Next up in the yearbook, the 1984 Observer Awards! You know we’re gonna hit 5 parts before we get through this thing, right?
Wrestler of the Year: Ric Flair, who ran away with the category over second-place Dynamite Kid. Dave’s take: If Hulk Hogan suddenly disappeared, whoever they replaced him with would do just as well at the gate, but if Flair disappeared, then the NWA would be screwed. I just can’t even with that one. This was the fifth year in a row that Flair won and eventually Dave just renamed the award for him.
Best Babyface: Hulk Hogan. Well DUH. Although Kerry Von Erich came very close, Dave went with Hulk in the voting because he was on more mainstream media and had better “theoretical” drawing power.
Best Heel: Rowdy Roddy Piper. Piper was #1 by a mile, although Michael Hayes in World Class was a definite contender, with Rick Rude a distant third. Rude really came into his own in Memphis that year as a heel, once they told him to go study the greatest heels in the world and copy everything.
Feud of the Year: Freebirds v. Von Erichs. Third year in a row for that one, although Dave voted for Ishingun v. Seikigun. He does concede that even though he was sick of Freebirds v. Von Erichs, all their six-man tags were great and the feud still drew at the box office.
Tag Team of the Year: The Road Warriors. This was a tough one for Dave to pick, with Brody & Hansen and the (future) British Bulldogs both making strong cases for themselves, but in the end the Warriors are the hottest act in years.
Most Improved: The Cobra. More notable is that third down the list is “the new Tiger Mask”, who came out of nowhere and is suddenly getting to be pretty great. Well that’s an understatement.
Most Impressive: Dynamite Kid. I don’t even know what this category means exactly, but Kid is certainly impressive around this time. Dave dropped this one pretty soon after.
Most Washed Up: Jimmy Snuka. Snuka was supposedly washed up in 1984? They haven’t even SEEN how washed up Snuka could be! For the record, Dave doesn’t agree with the vote here at all, either.
Most Obnoxious: Vince McMahon. Dave fully expects that Vince is going to kill his interest in wrestling, so he voted for him #1. He also expects Dusty to kill wrestling in the Carolinas, so he gets #2. Although in fact Dusty didn’t even place in this vote, so that tells you the kind of quality competition he was up against.
Best on Interviews: Jimmy Hart. Flair would have finished higher on Dave’s ballot, but he seems to be getting a bit burned out.
Most Charismatic: Ric Flair. Dave actually voted for Hogan, because he can do nothing and still get a crowd reaction. And yeah, Hogan had WAY more natural charisma than even Flair, and I don’t think anyone could argue that seriously.
Best Technical Wrestler: Dynamite Kid. Not much to add there.
Best Brawler: Bruiser Brody. The only guy who ever won the award, and he runs away with it again this year. This was another one where eventually the award was just named after him.
Most Agile Wrestler: Dynamite Kid. That’s a pretty specific award. I guess it’s kind of the precursor to the “Best Flyer” award that’s around today.
Strongest Wrestler: Butch Reed. I can see why a lot of these awards went away. Dave analyzes the difference in press slam technique between Reed and Animal, because of course he does.
Most Overrated: Big John Studd. Dave’s voting venom was reserved for his usual targets, Junkyard Dog and Mike Von Erich, but he concedes that Studd is pretty bad.
Most Underrated: Brian Blair. Dave notes that to the audience that the WWF is aiming for, those with no understanding of wrestling, a great wrestler will go over their heads anyway. Good to know.
Best Circuit: New Japan. Dave actually wanted to go with the UWF, but he’s pretty sure they’re not going to last through 1985.
Best TV Show: New Japan. I have no idea how Mid-South didn’t win this running away in 1984. It finished second, but GEEZ.
Match of the Year: Freebirds v. Von Erichs 7/4/84. Dave calls the street fight the best match in the US all year, although he saw a bunch of better Japanese ones. I should note that the Slaughter v. Sheik boot camp finished second and I actually would have guessed it would win.
Best Wrestling Maneuver: Kid & Smith’s one arm power clean and dropkick off the top ropes. Not even sure what that’s referring to, but the Bulldogs were always coming up with cool stuff.
Rookie of the Year: Tom Zenk/Keichi Yamada (tie). Yeah, I’d say Yamada won that one in the long run.
Best Worker: Ric Flair. Duh.
Biggest Shock: David Von Erich’s death. Black Saturday finished second and obviously from a historical perspective that one ended up as a much bigger shock and a bigger story to the industry as a whole.
Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic: Blackjack Mulligan’s fake heart attack. This was one of the many reasons why Dave hated Florida that year.
Best Announcer: Lance Russell. Solie had dominated up until now, but clearly his time as top announcer was nearing the end.
Best Manager: Jimmy Hart. How Jim Cornette could finish fourth in a year with his run in Mid-South, I have no idea.
Worst Wrestler: Ivan Putski.
Worst Tag team: Crusher & Baron.
Worst TV show: WWF. Come on now, it’s not like their syndicated show was any worse than the crap that Ole Anderson was pumping out at the time.
Worst Manager: Mr. Fuji. No argument there.
Worst Announcer: Angelo Mosca.
Worst Feud: Andre v. Studd. Everyone seems to think that Garvin v. Roberts should have won, a boring feud that ran month after month and never drew. At least Andre v. Studd made some money.
Worst on Interviews: Jimmy Snuka. Well he barely speaks English, so no wonder.
OK, finally tomorrow we’re back with PART FOUR as we start the tour of the territories!