Wrestling in Review (2022)

I say the same thing every year, but this was a crazy year for pro wrestling. We saw the first significant defection from AEW to WWE, arguably the biggest wrestling promoter of all time retire, and a major star self-destruct before our very eyes. Here are the moments that stood out to me.

Credit: WWE

It was hot potato with the WWE Championship. Brock Lesnar was advertised to face Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at WWE Day 1 on January 1st, but was inserted into and won the multi-man WWE Championship match when Reigns tested positive for COVID-19 hours before the event.

At Royal Rumble that same month, Bobby Lashley defeated Lesnar to recapture the title. Later that night, Lesnar won the men’s Royal Rumble match, earning the right to challenge for the championship of his choosing at WrestleMania. Despite this, Lesnar was given a chance to win back the WWE Championship less than a month later, at Elimination Chamber, which he did.

At the next event, WrestleMania 38, Roman Reigns defeated Lesnar in a bout dubbed “the Biggest WrestleMania Match of All-Time” to unify their titles. Their seven-year feud continued.

Katsuyori Shibata wrestled his first and second real matches since nearly dying in 2017 from delivering headbutts.

WWE caught some flak for trademarking “Gunther Stark”, a name that apparently also belonged to a Nazi U-boat captain. They eventually dropped the “Stark” part and gave “Gunther” to Walter.

Impact Knockouts Champion Mickie James had to appear in the women’s Royal Rumble match because WWE fired too many of its female competitors.

Ronda Rousey returned in and won the match.

Shane McMahon quietly exited WWE amid reports that he had a meltdown backstage when his pitches involving himself were not well received.

All Elite Wrestling EVP Cody Rhodes and his wife Brandi left the company in the middle of filming season 2 of the TNT reality show Rhodes to the Top. Rhodes returned to WWE as Seth Rollins’ mystery opponent at WrestleMania 38 and won in the longest match of Night 1. The wildest thing about the jump was that he kept his attire, elaborate entrance, and music. He defeated Rollins again at WrestleMania Backlash. Rhodes tore a pec off the bone preparing for the final match in their trilogy, set to take place inside Hell in a Cell. He chose to fight through the pain, and put on a legendary, twenty-five-minute, star-making performance with a giant-ass bruise on the right side of his body.

Knox County mayor Glenn “Kane” Jacobs used Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to insult the left, downplayed the level of gun violence in America following the Uvalde elementary school shooting where nineteen children lost their lives, and applauded the overturning of Roe v. Wade, revealing himself to be an even bigger monster than the one he played on TV for twenty-five years.

Two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion/occasional wrestler Cain Velasquez was charged with attempted first-degree murder for pursuing and shooting at a car containing a daycare worker who he alleges molested his son. His bullets hit the man’s father. While being held, Velasquez requested and was granted permission to wrestle twice for AAA.

Tony Khan purchased Ring of Honor for less than $4 million.

Pete Dunne was called up to SmackDown as “Butch”, one of Sheamus’ lackeys.

Big E was sidelined for most of the year with a fractured neck.

WWE Hall of Famer Tammy “Sunny” Sytch crashed into the back of a car at a stop light, causing it to crash into another car, resulting in the death of a seventy-five-year-old man.

Edge turned heel and formed the Judgment Day faction. He was quickly kicked out and replaced by Finn Balor.

Triple H returned from his cardiac episode at WrestleMania, announcing what many assumed, his retirement from the ring.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin, on the other hand, came out of retirement, opening up his first can of whoop-ass in nineteen years against Kevin Owens. The crazy SOB took a suplex on concrete.

Johnny Knoxville beat Sami Zayn in a Jackass-themed “anything goes” match.

After months of nonstop coming, Veer Mahaan finally re-debuted on Raw.

Reigning NXT Tag Team Champion Nash Carter was fired following accusations of abuse by his wife and the dissemination of a picture of him with a Hitler mustache.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Sasha Banks and Naomi walked out of a SmackDown taping due to creative frustration. The company shamed them on air and with a statement reading:

When Sasha Banks and Naomi arrived at the arena this afternoon, they were informed of their participation in the main event of tonight’s Monday Night Raw. During the broadcast, they walked into WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis’ office with their suitcases in hand, placed their tag team championship belts on his desk, and walked out. They claimed they weren’t respected enough as tag team champions. And even though they had eight hours to rehearse and construct their match, they claimed they were uncomfortable in the ring with two of their opponents – even though they’d had matches with those individuals in the past with no consequence. Monday Night Raw is a scripted live TV show, whose characters are expected to perform the requirements of their contract. We regret we were unable to deliver, as advertised, tonight’s main event.

The last part is especially funny considering WWE has a long history of bait-and-switching main events they have no intention of delivering on. For example, just last year, they advertised Sasha Banks for Summerslam up until it went on the air, knowing full well that she wasn’t cleared to compete.

MJF no-showed an AEW fan fest and reportedly booked a flight home for the day before Double or Nothing. Despite the drama, he wrestled his scheduled match against Wardlow and lost. On the following Dynamite, MJF cut a “worked shoot”-style promo calling boss Tony Khan a “fucking mark”. The angle was overshadowed by the Vince McMahon scandal (below). MJF made his return at the end of All Out and was again overshadowed (below).

Back in December, 2021, Jeff Hardy left a WWE live event through the crowd before his six-man tag match was over. WWE assumed he was high and fired him for not accepting rehab. Hardy took a drug test at the time of the firing and it came out later he passed. WWE offered Hardy a Hall of Fame induction to keep him from signing with AEW, but the Charismatic Enigma™ declined. He danced his way to the ring on the March 9th edition of Dynamite with his classic “Hardy Boyz” theme playing to save his brother Matt from a beatdown. After that, he competed in numerous physical gimmick matches that soon left him visibly hurting. He was arrested in June for his third DUI in four years. He reportedly blew a .294 — over three times the legal limit. Police dashcam footage then surfaced of officers surrounding his car with guns drawn.

WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon took an “extended leave of absence from the company”. Business Insider reported that Vince, her own father, forced her out for not hitting revenue goals. However, she quickly returned…

On June 15th, The Wall Street Journal published a story reporting that WWE’s Board of Directors was investigating a $3 million settlement paid by Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon to an ex-employee with whom he and Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis had sex. The payments were said to have come from McMahon’s personal funds. The controversy was over a raise the woman received that doubled her annual salary from $100,000 to $200,000. It was also asserted that payments made to protect the image of the company should have been recorded as company expenses. Amidst the media coverage, McMahon stepped down as Chairman/CEO, but remained involved in creative. He began making pointless TV appearances to pop the ratings, as if to say “Fuck you, I’m not going anywhere”. Stephanie McMahon was appointed interim Chairwoman & CEO, whereas Bruce Prichard assumed Laurinaitis’ duties.

WSJ published a followup story on July 8th stating McMahon paid more than $12 million to four different women over a period of sixteen years. $7.5 million of that went to a former wrestler who was demoted then let go in 2005 when she refused further advances.

On July 22nd, McMahon Tweeted: “At 77, time for me to retire. Thank you, WWE Universe. Then. Now. Forever. Together.”

Stephanie and President/Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan were named co-CEOs. Triple H was named Head of Creative and Talent Relations. At some point, Laurinaitis was terminated.

Credit: WWE, Reddit

Triple H’s first acts as Head of Creative were revitalizing the women’s division, pushing Ciampa, and rehiring everyone his father-in-law fired to pay for assaults, including Karrion Kross, Dexter Lumis, and Hit Row minus Swerve Strickland.

Raw and SmackDown improved overnight. Stories conclude now and most matches go fifteen-twenty minutes. Triple H even created and filled a position called “Director of Longterm Creative”.

In August, two more payments equaling $5 million were uncovered. A special committee determined that the total amount of unreported expenses equaled $19.6 million. Ironically, the investigation into where the $19.6 million went cost $19.4 million.

Actor Freddy Prinze Jr. Tweeted his intentions to start a wrestling promotion within eighteen months where the wrestlers are represented by SAG-AFTRA.

CM Punk defeated “Hangman” Adam Page at Double or Nothing for the AEW World Championship, only to announce six days later that he was injured. Jon Moxley was crowned interim champion. The two were slated to face off at All Out.

Christian betrayed his protégé Jungle Boy and became AEW’s most savage, entertaining heel.

Legendary referees Dave Hebner and Tim White passed away within a few days of each other.

Contracted WWE superstar AJ Styles sent a video message for Impact Slammiversary.

AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling held an interpromotional PPV titled Forbidden Door that was cursed with injuries and a bit of politics.

Claudio Castagnoli (FKA Cesaro) subbed for Bryan Danielson in his match against Zack Sabre Jr.

Adam Cole suffered a nasty concussion and sat out the rest of the year.

Contracted AEW stars Bryan Danielson, Paul White (FKA the Big Show), and Chris Jericho provided video messages for the “20 Years of Cena Celebration” on the June 27th episode of Raw.

YouTuber Logan Paul signed a multi-year deal with WWE. He turned out to be really good at wrestling. A comment I saw in a live thread summed it up well: “Douchebag can hang, y’all.”

It came out that Rocky Johnson, the Rock’s dad, fathered five illegitimate children.

Natalya no-sold the finish of a match against Liv Morgan at a live event in July. She sat up immediately after the three count and angrily pointed at Morgan. She did it again in September.

It was reported that Raw‘s rating would switch to TV-14 starting July 18th, bringing an end to the PG Era.

Brock Lesnar lifted the ring with a tractor at Summerslam, sending Roman Reigns tumbling from one side out the other.

Ric Flair returned to the ring at seventy-three years of age, teaming with son-in-law Andrade el Idolo to defeat WWE’s Senior Vice President of Live Events Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal. The event, titled Ric Flair’s Last Match, was promoted by Starrcast and David Crockett and featured an array of talent from different promotions. It was reportedly the second highest grossing North American indie event ever, after All In. Flair later admitted to passing out twice during the match from dehydration.

Jarrett was soon released from WWE and replaced by his former roadie, Road Dogg.

WWE released 20+ wrestlers from NXT UK ahead of a rumored relaunch as “NXT Europe”.

Patrick Clark, the former Velveteen Dream, was arrested twice in the month of August and again in December. EC3 said Clark once tried to record people urinating at his apartment, suggesting Clark was also behind a 2021 incident where a hidden camera was found in a bathroom at the WWE Performance Center.

WWE held a stadium show in Cardiff, Wales called Clash at the Castle. It went off the air with pugilist Tyson Fury singing “American Pie”.

Jon Moxley ran over CM Punk in a title unification match on a random Dynamite eleven days before All Out. The next week, Punk’s former trainer Ace Steel, apparently employed by AEW as a producer, gave an impassioned speech convincing Punk to sign the contract for a rematch. At the pay-per-view, Punk reclaimed the title, but suffered another big injury, this time a torn right triceps.

He went on an unprovoked, unprofessional rant at the post-match press conference, which he started by fishing for a mention of former friend Colt Cabana. He needlessly pointed out that Cabana shares a bank account with his mother, said the company’s EVPs (the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega) “couldn’t manage a Target”, and called Adam Page an “empty-headed fucking dumb fuck”. He also cut off boss Tony Khan at least twice, strangely saying “I’m trying to run a business.” Khan just sat there with a worried look on his face and allowed this to happen. Afterward, there was a physical altercation between Punk/Ace Steel and the Elite. Punk reportedly punched Matt Jackson while Steel threw a chair at Nick Jackson’s eye and bit Kenny Omega.

“We have irresponsible people who call themselves EVPs and couldn’t fucking manage a Target and spread lies and bullshit and put into the media that I got somebody fired when I have fuck-all to do with him.”
Credit: AEW/YouTube

“What did I ever do in this world to deserve an empty-headed fucking dumb fuck like ‘Hangman’ Adam Page to got out on national television and go into business for himself?”
Credit: AEW/YouTube

Suspensions were handed down for The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Pat Buck, Christopher Daniels, Michael Nakazawa, and Brandon Cutler while a third-party investigation was launched. It was reported that CM Punk would likely not be returning to the company.

On the following Dynamite, Tony Khan vacated the titles held by CM Punk and the Elite, those being the AEW World Championship and AEW World Trios Championships, respectively. No explanation was given. The men were not mentioned for nearly two months, until the October 26th edition of Dynamite when an eerie video aired showing Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, & the letter E vanishing from historic AEW clips. The same day, Punk leaked to the media that his locker room door was kicked in during the brawl, injuring his dog. Dave Meltzer refuted this sudden addition to the story.

Ace Steel was quietly released on October 17th.

Malakai Black was rumored to have requested and been granted a conditional release from his AEW contract. He was said to be suffering from severe back pain and mental health issues. Stablemate Buddy Matthews also requested his release, citing a need to “recalibrate”. Neither release was actually granted. It was speculated that they had been contacted by Triple H and wished to return to WWE.

WWE launched a “White Rabbit” ARG that lead to Bray Wyatt’s much anticipated return at Extreme Rules. Going forward, his promos were often interrupted by a figure named “Uncle Howdy”, in reference to The Exorcist.

Braun Strowman also returned.

Roman Reigns was named Pro Wrestling Illustrated‘s wrestler of the year. The publication’s rankings are always deceptive because its evaluation period runs from July through June instead of January through December. A case could also be made for Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley.

Chris Jericho got into tremendous shape and had one of the best years of his career at 51 years of age. He was involved in a great storyline where he won and dishonored the ROH World Championship by attacking ROH alumni and defeating numerous former champions in underhanded ways.

Paige signed with AEW as a wrestler under her real name, Saraya. She hadn’t wrestled since reinjuring her neck in December of 2017 and was likely never going to be cleared by WWE.

Taz’s son Hook teamed with his entrance music artist, Action Bronson, to beat Matt Menard and Angelo Parker.

NJPW founder Antonio Inoki passed away.

Andrade el Idolo and Sammy Guevara engaged in a war of words on Twitter over a statement Andrade made about Guevara during an interview. It was reported by TMZ the following Wednesday that prior to Dynamite, the two were involved in a physical altercation and both were sent home. However, Guevara came out for the main event and scored the fall for his team, leaving a sour taste in fans’ mouths. It was later reported by Dave Meltzer that Andrade instigated the fight and was the only one who threw punches. Meltzer speculated that Andrade did so hoping to be released.

Only a few months earlier, Eddie Kingston was suspended for “pie-facing” Guevara over the fact that Guevara called him fat during a promo that never aired.

WWE switched up its commentary teams and reduced them to two people each. Nigel McGuinness and Jimmy Smith were let go.

The Acclaimed and their manager “Daddy Ass” Billy Gunn got super over by screaming “Scissor me, Daddy Ass!” and doing a scissoring hand gesture.

Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Road Dogg, and X-Pac appeared together for a brief “25 Years of DX” segment on Raw. It’s funny because Billy Gunn was the most over member at the time, and still is, and he was the only one missing. The others acknowledged him by having the fans yell his name. Corey Graves said he thinks Gunn is “doing something with office equipment”.

Jeff Jarrett debuted in AEW as “The Last Outlaw”. Some fans rolled their eyes, but I’ve always liked him and he looks really good for 55.

Matt Riddle was sent to rehab for failing his second drug test in a year. WWE no longer tests for marijuana.

Mandy Rose was released for posting nudes to FanTime, a subscription service similar to OnlyFans.

William Regal debuted in AEW as a manager. He formed the Blackpool Combat Club, consisting of Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, and Wheeler Yuta. He mentored them in their long-running feud against the Jericho Appreciation Society until turning on Moxley, costing him the AEW World Championship. Regal then asked for and was granted his release.

Overall, the tide seemed to turn in favor of WWE. AEW lost a lot of momentum and goodwill from the fans, whereas WWE gained it.

Edited to add: Samoa Joe closed out the year as a double champion. You love to see it.

Edited to add: Don West, the voice of TNA Wrestling, lost his battle with brain cancer.

Wrestling in Review (2021)

2021 was another big year for wrestling. WWE was business as usual whereas AEW continued to grow and expand, establishing itself as a major alternative. Whether you like one or both, it’s a great time to be a fan. 2021 was also a year of surprises. Here are — checks — nearly fifty moments that stood out to me. Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments section below.

Credit: AEW/Bleacher Report

On a special edition of Raw titled “Legends Night”, Goldberg returned to call out WWE Champion Drew McIntyre for not respecting legends. I think he had him mixed up with Randy Orton, who, earlier that night, humiliated the Big Show and Mark Henry. McIntyre, in contrast, had spent the last several months defending Christian, Shawn Michaels, the Big Show, and Ric Flair from Orton. What the Hell, Goldberg?

Edge returned from his triceps tear just in time for the annual men’s Royal Rumble match, which he entered first and won by last eliminating archenemy Orton. Now, WWE can say “Three men have won from the #1 spot. One is Shawn Michaels, the other is Edge!”

Speaking of the Royal Rumble, Edge’s best friend and former tag team partner Christian entered at #24. It was his first match in nearly seven years. He later signed with AEW and became the Impact World Champion.

NJPW star KENTA showed up on the Beach Break edition of Dynamite to attack Jon Moxley, signaling the beginning of a partnership between the two companies. Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Minoru Suzuki, Hikuleo, and Tomohiro Ishii also appeared on AEW programming.

Paul White (FKA the Big Show) signed with AEW as a commentator, ending his twenty-two year run with WWE. Mark Henry also jumped ship and gets paid a shitload of money to say “It’s time for the main event”.

Tully Blanchard wrestled his first match in 13½ years on Dynamite.

Shaquille O’Neal wrestled his first match ever on Dynamite. Cody Rhodes gave him a running crossbody over the ropes to the outside through tables.

AEW Revolution did roughly 135,000 buys, making it the highest grossing non-WWE pay-per-view since WCW Superbrawl IX in 1999. The event featured two surprise signings — Ethan Page and Christian Cage — an exploding barbed wire deathmatch that failed to explode, and Sting’s first (live non-cinematic) match in over five years.

The WWE Network became part of Peacock. The whole thing was a shit show, as Peacock was hard to navigate, slow to upload old shows, and keen to erase history, scrubbing content such as Roddy Piper vs. Bad News Brown from WrestleMania VI because it didn’t align with their standards and practices.

Andrade requested and was granted his release from WWE. The same week, real-life girlfriend Charlotte Flair disappeared from TV and was pulled from promotional material for WrestleMania, prompting rampant speculation. Andrade later signed with AEW.

The Hurt Business and Retribution broke up around the same time, damaging everyone involved except WWE champion Bobby Lashley and his manager MVP.

At Pro Wrestling Trainwreck’s Southern Sickness Cup, Eric Ryan lit JJ Allin’s dick on fire and tried unsuccessfully to extinguish it with a weed whacker.

WWE allowed fans (for the first time since the pandemic started) at WrestleMania 37. Roughly 18,000 people attended each night. Night 1, referred to incessantly as “WrestleMania Saturday”, was postponed by a 45-minute rain delay.

Hulk Hogan dressed up as a pirate and co-hosted the event with Titus O’Neil to show that he gets along with blacks, but the live fans saw through it and booed him.

To send the fans home happy, WWE had bad guys win 75% of the championship matches, and 57% of the matches overall.

The Fiend returned from beyond the grave to challenge his killer, Randy Orton, to an exhibition match in which he was felled by a single RKO when ally Alexa Bliss distracted him by leaking black goo from her hairline. This is the same Fiend who kicked out of nine curb stomps at Hell in a Cell 2019.

Grammy Award-winning rap artist Bad Bunny wrestled a really good match with Damien Priest against the Miz and John Morrison.

On April 13th, NXT moved to Tuesday, bringing an end to the “Wednesday Night Wars”.

WWE released over eighty onscreen talents while touting record profits. The first round of cuts occurred on the one-year anniversary of the last round of cuts, making it seem like a sick celebration. The first round included Billie Kay, Bo Dallas, Chelsea Green, Kalisto, Mickie James, Mojo Rawley, Peyton Royce, Samoa Joe, Tucker, and Wesley Blake. Their belongings were symbolically shipped to them in black trash bags. In May, WWE released Alexander Wolfe, Drake Wuertz, Ezra Judge, Jake Clemons, Jessamyn Duke, Kavita Devi, Skyler Story, Tom Philips, Vanessa Borne, and Velveteen Dream. In June, Aleister Black, Braun Strowman, Lana, Murphy, Ruby Riott, Santana Garrett, Ariya Daivari, Arturo Ruas, August Grey, the Bollywood Boyz, Curt Stallion, Ever-Rise (Chase Parker & Matt Martel), Fandango, Killian Dain, Marina Shafir, Tino Sabbatelli, Tony Nese, and Tyler Breeze. July, Bray Wyatt. August, Ari Sterling, Asher Hale, Bobby Fish, Bronson Reed, Desmond Troy, Giant Zanjeer, Jake Atlas, Kona Reeves, Leon Ruff, Mercedes Martinez, Ric Flair, Stephon Smith, and Tyler Rust. October, Greg Hamilton. November, Drake Maverick (again), Ember Moon, Eva Marie, Frankie Monet, Gran Metalik, Harry Smith, all of Hit Row (Ashante Adonis, B-Fab, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, & Top Dolla), Jaxson Ryker, Jeet Rama, Jessi Kamea, John Morrison, Karrion Kross, Katrina Cortez, Keith Lee, Lince Dorado, Mia Yim, Nia Jax, Oney Lorcan, Scarlett, Shane Thorn, Tegan Nox, Trey Baxter, and Zayda Ramier. December, Jeff Hardy. Lars Sullivan and Steve Cutler were released early in the year. Samoa Joe was re-signed. On the December 20th episode of Raw, Vince McMahon said “I enjoy firing people. I especially enjoy firing people just before the holidays.

Big Cass turned his life around and rocked up in Impact as W. Morrissey.

AEW World Champion Kenny Omega defeated Rich Swann for the Impact World Championship.

Daniel Bryan let his WWE contract expire and signed a three-year deal with AEW.

New Jack died, nonviolently.

The Miz and John Morrison were eaten by zombies during a lumberjack match at WrestleMania Backlash.

Adnan Virk replaced Tom Philips as lead commentator of Raw, and was himself replaced by Jimmy Smith.

Piece of shit Jimmy Uso was arrested for his third DUI. WWE rewarded him with his fifth SmackDown Tag Team Championship reign.

AEW and WWE resumed touring in July.

Malakai Black (FKA Aleister Black) debuted on the Road Rager edition of Dynamite only thirty-five days after his WWE release, dropping Arn Anderson and Cody Rhodes with matching spinning heel kicks.

Credit: AEW/TNT/YouTube

Paul Orndorff passed away.

Chelsea Green, No Way Jose, Thunder Rosa, Mickie James, and Jay White appeared in the Impact Zone at Slammiversary.

Matt Cardona (FKA Zack Ryder) defeated Nick “Fucking” Gage in an ultraviolet deathmatch for the GCW World Championship. Gage rocked up on Dynamite the week after as the second Labor of Jericho.

“Beautiful” Bobby Eaton passed away.

AEW premiered its second show, Rampage, in August. Christian defeated Kenny Omega for the Impact World Championship in the first match on the inaugural episode.

CM Punk made his long awaited return to pro wrestling on the second episode.

Ric Flair accompanied Andrade to the ring for his match against Kenny Omega at Triplemanía XXIX, causing Hugo Savinovich to lose his damn mind. “Ric Fleer is in da house!… Ric Fleer is in Triple Muh-nia house! Wow!” he kept screaming.

John Cena and Goldberg returned in the lead-up to Summerslam and challenged for the top titles. Becky Lynch and Brock Lesnar made surprise returns at the event.

Daffney committed suicide.

Vince McMahon and Bruce Pritchard seized control of NXT from Triple H and relaunched it as “NXT 2.0”. Dave Meltzer said of the situation, “No more midgets, no one starting in their 30s. They want people who can be box office attractions and main characters”[1]. As all this transpired, Triple H was hospitalized with a heart condition and Samoa Joe was forced to relinquish his newly-won NXT Championship.

AEW All Out did even more buys than Revolution. The event featured CM Punk’s first match since walking out on WWE seven years earlier, plus the surprise debuts of Minoru Suzuki, Ruby Soho (FKA Ruby Riott), Adam Cole, & Bryan Danielson.

Big E cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to win the WWE Championship.

WWE only booked one “extreme rules” match for their Extreme Rules PPV.

Indie wrestler Blaine Evans admitted to intentionally cutting one of John Rare’s fingers off with bolt cutters at IWA Deep South’s Carnage Cup XII.

WWE held a nineteen-minute “Queen’s Crown” tournament for its women that culminated in Saudi Arabia.

ROH released its whole roster.

Jon Moxley checked himself into rehab for alcohol addiction.

Survivor Series was all about The Rock and he didn’t even show up. But hey, we got an egg.

Cody Rhodes suplexed Andrade through a flaming table. Globs of melted tabletop adhered to Rhodes’ back. He was still on fire when he made the pin.

Under his “Blood Hunter” persona, YouTube personality Hannibal (who I had no idea was an actual wrestler) repeatedly stabbed a referee’s head with a metal spike, allegedly while drunk, tearing one of the referee’s arteries.

Sting continued to turn back the clock, wrestling like a man in his 40s. He, Darby Allin, & CM Punk defeated FTR & MJF in a fun, feel-good match to close out the year.

1. F4WOnline. “Changes Are Coming to NXT Following Roster Cuts: Wrestling Observer Radio.” Online video clip. YouTube. August 8th, 2021. Web.

Wrestling in Review (2020), Pt. 2

Now that that no-good-dirty-rotten jabroni mark 2020 is finally gone, it should be kind of fun to reflect on what happened in wrestling, the stuff that went down since I made my first post, as we gaze starry-eyed to a new year of unknown disaster. Did I miss anything? What do you remember most from these last ~seven months that seemed to both drag on forever and flash by in the blink of an eye? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading. And while I’ve got you, Happy New Year!

“Let’s have a little history here. Let’s give the people a little show.”
—Don Callis
Credit: Impact Wrestling

WWE announced its most profitable quarter ever, raking in $43.8 million in total profits.

WWE released Rob Gronkowski before having him wrestle any matches.

NXT revived the old In Your House pay-per-view concept for its June 7th TakeOver event. They also brought back The Great American Bash and Halloween Havoc as TV specials.

For some reason, WWE felt the need to promote Randy Orton and Edge’s WrestleMania rematch at Backlash as the “greatest wrestling match ever”. Their hyped-up encounter went 45 minutes and far exceeded most people’s expectations, including my own. I’m going on record right now as having loved it. During an apparent re-shoot of a move, Edge tore his triceps.

Without explicitly saying “I’m retiring”, the Undertaker announced his retirement on episode 5 of the WWE Network-exclusive series Undertaker: The Last Ride, bringing an end to his legendary thirty-two-year career. He bowed out at Survivor Series, on the 29th anniversary of his debut with the company.

In mid-June, Twitter was flooded with allegations of sexual misconduct aimed at people in wrestling. In response to it all:
•WWE fired Jack Gallagher, Ligero, & Travis Banks, and suspended Joe Coffey
•Impact Wrestling fired Joey Ryan, Dave Crist, and Michael Elgin
•Dave Lagana resigned from NWA
•AEW sent Jimmy Havoc to counseling and/or rehab
•Chikara shut down

On a similar note, AEW suspended Sammy Guevara for jokingly saying he’d “rape” Sasha Banks four years prior, before he was even employed by them.

There was an outbreak of Covid-19 in WWE. The total number of people who tested positive was said to be as high as thirty. Among those who did and went public with their results were Renee Young, Kayla Braxton, Adam Pearce & Jamie Noble. Before the outbreak, WWE was actively instructing people not to wear masks.

On night one of Fyter Fest, Taz took a shot at WWE’s lax approach to the virus in a promo directed at AEW World Heavyweight Champion Jon Moxley, whose wife is Renee Young: “You’ve been tested at home, not once, but twice, and you’ve been negative on both. And if you decided to get your ass here next week, you would get tested again here in AEW, cos Jon, as you know, we don’t run a sloppy shop.” It should also be noted that AEW and NXT had their own minor outbreaks.

Impact Wrestling fired its reigning world heavyweight champion, Tessa Blanchard, for refusing to fly in or send promos during the lockdown. She reportedly held the belt hostage, demanding $150,000 to give it back. Her stepfather, Magnum TA, disputes this amount.

On July 13th, Monday Night Raw drew its lowest viewership ever — 1.56 million people — until December 14th, when it did even worse — 1.53 million people.

WWE renamed its July pay-per-view Extreme Rules: Horror Show™, then changed it again to The Horror Show at Extreme Rules™ and booked a match on the card between Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio in which the only way to win was to “[extract] the opponent’s eye”[1].

The Motor City Machine Guns, Eric Young, Doc Gallows (FKA Luke Gallows), and EC3 made surprise returns to Impact Wrestling at Slammiversary. Heath (FKA Heath Slater) and Karl Anderson also appeared.

A group including The Rock bought the XFL for about $15 million.

Shane McMahon returned to WWE TV as the host of “Raw Underground”, a recurring segment on Raw where wrestlers fought, but for real, but not really for real, in a ropeless ring in a basement or warehouse. There was nothing at stake and the segment felt pointless. After only seven episodes of Raw, it was scrapped altogether.

On August 3rd, a group of masked activist-types firebombed a generator outside WWE’s Performance Center. Later that week, they returned to wreak havoc, cutting the ropes off the ring with a chainsaw. On September 21st, the five core members of the group debuted in Bane masks, calling themselves Retribution. They declared war on WWE, stating they “refuse to suck up to an entitled regime”. Believe it or not, WWE’s response was to offer them contracts, so they could pay them to take down their company. “[Now] they can do anything, anytime, to anybody!” Tom Phillips tried to explain, like they weren’t already. The five members — lamely named Mace, T-Bar, Slapjack, Reckoning & Retaliation — signed their new contracts while hypocritically condemning the rest of the roster for collecting paychecks from WWE “like whores”. They went on to lose their first match. Two weeks later, Mustafa Ali revealed himself as their leader. He also admitted to being the anonymous SmackDown hacker from months earlier, tying up that loose end. Under his guidance, the faction lost its next match…

“When you sell your soul to a corrupt machine, you become corrupt.”
Credit: WWE

Marty Jannetty confessed to killing a man on Facebook, also implying he may have killed more: “I was 13, working at Victory Lanes Bowling Alley, buying weed from a fag that worked there, and he put his hands on me. He dragged me around to the back of the building. You already know what he was gonna try to do. That was the very first time I made a man disappear. They never found him. They shoulda looked in the Chattahoochie River.” In reply to a comment asking “are you okay?” he elaborated. “Yes, that was a billion years ago. Plus, I have the satisfaction of knowing that BITCH ass ninja never got to do another kid like that.” As a result, the Columbus Police Department of Georgia announced it was looking into the matter. Speaking with Boston Wrestling Sports, Jannetty stressed that he acted in self defense, beating the man – who he called “Bob” – to death with a brick. In September, he backtracked, claiming the whole thing was part of a storyline. In October, however, he backtracked again on The Hannibal TV, stating it was in fact true and that he only said it was part of a storyline to get the police off his scent. “I hit him in the head with a brick. It was laying right there.” he told host Devon Hannibal. “I say a brick, it was a piece of concrete… Evidently, I hit him too hard and he died right there… Me and my nephew poured gas on him and burned the body up.”[2] Yikes.

TNA legend Abyss made his first-ever onscreen appearance in WWE on the August 14th edition of SmackDown as AJ Styles’ bumbling assistant, Joseph Park.

An interesting documentary titled You Cannot Kill David Arquette came out detailing the Scream star’s return to pro wrestling.

Velveteen Dream disappeared for two months. Speaking with CBS Sports, Hunter Hearst Helmsley explained that Dream’s absence, which coincided with allegations of sexual misconduct, was due to a car accident. He did, however, emphasize that he looked into said allegations and “didn’t find anything”[3]. Many fans were dissatisfied with this answer.

AEW became the first major American promotion to re-allow fans at 10-15% capacity.

On August 21st, WWE moved Raw, SmackDown, and pay-per-views to the Amway Center in downtown Orlando, which they filled with virtual fans and referred to as “Thunder Dome”.

Eddie Guerrero’s biological son Dominik Mysterio wrestled his first match at Summerslam, losing to Seth Rollins.

That same night, Roman Reigns returned from a self-imposed 5-month hiatus. He aligned with Paul Heyman, turned heel, and recaptured the WWE Championship a week later at Payback.

At AEW All Out, Matt Hardy fell eight to ten feet off a scissor lift, missing two tables, hitting the back of his head on concrete. He appeared to be unconscious or dead for at least forty seconds, but was somehow cleared to continue the match, which he won.

Earlier in the show, Matt Sydal (FKA Evan Bourne) made his big debut in a “Casino Battle Royale” and immediately botched a shooting star press, his finishing maneuver.

Road Warrior Animal passed away at 60 years of age.

The Orange County Department of Health announced that it would investigate all three of WWE’s wrestling venues as Covid-19 “hotspots”. WWE responded by proudly stating only 1.5% of the 10,000 tests they’d administered up to that point had been positive, indirectly admitting that as many as 150 of their employees — sorry, I mean “independent contractors” — had gotten the virus. Oof.

WWE instructed all talents to close down their Twitch, Cameo, and OnlyFans accounts. Zelina Vega was fired for refusing to do so.

WWE was sued by its shareholders for misrepresenting its dealings with The Beautiful and Progressive Kingdom of Saudi Arabia™ (in reference to the “airplane incident” following Crown Jewel 2019) and settled out of court for $39 million.

Pat Patterson passed away.

Sting debuted in AEW on a special edition of Dynamite titled Winter is Coming.

Later that evening, special guest Don Callis helped Kenny Omega cheat to win the AEW World Heavyweight Championship. The pair appeared on that Tuesday’s Impact, signaling the beginning of a partnership between the two companies.

Ironically, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase’s youngest son Brett pled guilty to embezzling millions of dollars.

Randy Orton set fire to The Fiend in a “Firefly Inferno” match, then RKO-ed him and did it again, ostensibly killing The Fiend.

Brodie Lee (FKA Luke Harper) passed away at 41 years of age.

1. Zak, Brad. “Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins – Eye for an Eye Match.” WWE. July 6th, 2020. Web.

2. The Hannibal TV. “Marty Jannetty Explains Alleged Molester Killing.” Online video clip. YouTube. October 3rd, 2020. Web.

3. Brookhouse, Brent. “Triple H Addresses Velveteen Dream’s Return to NXT TV, Says Absence Was Due to Car Accident.” CBS Sports. August 17th, 2020. Web.