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Dome Pondering - 2015 Year in Review

So 2015 is all over, huh? Yup, cue up Mike Goldberg, play-by-play announcer from the UFC, to put a bow on this one! Indeed, 2015 has been a year that has been beat up, dragged around, and is finally being knocked out. And of course, we say it every year, it all just felt like such a big blur. 

But it's Dome Pondering Year in Review time, the biggest post of this very small, little, tiny, itsy-bitsy, minuscule particle of the internet. But regardless of how small, we have traditions around here, and we do 'em big! #DPYIR time, bay bay! 

However, before we dive in on closing 2015, as always, I would like to thank all of you, the readers, visitors, and the passerby folks that check in and check out the DP. I continue to enjoy the growth in readership of this blog, and of course, the countless interaction over in Twitterland (@DomePondering) on various topics from politics and sports, to music and pro wrestling.

Also, many thanks to the peeps over at TNAsylum who continue to allow me to contribute to their blog and international community in regards to pro wrestling. It's been a blast writing my PWP column over there. 

With that said, staying with the UFC theme so far (which is totally unintentional by the way), let me channel my inner Bruce Buffer to say, IIIIIITTTTSS TIIIIIIIIIME!! Yup, here we go! It's the tenth edition - the tenth freakin' edition! - of the DPYIR! Let's get going with the traditional thirty-three Pondy Awards (Pondy Award History)! 

The Pondy Awards

Crucial Moment of the Year: Paris Terrorist Attacks

Now, let me just say, the amount of terrorist attacks his year is insanely alarming, and quite frankly, none are more "important" than others. The attacks in Africa by Al Shaabab and Boko Haram are equally, if not more horrific than the ones that have received the mainstream news.

With that said, the Paris Attacks brought the entire spectrum to the front of everyone's attention that terrorism isn't just an "over there" issue, but one that affects us all, and needs to be dealt with. There is a serious problem facing our world in our time, and it needs to be met, solved, and dealt with.

Honorable Mentions - Nigeria Terrorist Attacks by Boko Haram, Kenya Terrorist Attacks by Al Shaabab, and Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attacks by ISIS

World Affairs Issue of the Year: Terrorism

Well, from the note above, this one was a dead giveaway. Then again, it's quite obvious. From international terrorism via disgusting groups looking to wage jihad on the world, international affairs has taken a different outlook in 2015. When Russia and China along with France, UK, the United States and others sort of have similar enemies and cause for coming together (besides global climate control, which was done recently of course), it definitely is an issue. The issue.

Honorable Mention - Syrian Civial War and Refugee Crisis, Nepal Earthquake, United States and Cuba Open Diplomatic Relations, and the Iran Nuclear Deal

Inspirational Story of the Year: Boy Studying in the Street in the Philippines

Despite all of the evil in the world in 2015, there was some good. But none more inspirational than the photo of a small boy studying in the streets of the Philippines. As always, if it's important to you, you will find away. What's important to you? 

Honorable Mention - John Cena Grants record 500th Make-A-Wish

Random Story of the Year: Rachel Dolezal Story

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined a story about a white woman getting "work done" to look darker and to identify as black. Take nothing away from her work and efforts in helping the black community, but this controversy, especially from her parents, were as out there and random as it gets. Trans-racial? Ah mean, c'mon!

Honorable Mention - Upstate New York Prison Break/Backstory and Ashlee Madison Source Leaks

Most Controversial Story of the Year: Syrian Civil War and Refugee Crisis

What a hot button topic that has so many topics involved from freedom, diplomacy, immigration, homeland security, religion, phobias, white supremacy, and overall humanitarianism. Such a deep topic that still rages on.

Honorable Mention - Minorities and Police Violence, Gun Control, Confederate Flag, and Charleston, South Carolina Church Shootings

Most Overrated Story of the Year: Caitlyn Jenner

Well, I expect to get some DMs and tweets on this one. I'll be honest folks, I am not sure why Jenner was heralded and became the talk of everyone. To me, this all seemed like a hyped up media looking to capitalize off of the LGBT uprise along with the stardom connected to to the Kardashians. And sorry ESPN, I lost a ton of respect when you offered Jenner an award for courage over athletes who inspired many more without media coverage. For starters, Lauryn Hill.

Even after the coverage has died down, it all still feels so overrated.

Honorable Mention - #Deflate Gate, Kim Davis, Starbucks Red Cup, Steve Harvey Miss Universe Mishap, Black and Blue Optical Illusion Dress, and the Death of Cecil the Lion

Tune of the Year: Mark Ronson and Bruno Marrs - "Uptown Funk"

Music was super weird this year. If you're that person that only listened to mainstream stuff, I feel bad for you as it felt like a lot of terribleness. owever, there was one song that made things fun and that was Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars with "Uptown Funk". How can you can move to that?

Honorable Mention - Adele - "Hello" and Kendrick Lamar - "I"

Invention of the Year: Hoverboard Scooter

I'll be honest, as someone who believes in physical activity and getting up and moving, I loathe these things. Heck, I despite electronic bikes. But I'll give the invention its due as it is popular, and all the rage right now. And there is a silver lining as I'm sure disabled individuals can benefit from it.

Sadly, I just have an urge to tackle overweight teenagers on them and then toss the hoverboard into the street right before a huge eighteen wheeler crushes it to smitherines as I yell in their face, "WALK!!!!"

Yeah, I know...sorry. 

Comeback of the Year: Alex Rodriguez

Okay, so here is my deal. This win gives Alex Rodriguez his third - THIRD! - Comeback of the Year Pondy (2007, 2009, and 2015)! Not sure how to wrap my mind around it other than saying the dude is the epitome of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Whatevs. A-Rod deserves this award more than any other after returning from a suspension, facing the doubts, and turning all of the nay-say. Plus he not only performed, but sort of turned his image around. 

"Wishing Well" Award of the Year: Fix Underlying Racism and Discrimination

From the riots, the social unrest, the confederate flag "debate", the shootings in Charleston, SC, and of course, the new case of Islamaphobia, 2015 showed that we have a very, very long way to go. 

"Just Go Away" Award of the Year: Social Media Posting Protesters

Always a favorite award for many readers, this year's "Just Go Away" Pondy goes to those social media users whose posts are filled with information, pictures, graphs, and anything that pushes forward their bias agenda, especially the sources with lousy credibility. It's so annoying!

Quit complaining. Quit trying to turn everything into a race or political issue. And quit posting propaganda from these unheard of sites. Even more maddening is that none of these people post evidence of any legit and real life work in supporting their cause.

Actually, you know what? Just quit posting. Delete your account. And most of importantly, go away!

Honorable Mention - The Kardashians and Chelsea Handler

"Largest Fortitude" Award of the Year: Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler

Kudos to these fellas who helped foil another possible terrorist attack aboard a train headed to France this year. After recognizing the attacker, Stone, Skarlatons, and Sadler all decided to tackle, disarm, and prevent whatever dastardly attack the terrorist was looking to carryout. 

"We'll Miss You" Award of the Year: Yogi-isms

Yogi, you're "isms" carry on, but we'll definitely miss the new ones. Thanks for the memories!

Honorable Mention - Stuart Scott on SportsCenter, Satoru Iwata's Creativity, Dusty Rhodes Promos

"What Were You Thinking" Award of the Year: Pete Carroll

Dude! Seriously, what were you thinking? Why didn't you run the dang ball! RUN THE BALL! Pass? What were you thinking? 

"What a Shame" Award of the Year: Bill Cosby Rape and Sexual Assault Allegations

This ongiong development continues to tear down what was once a great, great, legend in Bill Cosby. I for one love the Cosby Show as it is my favorite TV Show of all-time. Unfortunately, these allegations put a damper on them, and of course, a VERY dark cloud over one of America's favorite comedians and TV dads. And if they are true, an even bigger disappointment.

Honorable Mention - Zero actors of color nominated for Oscar

"Welcome to the Scene" Award of the Year: Daily Fantasy Sports (Gambling)

I don't blame people for getting involved in this. Fantasy sports are huge these days, and now daily fantasy sports are even bigger. I for one am not into it, but all the power to those who are. My opinion? It's gambling. And yes, I do believe because of the growing fantasy sports culture, we've lost touch with the greatness and true essence of sport.

Honorable Mention - #BlackLivesMater, Viola Davis, Amy Schumer, and Islamaphobia

"This Should Have Been Done Before" Award of the Year: Getting Serious on ISIS

We watched ISIS grow in all of 2014 by gaining territory and establishing their Caliphate over in the Syrian/Iraqi territory. Much of the world did not do much nor decided to take it seriously. And now, here we are.

Honorable Mention - College Campus Protests

"The Incredibles" Award of the Year: LeBron James in NBA Finals

There were plenty of incredible things that happened in 2015, but nothing had me more amazed and intrigued than what LeBron James almost pulled off in the 2015 NBA Finals. It was such an absolutely stunning display of LeBron's ability. I said it earlier, but if the Cavs won, it easily would have been the greatest NBA Finals, possibly sports championship performance, I ever saw. And even in loss, it's up there.

Honorable Mention - Liquid Found on Mars, Super Blood Moon, American Pharoah Triple Crown, Sarena Williams, Star Wars, Ketucky Wildcats Basketball Team, Sam Smith Wins 4 Grammys, 

"We Need to Fix This" Award of the Year: Mass Shootings in Our Society

From the live TV shootings in Virginia, school shootings in Oregon, Planned Parenthood in Colorado, a church shooting in South Carolina...and on, and on, and on, this all needs to stop. We don't value life in this country anymre. And let's be very real, all of the above are definitely terrorism. Let's stop using that word for when only the shooter is of a distinct look or background. 

Honorable Mention - Social Justice in America and Concussion Responsibility in NFL

Biggest Letdown of the Year: Social Justice

What a disaster it has been for our society in this department. From young black man being shot for no reason, to other racial and discriminatory acts, our social justice system, or the one we had in place was a huge letdown.

Honorable Mention - Floyd Mayweather Fights, Academy Awards, and NFL's Discipline and Conduct

Idiot of the Year: Raven Symone

I don't watch The View, but for some reason, Symone apparently couldn't stop saying dumb things on there regarding various topics. Symone continued to make ridiculous and idiotic comments all year long with such comments:

"some people do look like animals", "

"I am from every continent in Africa, except for one. And I am from every continent in Europe, except for one. And for the last 400 years, my family has been living in Virginia. How long do you have to be in one country before you’re that?"

And these are just the beginning. Yes, wow, I know.

Honorable Mention - FIFA, Kim Davis, Opposers Removal of Confederate Flag, Jared Fogle, and Britt McHenry of ESPN

Dome Pondering Person of the Year: Anonymous Security Guard at Paris Stadium

Probably the most under-the-radar DP Person of the Year ever, but just as important as anyone of them, if not, more so. The anonymous security guard whose identity has never been disclosed to the media discovered the suicide vest on the terrorist who attempted to get into the Pars Stadium during the terrorist attacks. The attacker was denied entry into the stadium, turning to the streets to detonate the vest.

The find saved hundred, most likely thousands of people, in what may have turned an already unfortunate and terrifying day into further disaster. 

Fighter of the Year: Connor McGregor (UFC)

After three big wins, including a recent one over Jose Aldo in quick fashion, this year's fighter of the year is pretty easy.

Honorable Mention - Holly Holm

Pay Per View/Special Event of the Year: Wrestlemania 31

It was a weird year in he world of pay-per-view and special events (after all, PPV is such a dying concept). Wrestling was eh, and so was MMA. Big fights/matches happened, but not many significant and solid cards. Just my opinion.

With that said, the only event that sticks out to me is in fact Wrestlemania 31 and Summerslam (that I attended, and because of that, I may be biased/skewed) which was a solid watch from top to bottom.

Honorable Mention - WWE Summerslam, NXT RESPECT, TNA Bell-2-Bell

Pro Wrestling Match of the Year: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley - Iron Women Match - NXT RESPECT

Another first for the DPYIR as a Women's match earns the nod as match of the year. For me it was simple, the match had build-up, intrigue, athleticism, told a great story, and of course, was in fact sort of historic with a nice cap off. It really did stick out for me this year, as well as their match, right here in Brooklyn, NY (cheap pop, yes) the night before Summerslam.

Honorable Mention - Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar - Hell in a Cell - WWE Hell in a Cell, Aztec Warfare Match - 1/7/15 Lucha Underground; Seth Rollins vs. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar - WWE Royal Rumble; Fenix vs. Pentagon Jr vs. Killshot vs. Sext Star vs. King Cueto vs. The Mack - Lucha Aztec Medallion 7-Way Match - Lucha Underground; John Cena vs. Cesaro - 7/7/15 WWE RAW; Bobby Roode vs. Lashley - 3/20/15 TNA IMPACT; EC3 vs. Rockstar Spud - 3/13/15 TNA IMPACT; and Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns - WWE Wrestlemania 31

Pro Wrestling Tag Team of the Year: The New Day

Talk about three guys who took a terrible original concept and have become the best thing on WWE TV, and at times, the ONLY thing worth watching on WWE TV. Not to mention, The New Day have had some really entertaining matches, thus making them an easy pick as the DP Tag Team of the Year.

Honorable Mention - The Wolves, The Young Bucks, and reDragon

Female Pro Wrestler of the Year: Sasha Banks and Bayley

I hate ties, but I couldn't decide. Sorry. LAme, I know. Both of these women have by far been in the most meaningful women's matches all year long, and of course, have certainly delivered in the ring. I really believe the WWE has something special in both. Time will tell if that's true, and whether WWE can capitalize on the potential.

Honorable Mention - Gail Kim, Paige, and Charlotte

Male Pro Wrestler of the Year: John Cena

The standard of the business. No reasons really necessary here. The dude busts his ass in the ring all the time and really had a great string of matches with the United States Championship. And oh yeah, the guy just keeps delivering with the Make-A-Wish foundation. Gotta give him his props this year.

Honorable Mention - Jay Lethal, Seth Rollins, Eric Young, Prince Puma, and Roman Reigns

Sport Event of the Year: NBA Finals

There was just something special and fun about the NBA Finals. From the fun Golden State Warriors to the absolutely incredible performance by LeBron James, all six games were awesome.

Honorable Mention - MLB Playoffs, Super Bowl 49, FIFA Women's World Cup, The Belmont Stakes

The Derek Jeter Flip Play Award of the Year: Eric Hosmer's World Series Dash

It is by far the most dramatic play of the year for me. Watching Hosmer take a gamble and forcing the issue in the World Series was amazing theater, especially when it all paid off. IT was pretty much, ah man! Wait, huh? Where are you going! Oh my...WHOA!"

Honorable Mention - Carli Lloyd's Mid-Field Goal, Malcolm Butler's Goaline Interception, Jose Bautista's Bat Flip in ALDS

Coach of the Year: Jill Ellis

How can Ellis not be given this award? The past two world cups were considered disappointments. Once again, the United States National Women's Team were ranked number one in the world and expected to win - and this time, they did. On top of that, Ellis made some difficult decisions, including benching legendary player Abby Wambach.

Honorable Mention - Steve Kerr and Ned Yost

Team of the Year: US Women's Soccer Team

Obvious, no? World Cup victory. Dominates the world's game. Inspired tons of women. How can they not be?

Honorable Mention - Golden State Warriors, Kansas City Royals, Chicago Blackhawks, Portland Timbers, and New York Mets

Dome Pondering Athlete of the Year: Stephen Curry

This was a tough one for me this year. There were so many options, so many athletes who put together an impressive 2015. Obviously, 2014 DP Athlete of the Year, Serena Williams made a case for a repeat. Carli Lloyd was absolutely fantastic during the World Cup, Bryce Harper had his breakout year, and of course, there is LeBron.

However, Steph Curry was special this year. 2015 is the year Curry went from All-Star to one of the greats in the game. Especially when we consider the absurd level he is now playing at in the new season. Add to that an NBA Title and a new found stardom, and there is an argument that Curry is currently the face of the NBA.

One thing is for sure, Curry earns the nod this year as the DP Athlete of the Year.

Honorable Mention - Serena Williams, Carli Lloyd, LeBron James and Bryce Harper

The Final Countdown...

Dear Self, 

Never in your wildest dreams would you have imagined yourself at the point in which you write this unique final countdown. You are now wrapping up 2015 in a year, like every other, in which you have grown. But, none quite like 2015.

Someday you will read this DP Year in Review, and you will remember 2015 as a year in which you learned plenty about yourself, and your ability to care and be a rock for others. Because it was exactly that. All of it happened. 

Yes, for starters, you turned 30 (Praying on a Cool Thirty). Thirty! You know, the big 3-0! The age everyone typically dreads, or has been dreading, including most of your friends of the same age. The age which now seems so far away from innocence and trials. So far away from times filled of the unknown, and marred with a lack or false sense of self-confidence. 

However, unlike your peers who dread this age with reluctance and an eventual embracing of going "downhill" from here, you embraced 30. You strangely loved 30. Heck, you wanted 30! Because, for some reason, 30 just feels right. Whereas being 29 just felt like pretending to be 30. Pretending to have that confidence - the real kind - which you now have. The confidence of being reassured in yourself, in those around you, in your career, in your friends, with your past, with your choices, with your life, with your faith, and overall, who you aspire to be. And most importantly, how that all plays into your place in this world. 

You know, that confidence that ultimately followed that moment of clarity when self-actualization hits you. And boy did it ever.  

30 brought you to the realization of how far you've come from those days, and those times of wondering that dreaded question, do you belong? And as stated in the past, oddly believing that you weren't "leadership" material.

In 2015, 30 assured that you've brought it all together. Tomorrow, a year, five years, ten years, or even twenty years from now, you'll read this and laugh at your then naivete. I'm sure of it. Age and time can do that. But at this very moment, as I write this to you, you are the best version of yourself - ever. And I am so very confident in that statement. What else can I can ask for at this life milestone? Maybe that's why you are more comfortable with 30 than others. 

It hasn't been all sunshine and home runs in getting to this point. The hardships and adjustments, some even forced by unexpected changes via life, are really why you are who you are. And you know this. 

You've learned to accept your father's deteriorated condition (an inner struggle for a while), and have improved on handling and interacting with him in regards to his early dementia. You've accepted that you will and you want to take care of your parents from here on out. 

Also this year, you've managed to carry your wife through a very difficult time in which she lost her job. A period in which you learned to be strong for her, even when she didn't even know she was leaning on you as she figured things out. 

You've become the leader you never, ever - EVER - dreamed of in other ways. This included being there for your students, all of them, whenever they needed you. In discipline, in advice, by ear, or with just a hug. Especially, those who trust and confide in you during some of their most personal and harrowing times. 

To be quite honest, in this time, at this very moment, you now have a clearer understanding of God's purpose for you on His earth. More than ever. 

And because of that, in 2015, after 30, you lived by the mantra "Better" all year long. Become a better husband. A better son. A better friend. A better mentor. A better boss. A better professional. A better person. A better weightlifter. A better blogger. A better - any and everything!

I remember you at various times this past year beating yourself up on the inside during, or after moments, in which you said the wrong thing; or didn't choose the best option; or flat out failed to make an effort or capitalize on an opportunity.  

Better? Better. Better! BETTER!!!

Because ironically, for all of the things you now know, or that you've realized, there is more. There is so much more to add as you run this race called life. At 30, looking back, it's absolutely amazing to see how far a club-footed born boy from low-income Brooklyn, pegged for a life-time on crutches, and born to uneducated parents, has come. 

You're not there yet. And I'm sure in the future you will very much agree with this from the lessons and improvements that happened after 2015, well beyond this note to you. Regardless, keep getting better. 

Better. Better. Better...

After all, again, you're not there, but only future you reading this will know where "there" is. 

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him."
- 1 Corinthians 2:9
In 2016, How will you be better? 

Happy New Year

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