The 2010’s are coming to an end and a lot can happen in ten years. Especially the fast-paced world of professional wrestling where things change on a whim. Below are ten moments I believe helped define professional wrestling this decade.
10. WWE Network
It's no secret Vince Mcmahon has always aspired to be known as more than just a wrestling promoter, and for his company the WWE to be known as a entertainment entity not just a pro wrestling or 'rasslin organization. In the 2010's those plans begin to come to fruition with reality shows featuring members of the WWE roster, YouTube channels, and more recently podcast. The biggest project that has led to that movement in my opinion is the WWE network. On Februrary 24, 2014 the WWE network debuted as subscription based streaming service. For $9.99 a month viewers could watch old episodes of Monday Night Raw, Monday Night Nitro, documentarys, interviews, and most importantly current monthly pay per views. The WWE network was a game changer taking the model Netflix had and catering to wrestling fans. Since the WWE network debut, other organizations have joined in the streaming game. Ring of Honor with Honor Club, Impact Wrestling with Impact +, New Japan with NJPW World and a assortment of other indepdent streaming services. Changing the way wrestling fans consume content.
9. Impact Wrestling is Reborn
TNA wrestling debuted in 2002 as an alternative to the WWE. For seventeen years despite several failures and near closures, it has continued to chug along as the little engine that could. Experiencing growing pains and mismanagement, from the Carter years, the failed planned merger with Global Force Wrestling, and the Corgan era. In early 2018 new owners Anthem Sports & Entertainment hired industry veterans Don Callis and Scott D’Amore to lead Impact Wrestling, and despite some missteps here and there they have found a core group of wrestlers to build around, and turned Impact around for the better.
8. The Rock returns to WWE
February 14, 2011 Monday Night Raw, the arena blacked out as anticipation mounted for the host of Wrestlemania 27. As the beat dropped and the familiar sound of “If you Smell……” hit the arena, the crowd erupted as one WWE’s biggest stars ever The Rock returned home after 7 years away. The Rocks return as a host led to matches over the next couple years with John Cena, The Miz, CM punk, and winning the WWE championship one more time. All the while continuing to be the most electrifying man in sports entertainment. After initially shying away from the WWE as he transitioned to Hollywood, returning only helped his star rise which he is greatly benefitting from today.
7. Women's Revolution
For years TNA knockouts division took women’s wrestling seriously and was the forefront of the womens revolution. Showcasing talent such as Gail Kim, Awesome Kong, ODB, and Angelina Love and Velvet Sky. Unfortunately due to the stigma against TNA many folks did not witness some of the great female wrestlers on their roster. Meanwhile indepedent organizations such as Shimmer and Shine were all female promotions highlighting the best female talent in the business.In 2015 after years of squash diva matches and bra and panties match, fans took to social media with #givedivasachance. That sparked WWE to finally give divas a chance, and that has led to women main eventing episodes of RAW, pay per views, and Wrestlemania. An all-female pay per view in 2018, Mae Young Classic, and singles and tag team championships. As WWE built their female talent up, other organizations such as Ring of Honor also built up their female talent. Shows such as the return of Women of Wrestling (WOW) have put a renewed focus on Women’s wrestling.
6. Daniel Bryan Win's WWE Championship
Daniel Bryan is one of the best technical wrestlers on the planet. In 2013 his quest to regain the WWE world championship was consistently thwarted by Mr. McMahon and company as he did not fit their “image” of a world champion. That all changed when fan support called for Daniel to be giving a fair shot, and no matter how much the WWE brass tried to resist they finally couldn’t. The Yes Movement was strong and at Wrestlemania 30 April 6, 2014 Daniel Bryan won the WWE world championship.
5. AEW Is Born
January 1, 2019 on the popular YouTube series Being The Elite standing outside of the Tokyo Dome. Cody, Adam Page, and the Young Bucks officially announced a new wrestling event "Double or Nothing" and with it the formation of All Elite Wrestling. Backed by the Khan family, owners of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and with signings of some friends from ring of honor such as SCU, recent WWE release Pac, indy star Britt Baker, and living legend Chris Jericho, and later on Jon Moxley. AEW was hailed as the first true competition to the WWE, backed by deep pockets and with a television program on cable network TNT debuting in October. AEW has set a solid foundation, it’ll be interesting to see what the next full year in operation will bring.
4. Alternative Wrestling
In the early 2000s as the Attitude era faded, WCW and ECW both folded consumed by the WWE. In their absence TNA was born, as well as a little company out of Philadelphia called Ring of Honor. Entering the 2010’s the same 3 organizations stood, neither TNA or Ring of Honor able to financially compete with the WWE. In 2011 Ring of Honor was purchased by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, and during the later part of the decade off the star power of the Elite (Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, Marty Scrull, Adam Page etc.), Briscoe Brothers, Jay Lethal, Flip Gordon and SCU among other went to new heights. In the meantime, other organizations that provided an alternative to WWE appeared such as Major League Wrestling (MLW) and overseas juggernaut New Japan Pro wrestling were more accessible due to technology. Financially backed by smashing pumpkins Billy Corgan the prestigious wrestling organization NWA returned. The rise of streaming and social media led to independent organizations such as beyond wrestling, progress wrestling, house of glory and pro wrestling guerilla found their footing and audience in the crowded pro wrestling landscape.
Earlier this year WWE veteran Kofi Kingston was a last-minute replacement in a gauntlet match for Mustafa Ali. What then occurred was a show stealing performance and fan support that led to him winning the WWE championship match against ironically Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 35. In that two-month span Kofimania ran wild as fan support got louder and louder for Kofi. His win meant so much as the first African born WWE world champion, and leading hope to little Black kids that they one day can be world champions. All over social media you saw joy and industry veterans such as MVP and Shad Gaspard cry tears of joy for the win. Kofi held the championship for 180 days and Kofimania wasn’t just a win for Kofi Kingston it was a win for the culture.
2. CM Punk Pipe Bomb
The Best in the world, the voice of the voiceless, the second city saint, straight edge as it gets. June 27, 2011 CM Punk ended Monday Night RAW with his infamous Pipe Bomb, that blurred the lines between fiction and reality in the ever-gray area of professional wrestling. The promo had everyone talking "was it real?" did he really go off script? What happens next? That led to the summer of 2011 being the “Summer of CM Punk”, including winning the WWE championship at Money In the Bank and leaving WWE shortly after. His return was much too soon, but thats another article for another day. The pipe bomb cemented his role as the anti-establishment and hopes that a new attitude era was on the rise with CM Punk taking over Stone Cold Steve Austins role. The industry has grown in different ways, but hasn’t gone to the heights in popularity that it did with the attitude era, however CM Punk status as a legend grew that night.
1. ALL IN
The idea that begin from a comment made by Dave Meltzer to a fan on twitter that Ring of Honor could not sell out a 10,000 seat arena. Cody Rhodes took that bet and sparked the eventual formation of AEW, ALL IN held September 1, 2018 in Chicago, IL. Fully self-funded by Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, the event was a wrestling fans dream. After announcments here and there on Being the Elite, the trio held a press conference at Pro Wrestling Tee's store May 13, 2018. The press conference announced talent such as Tessa Blanchard, and lucha legend Rey Mysterio Jr. would be joining the show. Tickets were released later that day and sold out in mere minutes displaying the excitement around this event. Throw in the new wrestling convention founded by wrestling podcast star Conrad Thompson, Starrcast held in conjunction with the event that allowed many fans to really interact with stars and legends. Independent wrestling store Pro Wrestling Tees held meet and greets at its location. Wrestling panels and after-partys were also apart of the fray. With talent from Ring of Honor, Impact, CMLL, AAA, New Japan,MLW, NWA, and the independent circuit, ALL IN had something for everyone. The card was a success, the ppv buyrate was a success and ALL IN weekend was wildy successful. Being in the atmosphere among pro wrestling fans, and seeing a simple idea grow into this mega success was great. It’s something I’m happy to say I experienced first hand and definitely defined this decade in wrestling in my opinion. When the wrestling culture comes together it's nothing that can stop it.
About The Author
B.Easy is the co-host of Talkin' Suplexes. He's a self-professed geek loving movies, wrestling, comic books, and using his imagination. Goal in life is to become a world traveler and get paid to hop on lear jets. Follow him on Instagram @iam_beasy, Follow Talkin' Suplexes @talkinsuplexespod