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    Thursday, December 24, 2015

    The Smark Henry RAW Report (12/21/15): The Real Slammys

    The Slammys have come and gone, and as expected, the WWE Universe’s votes have disappointed us here at the Smark Henry offices. Let’s face it. It’s impossible to please everyone when it comes to awards. But at the same time, leaving the decision of awards completely in the hands of the fans isn’t the smartest thing to do either.

    That’s the reason why there are committees assigned to hand out awards properly like the Emmys, the Grammys, the Oscars, and the Tonys. And rightfully so. Awards are better handed out by bodies that, you know, actually know better. Because recognizing greatness is such a subjective exercise in the first place, we might as well partake in it Smark Henry style.

    What we’ll be doing is we’ll play by the WWE’s rules and go with their categories since they’ve gotten those down pat for the most part. From there, we’ll tell you who should have won and why, or in the case of the awards they actually got right, we’ll tell you why those choices are justified. Let’s get to it!

    Tag Team of the Year: The Usos

    Who Should Have Won: The New Day

    For starters, Jey Uso was gone for six months, and Jimmy Uso couldn’t even remain relevant within that time period.

    Second, no team has been able to get heat the way the New Day has, especially in the Reality Era.

    Third, how about the fact that Kofi, Big E, and Xavier took what should have been a joke gimmick and turned it into the most successful gimmick all year?

    Fourth, the New Day held the Tag Team Championships twice in 2015, while the Usos never even held the titles all year.

    This vote is #BOOTY.

    Best John Cena US Open Challenge: Cesaro (July 6)

    My friend Joe “the gRappler” Marsalis actually said that the Cena-Cesaro series could very well be a Match of the Year candidate, and I agree.

    I’m actually more surprised that the US Open Challenge netted a category of its own in the Slammys. Then again, it was one of the most consistent sources of good wrestling throughout 2015 that it seems justified in that regard.

    The US Open Challenge was one of the best things all year, and we’ll be lucky if we got a blessing as good as this again next year. God bless you, John Cena.

    Hashtag of the Year: #SuplexCity

    The reason #SuplexCity is flat out awesome is because it wasn’t planned, unlike #SaveTheTables, #AxelMania, or #RKOOuttaNowhere. It was something so organic and unplanned. Hell, I bet Brock Lesnar didn’t even have those words in his mind when he woke up on the day of WrestleMania Play Button.

    The fact that it was so catchy that it became a hashtag, a shirt, a chant, and a rallying cry is a testament to the old adage that the best successes are mostly borne out of accidents. Long live Suplex City!

    Celebrity Moment of the Year: Stephen Amell dives onto Stardust and King Barrett at SummerSlam

    I’m an Arrow fanboy; and one of the highlights of my 2015 was seeing Stephen Amell on WWE TV and wrestling at SummerSlam. He did us fans proud when he spent a lot of time taking the heat in that match, instead of just being the hot tag guy, which we’ve come to expect out of celebrities who give wrestling a try.

    Here’s the thing, though. I would have been willing to concede to Anthony Cuello’s protestations that Jon Stewart win this award. If only the moment they had identified was Stewart’s Daily Show segment with Seth Rollins in which he lowblowed the Architect, instead of his interference in Cena’s match with Rollins at SummerSlam. Oh well.

    “Tell Me You Didn’t Just Say That” Moment of the Year: Brock Lesnar coins “Suplex City” at WrestleMania 31.

    Okay, guys, #SuplexCity was awesome, but isn’t this award supposed to be for those moments that made you go, “HOOOOOLY SHIT”?

    “Suplex City” isn’t one of those moments. It’s a great catchphrase, but it’s not the type that would bring out my inner Booker T.

    This is the real winner:

    This was a moment we kept talking about for the next two weeks, for better or for worse. We debated whether or not it was the right thing to do—it was—along with its merit in the world of wrestling in which we live today. It was a moment that took Paige and Charlotte’s feud to another level, and allowed us to have a reason to deem the heel Paige character irredeemable.

    Rivalry of the Year: Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

    This rivalry lost steam because of both guys’ status as part-timers. Sure, it deserves props for lasting the better part of 18 months, but if there was a real rivalry that had gravitas in the world of wrestling this year, it’s this:

    Roman Reigns vs. the WWE Universe

    Roman Reigns was the preordained next franchise player, whether we fans liked it or not. And when he got his crowning moment at the Royal Rumble last January, we just shat on him because we all could see he wasn’t ready. So Roman spent virtually the entire year improving his in-ring work and bettering himself such that the Roman Reigns we saw win the title two weeks ago had improved by leaps and bounds.

    In a way, the humiliation and borderline cruelty Roman suffered at the hands of the WWE Universe could very well have been the best thing to happen to his career. If everyone had just accepted Roman as the Chosen One as early as January, who knows if he would have had the impetus to improve?

    At the same time, watching Roman grow over the last year also allowed us fans to look past our hatred of certain guys to honestly appreciate what they bring to the table. I am still no Roman Reigns fan, but I’m learning to like what I see in him, for as long as they keep it in tolerable doses.

    Best Original WWE Network Show: Stone Cold Podcast

    What Should Have Won: Table For 3

    As much as I personally enjoy listening to Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast on a weekly basis, I’ll have to dock it points for being an existing show prior to the creation of the WWE Network. And even if it was a Network original, there are at least two other shows that are more entertaining than the Stone Cold Podcast: Breaking Ground and Table For 3.

    But I’m giving Table For 3 the edge because it’s such a unique format to have three WWE talents sitting there and having dinner and just freely shooting the breeze about the road, their careers, their lives—basically things wrestling fans like me would want to know about. It adds a layer of humanism to the wrestlers we watch on TV and reminds us that these guys are everyday people just like us. They just happen to play larger-than-life characters on TV.

    If there’s one thing about the show I’d like to change, it would be the name. Table For 3 is just so bland and un-wrestling that it makes me wish they used a wrestling reference in there somewhere. Then again, as a title, Table For 3 is simple and direct: three guys sitting at a table to have dinner and talk.

    Double-Cross of the Year: Damien Mizdow eliminates The Miz from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31.

    On its own, this actually works. The Mizdow turn was something that was building up for months, and it was fitting that we finally got our moment at ‘Mania last March. It was supposed to be the start of bigger and better things for Damien Mizdow, but alas, that wasn’t meant to be. What a bummer. I can’t even talk about this anymore.

    Extreme Moment of the Year: Roman Reigns attacks the League of Nations and Triple H with a steel chair at TLC.

    What Should Have Won: Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker brawl throughout the arena on RAW.

    This is one category I would have gladly given to Brock and the Deadman. The July 20 episode of RAW was one of the best of the year, and it was because the formula was very much reminiscent of the Attitude Era, when there was just one huge storyline and everything else was orbiting around it.

    In this case, it took literally the entire roster outside of Cena and Reigns to pull Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker apart, and it was glorious. The fact that the brawl lasted across several segments was even better as it really built up the tension between these two monsters.

    I’m sure Roman got a lot of recency points, plus it was a cathartic thing to see. But this category looked for the most extreme moment this year, and Brock and Taker surely lived up to that label.

    Breakout Star of the Year: Neville

    Who Should Have Won: Kevin Owens

    Come on, WWE Universe.

    I love Neville as much as the next guy, but nobody can deny that Kevin Owens had one hell of a rookie year. It’s not as great as, say, Kurt Angle’s or Brock Lesnar’s rookie years. But if you adjust for the “inflation”, so to speak between the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras and the current Reality Era, KO had an unparalleled rookie year.

    Let’s put this in perspective. Kevin Owens was the NXT Champion from February to July, a total of five months. He then held the Intercontinental Championship from September to December, a total of three months. He was a champion for two-thirds of 2015, for crying out loud! And, there was also the fact that he beat John Cena in his first ever match on the main roster. Plus the fact that Kevin Owens had been booked solidly over the past year—despite the fears of the IWC that he would be mishandled—is more than enough to give him the edge over Neville.

    After all, Neville hasn’t really had a meaningful storyline since joining the main roster. As our resident SmackDown reviewer, Ricky Publico, once said: Neville is the Man that Creative Forgot.

    LOL! Moment of the Year: R-Truth mistakes himself for being in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match and the final four of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament

    Who Should Have Won: The New Day get Stephanie McMahon and Triple H to dance on RAW (September 14).

    Don’t get me wrong. I love the running gag of R-Truth not knowing his place. But could you ever really beat a moment like this?

    Hell, having Edge and Christian bring back the kazoo to taunt the New Day backstage would have been a close runner-up! R-Truth, though, not so much.

    The “OMG!” Shocking Moment of the Year: Kalisto hits Salida del Sol off the top of a ladder through another ladder on Jey Uso at TLC.

    What Should Have Won: Seth Rollins cashes in Money in the Bank at WrestleMania 31.

    Here’s another category in which the most recent event got the added advantage.

    I love the Kalisto moment, and I thought that was just insane. But if you take a look back at the year as a whole, majority of the entire WWE narrative had been written around whether or not Roman Reigns was ready to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. That’s the topic that was on top of most fans’ minds.

    It was also the situation that most fans feared would come to happen in real life, which is why WrestleMania Play Button was met with so much doubt heading into the event. Everybody thought they were going to have Brock put Roman over cleanly in the main event, and then Seth Rollins would come in to ruin the party.

    It was such a huge and shocking moment that it drove an entire sports bar in BGC nuts!

    Live reaction to Seth Rollins cashing in. Hilarious!-Godfather
    Posted by The 434 on Friday, April 3, 2015
    We were there, by the way, and we were all shocked as fuck. Sorry, Kalisto, but in my book, you’re going to have to give back that Slammy.

    Superstar of the Year: Seth Rollins

    No questions here. This guy broke his knee—and John Cena’s nose—for us. As much as we booed him every time he set foot in a WWE ring, I’m sure we all appreciated just how hard he worked and how well he plied his trade week in and week out.

    It’s sad that it took a serious injury for him to get a well-deserved break, but I can’t wait to see Seth Rollins back. Bringing him over to accept the award in person was definitely a nice touch. He surpassed all our expectations and was everything the Reality Era needs in a top dog. God bless you, Seth Rollins.

    The “Hero In All Of Us” Award: John Cena

    I won’t really gripe about this award because it’s about CSR and doing things for the fans. All of this falls under the additional responsibilities that WWE Superstars and Divas take on apart from staying fit and wrestling their hearts out. If I had it my way, every single one of them deserves to be recognized for the work that they do to go above and beyond their basic call of duty as WWE talents.

    Surprise Return of the Year: Sting returns as Seth Rollins’ statue and attacks Rollins on RAW

    What Should Have Won: Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter return to WWE at Hell In A Cell

    I wouldn’t have minded if the Dudley Boyz won this award, honestly. After all, not a lot of people expected to see Bubba Ray and D-Von back in the WWE in 2015. Sure, the Bubba Ray appearance at the Royal Rumble could have been the foreshadowing, but even Bubba himself admitted on a recent Talk is Jericho guesting that back in January, neither he nor D-Von were close to returning full-time.

    The returns of Sting and Demon Kane shouldn’t have even been nominated since they were both WWE talents between their last appearances and their respective returns. Plus, both guys weren’t even away for that long.

    The reason ADR should have won this is because ADR wasn’t even on anybody’s radar, which is insane given the level of spoilage we have in this day and age thanks to the internet! Add to that the fact that El Patron and WWE had such a disastrous falling out last year, and it would have been a huge stretch to imagine both parties ever working together again. But that’s exactly what happened, and as fans, we couldn’t be happier about it.

    Now that we’ve killed off MexAmerica, I think we can all begin to believe that WWE is beginning to take Ol’ Berty seriously now.

    Diva of the Year: Nikki Bella

    I’m really tempted to pencil Sasha Banks as in as the Diva who should have won the award, but I’m giving it to Nikki, too, because she just raised her game to a whole different level this year.

    Her in-ring game as improved so much thanks to her sticking to her powerhouse style and committing to it through and through. She held the Divas Championship for majority of the calendar year. Plus, she was basically the face of the division both in and out of the WWE.

    Like her or hate her, Nikki Bella is the female equivalent of John Cena. Maybe that’s what Cena sees in her. Nevertheless, she carried this division in 2015, and she will be the blueprint for whoever wins the award next year, whether it’s Sasha, Charlotte, Becky, Paige, or whoever.

    “This Is Awesome!” Moment of the Year: The Rock and Ronda Rousey attack Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at WrestleMania 31.

    What Should Have Won: Brock Lesnar destroys J&J Security’s Car on RAW

    I get that this won because of the star power of Rocky and Ronda, but I don’t get why people didn’t vote for Brock vs. Car more. There’s always something cathartic about seeing a man go after a douchebag’s fancy car. It’s everybody’s Street Fighter bonus stage fantasy come to life, for crying out loud!

    That was also one of the moments that reminded us of Brock Lesnar’s face potential since he’d been playing heel for much of his second run in WWE.

    I’m going to stop nitpicking now.

    Match of the Year: Brock Lesnar vs. the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at Hell in a Cell.

    What Should Have Won: John Cena vs. Cesaro (July 6 episode of RAW), John Cena vs. Kevin Owens at Elimination Chamber, John Cena vs. Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble

    For all of the great wrestling we’ve seen in 2015, I wish I could say that I could be happy with what the WWE Universe picked. Sadly, that isn’t the case.

    We had so many great matches to choose from and I can’t believe WWE themselves forgot to include Cena’s series against Cesaro—two of the best RAW matches I’ve ever seen since 2004, when I started watching wrestling. Cena vs. Owens I was also such a treat because it was just a show of one-upsmanship in a straight-up wrestling match.

    And then there was the triple threat between Cena, Lesnar, and Rollins at the Royal Rumble over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which was quite possibly the best triple threat match over the last half-decade. Hell, it was even better than Bryan vs. Batista vs. Orton at WrestleMania XXX.

    The thing about the Hell in a Cell match was that it was the best match in the Lesnar-Undertaker series. Taker was in the best shape over the last two years, and proved that he could still hang with Brock Lesnar. It was also a definitive end for their 18-month long feud, however stupid the story got along the way.

    The problem was that we’re talking about the match of the year. When we look back on 2015 and think of the WWE match that highlighted it, it’s not going to be Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker in Hell in a Cell. It’ll be the Cesaro series from the John Cena U.S. Open Challenge, or Kevin Owens’ ascension to the main roster against Cena, or any of Seth Rollins’ brilliant championship matches. But that’s how it is when it comes to awards. At the end of the day, everybody can’t really go home happy. Just ask Leonardo DiCaprio.


    What did you think of this year's Slammys and of our picks? Agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments section below!

    And of course, Merry Christmas, Henrinites!

    Photos from WWE.


    Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. Every now and then, he dresses up in fancy suits to book matches as PWR's longest-tenured General Manager to date.

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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Report (12/21/15): The Real Slammys Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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