AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
As 2007 moves into 2008, it’s time for the 11th 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 tape/DVD; which primarily means North American wrestling.
2007 PROMOTION OF THE YEAR:
Ring of HonorIn 2007, Ring of Honor once more provided wrestling fans with an incredibly high level wrestling product over the entire year with top-notch regular roster, plus outside talent from PWG, Dragon Gate, and Pro Wrestling NOAH, featured on an every show basis. They’ve provided the most consistently quality-driven wrestling product, a product you weren’t ashamed to show friends who aren’t into wrestling.
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: WCW2007 WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
“American Dragon” Bryan DanielsonIn an year where championships all too often have no value to drive storylines and draw money, where billionaires and TV hosts “compete” in “matches” (and not even the real ones), where fans read more about drug suspensions and murders than about wrestling as the story-driven escape from real life that it should be…being a performer and being a wrestler was once again more than enough for “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson.
Despite recovering early in the year from a long-standing shoulder injury, and then suffering an orbital fracture to his eye and a retina injury in the August 25 Ring of Honor match with Takeshi Morishima in an attempt to regain the ROH World Title, Danielson has maintained a high level of quality in his matches this year including matches with Nigel McGuinness, Takeshia Morishima, CIMA, Go Shiozaki, KENTA, Necro Butcher, El Generico, Matt Sydal,”Lightning” Mike Quackenbush, Austin Aries, Chris Hero, and Jimmy Jacobs. Danielson also held the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Heavyweight Title after defeating El Generico in July.
2006 winner: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Ring of Honor/Pro Wrestling NOAH/Full Impact Pro
2005 winner: Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor/TNA/independent
2004 winner: Chris Benoit, WWE
2004 winner: Chris Benoit, WWE
2003 winner: AJ Styles, NWA-TNA/ROH/Zero-One/independent
2002 winner: Kurt Angle, WWE
2001 winner: Chris Jericho, WWF
2000 winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley, WWF
1999 winner: Chris Benoit, WWF
1998 winner: Steve Austin, WWF
1997 winner: Eddie Guerrero, WCW2007 WORST WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
Adam “Pacman” JonesTNAâ€™s hiring and booking of Adam “Pacman” Jones was a disgrace, first for the reason they hired him in the first place: his suspension for a Las Vegas brawl that saw bouncer/former wrestler Tom Urbaniski paralyzed for life, and a dancer beaten by security thugs working for Jones. If that wasn’t enough, there was the deceptive manner in which TNA advertised him as wrestling on two different PPVs, even though it was public knowledge that Jones was barred from doing so by a Tennessee Titans court injunction against TNA.
If that wasnâ€™t bad enough, Jones was made (briefly) a TNA Tag Team Champion, without physically being involved in the match. Let someone explain to me why those who bought the PPV didnâ€™t wise up en masse and refuse to pay for the TNA PPVs on which he appeared, given the full advance knowledge by TNA (and their cable partners) that he couldnâ€™t actually wrestle on the show, not once but twice.
2006 “winner”: Boogeyman, WWE
2005 “winner”: Boogeyman, WWE
2004 “winner”: Heidenreich, WWE
2003 “winner”: Nathan Jones, WWE
2002 “winner” Shane Douglas, Major League Wrestling/XPW
2001 “winner”: Buff Bagwell, WCW/WWF/independent
2000 “winner”: Kevin Nash, WCW
1999 “winner”: Hulk Hogan, WCW
1998 “winner”: Giant Silva, WWF
1997 “winner”: Hulk Hogan, WCW2007 TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR:
Mark and Jay Briscoe, Ring of HonorBetween their multiple matches with Kevin Steen and El Generico; concluding with the “Ladder War” match with ridiculous high risk spots, including Jay Briscoe picked up El Generico, and Mark hitting a Doomsday Device by springboarding off the ropes and through the inside of a ladder. The Briscoes pulled off amazing match after amazing match through 2007; including matches in Ring of Honor, PWU, Full Impact Pro, Pro Wrestling NOAH with Takashi Sugiura and Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Kotaro Suzuki and Ricky Marvin, Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, El Generico and Kevin Steen, Shingo Takagi and Naruki Doi, Motor City Machine Guns, SHINGO Takagi and Susumu Yokosukato, Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli, Jimmy Jacobs and Necro Butcher.
2006 winner: Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, Ring of Honor
2005 winner: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
2004 winner: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
2003 winner: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
2002 winner: Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, WWE
2001 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
2000 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
1999 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
1998 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW
1997 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW2007 ANGLE/FEUD OF THE YEAR WINNER
Mark and Jay Briscoe vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico, Ring of Honor
2006 winner CZW-Ring of Honor, CZW and ROH
2005 winner: Batista vs. HHH, WWE
2004 winner: Chris Benoit vs. HHH vs. Shawn Michaels
2003 winner: Danny Maff/Maffia “retirement angle”, Jersey All Pro Wrestling, September 27, 2003, Rahway, NJ
2002 winner: AJ Styles-Jerry Lynn, NWA-TNA/Ring of Honor
2001 winner: ECW turns on WWF, July 9, 2001, Phillips Arena, Atlanta
2000 winner: The Stephanie McMahon-Vince McMahon-Shane McMahon-HHH-Kurt Angle soap opera
1999 winner: Test (Andrew Martin)-Stephanie McMahon Wedding angle
1998 winner: Vince McMahon as heel promoter versus Steve Austin
1997 winner: nWo-WCW angle2007 WORST/MOST TASTELESS ANGLE OF THE YEAR
The “death” of “Mister McMahon”, WWEWhat kind of utter crap was that last Monday night? Even after the real-life death of Sherri Martel, couldn’t Vince McMahon have scaled back his macabre death fantasy and murder mystery…even for a couple of nights? Nope, we got it in turned up even louder.
Of course, we had to have the tearful Stephanie McMahon coming out and “honoring” her father to end RAW to crowd boos. And….if the 136 replays of Vince’s car blowing up, and the fake McMemorials weren’t enough, we had yet ANOTHER 3 hour McMassive Mock Memorial Service the next week.
They finally got around to mentioning Sherri Martel’s death at 10:20 pm ET on the night of “Mister McMahonâ€™s death” , buried so far inside the show that many were disgusted enough to not even see it.. Was it REALLY asking that much of WWE to give fans a weekend, or even a night, free of this crap…and taken the time to give Sherri Martel’s death a REAL acknowledgement? Would it have been THAT hard to put Shawn Michaels on a remote and ask him to say a few things about her? Or Ric Flair? Or any of the many people Sherri’s worked with?
If it werenâ€™t for the very real death of Nancy and Daniel Benoit, murdered by husband and WWE wrestler Chris Benoit, who committed suicideâ€¦God knows where this angle would have gone.
Honorable mention goes to TNAâ€™s hiring and booking of Adam “Pacman” Jones (see above).
2006 “winner” The “Eddie Guerrero storyline”…in all its forms, WWE
2005 “winners”: Jim Ross proctology skit and Tim White “suicide” sketches, WWE
2004 “winner”: Lita/Kane/Matt Hardy pregnancy/miscarriage angle
2003 “winner”: Vince-Stephanie McMahon angle for “control of Smackdown” and father-daughter No Mercy match
2002 “winner”: Katie Vick angle, WWF/E
2001 “winner”: Vince McMahon “Kiss My Ass” angle, Monday Night RAW, November 19, 26, and 28
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”, WWF2007 MATCHES OF THE YEAR:
WWE: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE Monday Night RAW, London, England, April 23, 2007In this rematch leading into the WWE Backlash PPV, Cena and Michaels wrestled a classic lasting for over 40 minutes, with multiple commercial breaks, unheard of in this age of 7 minute short-attention-span TV matches, stuck inbetween silicone-inflated “Divas” and “Mister McMahon” promos. The match features repeated exchanges and false finishes before Michaels won with a second super kick to Cena.
Independent: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness, Ring of Honor, June 9, 2007, Philadelphia, PA; match taped for Ring of Honor: Driven PPVOne of the talents of Gabe Sapolsky is that he can craft a match (together with his wrestlers) that will have you believing the underdog in a match can pull off an upset. Danielson-McGuinness more than accomplished that even with the smart Philly crowd that “knew” Danielson was going over. Danielson and McGuinness busted their asses and gave the crowd one of the surprise matches of 2007.
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, 2007 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 winners: WWE: Triple H-Chris Benoit-Shawn Michaels, WWE, Wrestlemania XX, March 14, 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, PA2007 CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
WWE WrestleMania 23As usual, WWE builds their storylines during the winter and early spring to give fans (many of who insist they hate WWE, but are always watching at least this one PPV). We saw Undertaker-Batista prove themselves more than capable of a good match), Kennedy win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, Cena and Michaels pull out all the stops on the big stage of WWE.
Then, there was the er…um, “mane” event…McMahon-Trump storyline (with proxies Bobby Lashley and Umaga), along with Steve Austin and Shane McMahon as a heel referee produced the result that no one thought they’d actually see…Vince McMahon shaved bald.
Wrestlemania was again the spectacle that everyone expected to be.
2006 winners: WWE: WWE WrestleMania 22, April 2, 2007, Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois; Independent: Glory By Honor V Night 2, Manhattan Center, New York, NY, September 16, 2007
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: “Anarchy Rulz”, ECW Odeum Sports and Exposition Center, Villa Park, IL, September 19, 1999
1998 winner: “Survivor Series”, St. Louis, MO, Keil Center, November 15, 1998
1997 winner: “Barely Legal”, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, April 13, 19972007 WORST CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
TNA Turning Point 2007, December 2, 2007TNA wound up 2007 with a Russo-rific anti-classic of a PPV that defied logic in so many ways I could go on for a week.
Let’s start with the concept of the “Feast or Fired Battle” Royal. OK.. first off, why would any wrestler pick one of these briefcases, if there was a 25% chance they’d “lose their job”? After all that, fans that paid their money to see the PPV, had to turn on IMPACT to get their actual payoff for the match. Then, Low-Ki quit the company…so, rather than have him actually be the one who is “fired”, TNA turns around and “fires” Christopher Daniels. Yup….makes sense to me…to remove one of your most talented workers from your TV because you ran a match that was lame-ass to begin with; that then got screwed up because one of the wrestlers legitimately quit the company.
Or how about Raven as a substitute for Rhino (a fact that wasn’t announced until the PPV made air) in the “Match of 10,000 Tacks” with Abyss vs. Rellik and Black Reign. The real reason for Rohinos’s absence was never made clear. The live crowd was not happy with this.
Then, there was the absolute farce of substituting Eric Young as a main event level wrestler for the no-show Scott Hall, another fact that was conveniently omitted from any pre-show mention. The live crowd was REALLY pissed with this one; and TNA trotted out Samoa Joe to try and get over this messy substitution with a shoot promo to the live crowd…then got pissed when he did it too well.
2006 “winner”: WWECW December to Dismember, Augusta, GA, December 4, 2006, WWE
2005 “winner:” WWE Armageddon PPV, Providence, RI, December 18,
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, FL2007 BEST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
Monday Night RAW, USA NetworkPretty much by default, RAW wins this year. With Smackdown the weaker of the two WWE brands for content and starpower, WWECW a joke, and TNA becoming even a bigger joke as it turned into a Russoesque comedy show mixed with WCW re-run.
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 Television2007 WORST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
TNA ImpactI expect to be receiving my usual fill of hate mail from TNArollz about 30 seconds after this column appears on websites (as a reminder to those who want to threaten or send hate mail…remember, folks, I reserve the right to publish your e-mail addresses or identifying information if need be)
So…to why TNA’s Impact deserves this “award”…where should I start?
Let’s start with the fact that TNA’s TV hasn’t delivered what the promotion’s talent should have allowed it to be since day one. Why?
First, the reason was that TNA had too much material for an hour-long show; despite the fact that matches reported live as great matches were butchered for commercial breaks, then interrupted by nonsensical skits.
OK. Let’s even give TNA that much. Part of the year allowed them to fully develop their storylines in a two-hour format as SPIKE TV gave them a prime-time 2 hour slot.
So what happened?
The most talented wrestling announcer on TV not named Jim Ross… Mike Tenay…. was reduced to having to scream ala to distract from matches.
The booking of TNA’s talented X Division wrestlers as foils for Kevin Nash’s backstage skits; or as lame-ass imitations of Randy Savage or as “gurus”. Or there’s the X Division playing foils for the Dudley…er, Team 3D.
James Storm-Eric Young beer drinking contests
AJ Styles wearing an reindeer outfit
The weekly spectacle of Jimmy Rave, Lance Hoyt, and Christy Hemme as “The Rock and Rave Infection” (mental note: resist urge to make crude comment here).
Russoesque gimmick matches including a Santa’s Workshop Knockout Streetfight, Reindeer Ladder Match
Austin Aries, talented wrestler as 1980s WWF-style gimmick Austin Starr
The various adventures of Kevin Nash playing Dr. Phil with Kurt and Karen AngleMost importantly, something that TNA should notice is that their ratings are remaining stagnant; and on a level with WWE’s Veloc…er…WWECW show on Sci-Fi Network. So are their buyrates.
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, USWA2007 TV ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR:
Jim Ross, Monday Night RAWAgain, largely by default, Jim Ross gets this oneâ€¦especially for the rare times heâ€™s actually allowed to get over a match, rather than a member of the McMahon family, or shill fruityâ€¦fruity, fruity Skittles.
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 Wrestling2007 WORST TV ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR:
Don West, TNA IMPACT!Being known as the announcer who screams during infomercial and Shop-At- Home shills…and who even tries to learn something about wrestling is fine…for the first 3 years.
By now, however, Don West should have learned that the idea of a color commentator is to work with a play-by-play announcer to get over storylines, no matter how convoluted they may very well be (see Worst TV show above). Instead, he continues to scream like he’s selling something at 3:00 am on the Shop-at-Hope Channel. That and spending time bitching that online critics of TNA have no idea what they’re talking about in order to kiss asses in the locker room.
2006 “winner”: Josh Matthews, WWE
2005 “winner”: Jonathan Coachman, WWE Sunday Night Heat/WWE Monday Night RAW, WWE
2004 “winner”: Jonathan Coachman, WWE Sunday Night Heat and WWE Monday RAW, WWE
2003 “winner”: Jonathan Coachman, WWE Sunday Night Heat, WWE Monday RAW
2002 “winner”: Jessica Dally, WXW Rage TV
2001 “winner”: Tony Schiavone, WCW, TNT and TBS
2000 “winner”: Tony Schiavone, WCW
1999 “winner”: Tony Schiavone, WCW
1998 “winner”: Bert Prentice, MCW
1997 “winner”: Tony Schiavone, WCW2007 NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR
Sadly, need you even ask?
Chris Benoit murdered his wife Nancy sometime on June 22/June 23 by strangulation with an electrical cord, before taking his son Daniel’s life by smothering him with a bag sometime late June 23, and finally his own by suicide on June 24 by hanging via a pulley/cord attached to his weight machine. Their bodies were found on the afternoon of June 25 with Chris Benoitâ€™s body found in a weight room, Nancy Benoitâ€™s found in the living room, and son Danielâ€™s found in his bedroom.
The shock waves from this weekend of horror are still resonating within wrestlingâ€¦and will be for years to come, as Congress proposes steroid hearings involving wrestling, and WWE was forced to actually enforce its Wellness Policy, suspending and releasing several wrestlers for use of painkillers and growth-enhancing substances.
Whatâ€™s truly tragic is that the real story behind the Benoit family tragedy may be ignored altogetherâ€¦namely, the long-term effect of repeated concussions and the potential dementia caused by these concussions. Chris Nowinski and others have attempted to point out the effects of these concussions on wrestlers and athletes; but since they arenâ€™t as “sexy” a story as steroids, theyâ€™ve been relegated to the back pages of wrestling publications, let alone the mainstream press.
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
1997 stories: Brian Pillman death, Bret Hart leaving WWF/Title Change DoublecrossThat’s the AS I SEE IT year in review.
Until next time…
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