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.

References
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.”
—T-Bar
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.

References
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.

Wrestling in Review (2020), Pt. 1

For wrestling fans, 2020 has been doubly crazy. We aren’t even halfway through and it feels like we’ve already seen more surprises than we did all last year, or the year before that. These are the moments that stood out to me. What do you remember most? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.

“Tonight, we emanate from a closed set, with no audience…”
—Stephanie McMahon
Credit: WWE

After eight years away, John Morrison, AKA Johnny Mundo, AKA Johnny Impact returned to WWE in the least exciting way possible and accomplished nothing of note. Ok, ok… he did drop that song with the Miz.

Jushin “Thunder” Liger retired.

Jesus Escoboza, the second and final man to portray the La Parka character, passed away from an injury sustained in October, 2019, when he landed badly performing a suicide dive. His age was reported as 54, 55, and 56.

Tessa Blanchard defeated Sami Callihan for the Impact World Championship to become the first ever female world heavyweight champion in pro wrestling history.

Nyla Rose defeated Riho for the AEW Women’s World Championship to become the first ever transgender champion in a major promotion.

After fourteen weeks of good ratings, AEW renegotiated their contract with TNT, announcing a new four-year, $44 million/year deal.

AEW EVP Cody Rhodes acquired the trademark for Bash at the Beach and held one on Dynamite in the middle of winter using an early-80s grid-style logo despite it having been a summer-themed pay-per-view from the 90s. This new iteration was no more remarkable than any other edition of Dynamite, causing me to remark, “Dafuq? Why?” In all fairness, the following episode was broadcast from a cruise ship, so that kind of made up for it.

Cody Rhodes took those ten lashings from Maxwell Jacob Friedman and Wardlow.

“Rated R Superstar” Edge returned to the ring in the best shape of his life as entry #21 in the annual men’s “Royal Rumble” match. He initially retired in 2011, having undergone double neck fusion surgery.

Vince McMahon fired long-standing WWE co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, in part for not wanting to sign and retain every half-popular wrestler alive to prevent them from going to AEW. Stock prices plummeted.

Goldberg returned in the lead-up to WrestleMania 36 and defeated the Fiend for the Universal Championship in three minutes.

The global Covid-19 pandemic forced wrestling promotions to cancel most Spring and Summer events. WWE soldiered on against better judgment, broadcasting shows from its state-of-the-art “Performance Center” in Orlando, Florida without fans in attendance, starting with the March 13th edition of SmackDown. AEW followed suit, starting with the March 18th edition of Dynamite. AEW moved venues multiple times, whereas WWE camped in Florida. It wasn’t clear how they managed to circumvent the state’s “shelter in place” order, until…

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pronounced WWE an “essential service” the same day that Linda McMahon’s pro-Trump super PAC (or, presidential action committee) pledged $18.5 million to Florida. It should also be noted that Donald Trump is a WWE Hall of Famer.

“Ladies and gentleman, for the first time ever, WWE superstars will entertain you tonight in front of an empty arena.”
—Michael Cole, March 13th

That’s actually not true. What about Halftime Heat?

Speaking of football, the XFL started back up, but was forced to suspend its first season, also due to coronavirus. In April, the company laid off all its employees, with “no plans to return in 2021”.[1]

Brodie Lee (FKA Luke Harper) debuted in AEW as the Dark Order’s “Exalted One”, a parody of Vince McMahon.

On the same episode, Broken Matt Hardy debuted to back the Elite. The next week, he teleported.

As surreal as it was, WrestleMania went on as planned from the WWE Performance Center. For the first time ever, it was taped in advance and aired over two nights.

Roman Reigns pulled out of WrestleMania at the last possible second and hasn’t been back. Most people assumed he chose not to perform because having Leukemia and/or taking medication for it affects his immune system, however, he clarified to TMZ that he’s in perfect health and is staying home to protect his two newborn sons. It was later reported that Reigns showed up for the taping and left. He was subsequently edited out of a video recapping Seth Rollins’ cash-in at WrestleMania 31, making it seem as though Rollins pinned Lesnar that night. This has left people wondering if he has “heat”.

Similarly, Sami Zayn decided to stay home and was stripped of the Intercontinental Championship.

Braun Strowman subbed for Roman Reigns in his Universal Championship match against Goldberg, finally winning “the big one” two-and-a-half years after he probably should have. Goldberg then vanished as quickly as he arrived.

The Undertaker and AJ Styles feuded over a trophy named after a Saudi Arabian mountain range and Michelle McCool’s finisher. Their rivalry culminated in a cinematic fight scene shot in a “boneyard” — not to be confused with a graveyard — where AJ Styles was buried alive, as in murdered.

“I’m gonna make sure you die in that ring at WrestleMania.”
—AJ Styles
Credit: WWE

Looks like he had it backward! ↗

Bray Wyatt entered John Cena’s psyche, exploiting his flaws to pick up a win.

MVP returned to WWE, retired from active competition, then promptly came out of retirement to enter himself in a qualifying match for the annual men’s “Money in the Bank” ladder match, which he lost to Apollo Crews.

WWE finally released the Revival. Unfortunately, it was a harbinger of things to come, because…

On April 15th, WWE released Kurt Angle, Rusev, Erick Rowan, Zack Ryder, Heath Slater, Curt Hawkins, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Eric Young, EC3, Drake Maverick, Sarah Logan, No Way Jose, Mike & Maria Kanellis, Lio Rush, Aiden English, Primo, Epico, referee Mike Chioda (employed since 1989), Deonna Purrazzo, several Performance Center recruits, and at least one writer as a cost-cutting measure. They also reportedly furloughed the following backstage personnel: Fit Finlay, Lance Storm, Mike “IRS” Rotunda, Billy Kidman, Shane “Hurricane” Helms, Shawn Daivari, Pat Buck, Sarah Stock, and Scott Armstrong.

Over the coming days and weeks, more names trickled out: Kassius Ohno, Cain Velasquez, Gerald Briscoe, and Curtis Axel. Drew Gulak’s contract expired and wasn’t renewed, but then it was. Needless to say, the releases were a very bad look for WWE.

Around this same time, the company’s ratings went into free fall, hitting one all-time low after another.

Hall of Fame ring announcer Howard Finkel passed away.

Three minors, aged 15-17, accused Velveteen Dream of sending them nudes from his verified Instagram account.

Alberto El Patron (FKA Alberto Del Rio) was arrested in San Antonio, Texas for allegedly repeatedly beating and sexually assaulting a woman and threatening to “drop [her son] off in the middle of the road somewhere.”[2]

The men’s and women’s “Money in the Bank” ladder matches took place simultaneously, inside and atop WWE headquarters, AKA Titan Towers. Two WWE Superstars™ were thrown off the roof.

The next night, Becky Lynch announced she was carrying Seth Rollins’ baby, becoming one of very few men in the history of the Earth to get pregnant. She relinquished the Raw Women’s Championship to briefcase holder Asuka, ending her record-setting reign at 400 days.

Season 2 of Vice’s critically acclaimed docu-series Dark Side of the Ring covered the Chris Benoit double-murder/suicide, New Jack’s coke-fueled assaults, the ill-advised “Brawl For All” tournament, the murder of Nancy Argentino by Jimmy Snuka, David Schultz’ open-hand slap(s) to John Stossel, the unsolved murder of Dino Bravo, the failure of UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation) & bizarre death of its owner Herb Abrams, and the tragic losses of Road Warrior Hawk & Owen Hart.

Shad Gaspard of Cryme Tyme was swept away by a riptide while swimming at Venice Beach. He selflessly “directed rescuers to help his son”[3] before he submerged.

Japanese wrestler Hana Kimura committed suicide. She posted pictures of her slashed arm online and wrote, among other things, “I don’t want to be a human anymore.” Her decision was influenced by criticism she had received over social media. She was 22 years old.

The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, Santana, Ortiz, & Jake Hager) went to war with the Elite (Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, & the Young Bucks) & Matt Hardy inside and all around an empty football stadium at AEW Double or Nothing.

References
1. Seifert, Kevin & Yates, Field. “XFL Suspends Operations, Lays Off Employees And Has No plans For 2021 Season.” ESPN. April 10th, 2020. Web.

2. “Former WWE Champ Alberto Del Rio Accused of Sexually Assaulting, Beating Woman For Hours.” News 4 San Antonio. May 10th, 2020. Web.

3. “Ex-WWE Star Shad Gaspard Goes Missing During Beach Swim… Massive Lifeguard Search.” TMZ. May 18th, 2020. Web.