Bobby James: 2013 by the Numbers

What a whirlwind year – time always move so quickly that it never feels like there’s ever enough.  There isn’t, really, is there? Another year is past and I’m looking forward to what comes next – but before I do, I wanted to take a moment to share with you my 2013, by the numbers.

January 1

Received a call to set up an interview with The Olive Garden.  Interviewed and hired on January 2.

May 17

I received my Master of Arts: Communications degree from Lindenwood University.  That final semester was tough and there was a ton of work that needed to be done (thanks Jill!), but I successfully managed with my efforts earning me a cumulative GPA of 4.0!

100 MOVIES!  and other ENTERTAINMENT

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! This year I sat in a movie theater 100 times!  Of those 100 times, I saw a total of 93 different movies (some I loved so much I saw more than once – hello Jurassic Park in IMAX 3D – 3 times! – yes, I’m a geek like that! What? It’s my favorite movie.  Shut up.)

In total I tracked:  100 movies, 530 songs, 57 albums, 59 TV shows/special events, and 2 professional wrestling organizations (all so I can do the Bobby James Awards! I’m an entertainment guru!) Wowza! I am le tired!

ART

I created at least 16 new pieces of art this year – including my Animal Mask series and Piph the Elephant which can be viewed here.

BOBBY JAMES’ ONLINE PRESENCE

190 twitter followers (as of Dec. 31) – including 11 verified accounts following me (including: Trish Stratus, Chuck Wicks, Covert Affairs, and Brad Maddox) and consistent interactions with PIPER PERABO! 4,450+ tweets! Did I mention that I won the #iSpyCA prize package during the season four premiere of Covert Affairs all because of one simple, teeny, tiny, little tweet.  458 facebook friends.  22,500+ views on www.thebobbyjames.com just this year (an approximate 400% increase over last year!).

August 12

There I was – on my birthday, having a fantastic day! Not only because I received my Covert Affairs prize pack in the mail … or because Lady GaGa released “Applause” one week early, and it just happened to be my birthday!  I was having a great day because I was using my birthday as a fundraiser to raise money for endangered wildlife and organizations that help them! A total of $175.00 was raised and divided between the Wildlife Conservation Network ($50), National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative – Cause an Uproar ($55), and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust ($70).  That wasn’t enough?  I had dinner with 8 of my favorite people (Mom, Dad, Josh, Aunt Char, Uncle Dave, Cody, Lachelle, and Roxi!) and WWE announced … wait for it … a second Diva’s Match for SummerSlam! Crazy, I know!

OTHER CHARITY – MY VOICE

I donated $10 to the Salvation Army for Tornado Relief following the severe weather outbreak in Oklahoma (in May).  Additionally, I signed my name and lent my support to 6 online petitions (against Canned Hunting, to save Olympic Wrestling, against an outdoor gun range 0.2 mi. from my house, against the Thailand Ivory Trade, against the Bristol Bay open pit mine in Alaska, and in support of protections for The Great Barrier Reef).

FITNESS

Well, my best mile time this year was 9:15 (that’s a far cry from my 7:45 last year!) and I’ve successfully stopped, started, stopped, started the program – lost, gained, lost, gained the same 10 pounds throughout the year.  Right now, I’m at the gain. Ugh.  Must…Do…Better! Can…Do…Better! #BestBody2013 was a flop.  A belly flop in fact! You know, I read the other day that only 8% of New Year’s resolutions come true.  In this department, I’m not in the 8%.

FAREWELL

I secretly wish death wasn’t a factor in life – but it is.  As such, I bid farewell to 3 people this year: my mentor and friend – Mr. Rift Fournier, to my Great-Uncle Bud, and to my step-mother Mary.  May they all rest in peace and enjoy the bliss of what follows goodbye.

There you have it.  That’s all.  My 2013 in review, by the numbers!  I’d say it was a semi-productive year, but I can do better! Want to know what I’ve got in store for 2014?  Check back January 2 for my New Year’s Resolutions!

The 2013 Bobby-james Awards: Music + Top 50 Songs

This year I’ve introduced you to Radio Bobby – but that wasn’t until this past summer.  Radio Bobby is my way of sharing what I think are the week’s best new music releases – but that has no indication on how things wind up for a Top 50 countdown at the end of the year.  To figure this year’s lot, I compiled a Top 50 by combining initial impressions (grades, as tracked throughout the year), plays and playlist appearances (as tracked in iTunes).  Before we get into a countdown though, it’s time to reveal who I think were the most influential or important musicians of 2013:

Male Country Artist of the Year:  Chuck Wicks

Chuck Wicks has done it – but before I tell you what it is, have you heard his EP Rough?  If not, go – listen to it now.  It, the first track titled “Fix Me,” is one of the best country songs I’ve heard in the last decade.  It’s an amazing, unique, and soaring vocal that should have established him as a megastar in country music. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but I’m really hoping that’s the case.   He’s a bona fide country artist who has an impressive ability to inspire summer fun (“Salt Life”) and to move you with a heartfelt vocal (“Fix Me”).

Runner Up:  Scotty McCreery

Breakthrough Artist of the Year:  Charlie Worsham

Take note! Charlie Worsham is the first country artist to be named my breakthrough artist of the year! His debut album Rubberband is full of singles you’re going to love (if you’re a country music fan, that is).  My favorite is the title track, “Rubberband,” it’s got just the right amount of twang mixed with the feel of a contemporary country song – which is both pleasing and surprising.  You should also be checking out “Young to See,” “Could It Be,” and “Love Don’t Die Easy.” Mark my words, this guy’s going to be a somebody in the next few years – you’ll see (I have a good track record with this category!).

Runner Up:  Austin Mahone

Collaboration of the Year:  “Say Something” by A Great Big World f. Christina Aguilera

“Say Something” is probably one of the most heartbreaking, yet beautiful songs in the entire universe right now.  Combine the lyrics with Ian Axel’s soft, yet powerful vocal and Christina’s breathtakingly restrained, yet soaring vocal and you have one of the most tender, moving songs of the year.  It’s emotive and it’s simply put: timeless.

Runner Up:  “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Electro-Dance Artist:  Borgore

Israeli dance artist and producer Borgore released Wild Out, an EP featuring the sickest dance beats, sounds, and rhythms I’ve heard all year.  My personal favorites:  Having to be scared of the “Booty Monsta,” and a choppy version of “Wayak.” I love Borgore’s unusual blending and experimentations.

Runner Up:  Rudimental

Female Country Artist:  Kacey Musgraves

Tell me you didn’t hear, or haven’t seen anything about Musgraves’ popular single “Follow Your Arrow.”  It’s the most unusual of country songs that sends a positive message in the midst of drug references and sexual experimentation.  For that song alone, Kacey Musgraves is not only one of the hottest new artists in music, but she’s the only female country artist that’s commanded widespread attention this year (aside from Carrie Underwood and her Sound of Music press).  If you’re going to debut, might as well make it this good.  The rest of her album (Same Trailer Different Park) is country-inspired singer/songwriter material that many people can either connect with or find their groove to.

Runner Up:  Kandia Crazy Horse

Pure Vocalist of the Year:  Cody Karey

Let the record show that newcomer Cody Karey can sing! – and that he has one of the most exciting pure voices in music today.  Interestingly enough, upon first glance, that’s not what I expected.  I saw his image (how he was styled, on the cover of his album: “Cody Karey”) and saw his genre listed as “pop,” so naturally, I was expecting heavily auto-tuned bubblegum pop.  When I clicked play, I was blown away and immediately thought, “This guy’s going to be one of Canada’s (oh yes, he’s Canadian) most important artists on an international level.”  I’ve already compared him to the likes of Josh Groban, Celine Dion, and The Tenors.  Listen to:  “A Million Pieces,” “Unbroken Dreams,” “You Are the Song,” “Leap of Faith,” and “All I Know.”

Runner Up: The Civil Wars

Alternative/Rock Group of the Year:  Fitz and the Tantrums

Fitz and the Tantrums was everywhere this year – except on the Billboard Hot 100 – but nevermind that.  Their hit single “Out of My League” (from the album More Than Just a Dream) was associated with Apple, and charted at No. 1 on the alternative charts.  Their neo-soul, indie pop/rock sound in undeniably impressive and some of their sounds are entrancing (notably “Merry Go Round,” “Fools Gold,” and “Break the Walls”).  Their image is even being solidified – don’t believe me?  Look at the Google ad running in cinemas, that neon heart is theirs – I know you know it – and if you didn’t before, you do now.

Runner Up:  Fall Out Boy

Mainstream Group of the Year:  Panic! At The Disco (tie) / OneRepublic (tie)

Panic! At The Disco released Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! which is full of songs that captivate the listener and showcase Brendon Urie’s voice.  Disco’s sounds have matured since their early indie-punk/alternative rock days and have grown to incorporate more dance friendly synths and pop-type lyrics and instrumentals.  One of my favorite bands to listen to over the course of the year, I fell in love with their racy single (and accompanying video for) “Girls/Girls/Boys” and their anthem for life “Far Too Young To Die.”

Talk about comebacks.  After 3+ years on hiatus, OneRepublic released Native and spawned hit singles “If I Lose Myself,” “Feel Again,” and their biggest hit since “Apologize,” “Counting Stars.” The album is OneRepublic’s first to chart in the Top 10 of Billboard’s album chart.  And their sound blends pop with ambience and trance-like vocals and beat.  Oh yes, I nearly forgot, the deluxe edition of the album features some really great acoustic recordings.

Runner Up:  none

Music Video of the Year:  “Tunnel Vision” by Justin Timberlake

Nudity was all the rage in music and it’s videos this year – from videos like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” “Girls/Girls/Boys” by Panic! At The Disco, and Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” to Lady GaGa’s ARTPOP cover art and magazine spreads.  While not in the buff himself, Justin Timberlake re-emerged on the music scene and featured nudity (female, of course) prominently in his video for “Tunnel Vision.”  It’s artistic, it’s adventurous, it’s daring, alluring, and racy – think I could get anymore adjectives in there to describe it.  The nudity in this video (contrary to Robin Thicke’s) is tastefully done and there are some really gorgeous moments throughout – almost as if to celebrate the feminine form/figure, instead of sexualizing it.

TOP 5 MUSIC VIDEOS:  1.  “Tunnel Vision” by Justin Timberlake, 2. “Applause” by Lady GaGa, 3. “Girls/Girls/Boys” by Panic! at the Disco, 4. “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry,  5. “My Kind of Love” by Emeli Sande

Mainstream Female Artist of the Year:  Lady GaGa

Talk about your tough decisions.  From all the wrecking balls and twerking and VMA controversy, 2013 appeared to by Miley Cyrus’ year, but who could deny the presence of Lady GaGa?  From her cancelled tour and hip surgery to her ARTPOP album, appearance on Saturday Night Live, acting gig in Machete Kills, holiday special with The Muppets (feat. Elton John) and nudey magazine covers, “Mother Monster” was everywhere (not to mention all the commercials i.e. Kia).  Sure ARTPOP wasn’t her best album (in its entirety – it could have done without a few songs), but she still commanded attention and crossed-over into many different genres. GaGa was everywhere and she traded in some of her outlandish outfits and heels for nudity.  Regardless, the girl can still produce a hit (“Applause,” “Do What U Want,” “Venus,” and “ARTPOP,” which I’ve already said would be one of her most iconic songs).

Runner Up:  Miley Cyrus

Mainstream Male Artist of the Year:  Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake is back in the music scene after a lengthy absence!  Over the past few years, JT has found himself on the successful end of Hollywood dramas and comedies (Friends with Benefits, The Social Network).  But now, without any further ado, the King of Pop has returned – in a big way.  His artistic and stylized music videos (Tunnel Vision, Suit & Tie) were some of the most compelling and many of his singles elevated the pop genre and will likely inspire a new movement of lengthy, soulful and artsy singles to come.  Well done, Mr. Timberlake, well done.

Runner Up:  Bruno Mars

Album of the Year:  The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake

Two albums. One year. Same artist. Same title.  Justin Timberlake. The 20/20 Experience (and Part Two of Two) is a game-changer.  The last major shift in pop music was thanks in part to Lady GaGa’s The Fame / Fame Monster, which inspired up-tempo dance tracks.  With his latest releases, Justin Timberlake should inspire a paradigm in pop music that will see slowed down, artistic singles on the horizon.  Most importantly, we should begin hearing actual vocals and move away from overtly obvious auto-tuning (not entirely, but the majority should).

Runner Up:  “More Than Just a Dream” by Fitz and the Tantrums

TOP 50 SONGS OF 2013

50. “Land of Gathering” by The Ceremonies

49.  “Drink of You” by Jamar Rogers

48. “Talk” by Illy f. Kira Puru

47.  “Roar” by Katy Perry

46. “We Remain” by Christina Aguilera

45.  “Come With Me” by Ricky Martin

44.  “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry

43.  “See You Tonight” by Scotty McCreery

42. “Loved Me Back to Life” by Celine Dion

41.  “Unbroken Dreams” by Cody Karey

40.  “She Said” by Cody Longo

39.  “Venus” by Lady GaGa

38.  “Pompeii” by Bastille

37.  “Retrograde” by James Blake

36.  “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake

35.  “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke f. Pharrell and T.I.

34. “Break The Walls” by Fitz and the Tantrums

33. “Not Leaving You Tonight” by LL Cool J f. Fitz and the Tantrums & Eddie Van Halen

32. “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift

31.  “Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves

30. “Right Place Right Time” by Olly Murs

29. “Long Night Moon” by Reckless Kelly

28. “Stompa” by Serena Ryder

27. “Marry The Night” by Adam Lambert (GLEE)

26. “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Ray

25. “Saturday Night” by Natalia Kills

24. “Made to Love” by John Legend

23. “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

22. “Can’t Stop” by OneRepublic

21. “The One That Got Away” by The Civil Wars

20.  “Say Something” by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera

19.  “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus

18. “Here’s The Thing” by Javier Dunn

17.  “A Million Pieces” by Cody Karey

16. “Burn” by Ellie Goulding

15.  “Murder” by Justin Timberlake f. Jay-Z

14. “Tunnel Vision” by Justin Timberlake

13. “Somebody Loves Somebody” by Celine Dion

12. “Side Effect Of You” by Fantasia

11. “Do What U Want” by Lady GaGa f. R. Kelly

10. “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want)” by Justin Timberlake

9. “My Kind of Love” by Emeli Sande (and RedOne)

8. “Far Too Young To Die” by Panic! At The Disco

7.  “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic

6.  “How to Be A Heartbreaker” by Lea Michele and Dean Geyer (GLEE)

5.  “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” by Fall Out Boy

4.  “Applause” by Lady GaGa

3. “Fix Me” by Chuck Wicks

2. “Together” by The XX

Song of the Year: “ARTPOP” by Lady GaGa

Bobby James Presents: The Story of Piph

Merry Christmas everyone!

I now present to you all The Story of Piph.

Piph is my third annual Christmas character (2011: Hubble the Penguin, 2012: Candy Cane the Giraffe) complete with his own, unique Christmas story and original, hand-drawn art.  I hope you all come to love and enjoy Piph as much as I have throughout this Christmas season, he’s brought so much joy already – now, I share him with the world!  Hopefully you’ll be seeing more of him in the future.

-Bobby-james

 

 

Note: Please share Piph and his story with your friends and family, but remember: The Story of Piph, Piph the Elephant, and all associated artwork and likeness are intellectual properties of Bobby James. If you would like to inquire about buying prints of Piph, please contact Bobbyjames114@yahoo.com for pricing and availability.

The 2013 Bobby-james Awards: Best of Impact Wrestling

What an incredible year for IMPACT Wrestling, right?  Early this year, president Dixie Carter announced that Impact Wrestling would be taken on the road, permanently – but it seems some ill-advice or high-cost is sending the world’s second largest wrestling promotion back to Orlando – and some of its biggest names are departing.  Regardless, Impact Wrestling has produced some quality entertainment, and even in an ailing climate, there are still stars and moments that shine.  Here are the Best of 2013:

Tag Team of the YearThe BroMans (Jessie Godderz/Robbie E.)

The BroMans Jessie Godderz (left) and Robbie E. (right)

The BroMans Jessie Godderz (left) and Robbie E. (right)

The BroMans spent most of the year being Impact’s jobber team despite being the most charismatic and entertaining tag team in all of Impact Wrestling.  Despite their mostly horrible year (made up of squash matches and quick finishes), Jessie and Robbie delivered on their promise and captured the Tag Team Championships in late October.

Runner Up:  James Storm and Gunner

Feud of the YearAJ Styles vs. Dixie Carter

The Carter-Styles confrontation (Impact, 9/19)

I still can’t believe how intense the segments between AJ Styles and Dixie Carter were over the last few months.  At times, it seemed like the Impact president and Impact’s biggest star were at legitimate odds as their drama and tension unfolded before live and national audiences.  Who could forget the abusive tirade Dixie Carter went on during Impact (September 19) against Styles – in which she referred to one of the best working wrestlers as “marginal.”

Runner Up:  Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell

Moment of the YearGail Kim’s Figure Four Leg Lock on a Ladder

Gail Kim applies a figure four leg lock to Taryn Terrell - on a ladder!

Gail Kim applies a figure four leg lock to Taryn Terrell – on a ladder!

Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell had one of the most talked about rivalries in all of wrestling during the summer.  In fact, their confrontations were so incredible that some could say the world’s largest wrestling promotion (WWE) took note because booking for other women’s divisions have soared – women are a draw! Who could ever forget the moment Gail Kim applied a figure four leg lock to Taryn Terrell during their hyped ladder match (July 11)? It looks intensely painful – and I can honestly say, it’s something I’ve never seen done before (in mainstream wrestling – correct me if I’m wrong, please).

Runner Up:  The Carter-Styles Confrontation (Impact 9/19)

Rookie of the YearEthan Carter III

"EC3" - Ethan Carter III

“EC3″ – Ethan Carter III

Ethan Carter III (formerly Derrick Bateman from WWE/NXT) debuted with the moniker “EC3″ and as the spoiled nephew of Impact Wrestling president Dixie Carter.  He’s racked up a series of victories (in singles and 2-on-1 handicapped action) and has laid out a challenge to the World Champion, AJ Styles. His character isn’t necessarily fresh – nor is the “spoiled” character new, but the way Ethan Carter III owns it makes it great – and makes him the most exciting new star to break into Impact in 2013.

Runner Up:  Lei’D Tapa

Match of the YearLast Knockout Standing: Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell (Slammiversary, 6/2)

Last Knockout Standing: Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell (Slammiversary, 6/2)

Last Knockout Standing: Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell (Slammiversary, 6/2)

The historic “Last Knockout Standing” match was incredible.  Full of “spots,” it’s one of the most important matches in Impact Wrestling since they added a women’s division in 2007 – and probably one of the most important mainstream women’s wrestling matches in the last decade. Gail Kim took a flying chair shot, locked in a figure four leg lock on the ring post (Terrell returned the favor soon after), a failed suicide dive by Terrell, and a match winning, diving “RKO” off the stage onto the ground (from Terrell to Kim) – drawing loud “holy shit…this is awesome” chants from the Boston audience.

Runner Up:  Full Metal Mayhem: Jeff Hardy vs. Chris Sabin (Impact, 11/7)

X-Division Wrestler of the YearChris Sabin

X-Division Wrestler of the Year: Chris Sabin

X-Division Wrestler of the Year: Chris Sabin

Sabin finally broke through and captured the World Championship this year, but his glory at the top of Impact Wrestling was short lived.  Soon after dropping the title, he underwent a heel turn and re-entered the X-Division against then champion Manik.  Sabin put on great matches and reclaimed the X-Division Championship in the process.

Runner Up:  Manik

Knockout of the YearMickie James

2013 Knockout of the Year: Mickie James

2013 Knockout of the Year: Mickie James

Mickie James is one of the world’s most respected female competitors.  This year, Mickie duped the fans and finally became the heel we all loved to hate.  Along the way, she reclaimed the Knockout’s Championship and had the audience in a tizzy every time she took a microphone.  Wasn’t her snobby-country gimmick fun?  Mickie toyed with many of her challengers – showing just how out of place competitors like Velvet Sky were while in the ring with Mickie James.  Unfortunately, Mickie was one of the many stars to depart Impact Wrestling this year – but her reign, and place in the Knockout’s Division didn’t go unnoticed.

Runner Up:  Taryn Terrell

Non-Wrestling Personality of the YearDixie Carter

Dixie Carter and the "Wheel of Dixie."

Dixie Carter and the “Wheel of Dixie.”

In an interesting turn of events, Impact Wrestling president Dixie Carter returned to television this year as a heel character.  Her feud with AJ Styles is noteworthy, and her confrontations with Hulk Hogan were long overdue.  She’s pampered her “nephew” Ethan Carter, disrespected the fans, and she’s introduced us to her ego – Impact is “Dixieland” – and should we forget the fate deciding “Wheel of Dixie?” (note: as good as she is, Dixie is no Stephanie McMahon).

Runner Up:  Christ Hemme

Wrestler of the YearGail Kim

Gail Kim: Knockout's Champion and Wrestler of the Year.

Gail Kim: Knockout’s Champion and Wrestler of the Year.

When you’re good – you’re good, and Gail Kim is damn good.  Scratch that, she’s amazing.  She knows how to work the crowd – and she knows how to be an innovative competitor.  Sure, like everyone else, she has a “move set” she routinely performs, but her aerial skills, combined with her power moves and grappling/submission techniques and style make her untouchable by anyone else on the roster.  She’s consistent in every match – and she’s been one of the most active competitors throughout the year.  Did I mention her history-making matches and the innovation involved in either of them this year?  I did.  If that’s not all, she’s the reigning (and most defensive) Knockout’s Champion and has a valet/enforcer in rookie Lei’D Tapa.  Right now, Gail Kim is on top of the world.

Runner UpAJ Styles

 There they are – the Bobby-james Awards for Best of Impact Wrestling 2013.  Do you agree or disagree with my selections?  Are there moments or performers that stood out to you?  Post it in the comments and let’s have a chat.

Radio Bobby: Top 5 New Music Releases (12/9)

Forgive me for the consistent time lapses between Radio Bobby posts! Some weeks, I’m not finding five new releases that I like enough, or care enough about, to create a Radio Bobby list – and other weeks, I find myself too lost in Lady GaGa or Christmas music to care.  Invalid excuses, I know.  So here are your Top 5 new music releases for the week of December 9, 2013:

Lea Michele1. “Cannonball” by Lea Michele – (pop) FINALLY! Lea Michele is releasing a solo pop album! It’s been a long time coming and her lead single, “Cannonball” showcases her voice and all of its emotive qualities.  I’ll be surprised if Lea Michele’s album doesn’t perform – honestly, she’s one of the best voices in the business today.  This single has anthemic, uplifting qualities – which should resonate with a wide audience.

2. “Take Me Home (Wildboyz Club Mix)” by Midnight Red – (pop) boy bands are all the rage in pop music today, more than ever (think One Direction, The Wanted, etc.).  Sometimes, the harmonies and beats are enough to transcend boundaries and click with both men and women (not just crazy, emotional teenage girls).  The original version of this song?  Ho hum.  Turn it into a club mix – and it’s a fun dance party! 

3. “Later On” by The Swon Brothers – (country) an uptempo track from former contestants on The Voice, The Swon Brothers – with this song and their efforts on television – have, at the very least, secured themselves a spot on the country music scene for the foreseeable future.

4.  “Fall In Love” by Phantogram – (alternative) solid vocals and ambient background sound makes it alright with me.

5. “Carolina” by Parmalee – (country) Carolina must be a country haven because in the last two weeks, there have been two songs about Carolina (this one and Scotty McCreery’s “Carolina Moon”) – and that’s just the tip of Carolina’s iceberg.  Regardless, saying home doesn’t seem so far away because she feels like Carolina (but looks like California) sounds nice, doesn’t it?  Country crooners.

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE WEEK

I went to YouTube to find our “Music Video of the Week” and the first two suggestions were (1) “Perfume” by Britney Spears and (2) “Cookie” by R. Kelly.  I gave ‘em both a go – sadly, I don’t think either of them represent women positively.  So I’ll include them this week to show you what I’m not looking for.  Pay no mind to if the songs are catchy or not – just watch, then think:  Is this portrayal still okay?

First up:  “Perfume” by Britney Spears

Next:  “Cookie” by R. Kelly

The 2013 Bobby-james Awards: Best of the WWE

Welcome to the first installment of the 2013 Bobby-james Awards – the Best of WWE.

Released in conjunction with the WWE Slammy Awards, I have selected the performers, matches, and moments that have been –  how would Triple H or Stephanie McMahon say it again? … right, “best for business,” throughout 2013.  I realize that we have just under one month and a final pay-per-view (TLC, Dec. 15) remaining, but I can assure you, these Superstars, Divas, and moments are, without a doubt, the best of the year. Without any further ado, may I present – the Best of WWE:

DIVA of the Year:  AJ Lee

AJ Lee

Diva of the Year: AJ Lee

AJ Lee reigned over 2012 as the Superstar of the year – she was involved in the main event scene and had one of the highest profiles in the WWE.  It seemed as if she’d reached the top.  This begged the question, “Where does AJ go now?” The answer was obvious:  Into the Diva’s Division full-time. Lee transitioned from being Dolph Ziggler’s valet/girlfriend into a full-time competitor and quickly the Diva’s Champion.

As champion, Lee has contested memorable bouts against former champions Kaitlyn, Natalya, and Brie Bella – she’s delivered a “State of my Mind” address, confronted Stephanie McMahon, been part of the main event scene, dropped a “Pipe Bombshell,” and brought prestige back to the Diva’s Championship.  AJ Lee is establishing her legacy as one of the greatest Diva’s of all time – she’s already well on her way to being recognized as one of the most important.

Runners Up:  Kaitlyn (#2), Brie Bella (#3), Natalya (#4)

Return of the Year:  Goldust 

Cody Rhodes and Goldust - RHODES

WWE Tag Team Champions: Cody Rhodes (left) and Goldust (right)

The “Bizarre One” returned to a huge reception during the 2013 Royal Rumble (as the #8 entrant), but this once-off appearance wasn’t enough.  In late summer, Goldust returned to aid his brother (Cody Rhodes) against The Authority (Triple H/Stephanie McMahon) – a quest that initially seemed bleak, but ultimately led to the formation of RHODES and the capture of the WWE Tag Team Championships.  Now, if WWE could just deliver that rumored brother vs. brother feud and WrestleMania match…

Runners Up:  The Bella Twins (#2), Rob Van Dam (#3), Christian (#4)

Tag Team of the Year:  The Shield 

The Shield: Dean Ambrose (left), Roman Reigns (center), Seth Rollins (right)

The Shield: Dean Ambrose (left), Roman Reigns (center), Seth Rollins (right)

After debuting near the end of 2012, it was a foregone conclusion that The Shield would maintain their dominant status as the best tag team/faction in the WWE.  At Extreme Rules, The Shield proved their dominance and swept up every championship they competed for (Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns for the Tag Team Championships, Dean Ambrose for the United States Championship) and have enjoyed lengthy reigns (note: Ambrose is the only reigning champion for The Shield as of this writing).  Then they aligned themselves and briefly did the bidding for The Authority, before moving into a feud with the “Best in the World,” CM Punk to finish off their 2013.    #BelieveInTheShield

Runners Up:  Rhodes (#2), The Wyatt Family (#3), The Usos (#4)

Rookie of the Year:  Fandango

Fandango vignette

Rookie of the Year: Fandango

“Da-da! Da-da-da-da-dada-da…” #Fandangoing #ChaChaLaLa “Fan-dan-goooooo”

By that first line – and just that line alone – you have an idea of who Fandango is.  Mission accomplished.  He (re)debuted atop the mid-card and defeated Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 29.  That catapulted him into the Intercontinental Championship scene, acquired him a permanent valet (Summer Rae), and gave him a more elaborate entrance than he already had.  Did I mention his wildly popular entrance theme (ChaChaLaLa) – or the mass of people “Fandangoing?” Sadly, an ill-timed concussion has put Fandango in a slump – but that doesn’t take away from him being the single most important rookie of the year.

Runners Up:  The Wyatt Family (#2), Curtis Axel (#3), Eva Marie (#4)

Valet of the Year:  Summer Rae

Summer Rae

Fandango and Summer Rae

There has always been an interest in the Fandango girls (after all, this year’s Rookie of the Year is WWE’s version of James Bond) but Summer Rae came to stay, and in the process has made a good name for herself.  Enthusiastically referred to as “Mrs. Fandango” by JBL on commentary, Summer Rae has risen from being the occasional Fandango dancer, to permanent fixture, to a woman with personality and some in-ring skill (as demonstrated by her clashes with Natalya).  I suspect she’ll be a force in the Diva’s Division in the coming years, but for now, the golden-haired beauty is Fandango’s valet – and is she ever good at it.  So good in fact, Summer Rae becomes a trending topic on social media when she’s ringside for a Fandango match.

Runners Up:  Paul Heyman (#2), Zeb Colter (#3), AJ Lee (#4)

Non-Wrestling Personality of the Year:  Stephanie McMahon

Stephanie McMahon

Stephanie McMahon on RAW

The (current) undisputed queen of WWE is a delicious villain.  One half of The Authority, Stephanie McMahon has returned to her “classic” form as a heel.  She’s made life impossible for a list of Superstars and Divas, namely the Big Show, Daniel Bryan, the Rhodes family, Vickie Guerrero, and AJ Lee.  Her summer confrontations with the Diva’s Champion had some clamoring for a would-be epic collision between McMahon and Lee for the strap; and her personal attacks on key stars like Daniel Bryan (remember when she told him he wasn’t an A+ player, he was a B+?), Dusty Rhodes, and the Big Show have proven that when it comes to heel behavior, the McMahons are untouchable.

Runners Up:  Brad Maddox (#2), Vickie Guerrero (#3), John “Bradshaw” Layfield (#4)

Moment of the Year:  AJ Lee’s “Pipe-Bombshell”

AJ Lee speaks to the cast of Total Divas

AJ Lee mocks the cast of Total Divas

WWE moved forward with Total Divas, a scripted reality show.  The show – and it’s Divas – commanded attention on weekly WWE television and the reigning Diva’s Champion was none too happy.  Here is a transcript of the promo she cut, which, to the delight of some wrestling fans, felt laced with animosity – much like CM Punk’s “Pipe Bomb” promo in 2011:

“Do you want to know what I see when I look in that ring?  A bunch of cheap, interchangeable, expendable, useless women – women who have turned to reality television because they just weren’t gifted enough to be actresses – and they just weren’t talented enough to be champion.  I have done more in one year than all of you have done in your entire collective careers.  I have saved your Diva’s division, I have shattered glass ceilings, I have broken down doors.  Why?  So a bunch of ungrateful, stiff plastic mannequins can waltz on through without even as much as a thank you?  You guys can’t even go backstage and shake my hand and look me in the eye because you know that I worked my entire life to get here.  I gave my life to this – and you were just handed fifteen minutes of fame.  I didn’t get here because I was cute – or because I came from some famous wrestling family – or because I sucked (beat) up to the right people.  I got here because I am good.  I earned this championship – and no matter how many red carpets you guys wanna walk in your $4,000 ridiculous heels, you will never be able to lace up my Chuck Taylors. You’re all worthless excuses for women – and you will never be able to touch me – and that is reality.” – AJ Lee to the cast of Total Divas, RAW, 8/26/2013

Runners Up:  CM Punk dumps Paul Bearer’s ashes to close RAW (#2), Dolph Ziggler cashes in (#3), The Wyatt Family debut (#4)

Most Improved Wrestler of the Year:  Brie Bella

Brie Bella (left) vs. Natalya (right)

Brie Bella (left) vs. Natalya (right)

When the Bella Twins left WWE – I was excited.  I thought they were bland personalities and mediocre wrestlers that offered nothing to the show.  Then they returned this year – and dare I say, I was actually excited to see Brie and Nikki.  They got scrappy with the Funkadactyls a few times and I had the same feelings – except this time around, they were better heels.  Then Nikki was injured and Brie went solo.  Throughout the summer, Brie’s in-ring improvements (and reported training with Daniel Bryan) were evident in her SummerSlam match against Natalya and her run as number one contender for the Diva’s Championship against AJ Lee.

Brie’s a markedly improved wrestler and is nearing the top of the current crop of Divas.  Should she maintain her level of training, we should see even better matches from Brie next year and possibly a run with the strap (a more meaningful one than her first).

Runners Up:  Seth Rollins (#2), Big E. Langston (#3), Aksana (#4)

Show of the Year:  Total Divas

Total Divas: (left to right) Nikki Bella, Naomi, Natalya, Cameron, Brie Bella

Total Divas: (left to right) Nikki Bella, Naomi, Natalya, Cameron, Brie Bella

WWE has a hit on their hands – E! Total Divas.  The scripted reality show gives fans a look behind the scenes of WWE and what road life is like for the Superstars and Divas.  It’s full of drama, “purple people eaters,” romance, and rivalry. The stories on Total Divas oftentimes work themselves onto regular, weekly programming, and I’d venture to say that on a consistent basis Total Divas offers edgier content (think Attitude era moments) and the action and excitement is better than what you’ll find on RAW and Smackdown!

Initially there was speculation that Total Divas was a vehicle for the Bella Twins, but as season one draws to a close (and knowing that season two has an order), it’s clear that while Brie and Nikki have benefited from the exposure, the other Divas (Natalya and the Funkadactyls) have shined just as bright, if not brighter.  Did I mention a surprise star was born:  Eva Marie and her hashtag #AllRedEverything.

Runners Up:  Post-WrestleMania RAW (#2), SummerSlam (#3), Payback (#4)

Feud of the Year:  Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan (left) stands over a fallen Randy Orton

Daniel Bryan (left) stands over a fallen Randy Orton

Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton began at SummerSlam when Triple H crossed Bryan and Orton cashed in his All-Stars Money in the Bank contract moments after Bryan defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship.  It was perfect set-up to make Daniel Bryan more of an underdog than he already is/was.  Why could the smaller guy – the “Yes” master – not just reign supreme over the WWE?  Why did The Authority need a new “face of the WWE?” In the name of what’s best for business, the fall’s most intense feud began and carried through October’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. The WWE Championship changed hands like a hot potato – but in the process, some of the year’s most amazing matches were born and Daniel Bryan’s popularity soared that much more.

Runners Up:  CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar (#2), CM Punk vs. The Undertaker (#3), AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn (#4)

Match of the Year:

Street Fight:  Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton (RAW, June 24) – tie

Daniel Bryan makes Randy Orton tap out!

Daniel Bryan makes Randy Orton tap out!

Remember when Daniel Bryan made Randy Orton tap out during their epic street fight this summer?  Me too. It was one of the most intense, hard-hitting matches I can recall seeing in a number of years.  Both men left it all in the ring that night – but that cross-face with the kendo stick takes the cake.  It’s not often we see Randy Orton tap out, let alone in singles competition in the main event of RAW.  This was a huge deal and big push for the already over Daniel Bryan.  It solidified him as a singles star and main event player – and was a precursor to his two WWE Championship reigns and their intense feud.

“The Best vs. The Beast”: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam, August 18) – tie

CM Punk applies the Anaconda Vice to Brock Lesnar

CM Punk applies the Anaconda Vice to Brock Lesnar

I’ve never been a fan of Brock Lesnar personally – but his in-ring work speaks for itself.  He’s one of the most violent and intense people I’ve ever seen compete in a WWE ring.  He’s had a number of memorable matches in his career (though, I hate to say it) against the likes of Triple H and John Cena, but when he came face to face with “The Best in the World” CM Punk – fans were treated to one hell of a no disqualification match.

Built on the feud between Paul Heyman and CM Punk, Lesnar maintained his enforcer status and for once – emerged with a victory.  Punk gave his all – and it just wasn’t enough to overcome a thrashing from “The Beast.” I’ve rarely ordered pay-per-views for just one encounter, but from the start, when this match was made (despite not being a Lesnar fan) I knew it was one I had to see.  This should be one of those encounters people talk about for years to come.

Runners Up:  Cody Rhodes vs. Randy Orton (RAW, Sept. 2 – #2), NXT Women’s Championship Final: Paige vs. Emma (#3), Tag Team Championship Match: The Shield vs. Rhodes (RAW, October 14 – #4)

Superstar of the Year:  Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan becomes the WWE Champion

Daniel Bryan becomes the WWE Champion

He began the year as a Tag Team Champion (with Kane), worked high profile programs against main event performers John Cena, Randy Orton, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Stephanie McMahon, and has two credits as WWE Champion.  That’s not counting the insane crowd reactions, features on Total Divas, charity appearances, merchandising, or main events (pay-per-view, RAW, and Smackdown!).  Daniel Bryan was the true face of the WWE in 2013 and had a classic ascension through the ranks.  Given his size and indy background, this is even more significant provided Vince McMahon’s apprehension to “small” champions.

You could call it the “Year of the Beard” or you could simply say “Yes!” Regardless, when you do either, you’ll think of Daniel Bryan and it’d be hard to argue anybody else had a bigger year.

Runners Up:  John Cena (#2), Randy Orton (#3), CM Punk (#4)

There they are – your Best of WWE 2013 selections.  Agree or disagree?  Sound off in the comments section to offer your opinions.