AS I SEE IT: 2016 Year-End Awards Bob Magee Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets PWBTS.com
As 2017 begins, it’s time for the 20th annual AS I SEE IT Year-End Review. As usual, I should note that my selections are based on what I’ve actually seen this year, either live, online, on TV, or via DVD; which over the years has largely meant North American wrestling…but not exclusively, as you’ll see this year more than any other.
2016 PROMOTION OF THE YEAR
New Japan Pro Wrestling
For business, WWE was it again…and likely always will be. But for actual in-ring product, there is only one promotion who could survive the loss of AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson…and yet produce quality in-ring product shows (and not suffer the major attendance losses feared) throughout 2016, and that is New Japan Pro Wrestling.
From Wrestle Kingdom 10 and New Year’s Dash, where New Japan said goodbye to the above stars while having multiple match of the year contenders…through Best of the Super Juniors (including the much talked about Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay match on Night 6) to Kenny Omega winning the G1 Climax tournament…the promotion continued to put on the top in-ring product with a variety of styles and characters that kept New Japan on a forward path.
2015 winner: New Japan Pro Wrestling
2014 winner: NXT
2013 winner: WWE
2012 winner: WWE
2011 winner: WWE
2010 winner: Ring of Honor
2009 winner: WWE
2008 winner: Ring of Honor
2007 winner: Ring of Honor
2006 winner: Ring of Honor
2005 winner: Ring of Honor
2004 winner: Ring of Honor
2003 winner: Ring of Honor
2002 winner: Ring of Honor
2001 winner: WWF
2000 winner: WWF
1999 winner: WWF
1998 winner: WWF
1997 winner: WCW
2016 WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
In 2016, AJ Styles got the opportunity to be a top player in the world’s top two professional wrestling companies, and has more than held up his end of the bargain. Who else could main event Wrestle Kingdom 10, work Wrestlemania 32 in a featured match, work the top face of WWE, John Cena? Not to mention pull them off and leave 2016 as one of WWE’s bright spots?
2015 winner: Kazuchika Okada, New Japan Pro Wrestling
2014 winner: Bryan Danielson (aka “Daniel Bryan”), WWE
2013 winner: Bryan Danielson (aka “Daniel Bryan”), WWE
In the case of a good novelty match or throw-away joke on a forgotten RAW told over and over and over again becoming tiresome….we have James Ellsworth. He seems to be WWE’s really bad attempt to do a Mikey Whipwreck character that is falling flat. Paul Heyman created a “wrestling school dropout” character who somehow won week after week, got sympathy…and had the advantage of Paul Heyman finding ways to make the character interesting. James Ellsworth is stuck in the WWE formula and has no such luck.
The novelty of him “beating AJ Styles” was funny. Once. But not twice…or three times. Now we’re going to be stuck with watching him paired with Carmella. Don’t know what to do with her? Maybe WWE should have kept the whole act of Enzo, Carmella and Big Cass together as they were in NXT.
reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish), New Japan/Ring of Honor/PWG
This tag team has consistently worked great matches with a variety of teams and styles in New Japan and Ring of Honor; ranging from various versions of the Bullet Club to Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe/Tomoaki Honma) to The Briscoes to Katsuyori Shibata/Tiger Mask. O’Reilly and Fish have also worked a lot as singles, with Bobby Fish holding the Ring of Honor World TV Title for six months.
Unfortunately, it seems this tag team may be a thing of the past, as O’Reilly didn’t re-sign with Ring of Honor, resulting in Adam Cole getting the belt back at Wrestle Kingdom 11, while Bobby Fish did re-sign. Some stories suggest O’Reilly might work for ROH still on a per-appearance basis, other see him going to NXT.
2015 winner: reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish), Ring of Honor
Like it or hate it, there is only one storyline/angle that has people talking and reacting…but the development of Matt Hardy into “Broken” Matt Hardy…a character that is funny and bizarre and unique all rolled into one package of a emotionally “broken” Matt with hair half white/blonde and a bizarre pidgin-British/lunatic accent and phrasing. Then add brother Jeff as “Brother Nero”, plus real life father-in-law “Senor Benjamin” and real life son “King Maxel”..and you have one of the most unique acts in wrestling in years. It is a welcome sign for TNA, which has lacked anything that wrestling fans were genuinely interested in for years.
So in 2016, WWE does an angle where a “naked” babyface Enzo Amore comes to the hotel room of a married heel Lana who is “seducing” him, gets beat up by husband Rusev…then proceeds to make a comment about it being the luckiest day of Lana’s life? One, pretty tasteless. Two, it’s an angle not really leading anywhere…except to a lame segment where Enzo had to attend “WWE corporate sensitivity training”.
Lana, in a somewhat out of character set of tweets, said the angle was designed to teach women to stand up for themselves and that Enzo’s behavior was unacceptable. OK…if this is the case, shouldn’t a HEEL be engaging in this kind of thing? All it seemed to do was make Enzo Amore look clueless…not what you want to do for a hot babyface act.
2015 “winner”: Paige–Charlotte (Ashley) Flair angle involving Reid Flair and his drug addiction death.
2014 “winner”: WWE having Lana and Alexander Rusev Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 promo
2013 “winner”: Dixie Carter as heel TNA owner.
2012 “winner”: A tie between the 2012 Linda McMahon campaign and the use of Jerry Lawler’s heart attack
2011 “winner”: Michael Cole using real-life death of Jerry Lawler’s mother as storyline fodder
2010 “winner”: “Stand Up For WWE”
2009 “winner”: John Bradshaw Layfield “hires” Shawn Michaels because Michaels has “lost his money in bad investments”, WWE.
2008 “winner”: Jeff Hardy’s implied pre-show drug overdose…er…”mugging”, Survivor Series, WWE
2007 “winner”: The “death” of “Mister McMahon”, WWE
2006 “winner” The “Eddie Guerrero storyline”…in all its forms, WWE
2005 “winner”: Jim Ross proctology skit and Tim White “suicide” sketches, WWE
2003 “winner”: Vince-Stephanie McMahon angle for “control of Smackdown” and father-daughter No Mercy match WWE
2002 “winner”: Katie Vick angle, WWF/E
2001 “winner”: Vince McMahon “Kiss My Ass” angle, Monday Night RAW, November 19, 26, and 28, WWF
2000 “winner”: Stacey Keibler-David Flair and Mark Henry-Mae Young “pregnancy angles”, WWF
1999 “winner”: The Paul Wight/Big Bossman “cancer angle”, WWF
1998 “winner”: Ric Flair “heart attack” angle and the Hawk/Scott Hall drug angles, WCW/WWF
1997 “winner”: DeGenerationX/Nation of Domination “racial angle”, WWF
2016 MATCH OF THE YEAR:
WWE/NXT Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Samoa Joe, NXT Championship, NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II, August 24, 2016, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
In a match so stiff Samoa Joe left with a broken jaw, one so incredible that WWE couldn’t even ignore (featuring it on its list of 2016 to WWE matches), and a incredible, almost chilling live pre-match violin performance with Lee England Jr. (try to find it online unedited by WWE), this made my list.
Independent/Japan- Shinsuke Nakamura-AJ Styles, IWGP Intercontinental Championship match, Wrestle Kingdom 10, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan, January 4, 2016
This was the first and only (in New Japan only, I hope) match between Styles and Nakamura, with Nakamura retaining the IWGP Intercontinental Championship over Styles. American fans without NJPW World (the only place to legally see it live) only got to see the match on AXS TV some months later, as the show was not broadcast on US PPV. These two pulled off an epic match that made me remember why I fell in love with wrestling all those years ago.
2015 winners: WWE- Sasha Banks–Bayley, Iron Woman match, Full Sail University, NXT Takeover: Respect, Orlando, FL, October 7, 2015
Independent/Japan- Hiroshi Tanahashi-Kazuchika Okada, Wrestle Kingdom 9, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan, January 4, 2015
2014 winners: WWE: Brock Lesnar-Undertaker, Wrestlemania 30, April 6, 2014, New Orleans, LA; TNA: The Wolves (Davey Richards/Eddie Edwards) vs. Team 3D vs. The Hardys, Full Metal Mayhem (airdate October 8) ; Lucha: Ultimo Guerrero vs. Atlantis, CMLL Anniversario 81, September 19, 2014
2012 winners: WWE: Hell In A Cell The Undertaker- Triple H; WWE WrestleMania 28, Miami, FL April 1, 2012; Independent: ROH Showdown in the Sun/Day 2 Davey Richards Michael Elgin, March 31, 2012
2011 winners: WWE: CM Punk vs. John Cena, WWE Money In The Bank, Chicago, IL, July 17, 2011; Independent: Mike Quackenbush- Eddie Kingston, CHIKARA Pro Wrestling, ECW Arena, November 20, 2011
2010 winners: WWE: Undertaker- Shawn Michaels, WWE WrestleMania 26, March 28, 2010; Independent: Bryan Danielson vs. SHINGO, Dragon Gate USA, July 24, 2010.
2009 winners: (WWE)- Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE WrestleMania 25, April 5, 2009, Houston, TX; (Independent) Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino vs. SHINGO/Dragon Kid, Dragon Gate USA Open The Freedom Gate, November 28, 2009, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA
2008 winners: (WWE) Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania 24, Orlando, FL, March 30, 2008; (Independent) Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino/Genki Horiguchi-CIMA/Dragon Kid/Ryo Saito Supercard of Honor III, Orlando, FL, March 29, 2008
2007 winners: WWE: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE Monday Night RAW, London, England, April 23, 2008; Independent: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness, Ring of Honor, June 9, 2008, Philadelphia, PA
2006 winners: WWE: Paul London/Brian Kendrick vs. Steven Regal/ David Taylor vs. Hardys vs. MNM, Ladder match for the world tag team titles, WWE Armageddon; Independent: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. KENTA, Glory By Honor V, New York, NY, September 16, 2006 and CZW/ROH Cage of Death War Games/The Match Beyond match; with Necro Butcher, Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Nate Webb, Eddie Kingston vs. Samoa Joe, BJ Whitmer, “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Adam Pearce, Ace Steele, and Homicide.
2005 winners: WWE: Kurt Angle-Shawn Michaels, Wrestlemania XXI Los Angeles, CA, April 3, 2005, Independent: Samoa Joe- Kenta Kobashi, New York, NY, October 1, 2005
2004, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY; Independent: CM Punk-Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor, June 12, 2004, Dayton, Ohio and CM Punk-Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor, October 16, 2004, Chicago Ridge, IL (tie)
2003 winners: WWE: Chris Benoit-Kurt Angle, WWE Royal Rumble 2003, Boston, MA January 19, 2003; Independent: Steve Corino-Homicide, Ring of Honor, “Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies” Fairfield, CT, August 16th, 2003, NWA-TNA: America’s Most Wanted-XXX (Christopher Daniels/Elix Skipper) steel cage match, Nashville, TN, June 25, 2003
2002 winners: WWE: Edge/Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit, No Mercy, Little Rock, AK, October 20, 2002; Independent: Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Spanky vs. Doug Williams – 60 minute Iron Man Match, Ring of Honor, Philadelphia, PA, July 27, 2002
2001 winners: WWF: Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tables, Ladders and Chairs II – WrestleMania X-Seven, AstroDome, Houston, TX, April 1, 2001; Independent: Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Scoot Andrews vs. American Dragon, East Coast Wrestling Association, Wilmington, DE, September 22, 2001
2000 winners: WCW: Booker T vs. Jeff Jarrett, “Bash At The Beach”, Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FL, June 9, 2000; WWF: “Tables, Ladders and Chairs” Match – Matt/Jeff Hardy vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge/Christian, SummerSlam, Raleigh, NC, August 27, 2000. ECW: Psicosis-Yoshihiro Tajiri, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, August 19, 2000
1999 winners: WCW: Chris Benoit-Bret Hart, Monday Nitro, Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, October, 1999; WWF: Matt/Jeff Hardy-Edge/Christian, Tag Team Ladder Match, “No Mercy”, Cleveland, OH, October 17, 1999; ECW: Rob Van Dam/Jerry Lynn, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, August 28, 1999.
1998 winners: WCW: Chris Jericho/Eddie Guerrero-Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko, November 29th, Knoxville Civic Coliseum; WWF: Mankind (Mick Foley)-Undertaker Hell in a Cell Match “King of the Ring” PPV, June 28, 1998; ECW: Jerry Lynn-Rob Van Dam, August 8, 1998, ECW Arena
1997 winners: WCW: Rey Mysterio, Jr.- Eddie Guerrero, WCW “Halloween Havoc” PPV, 10/27/97, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV; WWF: Shawn Michaels-Undertaker, “In Your House: Badd Blood” PPV, 10/5/97, Kiel Center, St. Louis, MO; ECW: Great Sasuke/Gran Hamada/Masato Yakushiji-TAKA Michinoku/Dick Togo/Terry Boy, “Barely Legal” PPV, 4/13/97, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA
2016 CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
2016 Wrestle Kingdom 10, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan, January 4, 2016
When a match like the aforementioned Styles-Nakamura match is the semi-main event, you know you have an incredible event. The show also featured Kushida winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, defeating Kenny Omega, Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) defeating Bullet Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson) to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship. Finally, the torch was passed from Hiroshi Tanahashi to Kazuchika Okada, as Okada finally defeated Tanahashi at the Tokyo Dome, after Tanahashi had won five straight Dome main event.
2015 winner: Wrestle Kingdom 9, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan, January 4, 2015
2014 winner: Wrestlemania 30, April 6, 2014, New Orleans, LA
2013 winner: WWE Wrestlemania 29, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
2012 winner: WWE WrestleMania 28, Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL April 1, 2012-
2011 winners: WWE: WWE Money in the Bank 2011 – Allstate Arena; Chicago, IL July 17, 2011; Independent: CHIKARA King of Trios 2011/Night One, April 15, 2011, ECW Arena
2010 winners WWE: Wrestlemania 26, March 28, 2010, Glendale, AZ; Independent: Dragon Gate USA, Enter The Dragon, July 24, 2010 (aired on PPV on September 10)
2009 winners: WWE WrestleMania 25, April 5, 2009, Houston, TX, Independent- Dragon Gate USA “Open The Historic Gate”, July 25, 2009, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA (aired on PPV as “Enter the Dragon” on September 4)
2008 winner: WWE WrestleMania XXIV
2007 winner: WWE WrestleMania XXIII
2006 winners: WWE: WWE WrestleMania XXII, April 2, 2008, Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois; Independent: Glory by Honor V Night 2, Manhattan Center, New York, NY, September 16, 2008
2005 winners: WWE: Wrestlemania XXI Los Angeles, CA, April 3, 2005, Ring of Honor, “Joe vs. Kobashi”, New York, NY, October 1, 2005
2004 winners: WWE: Wrestlemania XX, March 14, 2004, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY; Independent: At Our Best, Ring of Honor, March 13, 2004, Rex Plex, Elizabeth, NJ
2003 winners: WWE: WWE Wrestlemania XIX, Safeco Field, Seattle, WA, March 30, 2003; Independent: All Japan/Ring of Honor Final Battle 2003, Philadelphia, PA December 27, 2003; NWA-TNA: NWA- TNA Super X Cup, Nashville Fairgrounds, Nashville, TN, September 3, 2003 (taped August 20 and 27, 1993)
2002 winners: WWE: WWE Summer Slam 2002, Fleet Center, Boston, MA, August 25, 2002, Independent: Ring of Honor “Road To The Title” Philadelphia, PA, June 22, 2002
2001 winners: WWF: WrestleMania X-Seven, AstroDome, Houston, TX, April 1, 2001, Independent: 2001 Super Eight tournament, ECWA, St. Matthew’s Parish Hall, Wilmington, DE February 24, 2001
2000 winner: WWF “Fully Loaded”, Reunion Arena, Dallas, TX, July 23, 2000
1999 winner: ECW “Anarchy Rulz”, ECW, Odeum Sports and Exposition Center, Villa Park, IL, September 19, 1999
1998 winner: WWF “Survivor Series”, St. Louis, MO, Keil Center, November 15, 1998
WWE Fastlane, February 21, 2016, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
It’s during the Road to Wrestlemania build to the company’s biggest event of the year…so you’d think Fastlane would have been something special. Um, no.
Where could you actually pay money to watch The Wyatt Family lose to a trio of Kane, Big Show, and Ryback, Curtis Axel beating R-Truth….on the main card of a PPV/Network event… watch a Reigns-Ambrose-Lesnar match that turns out to be a vehicle for yet another “Super Cena” push for Roman Reigns? Or the unforgettable feud of Charlotte and Brie Bella? A PPV where even AJ Styles and Chris Jericho can’t really save it? You have Fastlane 2016.
2008 “winner”: WWE Cyber Sunday, October 26, 2008, Phoenix, AZ
2007 “winner”: TNA Turning Point 2007, December 2, 2007
2006 “winner”: WWECW December to Dismember, Augusta, GA, December 4, 2006, WWE
2005 “winner”: WWE Armageddon PPV, Providence, RI, December 18, 2005, WWE
2004 “winner”: WWE “Great American Bash”, Norfolk, VA, The Scope, June 27, 2004.
2003 “winner:” WWE No Mercy, Baltimore, MD, October 19, 2003
2002 “winner”: World Wrestling All-Stars Eruption, Melbourne, Australia, April 13, 2002
2001 “winner”: WCW “Sin”, January 14, 2001, Indianapolis, IN.
2000 “winner”: WCW Slamboree, Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, May 7, 2000
1999 “winner”: WCW Fall Brawl 1999
1998 “winner”: WCW Fall Brawl 1998
1997 “winner”: ECW Hardcore Heaven 1997, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2016 BEST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Pro Wrestling”, AXS TV
Even with the change to Jim Ross this year, the team of Jim Ross and Josh Barnett have gotten over the best wrestling action on the planet right now. When you have the caliber of talent that New Japan presents, and you have the best wrestling announcer of our generation…you have destination viewing each week.
2015 winner: New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Pro Wrestling”, AXS TV
2014 winner: NXT
2013 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network – By default
2012 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
2011 winner: ROH on HDNet, HDNet/Ring of Honor on Sinclair
2010 winner: ROH on HDNet, HDNet
2009 winner: WWE Smackdown, WWE
2008 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
2007 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
2006 winner: TNA Impact, TNA, Spike TV
2005 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky)
2004 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky)
2003 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky)
2002 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky)
2001 winner: Monday Night RAW, TNN
2000 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network and TNN
1999 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
1998 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
1997 winner: Monday Nitro, Turner Network Television
2016 WORST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
TNA Impact, TNA/Destination America
When you struggle just to be seen, because you don’t have a home, or (worse) a way to pay for the actual production of TV itself..until the last minute; this doesn’t bode well for a TV show. Then, there’s the announce team. Josh Matthews and D’Angelo Dinero are a team on the level of a local indy doing a cable access show. They drive you away from the action in the ring.
It took Matt Hardy and his off-the-wall creativity to put anything that an average wrestling fan would find memorable on TNA’s TV this year…which should tell you all you need to know.
2015 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2014 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2013 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2012 “winner”: TNA Impact , TNA
2011 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2010 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2009 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2008 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2007 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2006 “winner”: WWECW, Sci-Fi Network
2005 “winner”: WWE Smackdown, WWE/UPN
2004 “winner”: WWE Smackdown, WWE/UPN
2003 “winner”: The Wrestling Federation (yep, that was actually their name) aired in Philadelphia, southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, southern New Jersey on WGTW Channel 48
2002 “winner”: WXW Rage TV – aired in Philadelphia, northeastern Pennsylvania, north central New Jersey, and syndicated in parts of American Samoa, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
2001 “winner”: Monday Nitro, WCW, TNT
2000 “winner”: Monday Nitro, TNT
1999 “winner”: Monday Nitro, TNT
1998 “winner”: Music City Wrestling TV
1997 “winner”: USWA Television, USWA
2016 ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR
Jim Ross and Josh Barnett, New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Pro Wrestling”, AXS TV
Even with the change in commentators this year, the team of Jim Ross and Josh Barnett have gotten over the best wrestling action on the planet right now. When you have the caliber of talent that New Japan presents and their ability to get over the storylines, the actual in-ring action, and the occasional humor of Ross and Barnett irt makes for an enjoyable and fast hour.
This next four weeks will let them call Wrestle Kingdom 11 split over a four week span, with the reported “six star” match between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega as a one match show this Friday night leading off these next four weeks of TV.
2015 winner: Mauro Ranallo, New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Pro Wrestling”, AXS TV
2014 winner: vacant
2013 winner: vacant
2012 winner: Jim Ross, WWE
2011 winner: Jim Ross, WWE
2010 winner: CM Punk, WWE
2009 winner: Jim Ross, Smackdown, WWE
2008 winner: Jim Ross, Monday Night RAW/Smackdown , WWE
2007 winner: Jim Ross, Monday Night RAW, WWE
2006 winner: Mike Tenay, TNA Impact
2005 winner: Mike Tenay, TNA Impact
2004 winner: Dan Wilson/Steven Prazak, NWA Wildside
2003 winner: Mike Tenay, NWA-TNA PPV/TNA Explosion
2002 winner: Mike Tenay, NWA-TNA PPV/TNA Explosion
2001 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
2000 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1999 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1998 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1997 winner: Mike Tenay, World Championship Wrestling
2016 WRESTLING NEWS STORIES OF THE YEAR
AJ Styles debuting in the Royal Rumble, ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy, the surprise return of Shane McMahon to WWE TV, WWE’s brand split, TNA’s issues and court battles
2015 winner: NXT growth and touring, women main eventing a WWE major event for the first time; deaths of Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes, Lucha Underground, numerous injuries to WWE and New Japan major performers throughout year.
2014 stories: The WWE Network, Fans pushing Daniel Bryan into the Wrestlemania main event, CM Punk walking out of WWE, wrestling returning to the ECW (2300) Arena, the end of the most well-known wrestling magazines…what we all called “the Apter mags”, the Atlantis vs. Ultimo Guerrero build and mascara contra mascara match
2013 stories: “The Network”, TNA’s decline, the re-construction of the ECW Arena, George “The Animal” Steele’s biography, issues with Madison Square Garden, and WWE’s “retirement” of Jim Ross.
2012 stories: ECW Arena closing, three-hour RAW, the non-start of the WWE Network, and Ring of Honor’s problems
2011 stories: CM Punk vs. WWE; Sinclair Broadcasting purchase of Ring of Honor; Zack Ryder uses social media to get over; Randy Savage‘s death ; Self destructive saga of the Hardy Brothers; End of ECW Arena as it exists
2010 stories: Linda McMahon’s failed United States Senate campaign, the consequent attacks on wrestling by politicians and mainstream media for past storylines during the Attitude Era, as well as steroid and other drug deaths were featured all over maintream media during 2010…increased awareness by WWE and TNA of the long-term effect of concussions (including the possible effect they may have had in the Benoit family tragedy)….with the retirement of Shawn Michaels and Undertaker and HHH off of TV; WWE finally started a long-overdue youth movement with major pushes for The Miz, CM Punk, Sheamus, Bryan Danielson, and John Morrison. TNA failed miserably at another attempt at Monday Night Wars, getting clobbered in the ratings, before going back quickly to their usual Thursday night taped program.
2009 stories: Congressional steroids report, Shane McMahon resigns from WWE, “The Wrestler” , Death of Mitsuharu Misawa, Linda McMahon Senate Campaign
2008 stories: Retirement of Ric Flair; Filming and high profile of “The Wrestler”; Jeff Hardy finally gets WWE title
2007 story: Benoit family tragedy
2006 stories: The return and failure of “ECW”, TNA gaining prime-time slot on Spike TV, WWE getting new competition…from UFC
2005 stories: Deaths of Eddie Guerrero, Shinya Hashimoto, and Chris Candido, WWE drug testing policy, WWE return to USA, Matt Hardy/Edge/Lita real life and storyline triangle, Jim Ross replaced as lead announcer on RAW, TNA move to Spike TV, WWE and Bret Hart make peace
2004 stories: Brock Lesnar leaves WWE to try out for the NFL, RF Video/Ring of Honor’s Rob Feinstein implication in a pedophile sting, Pat Patterson retirement/resignation, TNA Fox Sports Net slot
2003 stories: The epidemic of deaths within wrestling (many of which involved past or current drug and alcohol use), NWA-TNA survives for another year, continued problems with WWE house show/TV taping business, controversial and active Philadelphia independent scene
2002 stories: The WWF “brand extension”, dropping WWE house show business, PTC forced to surrender, NWA-TNA, Philadelphia independent wars
2001 stories: WWF purchase of WCW, ECW closes its doors, WCW “Invasion angle” goes nowhere, WWF ratings and live attendance drop
2000 stories: Mainstreaming of wrestling continues, WWF-ECW-TNN-USA TV network roulette, WWF goes public, PTC censorship attempts continue… but with organized efforts fighting them, WCW set to lose as much as $80 million
1999 stories: Deaths of Owen Hart and Brian Hildebrand, Foley’s “Have A Nice Day” goes to #1 on New York Times Best-Seller List, WWF CD DEBUTS at number 4 on Billboard Chart, ECW TV on TNN, Parents Television Council censorship attempts
1998 stories: Changes in WWF product (making it more adult in nature), ECW’s 1998 problems, Mainstream attention given the wrestling business, Jesse Ventura’s election to Governorship of Minnesota