Wrestler of the Year is such a subjective award, yet most seem to agree that the nod should go to WWE champion CM Punk. However if pro wrestling is a business at the end of the day, shouldn’t that award go to the biggest draw? If so, you’d have to give it to The Rock!
I have heard a couple of podcasts and blogs throw around the idea of giving The Rock Wrestler of the Year. On the surface it sounds ridiculous. The man wrestled one match in 2012. How can you give a guy Wrestler of the Year off of one match? It’s practically unheard of. But when that one match set records and moved more numbers than anyone or anything else all year, how can you not give it to the difference maker?
The facts are simple. The Rock moved WWE ratings more than any other wrestler all year. The only other guy that came close was Brock Lesnar. Not only did The Rock make a huge difference in the ratings, the ratings have been the pits since he left. Have you seen them lately? I hate putting so much stock into TV ratings but there is a pattern here. The Rock made more of an impact in a few weeks in 2012 than anyone else did all year.
In the ring he wrestled one match and quite frankly, it wasn’t even that good. I thought Rock vs. John Cena was a disappointment in the ring. But guess what? The match was a monster success at the box office. The match was the most successful match in WWE history! The main-event set a WrestleMania record! At a time when buyrates and interest in pro wrestling was declining, The Rock brought it back to the casual fans and introduced it to new fans. The impact on this is just unmatchable!
Where does John Cena fit into this? Cena drew more money this year than anyone with his programs against The Rock and Brock Lesnar. Cena was also a big part of this equation. Could The Rock have done this business without Cena? I don’t think so. But Cena had plenty of opportunities all year long to ride the momentum and increase business. He didn’t. He hit with Brock and Rock but he had an entire year to do much more. For that, he doesn’t get the recognition by my criteria.
I may look at the business a little differently than you. Working inside the business I always look at the money. I know that as fun as it may be to get all crazy about a great match or invest emotionally in your favorite wrestler, none of this happens without generating revenue. That is why to me drawing money has always been the impetus of success for a pro wrestler. Shawn Michaels was my favorite wrestler of all-time but he isn’t the greatest wrestler ever. I look at guys like Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, and Steve Austin for that recognition.