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Pro Wrestling & MMA

AS I SEE IT: 2012 Year-End Awards

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

Happy New Year to all of you. As one year ends and a new year begins, it’s time for the 16th annual AS I SEE IT Year-End Review. As usual, I should note that my selections are based on what I’ve actually seen this year, either live, online, on TV, or via tape/DVD; which primarily means North American wrestling.

WWE: Bottom line is that they drew the biggest crowds, made the most money, and had the largest impact on the wrestling industry in 2012. TNA has had quality matches…but has driven away so many fans that no one watches them. Ring of Honor has had quality matches, but between limited TV access, disastrous iPPV broadcasts (or lack thereof) when tremendous matches took place.

2011 winner: WWE
2010 winner: Ring of Honor
2009 winner: WWE
2008 winner: Ring of Honor
2007 winner: Ring of Honor
2006 winner: Ring of Honor
2005 winner: Ring of Honor
2004 winner: Ring of Honor
2003 winner: Ring of Honor
2002 winner: Ring of Honor
2001 winner: WWF
2000 winner: WWF
1999 winner: WWF
1998 winner: WWF
1997 winner: WCW

CM Punk, WWE- Imagine CM Punk not being part of WWE this year. Ask yourself what those of us who are still watching RAW on a regular basis would possibly be watching, besides limited shots of Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, and The Rock. Ask yourself who in WWE is as valuable on a mike when injured as when he’s in the ring.

2011 winner CM Punk, WWE
2010 winner: Bryan Danielson (aka “Daniel Bryan”), Dragon Gate USA/EVOLVE/independent/WWE
2009 winner: Chris Jericho, WWE
2008 winner: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Ring of Honor
2007 winner: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Ring of Honor
2006 winner: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Ring of Honor/Pro Wrestling NOAH/Full Impact Pro
2005 winner: Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor/TNA/independent
2004 winner: Chris Benoit, WWE
2003 winner: AJ Styles, NWA-TNA/ROH/Zero-One/independent
2002 winner: Kurt Angle, WWE
2001 winner: Chris Jericho, WWF
2000 winner: HHH, WWF
1999 winner: Chris Benoit, WWF
1998 winner: Steve Austin, WWF
1997 winner: Eddie Guerrero, WCW

Dictionary definition of a one trick pony: someone who does one thing well, but has limited skills in other areas. Thus, you have Brodus Clay.

Cute, maybe even occasionally entertaining ring entrance…the first hundred or so times. Then it gets boring, and you realize his “matches” are taking up time on WWE TV during which you could be watching Dolph Ziggler or CM Punk in the ring, or even just scratching your ear, burping, or sleeping. The Great Khali only escapes due to the fact that he hasn’t affected (infected?) our TV screens this year on a fulltime schedule.

2011 “winner”: The Great Khali
2010 “winner”: Lacey Von Erich, TNA
2009 “winner”: The Great Khali, WWE
2008 “winner”: The Great Khali , WWE
2007 “winner”: Adam “Pacman” Jones, TNA
2006 “winner”: Boogeyman, WWE
2005 “winner”: Boogeyman, WWE
2004 “winner”: Heidenreich, WWE
2003 “winner”: Nathan Jones, WWE
2002 “winner”: Shane Douglas, Major League Wrestling/XPW
2001 “winner”: Buff Bagwell, WCW/WWF/independent
2000 “winner”: Kevin Nash, WCW
1999 “winner”: Hulk Hogan, WCW
1998 “winner”: Giant Silva, WWF
1997 “winner”: Hulk Hogan, WCW

The Briscoe Brothers: At the end of 2012, this is the one team that shows tag team WRESTLING to me. Not comedy therapy sessions (yes, I laughed at them too). Not tag team champions trying to show us how to do gangnam. But just plain kick-ass, good technical wrestling. The Briscoes won the Ring of Honor Tag Team Titles for the eighth time on December 16 at Final Battle, and seem to be the one thing that ownership changes, booking changes, iPPV fiascoes can’t screw up.

2011 winner: The Briscoe Brothers
2010 winner: Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero/Claudio Castagnoli), Pro Wrestling NOAH/Ring of Honor/Pro Wrestling Guerrilla/CHIKARA
2009 winner: American Wolves (Davey Richards/Eddie Edwards), Ring of Honor
2008 winner: Alex Shelley/Chris Sabin (Motor City Machine Guns), TNA/Ring of Honor
2007 winner: Mark and Jay Briscoe, Ring of Honor
2006 winner: Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, Ring of Honor
2005 winner: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
2004 winner: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
2003 winner: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
2002 winner: Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, WWE
2001 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
2000 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
1999 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
1998 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW
1997 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW

The Rock-John Cena. Imagine you’re Vince McMahon. You’ve rolled the dice to announce the main event of WrestleMania…one year in advance. People can get hurt, get sick, or worse in a year. Well, what was billed as a “once in a lifetime” match between the top names of the Attitude Era and the current day, wound up creating the most financial lucrative WrestleMania to date with new records for PPV buys and sale numbers, with 1.3 million buys totaling $67 million (including the event gate). Oh, and the match itself was great to watch as well. A year’s worth of hype on and off, including the hilarious Rock at Boston Harbor skit showing a list of John Cena gimmicks (at least of which were legitimate) to set up Cena as “corporate shill”, built all this up in a masterful way…even if we weren’t so sure at the time.

2011 winner: CM Punk vs. WWE
2010 winner: Kevin Steen vs. El Generico, Ring of Honor
2009 winner: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy, WWE
2008 winner: Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE
2007 winner: Mark and Jay Briscoe vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico, Ring of Honor
2006 winner: CZW-Ring of Honor, CZW and ROH
2005 winner: Batista vs. HHH, WWE
2004 winner: Chris Benoit vs. HHH vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE
2003 winner: Danny Maff “retirement angle”, Jersey All Pro Wrestling, September 27, 2003, Rahway, NJ
2002 winner: AJ Styles-Jerry Lynn, NWA-TNA/Ring of Honor
2001 winner: ECW turns on WWF, July 9, 2001, Phillips Arena, Atlanta, WWE
2000 winner: The Stephanie McMahon-Vince McMahon-Shane McMahon-HHH-Kurt Angle soap opera, WWE
1999 winner: Test (Andrew Martin)-Stephanie McMahon wedding angle, WWF
1998 winner: Vince McMahon as heel promoter versus Steve Austin, WWF
1997 winner: nWo-WCW angle

2012- A tie between the 2012 Linda McMahon campaign and the use of Jerry Lawler’s heart attack (aspects like inserting fake snoring or backstage still shots of CPR being performed as dramatic fodder).

A lot of year-end polls will pick the CM Punk/ Paul Heyman angle the night Lawler returned. As I’ve said before, the Lawler stuff didn’t offend me as it usually would, given that I fully expect Lawler himself wrote half of it…or at least suggested big chunks of it.

Given that Linda McMahon running for the Senate and losing for the second time is completely in the “real world”, and that WWE supported her in a not very thinly veiled way (but enough to protect themselves legally); I think that’s a helluva lot more distasteful. Raise your hands if you think their sudden support of the Susan G. Komen Republican/conservative backed breast cancer organization right around the time of the campaign is a total coincidence. Nah, didn’t think so.

Ok, Vince. Now that Linda’s had her two shots at things…can we get back to grown-up wrestling again? Doesn’t have to be the Attitude Era. We don’t need women barking like dogs, or “Hot Lesbian Action”. But could we at least have the BEST aspects of it?

2011 “winner”: Michael Cole using real-life death of Jerry Lawler’s mother as storyline fodder
2010 “winner”: “Stand Up For WWE”
2009 “winner”: John Bradshaw Layfield “hires” Shawn Michaels because Michaels has “lost his money in bad investments”, WWE.
2008 “winner”: Jeff Hardy’s implied pre-show drug overdose…er…”mugging”, Survivor Series, WWE
2007 “winner”: The “death” of “Mister McMahon”, WWE
2006 “winner” The “Eddie Guerrero storyline”…in all its forms, WWE
2005 “winner”: Jim Ross proctology skit and Tim White “suicide” sketches, WWE
2004 “winner”: Lita/Kane/Matt Hardy pregnancy/miscarriage angle
2003 “winner”: Vince-Stephanie McMahon angle for “control of Smackdown” and father-daughter No Mercy match WWE
2002 “winner”: Katie Vick angle, WWF/E
2001 “winner”: Vince McMahon “Kiss My Ass” angle, Monday Night RAW, November 19, 26, and 28, WWF
2000 “winner”: Stacey Keibler-David Flair and Mark Henry-Mae Young “pregnancy angles”, WWF
1999 “winner”: The Paul Wight/Big Bossman “cancer angle”, WWF
1998 “winner”: Ric Flair “heart attack” angle and the Hawk/Scott Hall drug angles, WCW/WWF
1997 “winner”: DeGenerationX/Nation of Domination “racial angle”, WWF

WWE: Hell In A Cell” The Undertaker- Triple H; WWE WrestleMania 28, Miami, FL April 1, 2012 “- You want spectacle? At his best, Vince McMahon can give you spectacle. Undertaker can pull one or two out a year. God, can he pull them out. These two told a helluva story to build it, and they told a helluva story in the ring. Be it the classic NWA era…the classic era in Japan… WWE’s Attitude Era…the hardcore era…or whatever this is now…that is still the hallmark of wrestling…telling a story. They did it. Period.

Independent: ROH Showdown in the Sun/Day 2 Davey Richards Michael Elgin, March 31, 2012

2011 winners: WWE: CM Punk vs. John Cena, WWE Money In The Bank, Chicago, IL, July 17, 2011; Independent: Mike Quackenbush- Eddie Kingston, CHIKARA Pro Wrestling, ECW Arena, November 20, 2011

2010 winners: WWE: Undertaker- Shawn Michaels, WWE WrestleMania 26, March 28, 2010; Independent: Bryan Danielson vs. SHINGO, Dragon Gate USA, July 24, 2010.

2009 winners: (WWE)- Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE WrestleMania 25, April 5, 2009, Houston, TX; (Independent) Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino vs. SHINGO/Dragon Kid, Dragon Gate USA Open The Freedom Gate, November 28, 2009, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA

2008 winners: (WWE) Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania 24, Orlando, FL, March 30, 2008; (Independent) Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino/Genki Horiguchi-CIMA/Dragon Kid/Ryo Saito Supercard of Honor III, Orlando, FL, March 29, 2008

2007 winners: WWE: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE Monday Night RAW, London, England, April 23, 2008; Independent: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness, Ring of Honor, June 9, 2008, Philadelphia, PA

2006 winners: WWE: Paul London/Brian Kendrick vs. Steven Regal/ David Taylor vs. Hardys vs. MNM, Ladder match for the world tag team titles, WWE Armageddon; Independent: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. KENTA, Glory By Honor V, New York, NY, September 16, 2006 and CZW/ROH Cage of Death War Games/The Match Beyond match; with Necro Butcher, Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Nate Webb, Eddie Kingston vs. Samoa Joe, BJ Whitmer, “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Adam Pearce, Ace Steele, and Homicide.

2005 winners: WWE: Kurt Angle-Shawn Michaels, Wrestlemania XXI Los Angeles, CA, April 3, 2005, Independent: Samoa Joe- Kenta Kobashi, New York, NY, October 1, 2005

2004 winners: WWE: Triple H-Chris Benoit-Shawn Michaels, WWE, Wrestlemania XX, March 14, 2004, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY; Independent: CM Punk-Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor, June 12, 2004, Dayton, Ohio and CM Punk-Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor, October 16, 2004, Chicago Ridge, IL (tie)

2003 winners: WWE: Chris Benoit-Kurt Angle, WWE Royal Rumble 2003, Boston, MA January 19, 2003; Independent: Steve Corino-Homicide, Ring of Honor, “Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies” Fairfield, CT, August 16th, 2003, NWA-TNA: America’s Most Wanted-XXX (Christopher Daniels/Elix Skipper) steel cage match, Nashville, TN, June 25, 2003

2002 winners: WWE: Edge/Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit, No Mercy, Little Rock, AK, October 20, 2002; Independent: Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Spanky vs. Doug Williams – 60 minute Iron Man Match, Ring of Honor, Philadelphia, PA, July 27, 2002

2001 winners: WWF: Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tables, Ladders and Chairs II – WrestleMania X-Seven, AstroDome, Houston, TX, April 1, 2001; Independent: Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Scoot Andrews vs. American Dragon, East Coast Wrestling Association, Wilmington, DE, September 22, 2001

2000 winners: WCW: Booker T vs. Jeff Jarrett, “Bash At The Beach”, Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FL, June 9, 2000; WWF: “Tables, Ladders and Chairs” Match – Matt/Jeff Hardy vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge/Christian, SummerSlam, Raleigh, NC, August 27, 2000. ECW: Psicosis-Yoshihiro Tajiri, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, August 19, 2000

1999 winners: WCW: Chris Benoit-Bret Hart, Monday Nitro, Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, October, 1999; WWF: Matt/Jeff Hardy-Edge/Christian, Tag Team Ladder Match, “No Mercy”, Cleveland, OH, October 17, 1999; ECW: Rob Van Dam/Jerry Lynn, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, August 28, 1999.

1998 winners: WCW: Chris Jericho/Eddie Guerrero-Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko, November 29th, Knoxville Civic Coliseum; WWF: Mankind (Mick Foley)-Undertaker Hell in a Cell Match “King of the Ring” PPV, June 28, 1998; ECW: Jerry Lynn-Rob Van Dam, August 8, 1998, ECW Arena

1997 winners: WCW: Rey Mysterio, Jr.- Eddie Guerrero, WCW “Halloween Havoc” PPV, 10/27/97, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV; WWF: Shawn Michaels-Undertaker, “In Your House: Badd Blood” PPV, 10/5/97, Kiel Center, St. Louis, MO; ECW: Great Sasuke/Gran Hamada/Masato Yakushiji-TAKA Michinoku/Dick Togo/Terry Boy, “Barely Legal” PPV, 4/13/97, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA

WWE WrestleMania 28, Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL April 1, 2012- This would deserve the award, just for Undertaker-Triple H at Hell in a Cell Match . But to get CM Punk defending the WWE Championship against Chris Jericho and The Rock-John Cena, built up for an entire year; there’s nothing in wrestling stateside that comes close. :

2011 winners: WWE: WWE Money in the Bank 2011 – Allstate Arena; Chicago, IL July 17, 2011; .Independent: CHIKARA King of Trios 2011/Night One, April 15, 2011, ECW Arena

2010 winners WWE: Wrestlemania 26, March 28, 2010, Glendale, AZ; Independent: Dragon Gate USA, Enter The Dragon, July 24, 2010 (aired on PPV on September 10)

2009 winners: WWE WrestleMania 25, April 5, 2009, Houston, TX, Independent- Dragon Gate USA “Open The Historic Gate”, July 25, 2009, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA (aired on PPV as “Enter the Dragon” on September 4)

2008 winner: WWE WrestleMania XXIV

2007 winner: WWE WrestleMania XXIII

2006 winners: WWE: WWE WrestleMania XXII, April 2, 2008, Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois; Independent: Glory by Honor V Night 2, Manhattan Center, New York, NY, September 16, 2008

2005 winners: WWE: Wrestlemania XXI Los Angeles, CA, April 3, 2005, Ring of Honor, “Joe vs. Kobashi”, New York, NY, October 1, 2005

2004 winners: WWE: Wrestlemania XX, March 14, 2004, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY; Independent: At Our Best, Ring of Honor, March 13, 2004, Rex Plex, Elizabeth, NJ

2003 winners: WWE: WWE Wrestlemania XIX, Safeco Field, Seattle, WA, March 30, 2003; Independent: All Japan/Ring of Honor Final Battle 2003, Philadelphia, PA December 27, 2003; NWA-TNA: NWA- TNA Super X Cup, Nashville Fairgrounds, Nashville, TN, September 3, 2003 (taped August 20 and 27, 1993)

2002 winners: WWE: WWE Summer Slam 2002, Fleet Center, Boston, MA, August 25, 2002, Independent: Ring of Honor “Road To The Title” Philadelphia, PA, June 22, 2002

2001 winners: WWF: WrestleMania X-Seven, AstroDome, Houston, TX, April 1, 2001, Independent: 2001 Super Eight tournament, ECWA, St. Matthew’s Parish Hall, Wilmington, DE February 24, 2001

2000 winner: WWF “Fully Loaded”, Reunion Arena, Dallas, TX, July 23, 2000

1999 winner: ECW “Anarchy Rulz”, ECW, Odeum Sports and Exposition Center, Villa Park, IL, September 19, 1999

1998 winner: WWF “Survivor Series”, St. Louis, MO, Keil Center, November 15, 1998
1997 winner: ECW “Barely Legal”, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, April 13, 1997

WWE Over The Limit PPV, PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC, May 20, 2012. – How about a “People Power” Battle Royal? Or Brodus Clay defeating The Miz? Ryback in the semi-main position in a squash match? Then a main event with John Laurinaitis defeating John Cena. All this defined as three hours out of my life I can’t get back. The whole John Laurinitis authority figure routine was funny…for a few weeks. But to put him in the main event of a RAW would have been bad enough…let alone the main event of a PPV.

2011 “winner”: TNA Victory Road 2011, March 13, Orlando, FL
2010 “winner”: TNA Turning Point 2010, November 7, Orlando, FL
2009 “winner”: TNA Victory Road 2009, July 19, 2009, Orlando, FL
2008 “winner”: WWE Cyber Sunday, October 26, 2008, Phoenix, AZ
2007 “winner”: TNA Turning Point 2007, December 2, 2007
2006 “winner”: WWECW December to Dismember, Augusta, GA, December 4, 2006, WWE
2005 “winner”: WWE Armageddon PPV, Providence, RI, December 18, 2005, WWE
2004 “winner”: WWE “Great American Bash”, Norfolk, VA, The Scope, June 27, 2004.
2003 “winner:” WWE No Mercy, Baltimore, MD, October 19, 2003
2002 “winner”: World Wrestling All-Stars Eruption, Melbourne, Australia, April 13, 2002
2001 “winner”: WCW “Sin”, January 14, 2001, Indianapolis, IN.
2000 “winner”: WCW Slamboree, Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, May 7, 2000
1999 “winner”: WCW Fall Brawl 1999
1998 “winner”: WCW Fall Brawl 1998
1997 “winner”: ECW Hardcore Heaven 1997, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Monday Night RAW, USA Network – Largely by default. It’s the destination show for viewing; because, even with all its failings, it still gives a national audience something to look forward to…even if on fast forward sometimes.

2011 winner: ROH on HDNet, HDNet/Ring of Honor on Sinclair
2010 winner: ROH on HDNet, HDNet
2009 winner: WWE Smackdown, WWE
2008 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
2007 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
2006 winner: TNA Impact, TNA, Spike TV
2005 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky)
2004 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky)
2003 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky)
2002 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky)
2001 winner: Monday Night RAW, TNN
2000 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network and TNN
1999 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
1998 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
1997 winner: Monday Nitro, Turner Network Television

TNA Impact- There’s a special talent required to taking some of the best talent in North America and making them unwatchable. Where do we start? There’s the inane AJ Styles- Claire Lynch story. There are Aces and Eights. Then there’s the touching love story of Beauty and the Beast between Brooke Hogan and Bubba R…er, Bully Ray Dudley. Bubba isn’t exactly credible as the “beauty” here.
2011 “winner” TNA Impact, TNA
2010 “winner” TNA Impact, TNA
2009 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2008 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2007 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA
2006 “winner”: WWECW, Sci-Fi Network
2005 “winner”: WWE Smackdown, WWE/UPN
2004 “winner”: WWE Smackdown, WWE/UPN
2003 “winner”: The Wrestling Federation (yep, that was actually their name) aired in Philadelphia, southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, southern New Jersey on WGTW Channel 48
2002 “winner”: WXW Rage TV – aired in Philadelphia, northeastern Pennsylvania, north central New Jersey, and syndicated in parts of American Samoa, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
2001 “winner”: Monday Nitro, WCW, TNT
2000 “winner”: Monday Nitro, TNT
1999 “winner”: Monday Nitro, TNT
1998 “winner”: Music City Wrestling TV
1997 “winner”: USWA Television, USWA

Jim Ross, WWE. Even if he only was announcer for parts of the year, he still gets over a match better than anyone on television calling wrestling matches. Period. Pretty pathetic that it took Jerry Lawler nearly dying live on air to get Ross back on TV for any length of time

2011 winner: Jim Ross, WWE
2010 winner: CM Punk, WWE
2009 winner: Jim Ross, Smackdown, WWE
2008 winner: Jim Ross, Monday Night RAW/Smackdown , WWE
2007 winner: Jim Ross, Monday Night RAW, WWE
2006 winner: Mike Tenay, TNA Impact
2005 winner: Mike Tenay, TNA Impact
2004 winner: Dan Wilson/Steven Prazak, NWA Wildside
2003 winner: Mike Tenay, NWA-TNA PPV/TNA Explosion
2002 winner: Mike Tenay, NWA-TNA PPV/TNA Explosion
2001 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
2000 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1999 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1998 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1997 winner: Mike Tenay, World Championship Wrestling

After what he went through on the night of Jerry Lawler’s near-fatal heart attack, and how he handled himself that night; I can’t give this one to Michael Cole again (even if he earned it eight out of the twelve months of 2012). This year, we’ll keep this award vacant.

2011 “winner”: Michael Cole, WWE Monday Night RAW
2010 “winner”: Michael Cole, WWE Monday Night RAW, WWE
2009 “winner”: Michael Cole, WWE Monday Night RAW, WWE
2008 “winner”: (Tie) Don West, TNA IMPACT! and Mike Adamle, WWE
2007 “winner”: Don West, TNA IMPACT!
2006 “winner”: Josh Matthews, WWE
2005 “winner”: Jonathan Coachman, WWE Sunday Night Heat/WWE Monday Night RAW, WWE
2004 “winner”: Jonathan Coachman, WWE Sunday Night Heat and WWE Monday RAW, WWE
2003 “winner”: Jonathan Coachman, WWE Sunday Night Heat, WWE Monday RAW
2002 “winner”: Jessica Dally, WXW Rage TV
2001 “winner”: Tony Schiavone, WCW, TNT and TBS
2000 “winner”: Tony Schiavone, WCW
1999 “winner”: Tony Schiavone, WCW
1998 “winner”: Bert Prentice, MCW
1997 “winner”: Tony Schiavone, WCW


In 2012, the ECW Arena… as we knew it… ceased to exist on February 2, 2012. It’s had an interesting saga since then. It was to close, in order to be converted into a concert hall. The insides of the Arena was indeed gutted. Gas, water and electrical power service was indeed cut off. But a strange thing happened at Swanson and Ritner. It seems, just like XPW, the last time someone tried to change this longtime wrestling venue….that the new owner wasn’t able to get a concert permit from the city of Philadelphia.

So for all of you a year ago, who raised bloody hell with city officials, the actual owners of the ECW Arena, and even the owner of the Trocadero…you may have had more success than you thought. We may find out more about this very shortly.

Without question, it is the case that, since February 2012, independent wrestling in Philadelphia has been greatly limited, with only occasional ROH and Extreme Rising shows at the Northeast Armory, and small neighborhood shows by CZW. Coincidentally or not, two shows were run by CHIKARA Pro Wrestling at the Trocadero, the venue run by the individual who attempted to take over the Arena (and who ran the Trocadero into Bankruptcy Court). CZW, the promotion that ran most frequently at the Arena (and believe it or not, has actually run more shows and for a longer period than ECW itself did) has run shows in suburban South Jersey this year. While they’ve slowly and consistently regained the crowds they lost by the move to South Jersey, there are still people who can’t or won’t come over to South Jersey due to location or inability to access the venue (there is no real public transportation to it).

Other stories in 2012 include: Jerry Lawler’s heart attack on live TV, an event that got press coverage way over and above what any single wrestling story would have been expected; the disastrous decision to go to a three-hour RAW, the non-start of the WWE Network, and Ring of Honor’s problems (including booking turnover and numerous iPPV fiascoes)

2011 stories: CM Punk vs. WWE; Sinclair Broadcasting purchase of Ring of Honor; Zack Ryder uses social media to get over; Randy Savage’s death ; Self destructive saga of the Hardy Brothers; End of ECW Arena as it exists

2010 stories: Linda McMahon’s failed United States Senate campaign, the consequent attacks on wrestling by politicians and mainstream media for past storyrlines during the Attitude Era, as well as steroid and other drug deaths were featured all over msintream media during 2010…increased awareness by WWE and TNA of the long-term effect of concussions (including the possible effect they may have had in the Benoit family tragedy)….with the retirement of Shawn Michaels and Undertaker and HHH off of TV; WWE finally started a long-overdue youth movement with major pushes for The Miz, CM Punk, Sheamus, Bryan Danielson, and John Morrison. TNA failed miserably at another attempt at Monday Night Wars, getting clobbered in the ratings, before going back quickly to their usual Thursday night taped program.

2009 stories: Congressional steroids report, Shane McMahon resigns from WWE, “The Wrestler” , Death of Mitsuharu Misawa, Linda McMahon Senate Campaign

2008 stories: Retirement of Ric Flair; Filming and high profile of “The Wrestler”; Jeff Hardy finally gets WWE title

2007 story: Benoit family tragedy

2006 stories: The return and failure of “ECW”, TNA gaining prime-time slot on Spike TV, WWE getting new competition…from UFC

2005 stories: Deaths of Eddie Guerrero, Shinya Hashimoto, and Chris Candido, WWE drug testing policy, WWE return to USA, Matt Hardy/Edge/Lita real life and storyline triangle, Jim Ross replaced as lead announcer on RAW, TNA move to Spike TV, WWE and Bret Hart make peace
2004 stories: Brock Lesnar leaves WWE to try out for the NFL, RF Video/Ring of Honor’s Rob Feinstein implication in a pedophile sting, Pat Patterson retirement/resignation, TNA Fox Sports Net slot
2003 stories: The epidemic of deaths within wrestling (many of which involved past or current drug and alcohol use), NWA-TNA survives for another year, continued problems with WWE house show/TV taping business, controversial and active Philadelphia independent scene

2002 stories: The WWF “brand extension”, dropping WWE house show business, PTC forced to surrender, NWA-TNA, Philadelphia independent wars

2001 stories: WWF purchase of WCW, ECW closes its doors, WCW “Invasion angle” goes nowhere, WWF ratings and live attendance drop

2000 stories: Mainstreaming of wrestling continues, WWF-ECW-TNN-USA TV network roulette, WWF goes public, PTC censorship attempts continue… but with organized efforts fighting them, WCW set to lose as much as $80 million

1999 stories: Deaths of Owen Hart and Brian Hildebrand, Foley’s “Have A Nice Day” goes to #1 on New York Times Best-Seller List, WWF CD DEBUTS at number 4 on Billboard Chart, ECW TV on TNN, Parents Television Council censorship attempts

1998 stories: Changes in WWF product (making it more adult in nature), ECW’s 1998 problems, Mainstream attention given the wrestling business, Jesse Ventura’s election to Governorship of Minnesota

1997 stories: Brian Pillman death, Bret Hart leaving WWF/Title Change Doublecross

Until next time…


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