At this point all the webpolls for the Southern California year end awards should be closed, and hopefully all the ballots are in (this column was actually written on January 4th). With the awards to be announced next week, I wanted to make my ballot public and discuss why I voted how I did.
The voting for our year end awards takes part in two phases; a webpoll that accounts for 35% of the vote, and ballots that are sent out to select people that make up the other 65% of the total. On each ballot people are asked to pick a first, second, and third place in each category.
Here’s how my ballot looked, and why I voted how I did.
Southern California Wrestler of the Year
- B-Boy – I thought B-Boy had another fantastic year, with tons of great matches across Southern California. His work in FCW however is what put him over the top and made him number one in my mind. His reign as FCW champion really added credibility to the FCW title and really helped FCW join the top tier of Southern California promotions. If you take B-Boy out of FCW, I think the promotion would be drastically different in 2016. His feud with Douglas James really helped to elevate Douglas James from a really good rookie to a top of the card champion in the promotion as well. I don’t think any of the other nominees on the list elevated a promotion in the way B-Boy did. Outside of FCW he wrestled almost everywhere and had countless good matches.
- Tyler Bateman – Tyler Bateman had a fantastic year. He is the best kept secret in indy wrestling. He had a ton of great matches and won championships in several promotions including CWFH, SBWA, and AWS.
- Jeff Cobb – He was one of the top guys in Lucha Underground and has worked for PCW, FCW, and PWG in 2016 among others. He had a lot of really good matches. He was probably the front runner early in the year, but with his success he became really in demand and worked less in the area.
Southern California Women’s Wrestler of the Year
- Thunder Rosa – I thought Thunder Rosa had really good matches in 2016 and as the year went on she kept getting better. Her match against Taya at Sabotage was my second favorite women’s match in Southern California last year (Sasha Banks and Charlotte in WWE was my favorite). She won a few titles, including the Vendetta Pro tag-team titles with Holidead. She also had a pretty good year in Lucha Underground as Kobra Moon.
- Sage Sin – Sage Sin was a lot of fun to watch in 2016 and normally had some pretty good matches (when she wasn’t wrestling Lady Lee). She also won a few titles including Cen-Cal Pro’s Five Cities title and is the first Baja Stars women’s champion. Sage also showed a lot of range, working American, lucha, and doing deathmatches.
- Ruby Raze -I thought Raze had a lot of good matches with a wide variety of opponents. Her addition to CWFH really has helped to establish a women’s division there. Outside the ring she has also done a ton to help promote and improve women’s wrestling in Southern California.
Southern California Promotion of the Year
- EWF – This will probably be the most surprising pick on my ballot. I think EWF is really in boom period right now with a lot of good young wrestlers coming up at the same time and a nice mix of good veterans. For promotions that exist largely to support wrestling schools, that can be huge swings in quality from time to time. When I think about the history of EWF I think the best period is that late 90s to early 2000s period prior to the split with Bill Anderson when you’d go to EWF and see people like Rocky Romero, Frankie Kazarian, Chris Daniels, Keji Sakoda, Mikey Henderson, Eddie Williams etc. I think right now the talent level in EWF is better than it was back then. EWF has had good booking in 2016 and very interesting storylines, from the Man in Black to the current stuff with H.A.T.E they have done such a fantastic job. They also probably ran at least four times as much as any other promotion.
- PWG -PWG has the best wrestling in North America. No one in Southern California comes close to their level. They sell out tickets in minutes and have such a great atmosphere at the shows. The only reason I didn’t have them number one is they just didn’t run that many shows in total and would go months without a show.
- FCW – I thought FCW really established themselves as a top tier promotion in the first half of 2016, before running into some troubles. Even after the issues they had, they came back really strong to end the year.
Paul T. Memorial Award for the Most Outstanding Wrestler
- B-Boy – B-Boy had a ton of great matches against a wide variety of opponents. What really made him number one to me was how he was able to really bring out the best in his opponents and really bring people up to his level.
- Scorpio Sky – Every time I saw Scorpio Sky he was having a good match, it didn’t matter if he was under a mask and working a comedy match at Lucha VaVoom. He had a fantastic year in terms of match quality.
- Chris Hero – I think Chris Hero is one of the best wrestlers in the world for 2016, and he’d have been an easy number one for me had he wrestled more in Southern California.
Southern California Tag-Team of the Year
- “Uptown” Andy Brown & Adrian Quest – They held the EWF and SoCal Pro tag titles and wrestled throughout Southern California. They probably wrestled more promotions as a tag-team than anyone. They had good matches all year, but as the year was coming to an end their matches in AWS and FCW really put them over the top for me.
- Superboy Jr. & Principe Indu Jr. – These guys were great to watch on any lucha show they were on. They were able to generate so much heat I thought a riot was going to break out at a Baja Stars show. Really good in the ring as well.
- H.A.T.E (Rico Dynamite & Che Cabrera) – The whole H.A.T.E thing has been one of the most fun things to see in Southern California this year. If the awards had the Freebird rule I think they’d run away with the award. I voted for this version of H.A.T.E based on their work in EWF and Baja Stars.
Southern California Rookie of the Year
- Brody King – When you watch Brody King wrestle you wouldn’t even know he is a rookie. He reminds me a lot of Samoa Joe at the same point in how good he is for his experience level.
- Heather Monroe – I thought Heather started getting really good as the year went on. Her matches were a lot of fun. She’s going to be really good.
- Super Beetle – Another wrestler that was really fun to watch. Already really crisp in a lot of his movements. I can see him having a real breakout year in EWF.
Southern California Match of the Year
- Ricochet, Will Ospreay, & Matt Sydal over The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) & Adam Cole – PWG – Sept. 3 – This was the best match I have ever seen in Southern California. Easy number one.
- Pentagon Jr. & Fenix over Chris Hero & Tommy End – PWG – Sept. 3 – After this match I remember thinking “well, I doubt I’ll see anything better than that this year” then 3 matches later the match I listed number one happened. Still this was an excellent match.
- Douglas James over B-Boy – FCW – November 5 – This was another really good match and it told a fantastic story. It was even better if you saw the first meeting between the two and how they played off the first match.
Like I mentioned, this is just how I voted. I have no idea how others will vote, but it should be interesting.
2016 was a really good year for wrestling in Southern California. Aside from IWL we didn’t really lose any big promotions, plus PCW started up and has put on really strong shows and AWS came back and has been excellent. The San Diego wrestling scene has been super hot with FCW picking it up and Baja Stars starting up last year. There are promotions running regularly in almost every county in Southern California too, so if you are a wrestling fan you don’t have far to go to check out wrestling. Even Imperial County has two promotions running regularly.
The 2016 Southern California Year End Awards will be announced on January 24th.