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#20 - Davey Richards
"The American Wolf" Davey Richards went into 2012 having been the ROH World Heavyweight Champion for six months; he continued that reign until May, where he dropped the belt to Kevin Steen. His Showdown in the Sun masterpiece with Michael Elgin was enough on its own to grant him a spot on this list. Major props for continuing his feud with then-former (now current?) tag team partner Eddie Edwards, while simultaneously taking up-and-comers Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly to the next level; Cole actualy pinned the Champ in their encounter. Both his matches with Kevin Steen were show-stealers, and that's the bottom line with Davey Richards: he's one of the best professional wrestlers on the planet.
#19 - Eve Torres
Wrestling fans are pretty constantly down on women's wrestling, but 2012 has been a pretty interesting year for the Divas of the world. Eve turned heel for the first time this year, involving herself in the main event picture between John Cena and Kane; Zack Ryder was there too. She then brought some positive mainstream exposure to WrestleMania, by teaming up against Kelly Kelly and Extra's Maria Menounos. If that weren't enough, she cost Team Teddy their match later on in the night, and would eventually align herself with John Laurinaitis, becoming the Executive Administrator of Raw and Smackdown. As if that power play wasn't enough, after Johnny Ace gave up his on-screen role, Eve became assistant to the Smackdown general manager, Booker T.
One of the primary reasons fans are frustrated with women's wrestling, is the lack of storyline in the Diva's division. If all the aforementioned material wasn't enough evidence to the contrary, Eve would hire a hitman (or...hitwoman, as it were) to take out Kaitlyn before her Championship match; she won the belt herself moments later. And there she sits as 2012 fades into a new year, as the only 3-time WWE Divas Champion in history.
#18 - Kofi Kingston
I asked this question when discusses Alberto del Rio as well, but when was the last time Kofi Kingston had a truly bad match? This is a guy who is given nothing to work with on a frequent basis, and ends up stealing the show nine times out of ten. From his Royal Rumble handstand, to his Morrison-like performance in the Elimination Chamber, Kingston has got to be one of the most entertaining performers in the business today. And it's not just the frequent moments of shock and awe; he's a damn fine professional wrestler.
After Evan Bourne ruined Air Boom's chances of tag team consistency with an ill-time wellness violation, WWE stuck Kingston with R-Truth and attempted to make it work. The two got on fine, and made decent champions. The problem was, there wasn't ever any legitimate competition; they could have been the second coming of Edge & Christian, and it wouldn't have mattered. What's ironic is, after they dropped the belts, WWE finally kicked their tag team division into overdrive, and sent Kofi back to singles competition. That being said, it was the right move. Kingston made a great Intercontinental Champion, as he always has, and it's a shame he won't be ending 2012 with the belt around his waist.
#17 - Big Show
The World's Largest Athlete gets a lot of hate from wrestling fans, but it really can't be said enough how impressive it is that a man his size does the thing's Big Show is capable of. After an intentionally bad start to 2012, losing the World Heavyweight Championship to Daniel Bryan immediately after winning the thing, he bounced back with a win over Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania. There's still a lot of talk over whether or not that was a good idea, given how hot Rhodes' title streak had been up to that point; to that issue I say, all streaks were meant to be broken.
Another controversial subject, I personally feel aligning with John Laurinaitis was the best thing for his character. Big Show as a comedy face doesn't work. He's a 500-pound giant that needs to be ripping people apart, not telling jokes and losing to cruiserweights. His angry path of destruction through WWE's talent pool was awesome, culminating with a KO Punch to the Chairman himself, Vince McMahon. After Johnny Ace left, and Show left the WWE Championship picture, he went into hiding for several weeks. Upon returning, he captured the World Heavyweight title from Sheamus in one of the best matches of the year, and has held it since. As I've already said, he's a much better heel than he is one of the good guys, and this title run has marked some of his best material in years.
#16 - Abyss / Joseph Park
I've always enjoyed the Abyss character, and I think he brigns a lot to the table with TNA. However, after half a dozen heel/face turns, and an alignment with just about everyone in the Impact main event picture, it's safe to say many fans were burnt out by trying to follow his motivations. Thankfully, the creative minds at TNA figured that out too! After a solid showing against Immortal, defeating Bully Ray in a Monster's Ball match, Abyss was "taken out" by Bully and vanished from the company.
I would have been happy with a little bit of a break from Abyss, but TNA had bigger plans: enter Joseph Park, a lawyer from Chicago, claiming to be the monster's baby brother. On paper, this idea sounds awful. Truly dreadful. But it turns out Chris Parks the wrestler had a few more sides to his character than we were aware. I can't praise his work as Mr. Joseph Park, Esq. enough; there are just not enough words to do it justice. I also can't imagine how difficult it must be, as an established professional wrestler, to pretend to have no idea what you're doing in the ring. And with how clever his promos have been - most recently with his OVW video training packages - I'm almost hoping TNA sticks with Park rather than having him return to the Abyss character. The moment is coming though; Lord knows they've teased it enough to make it screamingly obvious. For the sake of my interest in Abyss/Park, I just hope he can continue to adapt and surprise us!