This is a guest post from thecubsfan. He writes daily about lucha libre on luchablog.com, pays the bills for online lucha libre encyclopedia Luchawiki, and has been writing about strange and lesser watched wrestling since last century.
If it’s the end of the year, it must be time to rank things. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter is currently taking subscriber votes for their well known (though oddly-timed) annual awards. Most people have strong feelings about the major categories, but figuring out choices elsewhere on the ballot can be a bit of a struggle. If you’re voting in the Wrestling Observer Awards, or any other ones this voting season, here’s some lucha libre candidates worthy of your consideration for in balloting.
Rookie of the Year
A bumper crop of CMLL debutees and an uncharacteristic choice to put many of them in a showcase tournament really skews the candidates this year. There’s a ludicrous number of great CMLL candidates. This was totally out of character for the promotion but great for the fan. They were so loaded with talent and opportunity that names like Flyer, El Rebelde and Black Panther might have gotten consideration in other years and Star Jr. would’ve been a reasonable winner in many years, but all of them are outside of the top three in this crowded ballot.
Dragon Lee slightly beats out other challengers in this award through his rapid improvements during the year. He started the year as one dimensional flyer, but added on to his arsenal with neat kicks and high-impact moves throughout the year. Dragon Lee’s dramatic selling adds to the package including a trademark flip bump almost onto his head in just about every match. Dragon’s confidence has grown and he’s gotten cheers from a crowd very tough on young tecnicos. He’s already surpassed his older brother (the current Mistico) as the most exciting high flyer in the family, and he’ll only been around 11 months.
Dragon Lee’s sometime partner (and rival in the above match) Cachorro submitted a strong case for the award too. He and Panther family members were instantly put in a feud with the Casas family and the new kid kept up his end in heated matches just a few weeks into his pro career, then stood out in singles match the same year.
(Cachorro changed his name to The Panther at the very end of the ballot, but you’re best using the original for clarity this time. Personal favorite Hechicero was not mentioned in the newsletter’s roundup of possible candidates for this award, which presumably mean he’s ineligible. Still, do not let that stop you from voting for him. This mixed partners trios match is a great exhibition for him and the other two.)
Tag Team of the Year
The logistics of modern Mexican wrestling don’t really align for this award: regular pairs spend most of their time as part of trios and regular trios aren’t actually eligible for this award. Jack Evans and Angelico only got five televised chances all year to wrestle a match without a third wheel. The Usos seem to get that many in a week. The Young Bucks may have that many matches some weekends.
Still, if you allow for them, being a two-man unit in a three-man side, there were few teams putting together exciting matches. The two AAA foreigners got together last year, took a little time to mesh, and were on fire by early this year. Jack Evans has aged remarkably well for a man who’s always taken a lot of risk and punishment and this seems to best moment of Angelico’s career. Together, they’ve put together action packed matches, with rolling sequences of moves and a trademark finishing sequence. It was a lot closer to Dragon Gate than traditional lucha libre, and they were helped by a strong group of opponents, but Angelico & Jack were consistently stealing the show with or without a third partner. This might be their best and only chance to get recognition as a pair – they were supplanted by a new duo as the top face pair as the year came to an end – and they deserve some notice for the work they put in.
Technical Wrestler of the Year
The Wrestling Observer technical wrestler award is stated to be for the person who’s shown the best ability to use technical wrestling moves in great matches. In reality, it’s evolved into an offshoot of the Wrestler of the Year award. The difference is that award is for the person who had the best matches, and the Technical one has gone to the guy who could have had the best matches if given the opportunity. Either definition fits Virus, who had long been one of the most talented luchadors in CMLL and has finally gotten a platform to prove in the last couple of years.
Virus is a throwback wrestler even for behind the times CMLL. Mat wrestling in unique in Arena Mexico, but mat wrestling with intensity and creativity like Virus always demonstrates is very rare. Virus’ battle for control (or complete domination) in the first fall frequently are the highlights of matches. Virus can step up for impressive spots in important matches, but he’s equally capable of pulling out complicated and killer looking submissions at the biggest moments. Virus’ role of late has been not far off from William Regal’s NXT matches, facing an aspiring wrestler looking for a great match, and Virus has delivered every single time.
Brawler of the Year
This award is more straightforward. It’s for the guy who hits other people very hard. Rush has spent the year hitting people very hard, great fit! Rush has spent 2014 drop-kicking people in the face, chopping people very hard, and kicking an invisible football. The last probably doesn’t help as much but you tend to have more time for invisible football kicking when your opponent is trying to get back up. Negro Casas has taken the most Rush dropkicks to the face this year. Negro Casas recently said he’s probably the most injured wrestler in the world. These things are likely related.
This is the most fun award to vote for Rush in, because he’s been so not fun for his opponents. It’s only one of many awards Rush could reasonable be given. Rush was clearly CMLL’s most valuable luchador. CMLL main evented him in the promotion’s second and third biggest shows of the year, semi main in the biggest, and saw the fourth biggest show go down in flames when Rush was pulled due to injury. Rush is one of the most charismatic wrestlers in the world, one of the best promos in Mexico, his feud with Negro Casas has been compelling all year, and his Ingobernable anti-heroes are either the best or worst gimmick depending on how CMLL feels like booking that week.
Rush would be a good candidate for wrestler of the year, but someone else come
Wrestler of the Year
Ax murder, escaped Mortal Kombat character, and man who will dance at your agony Pentagon Junior is the best wrestler in Mexico. He’s a brawler, he’s a technical wrestler when he needs to be, but he’s mostly just a destructive force of nature who can sell. Pentagon is a tremendous base, the kind of luchador any wrestler would be excited to face. Every time AAA needs a high spot artist look like a lot more than that, Pentagon is the guy they call on, and Pentagon answers the call every time.
Pentagon’s not a eye catching candidate because his role is mostly a glue one, and because his year long feud with Australian Suicide will apparently become a multi-year long one without a resolution. His Lucha Underground matches have been more about his opponents or partners then him, but maybe that’s only to advert attention away from how much Pentagon Jr. is doing to make them work. (Thru alternate realities, he’s carried Sexy Star to strong matches as both a partner and an opponent.)
I’d highly encourage you to vote for Pentagon anyway, even though there’s limited chance he’ll even make the honorable mentions. He’s a cult figure now, but you’ll be one year ahead of the curve, because he’ll become an obvious candidate if Lucha Underground continues the same through 2015.