Professional wrestling has an inherent entertainment value absent from many other sports due to its predictability and knack for combining soap opera-quality storylines with physical violence. That’s not to say it can’t be enjoyed by your average sports fan, however.
This past year, pro wrestling entered mainstream media in a way it hadn’t in years with the returns of superstars including The Rock, Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar. Regular mainstays such as CM Punk reigned an entire calendar year as WWE Champion, whereas John Cena has entered what has to be considered a slump due to his numerous losses in big match situations.
Just like every sport, there are winners and losers in the world of professional wrestling, and to commemorate the end of the year, we are going to take a look back at WWE throughout 2012. Whereas the WWE has its Slammy Awards, Couch Side has its own celebration of the year that was, and what fans can expect come 2013.
Brett: Antonio Cesaro — Cesaro, real name Claudio Castagnoli, debuted on WWE television soon after WrestleMania 28 and in the nine or so months since appearing has carved out a nice reputation so far. He’s the current United States Champion, a title he has held since August’s SummerSlam pay-per-view, and has been every bit as dominant as he was in other promotions before the WWE got their hands on him. He has all the tools in the ring to be a success and can work it on the microphone when necessary. I mean come on…the dude speaks five languages. He is a star in the making and rarely, if ever, disappoints when put in a big-time scenario. It is only a matter of time before the name Antonio Cesaro is not only a prominent name in pro wrestling, but also in the mainstream.
Matt: Ryback — When 2012 started, Ryan Reeves was on the active WWE roster, but had next to no ring appearances. 12 months, and a mouthful of jobbers later, the man now known as Ryback has taken the WWE by storm in an attempt to quench his massive appetite. Predicting the rise of a guy who wasn’t anywhere near the main event until Hell in a Cell in October would have been foolish months ago. Even back in October, many were worried Ryback’s push was too much, too soon. But now, the WWE has arguably its next big star in the form of a guy who has transcended any similarities with Goldberg and developed his own character. Sure, Ryback won’t be winning the big one any time soon, but to have cemented himself as a main event talent after facing competition that includes Curt Hawkins earlier in the year, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.