UTA the magazine, Year end awards
You know how every year you sit and watch your favorite sports post season awards only to think that they screwed something or someone over royally? We here at UTA the magazine feel the same way. Now that all of the fan ballots are in and we've done away with categories we didn't feel were really necessary and added a few that we thought that were, we now present for your approval and or debate, the real year end awards.
Wrestler of the year: LFB, Sean Jackson, Eric Dane, Perfection
In the early part of the year, this looked like Sean Jackson's race to lose. He was world champion, seemed poised to carry the company for a good while. Eric Dane had not yet emerged, and Perfection had disappeared. Then in a first blood match at the Black Horizon PPV, the "Year of the Luchadore" began as La Flama Blanca beat Jackson for the title in a first blood match.
Jackson, his backers will say, rebounded nicely to win the Ace in the Hole match at Ring King and it's only a matter of time before he cashes in, while it's true that he has both of those accomplishments they still do not match the 183 day reign of LFB as UTA World Champion. His critics may point to how sparsely the champion was booked, but when he was, he was successful beating competitors such as MVC, Alex Beckman and Lew Smith and holding onto the championship. LFB finally lost the title, albeit a little controversial to Eric Dane at International Affair, but there will hopefully be a rematch at some point.
Perfection, last year's winner started the year off strongly beating former world champions Ron Hall and Crimson Lord but he disappeared shortly after he lost the World title in the All or Nothing match in the spring. His inactivity cost him a lot of votes and momentum. He recovered some of it by winning a number one contender's match but came up short in the end losing to Eric Dane at Season's Beatings to close out the year.
No one can deny the meteoric rise of Eric Dane. He went from the potential unemployment line to the throne when he ended LFB's reign at International Affair. He won the title shot by overcoming 5 other men in the Elimination Chamber at Ring King. It is already looking like he may put a stranglehold on the award for 2016. He has already beaten Perfection and the Pantheon may become what Dynasty was. The biggest difference is that LFB seemed to value his contemporaries in Dynasty as friends. Dane seems to be ok with using people as a means to his ends. There are some champions who enjoy being on top, Dane may just well be a rare breed who lives for it.
Tag Team of the year: Team Danger, Tag Team of the Damned, The Dibbins
The tag team division was never the deepest, and was really a two team race this year. The Dibbins arrived too late in the year. The fans are left to wonder "what if" they had arrived before the tag titles were retired and the division had been effectively killed off by the sheer dominance of Team Danger. A match between the two teams would be interesting and might have been the spark to reignite the division but we'll never know.
The Tag Team of the Damned as odd as the pairing seemed at times, had a nice reign but were served more by a lack of interest in the the tag team belts and the general decline of the tag team division in the UTA. When the team finally fell apart and lost the belts, you knew there would be no rematch. What we didn't know, was that it was the beginning of the end for the tag team ranks. T2C and LFB were starting to jell or so it seemed.
Team Danger, from the moment they won the titles, seemed to be unbeatable. They mirrored former dominant champions the Lords of Devastation, they scored a few resounding wins over what challengers the UTA had put together such as Ron Hall and Lew Smith and by the time the belts were retired, there was no one left to challenge, let alone think about dethroning them.
Female of the year: Amy Harrison, 2nd Coming, MVC, Zhalia Fears,
In the early balloting, The Second Coming raced out to a large lead based on the strength of her Tag team title reign with LFB as the Tag Team of the Damned. Fans also remembered the beatings her and Fears took on a regular basis from Crimson Lord. This would enable someone, in this case Amy Harrison to emerge as the surprise winner. Many voters felt her surprise Prodigy championship win in the fatal 4 way ladder match as the deciding factor.
There were a few fanboys who wanted to turn this into a looks contest and that would have included the ballots we had marked Sabrina Baker but nothing else was filled out. There were however plenty of votes by those who counted what happened in the ring.
Some fans felt that MVC’s strong showing against LFB for the UTA World title was nothing more than a frustrating tease of what she can be but instead spent most of the year spinning her wheels in place and going no where. There is hope with her new found face turn that maybe the support of the fans will help her win this next year.
Fears had a few brief moments against Crimson Lord but was such a non factor overall in the federation that she finished 4th, maybe we should have counted Baker's votes.
Most Improved: Scott Stevens, Amy Harrison
There weren't many quality candidates to consider. Scott Stevens was always in and out. Everyone wondered what he would do, what he could do if he ever got serious and dedicated himself. Then came Season's Beatings where he didn't just beat Colton Thorpe who had seemed to establish an iron grip on the Wildfire title, he dominated him. His victory was resounding and decisive. He has held on to the title since and coupled with his new found edge and aggressive streak may move on to bigger things this year.
Amy Harrison seemed to be missing a lot of heart, drive or commitment. There were some who questioned if she had what it took to succeed in the UTA at all. She was ok with seemingly being James Wingate's trophy and not being taken seriously. Then came International Affair. She showed her toughness by returning after taking a fall that would have put most men on the shelf. She then showed her grit and shocked the world by winning the ladder match and the then vacant Prodigy championship. It all seemed like it had come together, the breakthrough moment everyone was waiting for. Fans still hope that even with her newfound aggressiveness, this was a taste of things to come. The difference in the balloting was the fact that she promptly lost the title to Lew Smith in her first defense. Hopefully there is more to come.
Face of the year: Cayle Murray, Will Haynes, Ron Hall, Bobby Dean
Bobby Dean's surprising heel turn may be the best thing for him but this race really seemed to come down to who had the momentum at the end. Will Haynes and Ron Hall both suffered between injuries and a lack of momentum. Haynes couldn't seem to gain traction without another injury occurring and Hall seemed doomed to wonder from feud to non existent feud. Murray had a slight edge in our early balloting until his war with Colton Thorpe at International Affair, then he jumped ahead to stay. Cayle seems to be rounding into form as the company's next top hero. Can he sustain his momentum or are Ron and or Will one opportunity away from passing him? Will is getting his overdue shot at the World title in January and for some reason, Scott Stevens seems to want Hall's attention. This group promises to be interesting to watch this coming year.
Heel of the year: LFB, Perfection, Mikey Unlikely, Sean Jackson, Eric Dane
Sean Jackson's continued success helped him, but due to his side feud with LFB and Dynasty he was in danger of turning face by default. That's ok, he still has more than his share of fans who can't stand him.
All Perfection has to do some times is open his mouth and the fans want to kill him. His sabbatical after All or Nothing didn't hurt him here, upon his return, he picked right back up where he left off. He's on his own now and that might well be the best thing for him. He has more than enough talent and personality to succeed on his own. Can he recapture the spark that made him the man UTA fans love to hate?
Mikey Unlikely has risen from being a buddy in WTFC to possibly the breakout star of 2016. He joined Dynasty and didn't throw gasoline on the fire with Will Haynes, he threw napalm on it with his actions. Mikey doesn't quite have LFB or Perfection's knack for pissing off a crowd yet, but when you look at the UTA shows and see his self professed starring roles in movie remakes, it's quite easy to see him moving into a starring role in a feature UTA feud or with a championship belt this year.
LFB seemed to live on the distain of the fans. Yes at times it seemed that he was trying too hard to get on the crowds bad side, it cannot be denied that the masked Luchadore always seemed to be one remark from starting a full scale riot.
Eric Dane went from mid card anomaly to paranoid and sadistic world champion. The fans don't hate his words, he heard some cheers when he dethroned LFB, but they hate his manipulation of others such as former Pantheon member Colton Thorpe or the way he took one of their favorites, Bobby Dean and seems to have remade him in his own violent image.
Match of the year: CBR/Beckman (Ring King Finals),Thorpe/Murray (International Affair),Hopper/Kendrix (Retirement match International Affair) Hall/Wingate (Ring King) LFB/Beckman (Ring King), Unlikely/Haynes (International Affair)
Can you really go wrong with any of them? Hall vs Wingate was deeply personal as they've known each other for almost 15 years and have had plenty of business dealings not just with the UTA or Wingate's father Matt Sr. At Ring King, it was Ron's Hall of Fame career against Wingate's power on television. It wasn't as viscous as some had hoped but in the end, Hall and Wingate walked away perhaps with a newfound respect for each other. Or not.
LFB and Beckman was a classic until the unfortunate ending that should have been Beckman's arrival, not her farewell with the broken arm. It added a new sadistic side to LFB and should have been the catalyst for the much dreamed about Dynasty vs Machine feud.
Unlikely and Haynes as lopsided as the match may have been was the long awaited clash between former friends turned bitter enemies. It's not over between them and hopefully International Affair was just the first taste.
CBR and Beckman staged an absolute masterpiece in the finals of Ring King. You found yourself believing that CBR could pull out the win and conquer the unconquerable streak Beckman had built up. You also found yourself believing that this match announced Miss Beckman's arrival as a main eventer and that she would or could be the one to legitimately end the "Year of the Luchadore". Great matches make both people look even better than they did before. This one did in spades.
Thorpe and Murray teased us and teased us a little more but it was so worth the wait. Thorpe showed a mean streak that no one knew he had to that point and Murray showed that he was absolutely willing to go down swinging, winning even the hardest to please fans over in the process. The only bad thing about this match is that right now, there doesn't look to be a rematch on the horizon. It's a shame too.
It seemed a little sudden and rushed that this match became a career challenge match but Hopper seemed to want the added pressure facing one of the UTA's hungry young up and comers. Hopper went down but not without a fight. That's what Kendrix needs to remember, even though he won't let the fans forget that he retired Hopper.
Feud of the year: Hopper/Kendrix Haynes/Unlikely Hall/Wingate Lord/Fears, Dynasty vs UTA
Dynasty started with a bang and imploded from their own successes. A reformed Spawn tried, WTFC tried, and the Machine seemed ready to try but only egos and greed did in this super group. Where as the rest of the UTA was individuals, Dynasty operated as a unit and ran roughshod over the promotion for the majority of the year.
Zhaliah Fears and Second Coming seemed to have death wishes and Crimson Lord was trying to grant them. The feud saw the heart and friendship of 2 Badass for a name against the bloodlust of the UTA Hall of Famer. In the end injuries took their toll on the women and along with a car on Crimson Lord, helped this feud puter out.
Hall and Wingate should have been friends, even business partners based on all their history in and out of the UTA, not just the ring. The sad truth is that power seemingly corrupted, not just Wingate but this relationship as well. Hall put Wingate down at Ring King and seemingly any and all hopes of a reconciliation as well. This feud had more potential than what they delivered which is so disappointing.
From best friends to blood thirsty enemies, from WTFC possibly being the next UTA supergroup to some of the lowest shots ever given, like when Mikey stole Will's ex to some of the most violent. The only question left to be answered here isn't if this ends but how?
Hands down, the feud with endless lives, house shows, airports, in the arena, out of it, you name it, they fought there. Kendrix was young, determined not to be forgotten in the midcard shuffle and hungry to make a name for himself. His foil was Hopper a man trying to maintain his spot at the top of the UTA face order and mount a serious challenge to the World title. Hopper upped the ante at International Affair when he put his career up against Kendrix. To the young lion's credit, he rose to the challenge admirably and retired Hopper in one of the best matches of the year. Not that he's going to let you forget it.
Comeback of the year: Perfection, Ron Hall, Crimson Lord, Yoshi
When the year began, Crimson Lord was on the rise, hot from a return at Season's Beatings, Ron Hall was looking to go back to retirement, Yoshi was fresh off a World title loss, and Perfection had just regained the World title. He would solidify his place at the top with some wins over Hall and Lord in the spring.
By the end of the spring. Crimson Lord was getting stronger by the week, Perfection and Yoshi were gone from the UTA, victims of their own demons. Ron had won the Prodigy championship but never built on the momentum he had.
Fast forward to the fall. Ron was floundering in the mid card, Crimson was nowhere to be seen, Yoshi had just walked back into the UTA and a recently returned Perfection was holding a World title shot courtesy of a win at International Affair. Yoshi disappeared again after some less than stellar showings. Perfection came up just short against Eric Dane in his quest to regain the World title and Ron had just come up short in a ladder match for the Prodigy championship.
Manager of the year: Marshall Owens, Michael Best, The Good Reverend, Jed Dye, Coleslaw Jenkins
This was another two horse race. Owens lead Dynasty until its implosion. Best lead the Machine until the stable seemingly fell apart after Alex Beckman's broken arm at Ring King. The biggest difference here is that when Dynasty finally did implode they did so with LFB as World Champion and Sean Jackson holding Ace in the Hole. It's a testament that Owens managed to put it off much longer than anyone ever thought possible and even managed to pull a surprise by landing Kendrix to their ranks along the way.
Neither manager has been seen since their group's implosion and right now this is another award that could face retirement next year.
Rookie of the year: Colton Thorpe, Alex Beckman, Kendrix
This is the biggest shocker of the year. You could make a case for each so we'll try. Thorpe won the "cursed" Wildfire title and established his dominance over it, even retaining in some wars with Cayle Murray. He didn't lose it until almost the end of the year at Season's Beatings.
Alex Beckman dominated like so few have, effectively closing off the Prodigy title for her reign, even ending a few careers while she was at it. Her triumph in a three way match at Black Horizon was the moment that everyone stopped and took notice. She beat everyone's expectations and conquered the Ring King tournament. It was after she lost and was injured by LFB at Ring King that her momentum dried up and she faded from the company.
Kendrix arrived with the least amount of hype which made his addition to Dynasty a bit of a surprise. His feud with Chris Hopper got him noticed, the retirement of Hopper took everyone by surprise, and his Prodigy title victory over Lew Smith was the sign that he's arrived. There are whispers of "Future UTA World Champion" with him. Will he deliver in 2016?
2016 could be their year: Kendrix, Cayle Murray, Mikey Unlikely, Will Haynes, Jeff Andrews
UTA Champions and Top 10 Rankings (for period ending 1/1/2016)
6'4 240. New Orleans LA UTA World Champion
6'4 257 Montreal Canada
UTA Legacy Champion
6'6 256 The Great State of Texas
UTA Wildfire Champion
6'2 218 London England
UTA Prodigy Champion
6'2 240 Athens Georgia
#1 ranked contender
6'2 220 Dallas Texas
#2 ranked contender
6'1 220 Aberdeen Scotland
#3 ranked contender
5'11 225 Hollywood
#4 ranked contender
6'5 253 Kingston Jamaica #5 ranked contender
EL TRÉBOL JR
4'7 120 Boston Massachusetts
#6 ranked contender
6' 222 Los Angeles #7 ranked contender
6' 400 Houston Texas
#8 ranked contender
6'2 264 Deadman Crossing Ohio
#9 ranked contender
5'9 180 Beaver West Virginia
#10 contender/UTA Hardcore Champion
"I NEED CHEESEBURGERS"
- Kentucky Tarzan