Subscribe to the podcast via: iTunes | Spotify | Google | Youtube
1994 is a year that history often overlooks, and perhaps rightly so with a lack of major stories vs what was to come in the following years. But if you look hard enough there's some very very good performances across the board from ECW, WCW and the WWF to look back on. Here are our end of year awards:
Show of the Year: WCW Spring Stampede (April 1994)
Also nominated: Wrestlemania X, Bash At the Beach, Summerslam, AAA When World's Collide & the August 30th edition of ECW Hardcore TV.
Wrestlemania had two great matches, but there's an argument to say Spring Stampede had four. Top to bottom I would argue this is one of the best wrestling events you are ever likely to see, with two great violent matches with Bunkhouse Buck vs Dustin Rhodes and The Nasty Boys vs Cactus Jack and Maxx Payne, an excellent super heavyweight match between Vader and The Boss (Big Bossman) and a fine technical wrestling main event between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat for the WCW World Title.
Tag Team of the Year (Shared): The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) and The Public Enemy (“Flyboy” Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge).
Also nominated: Eddie Guerrero & Art Barr, Maxx Payne & Cactus Jack
A very difficult one to split this one. Some would argue that the Public Enemy should win it by some distance, their creativity and excellence throughout 1994 as one of the standout acts on ECW Hardcore TV cannot be overlooked, but The Nasty Boys were part of (in my opinion) two of the best matches of 1994 with some ahead-of-their-time brawls with Cactus Jack and co. Public Enemy were phenomenal on the promos, and were certainly part of some very good matches, but the award is deservedly shared between two quite similar teams.
Non-Wrestling act of the Year: Paul E. Dangerously
Also nominated: Art Donovan, Bobby Heenan, Sensous Sherri
Sherri was excellent in her role as a manager for Shane Douglas and Ric Flair, Heenan was excellent in his role as a heel commentator for WCW but Paul Heyman's role as both the onscreen Paul E. Dangerously managing Sabu and as of screen in creating some of the most compelling wrestling television you'll ever likely see, Heyman is a deserved winner of this award. Some of his promos in 1994 were absolutely off the charts, and he was certainly a big reason why people came through the doors of the ECW Arena. Sabu, as one of ECW's biggest acts, never spoke – he never needed to.
Flop/Fail of the Year: Undertaker vs Undertaker (Summerslam 1994) and also Undertaker in general
Also nominated: Lex Luger, “Legends” in WWF, Three Faces of Fear, Bret as a mid-card Champion, Jerry Lawler vs Roddy Piper as a WWF PPV main event, King of the Ring (the entire show), Honky Tonk Man
A wide bearth for this award, so a wide range of nominations. Luger a very close second, more for his fall after Wrestlemania rather than necessarily just before it, about five of those nominations all come under the same topic which is the make-up of WWF's main event matches in 1994, but one that seriously took the biscuit was at Summerslam with Undertaker vs Undertaker in the main event. The show up until that point had been very good (including an excellent Bret Hart vs Owen Hart cage match), but the main event of Undertaker facing himself was a proper turn off. Thankfully this match was short, but the crowd was dead for it and the action was properly awful.
Match of the Year: Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon – Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title – Wrestlemania X
Also nominated: Bret Hart vs Owen Hart (both at Wrestlemania and Summerslam), Bret Hart vs The 123 Kid (July, Raw), Perro Aguayo vs Konnan (AAA, November), Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair (Bash At The Beach, July), 123 Kid vs Owen Hart (King of the Ring, June), Shawn Michaels vs 123 Kid (Raw, February), Sabu vs Shane Douglas vs Terry Funk (ECW Live Event, February), Vader vs The Boss, Cactus Jack & Maxx Payne vs The Nasty Boys (both Spring Stampede, April), Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan vs The Nasty Boys (Slamboree, May).
Not surprisingly a ton of nominations here. It'd be too difficult to go through them all (but a lot feature in our WWF and WCW matches of the year lists). Michaels vs Razor stands above them all, defining the ladder match with a phenomenal effort at Wrestlemania X that was so good it overshadowed almost everything else on the show. Razor played a fine role but the match was all about Michaels doing some crazy stunts off a ladder. It's a good job the ladder didn't break, mind, as they didn't have a spare!
Feud of the Year: Bret Hart vs Owen Hart
Also nominated: Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair, Sandman vs Tommy Dreamer, Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels, Cactus Jack (& co) vs The Nasty Boys, Shane Douglas vs Terry Funk
Some phenomenal options here really. Hogan and Flair was box office, Sandman and Dreamer was must see and the others all had their strong points. But, perhaps it was how bad much of the rest of the company was in 1994, the award has to go to Bret Hart vs Owen Hart. Two phenomenal PPV matches at Wrestlemania and Summerslam, and a feud that started in 1993 and still could have had legs going into 1995. For match quality, Bret vs Owen is a worthy winner of this award.
Rising Star of the Year: Owen Hart
Also nominated: 123 Kid, Chris Benoit, Diesel, Shane Douglas, Sabu
Another award that has a wide range of meanings, like most improved, best debutant and others, but I think Owen Hart is a standout in this category. He entered the year with the infamous “I kicked your leg out from under your leg” promo, illustrative of Owen's lack of confidence not only on the mic but perhaps in his heel character. As the year went on Owen improved so much, becoming much more confident on the microphone and much more confident with his heel character. His coronation promo at King of the Ring was a fine effort, and his in ring work was excellent.
Worker of the Year: Bret Hart
Also nominated: Owen Hart, Lord Steven Regal, Stunning Steve Ausin, Razor Ramon, Sabu and Ric Flair.
The WWF only had a handful of wrestlers capable of having a compelling match in 1994, and Bret Hart rarely seemed to have a bad one. Be it with Owen, The 123 Kid, Backlund and even Diesel, when the company needed a good match to save a show, Bret was often the guy. Shame they never truly gave him the ball.
Promo of the Year (Shared): Ric Flair and Shane Douglas
Also nominated: Lord Steven Regal, Shawn Michaels, Paul E. Dangerously, Cactus Jack
Flair being in this category will come as no surprise, some of his promos during the Hogan feud were top notch. But if you wanted great promos just tune into any ECW episode of 1994 and you're likely to find something worthy of the name. Cactus Jack was great, Paul E. Dangeroulsly was great, but Shane Douglas seemed to hit promo after promo out of the park, often even when he wasn't working in a great program. A split award, but I'd have given Douglas the nod here.
Wrestler (MVP) of the Year (Shared): Ric Flair and Bret Hart
Also nominated: Hulk Hogan, Razor Ramon
Very little to add to this one that hasn't already been said. Flair had a phenomenal year in WCW, starting as the babyface champion before pivoting into a heel feud with Hulk Hogan. Bret was just a constant excellance in the WWF. A worthy split this one.