled the roost in the WWE, Ric, quite frankly, WAS WCW… who was the best? Everyone thought we’d never see a match between the two… with this angle, we eventually did. OK, it was a bit of a let down – but come ON! Flair – HBK one on one – what’s not to dig? This vote is purely a fanboy nomination from me – and so what? These are my awards – deal with it!

As for Kane… well, we all knew he’d be unmasked at some point, but still seeing him take that mask off on TV was a big thing. Sure, if you ask me, it should have been on Pay Per View rather than a throw-away episode of Raw, and it could maybe have been built up a little bit more, but the fact remains – it WAS a big moment in WWE history.

To break up the hard going of all these words (sometimes even in the right order, and with correct spelling) I’ll just quickly throw in some quick awards before we get to the final two of the year…

Best Gimmick
John Cena

Had to be. No one else has made a gimmick seem as if it WAS them, or taken a gimmick and ran with it as well as Cena has. 2004 looks good for Cena.

Best Gimmick Change

From 3 Minute Thug to Super Hero in Training. Citizen Roosevelt has shown a knack for comedy with his new career following the demise of the 3 Minute Warning, and it’s been pretty funny, I must admit.

Most improved Wrestler
The Big Show

Slobbery? Yup. Out of Shape? Definitely. Still nowhere near as good as his £$1m a year contract should make him? Naturally! But… he is a hell of a lot better than he was last year, and he HAS made an effort, and even had 2 or 3 passable matches. Improved, but still room for more improvement.

Best Brand

Hands down, no contest. NEXT!

Best Theme

Hey YOU! Gotta love that music. It sounds like a cross between Spanky meddling about with a jug and Madness. But it works…

Promo Of The Year
Highlight Reel in Montreal

Not strictly a promo, but DAMN it was good. Just superbly written and carried out by Michaels and Jericho – two of the best in the WWE on the mic, let alone on Raw. Great stuff!

Insane Spot of the year
Brock Lesnar’s shooting star press gone wrong

One word, folks – OUCHIE! How he got up from that, let alone bluffed into an F5 is beyond me… It would have been a tremendous end to a great WrestleMania match had he pulled it off, but it’s still a memorable image… still makes me shudder when I think of the angle Brock’s neck hit the mat at, though. Yeuch!

Move of the Year
Exploding ring (Lesnar vs. Show, Smackdown)

Not strictly a move in the general sense, but wow! What an image that was. Whether it was rigged or not (and it must have been) it got people talking, and it got people wanting to see what happened. Plus it was a great image and it WILL be remembered in years to come.

And now… the final two awards of this marathon column, and nearly the end of The Live Wire for another year… with no further ado, I give you :

Worst Wrestler
1. Nathan Jones
2. Scott Steiner
3. Lita

Lita has a lot of fans, it’s true. I can understand why. I just don’t understand why people still continue to say she’s a great wrestler – she’s nowhere near a “great” wrestler… hell, she’s not even a GOOD one. She’s dangerous, she’s very hit and miss, and I just don’t see it. The only reason she’s not winning this category is that wrestling isn’t really what she’s employed to do, strange as it may seem.

Remember WCW? The monster heel champion Scott Steiner? I bet Scott Steiner of 2003 wishes he could remember those days too… For this guy to come in at Main Event level, and just be so.. well, poor – well, it’s almost unthinkable – but for three months at the beginning of this year, Scott Steiner was stinking out main events all over America. And while he has got slightly better, for every improvement, there’s an attempted flying clothesline off the apron that goes wrong…

Does anything come close to Nathan Jones for sheer stinkocity, though? Like Steiner, a graduate of the WWA World tour, Jones was tipped by many (well, Jim Ross) as the next big WWE Star. And he was. Big, that is. He was genuinely a BIG man. Sadly, that was as far as his talents went. He could breath AND walk at the same, although only if he concentrated hard enough. But then he quit, denying us any more of his unintentional improvised comedy… Nathan Jones… you been gone too long.

And here it is! The final, last one, no more category of these awards! The biggie! Best Wrestler! Previous prestigious winners of this award are Steve Austin and Kurt Angle, while Chris Benoit has been in the top 3 both times I’ve awarded this… who will take the award this year? Read on!

Best Wrestler
1. Eddie Guerrero
2. Chris Benoit
3. Kurt Angle

Last year’s winner Kurt drops to third place – and that’s only down to him missing time, and working injured through the rest of it. When Kurt’s on, he’s on – look at the rub he gave John Cena, look at the classic matches with Brock, and even his tussles with The Big Show… A fully fit Angle is something on everybody’s wishlist for 2004, surely.

Poor old Chris – always in the top three, destined never to be #1 – a little like his WWE career to date. Benoit has been probably the best technical wrestler in each of these three awards, but something just hasn’t clicked enough each time to allow him that little boost to number one. To be honest, the only thing denying him this year was the stellar year of the eventual winner…

Step forward, Mr. Eddie Guerrero. By his or anyone’s standard, 2003 has been Eddie’s. Eddie has taken Smackdown by storm, holding Tag Titles and US Championship, even both at the same time. Eddie’s stuff has been consistent, and his mic work is as good as anyone out there. I just can’t see past Eddie’s work this year.

So there we go – hope that took as long to read as it felt like it took to type! Have a good New Year, and until next year…

Until then, have fun, go mad.

Thanks for reading – be sure and pay a visit to these two sweet sites :


Tony Cottam

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