Voting has a way of causing animosity in the WWE.com offices. There have been shouting matches at Cyber Sunday, a fistfight during Raw’s Power to the People and that unfortunate atomic wedgie incident in the final round of the 2007 Diva Search. Still, despite some hurt feelings, we’re not shy about voicing our opinions, so we’re looking ahead to the 2011 Slammy Award for “Superstar of the Year,” which is currently drawing thousands of voters to WWE.com. (CLICK HERE TO VOTE NOW)
Reviewing the performances of John Cena, Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, Mark Henry, The Miz and Randy Orton over the past 12 months, we attempted to pick the odds of who will win the coveted Slammy — and avoid getting our Hanes yanked over our heads because of it.
Alberto Del Rio
On paper, Alberto Del Rio had one of the best years in WWE history. Barely 12 months into his WWE tenure, the arrogant competitor won the biggest Royal Rumble in history, the Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match and two WWE Titles — and he looked like the inconceivably handsome star of a telenovela the whole time he was doing it. Still, despite his considerable in-ring accomplishments and swarthy good looks, The Mexican Aristocrat is more likely to be seen driving a Kia than winning this Slammy. The simple fact is WWE fans dislike the brash rogue and they’d sooner vote for Heath Slater than help him grab another honor in 2011. Face it, the only way Del Rio’s taking this trophy is if the popular kids stuff the ballot box just so they can dump pigs’ blood on him when he wins.
Much like The Mexican Aristocrat, World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry is at a disadvantage, because WWE fans aren’t going to vote for the guy that shattered Big Show’s ankle. Still, the mighty Texan should not be overlooked. That’s because 15 years into his WWE career, The World’s Strongest Man did what many of his critics thought he’d never do — he made an impact. Channeling the anger of more than a decade of disappointments, the 400-plus pound Henry became the kind of monster he was always meant to be. Gruff, aggressive and uncompromising, the powerhouse finally realized his potential as a he maimed giants like Big Show, Kane and The Great Khali before defeating Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship. With that in mind, you should probably vote for Henry unless you want to end up in the ER.
When you’re as successful as WWE’s Apex Predator, your defeats begin to mean a lot more than your victories. So The Viper’s 2011 may be defined by his disappointing losses to the likes of Wade Barrett, Mark Henry and Dolph Ziggler rather than his WrestleMania win over CM Punk or his pair of World Title triumphs over Christian. For any other Superstar, a year like that could define a career, but, in the grand scheme of Randy Orton’s legacy, these past 12 months haven’t offered too many moments that will end up in his WWE Hall of Fame induction video. Should we blame the beard?
The thing about year-end awards is they tend to focus on the end of the year, so voters will probably forget the fact that the bro who used to come to the ring in a fedora and call himself a “Chick Magnet” had the longest reign as WWE Champion in 2011. On top of that, he successfully defended the title against John Cena in the main event of a WrestleMania. If he wasn’t so insufferable, The Miz could market his story as a fairytale. Instead, it’s full of unhappy endings — like the one he gave his former friend John Morrison on WWE Raw SuperShow. Nevertheless, The Awesome One deserves serious credit for changing himself from the most obnoxious member of television’s most obnoxious show to one of the 43 men to hold sports-entertainment’s most cherished prize. Plus, he finally proved to JoMo that he was not the Marty Jannetty.
Were it any other year, John Cena would be the odds-on favorite to win this Slammy. And why not? He’s one of the hardest working competitors to ever lace up a pair of, uh, high top sneakers. But something happened in 2011 that shook the Cenation’s leader’s steely confidence and unless you’ve spent the past 12 months in Parts Unknown you’ll know it was the return of The Rock. Embarrassing the Cenation leader at both WrestleMania XXVII and Survivor Series, The Most Electrifying Man in All of Entertainment convinced many WWE fans that the West Newbury, Mass. native wasn’t the irrepressible hero they all thought he was. Relentless boos have greeted the former WWE Champion at live events ever since and that negativity could carry over to “Superstar of the Year” voting.
The Straight Edge Superstar’s WWE Title victory over Alberto Del Rio in New York City’s Madison Square Garden was designed to be his “moment.” But when WWE fans look back at CM Punk’s highlights over the past year, they won’t focus on a match or a victory, they’ll zero in on a speech. On June 27, Punk grabbed a microphone and delivered what would become his sermon on the mount — a scathing, straightforward indictment of everything The “Voice of The Voiceless” thought was wrong with WWE. When he opened his mouth that night, The Straight Edge Superstar was a villain. By the time WWE executives had cut his mic off, he’d become the most popular figure in sports-entertainment. Bigger moments followed — namely his WWE Title win over John Cena at Money in the Bank — but if Punk wins this Slammy it will be because of six minutes of uncensored audio brilliance.
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