The last year has been a perfect example of the peaks and valleys of the professional wrestling business. The valleys were sometimes deep but the peaks were just as high. Here are ten of the biggest moments from WWE programming from 2014.
10: The Rock Returns: No one smelled this one coming. It’s exceedingly rare in this new digital age in which we live to find a genuine, old-school wrestling surprise. So when Rusev and Lana were cutting their usual anti-American promos and the Rock returned it was a breath of fresh air. The Rock’s return was so special because it was unexpected. The crowd couldn’t believe he was there. The Rock’s unplanned and unscripted promo was a genuine example of what wrestlers were allowed to do. Maybe we should let them be themselves for a change.
9: 16! 16 German Suplexes: It was almost painful to watch a grown man be manhandled. John Cena was being pummeled. The most heavily pushed and protected superstar since Hulk Hogan was the recipient of 16 straight German Suplexes. Lesnar made a dominant case for the WWE world championship. However, his title run since has been anything less than stellar.
8: Heyman Trolls: The biggest story surrounding wrestling this year has been the departure of CM Punk. His absence has been the subject of much debate so when the March 3rd edition of Raw in Chicago aired the arena was abuzz with energy. The crowd waited and the Chicago made punks music played but after 15 seconds people realized that it was just a massive troll. Paul Heyman then got the one of the biggest pops of 2014. Heyman managed to rev the crowd up and diffuse a tense situation. Maybe he can diffuse the anger or the word title picture.
7: A Paige is Turned: The Raw after WrestleMania is usually packed with new directions and the Divas title picture was shot into a new era. NXT Women’s champion Paige came out to congratulate AJ Lee over her successful title defense. However, what many were considering being a feud starter turned into a genuine surprise. Paige beat the longest reigning Divas champions and for a brief while was the top Diva in the company. For a change it got people talking about the division. It also made the champion a point of interest, an unknown to the main roster it was odd to let her win the belt in her first match. Her booking since has been questionable but that one moment made many and me a fan of Paige.
6: The Shield Is Broken: A fan screamed, “NO!” and the chair shot resounded effectively ending one of the most dominant recent stables in wrestling history. The Shield had stepped up to the main event level to fill some big boots following Wrestlemania, they hit their absolute heights with two straight victories over the iconic Evolution. Then, at their zenith, they were shattered when Rollins turned on Ambrose and Reigns, becoming the company’s top heel in the process. A true heel turn that created two top babyfaces and one of the few good and lasting heels of the reality era.
5: Dolph Ziggler Becomes the Savior of the WWE Universe: No one saw the punch that took John Cena out coming. The Big Show pulled his 4000th heel turn and tried to secure a place in Triple H’s good graces. The move eliminated the top baby face in the company, John Cena. It also allowed Dolph Ziggler to wrestle for almost 30 minutes and prove to many that he deserves to be in the main event. That night Ziggler proved that he has everything Vince wants, so what is the big man waiting for?
4: The Streak Ends: It is a Wrestlemain staple. The “Deadman” rises for one epic match on the worlds largest stage. The Undertaker faced-off against Brock Lesnar in a match that did its best to show what Armageddon would look like in a ring. Lesnar had to hit the Undertaker with four F5’s in order to pin him. The silence that fell on the crowd was deafening. Thousands of people were in shock as the streak ended at 21-1.
3. The Yes Movement: Wrestling fans are volatile and fickle. When Daniel Bryan did not emerge as a participant in the Royal Rumble the crowd let everyone know it. The outcry was so loud that the WWE had no choice but to listen.
The people didn’t want Batista winning the WWE World Title at Wrestlemania. They wanted Daniel Bryan. WWE didn’t want Daniel Bryan. They wanted Batista. In the end, the fans shouted loud enough and for long enough as to be heard. WWE’s hand was forced. Bryan was entered in the title match and he won. It was everything the fans had wanted and Bryan got given a moment I’m sure he never believed he would’ve ever received.
2: Sami Zayn Wins the Big One: The only reason this isn’t higher is because the first moment is in every sense of the word once in a lifetime. Zayn had become the poster boy for finishing just short. The Canadian Arab has become a fan favorite of NXT. WWE and the IWC so whenever he would get close the fans would go nuts. When he lost his facial expressions would tell a story of deep loss. The road to redemption storyline he was involved in proved to be a simple yet highly enjoyable piece of wrestling storytelling. So when he received the final three count after a fair share of false finishes people cheered and people cried. It was a moment that had finally come.
1. Sting Arrives: The debut of Sting, in of itself was fairly straightforward. He entered, walked down to the ring, stared at Triple H for a good minute and then dropped him with a Death Drop. Switch Ziggler over and then leave. But it was also a once in a lifetime moment. Never again will we see another franchise player switch sides. TNA, GFW, CZW, ROH or Dragonsgate USA does not have the drawing or staying power to compete with the WWE. Even if they did a star of this caliber, it could most likely never be created again. Sting made his professional wrestling debut at 26 in 1985. In the 29 years since, he became one of the biggest stars of all time in professional wrestling and never once stepped foot in a WWE ring. Then he did. At Survivor Series 2014- aged 55. In doing so, one of the last remaining untouched and unprecedented moments in wrestling history was made. It was three decades in the making and it finally happened.