Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Smackin' It Raw: The Top Ten Stories Of WWE

I don't know if any of you realized it or not but on last Saturday May 5th The WWE celebrated its 10th anniversary under that name. As we all know it had previously been WWF. I decided to sit back and think about the last ten years of the last ten years and here is what I came up with in my opinion.

#10 Muhammad Hassan's Terrorist Attack Against The Undertaker:

Unfortunately not all of these stories will be good ones and the first story is one of those less then bright spots. WWE has had a long history of villains that are very anti-American, look no further then Ivan Koloff, Nikolai Volkoff, The Iron Shiek and even Sgt. Slaughter during The Gulf War. It should of come to no ones surprise that after the September 11th attacks that before to long there would be an Afghan sympathizer. Enter Muhammad Hassan. This time WWE threw a very interesting twist on the old character though and made him American born and raised but after the September 11th attacks he was persecuted by his fellow American just because of his Arab background. It was an interesting twist that could of given him a great run if done properly but unfortunately WWE couldn't help themselves and just went to far with it. On the July 7th broadcast of Smackdown! which had been taped a couple of days earlier Hassan had sent a bunch of masked men to attack The Undertaker even going as far as to choke The Undertaker with a metal wire. The even more unfortunate thing about that was the date. July 7th 2002. For those of you who don't know that was the day that there were terrorist bombings on the trains and buses of London. There was no time to edit the segment or even remove it in time so to the horror of everyone on the same day of these terrorist attacks WWE Smackdown! Also featured a segment that included a terrorist attack. The backlash was instant. Muhammad Hassan was taken off of TV with UPN stating that they would never allow the character to be seen on their network again. Two weeks later at the Great American Bash PPV The Undertaker defeated Hassan by power bombing him through the stage and he was never seen again.

#9 The Death Of Eddie Guerrero:

Much like the first story the second one is also a sad one. Eddie Guerrero was no stranger to alcohol and drug abuse but in one of the best feel great stories in not only company but wrestling history Guerrero did what so many other wrestlers failed to do and defeated his demons. He was living and a clean life and enjoying everything that he hard worked his entire career to achieve. He was arguably the most popular wrestler on the roster and finally getting his recognized as one of the greatest wrestlers in the world and on February 15th of 2004 finally won the ultimate prize of the WWE championship from Brock Lesnar. Unfortunately the damage that years of alcohol and drug abuse finally caught up with him and he died in his hotel on November 13th 2005, leaving a legacy and “Eddie” chants that can still be heard to this day.

#8 CM Punk's Shoot Promo:

Finally a good story! Not only is this a good story but it is also the most recent story on the list. Despite a couple of Money In The Bank and WWE title wins CM Punk for the most part was being misused and he had had enough. With his contract set to expire last summer CM Punk did the unimaginable. After getting a WWE title shot against John Cena, Punk told the world that his contract was set to expire at The Money In The Bank PPV in which Cena would be defending his title against Punk and that he was not going to renew it. He would win the championship and walk out on WWE with it. As if that were not interesting enough the next week at the end of Raw Punk did something that was even more unimaginable. After his match he walked up the ramp and gave what would become known as “The promo” in which he aired all of his grievances with the company, many of which were shared by the fans themselves. It should of made Punk a huge villain going into the PPV against Cena but something funny happened. Every fan agreed with him. Overnight he went from being reviled to becoming the voice of the voiceless and made WWE more interesting then it had been in years. At The Money In The Bank PPV Punk and Cena wrestled win what would become match of the year which ended with Punk winning the title and as promised leaving WWE with it. Sure he showed up again two weeks later but that promo skyrocketed Punk to the main event of WWE. He wasn't see as a guy who was almost there anymore, he was a guy who was there and started to be treated as such.

#7 The Return And Demise Of ECW:

Nearly five years after closing its doors anytime something amazing happened in WWE, epically something including a weapon or a hardcore maneuver the chants of “ECW, ECW, ECW!” would always fill WWE arenas everywhere so on June 12th 2005 at the One Night Stand PPV WWE gave the fans what they wanted, a one time reunion show of all of their ECW favorites back in the ring for one last ECW show to give the company the resolution that it deserved. Or at least that was the intention. With the strong sales of The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD along with the very impressive buyrate of the PPV WWE decided to do it again one year later and not only would they do another One Night Stand PPV they would also bring ECW back as a third brand in WWE to air on Sci-Fi that would be a true companion to both Raw and Smackdown! Not long after the return of the weekly ECW show however it became quite apparent that it was a very watered down version of the company that we all loved. After only a few months the third brand became a joke with terrible ratings that had the fans begging for the end of ECW once and for all. On Febuary 16th 2010 WWE aired its final episode of ECW TV to make way for the next show that had great promise at the start only to fall even further then ECW ever did, that show being NXT which can still be enjoyed, or not, to this day.

#6 The Undertaker's Streak:

In 2002 The Undertakers Wrestlemania winning streak was a solid 10-0 after defeating Ric Flair. It was a very impressive accomplishment that had never been reached before to be sure but I think even at that point neither WWE or The Undertaker knew just how big The Streak would become. To be honest it wasn't until Wrestlemania XX the year The Undertaker went 12-0 after defeating Kane a second time that it would really hit its stride. That was the year The Undertaker had returned as The Dead Man after a couple of years as The American Badass. Still it would be another year before the streak would become the focal point of a feud going into Wrestlemania. For years it had been there and was a big deal but never had it been involved to the point it was at Wrestlemania 21. That was the year that The Undertaker faced off against a young Randy Orton, at that time The Legend Killer. Orton was poised more then anyone before him to end the streak and he had no problems saying that he would do so. Naturally Orton lost. The next three years were a wash for the streak storyline again with The Undertaker going up against Mark Henry in a casket match which was used for no other reason then to pad the stats of the streak since they wanted it to grow and had nothing else for The Undertaker that year. The next two years The Undertaker faced off against Batista and Edge respectively but those years despite the streak being on the line everything was more so built around the fact that they were both title matches. Then the next year at Wrestlemania XXV the streak became more important than any title that could be on the line when The Undertaker took on Shawn Michaels who vowed to end the streak. He failed but their match became an all time classic. The next year Michaels attempted to do it again this time with his own career on the line, once again he failed and went into retirement. At the next two Wrestlmanias Triple H took up the cause of trying to end the streak only to fail both times himself. At this point there is no need for a title to be on the line The Undertakers Wrestlemania winning streak is one of the biggest matches on the card and will most likely remain so for as long as The Undertaker wants to continue wrestling.

#5 WWE Goes PG:

During the late '90s and into the late '00s WWE had been TV14 but in July of 2008 to please its sponsors and to reach out to the younger demographic the WWE return to being PG for the first time since The Attitude Era. It is a move that has had long time fans who remember the days of The Attitude Era complaining ever since. Despite that and the fact that the ratings doesn't seem to reflect it the move back to PG has been a rousing success for the company who have expanded all of their division significantly and continues to do so.

#4 The Brand Extension:

Ok in all fairness the brand split happened a mere ten before WWF became WWE but aside from that ten days it was all as the company was WWE. It doesn't mean a whole lot these days with Raw Supershow and the Smackdown superstars appearing on both shows but when the brand split happened there was none of that. The only wrestlers that crossed over to the other shows were The Undisputed Champion and the Women's Champion. By six months in even that went out the window with both brands being completely separate from another and both having their own world champion. The only interaction between the two brands would be during the PPVs and after a while even the PPVs became separate with both Raw exclusive and Smackdown! exclusive PPVs. The most surprising thing about the brand split was the fact that after a while the shows even gained viewer loyalty with some fans only watching Raw and others only watching Smackdown! These days the brand split is still in effect but just barely. Its pretty much run its course with Smackdown! wrestlers appearing on Raw every week and Raw stars able to appear on Smackdown! every week if so desired. Its only a matter of time before it is done with altogether.

#3 WWE's Wellness Policy:

If there was ever a silver lining to come from the death of Eddie Guerrero it was WWE's Wellness Policy. With pressure mounting WWE put its own drug testing into effect meaning it would supposedly be the end of drug use in the WWE. At first it seemed very secretive on what would cause a violation of the policy but what was known was that if you fail one test your suspended for 30 days and second failure would result in a 60 day suspension and a third failure would result in getting fired. Its a lot more clear what its about these days and many wrestlers have been suspended over the years. It has for the most part been a great success though with many wrestlers being forced to live a cleaner lifestyle that will hopefully result in them living much longer then the generation of wrestlers that came before them. One of the greatest success stories of the policy came from MVP, Montel Vontavious Porter however who after doing the test discovered that he had Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a rare and potentially life threatening condition that causes the heart to beat faster then normal. Also under the Wellness Policy WWE has reached out to any former superstar that used to work for them to get treatment paid for in full by WWE to get cleaned up and turn their life around.

#2 The Rise Of John Cena:

Like him or not in the time of WWE John Cena has become the face of the company he is to WWE today what Steve Austin was in the 1990's and Hulk Hogan was in the 1980's. I don't have much more to say about this story on the list then that but I don't think anyone could doubt what Cena has meant to WWE and pretty much everything WWE related in the last ten years.

#1 The Chris Benoit Double Murder Suicide:

I really didn't want to end on a downer story on this list but lets face it there was nothing that effected WWE more in the last ten years then the tragic double murder/suicide that happened to Chris Benoit's family at his own hands. Benout was without a doubt one of the most respected wrestlers in the history of business that managed to climb to the top of the business after years of being told he couldn't. Then on the weekend of June 22nd to June 25th Chris Benoit flushed his legacy down the toilet for the legacy of a man who would murder his wife and seven-year-old son then kill himself. Benoit did more for WWE and the wrestling business more in that one weekend then he ever did in in the middle of the ring and tragically it was something that resulted in a black eye for the business and much more tragically the death of his wife and son.

Other Newsworthy items:

The Big Returns:

Wrestling fans have a great memory and what better way to exploit that then by bringing back as many top stars as possible. Sure this isn't a distint thing that has only occurred in the last 10 years so I didn't include it there. I just think its fun to throw out a few of the names that came back during this time that some thought we may never see in a WWE ring again, most notable Bret The Hitman Hart, The Rock and most recently Brock Lesnar.

The Big Exits:

Its not all about big returns though as some pretty noteworthy names have also said goodbye since WWE got the “F” out, weather all of these remain permanent is anyones guess but those names include, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Batista, Edge and Kurt Angle. Yes Angle quickly made his way to TNA but it was during this time he left WWE.

WWE's Continued Charity Work:

I love how WWE is always getting bashed in the mainstream media whenever something bad happens but they are never praised for all the good that they do unless its just a small blurb somewhere. Their annual Tribute To The Troops show is a great example of how WWE reaches out to all of those that put their lives on the line so the rest of us can have a free world, I realize I'm Canadian but we have troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan as well so it hits home for me as well. Also lets not forget about all the good for they do for Make A Wish. WWE might grant more wishes for Make A Wish then anyone else in history but this is something that seems to be glossed over, as far as I'm concerned there is nothing better then granting the wish of a sick child and they should be praised for this much more then they are.

The Rise And Fall of The Women's Division:

There isn't a whole lot that could be said about this one. At the start of this period the Womens Division was better then it had ever been in the companies history, now ten years later its at an all time low. A real shame.

WWE Studios:

WWE got in the movie business during this time and after some initial, very limited, success in theaters they have since made all of these projects direct to DVD.

Also just for fun I thought I would make a list of the Champions in WWE at the time of the name change:

WWF Undisputed Champion: Hulk Hogan. Its pretty fitting in my opinion that the final person to be called The WWF Champion was Hulk Hogan, there is just something right about that. These days Hogan is in TNA trying to but ultimately doing nothing to improve that product.
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Eddie Guerrero.
WWF World Tag Team Champion: Billy & Chuck
WWF Crusierweight Champion: The Hurricane
WWF Women's Champion: Jazz
WWF European Champion: Spike Dudley
WWF Hardcore Champion: Steven Richards (Who was in the middle of a huge two day title reign!)

And that's all I got for you. So that was the biggest news in the last ten years in WWE (In my opinion) and here's to the next ten.

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