With Summerslam right around the corner, we’ve reached the unofficial midway point of the WWE season. The Biggest Show of the Summer - yes, get ready to hear that phrase ad nauseam - is the second biggest show in WWE’s calendar year, this year coming exactly 133 days after WrestleMania. Is it truly half of a calendar year? Absolutely not, but when has WWE ever been accurate with dates?
As many blogs, podcasts and personalities begin to shift their attention towards Summerslam, ours is focused elsewhere for the time being. Through vigorous debate, the WWE writers of Win Column Sports have made their selections for the mid-season award winners among the main roster’s Superstars as we look to celebrate one of the best starts to a calendar year in wrestling history. Of course, as with any awards, there have to be a few rules:
- Voting will be done on a points-based system Every Win Column contributor sent in a ranked list of their votes for the below picks. Picking something or someone as your winner earned them 10 points, a second place vote earned nine, and so on.
- No NXT Superstars or matches, with one notable exception. Otherwise, this entire list would be a celebration of all that is great about the black-and-yellow brand, and we do that often enough here.
- No Repeat Answers. It’d be pretty boring if someone swept every one of their potential categories, and while there’s definitely some individuals that are deserving of multiple awards, we’re here to celebrate everyone as best we can.
With that being said, let’s take a look at our selections as the best that WWE had to offer to kick off 2018!
MVP: Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins is the best part of Raw every single week, hands down. He’s the hottest babyface on the show and that is the result of a run of TV matches that are usually MOTN.
He killed it in the triple threat opener at WM against The Miz and Finn Balor, and was the MVP in the men’s Elimination Chamber match. His marathon performance in February’s Gauntlet match, where he pinned Cena and Roman clean as a whistle and wrestled for over an hour has to be one of the best individual performances in the company’s history.
Rollins’ consistency has allowed Raw to shift its focus from the Universal Championship to the Intercontinental Championship, where Rollins has made the IC title the main event. His ongoing feud with now-champion Dolph Ziggler is further proof of that.
Raw focuses heavily on Roman Reigns as the top guy, but Rollins is the true workhorse of the brand and it would be a shame if he doesn’t get a world title run this year.
Top Male Performer: AJ Styles
If it wasn’t for Seth Rollins, I’m certain that we would be handing AJ Styles his second straight mid-season MVP award.
Is there any debate that Styles is the best performer in WWE? While he may not always be at the forefront, he’s the most consistently great wrestler on the WWE roster. While many have their qualms about his feud with Shinsuke Nakamura, there was never a time that Styles didn’t deliver, even in their good-but-not-great WrestleMania match. He’s put on terrific matches with guys like Daniel Bryan and Andrade “Cien” Almas, and has reignited a feud with Samoa Joe over the WWE Championship that he’s held for over 260+ days. He’s the standard bearer for what a WWE Superstar should be, and for that Mr. Styles, we salute you.
Top Female Performer: Ronda Rousey
Rousey made her long-anticipated in-ring debut at WrestleMania in a mixed tag team match. This match was super hyped, with people not knowing what to expect from Ronda. She blew everyone’s expectations out the water; she was the best performer in the match, and this is a match with WWE legends Triple HHH and Kurt Angle involved. I, along with countless other WWE fans, knew right then that she was made for this business.
Months later, Rousey challenged Nia Jax for the RAW Women’s Championship. There were mixed reactions to her receiving a title opportunity in her first singles match, but once again, she proved people wrong. She competed at a level that no one expected, and put on one of the best debut single matches I’ve seen from a female performer.
She’s been consistently entertaining on the flagship show, and shows up more than fellow “attraction” Brock Lesnar (which is sad). WWE is smart by not overexposing her to the WWE Universe and keeping her presence meaningful. I suspect her outing with Bliss at SummerSlam to be another great performance and she will definitely play a big part at the all women’s PPV Evolution in October.
Most Improved: Baron Corbin
The field for Most Improved was vast this year, and likely the subject of the most debate among the Win Column Sports writers. There were cases to be made for individuals like Carmella, who’s developed into the top female heel on the blue brand since winning the Smackdown Women’s Championship the night after WrestleMania. Arguments were made for Elias, who also barely missed out on winning this award last year and has continually gotten better since debuting on the main roster over a year-and-a-half ago. However, it’s difficult to justify a winner other than Baron Corbin. He’s an individual that I’ve complained about often; not only was he not my cup of tea, but didn’t seem comfortable in his character. His United States Championship run was uninspiring, and Corbin may have the worst Money in the Bank cash-in of all time. It’s been inconsistent at best for the Lone Wolf, but all of that changed a few months ago with a character shift and a rebranding as “Constable Corbin”. Since the character shift, Corbin has been terrific. He’s seemingly much more comfortable in his new role as Stephanie McMahon’s Constable of RAW, and has been the entertaining, frustrating, dastardly heel we all wanted him to be. Job well done, Mr. Corbin - you’ve made a fan of this cynic.
Feud of the Year: Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano
Okay, we’re cheating a little bit here, but can you blame us? There’s not much to say about it - this can legitimately take claim for one of the best feuds in years.Also, if you can name one truly great main roster feud in 2018, please directly message me on Twitter HERE.
The long history of the two is incredible. Ciampa and Gargano were real life best friends; simple independent wrestlers that were throw-ins to the Dusty Rhodes classic in 2015. After making a strong impression, the came onto NXT TV as a tag team simply known as DIY a few years later.
DIY was beloved. It was a geniune friendship and incredible wrestlers. After teasing conflict between the two for months before their NXT Tag Team Championships victory, they beat the Revival in some of the best tag matches in the world. Finally, Gargano and Ciampa had accomplished their goal. However, a few short weeks, the Authors of Pain defeated DIY to take the gold, and the now- erstwhile duo chose a ladder match for their rematch. Before this match (and during), Tommaso Ciampa suffered multiple injuries. Gargano was simply set to move onto singles matches for a while, but nobody foresaw the sheer brutality of which Ciampa would attack him post-match. Ciampa was absolutely ruthless in one of the greatest heel turns of all time. In the aftermath, Johnny went on a huge losing streak while Ciampa underwent rehab. After losing an NXT Championship match to Andrade Cien Almas, Ciampa returned to NXT and attacked Johnny again. Ciampa came and attacked Gargano in the rematch with Almas, costing Johnny wrestling his job. These two have had two incredible matches since. With Ciampa now holding the NXT Championship, the rubber match could be huge.
While we’ve seen tons of tag team partners turn on each other, this has been different. These two had a real life brotherhood before. Fans love the underdog story, and there is no better underdog - other than perhaps Daniel Bryan - than Johnny Gargano. Additionally, Tommaso Ciampa has been the best bad guy in the entire wrestling world since his return - everything about him is just despicable. His social media game, his in-ring style, his lack of entrance music. The blend of truth & scripted entertainment has made any fan enjoy this feud. Currently, the story has developed further with Ciampa holding the NXT Championship. Chapter three of this now-legendary feud should be extremely interesting.
Disappointment of the Year: Asuka
This pains me to type. I’ve been a huge fan of Asuka since her debut in NXT. She was one of the greatest champions in WWE during her record breaking title reign, putting on some of the best matches anywhere in the wrestling world for women. Whether it be Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Bayley, Nia Jax, or Ruby Riott, anyone who stepped up to Asuka was put down for the 3 count or submission. Even her circumstances for leaving NXT were great. Leaving undefeated is something that hasn’t happened in NXT, and it made her call up feel like a huge deal.
Things on the main roster started….decently. She was given a competitive showing against Emma to debut; however, it was just days before the latter’s release. Now, I do like Emma, but in Asuka’s PPV debut I don’t get why they’d have her in anything other than a squash match. It blows me away. Her appearance at Survivor Series was great. She had a good feud with Nia Jax. She won the Mixed Match Challenge. Things looked great, and a match with Charlotte Flair seemed like the next step to put Asuka at the top of the heap.
Then she tapped out, clean as a whistle.
While there are a lot worse people to lose to - why? Charlotte was already a made woman. Regardless, the wheels started to fall off there. Two weeks later, another loss came against the IIconics, this time in tag-team action. Bad. Then a feud with Carmella? There’s surely no way Asuka would lose this feud. However, not only has she lost once - albeit due to a returning James Ellsworth - but lost at Extreme Rules in one of the worst booked matches of the year.
I hate to be negative, but there is almost no way the Empress of Tomorrow comes back from this recent string of booking. VKM sacrificed one of his biggest potential stars for 2018’s version of Jinder Mahal. Seeing her lost in the shuffle right now is truly disappointing. You’ll again have god damn Carmella wrestle at SummerSlam instead of The Empress of Tomorrow.
WWE Creative is the only thing thus far that wasn’t ready for Asuka.
Best Moment: Daniel Bryan’s Return
It’s been a few months since WWE announced Daniel Bryan’s return to the ring, and what a few months it has been. This guy as been through a emotional roller-coaster, and him retiring two years ago was one of the saddest moments in pro wrestling history. Seeing him return at WrestleMania did not only make me happy as a fan of his work, but it made me happy for him as a human being. It’s just great to see him back in the ring as he’s still the most popular guy in the company.
That’s our list! Agree? Disagree? Want to yell at us for our picks? Well, you can - tweet us @WCSportsCA!
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