Dot Net Awards: 2014 Best Pro Wrestler
Dot Net readers voted on a variety of 2014 awards throughout the month of January. The following are the results of our poll for Best Pro Wrestler. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting. You can check out the past winners in our Awards section.
(1) Seth Rollins: 34 percent
(2) Daniel Bryan: 19 percent
(3) Dolph Ziggler: 11 percent
(4) Brock Lesnar: 9 percent
(5) AJ Styles: 7 percent
Others: 20 percent
Jason Powell's Thoughts: I believe the readers got it right in voting for Seth Rollins. He was tremendous as the big spot wrestler with The Shield. And while it took him some time to find himself as a heel, his in-ring performances never suffered. He was a workhorse for the company and the heel they counted on to carry the load against a wide variety of babyfaces. Styles has only gotten better since he left the TNA nest, and he gets my second place vote, though admittedly I haven't seen his full body of New Japan Pro Wrestling work. I hope to change that in 2015. Will sums up the Bryan situation well. As hot as he was during the first half of the year, he missed so much time due to injury that I couldn't give him my vote. Lesnar was involved in a couple of the best matches of the year. He's amazing at what he does and while I can have him in my personal top five, the lack of work comes into play with me. Finally, I dropped the ball. Sami Zayn and Cesaro were meant to be included as voting options, and they were in a first draft of the candidates. Long story short, I mistakenly omitted both men from the list. I don't believe either wrestler would have won the award, but they definitely deserved the recognition.
Will Pruett's Thoughts: This award would be a completely different story had Daniel Bryan not been injured in May. Alas, he was and we have to deal with the consequences. In all fairness, A.J. Styles was already well on his way to a career year when Bryan was injured. He left TNA and rejuvenated himself in NJPW, ROH, and various indies across the United States. He proved to be one of the best wrestlers in the world and put together a body of work many thought he was no longer capable of.
Jake Barnett's Thoughts: This is an extremely difficult category to vote on because there are so many matches that you don't get to see for some reason or another, and so you're biases sort of creep up on you in ways you don't expect. So, with the qualification that this is an extremely biased answer based on what I watched this year, I think the best overall ring worker of 2014 was Shinsuke Nakamura. With fantastic matches against Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomohiro Ishii, and Katsuyori Shibata peppered all throughout 2014, it's hard to think of someone who impressed me more between the ropes. Nakamura is a building himself quite a legend, and has already blown away American audiences with his debut performance on American PPV in January of 2015. I'd recommend everyone go back and experience some of his 2014 matches any way you can.
Zack Zimmerman's Thoughts: There are lots of contenders this year, and any of them could reasonably win. AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Kyle O'Reilly, Ricochet, Zack Sabre Jr., and the list goes on. Wrestling as an in-ring spectacle and an art form has never been stronger. However because of my slight NXT bias and my enthusiasm for his body of work, Sami Zayn takes this one. He made every match he was in better. He rarely-if-ever falters. He's crisp and technical, while remaining remarkably charismatic and human. He's relatable and capable of emoting effectively every time he's in front of the camera. Sami Zayn's shortcomings are few and far between, and in 2014, so much so that he's earned himself my Best Wrestler award.
Darren Gutteridge's Thoughts: Pipping Rollins to the post by virtue of having less mediocre matches (a tad unfair as Rollins has had more televised matches), Sami Zayn is the most consistent bell-to-bell performer any company has right now. Every Live Event match he had in 2014 left a lasting impression, and his TV work was just as engrossing.
Haydn Gleed's Thoughts: It has to be Roman Reigns of course. After all, he won the Slammy for wrestler of the year, didn't he? No? Okay, AJ Styles has had a fantastic year following his split from TNA, putting on excellent performances all over the world with a plethora of different talent. Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar have put in some magnificent performances, but either injury or contractually, they have not been available for the whole of 2014. For me, the best wrestler award would have to go to Seth Rollins who has been outstanding in every area. As the slimy heel on the mic, he makes you want to hate him, but in the ring he has shown he can handle himself. The one match that jumps to mind is the lumberjack match he had with Dean Ambrose which was just off the charts. That adding to his great body of work in the early part of the year as part of the Shield makes him, in my mind, the obvious Wrestler Of The Year for his all-round performances on the big stage.
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