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Best Of The 2010s: Top 10 Wrestling Moments

As we roll into December each year, there's always a fun, positive vibe in the air. The school year is winding down, so kids are getting hyped for the holidays (as well as the teachers), and Christmas is right around the corner. After Christmas, there's that weird week where nothing happens and the world is stuck in some strange limbo. Then we have New Year's, where we drink ourselves stupid and make a bunch of resolutions that will be lucky to last through January.

This year's December vibe is a little different. I have to attribute it to social media for me personally. I have seen a bunch of things on social media- memes, tweets, statuses etc. reminding us that it is not only the end of the year, but also the end of the decade.

Preach it, sis. Let's go, girls.

The first thing I did was reflect on the past decade. Wow, it's really flown by. When you're younger, you hear about how the years go by faster as you get older, but you don't really appreciate it until you start feeling it yourself. As fast as it's gone, I've definitely done a lot. Went to uni, became a teacher, moved to the UK, moved back home, travelled around the world and Australia for fun, done skydiving, stand up comedy, and went to a bunch of concerts and wrestling shows. Ten years well spent, in my opinion.

Then I started thinking about the last decade in pro wrestling, and of course my mind started to race because I'm a wrestling nerd. But funnily enough, in 2010... I was basically a lapsed wrestling fan. In the 2000s, I was always "the wrestling guy" at school, but in 2008, I started falling out of love with wrestling. The WWE product just wasn't for me anymore. The midget wrestler Hornswoggle had far too big a presence on the show, as did the comedy wrestler, Santino. The face of the company, John Cena, had completely lost the edge of his character, and one segment in particular showed that WWE wasn't for me anymore. Cena got a can of spray paint and wrote a message on JBL's limo. That message- "JBL is poopy".

That was the moment that solidified it for me. WWE had gone full PG, putting on a kid-friendly product to attract sponsors, and by extension kids and families. I actually think kids would have thought "JBL is poopy" was lame too. I got into WWE as an 8 year old, and that was the Attitude Era. It was super cool, and definitely not appropriate for a kid that age. But we all loved it!

After JBL Is Poopy, my WWE viewing scaled right back. One saving grace of Raw in 2008 was the feud between Chris Jericho and HBK, so I kept watching that. Then, it was the Road To Wrestlemania, so I stuck around for that. After Wrestlemania 25, where we had the greatest wrestling match of all time, Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker, I basically stopped. Because while HBK vs. Taker was epic, we also had Santina (Santino in drag) winning the Miss Wrestlemania battle royal, and a generally lifeless card and product otherwise. I kept an eye on wrestling websites in case things got better, but gone were the days that I watched Raw, Smackdown and ECW every week- and recorded every show on VHS and DVD. I was watching UFC instead. It involved people fighting, and as a bonus, it was real. Plus Brock Lesnar was there. I loved Brock Lesnar.

I found my way back to WWE eventually though, and my fandom would eventually re-ignite stronger than ever. So with that, let's look at my Top 10 Wrestling Moments of the 2010s!

10. The Nexus Debut

I didn't see this happen live. As I said, I kept an eye on wrestling websites in case anything cool happened. In June 2010, people were raving online about this. The Nexus were comprised of the "Rookies" on the NXT show. In 2010, NXT was a very different beast to what we know and love today. NXT debuted in early 2010 to replace WWE's ECW, and it was a pseudo-reality show used to introduce talent from WWE's developmental system at the time, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). The "Rookies" were paired with "Pros" from the WWE roster, and they did a bunch of stupid challenges like obstacle courses in order to win the competition. Honestly, it sucked. I gave it a go for the first couple of weeks and quickly lost interest. But it did give us this cool angle. The Rookies- comprised of Wade Barrett, Skip Sheffield (later known as Ryback), Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, Michael Tarver, Darren Young and Daniel Bryan- interfered in the John Cena vs. CM Punk main event on Raw and destroyed everything in sight, including the ring and ringside area, and ring announcer Justin Roberts. It was fresh, it was exciting, it was the most edgy thing WWE had done in about 3 years. Unfortunately, WWE were unable to capitalise on this red-hot debut. For one thing, Daniel Bryan took things a step too far by choking Roberts with his own tie- made an awesome visual, but WWE had to fire him (temporarily) to appease sponsors. Then, the Nexus main evented Summerslam 2010. Daniel Bryan returned to join Team WWE to face the renegade Nexus. After a strong start from the young faction, John Cena squashed them all in a classic Super Cena move. Ah well, the initial Nexus angle was still awesome.


9. Chris Jericho Joins New Japan

Chris Jericho is often credited for being the master of reinvention. From his early days as a plucky young babyface known as "Lionheart", to his comedic heel schtick challenging Goldberg in WCW, to his Y2J character in WWE... then recognising when Y2J was getting stale. He then became a suit-wearing evil mastermind heel in one of the greatest runs of his career. In the 2010s, he made infrequent returns to WWE reprising the Y2J character, staying for a few months at a time to put guys over, and then leaving to focus on his band, Fozzy. For a while, it seemed like Jericho was kinda "damaged goods", putting over too many people. I mean, fucking FANDANGO beat him at Wrestlemania. Then Jericho rehabbed himself, having a tremendous run partnering with Kevin Owens, coming up with the amazing "List Of Jericho" gimmick... he was the most over thing in WWE. Unfortunately, WWE didn't see it that way. The Jericho vs. Owens feud, originally meant to be over the Universal Championship, was contested over the US Title instead. It was placed 2nd on the Wrestlemania 33 card- going 2nd is generally the "death spot" on a wrestling card. So, after almost 20 years in WWE, Chris Jericho took a chance on himself. He went to New Japan Pro Wrestling to lend his star power to them and feud with one of the hottest talents in the wrestling business outside of WWE- "The Best Bout Machine" Kenny Omega. Jericho's presence helped NJPW go more mainstream than ever before, and the co-main event of Jericho vs. Omega in the Tokyo Dome stole the show at Wrestle Kingdom in January 2018. At 47 years old, Chris Jericho reinvented himself yet again to become the hottest commodity in pro wrestling. This would have a ripple effect that would extend far beyond Japan. But more on that later.


8. The Launch Of The WWE Network

This is something that 12 year old me would have lost their freaking mind over. You mean I can watch any WWE show ever, plus all the PPVs for $10 a month? The WWE Network changed the game. Seemingly endless content, with all the archives of WWE, plus WCW and ECW, plus documentaries... and then NXT being a pillar of the Network's early live streaming days with NXT Arrival, then the weekly episodes of NXT on the Network, and the Takeovers. If not for the Network, NXT might not be as big as it is today. It's a genius business move too- when the current product isn't doing it for fans, they can just go to the Network and pick out wrestling that they do like to watch. But yeah, the wrestling-obsessed kid in me (which, let's be honest, never left me) absolutely loves this. #CancelWWENetwork trends whenever WWE put on a bad show, but there's no chance in hell I'd ever unsubscribe!


7. Launch of AEW

In a few years time, this might rank much higher than 7 on my list. The first time anyone has truly tried to compete with WWE since WCW. I guess TNA tried... but come on. AEW has billionaire backing and world class talent. Getting Chris Jericho from the outset as their top star was a big time power move- and now Jericho can give a bit of a 'fuck you" to WWE for not appreciating what they had in him. Then you have The Elite, Kenny, Cody and The Young Bucks, who did big business over in Japan. They had the "test run" of All In, accepting journalist Dave Meltzer's challenge to draw 10,000 fans to an indy show. Their debut PPV, Double Or Nothing, was a huge success. They brought in Jon Moxley (fka Dean Ambrose) who has instantly shown himself to be a major asset. They launched a weekly show on the TNT Network, AEW Dynamite. It provides a true alternative that wrestling fans have been crying out for. More importantly, it creates competition. And now, just like in the 1990s, WWE are being forced to step their game up and provide higher quality content in order to compete with AEW. The very existence of AEW is an amazing thing for wrestlers and wrestling fans alike.


6. The Return Of The Hardyz

Seeing the Hardyz return to WWE has been on my wrestling bucket list since Jeff Hardy left the company after Summerslam 2009- literally the only thing I paid attention to in WWE after Wrestlemania 25 was the CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy feud. Not only did that bucket list item come to fruition, I was there live in person to see it at Wrestlemania 33! My first Wrestlemania, and the reaction to Matt and Jeff joining the ladder match last-minute was the loudest thing I have ever heard in my life. The guy next to me jumped onto me with a hug, it was 75,000 people in Orlando losing their fucking minds! The first 6 months of having the Hardys back was magical, then injuries and legal troubles have messed with things a bit, but nothing can take away how awesome this Wrestlemania Moment (TM) was.


5. YES-tlemania!

Speaking of Wrestlemania Moments, this next one is hard to top. Reality and fiction meshed a little to create this storyline. WWE wanted to move ahead with a returning Batista vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship as the main event of Wrestlemania 30. However, Daniel Bryan was the most over babyface in the company, and even though WWE tried to present Batista as the returning hero, the fans weren't having it. So, Bryan was in. The Authority (Triple H and Stephanie) continued to push the narrative that Daniel Bryan was a "B+ Player" and didn't deserve to be in the main event. So, at Wrestlemania 30, Bryan beat Triple H in the opening match, then went on to beat Batista and Randy Orton in the main event to win the WWE Championship. As Michael Cole coined it, it was "a miracle on Bourbon Street!" A huge victory for Daniel Bryan, an even bigger victory for the fans.


4. Pipebomb

Back before Instagram thots were doing it on a regular basis, CM Punk did something that truly broke the Internet. Punk was given a live microphone on Raw and allowed to air his frustrations in a worked-shoot promo towards John Cena. He mentioned people not under WWE contract at the time, like Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, and wrestling companies besides WWE, like ROH and New Japan. The Pipebomb was a promo that brought life, that brought reality, to an extremely sterile and overly-scripted product. For a few months, WWE was genuinely exciting again. Triple H and Kevin Nash stalled the mometum of Punk's character for a short while after this, but the Pipebomb was the catalyst for CM Punk reaching the next level as a true main event superstar, and led to his 434 day WWE Championship reign.


3. Brock Returns

This was the moment that brought me back to WWE properly after 3-4 years of not watching wrestling weekly. Post-Wrestlemania 28, Cena was reeling from a loss to The Rock on the Grandest Stage Of Them All. Cena calls out The Rock, but instead gets The Beast Incarnate! The Brock Lesnar that walked out on the WWE stage was a very different man to "The Next Big Thing" that walked out of WWE in 2004. This was a man who had spent years kicking ass in the UFC, becoming the UFC Heavyweight Champion and defending it twice. Following diverticulitus and a couple of tough losses in the Octagon, Brock was back where he first became famous, and he brought with him an aura of danger that hadn't been seen in WWE in years. Brock Lesnar was not PG. Brock Lesnar brought the edge that WWE so badly needed. I mean, the man gets a "Holy Shit" chant for walking around the ring! This was an incredible moment.


2. The Rock Returns

This moment ALMOST brought me back to WWE. The Rock was one of my all time favourites, and he was incredible in the Attitude Era. He left WWE in 2004 to become a mega-star in Hollywood, and for a while there it seemed like he didn't want anything to do with his wrestling past. But then he came back to host Wrestlemania 27 and feud with John Cena. His return promo had more energy and personality than I'd seen anyone in WWE have in years. Fortunately, Rock's return forced Cena to step up his promo game, and that feud got wonderfully personal. Really, the only reason that Rock's return didn't bring me back to WWE fully is that everything else surrounding it was still pretty sterile and PG. But The Rock was the exception to the rule.


1. The Streak...Is Over

A moment that most wrestling fans (including myself) thought would never happen. I was sure that Undertaker would retire undefeated at Wrestlemania, that it would be a major part of his legacy. Then Brock Lesnar came along, and with 3 F5s...Undertaker was 21-1 at Wrestlemania. The air left the Superdome at Wrestlemania 30. In this age of the Internet, social media, it's harder and harder to genuinely shock people... well, this did it. People still debate if it should have happened... I don't know. Ending the Streak certainly added to Brock Lesnar's aura... but I'm not sure he even needed it. It was a shame that Taker got concussed so early in the match, as the match itself was one of Taker's most pedestrian before the big finish.


Honourable Mentions

1. The Festival of Friendship

"Why is my name on this list?" Gets me in the feels every time. Glad Jericho fought for his vision with this segment.

2. AJ Styles Debut

One of the biggest crossover moments in the last 20 years. TNA was crap a lot of the time, but AJ Styles was always a shining star amongst it all. So happy he joined WWE and found so much success.

3. Undertaker at WM33

People were crying at the end of Wrestlemania 33 when Taker left his hat and coat in the ring. Had he stuck to his retirement, this would have absolutely made the top 10.

4. Roman’s post-WM33 reaction on Raw

That was the most heat I've heard anyone get in person. Roman got verbally massacred by the crowd in Orlando (which included me).

5. Daniel Bryan Returns

We thought Bryan would never wrestle again, but at the start of 2018, he got cleared for a big return at Wrestlemania 34. The emotion and pure happiness from Bryan and the crowd when he made that announcement... I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it.


Yep, the 2010s gave us a lot of great stuff. It's often said that wrestling is cyclical. At the start of the decade, we suffered from an overly-PG, kid-friendly product, but over the years, we've seen WWE do a bit more to cater to the older demographic while not pushing the envelope so far that it puts sponsors and families off. I don't know if we'll ever seen another Attitude Era, society being how it is, but I do think we will see a version of the Monday Night Wars occur as AEW becomes a stronger presence in the pro wrestling marketplace. I've been very impressed by AEW since its inception, and I've also really enjoyed the output WWE has had over the last month or so. Bring on the 2020s!

Until next time, take care,


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Who's Behind The Blog
Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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