2011 was a very eventful year for pro wrestling in the mainstream media. While the usual suspects like death and legal issues were picked up, a few surprises were thrown in as well. A wrestling angle was picked up by the media and gossip sites flocked to the story of a former Diva dating a top star in Hollywood.
10. Stacy Keibler and George Clooney
Stacy Keibler has been involved in the Hollywood scene since 2006. Most famously, she appeared as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars and had a deal with ABC studios. However, her fame skyrocketed this year when rumors started that she was seeing George Clooney. Those rumors turned out to be true. Will she be the woman to finally get George Clooney to settle down. If she is the one then I'm sure their wedding will be one of the biggest wrestling-related stories ever to be covered by the mainstream media.
9. The Announcement of the WWE Network
While we don't know exactly what the network will show, there is no doubt that this is a major story that will develop over the years. Potentially, this could impact the way we watch wrestling. If the company has their own network, will they still need to hold PPV events or will the shows we currently pay every month for be shown for free to those that order this premium cable service? How will this impact their dealings with USA and SyFy? Will the company still show replays of some of their shows on wwe.com or will that be available only to the subscribers of this channel? Do NXT and Superstars move to this network?
8. The Jeff Hardy Saga
In 2009, Jeff Hardy was arrested on several charges related to drug possession. Despite facing a potential prison sentence, TNA decided to make him their champion. That decision backfired when he showed up in no condition to compete in the main event of Victory Road. After that debacle, TNA was forced to offer the people that payed for the show several months of free service to their online video service. Jeff took several months off and during that time, his legal drama ended with a 10-day stint in prison. The year ended with him back in the ring for TNA while he is out on probation.
7. Company Name Changes
The two biggest companies in wrestling decided to change things up this year. World Wrestling Entertainment made a smooth transition when they renamed their company WWE. Things didn't go quite as smooth when TNA changed the name of their programming to IMPACT WRESTLING. It was originally noted by the company that only the name of their show had changed but no one really seemed to know the story as the wrestlers working for the company in power position contradicted each other many times. Confusion over the name of the company was only heightened when TNAWrestling.com became impactwrestling.com, the ring said IMPACT WRESTLING during PPV events, and the announcers refused to utter the initials TNA during the PPV broadcasts. At least now, the company has gone back to using a ring that says TNA during their PPV events and the titles are refereed to as TNA Championships once again.
6. Sinclair Broadcasting Buys Ring of Honor
While the two big companies were making cosmetic changes to their names and logos, Ring of Honor made a major change behind the scenes. The company had lost their spot on HDNet and needed a television station to broadcast their programming. Sinclair Broadcasting Group purchased the company and is now broadcasting a weekly show on their syndicated channels. Unlike the deal they had with HDNet which was also not able to be seen by many fans, now fans can also watch the show online at rohwrestling.com for free.
While Matt's younger brother Jeff had a history of drug issues, Matt was always seen as the stable influence on his life. That view changed over the course of the past few months as between August and November, Matt was arrested four times, hospitalized a few times, involved in a few vehicular incidents, and kicked out of court ordered rehab.
4. CM Punk Wages War on the WWE
It is very rare when a wrestling angle is picked up by media outlets like ESPN when there aren't any celebrities involved. However, CM Punk delivered an incredible promo that shook the wrestling world and then made further headlines when he left the company with the WWE Championship. While a tournament was going on to crown a new champion, CM Punk was going out in public with the title he never lost and delivering more controversial statements.
3. The Retirement of Edge
As the year began, Edge appeared to be on the verge of another banner year. He got some mainstream attention when he got some help from Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers to defeat Dolph Ziggler. A few days after successfully defending the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVII, Edge shocked the wrestling world by announcing his retirement due to some major neck injuries he suffered during his career.
2. The Return of The Rock
Vince McMahon promised a huge star was going to be the guest host for WrestleMania. Rumors were flying around that Justin Bieber was going to get the job. Fans were shocked when The Rock appeared on RAW to announce his return to WrestleMania as the celebrity guest host. They were even more surprised when the night after WrestleMania XXVII, he agreed to fight John Cena at WrestleMania XXVIII. In November, he returned to the ring for the first time in over 7 years. He teamed with John Cena to defeat Awesome Truth and then gave his partner and future opponent a Rock Bottom.
1. Death of Randy Savage
The word icon and superstar are tossed around a lot in the world of wrestling, but Randy Savage was one of the few wrestlers that was able to transcend the world of wrestling and become a part of pop culture. On May 20, the wrestling world lost one of its all-time greats when the "Macho Man" died of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease. At the time of his fatal heart attack, he was driving his car while his wife was in the passenger's seat. The car hit a tree but thankfully his wife survived the wreck with only minor injuries. Randy Savage was only 58 years old at the time of his death.