In a year that will always be remembered for the passing of Eddie Guerrero and the death of Chris Candido due to an injury he suffered in the ring, these are the 10 best moments in 2005.
1. A New Championship Era2005 will be remembered for the rise to stardom for Batista and John Cena. Both men became champions at WrestleMania 21 and held the belts for the remainder of the year. John Cena released a rap album during the year while Batista added tag team gold to his belt collection. Both men changes brands during the year when Cena was drafted to RAW while Batista was drafted to SmackDown!
2. The Rebirth of ECWECW is the only wrestling promotion to go out of business while they were growing their national fan base. Since going out of business in 2001, the chants for ECW never died. After the WWE released a successful ECW DVD in 2004, they promoted an ECW based PPV in June. That same weekend, other ECW performers wrestled in the ECW Arena at the Hardcore Homecoming. More ECW related items are due to be produced in 2006.
3. TNA Debuts on Spike TVFans now have an alternative to the WWE. TNA started the year off with a really bad timeslot on Fox Sports. After being off the air for several months, they debuted on Spike TV after the WWE left the network. Spike TV appears to be behind the product and has already given TNA a few prime time specials.
4. WWE Returns to USAThe WWE return to USA is not just a change of channels. NBC/Universal is behind the product and has featured many of the wrestlers on their various news and business channels. In addition, Saturday Night's Main Event is set to return to NBC after an absence of over a decade. The night of the WWE return to USA, RAW Homecoming, gave the fans PPV quality matches without the $40 charge to their cable bill.
5. Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 21With only one major wrestling promotion, there are very few dream matches left. This was one of them and it lived up to expectations.
6. AJ Styles - Samoa Joe - Chris DanielsWhen these 3 men were in the ring together in any combination, the winners of the match were always the fans watching. This feud is the prime example of the alternative TNA offers wrestling fans. There was no need for stupid gimmicks or convoluted storylines in this feud. All that you needed to know was that all 3 men want to be X-Division Champ and they don't like each other.
7. RAW vs SmackDown!After several years of the brand extension, finally the two brands are feuding with one another. This feud has provided some fresh matches and interesting storylines where a wrestler is a heel on one show and a face on the other. Even the announcers are getting involved and the banter between commentary teams during The Survivor Series main event may have been better than the in ring action.
8. The Matt Hardy - Edge - Lita Love TriangleNever before has the line between reality and storyline been this blurry. In real life, Lita and Matt were an item and she left Matt for Edge. Matt blasted Lita on his website and was fired by the WWE for doing this. The fans started booing the face Lita for cheating on Matt and she eventually left her husband Kane for Edge in the stories. Fans wanted to see Edge & Matt fight it out in the ring and Matt was rehired. Edge & Matt had a few good matches this year.
9. Hulkamania is Running WildHulk was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and the fans would not stop chanting 1 More Match. Hulk returned in tag team action to feud with Hassan and would have his singles match against Shawn Michaels. The debut of Hulk's reality TV show was the 2nd highest rated program in VH1 history. He also helped to change the perception of wrestlers by having a relatively sane family life when compared to the reality shows featuring the stars of the Brady & Partridge families.
10. Barbed WireSome of the greatest ECW moments involved barbed wire. Unbelievably, ECW never had a barbed wire match on PPV. This year, the WWE had their first ever barbed wire steel cage match. The barbed wire never came into play and TNA responded later in the year by having the first ever barbed wire match on PPV. Sabu and Abyss fought each other in a bloody classic that ECW fans would have been proud of.