The third installment of the series takes a look at the 1992 Pro Wrestling Illustrated Awards. Find out who fans voted for and let us know if you’d vote differently!
1992 Rookie Of The Year: Erik Watts (12,958)
1st Runner-Up: Diamond Dallas Page (12,785)
2nd Runner-Up: Vladimir Koloff (4,124)
3rd Runner-Up: Chaz (2,893)
Despite not debuting until September, Erik Watts pulls through and wins the Rookie of the Year award. He had an upset victory over Bobby Eaton over the fall on Saturday Night, which may have gotten him some extra votes. During his three month run for the year, Watts also defeated Diamond Dallas Page several times on the house show market. Watts had an undefeated streak going for himself until he lost to WCW United States Champion Rick Rude in early November. Safe to say that Watts wouldn’t amount to much once his father left WCW in early 1993.
1992 Inspirational Wrestler Of The Year: Ron Simmons (18,762)
1st Runner-Up: The Undertaker (14,095)
2nd Runner-Up: Ricky Steamboat (12,917)
3rd Runner-Up: Eric Embry (6,012)
An understandable award winner here as Simmons became the first African American World Champion by defeating Big Van Vader in August of ’92. Simmons clearly inspired many african american children during his run as champion. His reign lasted until December when he lost the belt back to Vader. Nonetheless, the title reign inspired many kids, and that was evident by the increase in african american kids attending shows at the time.
Undertaker came in second thanks in large part to preventing Jake Roberts from hitting Elizabeth with a steel chair at the February 1992 Saturday Night’s Main Event. The once bad guy inspired others to do the right thing by preventing man on woman violence. Taker would beat Roberts at Mania and then proceed to feud with Berzerker and Kamala for the rest of the year.
1992 Most Improved Wrestler Of The Year: Razor Ramon (14,339)
1st Runner-Up: Ron Simmons (11,648)
2nd Runner-Up: Virgil (10,802)
3rd Runner-Up: Brian Christopher (7,654)
Realistically, nothing had really changed about Razor Ramon, who had been known as the Diamond Stud in WCW the previous year. Yes, the change of gimmick provided a spark, but his offense was virtually the same as it had been previously. Anyway, he certainly became a major player for the WWF by the end of the year when he started a feud with Savage and was able to carry himself well. I doubt he would have been able to stay afloat in the WWF a year prior.
He went from a tag team wrestler in February 1991 to becoming the WCW World Champion in August ’92. Simmons had a decent match with Lex Luger at Halloween Havoc ’91, so he was capable of having good matches. His in-ring style improved throughout ’92 and while his title reign was lackluster it was more due to not having quality opponents.
1992 Comeback Of The Year: The Ultimate Warrior (25,892)
1st Runner-Up: Bob Backlund (14,063)
2nd Runner-Up: The Sheik (6,710)
3rd Runner-Up: Junkyard Dog (5,725)
Obviously not even a close voting for this award. Warrior made his return at Mania in April after leaving the previous August. His run lasted until November when he left the WWF a second time, but his brief return was clearly liked by the voters.
1992 Manager Of The Year: Paul E. Dangerously (15,137)
1st Runner-Up: Curt Hennig (14,349)
2nd Runner-Up: Harley Race (12,814)
3rd Runner-Up: Jim Cornette (8,790)
The leader of the Dangerous Alliance terrorized WCW until the summer when the group lost a War Games match at Wrestle War to a team led by Sting. The Alliance would lose some steam, but Dangerously continued to manage WCW Television Champion Steve Austin towards the end of the year. His desire to take over the company didn’t end up working out so well, but his ability as a manager elevated several wrestlers and provided a spark to WCW at a time when they really needed one.
Hennig had been Ric Flair’s personal advisor for less than a year and he nearly won the Manager of the Year award. Hennig was right by Flair’s side as the Nature Boy won the WWF World Championship at the Royal Rumble and regained the belt in September after losing the title at Mania. By the end of the year, Hennig would be feuding with Flair, though.
1992 Feud Of The Year: The Moondogs vs. Jeff Jarrett & Jerry Lawler (15,147)
1st Runner-Up: Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (13,998)
2nd Runner-Up: Ultimate Warrior vs. Papa Shango (13,237)
3rd Runner-Up: Rick Rude vs. Ricky Steamboat (10.961)
Honestly, I don’t know much of the Moondogs vs. Jarrett & Lawler feud. I do know that it lasted quite some time and there was some brutal matches involving the two teams. It’s the only award that went to a company outside of WCW or WWF.
I’m kind of surprised that the Flair/Savage feud didn’t win this one. The feud was red hot early in ’92 and was able to last roughly nine months. Warrior/Shango wasn’t anywhere near the same level of interest or excitement was it was way too cartoony with Shango making Warrior puke with his curse and whatnot.
The Rude/Steamboat feud seems to be a forgotten about feud in WCW. Some of Steamboat’s best promo work came around the time these two were feuding. Obviously their matches throughout the year delivered great results as they had great chemistry together.
1992 Most Popular Wrestler Of The Year: Sting (16,874)
1st Runner-Up: Ultimate Warrior (16,357)
2nd Runner-Up: The Undertaker (14,234)
3rd Runner-Up: Ron Simmons (9,971)
The feud with Luger, followed by a lengthy feud with Rick Rude and the Dangerous Alliance propelled Sting to be the most popular wrestler for ’92. Sting had found his groove in ’92 as he had some great matches and memorable feuds. Oh, and don’t forget about the beginning of his feud with Vader and the infamous feud with Jake Roberts towards the end of the year.
Warrior comes in second place and may have won the award had he not been stuck in a midcard feud upon his return. Had Warrior been inserted into the championship scene and maybe won the belt, perhaps he would have gotten the few hundred votes to snatch the award away from his former tag partner. He may have lost some votes due to his departure as well.
Taker was certainly growing in popularity despite his lack of great matches. People love the character. Ron Simmons gets a respectable finish with his run as WCW World Champion for the last four months of the year.
1992 Most Hated Wrestler Of The Year: Rick Rude (17,002)
1st Runner-Up: Ric Flair (15,828)
2nd Runner-Up: Jake Roberts (13,235)
3rd Runner-Up: The Moondogs (8,901)
‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude never failed at getting an entire arena full of fans to despise him. Just as good as he was in the ring, he was equally good at riling fans up and generating great crowd heat during his feud with Sting and as the leader of the Dangerous Alliance. Rude was the WCW United States Champion for the entire year and that drove fans nuts. Their heroes weren’t able to beat Rude!
Flair claimed to have been involved with Macho Man’s wife Elizabeth before they got together and teased a risqué photo to be revealed at WrestleMania VIII. That never happened, but Flair got underneath everyone’s skin.
Roberts was similar to Flair with terrorizing Elizabeth early in ’92 before departing the WWF in the spring. By the summer, Roberts made his debut in WCW and quickly became a villain when he spiked Sting with a couple of DDTs leading to a feud between the two for several months.
1992 Match Of The Year: Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith (vote total not supplied)
1st Runner-Up: Brian Pillman vs. Jushin Liger (13,562)
2nd Runner-Up: Royal Rumble Match (13,093)
3rd Runner-Up: Ricky Steamboat vs. Rick Rude (11,816)
Is there any doubt about this one? Bret and Bulldog put on an incredible match in front of 80,000 fans at SummerSlam ’92. Liger/Pillman was a fun match, but it’s not close to the SummerSlam match in my estimation.
The Rumble Match is an all-time classic as well with an incredible roster and story of Ric Flair winning the gold to be the real worlds champion. And, the Rude/Steamboat matches provided some classic bouts with a ton of crowd heat. The match picked for this award was their Beach Blast encounter, though I enjoyed their Superbrawl II match more.
1992 Tag Team Of The Year: Terry Gordy & Steve Williams (17,081)
1st Runner-Up: The Natural Disasters (15,716)
2nd Runner-Up: Steiner Brothers (13,743)
3rd Runner-Up: Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes (11,020)
Their time as champions didn’t last a year, but that didn’t matter. Gordy and Dr. Death did enough in their short time as a tag team to be regarded as the best tag team for the entire year. They entered WCW and wasted no time winning the tag titles from the Steiner Brothers in July. After a near two month reign, they lost the belts to Windham and Rhodes, but their performances appeared to impress fans quite a bit.
The Natural Disasters started the year as heels, but when Jimmy Hart turned on them, Earthquake and Typhoon became the most popular big man tag team in the WWF. They chased after and won the WWF World Tag Team Championships from rival Money Inc. over the spring. They held the belts until October when they lost them back to Money Inc. I wouldn’t consider them a remarkable tag team and may have been voted a little high.
Rick and Scott continued to be a popular tag team in the 90s. They won the WCW World Tag Team Championships from the Dangerous Alliance in May, only to lose it to the team of Gordy and Williams in July. They were on the top of their game continually putting on good performances and could very well be considered the tag team of the year by many, including myself.
1992 Wrestler Of The Year: Ric Flair (18,238)
1st Runner-Up: Ron Simmons (14,469)
2nd Runner-Up: Rick Rude (13,867)
3rd Runner-Up: Bret Hart (11,103)
Winning the Rumble, proving to the world that he backed up what he spoke, causing Savage and Warrior to feud with each other and then winning the WWF World Championship for a second time in a eight month span caused fans who likely hated Flair to vote for him to be the Wrestler of the Year.
Simmons becoming the first African American World Champion played a part in his strong showing for the award. He didn’t have memorable matches during his run as champion, but the memorable moment of pinning Vader likely helped him get many votes.
A year plus reign as WCW United States Champion with victories over Ricky Steamboat and Sting brought Rick Rude to third place. 1992 may have been the best year for Rude when it came to all around performance. The WWF really missed the boat with Rick Rude.
Bret Hart had a stellar year and perhaps should have won the award if not been a close second place. Won the WWF Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania, put on an incredible main event match with the British Bulldog at SummerSlam, won his first WWF World Championship from Ric Flair in October and defeated WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels in a champion vs. champion match at Survivor Series. Hitman had a breakout year and may have been the wrestler of the year.
What are your memories of pro wrestling in 1992? Would you agree with the awards given out or would you have voted differently?
Leave your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.