Where does the time all go? Another year down the tubes and even more importantly the end of another decade. We have had a lot of impactful things happen over the course of the past ten years, things we never really stopped to think about as they were occurring and as the course of history went their importance increased. Then there were the things we would rather forget but again they were just as impactful. This is the decade in review and you?re reading ?Wrestling Rumblings?.
HHH’s rise to power.
OK so maybe this wasn?t an ?event? so to speak but it did happen this decade. Who would?ve thought that one man would become so powerful and influential in the wrestling world? Of course he had help along the way marrying into the McMahon family but this was the decade where HHH truly went from being the Klique sidekick and truly became not the ?Game? but the ?Game Changer?. WWE is his playground now and there are many that believe he will ultimately shape what direction WWE goes in generations to come. That’s a pretty big accomplishment for a guy who started his career off as Terra Ryzing.
The McMahon Monopoly.
This is arguably the biggest event of the decade. Think about it when we started the decade in the year 2000 we had ECW, WCW and WWE all still going somewhat strong or at least we thought so at the time. ECW’s money woes would catch up to it in early 2001 and it would close its doors and then all of a sudden WCW went belly up too and then all of a sudden for the first time in North American wrestling history one man controlled pretty much all of mainstream wrestling. The ramifications of this are still are being felt today as the business has been somewhat stagnant ever since the McMahon Monopoly took hold with many holding onto TNA’s future as the businesses last chance of regaining its former luster.
The Internet boom.
Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, Twitter and Podcasts – none of these things were around 10 years ago. As a matter of fact the only thing that the wrestling business ever had to worry about exposing anything was the dirt sheets and during that era there weren?t many fans that were really reading them. Things are different now as the popularity of the internet has led to the sprouting up of blogs and sites just like the one you are on right now. Think about it; how much smarter are you to the business now than you were 10 years ago and how much of that is because of the internet? There are some that will say that the internet has helped the business but at what costs? I never had spoiler reports in the past and it was not that easy to find out what was going on with who and for that matter I never had so many wrestlers accessible at the touch of a keyboard on both the independent and mainstream level. The business has become more exposed than ever and with internet pirating and torrents you don?t even have to buy or go to an event anymore. Wherever the business goes in the next decade rest assured the internet is going to have its say in its ultimate destiny.
Chris Jericho becomes the first undisputed champion in North America.
We may have only had an undisputed champion for a short time but it was really a monumental deal when you think about it. WWE would say that Jericho was the first undisputed champion since Lou Thesz but in actuality there were other claimants to the title even during Thesz’s era. When you think about the dozens of territories that operated in this country and even the number of national promotions that would later take root who ever thought we would get to a point in wrestling history when we would have an undisputed champion? Now I am sure there are some of you that are smart alecs out there and thinking that they knew it would happen the entire time but to those let me ask you this how many of you thought that champion would be Chris Jericho? It was a big moment in wrestling history and it happened in this decade.
The inception of TNA and ROH.
Say what you will about either company but one thing you will have to give credit for is that they are both still standing and are both very relevant going into the next decade. Both started within months of each other with similar business models. Ring of Honor was going to hold events for the purpose of marketing DVD’s and TNA was going to run a weekly show on PPV. 7 years later and both have somewhat broken barriers. ROH is on HD Net with a decent weekly television show and has made strides in both online and cable PPV and TNA is on Spike TV and is the number two company in North America and has become big enough to get the attention and sign Hulk Hogan to a deal. We could be on the very brink of a new Monday Night War and when you think of all the creativity and great things that came out of the last Monday Night War that is something to look forward to in the next decade.
The wrestling world lost Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero.
This is not to minimize the other wrestling deaths of the last 10 years but it would seem that these two were the most impactful. Eddie Guerrero seemingly had beat the grip of addiction that was crippling his career over the years and himself and Chris would go onto have reigns as world champions. Despite everything that has happened since my favorite image in all of wrestling is the closing shot of Wrestlemania 20 with both Eddie and Chris as world champions in the company where no one thought it could happen. Good feelings don?t last forever unfortunately and Eddie was taken from this world in October 2005 in a death that many felt was steroid related. Its impact was felt and is still being felt to this day as WWE instituted a wellness policy that tests its wrestlers for drugs and just overall health. The validity of this policy was bought into question when Chris Benoit killed his wife, child and then himself in June 2007. The evils of wrestling were bought into the mainstream in a way like never before as it was shown how Chris was able to beat the wellness testing and many would attribute his abuse of steroids and other drugs to the actions that bought about his demise. WWE was again forced to tighten its policy and for the first time ever had to appear before congress to answer why so many wrestlers seemingly die so young. There are many wrestlers of this generation who were influenced by the work of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. I personally just haven?t been able to watch a Chris Benoit match ever since the tragedy and even when I watch Eddie’s watch it with sadness like never before.
The WWE brand extension takes hold.
When WWE first bought WCW the plan was to run WCW as a separate company and of course we all know by now that this never happened. Still many in WWE felt there was a way to somehow come up with a separate revenue stream to take advantage of all the extra talent that was scooped up from WCW and this became the WWE Brand Extension. There are many enemies of the brand extension including yours truly but it has been almost 8 years now and it is still going as strong as ever with another additional brand from when first being introduced (ECW). As a matter of fact the Brand Extension has made it possible for newer stars such as John Cena, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Edge, Sheamus and Batista to all break the glass ceiling and become main event stars whereas if the extension never occurred one must wonder if any of these men would have gotten there opportunity at the top.
Panda Energy buys TNA.
People may criticize Dixie Carter but if it was not for her and her intervention TNA probably wouldn?t be in existence for anyone to complain about. TNA was strapped for money after bad deals with the Heathsouth group and wouldn?t have been able to go on. The fact of the matter is whether you like her or you don?t Dixie Carter has been a good thing for wrestling because if TNA did go out of business there wouldn?t be any strong options for wrestlers right now.
I?m going to end the column here but of course I could probably write three or four columns on some of the most impactful things of the decade. These are just a few and are not to be taken in any particular order. Before I wrap up I just want to extend my condolences to the family of Dr. Death Steve Williams a wrestler whose work I have always enjoyed as a matter of fact one of my most prized possessions is an autographed copy of Dr. Death’s autobiography ?How Dr. Death became Dr. Life? I like many rooted for him in his fight with cancer and even though he was lost it is still great to know that in the end he didn?t tap out.
I would also be remiss if I didn?t take my time to share some of my own personal reflections on the year 2009. Around this time last year I was a bit burned out on wrestling and writing columns. Ironically enough it was WSU owner and DOI editor Sean ?The Mic? McCaffrey who in sensing my frustration had advised me to take a break from writing if I needed it and recharge my batteries. After heeding that advice and trying some things my travels would lead me here to Wrestleview. It’s been a challenge here as everyone here is just as passionate as I am and works very hard but I think a year into the experiment I?ve done my best to fit in. It’s been a privilege to see the changes that this site has undergone with the VIP section and having the chance to interact with and befriend guys like David Stephens and Anthony Valvo amongst others. Say what you want about the interview but I am a big Bret ?The Hitman? Hart fan and interviewing him along with Adam Martin earlier this year was also a big highlight for me. 2009 may have had its downs but it certainly had its share of ups for me as well and I thank all of you who have read or listened to my work and hope you continue to do so in 2010.
Of course I am also encouraging your feedback as well and you can do so by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I had a reader email me in the past about facebook and myspace. To tell you the truth I don?t really keep track of my myspace anymore as I stopped putting up blogs there long ago but I still accept requests there from time to time at www.myspace.com/wrestlingrumbling and I do have a facebook page that I really try to keep as a personal page although there have been readers who do find me. If you find me I will accept you but I am not advertising it. Anyway have a happy and healthy new year and I will be back with a column next week, I?ll try to do better than and until then I am out.