Mike Da Silva's: 2006 Independent Wrestling Awards
By Mike Da Silva
After reading the results of the reader and staff year-end awards, I noticed that independent wrestling was not as well represented as it could have been. I had access to a wide array of great material from both larger companies like Ring of Honor (ROH), Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), IWA-Mid-South, Jersey All Pro Wrestling (JAPW), Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA), CHIKARA and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), as well as smaller companies like UWA Hardcore Wrestling and the Independent Wrestling Federation (IWF) as I covered the independent wrestling beat for this site. As such, I felt the need to share my selections for the Best of the Year in Independent Wrestling.
I chose to omit the Worst Gimmick of the Year and Worst Storyline of the Year Awards as I feel that sort of negativity has no place in the under-funded world of independent wrestling. I have no problem with pointing out errors. I just choose not to at this time. Best Gimmick of the Year and Best Storyline of the Year Awards replace those awards. Pay-Per-View of the Year has been replaced by Show of the Year.
ROH ruled the independent wrestling roost yet again this year and my selections reflect this. One can no doubt argue with my selections, but such is life.
Wrestler of the Year:
Best Gimmick of the Year:
The independent wrestling scene is full of colourful personalities who do a lot with their gimmicks. That said, few could match Jimmy Jacobs’ emo kid for originality. He utilized the Internet (My Space, in particular) in a way that is fitting to his times to create a multi-faceted character that is both endearing and terrifying. The gimmick really has legs and feuds centred around his obsession with Lacey have helped elevate not only Jacobs, but also BJ Whitmer, Colt Cabana and Brent Albright.
The creative team at CHIKARA deserves honourary recognitionfor the fact that seemingly every one of their characters is unique.
Babyface the Year:
In JAPW and other companies he was in early in the year, he was a hero. As the year progressed, he became more in demand and wrestled less as his duties as part of Total Non-Stop Action (TNA)’s Latin American Xpress (LAX) tag team took up more of his time. He still remained a top draw, however, particularly in ROH. He started off the year as something of a heel and was a tweener for most of the year, but after he was portrayed as the company’s saviour when he appeared in the Cage of Death match that blew off the ROH-CZW feud, he became the company’s top face. His Road to the Title, which culminated at Final Battle, was one of the company’s main storylines the year and apparently inspired a massive pop.
Heel of the Year:
Show of the Year:
A hot main event made the show a must-buy. The amazing undercard was only a bonus. A fun opener, a great match in the Davey Richards-Jimmy Rave series and solid matches featuring the Kings of Wrestling in singles action start the show off well, but things don’t really get underway until the 5th match. Flying in outside talent may seem a bit cheap, but the presence of the likes of Go Shiozaki and SUWA really made ROH seem big-time and made this show stand out. The Brookside-Collyer match didn’t live up to expectations, but it was only a short blip and the ROH World Tag Team Title match was a classic featuring 2 of independent wrestling’s top teams.
Most Shocking Moment of the Year:
Opinions on Hero had been polarized long before he finally appeared in an ROH ring. It seemed like it would never happen, something that ROH acknowledged when they called the show with his debut “Hell Freezes Over.” Danielson and Hero delivered a great match in what was supposed to be a one-off encounter and kicked off the year’s hottest feud.
Best Storyline of the Year:
This match featured the best of both promotions from technical encounters pitting Danielson against Hero to great brawls like the 6-man at “The 100th Show” and the feud-ending Cage of Death. Promotional wars often fail because they bury one promotion. This feud allowed the natural faces in independent wrestling (ROH’s technical approach is looked upon highly in a strong style-embracing Internet community…proof of that can be found in this very article) to win out in the end, but they were hated by many, acted as heels when necessary (i.e. at CZW’s “Best of the Best” show) and were often beaten down, even at their landmark 100th show. CZW got a much-needed boost despite losing this feud and people in both companies were elevated (BJ Whitmer, Adam Pearce and Ace Steel in ROH were big winners and Chris Hero, Necro Butcher and Super Dragon from CZW greatly expanded their fan base). The age-old Internet debate between fans of “pure” wrestling and fans of “hardcore” wrestling were made manifest here. Fans of both types of wrestling reaped the benefits.
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