WWE Year in Review 2010

WWE Year In Review 2010

It’s more or less the end of another year in WWE and since it’s all I know how to do, I figured I’d write something really long that most people won’t read all the way through. This is just what the title says: a look back at what happened this year in both the highs and the lows in as many aspects of the on screen aspects of WWE as I can come up with. Let’s get to it.


As always if you think I’m wrong or something, yell at me about it.

Timeline

Main Event/World Title/Upper Midcard

Raw

Raw started off on a bit of a rocky point with a glorified unknown as the world champion in the Human Jar of Mayonnaise himself, Sheamus. His title reign didn’t last long though as at the second PPV of the year, Elimination Chamber, John Cena took the title back. His reign was even shorter though, lasting all of four minutes. This was the beginning of our first big feud for the red team as Batista took the world title, holding it until Wrestlemania.

What was originally a dream feud was soon watered down as Cena destroyed Batista at every given turn, beating him at three straight PPVs with the title on the line. Following the third loss, Batista legitimately quit the company in a surprise. A mere two weeks later, something big happened. That something big was called Nexus.

For the next several months this team tormented John Cena. Led by Wade Barrett, they cost him the world title at MITB. At this show the contract for Raw’s MITB was won by The Miz. More on him later. Anyway at this show, Sheamus won his second world title in a Fatal Fourway match at the PPV of the same name.  For the next few months, the primary world title feud was Sheamus vs. Randy Orton which definitely took a back seat to Cena vs. Nexus.

During this time, the new Raw GM aided Cena in his battles along with others that had been attacked by Nexus over the past few months. The GM is a guy you may have heard of named Bret Hart. More on him later. Anyway at Summerslam, Cena’s army was able to defeat Nexus. Orton won the title the following month at Night of Champions in a 6 Pack Challenge.

After Orton won the title from Sheamus, Wade Barrett came after it, but he had a backup plan. His backup plan came in the form of Cena himself, having been forced to join Nexus after losing a match at Hell in a Cell to Barrett when two members of Season 2 of NXT joined Nexus (they officially joined a few weeks later but for all intents and purposes they joined here) and cost Cena the match.

The following months were built around Barrett’s chasing the world title with the help of Cena. At Bragging Rights Cena cost Orton the match but the title didn’t change hands. The following month was Survivor Series and a match called Free or Fired. The concept was simple: with Cena as the referee, Orton defended against Barrett. If Barrett lost, Cena was fired. If Barrett won the title then Cena was freed from Nexus. Cena counted Barrett’s shoulders down and was immediately fired.

Naturally Cena didn’t leave forever and was back at the next PPV. A funny thing happened on the way to that PPV though: there was a new WWE Champion. In this case that man’s name was The Miz. On the Raw following Survivor Series, Barrett got one more shot at the title. Orton won with the help of a “fan” named John. Immediately thereafter though, the music hit and Miz ran down to cash in his MITB contract, winning the title.

Barrett faced Cena one more time at the TLC PPV where Miz retained the title against Orton in a tables match. Cena defeated Barrett to close the show, literally burying him in chairs. Before the year closed out, we found Miz’s next opponent for the world title in the form of his old partner John Morrison. On the other side of things, Cena has a new foe in the form of CM Punk and his army: the Nexus.

Smackdown

The year began with a familiar name on the World Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker. After defeating Rey Mysterio at the Royal Rumble, Taker lost the title to Chris Jericho in the Elimination Chamber with the assistance of Shawn Michaels who we’ll get to later. Jericho defended the title at Mania against Edge, which we’ll also get to later.

Going into Wrestlemania the other main feud had been Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk as Punk attempted to get Mysterio to join the Straightedge Society. This led to a series of very good PPV matches, ultimately resulting in Punk having his head shaved by Mysterio to make sure that the superhero was still all superheroish.

At Mania Jack Swagger won the first of three MITB contracts during the year. He cashed in almost immediately, winning the title on the first Smackdown from Jericho. Swagger would defend against Randy Orton and Big Show on PPV but would lose to Rey Mysterio in a Fatal Fourway match in June.

Around May of the year, we heard a shocking announcement: the Undertaker was in a coma (vegetative state but give me a break). Kane vowed to find the culprit no matter who it was. You could say he was trying to find himself but that’s a bit too clichéd for my tastes. This storyline would dominate the summer and lead into the storyline that would dominate the fall.

Around the same time (June) Big Show began to feud with the Straightedge Society and Punk in particular. Show attempted to get Punk to have fun and unmask after having his head shaved. This resulted in Punk being chased up a ladder and having his mask ripped off on Smackdown. Show destroyed Punk to end the feud before Punk headed over to Raw.

Mysterio’s second title reign would also be a short lived one as he would lose at the following PPV to Kane, who cashed in his MITB contract after Mysterio defeated Swagger. Kane would beat Rey at Summerslam and then face his brother the Undertaker at three consecutive PPVs.

After Mysterio lost the world title, a new opponent for him debuted by the name of Alberto Del Rio. Claiming to be the descendent of Mexican royalty, Del Rio quickly made an impact, putting Mysterio on the shelf for a few weeks and being credited for Christian being gone for several months with a pectoral injury that he is still out with at the end of the year.

The Brothers’ feud was highlighted by the return of Paul Bearer who naturally turned on the Deadman because that’s just what he does I suppose. The feud culminated at Bragging Rights where Kane buried the Undertaker alive. This would be the second time he had done that which makes things in wrestling seem a bit odd don’t you think?

After a brief Smackdown vs. Raw feud (as in one PPV/month’s worth), Edge rose up as the next challenger to Kane and his World Heavyweight Championship. The feud began as Edge kidnapped Paul Bearer, Kane’s father. After weeks of psychological torment, Kane and Edge wrestled to a draw at Survivor Series. The following month at TLC, Kane (after accidentally pushing his father over an edge and having him fall about 25 feet), lost the title to Edge in a TLC match also involving Mysterio and Del Rio. Edge and Kane’s feud will spill over into the new year.

Main Event/World Title/Upper Midcard: This was a good year for this area of the company. New names popped up in the title scenes and others were elevated from seemingly nowhere. The world titles were on fresh names in all parts of the year in one form or another and there was a time where the titles weren’t the focal points of PPV.

That was a change that many weren’t thrilled with but at the same time those shows were some of the more entertaining ones of the year. On Raw the main focus was on Cena vs. Nexus which was a very interesting change of pace from what we’re used to and I enjoyed it immensely.

Over on the blue show I wasn’t as thrilled with the main events. Swagger was an idea but it didn’t work out all that well. Kane’s title run was a very nice surprise as he had worked incredibly hard for the company for years and FINALLY got a long title reign to his credit. It makes him a threat all over again and gave him a chance to show off on the mic. The Taker feud was boring as you would expect but not entirely so. Overall, Raw was much better in this area than Smackdown by a wide margin.

Midcard

Raw/US Title

The year opened with Miz holding the title and the usual criticisms of the title abounding: it’s never defended. This was incredibly true actually as the title never really did anything. The major feud to start the year was MVP vs. Miz but the title never went to the now released guy (yeah MVP got released in December or November. Few people cared.)

Miz would lose the title to Bret Hart for one night. The following week R-Truth won the title and held it for a few weeks before dropping it right back to the Miz. The next few months didn’t mean much at all for the title as Miz flirted with the MITB cash-in and trying to be appreciated on Cena’s main event team to fight Nexus.

Finally at Night of Champions, Daniel Bryan won the title from the Miz in what was considered a way to free up Miz to go after the world title which he did shortly thereafter. Anyway, Bryan gave us some excellent matches against Dolph Ziggler, the reigning IC Champion. A brief feud with Ted DiBiase resulted in no title change and more or less dominance by Bryan, who is looking completely awesome at the moment and I’ll admit: I was wrong about him. Right now we’re waiting on his next challenger though.

Smackdown/Intercontinental

The IC Title saw far less action this year in the area of title changes, but the action for the title was more interesting than the red equivalent. Drew McIntyre started the year with the championship, continuing his feud with John Morrison. Drew would defend the title against Morrison, Kane and Matt Hardy during his reign.

Finally in May Kofi won the title after winning a tournament to gain the shot. In an odd sequence Drew kept the title after being stripped of it for his attack on Matt Hardy on Smackdown. This would be the start of a feud with Smackdown GM Teddy Long over Teddy fearing Drew while Drew abused his standing as Vince’s Chosen One. This would result in both of them humiliating the other on various occasions.

After a brief feud with McIntyre over the title, Kofi moved on to the major feud of the year over the belt as he faced Dolph Ziggler. For months upon end Dolph tried to win the title with the help of his new girlfriend, Vickie Guerrero. After several attempts to get his hands on the title, Dolph got his hands on it in late July. Their feud continued for what seemed like forever.

We ended the year with a threeway feud for the title between Ziggler, Kofi and Dolph. These three had a series of great matches on TV, culminating in a ladder match at TLC where Ziggler somehow retained the title. He’s held it for months now and is one of the surprises of the year. I’d assume Kofi and Swagger will still be coming for his belt in the near future.

Midcard: This was a year where the titles meant something again which is the best thing they could have done. Instead of having pointless title changes that almost no one was going to remember, the matches were at least all solid for the most part. We got to see guys go out there and wrestle, which has always been the point of those titles. In short, this was a good year for them as their prestige is back.

Tag Teams

This was an ok year for the division I thought with more of a focus being placed on the titles. Big Show and Miz more or less started the year with the titles (yes I know DX held them at first but who cared?) before we shifted over to the Hart Dynasty. During their reign we unified the physical titles into one set of belts. After some forgettable reigns by Nexus and McIntyre/Rhodes, the current champions are now Vladimir Kozlov and Santino Marella, who oddly work with them.

Tag Teams: This year was certainly an improvement over last year as things more or less were boring with the Colons and Jerishow dominating the title scene. Now we’re shifting over towards more natural tag teams rather than guys thrown together and being called a tag team. The comedy team here works with the titles as Santino is insanely popular and giving him a title makes sense at the moment. I have few complaints here but they’re nothing special as always.

Divas

This was the year of Laycool. The two beauties had dominated the title scene for almost forever it seemed, namely making fun of Mickie James and her allegeded fatness. Other than that though, not a lot happened in the earlier parts of the year. Things picked up once the titles were unified which they had been needing for a very long time.

With Laycool becoming the first unified champion they dominated things again for the most part, but having them be the only champion helped quite a bit. There simply wasn’t room for two titles in the company and the unification has helped. Eventually Natalya won a far too long feud with Laycool and Beth Phoenix’s return sets up an eventual mega showdown between the blondes for the title.

Divas: Not a great year or anything, but the introduction of major heels and the unification of the titles were things that needed to happen. This year worked far better than last year and with a single champion, the division is far better than it was in years passed. It’s still the weakest part of the show, but it’s caught up a good bit indeed.

Outside The Ring

There were a few major areas here and some of them go together.

Legendary/Knucklehead

We’ve all heard the lines from the trailers and probably know them by heart at this point. I know Doc certainly does. The thing is, either way you want to look at it the movies bombed. They were in theaters for a single weekend and were on DVD mere weeks later. Both were panned by the critics the whole way and they didn’t work on any level at all. They’re running jokes now and that’s all there is to it.

Linda’s Senate Run

This was one of the big ones. As you all know, Linda McMahon was running for Senate this year. She was beaten badly in the campaign and it was rather clear that Raw and Smackdown were used to push her as a viable candidate. We constantly heard about how great WWE was and how they do all kinds of nice things for people, such as with Stand Up For WWE. Naturally as soon as the campaign was over the videos and talk of how awesome WWE was stopped, just as was predicted.

In short, when Vince and Linda take their eyes and focus off wrestling, they fail. The movies fail, the football failed, the politics failed and everything else has failed. This year was no different at all as the McMahons tried to do something else and it fell apart for them. The wrestling and shows got better when they were paying attention, and that clearly shows as well.

Highlights

The Impossible Return

The year opened with what many believed would never happen in a million years. On January 4, Bret Hart made his return to the WWE. In one of the most mind blowing moments of all time, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels shook hands in the middle of the ring on Raw, burying the hatchet to the biggest feud of all time and the most controversial angle ever occurring in wrestling.

This is the epitome of an event that no one would have ever believed could happen and yet it did. The lesson to be learned from this is that you can never say something is for sure. Coupling this with the Chick Magnet being the WWE Champion and Kane now being a two time world champion, never let it be said that something is impossible in the world of professional wrestling.

Wrestlemania

What would a year in review be without looking at Wrestlemania? I’ve seen every Wrestlemania multiple times and I can certainly say this was one of the better ones. With everything from Bret Hart making Vince McMahon tap out (that was still a great match no matter what people say) to MITB to Jericho vs. Edge, the undercard was good all around.

Then we had the two main events. First up was the far weaker of the two: John Cena vs. Dave Batista. The graphic for this match still gets me excited. It was the two biggest stars in the company squaring off for the World Title at the biggest show of the year. That is how you define epic and the match being very good helped things a lot.

And then there was the main event. A year removed from the most exciting match I have ever seen, it was time for the rematch. In the main event of Wrestlemania, it was Streak vs. Career as Shawn Michaels faced the Undertaker with Shawn’s career on the line. This was absolutely epic on all levels as these two beat the tar out of each other and gave us a great match in the process. Mr. Wrestlemania delivered on the grandest stage of them all and that’s what matters at the end of the day.

Finally, the theme song, I Made It, was so awesome it could walk down the street and people would scream “MR. NORRIS! Can we please have your autograph???” Sweet song for the show and perfect indeed.

NXT/Nexus

A main addition this year was the debut of a new third show in the form of NXT, which replaced ECW back in February. 8 wrestlers would vie for a spot on one of the main rosters and a title shot. After 15 weeks of obstacle courses, program selling, jousting, talking and the occasional wrestling match thrown in, Wade Barrett emerged as the winner of Season 1. Since the end of the season, 4 of the wrestlers on this show have won championships. Not a bad ratio.

Season 2 began the next week which didn’t go as well. The star of this season was Kaval who is already gone. The majority of these people meant nothing at all in the company as they are back down in FCW. The only major players from this season still around are Michael McGillicutty, now part of Nexus, and Alex Riley, now annoying.

The third season was more or less a comedy season with Divas. The winner was Kaitlyn, who had her debut match on the show. I’ve ranted on that enough so far so I’ll spare you the details. Season 4 is still ongoing and it sucks to put it mildly.

As for Nexus, they were clearly the surprise of the year. At the end of the Viewer’s Choice Raw, Wade Barrett popped up on the top of the stage and stood there. From out of the crowd like locusts came the other members of the first season of NXT. The attack was on as Cena and Punk were annihilated by the new team in a near riot like atmosphere. The ring was destroyed, the set was destroyed, Cena was destroyed, and the stage was set for the rest of the year. This also spurred off into several other things:

Anonymous Raw GM: After the resignation of Bret Hart as GM as he won the US Title in another surprise, the GM was revealed…kind of. Now coming from a computer, Michael Cole reads the e-mails from the anonymous GM, more or less making him the GM which is a discussion for another thread. The GM is hard to pinpoint as he/she has gone back and forth for both heels and faces. I have my theories but the story is ongoing as you would expect.

Daniel Bryan Saga: One of the original NXT rookies was Daniel Bryan Danielson, indy superstar that is now the US Champion. During the initial Nexus attack Bryan was seen on camera choking Justin Roberts with a tie. This was deemed too extreme and Bryan was released. The forums were in an uproar as it appeared that this was in fact legit. Bryan returned in a shocker at Summerslam, teaming with Cena’s Army to fight Nexus. Amazing moment and shocking for the most part, other than that whole posting of it on WWE.com before it happened.

Special Events

There were several this year, not all of which will be talked about here as some simply weren’t anything special at all.

Shawn’s Retirement
: This was the night after Wrestlemania and featured an incredible speech from Shawn who unlike Flair two years earlier stood in the ring on his own. In another incredible moment, the Undertaker came to the stage and tipped his hat in an ultra-rare show of respect for a fellow wrestler. Also, Shawn has lived up to his word and stayed away. What more can you ask for from the guy?

Monday Night Smackdown: Now this was an interesting one. Back in April there was a big volcano that erupted in Iceland. At the same time the Raw guys were on a European tour. They were stuck there and couldn’t make Raw, so instead we got the guys from Smackdown to give us a show. It’s the beauty of having two rosters and it worked fine here. Cool moment and making the best out of a bad situation.

2010 Draft: Nothing huge this year with Raw more or less raping Smackdown again, stealing Edge, Morrison and Jericho in exchange for Kofi and Big Show. Pretty forgettable show.

Viewer’s Choice: Again pretty weak but the results were real and Nexus debuted that night. No one remembers the show other than the ending.

900th Raw
: This happened. That’s all I’ve got to say about it.

WWE Old School: OH YES! Now this was fun. We had old announcers, old sets, the old logo, old t-shirts and a great show. Easily one of the funnest shows I’ve seen in years and the whole thing worked incredibly well. I’d love to see another one of these again someday as it gave us some incredible nostalgia.

King of the Ring: I liked this show and the ending worked perfectly with Morrison vs. Sheamus. Granted he now looks like the possessed child of Batman and Satan but it was a nice boost for him.

Slammys: Same as usual with this. Cena won Star of the Year and it was bogus as ever.

Tribute to the Troops: This was one of the best shows of this kind that they’ve ever done. They filmed it in Texas instead of overseas and it made the special seem just that: special. It came off like a USO show and the visuals were great. Definitely something they should shift over to as it’s far more interesting and entertaining this way.


Guest Hosts/Stars

The Guest Host (later named Guest Stars) were around to start the year but phased out by the end to the point where they no longer exist now. Aside from a handful I barely remember any of them, showing that the appearances weren’t helping at all. Some of them got downright stupid, such as Jon Lovitz and Buzz Aldrin. There were a total of three wrestlers as hosts in the entire year. I think you get why I’m glad this was ended. Not much to say here.

And yes I know that the vast majority of these were on Raw, but seriously did anything of note happen on Smackdown? Oh yeah they moved to Syfy. That’s about it though isn’t it?

Overall Themes

Out With the Old

The big one for me is the youth movement more or less being over as the youth has arrived. The following people are those that I would consider major players in WWE at the moment: Punk (32), Bryan (29), Cena (33), Miz (30), Morrison (31) Orton (30), Sheamus (32), Del Rio (33), Rhodes (25), Ziggler (30), McIntyre (25), Swagger (28), Kofi (29), and Barrett (30).

In other words, the oldest listed Cena at 33. The rest of the main event/upper midcard is comprised of HHH (41), Big Show (38), Christian (37), Edge (37), Kane (43), Mysterio (36) and Undertaker (45). In other words, the upper midcard/main event is comprised of 21 guys. Of those 21 guys, 14 are under age 34 and there are 12 age 32 or under. Steve Austin’s age when he won the WWF Title and kickstarted the mega boom: 33. Hogan’s age when he won the world title for the first time: 31.

This year we’ve lost three guys that were in their forties: Batista, Shawn and Jericho. Batista and Shawn seem to be gone for good and Jericho could be gone for awhile if not forever. Those are three faces (people, not good guys) that while great, were in need of leaving as they were getting up there in years and thankfully left before they expired.

In short, the company has shifted away from the old guard and the new generation is here. Of the older guys, HHH has been gone for the majority of the year, Rey is aging rapidly, we have no clue how long Taker has left, Christian is a veteran that hasn’t hit his prime yet, Edge is a prime face and Show has hit his stride as a face. The blend is excellent right now and most important of all: the younger generation is running the place.

If We Can Be Serious For a Minute

This was one of the bigger things I noticed this year: the company is taking itself seriously again. The angles have been far more serious as has the show. Once about June hit the Guest Host concept came to a close and the remaining hosts were far more serious and were mostly just there to make a quick appearance and then be gone for the rest of the night.

There were no more Chavo vs. Hornswoggle matches. There were far fewer comedy bits. The comedy that they did have was used in moderation. Those signs all indicated that the company was once again actually being serious with its shows and the results came out on TV. Comedy certainly has a place in wrestling, but in moderation, which is exactly what they’ve done this year and it has certainly been a positive.

And Now For Something Somewhat Different

This might be a bit of a stretch but it was something I certainly noticed this year: there was a much greater variety on PPV this year in terms of feuds. Let’s take a look at some numbers.

Wrestlers with Multiple PPV World Title Matches (either belt) in 2009:

John Cena – 11
Edge – 7
Jeff Hardy – 8
HHH – 6
CM Punk – 7
Undertaker – 6
Big Show – 3
Rey Mysterio – 2
Chris Jericho – 2
Randy Orton – 10
Batista – 4

Wrestlers with Multiple PPV World Title Matches (either belt) in 2010:

Undertaker – 5
Rey Mysterio – 5
Sheamus – 7
Wade Barrett – 3
Kane – 7
Batista – 4
Jack Swagger – 4
Chris Jericho – 3
Edge – 5
Randy Orton – 10
Big Show – 2
John Cena – 7
CM Punk – 2

In 2010, two more people had multiple title matches. Also, the average number shifted from 5.9 to 4.9. In other words, more people are now getting title shots per year. Also, look at the highs for 2009. In 2009 you had two people getting double digit title shots and another guy getting 8. In 2010 you had Orton at 10 and no one else even at 8. Aside from Orton and arguably Cena, the main event has opened up a bit. Only Mysterio and Jericho received more shots as every else’s total went down. The world title picture is opening up and it’s opening up nicely.

Superlatives

I’m not going to go into a big thing here but am merely going with Show of the Year and Wrestler of the Year.

Show – Wrestlemania. It’s the biggest show of the year, the crowd was hot, the matches were good, the song was great and the ending was awesome. It’s supposed to be the be all and end all of WWE and needless to say, this was a raging success.

Wrestler – The Miz. This is going to get some arguments, but at the end of the day, what has Miz not accomplished this year? He goes from being US Champion at the beginning of the year to adding in the tag titles to reclaiming the US Title to winning Money in the Bank to cashing in to win the WWE Title. All along the way he climbed higher and higher on the totem poll to the point where he’s now a credible world champion. Considering that two years ago he was the chick magnet, how else can you say he isn’t the most amazing star in wrestling this year?

Overall

This was a big improvement overall for the company. Things are being taken more seriously and it has shown onscreen. However this has not seem to agree with the viewing audience. The ratings for Raw and Smackdown are both down and the total PPV revenue through the 11th PPV of the year was down as well. While there obviously could be more reasons for that than the product on TV, it’s not likely a good sign.

What I think the most important thing to take out of this year was is that things are looking up. They took some hits this year but they were clearly building for the future which is very important. The youth is here, the older generation is going away (Shawn and Jericho it seems on a permanent basis) and the older stars still around are being phased out.

This could be seen as a rebuilding year, but I’m not sure if that’s the right term. They’re certainly shifting things in a new direction and it seems that things are holding up for that period of time. A young generation has taken over the company and seem to be connecting with the crowd. The last time this happened, the Attitude Era was on the horizon. That sounds like a good sign to me.

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