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2009 MWR Award Commentary

February 12, 2010
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Up until the Fall of 2009 I was in charge of Missouri Wrestling Revival, a modest website with the goal of adding value to Midwest independent pro wrestling. The mission has been a great success, and since my departure I have worked hard to keep up-to-date on MWR goings on.

Recently, under the watchful eye of fellow pro wrestling enthusiast Brian Kelley, MWR released the 2009 Awards. 2009′s version has been trimmed down from what I initially released for 2008, but I feel the changes were warranted. With no award for “Personality of the Year”, Brian effectively eliminated any ambiguity that the award had. I have heard rumors that a “Lifetime Achievement” award will be put in its place in the future, which I feel is a great move for the awards and the website.

For this piece, I will break down the MWR Awards from my perspective to add some insight into our little corner of the wrestling world.

MWR 2009 Female Wrestler of the Year
Winner – MsChif
Runners Up (in order) – Amy Hennig, TIE: Mickie Knuckles and Stacey O’Brien

Last year, it was Stacey O’Brien that commanded attention with the Female Wrestler of the Year honors. In 2009, however, her disappearance from the area’s wrestling scene created a vacuüm that seemed like it was never really filled. Malia Hosaka had some success very early in the year, but really the entire year came down to two women: MsChif and Amy Hennig.

MsChif really is a perennial contender simply because of who she is and what she is doing on the national scene. As NWA Womens and SHIMMER Champion, MsChif is quite literally the hottest female prospect that has not been snatched up by Total Nonstop Action (TNA) or World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Unfortunately, her winning this award for 2009 is very telling, as it was a down year for female wrestlers in the area.

Amy Hennig, the first runner-up for this year’s award, could also find herself in a larger company sooner than later. She was the woman to finally dethrone Stacey O’Brien and capture the World League Wrestling Ladies Championship. She also wrestling MsChif in Iowa for Central Empire Wrestling. In all honesty, Hennig was my choice for MWR’s 2009 Female Wrestler of the Year. If what I am hearing is true and Harley Race’s WLW is back in the full swing of things this Spring with her in the rotation, then Ms. Hennig has 2010′s award all but locked up.

Santana G didn’t make the cut this year even in a down year for female wrestlers in the area, but I felt she deserved an honorable mention. It is well-known that I am one of Santana’s biggest proponents, as she is hard-working, humble, and easy for wrestling fans to love. If some of the more solidly planted promotions in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, or Kansas give her a shot in 2010, I see her as the first runner up for 2010.

MWR 2009 Promotion of the Year
Winner – MMWA-SICW (South Broadway)
Runners Up (in order) 3XWrestling, All American Pro Wrestling, High Voltage Wrestling Midwest

The longest running promotion in the area, with ties to the legendary Wrestling at the Chase, is South Broadway (MMWA-SICW). 2009 was their year, with the promotion maintaining its large fanbase and making greats strides at growth in the future. I could be wrong, but I believe they draw 300 pro wrestling fans on a regular basis! The promotion’s initiative to give outside talent a chance to perform in front of their larger crowds is a great boost for Midwest indy wrestling.

As first runner up, 3XWrestling very nearly repeated as Promotion of the Year for the MWR coverage area.  Truth be told, they were every bit as strong in 2009 as in 2008.  Probably more so.  3XW’s venue, production values, roster, and staff are top-notch, and the crew from Des Moines has strong business sense, as well.  If ever there were a category in 2009 that could be argued this one is it, as 3XW and MMWA-SICW could be interchanged at the top without a doubt.

All American Pro Wrestling turned in a solid year in 2009, utilizing all talent  the way a promoter should – by emphasizing strengths and downplaying weaknesses.  If the Jeremy Wyatt vs Shane Rich feud could have been put together better (an availability issue, not booking), then I have no doubt that AAPW would be right up there in contention with 3XW and MMWA-SICW.  As it stands, 2010 could be AAPW’s year.  Mississippi Madman is in the singles mix as AAPW Heavyweight Champion, Shane Rich has turned on AAPW’s most popular wrestler in Edmund McGuire, and another former AAPW Heavyweight Champion in Shawn Shultz is always lurking in the shadows.  One more thing to point out with AAPW is the fact that their tag team division has been firmly reestablished with Ax Allwardt and Brandon Walker and other challengers to the AAPW Tag Team Titles could be more notable in 2010.

High Voltage Wrestling Midwest garnered some support, but even with my involvement I felt that 2009 had it’s fair share of ups and downs for the promotion.  I thought that March’s show was a solid show from top to bottom, with then HVW Midwest Heavyweight Champion “The Future” Donovan Ruddick looking great against veteran “Big” Rick Fuller and Kahagas.  I missed the May show due to illness, but heard nothing good about that show.  The best was yet to come, however, as the August show (even with a promoter fight/argument outside the building) was a great build and the October Anniversary Show was HVW’s best show since forming in 2008, hands down.  At the risk of patting myself on the back, I would point out that Brian Kelley, Kari Williams, and myself had our most hands-on involvement in the August and October shows.  HVW ended on a bit of a sour note with low attendance and a weak card for December 5th, but things could look up in 2010…  as current HVW Midwest Heavyweight Champion Kahagas squares off against Mike Sydal in February.

The promotion that didn’t make the cut, although I voted it as the top dog in 2009, was IWA Productions.  Say what you will about IWAP, but they have solid attendance at their free shows as well as the monthly shows that have paid attendance.  With guys like Steven Davis, Shane Rich, Mississippi Madman, and Curly among others, there is some depth to an IWAP card that some may overlook. 

Regardless, I thought that the field this year for Promotion of the Year showed that although most of us in the Midwest know that there are some weak promotions out there, there are many solid companies to put your support behind.  Think of this: Harley Race’s World League Wrestling had its tenth year anniversary show and had guests throughout the year that included Vader, Bret Hart, and Roddy Piper among others, and inexplicably did not make the list.  WLW is one of the best promotions in the Midwest, bar none… but there are promotions out there that have really tried to up their game!

MWR 2009 Wrestler of the Year
Winner – Mark Sterling
Runners Up (in order) – Jeremy Wyatt, Kahagas, Mike Sydal

I was very surprised when I saw the final voting for this award.  No, it had nothing to do with the fact that Mark Sterling won 2009 Wrestler of the Year honors.  There isn’t a guy in the area that works as hard as him on a consistent basis, so in my opinion 2009 was his year.  What surprised me was that three of the four top vote getters are really part of the same traveling crew, and now are known as the Kansas City Killers (Mark Sterling, Mike Sydal, Jeremy Wyatt)…  and they are feuding with the second runner-up, current HVW Midwest Heavyweight Champion Kahagas.

There is so much talent in those four individuals that you’d be hard pressed to find another four people that could combine to compare.  There is talent out there that is good, but these four are absolute workhorses. 

First of all, you have Mark Sterling.  The man didn’t have a weekend off for all of 2009 to my knowledge…  and it wasn’t all in the Midwest.  Sterling takes a very old school approach to professional wrestling, studies it, and makes it work.  Ask any person involved in pro wrestling in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, or Kansas about Mark Sterling and they’ll speak of him with respect.  He’s earned that respect, and he definitely earned  MWR’s 2009 Wrestler of the Year Award.

Jeremy Wyatt is no stranger to the Wrestler of the Year Award.  He was the first ever recipient of the honor in 2008 and for most of 2009 was the favorite to win it again.  Wyatt knows how to get the crowd involved, and what may be his claim to fame is something that Shawn Michaels is known for on a global level:  he puts together match of the year candidates.  Wyatt won 2008 Match of the Year honors for his brutal no rope barbed wire match for now defunct NWA Central States Wrestling…  this year repeats for his awe-inspiring ladder match in 3XW against Tyler Cook, and also snagged two of the three runners-up spots, too.  Michael Strider, Tyler Cook, Jimmy Rockwell, Donovan Ruddick, Shane Rich, and Arya Daivari are all about as diverse as a guy can get as far as opponents are concerned, but Wyatt managed to have Match of the Year candidates or winners with each one.

Kahagas is another well-traveled wrestler with a work ethic like none other.  Although his base of operations is for Coastal Championship Wrestling in Florida, Kahagas traveled internationally in 2009 and also branched out in the Midwest from the promotion that he holds championship gold in (HVW Midwest).  Earning a spot in IWA Mid South’s prestigious Ted Petty Invitational Tournament and wrestling for New Breed Wrestling Alliance (eastern Illinois) and Lethal Wrestling Alliance added a few more notches of experience to the veterans belt.

Mike Sydal really came into his own in 2009 under the tutelage of Mark Sterling.  Sydal won the 3XWrestling Tag Team Titles with Zach Thompson, defeated Brandon Aarons in the finals of HVW Midwest’s Survival of the Fittest match for the HVW Midwest Livewire Title, and the crowning achievement happened away from the ring, as Sydal was named Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s 2009 Rookie of the Year.  The sky is the limit for this young wrestler, and 2009 very well might have been his breakout year!

What does 2010 hold?  In my humble opinion, Edmund McGuire will make a statement this year and stake his claim as one of the Midwest’s Best.  I also see Jimmy Rockwell, Brandon Aarons, Rory Fox, and Shane Hollister becoming more notable one the Midwest indy scene.  As WLW begins its Spring warmup, “Superstar” Steve Fender and “King of 450″ Steve Anthony will edge further up on the list as well.

MWR 2009 Tag Team of the Year
Winner – The Hooligans [Devin & Mason Cutter]
Runners Up (in order) – Northstar Express [Darin Corbin & Ryan Cruz], Gentlemen’s Club [Gage Octane & Mark Sterling], Old School Thunder [Ax Allwardt & Brandon Walker]

There was no doubt that Devin and Mason Cutter, collectively known to the Midwest as The Hooligans, were the area’s Tag Team of the Year.  They tore a path through the area with their wild brand of wrestling and drew comparisons to some great tag teams of the past.  Currently entrenched in a feud with three of the top four vote getters for MWR 2009 Wrestler of the Year in the St. Louis area (Sterling/Sydal/Wyatt) and loosely allied to a fourth (Kahagas), these two men have proven themselves tough enough to hang with any singles wrestler in the area.  What about tag teams, though?

A feud with then Lethal Wrestling Alliance Tag Team Champions Pierre Abernathy and Evan Gelistico in Pro Wrestling Next, LWA, and HVW Midwest left them with the upper hand and the respect of their rivals. 

2008 Tag Team of the Year, The Northstar Express had a lot of momentum going into 2009.  Unfortunately, the team wasn’t nearly as active in the area and their chances of taking the top award were slim.  That being said, I was surprised by how high up in the voting they were.  They are a great tag team, but just were not active enough to contend.  In my opinion, The Gentlemen’s Club, High Flyers,  Submission Squad, and Old School Thunder all deserved to be a little higher…  especially The High Flyers (Mike Sydal and Zach Thompson), the 3XW Tag Team Champions.

All in all the competition was weaker this year in tag teams than in the year before.  Signs point to a better field in 2010, especially if the Kansas City Killers really get rolling.

MWR 2009 Match of the Year
Winner – Tyler Cook (C) vs Jeremy Wyatt in a ladder match for the 3XW Pure Title
Runners Up (in order) – Shane Rich (C) vs Jeremy Wyatt for the AAPW Heavyweight Title, Phoenix Twins [Tweek & Dash] (C) vs Northstar Express [Darin Corbin & Ryan Cruz] for the SCW Tag Team Titles, Jeremy Wyatt (C) vs Jimmy Rockwell/Arya Daivari/Donovan Ruddick in a four-man elimination match for the Wrestling Revival Cup

As mentioned earlier, the first thing I pulled from this category is that Jeremy Wyatt vs a can of Pepsi would be a top contender for match of the year.  I compared his achievements in the Midwest to Shawn Michaels’ globally, and I feel the comparison is fair.  Anyone as widely recognized as one of the best things about wrestling in the area should have a spot on larger rosters nationwide.

Wyatt’s match with Tyler Cook really is the standard-bearer in 2009 as far as leaving everything in the arena at the end of a match.  The match was built around a hot year-long feud that also eventually centered around the 3XW Pure Championship.  Both men suffered concussions, were totally and utterly exhausted at the end of the match, and were cheered by all in attendance when all was said and done.  This match, held at 3XW’s 4th Anniversary Show, was in front of a large amount of pro wrestling fans both old and new, and emerged as the hands down favorite of the night… earning 3XW many new diehard fans in the process.

His match with Shane Rich, the first runner-up, had no conclusive winner.  Yes, arguably the highest rated wrestler in AAPW (Shane Rich) got the pinfall on that night, but Wyatt’s foot was on the ropes and left a question about who was truly the better man.  Rich dug deep and held his ground with the 2008 Wrestler of the Year, determined to prove himself equal.  Wyatt escaped with his dignity intact.

While I rated the match lower, Wyatt’s defense of the Wrestling Revival Cup in a four-way elimination match in November garnered enough votes to be listed a third runner-up for 2009 Match of the Year.  What is most notable from this match, was how “Rockstar” Jimmy Rockwell, unscheduled for the match until the night of the event, nearly outlasted the champ and emerged the holder of the Wrestling Revival Cup.

Three matches.  Two wins.  One loss.  Five different opponents.  “The Rebel” Jeremy Wyatt proved that while he didn’t repeat as MWR’s Wrestler of the Year in 2009, he is still important, relevant, and a front-runner for the both Wrestler and Match honors in 2010!

Conclusion

This has been my analysis of the Missouri Wrestling Revival’s 2009 End of the Year Awards.  I hope you’ve enjoyed!

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