The 2012 Year In Review
(Or “When Two Tribes Go To War!”)
(Note: The infamous "Year In Review" column is here for you & enjoy. The column is too big here so it will be broken in 3 parts. Enjoy Part 1 right now, Part 2 is here & Part 3 is here.)
In 2012 the two biggest Pro Wrestling companies in the U.S.A, WWE & TNA, took different business paths & different business goals to make their companies financially succeed while Ring Of Honor & everybody just sit back & did nothing. It was a year in which two companies were trying to be completely different from the other yet at the same time they somehow either worked together for a common goal or they were at each other’s throats towards something personal. While WWE & TNA either faced their own problems or going against each other the rest of the world remained stagnant.
We start off with WWE for 2012 & all of their risks that they try to take advantage of mostly blew up in their faces. “WWE Network” in April 2012? Nope; creating a cable network way above them & it’ll be until 2013 as a paid subscription network like HBO & Showtime. A year-long build up for a Rock/Cena match for Wrestlemania 28 to work? Nope; in fact most fans hated that match mostly because WWE overhyped it. Giving Sheamus a squash match at Wrestlemania 29? Nope; in fact the world hated that idea. WWE was really struggling in 2012 trying to make people happy as their ratings went up & down on so many times but the risks that they weren’t banking on actually were successful. CM Punk carrying the title more than a year? Yes that did work. Reformatting NXT to be the new developmental territory? Yes that worked as well because it brought up more talent than ever that’s succeeding while lowering costs. While WWE was getting some small success wrestling wise it was getting huge success entertainment wise. Of course WWE’s Movies brand “WWE Studios” still continue to bomb as always but they manage to get 2 WWE TV Shows back on Network TV, well at least 1 on Network TV the other depends on your local coverage. WWE releases a wrestling show aimed towards kids, something WWE hasn’t done in over 30 years, by creating “WWE Saturday Morning Slam” for The CW’s “Vortexx” kids programming block; “Saturday Morning Slam” is a 30-minute show aimed towards kids but very toned down to exclude such things as very sexy looking Divas like Rosa Mendes or any wrestling moves that goes after the head or neck like your standard Neckbreaker. WWE also released another show for the ION Network called “WWE Main Event”; “Main Event” is a 1-hour show that will show at least one Main-Event level match that you will see on WWE programming. In a shocker to some people WWE worked with TNA in getting Ric Flair, who was working with TNA at the time, on their WWE Hall Of Fame show & in exchange they sent Christian over to the TNA PPV “Slammiversary” & they paid Ring Of Honor for some past CM Punk footage to be aired on CM Punk’s latest DVD/Blu-Ray. Perhaps the biggest success that WWE ever had on their “entertainment” front was getting the legendary Rock Band “The Rolling Stones” to let them air their concert on their PPV Network! Unfortunately for WWE in 2012 they lost a lot of talent mostly due to the talent actually quitting WWE because WWE wants to control all aspects of the wrestler’s lives when it comes to them taking side-project away from the company; due to not taking any WWE approved side projects WWE loses such talent as Kelly Kelly & Chris Jericho while having the talent depth of their roster to be at their lowest in a long time it looks so beat up. Then things got worse when TNA sued them over a former employee of their now currently working for WWE leaking company secrets to them. 2013 looks so far for WWE to try & excel their entertainment prospect by counting on their “Rolling Stones” PPV & getting the “WWE Network” up pretty soon, trying to get their depleted roster back healthy again, & relying on CM Punk to save them.
TNA in 2012 were trying to set themselves as a wrestling promotion brand & so far it did kind of work. TNA’s sister promotion set in India “Ring Ka King” turned out to be a huge success. “Ring Ka King” became the Number 1 program in India that became Most Watched Television show in its time. TNA also tried to make episodes of their flagship show “Impact Wrestling” more interesting by adding themed shows like “Open Fight Night” where all the matches are “Open Challenges” or “Championship Thursday” where there’s a guaranteed Title Match each month. Hell TNA even got rid of one of their main problems according to the fans when they fired the head of TNA Creative Vince Russo! TNA also started their own Hall Of Fame, they move their “Gut Check” live try out shows to “Impact Wrestling”, hell they let Eric Bischoff off Television & move in the background as an Executive Producer. With TNA for every good thing that they try to do something good they get more problems added to them. The reborn again X-Division stalled, thanks to new office management the Knockouts Division quickly fell apart. TNA decided to sue their main rival WWE over a former employee of their leaking “confidential information” working for WWE & in fact that lawsuit is still going on right now that it is making things complicated for WWE right now. TNA may have problems that can be quickly corrected but none of those problems cause major controversies that are named either “Hogan” or “Claire Lynch”.
“Claire Lynch” refers to a character played by actress Julia Reily that TNA hired to be part of a storyline involving AJ Styles, Daniels, & Kazarian. The storyline was that Kazarian & Daniels accused Styles of having an extramarital affair with TNA President Dixie Carter. Soon afterwards of all the allegations that AJ Styles was a cheater was gone & the “truth” that he & Dixie Carter were “taking care” of a pregnant woman addicted to crack by the name of Claire Lynch. From there each & every week we experienced one bad part of the story after another until the online wrestling fans basically got royally angry over the whole storyline that they basically cyber-bullied Julia Reily all over the Social Networks that she was on until she quit TNA. The Hogan name, as in Hulk Hogan, caused a lot of attention for TNA but for all the wrong reasons in 2012. TNA got their dose of controversial Hogan love first when Hulk Hogan convinced Dixie Carter & the rest of the TNA staff to hire his daughter Brooke Hogan, who wants to be a singer but has zero experience & has spent most of her recent life trying to be a socialite but has NO PRO WRESTLING EXPERIENCE, to be the public figure head as “Head of The Knockouts Division”. The fun doesn’t stop there for Hulk Hogan when his sex tape surfaced online. Now in these modern days the sex tape is shocking but nothing really important. In fact the sex tape has made some people famous like Kim Kardashain & helps improve the careers of others like Pamela Anderson; in the Hulkster’s case however he saw the release of his sex tape as the worst think that could had happen! The rest of the year Hogan spent trying to get the sex tape off the Internet & out of anybody’s hands. For every good thing TNA tries to improve the product it seems like they take two steps back. In 2013 TNA will launch their Reality Documentary TV show aimed at the UK tracking 4 UK Wrestlers trying to successfully earn a spot on the TNA roster with the addition to reduce some PPVs so they can go back to the old-school standard of building up a PPV but the answer whether these strategies will work we’ll have to find out later.
Ring of Honor & the Indy Wrestling scene were literally miles apart from the national scene in 2012. Under its new owners “Sinclair Broadcasting”; Ring Of Honor was trying to get their foothold in the national Pro Wrestling market since they are new to the game. Ring Of Honor was slowly developing a presence online via the basic ways by establishing accounts on YouTube, Facebook, & Twitter. Sinclair Broadcasting even added more TV networks which would mean extra TV coverage. Unfortunately for Ring Of Honor they suffered the same problem as TNA did which was bad booking but in Vince Russo’s place it was Jim Cornette & his “old-school” ways. Cornette’s booking ways in Ring Of Honor left fans with a very bad taste in their mouths & was soon replaced by Delirious as Head Booker. Then there was the problem when one-half of their current ROH Tag Team Champions Kenny King decided to leave ROH & join TNA; lucky for them he wasn’t carrying the ROH Tag Title when he debuted on TNA. Now with Shelton Benjamin not wanting to re-sign with ROH the future looks kind of shaky for Ring Of Honor. Indy wrestling was pretty dead activity wise except for the recent increase of deaths (which we will cover later) but a couple of wrestlers were going to try to do something different. NWA’s “Scrap Iron” Adam Pierce & journeyman wrestler Colt Cabana wanted to escalate their never-ending feud by having a Best-Of-7 Series of Gimmick Matches called “The 7 Levels Of Hate” for the NWA World Title. “The 7 Levels Of Hate” covered the entire U.S.A but in other countries as well. When Match 7 happened & the NWA wouldn’t allow the match for the title happen, Pearce did lose the match, the title, & the series so he was going through his promise of quitting the NWA forever but in a shocking twist Cabana refused to take the title leaving the NWA World Title vacant. Other than that not a lot happened in this area in 2012.
There was barely entertainment activity at all for 2012 in pro wrestling. Just a former TNA Knockout Kim “Desire” Neilson on “The Biggest Loser was the only thing that was interesting. However Eve Torres made Reality TV History in a very controversial way. Eve Torres competed in the Reality TV Show “Stars Earned Stripes” which was a show about celebrities competing in Military War Games for charity; however famous advocates for peace like The Dahli Lama & Nelson Mandela said that this show should be taken off the air because it trivializes war & violence. Never the less the show did air & Eve Torres became the first woman in the pro wrestling industry to win a Reality TV Show. MMA fighters were getting more vocal in 2012 declaring that they want to compete in pro wrestling because either they are fans or thinking that it will be easy. “King Mo” Lawal decided to do both by competing in MMA promotion Bellator Fighting & in TNA. Other than that there was barely anything to talk about when it comes to entertainment in the pro wrestling area.
As with all change there is one thing that will always remain a constant and that is death but in 2012 death decided to take a holiday in a weird way. Most of the deaths in 2012 mostly focused from indy wrestlers or former wrestlers who were “enhancement talent” a.k.a. “jobbers”. Whether it was indy wrestlers that were barely known dying from natural causes (Savannah Jack from heart attack, “Hangman” Bobby Jaggers from blood infection, Dwane “Awesome Kong” McCullogh from a heart attack, & Mike “The Hippie” Boyette), legendary trainers (Rolland “Red” Bastien from natural causes), promoters (Joe Blanchard from natural causes) or wrestlers that died for all the wrong reasons (“Brain Damage” Marvin Lambert & Mike Graham from suicide). The most notable deaths probably from our generation would be the deaths of “Chief” Jay Strongbow & Brad Armstrong.
“Chief Jay Strongbow” was mostly a WWE wrestler that competed way back in WWE’s early days when it was the “WWF”. Strongbow was mostly used in semi-mid carder feuds with such wrestlers as Greg “The Hammer” Valentine but fans will probably remember him most recently when he appeared on RAW a couple of years ago & said only one word; “HOW!” Strongbow suffered a nasty fall & never recovered & died from natural causes. Brad Armstrong is a name that fans from my generation know greatly. Armstrong started out in the indy wrestling circuit then becoming famous in NWA during The Crockett Family’s ownership of it mostly by teaming with Tim Horner to become “The Lightning Express”. When NWA became WCW Armstrong became a magnet for a lot of the bad gimmicks that appeared first as”Arachniman”, then becoming a target of a so-called storyline reason why he was losing a lot called “The Armstrong Curse”, then became a part of the epic fail wrestling stable “The No Limit Soldiers”, & finally as the rip-off character to his brother “Road Dogg” Jesse James as “Buzzkill”. After receiving a near-career ending knee injury & a run in the indy wrestling circuit again Armstrong reappeared in the WWE version of ECW as a wrestler, color commentator, trainer, & road agent. Armstrong mostly stayed busy by working indy wrestling shows when he left WWE & helped out in the community before he died of what’s being labeled as “medical distress”. The deaths of “Chief” Jay Strongbow & Brad Armstrong will be missed.
However this death may not be a death of a famous wrestler but this should be acknowledged as probably the stupidest death of anybody ever connected to pro wrestling ever whether he be a fan or not! There was this guy named Stephen A. Arceneaux III & like every pro wrestling fan he wanted to watch what many consider to be the biggest PPV of pro wrestling history which was “Wrestlemania 28”. Now Stephen is watching the PPV with his 14 year old cousin which is of course normal. Now Stephen let his nephew perform a “Rear Naked Choke” on him thinking they can have some fun while watching the PPV which seems normal once again right? Well in this case it’s WRONG! Stephen refused to tap out to his cousin’s Rear Naked Choke; the reason is because Stephen didn’t want to look like he got his ass kicked by a 14 year old! The 14 year old continues the hold on Stephen. Stephen soon dies from the Rear Naked Choke. The lesson of the day is that if you are NOT a pro wrestler & somebody applies a choke hold on you then you TAP OUT like hell! Expect this idiot’s story on a future episode of “1000 Ways To Die” in some form or another.
2012 looked liked a way that the top national pro wrestling organizations trying to compete yet work with each other at the same time which in the business world can be pretty normal if done right else this was way weird! With the public conception of pro wrestling slowly turning into more of an entertainment field thanks to WWE the question would be if WWE can turn those dreams of being an entertainment brand true & if TNA can make themselves a legitimate wrestling brand.
(End of Part 1)