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A Look Back At: The 1995 PWI Awards

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How did the readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated vote for the 1995 PWI Awards? Find out!

1995 Rookie Of The Year:Alex Wright (26,192)
1st Runner Up: Sgt. Craig Pittman (15,219)
2nd Runner Up: Lawrence Taylor (12,995)
3rd Runner Up: Madd Maxine (5,230)

A weak class for the award in 1995 as Alex Wright was by far the best option in this category. Had Lawrence Taylor wrestled more than one match, he may have managed to get to second place. Despite his heavy push upon his arrival in March, the Renegade was regulated to just the honorable mention section.

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1995 Inspirational Wrestler Of The Year: Barry Horowitz (22,361)
1st Runner Up: Sabu (16,126)
2nd Runner Up: Antonio Inoki (14,237)
3rd Runner Up: Dan Severn (12,109)

For most of his career Barry Horowitz was just an enhancement talent putting over other wrestlers. However, during the summer of 1995 Barry managed to pickup victories over mainly Skip. The angle got some traction and Barry rode it until the end of the year when his momentum fizzled.

Sabu may have been a more suitable option here as in 1995 the guy was destroying his body and continued to wrestle. He broke his neck against Chris Benoit but returned to action two weeks later. Antonio Inoki was 52-years old but still worked a main event with Ric Flair in North Korea in front of 190,000 fans. That is pretty impressive for an old man.

1995 Most Improved Wrestler Of The Year: Diamond Dallas Page (21,919)
1st Runner Up: Tommy Dreamer (14,910)
2nd Runner Up: Harlem Heat (12,613)
3rd Runner Up: Savio Vega (9,983)

Page wins this one pretty easily, though I don’t recall anything in 1995 that he did to warrant the award. He didn’t exactly work with memorable names to be seen as an improved wrestler, in my opinion. I think Dreamer may have been a better option just because of his matches with Raven and his ability to take an insane amount of violence in ECW. Harlem Heat is another good option as they didn’t much in 1994 but come 1995 they found their groove as a tag team and worked some fine matches with the Nasty Boys. Savio Vega is another guy that I could see win the award as he previously wrestled as Kwang but he connected quickly with the fans and had some fun TV matches during the last eight months of the year.

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1995 Comeback Of The Year: Randy Savage (20,036)
1st Runner Up: The Heavenly Bodies (9,863)
2nd Runner Up: Savio Vega (7,931)
3rd Runner Up: The Ultimate Warrior (5,784)

Not even close with the Macho Man being the clear cut winner for the comeback award. Savage was one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWF despite being an announcer for most of the year. So, when he returned to wrestling in WCW fans loved every minute of it and Savage proved that he had a lot more to offer in a wrestling ring.

Warrior had one match against the Honky Tonk Man and nearly got 6,000 votes. That’s rather interesting that he had that much popularity still.

1995 Manager Of The Year: Jim Cornette (25,762)
1st Runner Up: Sherri Martel (12,910)
2nd Runner Up: Col. Robert Parker (10,974)
3rd Runner Up: Woman (7,203)

Cornette led Yokozuna and Owen Hart to the WWF World Tag Team Championships in April and caused Davey Boy Smith to turn heel in an attempt to win the WWF World Championship in the spring. Cornette continued to lead people to championships in SMW while leading a group of wrestlers of Tommy Rich, Terry Gordy the Punisher. Jim led the Heavenly Bodies to the SMW Tag Team Championships during the year, as well.

Sherri Martel did great things for Harlem Heat as Booker T and Stevie Ray were either holding the tag titles or were the number one contenders during the entire year. She gave them creditability and helped mold them into stars for WCW.

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1995 Feud Of The Year: Axl Rotten vs. Ian Rotten (16,203)
1st Runner Up: Harlem Heat vs. Nasty Boys (15,419)
2nd Runner Up: Jeff Jarrett vs. Razor Ramon (13,281)
3rd Runner Up: Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (10,301)

This one surprises me greatly. Yeah, they had some brutal matches including matches that saw glass taped to their fists and they’d beat the crap out of each other, but of all the feuds Axl and Ian Rotten wins this award. When I think of feuds in 1995, I think of Hogan vs. Vader or Diesel vs. Sid. Sure, those feuds aren’t exactly amazing in-ring but they were at least on a national stage.

Harlem Heat/Nasty Boys feud wasn’t all that great either as it was only good when the Nasty Boys were on the chase for the tag team titles. Jarrett/Ramon had some good matches both on television and on the house show market. Seeing that Flair/Savage was so low on the list is surprising of all. They found the spark to their WWF feud in 1992 and continued it without missing a beat.

1995 Most Popular Wrestler Of The Year: Shawn Michaels (27,783)
1st Runner Up: Sting (17,728)
2nd Runner Up: Diesel (13,450)
3rd Runner Up: Hulk Hogan (11,831)

Hulkamania continues to free fall as the act of Hulk Hogan is wearing thin. This would be last year he would be in this category for several years. Shawn Michaels instantly rose up the ranks as a good guy following WrestleMania XI and his eventual feud with Sid. It also helped that Michaels was putting on great matches and connected with the fans in the ring. Sting, despite being put as the third baby face of importance, got nearly 6,000 more votes than Hogan. That may be because Sting was a WCW guy through and through. Diesel gets third place despite being a dominating champion and a champion for the fans of the WWF. Might prove his inability to connect with the fans.

1995 Most Hated Wrestler Of The Year: Jerry Lawler (18,903)
1st Runner Up: Kevin Sullivan (15,812)
2nd Runner Up: The Gangstas (12,892)
3rd Runner Up: Davey Boy Smith (10,503)

Yet again, Jerry Lawler is voted the most hated man in wrestling by the PWI fans. For most of the year Lawler continued to feud with Bret Hart and even brought in an evil dentist to go to combat against the Hitman. Lawler would always get a few insults to various wrestlers on commentary as well.

Kevin Sullivan had a strong showing as he lead the Dungeon of Doom as they attempted to end Hulk Hogan and Hulkamania. While it would be a failed attempt, Sullivan would not give up on the attempt of destructing Hogan with various wrestlers from Hogan’s past. Also the group was rather creepy and Sullivan was a lunatic.

Davey Boy Smith got a late surge due to his heel turn on Diesel just before SummerSlam. The Gangstas were causing issues in Smoky Mountain and in Extreme Championship Wrestling.

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1995 Match Of The Year: Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels (16,710)
1st Runner Up: Jeff Jarrett vs. Shawn Michaels (15,831)
2nd Runner Up: Harlem Heat vs. Nasty Boys (13,798)
3rd Runner Up: Psicosis vs. Rey Mistero Jr. (6,620)

Not much of a real shock here as Diesel and Michaels put on a classic match despite 1995 being a year that didn’t have an overwhelming amount of great matches in North America. The match made Michaels a singles star and provided Diesel with a credible victory early into his title reign. It was the lone bright spot of WrestleMania XI.

Michaels worked a great match with WWF Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett at the July In Your House as it would be Jarrett’s last match until January of 1996. It’s sometimes forgotten how good of a match these two worked at the time and it still holds up pretty well.

I’d imagine the Nasty Boys/Harlem Heat match from Slamboree was voted because it was when the Nasty Boys finally won the WCW World Tag Team Championships from their rivals. Aside from that, it’s hardly anything to brag about. The match between Psicosis and Rey Mistero Jr. was a match that nobody had ever seen in the US and was revolutionary to what we see today.

1995 Tag Team Of The Year: Harlem Heat (22,863)
1st Runner Up: The Smoking Gunns (15,302)
2nd Runner Up: Owen Hart & Yokozuna (13,283)
3rd Runner Up: Steiner Brothers (10,021)

The rise of Booker T and Stevie Ray was rewarded with the PWI Tag Team of the Year and I can’t exactly disagree with it. They held the tag belts for most of the year or were right there in challenging for them. They improved greatly in the ring and came across like a true tag team.

Much like Harlem Heat, the Smoking Gunns jumped out as the top team for the WWF as they held the WWF World Tag Team Championships until losing to Owen Hart and Yokozuna at Mania, but regained them in the fall. Billy and Bart had a few really good television matches with the tag team of 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly early on in the year. They might be one of the most underrated tag teams the WWF had during that era.

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1995 Wrestler Of The Year: Diesel (24,209)
1st Runner Up: Shawn Michaels (16,091)
2nd Runner Up: Sting (12,801)
3rd Runner Up: Hulk Hogan (11,349)

A near year title reign and beating the likes of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Jeff Jarrett, Psycho Sid and King Mabel makes Diesel the wrestler of the year to the PWI readers. While Diesel’s title reign was impressive at first, it suffered greatly by the spring and summer months and failed to regain traction. Nonetheless, Diesel was a dominating champion and one of the longest reigning champions for the WWF for quite some time.

Michaels gets some love for his great matches with Diesel, Davey Boy Smith, Razor Ramon and Jeff Jarrett during the year. Sting didn’t have an overly memorable year but his fans remain loyal to the Stinger. Hulk Hogan barely gets mentioned despite holding the WCW World Championship for over a year and having no problem with the Dungeon of Doom gang.

What are your memories of the wrestling scene in 1995? Do you agree with these awards? Woulf you have voted any differently?

Leave your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading.

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