Smark Central’s 2014 Professional Wrestling Wrap Up
2014 was without a doubt one of the worst years in wrestling ever and that’s not angry IWC fan boy talking. The outside World actually took notice too. Between a huge untimely death, plummeting stock prices, wrestlers quitting, getting injured, or getting fired and a mediocre new venture it was WWE’s worst year ever. 2007 was bad from an image standpoint thanks to the Benoit murder-suicide, 1995 was the worst creatively and on screen, but 2014 was overall the worst. Nothing seemed to go right for WWE this past year, but here are a few of the brighter spots.
Top 5 Moments
- Heyman’s Palpatine promo w/Cena – Many people have tried to get Cena to embrace his dark side, but the merch selling, over muscled, over hyped, rainbow colored douche just keeps rolling on by being “himself”. Many have made the pitch, but few have come close to making the sale. Paul Heyman actually managed to make the most convincing argument yet using the old empire palpatine technique. That Cena should hate the fans and tell them to “Shut up”. Heyman was so believable it’s scary. You know your watching a show, but he so masterfully presses the right buttons to make you think he really is an underhanded scumbag that is capable of turning a John Cena type. Was I surprised when it didn’t work? No, but it didn’t matter because Heyman made it clear that Cena could never beat Brock unless he embraced that darkside that he so vigorously denies. Just watch this and then convince yourself that Heyman is not a wrestling GOD
- Anything w/Damien Mizdow – If your like me you always like a little humor in your TV shows. WWE decided to repackage a returning Miz as a Hollywood douche bag something akin to Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat. This was a basic yet fitting choice for a guy who acted like a big shot after doing a couple of Z movies and no he wasn’t fighting zombies. However the gimmick was missing something. As it turned out it was missing someone. A man named Damien Sandow. While Miz was gone Sandow had taken up the old Charlie Haas dress up gimmick where he would dress up in costume to mock the town or whatever D list guest host the WWE had overpaid that night. Well one night these two wayward souls found each other and Damien Sandow became Damien Mizdow, the Miz’s stunt double. It was such a hit that instead of being a one off thing, they stuck with it and they have been churning out gold every since. Sandow to his credit is as fully committed to this gimmick as anybody I’ve seen. He mimics Miz’s every move in and out of the ring. When Miz gets hit, Mizdow gets hit, when Miz falls the to the floor there is his doppelganger right behind him flopping to the mat. It’s a real original and funny idea especially considering the profession they’re in. Sure, it only resulted in a five week tag title reign, but the slight of Miz with two regular belts and Damien with two toy ones was just too good to pass up.
- Sting arrives – No matter your opinion of Sting’s career choices this was a huge and monumental moment. The final holdout from the WCW buyout had finally arrived. Yes Sting is old and way past his prime. Yes WWE should be focusing on young talent,. Yes they could have had Dolph win Survivor Series on his own, but is any of that going to stop us from watching Sting fight at WrestleMania? No. We will watch because the few minutes of nostalgia will be more powerful than anything we’ve felt in almost a year. Sting is here and seeing him competing in a WWE ring is going to be a moment in time. It doesn’t matter if it turns out good, bad or otherwise.
- The Ultimate Warrior Returns – I know this is cheating a little because obviously this is a series of moments, but those who have read my stuff before know I am a HUGE Warrior mark so this could take awhile. I apologize in advance. Every year when the time came for the Hall of Fame headliner to be announced I would roll my eyes and say “well its not going to be Randy (Savage) or (The Ultimate) Warrior” and to my surprise this time I was wrong. Warrior was coming in. I could barely contain my excitement that my all time favorite was finally getting his due. Despite all the history between the two sides, Warrior was going to be recognized and given his chance to tell his story to those who had never heard it and man did he tell it. Warrior poured his heart and soul out for the World to see for about an hour at the Hall of Fame. He talked about how hurt he was by the self destruction DVD as well as the clashes he had with Vince in the past, but that he was willing to move on and forge a new relationship with the company. It was surreal to see him standing up there after all the years of reading interviews and watching videos of him talking about how he would never go back. That moment surprisingly would be topped on RAW the night after WrestleMania when he came out and delivered a speech as Warrior that we would all never forget. I still get chills and teary eyed watching that video because that is the last time the World saw Warrior alive. Sadly his final moment in life was having a heart attack at a hotel near his home in Arizona shortly after flying home from RAW. It was the same ending many of his colleagues have endured. The price they paid for many hard years on the road. However, as Warrior himself said the legend of the Warrior will now run forever.
- Daniel Bryan sweeps WrestleMania and wins the WWE Title – The way this came about was as an unlikely a scenario as there has ever been. WWE tried to verbally and physically destroy Bryan. They tried to beat it into the fans heads that Bryan was a “B+ player”, but his popularity could not be denied. People chanted YES, they bought his shirts, they tormented anybody who wasn’t Bryan. Bryan did his part as well by working his ass off, but no one in the back seemed to care about any of it. They were still going to go with Batista (as a face) Vs Randy Orton for the title at WrestleMania. They were so desperate to make this work that they left Bryan out of the Rumble entirely and guess what? The crowd, the fans watching and most of the WWE.com alumni section hated it and questioned the company decision makers. Finally after a few more weeks of trying to force the fans to buy in, the WWE changed gears and brought Bryan into the picture. He had to have a match with HHH and then win a triple threat against Orton and Batista, but Bryan finally prevailed. Unfortunately, his reign was cut short by injury, but WrestleMania was still one of the most fulfilling moments I can ever remember as a fan.
Batista’s all blue trunks create Bluetista MEME – Long story short – Evolution came out for a match against the Shield. Orton and HHH come out in their typical blank trunks and Batista comes out head to toe in blue.
I know Batista probably thought nothing of his choice of attire, but the internet sure took notice and thus the Bluetista MEME was born. This didn’t go away overnight either. It seemed to go on for almost a week. People were obsessed and who could blame them when gems like this were coming out
NXT – I do not watch NXT so I’m not going to ramble on about something I don’t know much about, but from what I hear and the little I’ve seen it’s been the only bright spot in WWE this past year. The only problem with it seems to come from when these talented stars get called up to the main roster. This will be something to keep a close eye on in the year to come as a power struggle between Vince and HHH seems inevitable, but that’s another topic for another time.
Top 5 Worst Moments
- Batista returns as a face and wins rumble – The WWE in their infinite wisdom actually thought that Batista = The Rock. They really thought that bringing back Batista after four years away doing B movies was going to garner the same pop and excitement that the Rock’s return did. Yes the same Rock who is an A list movie star in countless big franchise’s. Not to mention one of the most beloved WWE superstars in history (another thing Batista is not). Not only that, but at the same time the hottest star in the company is Daniel Bryan was being pushed aside so a guy whose been gone for four years can just jump in and get a title shot. To Vince’s dismay, Batista flopped immediately as a face because 1. He wasn’t Bryan. 2. He wasn’t anyone worthy of halting Bryan’s push like the Rock had done to Punk the year before 3. He’s Batista. He’s not good at phony smiles or getting the crowd riled up. He’s good at being a dick to people. Its cliché to say but the best characters are derived from real life and Batista cares way more about himself than what the fans think. In the end, it all worked out, but months did go by where Batista Vs Orton was reality.
- Anything involving the Bellas – Pick anything, anything that involved these two no talents and you can’t go wrong – Jerry Springer, Bryan having an affair w/the trainer, the arrests, the bitchy promos, the obvious Nikki heel turn. The even more obvious Brie heel turn. It was all extremely terrible. Any time you take the Bellas, add in some terribly written soap opera dialogue and equally terrible wrestling you have a genuine shit storm. I could fart out a better storyline had I swallowed every season of Dallas (the 80’s one -google it or ask your parents) and stole the souls of the Olsen Twins. My God. It was so so bad and Stephanie was planted right in the middle which was great because CLEARLY she wasn’t getting enough TV time with her husband. Ugh. Can someone please update these writers that not all women are crazy, bitchy, party girls, or lesbians? Please?!?!?! Stop saying they’re powerful and tough and show people that they are.
- Taker’s streak is broken by the wrong guy – So many names, so many good choices, but the streak was given to Brock Lesnar. Yes, the same Brock Lesnar who is already a huge star, who couldn’t give two shits about WWE or it’s fans and the same Brock Lesnar who works only 34 days a year. Yes that was the guy who was booked to end the Undertaker’s 21-0 WrestleMania winning streak. Some argued that it’s wrestling and its scripted so get over it and that Lesnar is at least a legit badass. While both of those things are true we’re not talking about winning and losing. We’re talking about something that could and should have been used to build the foundation for the next generation. Someone like Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose or Roman Reigns would have enormously benefited from being the 1 in 21-1 and would have allowed WWE to build the company around that person. Brock is a bad ass and no one is arguing his abilities in any type of fight, but he’s also a jackass. A greedy jackass who is getting paid a lot of money for working 1/10th of the schedule that everybody else in the company is working. Granted Taker works even less than that, but he’s earned it. Lesnar quit in 2004, leaving a giant hole for the future, went away for eight years, came back and works thirty four times a year. He’s a proven draw, but not someone who should have ended the streak. Once he ended the streak WWE had to do something bigger with Lesnar or it’d be a total waste and the only thing bigger is the WWE title. Lesnar is currently in his 4th month of not defending the title. Since retaining the title in September he has made two RAW appearances. We have seen the WWE champion TWO times since September. There is no way anyone can convince me that having Lesnar end the streak was a good idea. It was a terrible idea in April and continues to negatively affect the company to this day.
- Daniel Bryan’s injury – Injuries in wrestling happen all the time so it shouldn’t be upsetting or surprising, but this one was a real downer and you could see it coming a mile away. WWE had worked Bryan so hard from Summerslam of last year through his injury shortened title reign that his body just gave out. It was a neck issue so right away the news was not good. This was going to be a long term injury. WWE did their best to keep Bryan champion until a definitive diagnosis was made, but all that did was hold up the title and piss fans off. Finally WWE had to make a move and take the title off of Bryan. WWE soon after pointed fingers at Bryan’s move set for being the reason his neck was in such bad shape and not all the extra work he was asked to do to prove himself as a main eventer. Yes, his move set did him in. Not multiple matches a night, handicapped matches and gang beat downs by some of the biggest and strongest guys on the roster.
Vince: Ok Daniel tonight your going to fight Mark Henry, Cesaro, and Batista in a gauntlet match followed by a 5 on 1 beating by the Authority
DB (looking annoyed):…
It upsets me that WWE seemingly went out of their way to halt a guys momentum (just because he wasn’t the guy they wanted) and doing it under the guise of “having to prove himself”. If fifteen years between the indies, NXT, and the WWE basement isn’t proving yourself I don’t know what is. Not to mention the guy went from being legit fired to being one of the most popular stars of the last decade. That’s not someone who should be punished and put through Hell just to main event a few lousy PPVs. That’s a guy who should have held the title for a long time as a reward for his hard work and dedication, but WWE has basically turned into opposite land the past few years.
- C.M. Punk quits/rants/joins UFC – There’s now way to review 2014 and not mention C.M. Punk. His abrupt departure is basically what started WWE down this rough path. Many people have shared their views and thoughts on what was said by both sides. What it boils down to for me is disappointment. On one side you have the top superstar of the last three years and on the other you have the big corporate billion dollar machine WWE. Punk certainly made a strong case for justifying his departure. He was certainly mistreated and in some respects flat out abused. He was rushed back from two surgeries and was misdiagnosed as having a calcium deposit by the WWE doctor. It turns out that Punk had a major staph infection and almost died. WWE isn’t the only giant corporation to mistreat their employees for the benefit of their product. However, when your product is the talent you should be treating them like gold. Instead they treated him like a horse that you keep riding and riding until one day it breaks it’s leg and then needs to be put down. On the other hand, Punk obviously didn’t do enough to convey that he was having a major problem with his health. It also doesn’t help that despite his displeasure he kept moving forward. If you feel like something is wrong or your being mistreated at your job you need to go to the right people and express your frustration. As heartless as Vince may seem at times I find it hard to believe if Punk told him the doctor wasn’t helping Vince wouldn’t help him out. A lot of bad stuff went down and sadly it probably could have all been avoided with a little communication and understanding. Despite all the bad blood, I think we see Punk back in WWE somewhere down the line. It’s really hard to imagine these two sides not working out their problems. There’s a lot of money to be made in big return matches/feuds (see Brock Lesnar and The Rock), but for now Punk is going to give UFC a shot and WWE is going to try and force the guys they like down our throats.
Shield Breakup – This is funny because any other year THIS would probably be number one. However, as we’ve discussed it’s been that bad a year for WWE so the greatest faction of the last ten years breaking up barely makes it in the piece. WOW WWE. Way to suck. Was this inevitable? Yes. Was it the right time? Thats very debatable. All three guys have the talent to be big stars, but I think at least one more year together would have made them even bigger. WWE seems to have a habit of ending a good thing too soon or dragging out something terrible too long (see Bellas feud)
Shillamania – WWE the masters of over hype and self promotion shifted into overdrive this year with the launch of WWE network. They went so far as to make the network’s price point of $9.99 a catch phrase. They even made a t-shirt of it. No seriously.
The worst part was when Hulk Hogan came back and became Vince’s personal shilling machine. Anytime WWE needed to promote something here came the Hulkster. Check out WWE network brother, support Breast Cancer awareness brother, hooray it’s Christmas brother. It was endless and sad. I used to get so excited when Real American would hit and the red and yellow came charging to the ring. Now I just groan and go “oh great what’s this douche trying to sell us now?” I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not his soul because somebody has already bought that, BROTHER.
It’s hard to say where WWE is going to go from here. After several talent losses and losing millions of dollars one has to wonder if change is inevitable. My gut tells me WWE will continue to plug away as if nothings wrong just like Punk said they would in 2011. It would be a huge disservice to the fans and the talent if they did, but they have become very good at flipping everyone off so it wouldn’t surprise me either. Sorry to sound like such sour grapes, but this was a tough year and it doesn’t look to be getting any better in 2015.