Professional wrestling 2011 Year in Review

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Professional wrestling 2011 Year in Review

 

Ok before we begin a few notes:

 

  1. I will not be discussing TNA storylines specifically because I really did not watch enough of it to make a proper assessment.
  2. I know there will be people who go “but you forgot about this and that”.  Listen.  This thing is long enough as it is.  There was a lot I wanted to talk about, but I wanted to focus on the major events and talk more extensively about those rather than ramble on a lot of insignificant topics.
  3. Please leave comments.  Yes, I do this type of stuff for fun, but its nice when you put a lot of hard work into something and people tell you if they liked it or not.  Thanks in advance.
  4. You will notice some format changes from years past.  The month by month break down was lame so while I will go in somewhat chronological order, there will not be some random topic mentioned just to fill space for a specific month.

 

With this review I will make history because for the first time in five years of doing this, I have done the LEAST amount of complaining that I have ever done.  Yes, that means less angry rants and probably will also cause this thing to suck because seriously, who wants to read anything positive on the internet these days?  WWE has left me with no choice because for the first time in seven years the shows have actually been (mostly) entertaining and the right people (and by that I mean real wrestlers that everybody can get behind) are holding the championships.  It’s almost impossible, but they did it.  Congratulations WWE, you have managed to take me from highly enraged one year ago to just slight pessimism now.  Go treat yourself to something nice.  Maybe one of these perhaps?

Tired ice cream jokes, FTW
Tired ice cream jokes, FTW

 

– The RRRRRRRoyaaaal RRRRRRumblllle: The First PPV of 2011 amazingly delivered when Alberto Del Rio won the biggest rumble match in history.  40 men entered, but only one survived and it was actually someone who had never won before.  Despite the fears of the dreaded Super Marine prevailing, the WWE finally decided to take their youth movement seriously by sending Del Rio to the big dance.  Speaking of dancing, Booker T made a surprise appearance topped off by his signature spin-a-roonie.  Diesel (a.k.a. Kevin Nash) also made an appearance, black hair and all (guess the Kenny Rodgers look finally went out of style).  This rumble also saw the most spectacular self-save in history when John Morrison got knocked off the ring apron and onto the security wall.  Words do not describe it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4FR1tchV9w

Be Jealous indeed.  Despite the hype though, the 40 man format fell flat and hopefully will not be returning in 2012 (SPOILERS: it won’t).

 

– FINALLY…: This was the one we’ve been waiting for.  Seven long years in the making and it FINALLY happened.  The Rock returned to Monday Night RAW (fresh off another Hollywood flop – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1433108/) last February.  Despite being away for seven long years, he cut one of the best promos by anyone in years (naturally).  I don’t know if it was him claiming that John Cena had “fallen out of Barney the Dinosaur’s anus” or him threatening to shove a laptop up Michael Cole’s ass, but he once again won me over and the bitterness of years past faded in an instant.  The Rock was back, not for good, but it seemed like he never left.

 

– The Ryder Revolution begins: Nearly a year has passed since the first episode of Z! True Long Island Story was posted on youtube by Zack Ryder.  It was hard to imagine when you first watched it that it was going to turn into something.  At first glance, it was a fun show, but in reality it was more like Zack’s last stand.  Zack knew he was on the brink of being released (due to creative “having nothing for him”) and threw up one giant Hail Mary to save his spot on the roster.  By some miracle, it worked.  Zack began to get noticed not only by fans, but by management and as the show’s audience grew, so did Zack’s opportunities. He started appearing consistently on WWE susperstars.  Within weeks, he was consistently winning on Superstars.  A few months later he started appearing on RAW…IN MATCHES.  However, Zack (now getting a big face pop) needed a foil for his fun loving antics.  Enter Dolph Ziggler – the U.S. champ.  Ziggler would help Ryder’s character grow and by December, Ryder would achieve his dream and become the U.S. champ.  Whether you “get” Zack Ryder or not, you have to at least admit that he’s a very charismatic and talented young man who should be applauded for taking a different route.  Most of the younger talent that has come and gone the last few years have been extremely lazy and have been quick to point fingers at others for their short comings (see: Carlito).  Zack may be the next Hulk Hogan or he may be the next mid-card hero who never quite breaks through that thick glass ceiling, but at least it’s been a fun ride and a great story.  Think about it, for a guy who was almost released a year ago to see how far he has come is nothing short of amazing and despite our loss of influence on the company decision makers, it shows we still have a little bit of pull around here and that’s something we can all pump our fists to.

– Edge Retires: Being only 28 years of age, I had never had the privilege of watching someone’s career from start to finish.  I had come close with Shawn Michaels, but I was still too young to see the very very beginning.  Unfortunately, that time came sooner than any of us expected.  Edge who had began his career (basically) as a WWE developmental talent in the mid-90’s was forced to retire due to his chronic neck condition.  Edge’s career began in July of 1998 shortly after the kick start of the Attitude Era.  I remember the vignettes that promoted Edge’s arrival.  They were memorable because they built Edge as this mysterious enigma who hung out in grungy places.

This was just the beginning for the man who would win just about every title and be in dozens of memorable matches for the next thirteen years.  A career cut short, but probably one of the greatest we will ever see and some of us were there every step of the way.  I could go on and on about all of Edge’s accomplishments, but it wouldn’t do justice to such a great career so all I can say is thank you Edge. Thank you for entertaining us, for the sacrifices you made, and most of all for the memories.

 

Macho Man Dies: When you have watched someone on TV for so long they almost become part of your life so you take for granted that they’ll always be around in some way.  For wrestling fans, this is far from the case.  Over the years we have sat by and watch many of our favorite performers (both past and present) die prematurely.  Most times, it’s sad, but not overly depressing and sometimes I couldn’t care less (see: Bastian Booger), but the big death this year hit me harder than any I could ever remember.  That was the death of Macho Man Randy Savage.  Savage to put it mildly was an icon, not only in wrestling, but in pop culture as well.  How else would the words “snap into a slim jim” and “ooooooh yea!” become part of our everyday vernacular?  However, Savage was more than a catch phrase.  He was an innovator, an artist, a one of a kind who has inspired generations of wrestlers and fans alike.  While he may never get the same recognition as Hogan, Rock, or Austin, Savage was a bigger part of the industry than many realize.  While Hogan was strong and seen as the larger than life hero, Savage was flashier and just an overall better performer.  He could fly, he could talk, he could mat wrestle, and he was just more entertaining.  Heel, face, Elizabeth, no Elizabeth, it didn’t matter.  He did it all with a high level of style and showmanship that we may never see again.  R.I.P. Macho Man.  We will never forget you.  DIG IT!

Bringing more flying elbows and slim jims to Heaven than anyone before him
Bringing more flying elbows and Slim Jims to Heaven than anyone before him

Christian’s epic 2 day World title reign: Oh WWE how you toy with our emotions.  It was so great seeing Christian finally win a real World title after all the years of being in Edge’s shadow, then being jobbed out to make future stars, then his defection to TNA for 3 years.  Finally, Christian would get his due and get a chance to be the top guy.  However, two days after Christian’s emotional World title victory over Alberto Del Rio at Extreme Rules he was booked to defend the title against (a recently drafted) Randy Orton.  Now, I’m a realist. I know they didn’t bring Orton over to Smackdown to play second fiddle to anyone, but they couldn’t wait more than TWO FUCKING DAYS to rip the title off of a guy who worked fourteen years to get there?  Then to have him drop it to a guy who’s had eight World title reigns prior to that?  Its just wrong.  Yes, they gave him a longer run (a whole six weeks), but that doesn’t erase the fact that the logic in the company is severely flawed.

 

– The Voice of the Voiceless: You gotta love how the WWE works.  They bore us week in and week out for the better part of the year and then suddenly without warning, they drop a (pipe)bomb that hooks us for the entire summer.  In 07 it was Vince getting blown up in a limo, in 08 it was Kane’s “is he dead or alive” story, in 09 it was Vince selling RAW to Donald Trump, in 2010 it was the Nexus invasion, and this year it was C.M. Punk.  No one had any idea what Punk was going to say when he picked up a microphone at the end of RAW on June 27th, but once he said to John Cena that only thing Cena did better than Punk was “kissing Vince McMahon’s ass” you knew you were witnessing something special.  Once again in all its glory:

Punk’s promo not only broke the fourth wall, but it shattered the wall into a million straightedge little pieces.  By the time it was all over the wrestling World was on fire again.  The only problem with it was Punk’s contract really was ending and the Money in the Bank PPV would be his last show unless Vince McMahon somehow convinced him to stay.

– Its Clobberin’ Time: The time had finally come.  July 17, 2011.  Money in the Bank.  Chicago, Ill.  It was the most excited I could remember being for a PPV in a long time.  CM Punk in what was built as his last WWE match against John Cena for the WWE title.  In reality, it was more than a match against Cena. Punk was fighting the symbol of the status quo, against a tired formula that had long worn out its welcome, against all his doubters and critics in the back.  Would he finish what he started?  Would he win the title and continue the summer of Punk or storm out of the company bitter and frustrated?  The atmosphere was unlike any I’ve ever seen or heard.

 

– HHH as COO: When reports came out that HHH was being groomed to take over for Vince once Vince dies (not being morbid.  It’s just my opinion that Vince will never retire and he’ll die while still in charge of the company), it seemed like a good idea or at the very least something that was inevitable.  Little did we know that HHH would also be taking over for Vince on screen as well.  As Vince was about to fire John Cena (thanks to his MITB loss to Punk), HHH appeared and revealed that Vince was being relieved of his duties (by the “board of directors”) and that HHH would now run the company.  It was a great idea in theory, but not so great in reality.  Here’s the problem with HHH, he (like Vince) has a HUGE ego which is fine when you’re the best in the business and no one can touch you, but the problem is that was HHH five years ago.  HHH now is barely a wrestler and YET he still puts himself over first before anyone else.  In a time where the company is starving for star talent, it really doesn’t seem like a good idea to come out and call CM Punk (newly crowned WWE champion) a flabby garbage man.  Between the choppy feud with Nash, the lame and predictable “walk out”, and the glaring pot holes  it just seemed like this one fell a little flat.  Maybe it’s too early to call this angle a failure, but even if its fun to watch, in reality its just more of the McMahon’s stroking their own ego and displaying their control of other people’s lives.

 

The Summer of Punk Continues – Punk may or may not have been officially employed (I’m 90% sure he was), but he was certainly doing his best to stay in the spotlight after winning the WWE title at Money in the Bank.  Not only did Punk tear it up on the streets of Chicago, but once home he stuck the title (still with John Cena’s name on it) in his refrigerator (yes of course there was Pepsi in there).  His next stop was Comic-con where he “crashed” WWE’s press conference to remind everyone who the real WWE champion was.  Finally, a mere two weeks after MITB, Punk returned to RAW with a new contract thus setting up a champion Vs champion match with Cena (who had won the title from Rey Mysertio moments before)at Summerslam.  Yes, I know it would have been more interesting for Punk to stay away and grow the anticipation for his return, but this is the WWE were talking about.  Storytelling (despite being one of their jobs) is not their strength.  Plus, they needed a main event for SummerSlam.  The important thing here is that Punk was able to (at the very least) wake the internet fans out of their coma.  There has never been someone on the brink of leaving and then in an instant get over so much that the company had no choice but to bring him back and make him a top star.  Maybe this won’t last forever.  Maybe Punk can’t change the company as much as he’d (or we) would like, but he’s made a significant dent – a dent that hopefully will get bigger as time goes on.

 

– Kevin Nash Returns (again): Ok I’ll admit it.  When Nash came out as Diesel at the Royal Rumble I marked out (in my pants).  It was nice to see him come back into the WWE fold, but once it was over I was ready to move on.  Little did we know Nash would re-surface after CM Punk had retained the WWE title at SummerSlam.  Nash power bombed Punk thus setting up a Money in the Bank cash in by Alberto Del Rio.  OMFG.  WTF?  ARGH ARGH.  No seriously, that happened.   Over the next few months Nash would be “hired” and “fired” depending upon Vince’s mood that day…I mean depending where the HHH as COO storyline was, but then things really got stupid.  HHH was beaten by Nash with a sledgehammer thus putting him out of commission for a few weeks.  A few weeks has now dragged out into 3 months of awkward Nash promos and a general sense of boredom from the crowd.  I think it wouldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t push him so hard.  Here’s a guy who’s 50, who is barely mobile, and someone who’s probably done more harm for the business than good (see: finger poke of doom match) getting a match on PPV against a big name like HHH.  To boot only about half the audience even knows who he is.

 

– My name is…: Johnny Ace a.k.a. John Laurentitis has long been a target of scorn and parody among the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community for all the noobs out there) most of which is completely justified.  The guy basically fell into JR’s job as head of talent relations and coasted up the corporate ladder by kissing McMahon/Helmsley ass 24/7.  Not only has he made life miserable for many backstage, but this year his tired act came to the big screen and boy did we ever learn a lot about why the WWE has been in the crapper for the last six years.   Now before I go any further, I know somebody out there will say “well the guys not that boring in real life”.  Believe me when I tell you this guy is not playing a character.  He’s not even playing a character with the “volume turned up”.  He’s just playing himself.  The fact that WWE is now parading him out in public is either genius or utterly embarrassing (probably a mix of both).  This guy truly does not have a clue and it shows.  Look at the talent that’s been signed or pushed since Ace took over for JR in 2004.  Guys like Cena, Orton, and Batista all became main event stars despite not having the combined talent of any of their predecessors.  He signed guys like The Great Khali and The Dicks while releasing talented wrestlers like Elijah Burke and Colt Cabana.  It’s mid boggling how a guy with so little talent gets to keep such a high profile job.

Mr. Excitement?  Mr. Excrement is more I like it.  Or how about Mr. Excruciating?
Mr. Excitement? Mr. Excrement is more I like it. Or how about Mr. Excruciating?

 

– Boots to Asses: The Rock not only returned to the WWE this past year, he returned to a WWE ring as well.

 

 

“Two indie schmucks didn’t do so bad, eh?”: No truer words were spoken than those words from CM Punk that were posted following the TLC pay-per-view.  The night started off with a long overdue U.S. title win for Zack Ryder who finally got his due forty four weeks after Z! True Long Island Story began its run on youtube.  However, the WWE was not done getting the IWC to mark out.  Later on Mark Henry would drop the WHC to the Big Show in a chairs match, but Henry did not take the loss well.  He DDT’d Show onto a pile of chairs, and then the rocked out version of “Flight of the Valkyries” played as Daniel Bryan sprinted down with the MITB briefcase, covered the fallen Big Show, and became the new WHC.  To top it off Bryan stood on top of the announcer’s desk and (figuratively) rubbed the title in Michael Cole’s face.  Cole could just sit in shock in silence while the Baltimore crowd around him was going nuts.  Punk retaining against Miz and Alberto Del Rio completed the hat trick and we were off and running toward a brighter future.

 

The Chick Magnet and the American Dragon making the WWE a better place for wrestlers and fans of wrestling alike.
The Chick Magnet and the American Dragon making the WWE a better place for wrestlers and fans of wrestling alike.

 

 

Well that’s a wrap(up) I’m afraid.  Sorry, no Dusty this year.  Giving him a break.  Besides, he’s too busy eating to talk to anyone.  It’s hard enough to understand that guy when he doesn’t have fried chicken legs stuffed in his mouth.  No one wants to deal with that.  Peace. 

One thought on “Professional wrestling 2011 Year in Review

  1. I only disagree with one point: Randy Savage is as recognized as Hogan, Austin, and Rock. Maybe not from a WWE standpoint because of Vince’s personal grudge with him. But for not only hardcore wrestling fans but also the general public, Savage was indeed a legend and a household name.

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