While we tend to focus on what happens inside of the ring, the real action took place outside of the ring this year. Two members of the McMahon family announced their resignation from the company this year, and that was nothing compared to the turmoil that took place in TNA as a love triangle led to a major shakeup in the company.
Captain Lou Albano's larger than life persona was directly responsible for the Rock-n-Wrestling Connection that swept the nation in the '80s. When he appeared in Cyndi Lauper's video for Girls Just Want to Have Fun, the landscape of professional wrestling was altered forever. His involvement with Cyndi Lauper led to pro wrestling being shown live on a new network called MTV as she managed Wendi Richter to a title victory of his wrestler, the Fabulous Moolah. In 1986, Captain Lou left wrestling and found success in Hollywood where he played the role of Mario in the children's program The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. He passed away on October 14 while under hospice care at his home for an undisclosed ailment. He was 76 years old.
On January 2, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a letter sent to Office of National Drug Control. In it, he took the WWE and TNA to task for not effectively preventing the use of steroids and other illegal drugs by professional wrestlers. The interesting part of this situation for wrestling fans is that his committee's interviews with Vince McMahon, Dixie Carter, Linda McMahon, and Stephanie McMahon were released. These interviews are must-read material for all wrestling fans.
When the Denver Nuggets reached the NBA Western Conference Finals, the WWE found themselves locked out of the Pepsi Center despite having booked the arena and there not being any clause in the contract that allowed the Nuggets to have precedence for the arena that night. The WWE decided to stick it to the Nuggets and move the event to the Staples Center, the home of the Nuggets opponent during that series, the Los Angeles Lakers.
In June, Donald Trump bought Monday Night RAW from Vince McMahon. The Donald only owned the company for one week before he sold it back to Vince McMahon for twice the price he purchased it for. However, before selling the company back to Vince he announced that every week the show would be hosted by a guest host from all walks of life. In addition to wrestlers hosting the show, we have seen sports stars, actors, and musicians host the program.
Just a few days after leaving the WWE, police raided Jeff Hardy's house. The officers seized approximately 262 Vicodin prescription pills, 180 Soma prescription pills, 555 milliliters of anabolic steroids, a residual amount of powder cocaine, and items of drug paraphernalia. Jeff was arrested and charged with felony trafficking in opium, two counts of felony possession with intent to sell or deliver a Schedule III controlled substance, felony maintaining a dwelling to keep controlled substance, felony possession of cocaine, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
5. The Wrestler
Usually the words pro wrestling and critically acclaimed don't go together. However, this movie walked away with two Golden Globe Awards (Best Actor and Song) and Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei both earned Academy Award nominations. Mickey Rourke brought Randy "The Ram" to life when he stepped into the ring and punched Chris Jericho at The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania.
In July, an anonymous caller told Bubba the Love Sponge that Jeff Jarrett was living with the recently-divorced Karen Angle and the children she had with Kurt Angle. At the time, Kurt Angle was the TNA World Champion and Jeff Jarrett, the founder of TNA, was in charge of the creative end of the company. Once this story came out, TNA President Dixie Carter sent Jeff home and temporarily relieved him of his on-screen and off-screen duties. With Jarrett gone, several of his allies behind-the scenes were let go as TNA Creative was massively shaken up and left with Vince Russo in charge. As the year comes to an end, it appears that Jeff will finally be returning to television.
For the last few years, it has been easy to forget that Hulk Hogan was a wrestler. Between his reality show, divorce, and his son's accident it appeared that Hulk might have been done with wrestling. However, he shocked the wrestling world during his book promotional tour. At a press conference in Madison Square Garden, the arena he beat the Iron Sheik in 25 years ago, Hulkamania was reborn again. Hulk announced that he would be joining TNA Wrestling along with Eric Bischoff, the architect of the Monday Night War.
In a matter of weeks this fall, Linda and Shane McMahon both left the WWE for very different reasons. Linda left the company so she could run for US Senate. Shane was very vague in his reason for tendering his resignation, which is effective January 1. While no one is sure what Shane's next move will be, there is tremendous speculation about his future due to a meeting he had with UFC President Dana White. Neither man has commented on what they met about.