AS I SEE IT Bob Magee Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets PWBTS.com
As 2008 moves into 2009, it’s time for the 12th 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.
2008 PROMOTION OF THE YEAR:
Ring of Honor – For the majority of the year, the promotion gave fans the same quality product including such shows as Supercard of Honor III from Orlando, FL during Wrestlemania weekend with the influx of Dragon Gate talent and the tremendous Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino/Genki Horiguchi-CIMA/Dragon Kid/Ryo Saito match (see Independent match of the year selection below) and BxB Hulk/Shingo-Kevin Steen/El Generico matches as well as Age of The Fall-Briscoes and Nigel McGuinness World Title match; and Death Before Dishonor VI with Austin Aries-Jimmy Jacobs-Necro Butcher, Naomichi Marufuji-Go Shiozaki, Kevin Steen/El Generico-Alex Shelley/Chris Sabin, and Nigel McGuinness- Bryan Danielson- Claudio Castagnoli-Tyler Black World Title match.Sadly, I have a feeling that with the firing of Gabe Sapolsky as booker on October 26 …based on what I’ve seen thus far, and with word that there will be less Pro Wrestling NOAH talent brought in during 2009, this will be the last time I’ll be giving this nod to Ring of Honor for some time.
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: WCW2008 WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
“American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Ring of Honor/Pro Wrestling NOAH/Pro Wrestling Guerrilla/AAA/All Star Wrestling (England): – Danielson’s achievements had him as a world traveler in 2008 working in the US, Japan, Mexico, England include winning the NOAH Global Honored Crown Junior Heavyweight Championship at a September Ring of Honor show in Japan, (before losing it back to KENTA in October), working AAA’s yearly Triplemania show in a trios match with Teddy Hart and Jack Evans, and working world class matches with talent including KENTA, Claudio Castagnoli, Go Shiozaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Nigel McGuinness, Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, and Brent Albright.
2007 winner: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson
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
The Great Khali – What can be said about The Great Khali? Well, he’s big. And…he’s big. Did you know he was really big? If Khali was 5′ 11″, his tryout matches would have gone no farther than the blooper reel at the WWE Christmas Party…or even your local once a month at your local bar independent.
2007 “winner”: Adam “Pacman” Jones
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
1997 “winner”: Hulk Hogan, WCW2008 TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR:
Alex Shelley/Chris Sabin (Motor City Machine Guns), TNA/Ring of Honor- These two were one of the few true wrestling-oriented tag teams that seemed to be allowed to actually wrestle in TNA during 2008 (and one of the few in the two national touring companies, period). Shelley and Sabin also worked matches in Ring of Honor during the spring and summer of this year working the teams of Austin Aries/Bryan Danielson, Age of the Fall (Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs), The Briscoe Brothers, and current champions Kevin Steen and El Generico. The team particularly got to shine in the ring in the TNA World X Cup, and the Against All Odds PPV, and now have their characters involved in the major TNA storyline as babyface/tweeners in the middle of the Main Event Mafia vs. Front Line storyline. The team was also featured in a March 2008 episode of MTV’s “Made” on MTV where they trained a hopeful who wanted to be a wrestler.
1997 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW2008 ANGLE/FEUD OF THE YEAR WINNER
Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE – There hasn’t been a program like this in a longtime where even those of us who are smartened up get to watch two guys portraying that they really hate each other’s guts. Instead of Chris Jericho trying to be a cool heel, or portraying some sorts of cartoon character heel, he’s an honest to God heel, a despicable heel who’d even punch the wife of the babyface in the mouth…and blame babyface Shawn Michaels for it happening. Definitely feud of the year. If I did a heel of the year
2007 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 “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
1999 winner: Test (Andrew Martin)-Stephanie McMahon wedding angle
1998 winner: Vince McMahon as heel promoter versus Steve Austin
1997 winner: nWo-WCW angle2008 WORST/MOST TASTELESS ANGLE OF THE YEAR
Jeff Hardy’s implied pre-show drug overdose…er…”mugging”, Survivor Series, WWE – Yup, WWE keeps its streak intact of coming up with something tasteless year after year, so as not to disappoint the folks over at Wrestlecrap.com, who always need new material. This year, WWE decided to play off of the real-life drug issues of Jeff Hardy, claiming on its WWE.com website on the morning of the November 23 Survivor Series PPV that Jeff Hardy “was rushed to a Boston-area emergency room” after being “found unconscious in a hotel stairwell.” WWE actually got one or two legitimate media sources to bite (even though they claimed reports from far more on the air…a blatant lie) before the media realized it was a storyline. Later the storyrline “collapse” was revealed as a beating inflicted on Hardy by a person/persons yet unrevealed in storyline.This storyline was particularly tasteless given the 1997 death of Brian Pillman in his hotel room on the eve of the Badd Blood PPV and the 2005 death of Eddie Guerrero on the morning of a SmackDown! taping at which Guerrero would have won the WWE “World” Heavyweight Title. WWE had no hesitancy to use these past deaths and the real-life drug issues of Hardy to attempt this tasteless and lame angle.
This story was embarrassing enough that a reporter from Armed Forces Radio asked John Cena about it on a conference call prior to the WWE visit to Iraq…and even the company’s most loyal soldier not named McMahon couldn’t defend it.
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
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”, WWF2008 MATCHES OF THE YEAR:
WWE: Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania 24, Orlando, FL, March 30, 2008, – There may have been better technically worked matches this year. But there were no matches in WWE (or anywhere else) with more emotion, both real and storyline-driven, than we got in Ric Flair’s retirement match. Storyline or not, smart fans all knew that’s what it was. So did pretty much anyone else. We all
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 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, PA2008 CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
WWE WrestleMania XXIII – This PPV would have gotten this award even if just for the REAL main event of the show as far as I was concerned: Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels.But this year’s WrestleMania also had a lot more: the triple threat WWE Championship match with Randy Orton retaining against Triple H and John Cena, the spectacle of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.- The Big Show (in a match that I couldn’t figure out beforehand how it would be brought off credibly…but was), as well as Undertaker-Edge. Even the Money in the Bank ladder match with CM Punk defeating Shelton Benjamin, Chris Jericho, Carlito, Montel Vontavious Porter, Mr. Kennedy, and John Morrison; led to what was the shocker moment of the year with CM Punk winning the WWE title later in the year.
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
1997 winner: ECW “Barely Legal”, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, April 13, 19972008 WORST CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
WWE Cyber Sunday, October 26, 2008, Phoenix, AZ – This year’s version of Cyber Sunday wins worst PPV based on two factors:First, this PPV was the third worst PPV in terms of buys in WWE history with only 104,000 buys in North America (162,000 overall), behind only the disastrous WWECW 2006 December to Dismember and a 2006 In Your House PPV.
Second, while the main event was Chris Jericho defending his WWE World Title against Batista and Matt Hardy retained his ECW title against Evan Bourne, we had to watch the cluster$#@ of Honky Tonk Man-Santino Marella (plus Goldust and Roddy Piper) and pay for the privilege, watch the most mismatched idea for a match in recent memory pairing Rey Mysterio and Kane, the monthly installment of the “HHH beats the world” show killing off Jeff Hardy again.
Given that the PPV doesn’t seem to draw interest (and didn’t last year) it may be time to go back to a more conventional PPV format.
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, FL2008 BEST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
Monday Night RAW, USA Network – Pretty much by default, with each week’s installment of the Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels feud and the weekly adventures of Santino Marella make it entertaining.
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 Television2008 WORST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
TNA Impact – Let’s see…how about a TV show that gives you (i’ll just do a few):* A fake Sarah Palin (wasn’t the real one bad enough?) who a heel stable doesn’t realize is fake
* A heel Sting that doesn’t act like a heel…worse…REFUSES to act like a heel but is part of the lead heel stable
* Wrestlecrap-worthy gimmicks including “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal, The Rock And Rave Infection, The Beautiful People (with Cute Kip), Karen Angle and ODB as “talk show hosts”, Booker T as a fake Englishman, then a fake Jamaican (then again, WWE’s Jamaican is actually from Ghana), Stone Cold Shark Boy as
* Turning Abyss, one of the best heel monster characters in wrestling, into a neurotic, naive boob who has never had sex or a beer
Hell, let me just leave it to Lance Storm who said it far better than I did:
“Am I the only one that noticed that TNA Impact this week had less than 18 minutes of actual wrestling on the program. Official match times totaled, I believe, 17 minutes and 55 second. ECW has had more wrestling minutes than that on their show and ECW is but half the length. If we break down the entire 120 minutes of the program we have 18 minutes of wrestling (I rounded up), 32 minutes of commercials, and 70 minutes of skits, promos, and general stupidity. Keep in mind the name of this company is Total Nonstop Action, yet only 15% of this show was action. This leaves 27% of the show for commercials, and 58% of the show skits, comedy, and talking…
…Why would any sane person book Jay Lethal vs. Alex Shelley and Christy Hemme vs. Sojourner Bolt on the same show and decide to give the latter match more than twice the time as the former? We had the opportunity to see Jay Lethal and Alex Shelly wrestling in TNA (Total Nonstop Action) and they were given less than 2 minutes for their match. What a wasted opportunity to entertain fans!…
…I know it’s his gimmick but why the hell was James Storm allowed to come to the ring with a beer bottle in his hand, in a beer bottle on a pole match? Why bother climbing the $#@%ing pole, when he is allowed to bring a beer bottle to ring side with him? Have you ever seen a weapon on a pole match where one of the guys in the match just comes out with the weapon to start the match?”
2007 “winner”: TNA Impact
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, USWA2008 TV ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR:
2007 winner: Jim Ross, Monday Night RAW/Smackdown – No matter what idiotic decisions aef made by WWE, no matter how many times they try to replace him (Michael Cole has sure worked out well, hasn’t it?), turn him heel, or humiliate him on WWE TV, Jim Ross is WWE’s gold standard for announcers. Even though he’s been stuck on WWE’s B show, that gold standards image hasn’t changed in 2008.
2007 winner: Jim Ross, Monday Night RAW
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 Wrestling2008 WORST TV ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR:
(Tie) Don West, TNA IMPACT! and Mike Adamle, WWEAdd one part commercial huckster to one part black helicopter paranoia and mix with some of the most nonsensical product put in TV since the end of WCW and you have Don West in 2008. His enthusiasm is remarkable, and before he got totally sucked in to the TNA corporate line, he actually attempted to ask questions about storylines that made no sense, until it was made clear that logical thought wasn’t welcome. But he wasn’t it for 2008 and bad announcing.
Then, there was Mike Adamle. He’s the man who replaced Joey Styles on WWECW…removing the last link to the real promotion. Then, fans got word he was being groomed to replace Jim Ross. Adamle became the really bad punchline to a really bad joke. His inability to remember the most simple professional wrestling terms made him a weekly joke on every message board known to wrestling fans. Want to hear some of them? Try a You Tube search…that is, those WWE hasn’t removed. One of those they haven’t gotten to as of yet include his calling the former world champion “Gay Batista” on a live RAW. If you’re on vacation from work, it might provide you some amusement.
Oh, and next time someone in wrestling falls back on the “what do you know about wrestling, you’re just a mark’ line …tell them you have two words for them: Mike Adamle.
2007 “winner”: Don West, TNA IMPACT!
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, WCW2008 WRESTLING NEWS STORIES OF THE YEAR
Retirement of Ric Flair – For those of us of a certain age, there will be few more emotional wrestling moments not involving the passing of a wrestler than Ric Flair’s retirement at Wrestlemania 24. The running “loser leave” stipulation put on Ric Flair by “Mr. McMahon” finally reached its end with Shawn Michaels pinning Flair after a superkick in what most of us viewed as the real main event of Wrestlemania. The storyline admiration written in and out of the real life admiration of Flair by Michaels and the end tagline by Michaels as he delivered the final superkick: “I’m sorry. I love you.” would have been maudlin beyond imagination if done in any other situation and by any other performers.The ceremony, preceded by the Hall of Fame induction the night before, was more than we’ll likely ever see for a WWE performer…or for any other wrestler in our lifetime.
But then again…there’s only one Ric Flair.
The filming and high profile of “The Wrestler” – Many of us in the Philadelphia and North Jersey areas were present for the filming of the in-arena scenes of “The Wrestler” at the ECW Arena and other venues in North Jersey.It’s been said many times that the process of filming movie scenes is much like watching sausages…no one should watch it happening. So in those days eaelier this year, as we DID watch it, all fans figured was that the filming of scenes with Mickey Rourke and Dylan “Necrobutcher” Summers was getting in the way of the wrestling show we were attending. Frankly, it was a pain in the ass.
But we were seeing only a small part of this movie. As time went on, and the full movie was reviewed, the buzz grew. Three Golden Glove Award nominations, a Screen Actors Guild award nomination, and an unknown number of Academy Award nominations later…we had a very tiny part in what may the most serious depiction of wrestling, its lifestyle (and the results of it) that has ever been done.
Jeff Hardy finally gets WWE title – After false start after false start, after creative changes, after drug suspensions, terminations, and working in competing promotions…WWE finally pulled the trigger at year’s end and put the WWE title on the enormously popular Jeff Hardy. Here’s hoping in 2009, he can handle the pressure of the WWE machine, the travel, and the capriciousness of WWE creative’s changes on the head of a pin at a moment’s notice.
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
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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