After the nightmare of 2007, the wrestling world regained all of the luster it lost. From a public relations standpoint, politicians realized that wrestling fans actually vote in elections. As far as the people that mock wrestlers as being fake athletes that couldn't cut it in a real sport, they had to eat some humble pie as a former WWE Champion became the world champion of a "legitimate" sport.
1. Ric Flair RetiresFor over 30 years, Ric Flair has been "The Man" in the wrestling business. In a sport where most wrestlers don't get a proper send-off, Ric Flair got the greatest retirement send-off in wrestling history. The night before WrestleMania 24, Ric was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The next day, he had a classic match with Shawn Michaels. The following night, Ric's peers gave him a surprise in-ring retirement party that saw a ring full of grown men with tears in their eyes. "The Nature Boy" will be missed but his legacy will always live on.
Hulk Hogan. As if a messy and public divorce wasn't bad enough, he also had to deal with his son going to jail for an accident that left a friend of the family with permanent brain damage. While all this was going on, Hulk became involved in three new television shows. He was a host of the NBC show American Gladiators, made frequent appearance on Brooke Knows Best, and had celebrities battle it out for the right to win a championship belt on Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling.
Brock Lesnar made a successful transition from being a championship pro wrestler to becoming a championship MMA fighter. In only his fourth MMA match, Brock Lesnar beat UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship, the most prestigious title in the business.
4. WWE Gets a Presidential Seal of ApprovalAfter the Benoit tragedy, several politicians thought they found an easy way to make political points and went after the WWE. In a shocking turn of events, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain all appeared on an episode of RAW with video greeting explaining why fans should vote for them. In November, it turned out that the fans smelled what Ba Rock was cooking as he beat the McCainiacs. However, before Barack could take the honor of being the first President to appear on WWE programming, President Bush stole that honor when he appeared via a video message during the Tribute to the Troops event thanking the company for their annual visits to the war zones to deliver a show for the troops.
5. Floyd Mayweather Jr. - The $20 Million ManAs part of WrestleMania 24, the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in boxing fought the Big Show. In addition to this spectacle of such a match, the media went crazy when it was announced that Floyd would be getting $20 million for his appearance. While Floyd didn't actually receive that much money for his victory over the Big Show, the reporting of that figure garnered the WWE a tremendous amount of press for the event.
Jeff Hardy would finally break through the proverbial glass ceiling and finally win a major championship. Just when it appeared Jeff was on his way to something special, the demons from Jeff's past came back and he was suspended 60 days for his second violation of the WWE Wellness Policy. While serving that suspension, Jeff's house burned down and he lost all of his possessions in the fire, including his dog. Jeff was able to recover from both the professional setback and personal tragedy to finally win the WWE Championship in December at Armageddon.