I have been watching wrestling for a decade, so I felt it was only necessary that I did a post about some of my favorite things in wrestling over the last decade as the 2010’s come to an end. We’ve had a million ups and down, old things, new things, messes, and brilliance. It wasn’t always perfect, sometimes it was terrible, sometimes it was awe-inspiring and sometimes it was simply just fun. A LOT happens in a decade, and my memory is awful so instead of stressing myself out, I decided anything in this post is just what I can remember. I’m not doing a deep dive into the last decade on the internet or even in my mind. Watching professional wrestling started out as an escape for me; it was exactly what I needed at precisely the right time. Let’s look at some of my favorite parts. (In no particular order, of course).
- Shawn Michaels Retirement Match against Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
- This match has always been special to me because it was one of the very first ones I saw where I remember completely falling head over heels in love with wrestling. It wasn’t just the moves or the high-power talent in the ring; it was the emotional story that was being told from beginning to end. It will always be one of my favorite matches.
- When I first started watching CMPunk was the ultra bad guy, with his faction, feuding with Rey Mysterio. He sang this incredibly creepy happy birthday to Reys’ daughter, and it made me SO ANGRY. I didn’t realize, at the time, that wresting can in fact, make a viewer legitimately angry, but I was so disgusted with him. I look back at it now and I laugh because of how new I was to this world and how everything hit me so hard. That disgust for CMPUnk turned to adoration. He was such a smart ass, and I loved it. He was incredible on the microphone and I loved it. He was outstanding in the ring, and I loved it. The pipebomb gave me chills. CMPunk was one of the few who kept me coming back each week in the very beginning and so it’s cool to see him back in some kind of capacity on WWE Backstage with Fox as we close out the decade.
- Beth Phoenix and Natalya
- When I first started watching, I was not much of a women’s wrestling fan. You could say that it was because I didn’t have much of a reason to be at the time because it was a time where women’s wrestling in WWE, I think, was at a crossroads of even having matches on TV at all. While I found myself not paying much attention, two-woman grabbed my attention anytime they were on TV. Beth and Nattie. I think it was because they were not these size zero ladies and neither was I. I identified with them more than the others. They were strong, and they commanded a presence. I have been a huge fan of both women ever since. Watching Nattie continue to fight all this time, her finally winning that SDLive women’s championship was special, having Beth on commentary now is special. I simply love it.
- Women’s Evolution.
- I might not have been a women’s wrestling fan at the beginning of my journey as a wrestling fan but I certainly became one. Because of the likes of Beth, Nattie, Eve, Nikki and Brie Bella, Kaitlyn, AJ, Paige, Emma, Carmella, Charlotte, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, going back and watching Lita and Trish Stratus, now with the likes of Candice LeRae, Rhea Ripley, Bianca BelAir and so many more I enjoy watching the woman wrestle more than I think I like watching the men wrestle. Watching the women take what they were owed after so many years was truly empowering. They knew there worth and generation after generation they fought for it and year by year they got a little bit more. From Kelly Kelly defending Edges world championship in the main event of smackdown to the tables match between Nattie and Laycool, to the NXT women main evening that brands PPVs, women getting their own royal rumble match, an entire PPV all their own, and finally Main Eventing Wrestlemania (and my goodness so much more in between). Renee Young made her claim to the evolution by not only being absolutely fantastic in all assignments she has but by being the first woman to join commentary full time for Monday night raw, she now hosts WWE Backstage which is SO her element, she commentated for the Mae Young Classic, and on top of that Beth Phoenix joined the commentary table for NXT full time as well. It is special to see the woman of WWE making strides inside of the ring, but I also love seeing it happen in other areas of the business. The women’s evolution has been inspiring to watch over the last decade.
- The Shield
- Never had I truly flocked to a tag team more than I did when The Shield came on the scene. They had this powerful presence; they had mystery; they had this aroma and I was hooked from the very beginning and while I started out as a fan of them as a team, I quickly became fans of them all separately. The entrance music would give me chills, their Wyatt family feud, and their Evolution feud are two that instantly stick out in my mind and I loved every minute of them. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns all had incredible singles careers in between all The Shield business, world title wins, injuries, illnesses, crazy stories, and all, but those three will be talked about in the business for a long, long, long.
- The Creation of AEW.
- Most of this decade’s post is filled with WWE related wrestling because that’s what I watched for most of the decade. I spend a little time watching Impact and that was fun a couple of new japan matches, and so on but nothing the way I watched WWE. Like many fans, it seems, I had been dwindling down in my watching and enjoyment of WWE in the last few months, especially in comparison to the years closer to the beginning of the decade. As I found myself falling out of love with this, AEW was there to pick me up. Maybe it was because it was new, perhaps it was because it was Cody Rhodes trying to change things, maybe it was because it was fresh wrestlers that someone like me, hadn’t been exposed too, I don’t know the exact reason, but I believed in what Cody and company were selling, and I still do. I was all in on this new pro wrestling company that was going to change the game, and I think they have. Their PPVs have been stellar, their TV programming have been so good, and while they are still working out kinks, I love watching it. It’s exposed me to the likes of Britt Baker, Jungle Boy, Riho, Luchasaurus and Darby Allen. An incredible brother vs. brother match between Dustin and Cody that gave me goosebumps. Chris Jericho is on a whole other level of brilliance and Jon Moxley is back to being the very best version of himself. I firmly believe that as we enter 2020, AEW is going to continue to prove just how much of an opponent they are to our usual mainstream wrestling.
- The Evolution of NXT.
- NXT was not the NXT it is today at the start of the decade, and it wasn’t even the NXT of the day by the middle of the decade, at least not really. The caliber of talent that was inside NXT, on top of the WWE Network, giving it a platform, NXT, to me, became the brand to watch. The matches between Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha and Becky were always special. Carmella and Alexa Bliss were just itching to break out, Liv Morgan, Sami Zayn, Neville, Kevin Owens, Paige, Tyler Breeze, Asuka, and Rusev have gone on to blow us away (to just name a few). Now it is stacked with the likes of The Undisputed Era, Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Velveteen Dream, Rhea Ripley, Dakota Kai, Mia Yim, Keith Lee, and my goodness I could be here forever naming everyone, but you know, you were there, you get the point. Now with their USA network TV deal, more and more people can be exposed to this high level of entertainment.
- The New Day and Kofi Mania.
- I was a huge Xavier Woods fan when he was in NXT. He had this charisma that I was instantly drawn too. Big E was not only NXT champion, but he was such a powerful presence and since I started watching Kofi Kingston was always one of my favorites to watch. My excitement when these three were paired together could not be tamed. I was intrigued when they started out a bit serious, and I was enthralled when they came out sporting unicorns, and hip swivels and five-star matches and outmatched charisma. They are a shining light in wrestling, worth of all their success as a team and more. One of the most important parts of all of this is Kofi Kingston finally becoming WWE World Champion. Following Kofi’s career for so long, I couldn’t believe he had never held a world championship. When he finally won it this year, it was that much sweeter because of how long the journey was. Its guys like Kofi that stick it out that do what needs to be done, that you have to root for. Whether separate or together, Woods, Big E and Kofi are a true highlight of WWE.
- Daniel Bryans’ rise to the top
- When I first was exposed to Daniel Bryan, it was on the old school NXT. Most new him as the American Dragon, but I wasn’t one of them. The NXT he was apart of, was absolutely ridiculous, it was a true waste of everyone’s actual abilities. Daniels’s hard time getting respect was incredible to watch. His feud with the Authority, his B+ player story, this 18-second match with Sheamus, and o many other things, continuously kept him down. When the YES Movement first began, I’m not sure how one didn’t get behind it. It was truly a special time in wrestling and it got the perfect payoff. Watching Bryan scratch and claw through Wrestlemania to become champion at the end is the ideal story of triumph, strength and determination. It doesn’t hurt that Daniel Bryan is one of the most incredible wrestlers I’ve ever seen. A man who didn’t believe he’d ever be able to wrestle again and yet never gave up, and manages to give us his all every single time he’s out there, he most definitely is one of my favorite parts of this decade.
- John Cena’s 2015 US Open Challenges.
- From the start, John Cena was my guy. I was all in on the Cenation, and the Never Give Up attitude. While new favorite began to spout as the decade went on, I remained loyal to the one who helped me more than he’ll ever know or I could ever explain. One thing that really sticks out that was special was his open challenges when he was US Champion in 2015. Cesaro, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, Zack Ryder, Dolph Ziggler, to name a few, fought Cena in some of the best matches I can remember. They were random and had no story but they had a message nonetheless. I truly enjoyed this series.
- The Miz.
- The Miz was so good at making me absolutely hate him when I first started watching. As years went on, I began to appreciate him, yet still, hate him, and then he got to be so bad that I couldn’t hate him anymore, even when I was supposed to because it was so good. He blows me away on the microphone, he’s so talented in the ring, he seems to be able to make any story work and he’s had some excellent success outside of WWE and I cannot help but root for his guy in all areas.
Eleven seemed like a good place to stop. There was a TON that occurred in the last decade; it would be impossible to remember, let alone write about them all. I wish I could break everything down, but truthfully the woman are what keep me coming back. When there isn’t much I’m interested in, I’m invested in the women. Their evolution is probably my favorite part. They busted their assess for years to earn the opportunities that they have been receiving and they’re making themselves known and I just absolutely love it.
Here’s to the next decade of professional wrestling.