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Every year I produce the best wrestling awards on the internet, the prestigious The Viewies ®. With half of 2018 already in the books, it is time to hand out awards to the top performers that have stood out during the first half of the year.
Wrestler of the Year: Kazuchika Okada
Yeah you could argue that Kenny Omega should win this award, or AJ Styles, or a number of other top contenders. However, it's hard to deny that Okada is having a special 2018, even by his standards. What is the best argument in favor of Okada? I go back to Wrestle Kingdom in January, where Okada was set to defend the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito. The match that went on right before Okada was an astounding match between Omega and Chris Jericho, a match that seemed impossible to follow. However, nobody seemed concerned that Okada was going to have to follow it, because well...it was Okada. Like a machine, it was a guarantee that Okada was going to have a great match with Naito, and he predictably went on to have another classic match at the Tokyo Dome. I'm not sure any other wrestler would instill that kind of confidence in the same situation, which is what makes him the best in the world.
Honorable Mention: AJ Styles, Kenny Omega, Kento Miyahara, Johnny Gargano, Seth Rollins
Best Babyface: La Parka
Okay, so fans of this column may think that is a joke; but I'm dead serious. La Parka (now known as LA Park due to legal reasons) has been the best babyface in professional wrestling this year. I'd like to write more about him later, but the charismatic LA Park has carved out a niche in both CMLL and AAA as this Steve Austin-like, anti-authority loose cannon who could go off on anyone at any moment. His presence alone has increased CMLL attendance by roughly 25 percent over the last couple of months, and he's currently involved in the hottest feud in all of wrestling with Rush. I know it seems crazy that a jobber from WCW is somehow the best babyface in pro wrestling 20 years later, but it's true! The guy is incredibly over!
Honorable Mention: Johnny Gargano, AJ Styles, Kenny Omega, Kento Miyahara, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, Ilja Dragunov
Best Heel: Tomasso Ciampa
Ciampa, along with Gargano, has done one of the hardest things in wrestling and that is to get real, old-fashioned heat from the audience. Today the average wrestling fan is savvy enough that when they see a heel doing real quality work, they will cheer for him because they are fans of quality work; thus creating the "cool heel." Today, the only performers who generally get a lot of boos from the audience get them because the fans don't respect their ability, (Roman Reigns, Stephanie McMahon, Jinder Mahal, etc.) That being said, Ciampa has gotten great heat from the hardcore NXT fans, thanks to his sheer villainy and the babyface performance of Johnny Gargano. Ciampa is like Dick the Bruiser, or The Crusher on NXT, generating the kind of reaction that is rarely seen today. Just a superb performance by him so far in 2018.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Owens, Rush, Cody Rhodes, Eli Drake, WALTER
Best on Interviews: Chris Jericho
2018 has been a banner year for Jericho, expanding his horizons and working for both NJPW and WWE at the same time. One of the most creative wrestlers in the industry, Jericho has constantly strived to keep reinventing himself to avoid growing stale. Perhaps no one is more skilled at constructing a promo; in the same segment Jericho can be funny and dead-serious. He's cut some awesome promos for both companies in 2018, and whenever or wherever he pops up, he doesn't disappoint.
Honorable Mention:. The Miz, Kevin Owens, Cody Rhodes, Sami Zayn
Tag Team of the Year: The Young Bucks
I know they win this award every year and some people don't like them; but even if you are not a fan, it's hard to deny how successful Matt and Nick Jackson are. From becoming heavyweight tag team champions to anchoring the first non-WWE show to draw more than 10,000 fans to a U.S. arena in nearly two decades, The Young Bucks are having their best year to date.
Honorable Mention: The Usos, SANADA and EVIL, Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz, The New Day, Roppongi 3K
Women's Wrestler of the Year: Alexa Bliss
I'll have to set my subjective opinion aside here; as I don't particularly find Alexa Bliss entertaining. However, it cannot be denied that she has greatly succeed in WWE this year, emerging as the most popular full-time woman on the main roster, and has displayed excellent poise on the microphone. She gets a big reaction from the fans most of the time and has been cheered as well as booed out the building, depending on the audience and her actions. There are a lot better workers in wrestling right now, but Bliss has become very popular in WWE and has been in the title picture for the entire year so far.
Honorable Mention: Asuka, Momo Wantanabe, Io Shirai, Toni Storm, Meiko Satomura
Match of the Year: Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada at NJPW Dominion
I wrote all about this match a few weeks ago so I won't go over the details here. It's probably the best wrestling match I've ever seen and it seems impossible we will see a better one in 2018.
Honorable Mention: Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa at NXT TakeOver New Orleans, Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom, SoCal Uncensored vs The Young Bucks and Flip Gordon at ROH Supercard of Honor, Kzy vs Masaaki Mochizuki at DG Road to Kotoka Final