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Top 50 Wrestlers of 2012
#50 - Zack Ryder
Following Survivor Series 2011, the ultimate "Broski" was flying high after an unparalleled reaction from a hot Madison Square Garden crowd; a pop that would take him into his very first singles Championship reign just a month later at TLC.
I'm not a big Zack Ryder fan. I don't enjoy his gimmick, and I don't particularly find his hit YouTube show entertaining. However, it's a damn shame that WWE (predictably) pulled the plug on the Ryder Revolution just as soon as it got off the ground. He would ultimately be fed to Kane, after being humiliated by Eve, all in the name of getting John Cena along the Road to WrestleMania. Not to put myself over or anything, but I called the angle from the minute he won the US title in December.
As I said, I'm not the man's biggest fan or anything, but even I was frustrated with WWE for taking a fresh face (not to mention, potential money train) and sacrificing him to the lawful-good-overlord. He makes the list, putting him above the dozens that didn't quite make the cut, but only just.
#49 - Zema Ion
There are those that will want to crucify me for saying this (here's looking at you, IDR), but I like Zema Ion. I get it - the kid is easy as all hell to hate, but that's part of the appeal for me. At just 26-years-old, Zema (real name: Michael Paris) has put in the work and paid his dues, wrestling in the US and Mexico for ten years. He's more than a capable worker, although like many I could do with a little variation in his gimmick; having the hairspray involved in every decision is a bit much.
Zema has made a pretty decent dent in the TNA mid-card, stepping up to lead the X-Division plate after Austin Aries was moved to the World Championship picture with his victory over Bobby Roode. Ultimately that gave haters even more fuel to their already burning fire; I wouldn't have given anybody a snowball's chance in hell of following up Aries' legendary X-Division reign. Zema managed to solidify his own character on Impact, and if his title run wasn't memorable, point the blame at TNA for failing to give him any competition.
#48 - Crimson
This big man has been notably absent from the TNA landscape for the past several months, having been shipped back to OVW. While there he managed to win the Heavyweight title, before dropping it to Rob Terry earlier this month, but that's hardly the reason we're talking about him here. Crimson came into 2012 with his undefeated streak still on the table, teaming up with fellow big man, Matt Morgan. The duo even won TNA's Tag Team Championship belts and had a decent feud with Magnus and Samoa Joe. The short union was an obvious set-up to a much bigger feud between two of TNA's biggest stars (literally speaking). Unfortunately, their inevitable Steel Cage collision wasn't well-received. Still, Crimson left his mark on the early part of 2012, and earned a spot on this year's list.
#47 - Heath Slater
That's right! He's the One Man Baaaaand, babaaay!
Heath Slater isn't normally a name I'd associate with major success in the WWE. Following a well-placed Wendy's joke from John Cena, Slater became the comedy figure of the almighty Nexus. His tag team with Justin Gabriel wasn't all that effective, and The Corre was just one train wreck after another. Still, you have to admire this guy's persistence to always show up, continuing to roll with the punches.
Let's be honest: Heath Slater looks a bit goofy. Pasty white skin and bright red hair don't mix well in a wrestling ring; Sheamus makes it work because he's a 270-pound monster. But the WWE is one of the few work environments that can actually reward the strange, if packaged correctly. And for a few months in 2012, Slater found his groove! Somebody backstage - who knows, maybe it was Heath himself? - must have realized how much the crowd loves watching this cocky heel get his stuffing torn out, because he was subjected to the beating of a dozen WWE Legends leading up to the big Raw 1,000 spectacular. And I'm not ashamed to say that for almost two months, Heath Slater was a big reason I was excited to tune into Raw each week; "which legend would return to beat him next?" we all thought.
I'm not yet sure what WWE hopes to accomplish with 3MB. They're lame, but I think that's the desired effect. Three under-card workers pretending to be rock stars, hoping they can draw just enough heat to build relevance. And you know, it may very well work in the end. Heath Slater is good, McIntyre is great, and Jinder is passable enough to complete the ensemble. But for now, this "award" goes out, not to 3MB, but to the one and only, One Man Band.
Slater's Gonna Slate.
#46 - Sin Cara
Injury and an unexpectedly challenging transition into WWE's style of professional wrestling has held back Sin Cara since his arrival in the company. It's unfortunate, because after watching some of his performances in Mexico, I can say with some certainty that the guy is good. Real good.
After a disappointing 2011, it's refreshing to see Sin Cara making some marked improvement week after week. Consistently working with Rey Mysterio seems to be upping his game, and there have been far fewer missed spots in recent months (much to the chagrin of Botchamania). He still can't talk, but then again, Rey never needed mic skills. What matters is that Sin Cara is no longer the brunt of harsh internet mockery, and has actually been involved in some pretty decent material. A short feud with Cody Rhodes upon a return from injury transitioned into a rivalry that is still brewing to this day against Team Rhodes Scholars.