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A Look Back At: The 1993 PWI Awards

94-03

Find out how wrestling fans voted for the 1993 Pro Wrestling Illustrated year end awards. Share your opinions, as well!

Vampire Warrior, better known as Gangrel, wins the 1993 Rookie Of The Year.

Vampire Warrior, better known as Gangrel, wins the 1993 Rookie Of The Year.

1993 Rookie Of The Year: Vampire Warrior (9,287)
1st Runner-Up: Robbie Eagle (8,556)
2nd Runner Up: The Coles (7,042)
3rd Runner Up: The Headhunters (6,107)

Vampire Warrior wins the award thanks to winning the USWA Heavyweight Championship and holding the belt for just over a month. He had a lengthy feud with Jeff Jarrett over the championship to really stand out from anyone else in the category. Robbie Eagle didn’t accomplish much of anything during the year mainly competing as a jobber for the SMW promotion.

Coles and the Headhunters wouldn’t last long in the US wrestling scene. Some other names that got some votes were Bobby Duncum Jr., John Hawk, Ice Train, Quebecer Pierre and PJ Walker.

1993 Inspirational Wrestler Of The Year: Cactus Jack (16,146)
1st Runner-Up: Lex Luger (15,857)
2nd Runner-Up: The Kid (15,019)
3rd Runner-Up: Brutus Beefcake (13,331)

He had a few brutal matches with WCW World Champion Big Van Vader and was power bombed on the concrete floor causing amnesia, but Cactus Jack clearly inspired fans all around the world when he returned by the fall and nearly won the WCW World Championship at Halloween Havoc when he and Vader beat the crap out of each other in a Texas Death Match. Clearly, a lot of fans looked up to the toughness that Cactus had.

Luger was a self-absorbed asshole for the first half of the year, but he changed his ways and was all about the USA and trying to wrestle the WWF World Championship away from Yokozuna. Luger became a second version of Hulk Hogan. At first, fans seemed to be behind Luger and his quest, but soon the fanfare would drift off. Had Luger managed to win the WWF World Championship, maybe the Lex Express would have another trophy.

Kid quickly shot to fame with an upset win over Razor Ramon on RAW. The undersized wrestler was surely an inspiration to kids who didn’t think they’d be able to defeat larger guys with Kid being their inspiration. Beefcake got a respectable showing considering he shattered his face in 1990 and had a brief return with Hulk Hogan to wrestle Money Inc.

Yokozuna in action against Randy Savage.

Yokozuna in action against Randy Savage.

1993 Most Improved Wrestler Of The Year: Yokozuna (21,056)
1st Runner-Up: The Kid (12,518)
2nd Runner-Up: Brian Lee (10,187)
3rd Runner-Up: Tatanka (7,796)

An underrated big man got some recognition for his year that saw two reigns as WWF World Champion, which included a victory over Hulk Hogan in June. Yoko was able to have good matches with Bret Hart on the house show scene and moved very well for a guy his size. Yoko winning the award for a stellar 1993 is the right call.

I’m not sure how much Kid improved when he went to the WWF because he wrestled a similar style he had been using on the independents. If anything, his style was tamed quite a bit in comparison. His exposure to a national crowd and his improvement against the WWF level talent likely helped his votes.

Brian Lee and Tatanka round out the award voting. Lee adapted well to being the top heel in SMW and had some entertaining brawls with Dirty White Boy during the course of the year. Lee regained the SMW Heavyweight Championship with manager Tammy Fytch. Tatanka seemingly improved drastically in-ring in comparison to his run in 1992. Tatanka worked well with various opponents and didn’t suffer his first loss until October of the year. His improvement would be cancelled out by his heel turn in 1994.

Lex Luger wins the Comeback Of The Year.

Lex Luger wins the Comeback Of The Year.

1993 Comeback Of The Year: Lex Luger (20,119)
1st Runner-Up: Brutus Beefcake (13,761)
2nd Runner-Up: Ric Flair (11,952)
3rd Runner-Up: Paul Roma (8,029)

After being out for eleven months and competing in the failed WBF, Luger returned to the wrestling ring and successfully competed against the likes of Lex Luger, Tatanka, Bret Hart, and Yokozuna during the year. Luger went from out of the spotlight to one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWF marking an impressive comeback campaign.

As mentioned before, Beefcake returned to the ring after shattering his face in 1990. Brutus was only in the WWF for a few months before departing along with Hogan, which may have limited his votes. Flair’s comeback was for his return to WCW after year long run in the WWF. Flair regained the WCW International Championship from Barry Windham and after losing the belt to Rick Rude in September, won the WCW World Championship in December defeating Big Van Vader.

1993 Manager Of The Year: Jim Cornette (16,659)
1st Runner-Up: Harley Race (15,741)
2nd Runner-Up: Mr. Fuji (10,124)
3rd Runner-Up: Tammy Fytch (7,982)

Cornette dominated the SMW tag team division with the Heavenly Bodies as the team regularly held the SMW Tag Team Championships. Oh, and Cornette was the advisor for the WWF World Champion Yokozuna. A highly successful year for Cornette who continually manages wrestlers to championships.

Race and Fuji had very good years as well. Race managed Vader to being the WCW World Champion for 95% of the year. With Race by his side, Vader defended the belt against the likes of Sting, Bulldog, Cactus Jack, Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair during the year. Mr. Fuji managed Yokozuna but was far less vocal and memorable than Jim Cornette.

It didn’t take long for Tammy Fytch to lead Brian Lee to the SMW Heavyweight Championship. Fytch being recognized as a legitimate manager would be a trend for the next several years.

Rick Rude tried to finish off Dustin Rhodes in the match and the feud, but failed.

Rick Rude tried to finish off Dustin Rhodes in the match and the feud, but failed.

1993 Feud Of The Year: Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler (22,006)
1st Runner-Up: Rick Rude vs. Dustin Rhodes (14,943)
2nd Runner-Up: Cactus Jack vs. Big Van Vader (12,576)
3rd Runner-Up: Tony Anthony vs. Tracy Smothers (11,019)

By far the most personal feud of the year ran away with category. Lawler broke out as a top heel for the company and carried himself very well on the microphone to generate heel heat. Bret Hart was so loved by the fans that it made for a memorable feud that would carry on for nearly three years off and on. The early stages of the feud were the best hands down.

Rude and Rhodes had several battles throughout 1993 over the WCW United States Championship. Their feud included a best of three matches due to their controversial endings for several championship matches. They had a 30-minute Ironman match at Beach Blast that ended in a draw. However, in August Dustin would win the feud and the WCW United States Championship. They had several fun matches throughout couple of month feud with Rude carrying the mic work very well.

The Jack/Vader feud was a main focal point for WCW despite Cactus being out of action for a handful of months to sell the amnesia angle. Their wild brawl at Halloween Havoc remains one of my personal favorite WCW matches.

Tony Anthony, better known as the Dirty White Boy, decided to abandon his Tennessee hometown and adopted New York City as his new hometown. That made Tracy Smothers step in, who was also from Tennessee and they embarked on a violent feud over the SMW Heavyweight Championship. By the end of the year, they actually became friends.

1993 Most Popular Wrestler Of The Year: Lex Luger (16,748)
1st Runner-Up: Sting (15,942)
2nd Runner-Up: Bret Hart (15,189)
3rd Runner-Up: Dustin Rhodes (7,796)

Lex Express had enough steam to dethrone Sting and be voted the Most Popular Wrestler for the year 1993. His mission to win the WWF World Champion Yokozuna won fans over and they supported him by voting for him. The popularity would dwindle, but he reached a peak in 1993 with the Lex Express movement.

Sting may not have been involved in the top angles being surpassed by Davey Boy Smith, but Sting remained strong with the fanbase. Hell, Davey Boy Smith was barely in the “votes for others” section. Sting had a brief reign with the WCW World Championship in March, and feuded with the likes of Sid and the Nasty Boys towards the end of the year.

Bret Hart was always popular during his WWF run and that remained the case here as well. Sure, he lost the WWF World Championship, but his performances didn’t suffer. Just check out the 1993 King of the Ring and watch excellence at its finest. His feud with Jerry Lawler kept him fresh and in a very important undercard feud.

Dustin Rhodes got a respectable showing as he appeared to be winning over WCW fans. Dustin’s hardworking attitude and brawling nature was a popular combination. His feud with Rick Rude helped add creditability and winning the feud made him a breakout candidate for 1994.

1993 Most Hated Wrestler Of The Year: Jerry Lawler (14,295)
1st Runner-Up: Big Van Vader (13,761)
2nd Runner-Up: Yokozuna (12,968)
3rd Runner-Up: Shawn Michaels (12,231)

Lawler constant bashing on Bret Hart and the Hart Family makes him winning the award a non-shocker. Lawler made an impact when he attacked Bret when he won the KOTR. Lawler would follow up with insults directed at Bret’s mother Helen and father Stu. Of course, fans would not endorse the berating of their favorite superstars parents. Lawler was the king at getting boos.

Vader continued to be a dominating champion and took Cactus Jack out of action for nearly half the year. While the guy was certainly at the top of his game, the fans didn’t have to like it and that was made apparent every night he wrestled.

Yokozuna being the WWF World Champion and anti-USA makes his placement understandable. He is the guy who also took Jim Duggan out of action leaving him bloody in the ring following several Bonzai Drops. Not a very likable guy to say the least. Shawn Michaels continued to have a cocky attitude but he backed it up by managing to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship. I’m sure very few women voted for him in this category.

Marty Jannetty vs. Shawn Michaels wins the match of the year.

Marty Jannetty vs. Shawn Michaels wins the match of the year.

1993 Match Of The Year: Marty Jannetty vs. Shawn Michaels (13,146)
1st Runner-Up: Steiner Brothers vs. The Heavenly Bodies (11,014)
2nd Runner-Up: Rick Rude vs. Dustin Rhodes (9,827)
3rd Runner-Up: Cactus Jack vs. Big Van Vader (7,654)

A great match to be chosen as the Match of the Year. They had another really good match back in May, which is often judged along with this match that happened in July. Regardless, I enjoyed the feud between Jannetty and Michaels throughout 1993 and they were always the bright spots on the house show circuit during 1993.

I’m rather confused by the Steiner/Heavenly match being voted second. The match is average at best and not at all memorable enough to be in the discussion of match of the year. Those Michigan fans must have been coming out in big numbers to try and have the Steiner’s win the award.

Rude and Rhodes had some really fun television matches that had action packed into it, and the match that gets voted here is the Beach Blast Ironman match. Yeah, it’s a pay per view match to essentially blow off the feud, but match ended in a draw and their feud wouldn’t end until the following month. One of their television matches should have gotten some love here instead.

1993 Tag Team Of The Year: The Steiner Brothers (11,751)
1st Runner-Up: The Hollywood Blonds (11,148)
2nd Runner-Up: Money Inc. (10,529)
3rd Runner-Up: The Heavenly Bodies (6,943)

Rick and Scott continued to be a dominate tag team in professional wrestling. They jumped to the WWF where they went through the competition of the Beverly Brothers, The Headshrinkers and soon enough wrestled the WWF World Tag Team Championships away from Money Inc. Sure, they lost the belts to The Quebecers in September, but the Steiner Brothers had a respectable year.

Steve Austin and Brian Pillman formed the Hollywood Blonds and quickly became the most hated and yet popular act in WCW. They had some good matches against Steamboat/Douglas and a feud with Flair/Anderson that saw a 2/3 falls match at Clash of the Champions in June. They’d continue their feud with the Horsemen leading to dropping the titles by the fall and they’d soon split up. The Blonds are one tag team that many fans wish they had a longer run, myself included.

Vader_Race93

1993 Wrestler Of The Year: Big Van Vader (17,948)
1st Runner-Up: Bret Hart (16,856)
2nd Runner-Up: Shawn Michaels (12,143)
3rd Runner-Up: Yokozuna (11,719)

Defeating Sting, Davey Boy Smith, Cactus Jack, Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes throughout the year propels Vader to be voted as the wrestler of the year. Vader was still at the prime of his career putting on memorable performances against Sting at Superbrawl in a strap match and his brutal war with Cactus at Halloween Havoc.

Bret Hart comes in second place, but may have been the wrestler of the year purely for his in-ring ability throughout the year. Wrestling newcomer Razor Ramon to two good matches, his King of the Ring performance against three different talents, and his constant title matches with Yokozuna to go along with his feud with Jerry Lawler. I can see the argument for Bret Hart to have been the Wrestler of the Year.

What are your thoughts on the 1993 PWI Awards? Would you have voted any differently? Leave your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading.

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