By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net readers were allowed a single vote per day for each of the 2018 awards categories. The following are the results of our poll for Best Heel along with our staff comments. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.
1. Tommaso Ciampa (49 percent)
2. Drew McIntyre (7 percent)
3. The Miz (5 percent)
4. Sami Callihan (5 percent)
5. Shayna Baszler (5 percent)
Others (29 percent)
Anish V’s Thoughts: I was strongly considering giving this one to Minoru Suzuki for his consistent efforts as the thorn in the side of everyone in NJPW. But 2018 was the year of Tommaso Ciampa. There’s not much explaining to do here other than the fact that he is so utterly dislikable. And while Johnny Gargano seems to be undergoing a shift in character right now, the months long dynamic as the foil to Gargano and even to Alistair Black and Velveteen Dream had viewers hating Ciampa.
Haydn Gleed’s Thoughts: Honorable mention has got to go to Bully Ray with the work he has done in ROH, especially in elevating Flip Gordon to a stronger position after their feud, which is what a good heel should do. The best heel in the industry and the likely runaway winner (we don’t see the results before we make our picks) is Tommaso Ciampa. He never plays to the crowd and even if they are cheering him he does his best to turn them. There are not enough good heels in wrestling these days.
John Moore’s Thoughts: Currently on NXT, they’re calling him “The Puppetmaster”. That’s a really good title, because Tommaso Ciampa is really good at crowd manipulation and the 2018 heel of the year in my book. The peak of the mountain was NXT Takeover: New Orleans where Ciampa ditched the theme music in favor of immense boos from the New Orleans crowd. This carried over to other crowds until they gave him theme music, presumably for marketing purposes(?). Ciampa’s legend was built up after a long layoff following an injury last year. Gargano (with a little bit of Zelina Vega) helped build Ciampa while Ciampa was not on television. Ever since Ciampa returned, he has been the best heel in all of WWE adjusting to any situation he’s in. He’s feuding with a lot of people including an older lady in the front row at Full Sail. Ciampa’s strength right now is he has the crowd eating at the palm of his hand and he gets the reactions he’s looking for when it counts.
Will Pruett’s Thoughts: Let’s talk for a moment about Shayna Baszler. She is convincing in the ring, convincing every time she speaks, and a genuinely hatable character. She gives the NXT women the perfect antagonist to test themselves against. Other than Shayna, one must admire the work Tommaso Ciampa did as a truly despicable character, especially in the first part of 2018.
Jason Powell’s Thoughts: While I take no issue with Tommaso Ciampa getting the top heel nod, it’s an absolute crime that Bully Ray didn’t earn a spot in the top five. Bully can simply look at a crowd, not say a word, and draw instant heat. As much as I enjoyed Ciampa’s work, it was a blast to watch Bully’s old school heel antics. The funny thing about McIntyre finishing second in the voting is that he’s much better as a babyface. Vince McMahon is always searching for a babyface poster boy. He has one right under his nose and just doesn’t realize it. I think very highly of McIntyre as you can tell, but he would have finished outside my personal top five in the heel category, though he is ascending upward. It made me happy to see Callihan crack the top five. He was a rare NXT miss in that I never got what they were going for with the hacker gimmick, but he’s shined in multiple companies since leaving the WWE system. I was surprised that Cody and Chris Jericho didn’t get more votes given their stellar work.
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The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ring of Honor's PJ Black discussing the ROH Pure Title tournament beginning on ROH Wrestling TV this weekend, ROH's COVID-19 safety precautions, his run in WWE as Justin Gabriel with The Nexus, wrestling as The Bunny, and more...