Welcome to the FINAL Phat Daily Column for the year 2001. 2001 has been an interesting year for wrestling and the world in general, as we covered in the weekend edition of the PDC. Good feedback on that column, by the way, other than some criticism for not including the rising independents, like MECW, XWF, and WWA, which I already discussed in the introduction.

MECW was just significant for the buzz they created by having a free show at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia. After that, John Collins (I thought that was his name) couldn't clear checks for his wrestlers, proving to be even worse than Paul Heyman. The XWF is shopping around for a television market, but it has in place, several of the WCW bookers and road agents that helped hurt the Time Warner owned wrestling federation. The WWA might make some press overseas, but until they are successful in the states, what significance are they to wrestling?

Geesh! For today's column, we are going to hand out the Tito Awards for the very best in pro wrestling, in the mind of Mr. Tito, hence the name "Tito" Awards. This is an end-of-the-year tradition for me, so why not continue it? I will say, though, that I will NOT be doing a Worst of Awards this year, as seen in one of the last "Bad Tito" columns last year. Besides the time factor, I just don't feel the need for giving notice for worst things in wrestling this year. Plus, the McMahons would probably win all of the awards.

Anyway, the crowd is awaiting us, so let's hand out some awards!

The TITO Awards

Best Tag Team

The Dudley Boyz

Despite still struggling to be over as a heel team, the Duds were always a consistant tag team in the WWF. They are the unified champions, and besides that, they've held both the WWF and WCW tag titles on numerous occasions. The Dudleys would then perform better with the addition of Stacy Kiebler as their valet.

Best Wrestler

Stone Cold Steve Austin

What? 2001 was the year that Steve Austin returned to form... as a wrestler. He could now work matches in the form he did before Owen Hart accidentally hurt his neck in 1997, taking such hard bumps like multiple German suplexes against Benoit or Angle, or having intense brawls with either Triple H or Angle. In the storylines, his confusion about being a heel would hurt interest around his character, and at times, Austin would hog up television time in attempts of being a heel. In the long run, he's a face at heart, which he currently plays on television.

Most Improved

Rob Van Dam

In ECW, RVD was a ruthless spot machine, as he'd hit a big spot (which could have been sloppy as hell), and take a long break. In the WWF, he does his best spots, has some psychology in his matches, and no longer takes those long breaks in between moves or spots, like he did in ECW. RVD became a hot new wrestler that the WWF sorely lacked from any of the WCW wrestlers, besides Booker T.

Best Mic Skills

Christian

Although he's only in the midcard, Christian is probably the only midcarder who can actually draw heat compared to the main eventers, if not more. Christian's best weapon for drawing heat is by ripping on the crowd and making fun of his opponents. Too bad his television time has been cut down, despite being European champion (if that belt even matters).

Best Storyline

The Rock and Chris Jericho Feud

To make the WWF appear as if they were in turmoil, the WWF booked Jericho and the Rock to have some heat with each other after a tag match. The segment had the sparks of a big blood feud, and the WWF writers kept pushing it. Their new feud led to Jericho winning the WCW Title at No Mercy 2001 with a steel chair, which the Rock kept reminding him of afterward. They kept on feuding through the Survivor Series, and they wanted to kill each other before their Vengeance semi-final match to unify the titles. Jericho won that match, and would later cheaply win the Unified Title, which only guarantees that these two wrestlers will collide again.

Best Pay Per View

Wrestlemania 17

In the Houston Astrodome, the WWF rocked the house with one of the best overall cards, ever. Despite being 4 hours, they were good 4 hours with good matches all around. The only fault is that the card didn't have one standout match, like Summerslam and No Way Out did, but the whole card is superior than the others.

Best Idea

The Revamped Cruiserweight Division in WCW

When Eric Bischoff briefly returned as WCW president in early 2001, he wanted to revamp the Cruiserweight division because he knew of how successful it was as his undercard when the NWO was big. Therefore, he pushed the Cruiserweight singles title to start with, and then he began to stockpile the best independent lightweight wrestlers he could sign to creat a brand new Cruiserweight Tag Team division. The result proved to be a great midcard for WCW, despite having a bad main event scene at the time. Too bad Time Warner gave up on WCW and Bischoff, or who knows how popular the division could have become, especially with the WWF sliding after Wrestlemania.

Federation of the Year

World Wrestling Federation (WWF)

Well, duh! Since 1998, the WWF has been the only profitable wrestling company in the United States. In 2001, it bought its competition when WCW crumbled, and the WWF was able to basically own ECW, too, taking its top wrestlers and Paul Heyman. However, no competition really helped this award, for the WWF had various economic problems, like shorter revenues, ratings slides, advertising problems, lower buyrates, lowered attendance, and weaker merchandise sales.

Best Moment

Ric Flair's WWF Return

After Survivor Series 2001, the WWF made a BIG free agent signing. The Nature Boy took a buyout from his Time Warner contract, which was guaranteed millions, to join the WWF and appear on RAW. As Vince McMahon was gloating and about to crowd Kurt Angle the new World Champion, Ric Flair came down and announced that he was the man who bought Shane and Stephanie's WWF shares in a shocking moment in wrestling. Flair's return, let alone, was good enough, but a decent storyline would be better. Now although Vince McMahon would take even more television time for himself after Flair arrived, it's at least apparent that Flair will have a bigger role after his match with Vince at Royal Rumble 2002.

And finally.....

Match of the Year

Triple H vs. Steve Austin from No Way Out 2001

In a total best 2 out of 3 falls war, Triple H and Steve pounded each other for nearly an hour in a match that stole the show. The thing was that it had Triple H, a heel, winning cleanly, at a time when Austin was supposed to have some steam heading into Wrestlemania 17 as the #1 contender to the World Title. Awesome match between the two, although the Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit Smackdown match or the Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin Summerslam match are close number twos. Funny how Austin is in all 3 matches, eh?

@That's all for today, folks. I hope you have a great New Years, and I hope you'll express responsibility if you decide to party with things other than ice cream and cake. I'm not sure if I'm going to see the "Best of 2001" show on RAW tonight or not, so it's unknown if I'll have a PDC up next morning to review that or cover something else. Until then, just chill.......

Take Care, and Thanks for Reading.

Mr. Tito 1998 - 2001 Exclusive to LordsofPain.net