The World Wrestling Entertainment certainly had an interesting 2010. The WWE saw a facelift with new stars, returning legends, and a revolving door of superstars. Rather than look back myself at the WWE 2010 in review, I am joined by a collection of pro wrestling writers from CamelClutchBlog.com.
WWE Wrestler of the Year
Jeff Peck – The Miz.
The Miz’s moniker is that of being “awesome” and according to his 2010 campaign he clearly was “awesome.” The Miz won the WWE Tag Team Championship, WWE United States Championship and the WWE Championship all in 2010. Those statistics right there are what wrestler’s dream of capturing at some point in their career and The Miz did it all in one year. It’s clear that The Miz is a major part of the WWE’s youth movement and I never thought I’d see the day where I’d name The Miz the WWE Wrestler of the Year. But when you look at everything he has had to go through during his time in the WWE, you have to give him a ton of credit as he climbed from the bottom all the way to the top. 2010 was the year of The Miz.
Eric Darsie – Chris Jericho. Yeah, I know, Darsie went “vintage” with choosing Jericho, but hear me out (or read me out). What other main eventer was willing to put over new guys? Triple H, sure. But he defeated Sheamus at WrestleMania, and what other way to put over a new guy then let him get a clean victory over you at the biggest stage of the year? Randy Orton? You gotta be kidding me. He had a chance to put over both Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania as well, and didn’t. He made them both look ridiculous at WrestleMania. Jericho was willing to put over Evan Bourne over this summer, and don’t you guys remember the big talk about Bourne possibly getting a main event push for about two weeks until he was killed by Orton? Jericho supports the youth movement, and granted his isn’t on WWE television as of the moment, but he deserves to be the WWE Wrestler of the Year. He was the “Superstar of the Year” in 2008, the “Tag Team of the Year” in 2009 as one-half of Jeri-Show (both according to the WWE), and was voted in as the Best Interviewer of 2008 and 2009 and the Best Wrestler (Lou Thesz/Ric Flair award) of 2008 and 2009 from the Wrestling Observer. Looking at those credentials, who better than Chris Jericho as the WWE Wrestler of the Year, according to the Camel Clutch Blog?
Brett from WrestleChat.net – The Miz. I really went back and forth on this one. I think that there are multiple people who could be given this award and not be wrong. With that said, to me, Wrestle of the Year means more than who put on the best matches or who main evented the most PPV’s. Not only is The Miz the most improved wrestler of the year, but not one person in the company mirror’s him on the mic, and only John Cena can compete with him in the aspect of truly becoming the face of the present day WWE. The Miz has been everywhere – on TV, magazines, radio, and the Internet. When The Miz won the Money in the Bank briefcase, many thought he would become the first man to attempt to cash in the brief case and fail. Maybe that was the plan at one point, but I believe that his work ethic prevented that. The night he cashed in the Money in the Bank brief case on RAW and defeated Randy Orton for the World Title, he instantly created one of the best moments of 2010. The Miz is the future of the WWE, and, in 2010, he was the WWE Wrestler of the Year. Honorable Mention – Randy Orton, Kane, Sheamus, John Cena, Wade Barrett
Chris Behringer – The Miz. Without a question, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin had THE best year out of anyone on the WWE roster. Holding the United States & Undisputed Tag Team Championships earlier in the year, winning the Money in the Bank match for Raw at the MITB Pay Per View, & ending the year as WWE Champion is not something anyone has done up to this point. Miz has shown dreams can be achieved through hard work and dedication. 2010 was truly an AWWWWWESOME year for the Miz and the success well deserved.
Jerome Wilen – Alberto Del Rio. When I first watched the vignettes for Alberto Del Rio, my first thought was another wrestler WWE was going to push big with lame television promos, but once he actually debuted in the ring, I was impressed. Too some, he might not look the best in the ring at times, but I like Del Rio as a heel character, from that annoying arrogant smile that makes you want to jump the guard rail and slap it off his face, to his serious mean streak with “putting” stop WWE stars like Rey Mysterio and Christian out of in ring action. His “over the top” antic of allowing his “personal” ring announcer get beat up by Big Show is what makes a true heel. He is not my favorite wrestler, but because of how he exploded on the scene and what he has done in a short period of time, for me, Del Rio wins wrestler of the year.
Eric Gargiulo – Sheamus. This was probably one of the toughest years I can recall to pick a Wrestler of the Year. I thought Batista during his run with John Cena was sensational, but he left too soon to give it to him. I thought Chris Jericho was the MVP for most of the year but like Batista, he did not wrestle a full year. I think the last two months out of the Miz are nice but if I were going to base the award on a couple of months than Batista would have been my pick. Looking at the entire twelve months of 2010, Sheamus had the most consistent year. He had a couple of WWE title reigns, was involved some huge angles, and delivered in most main-event situations. I think the rise of Nexus really hurt him towards the end of the year but overall I think he had the strongest year.
Vince DeHoratus – Daniel Bryan. As an avid fan of Ring of Honor, could my choice be anyone other than Bryan? I was very concerned originally how someone of his size would fare in the WWE. Well his year has exceeded all my hopes to this point. He started off with an inspired debut on WWE NXT against Chris Jericho, only to be relegated to a weekly joke as he lost one match after another. Then just as the Nexus angle was getting started he goes and gets himself fired, only to make an unexpected comeback at Summer Fest. And then he caps off the year by winning the United States belt from his arch enemy, The Miz. Bryan has proven, through his athleticism and submission skills, that he can hold his own just fine in the land of giants.
WWE Match of the Year
Jeff Peck – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker, WrestleMania 2). It’s hard to compare any match to what we assume is Shawn Michaels final wrestling match ever. While the match didn’t live up to the Wrestlemania 25 matchup, it certainly was still a good match and had the most emotional buildup of any match in the WWE in the entire year. It was the final hurrah for “The Heartbreak Kid” and was on the grandest stage in all of wrestling, Wrestlemania. Even at their ages, the two veterans can still bring it.
Brett from WrestleChat.net – Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker, WrestleMania 26. There were so many incredible matches this year. The WWE did a great job in giving the true in-ring mat technicians a chance to showcase themselves on multiples events. Much credit also goes to the booking teams for pairing together people who can put on matches that would undoubtedly be a memorable one. With that said, the influx of great matches this year simply do not compare to the showcase that Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker put on at Wrestlemania 26. While arguably not living up to their first show down, HBK/Taker II still goes down as one of the greatest matches in the history of wrestling. The mat work was flawless, the crowd held an emotional investment, and the stipulations and build made the match seem like a rare special occasion. When all was said and done, Shawn Michaels was forced to retire in a moment that tugged at the heartstrings of wrestling fans both new and old. Not only was this the WWE Match of the Year, but it was one of the Top 5 wrestling matches of all time. Honorable Mention – CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio from Extreme Rules, Smackdown Money in the Bank from “Money in the Bank”, Daniel Bryan vs The Miz from Night of Champions, Daniel Bryan vs. Miz vs. Morrison Submissions Count Anywhere IC Title Match from Hell in the Cell, and Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler at Bragging Rights, John Morrison vs. Sheamus #1 Contenders Ladder Match from Tables Ladders and Chairs.
Chris Behringer – The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan for the United States Championship at Night of Champions. Many are probably going to go with ‘Taker/HBK 2 at WrestleMania. And while good, the match from last year was magic. Miz & Danielson had one of the best wrestling matches of the year provided by WWE. There was a good story going into it (Danielson wanting to be better than his NXT Pro; Miz wanting to prove Danielson was nothing). and it helped to elevate two guys to their respective next levels; Danielson as mid card champ & Miz as the top dog of the Raw brand.
Eric Gargiulo – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker WrestleMania 26. Unlike Wrestler of the Year this wasn’t a hard one to pick at all. Overall it was a real weak year for “great matches” in the WWE. Michaels vs. Undertaker was very good, but in another year it probably would have come in second for me. Lucky for them they had no competition. The match told a heck of a story and the finale with Shawn Michaels being retired by the Undertaker made this the most emotional moment of 2010 in the WWE. It wasn’t their best but in a year of mediocrity in the WWE, Michaels vs. Undertaker runs away with this one.
Vince DeHoratus – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker WrestleMania XXV! It was billed as “The Streak vs. The Career Match” and it more than lived up to the hype for me. I felt the build up to the match was some of the best I have seen in recent memory. HBK calls out Taker at the Slammy awards, then goes a little more crazy each week until he has a melt down after losing his “last chance” at the Royal Rumble. He finally forced Taker’s hand after costing him the title and he had his rematch at last. As a lifelong HBK fan I wanted the streak to end, but the Dead Man would not be denied 18-0. Michaels lost but showed his true fighting spirit by refusing to stay down, he made The Undertaker finish him. And unlike another wrestler who lost a career ending match at WrestleMania, Michaels has remained on the sidelines ever since.
WWE Angle of the Year
Jeff Peck – The Nexus vs. John Cena/WWE. The original angle of The Nexus taking out John Cena on a Monday Night Raw in June was one of the most unexpected angles in wrestling in quite sometime and had the entire wrestling world buzzing with how well it was executed on it’s initial night. It elevated young wrestlers who had no television time in 2009 at all and moved them to main event the 2nd biggest WWE PPV of the year at Summerslam. The entire time The Nexus’ focus has been John Cena with different instances where they have taken out other WWE wrestlers & talents. It was the biggest angle of the year and continues to show promise of being an interesting angle heading into 2011. A ton of props to the WWE Creative Team for this angle, it has been really fun to watch.
Eric Darsie – John Cena joining Nexus. Why would I vote this in? I find it amazing putting the top babyface with the top heel faction. Granted I feel like WWE dropped the ball with it with Cena being “fired” but not actually being off of WWE programming and house shows (as of weeks after the Survivor Series), and why would the WWE let go their biggest “Cash Cow”? Granted the storyline writing hasn’t been the greatest, but this storyline drew the biggest news, in my opinion, over any other angle, of 2010.
Brett from WrestleChat.net – The Nexus. This was pretty easy for me to decide. When it came down to it, there really were only 3 other angles worth even mentioning all year. It would either be the Undertaker/Shawn Michaels “Streak vs. Career” feud; Kane finally winning the WWE Title and putting on a great feud with the Taker that showcased some excellent promo’s and the return of Paul Bearer; or, The Miz winning Money in the Bank, teasing cashing it in multiple times, and finally doing it en route to becoming the World Title. Hands down, however, the formation of the NXT Season 1 rookies dominates much of 2010. The night the Nexus formed was one of the most memorable moments in the history of wrestling. It was shocking, unpredictable, and, well, completely shocking and unpredictable. Nobody saw it coming. I’m not even sure that the WWE saw that night play out the way it actually did. Their near 8 month long feud with John Cena was fantastic, filled with multiple twists and turns. In a day where so much of wrestling is predictable or leaked before it even airs, the Nexus angle kept most of us on the edge of our seats for most of 2010. Honorable Mention – Undertaker/HBK “Streak vs. Career” Angle, Kane vs The Undertaker with the return of Paul Bearer, The Miz shocking the world and cashing in MITB to become the new World Champion
Chris Behringer – The Nexus. While the hottest angle of the year, also a prime example of how one can fizzle out. When it started, the Nexus looked like it was going to be the hottest thing since the nWo. And while it did have its moments (destroying the ringside area & everyone around it upon debuting, attacking Vince McMahon, & forcing Cena to become a member), it was plagued with problems (namely members being removed or replaced quickly & lack of character development). In my mind, WWE was sitting on potential gold when Cena was forced to join the stable. A full fledged heel turn would have been fresh as Cena has been the poster boy of the company for the past few years. But it appears as if the Nexus is fizzling out. It was fun while it lasted.
Jerome Wilen – Nexus and John Cena. When The Nexus made their debut at the Viewer’s Choice edition of Raw and basically annihilated the ending of show, I thought it not was only a great surprise to a lame show, but great unexpected TV that brought the element of surprise that has been missing from pro wrestling since the WWF/WCW Monday Night War. I thought The Nexus turning on Vince McMahon also made for great wrestling television and was unexpected to some. While I thought that this angle had more potential than what it should have been given, The Nexus and John Cena did their best with the direction WWE creative allowed them. Each week, I would tune into Raw because I did not know what to really expect next or what possible direction the show was going to go. I thought the firing of Cena was great as he would show up through the live crowd. Even though The Nexus angle I believe is on its way out, considering all other story lines, for me, I give The Nexus and John Cena feud angle of the year.
Eric Gargiulo – John Cena vs. Nexus. I don’t know if it is a good or a bad thing when everyone consistently agrees on the same awards. I will be the first to admit I was wrong about this one. When I first wrote about the angle I wrote it was a “great moment” but wouldn’t make a great angle. I underestimated the WWE, I underestimated Wade Barrett, and I actually underestimated John Cena. The irony here is that while most will agree that the angle ended too soon (although it seems to have been reincarnated), it actually played out over six months which is an eternity for a WWE angle in the 21st century. I think Wade Barrett has enormous potential and like most, I was disappointed this didn’t end with John Cena going full heel in Nexus. Overall the angle provided some must-see moments and really freshened up what looked like a very weak brand following the exits of Batista and Triple H after WrestleMania 26.
Vince DeHoratus – The Nexus. Quite simply, the WWE Nexus angle was sheer genius. Take a group of no name wrestlers who have no real affiliation with each other and virtually no credibility with the fans and in one magical moment turn them into stars. None of the wrestlers from Season One of NXT could have come in and credibly held their own in the WWE. But by bringing them in all together and by giving them a dark edge, they were instantly over with the fans. Faces that come in and dominate don’t work (Rocky Maivia) while heels get over big time (The Rock). From the moment the Nexus debuted at ringside to deliver their beat down of John Cena I was hooked. If there was a category for “Moment of the Year”, I would have chosen that one. I don’t know how long the Nexus angle will work but if its goal was to jump start the careers of a new crop of WWE wrestlers, then I say mission accomplished.
WWE Story of the Year (in or out of the ring)
In 2010 we would see more of a youth movement take place with NXT becoming the new show replacing the ECW brand. NXT spawned off the entire Nexus stable, as well as independent stars Daniel Bryan and Kaval. John Morrison defeated Chris Jericho multiple times on television and beat Sheamus at Survivor Series. Jack Swagger won the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 26 and would win the World Heavyweight Championship 5 days later. Then the finally icing on the youth movement cake in the WWE was The Miz winning the WWE Championship in November. The WWE Youth Movement is here and there is still more time being built for newer stars to receive the torch in 2011, the future appears to be bright for World Wrestling Entertainment.
Eric Darsie -The rise of Nexus. Who would of thought at the beginning of the year when Bret Hart was the Guest Host on the January 4th show and TNA had a 3-hour live Impact on Monday night with Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair coming on that a new guy would lead a faction of new talent and main event the last couple pay-per-views and wrestle for the WWE title and “force” John Cena to join their group? Granted the group isn’t as strong as it was when it first started, I feel like Wade Barrett could be a future WrestleMania main eventer in a couple of years with the roll he’s been on this year.
Brett from WrestleChat.net – Influence of Social Networking on Professional Wrestling. While discussing all of these categories and nominees over on the WrestleChat Facebook group, this would be the only category where I went against the guys. The guys were 50/50 on the top story of the year being either the failed Monday Night Wars II or, “Tie-gate”, in which Daniel Bryan was fired for choking the life out of Justin Roberts with his own tie before being rehired months later. Nobody else even suggested what I did. I believe that the story of the year is the Influence of Social Networking on Professional Wrestling. Why? I believe it is a sign of the times and a sign of things to come. With personal Facebook pages, websites, blogs, Twitter accounts, and YouTube channels flooding the Internet wrestling scene, 2010 saw social networking transcend the way a superstar relates to the fans. Multiple wrestlers used social networking as a way to talk their way out of a release (see Hardy, Matt and MVP). Twitter and Facebook petitions played a huge role in the WWE’s decision to rehire Bryan Danielson after he received overwhelming support. Wrestlers such as Goldust used social networking as an avenue to obtain more TV time. And, who can forget the fake Hulk Hogan accounts and supposed anonymous TNA wrestlers that wreaked havoc on the TNA locker room for months? We’re in a new time in wrestling history. Someone who wants a dream match can go to their Facebook pages and beg fans to make it happen. An unhappy wrestler can use his YouTube account to complain about being misused. A wrestler can now provide instant feedback and answers minutes after stepping out of the ring from a match. Heck, even released superstars appear on Twitter within days to start building relationships and obtain independent bookings. Every single wrestling website in the world are now reporting Facebook status updates and Tweets as news on a daily basis. Social Networking took off in 2010 and has engulfed the wrestling world. Could 2011 see companies enact rules that limit the usage for contracted superstars? It’d be smart because in 2010, Social Networking single-handedly controlled the wrestling landscape and became the WWE Story of the Year. Honorable Mention – Shawn Michaels Retirement, Monday Night Wars 2, The mounting death toll of pro wrestlers (2010 alone – Ludvig Borga, Jack Brisco, Angelo Poffo, Jerry Valiant, Chris Kanyon, Gorgeous George, Trent Acid, Lance Cade, Luna Vachon, Bastion Booger, and Giant Gonzalez), Linda McMahon’s Senate run, and “Tie-gate” which of course would be Daniel Bryan choking the hell out of Justin Roberts, getting fired, and getting hired back.
(In ring) Chris Behringer – Bret Hart Returns to WWE/Bret Hart Wins the United States Championship. Talk about two “Hell froze over” moments. NOBODY ever thought they would see the return of “The Hitman” to a WWE ring. Everyone can speculate on why it was done i.e. an “F YOU” to TNA for trying to run on Monday nights against Raw, etc. Regardless, it happened. What should have been the money feud of the year in Hart/McMahon did not live up to expectations at WrestleMania despite elements leading up to the match being entertaining. Most thought Hart was done in the ring after that match but he went on to win the United States Championship (albeit with interference) from the Miz only to vacate the belt. Many argue that this was a stupid move. I disagree. While I may not be the biggest Bret Hart fan (I still feel to an extent that Bret did screw Bret), I see nothing wrong with wanting to thank the Hitman for all that he has done. It was a classy move by WWE.
(Out of ring) Chris Behringer – Bryan Danielson Gets Hired, Fired, & Rehired. It was the talk among wrestling fans for weeks, if not months. Bryan Danielson was fired for choking out WWE Ring Announcer Justin Roberts with his tie during the beginning of the Nexus invasion. Apparently, you can’t do this on television (yet you can have fake funerals & talk about sending your opponent to Hell on SmackDown). Yeah…I don’t get it either. Fans everywhere wondered how the Hell WWE could let the talent of Bryan Danielson get away and possibly go back to ROH, TNA, etc. We’ll probably never know the full details of the firing or even if it was a firing & not a suspension. When Danielson started doing independent dates almost immediately for promotions without TV, people wondered what would happen once the 90 day non compete clause expired. We got our answer when Danielson made a surprise return at SummerSlam to team with Team WWE against The Nexus. In the remaining time, Danielson was allowed to fulfill his independent bookings as well as work for WWE. There’s no doubt that Danielson helped spark business among independent promotions during his time away from WWE. Chikara, DragonGate USA, & Evolve all saw an increase in attendance. It’s one of those weird circumstances where everyone saw the benefits & turned out being good for the business.
Eric Gargiulo – Bret Hart returning to in ring action at WrestleMania 26. We are far removed from the initial shock of Bret Hart returning to the WWE after a 12 year absence, which is why I think the impact of this story has been forgotten. I really can’t think of anything bigger than the guy from Wrestling from Shadows who punched out Vince McMahon and had one of the most public feuds against Vince McMahon of the last 10 years actually reconciling and wrestling Vince McMahon at WrestleMania. The match was disappointing although I think some people have been a little harsh with their criticism. Other than Bruno Sammartino returning to the WWE and donning the tights against Vince McMahon at WrestleMania 27 I can’t think of anything bigger that could come down the pike in 2011.
Vince DeHoratus – The next generation of WWE Superstars. For all the talk of the down state of the WWE, this year actually had several interesting storylines. Bret Hart’s improbable return, the utter domination of TNA in the ratings, the retirement of HBK, and the Nexus angle are all good choices. But I chose to go a little outside the box. The WWE often gets criticized, and rightly so, for not elevating new talent. Well this is the year I think they finally started to turn the page. Jack Swagger, Sheamus, The Miz, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, and The Hart Dynasty all wore gold at some point this year. And the entire Nexus angle added an entire batch of new wrestlers in one fell swoop. While John Cena and Randy Orton have remained in the main event story lines, other former stars have been almost non existent. HBK retired, Batista left, so did Chris Jericho, Triple H has been gone for months, and The Undertaker has missed most of the year with injuries. Whether by design or by necessity, the WWE has begun to turn the page on its talent. And that is always a good thing for the fans.
WWE Breakout Star of the Year
Chris Behringer – Wade Barrett. During WWE NXT Season 1, the two logical picks to win the “contest” were either Daniel Bryan or newcomer Wade Barrett. Mentored by his pro Chris Jericho, Barrett had the look and attitude of a great heel & could TALK on the mic. His presence commands attention; he knows how to pull you in. While he may not have won any championships this year, Barrett did lead his Nexus stable on a path of destruction through WWE and spent most of his time embroiled in a feud with John Cena. Say what you will about Cena, but both men brought out the best in each other in their matches. I predict Barrett is in store for a great 2011.
***Honorable Mention – Daniel Bryan***
I honestly expected Danielson to have a bigger 2010 than he did. Granted, he was involved in some of the bigger stories of the year, but it just feels like he got lost in the shuffle to me. That’s not to say he didn’t have a good first year in WWE. I think I and many others expected it to be bigger. Maybe I’m wrong.
Brett Clendaniel is a senior writer at WrestleChat.net. Visit http://WrestleChat.net for more wrestling news and opinions.
Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site.
Check out more of Eric Darsie’s blogs at http://vintagedarsie.wordpress.com/
Jerome Wilen is a senior writer at Pro Wrestling Ringside http://prowrestlingringside.blogspot.com
Vince DeHoratus lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two kids. He has been a life long wrestling fan and he has passed that love onto his son. Though not quite yet “middle aged and crazy”, he is fast approaching it.
Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com