December starts out like the company is just meandering towards the end of the year. Just trying to cross the finish line. With Tribute to the Troops happening in the middle of the month, I imagine that took a lot of the focus and energy from those in charge. We have an end of the year Slammy awards, which always feels like they are mailing it in. Then TLC happens and everything gets nuts. If TLC isn’t the best pay per view of the year, it’s is the most complete from top to bottom of the card. After TLC, there is surprisingly no mention of Royal Rumble for the rest of the year. Instead, the focus is on putting together fairly solid shows week to week.
This is going to be a fairly meaty article. After I recap December of 2010, I’ll do the thrice a year update of Power Rankings and then a recap of 2010 with my top matches of the year. I’ll make my best efforts to keep it pithy.
Raw gets saddled with the Slammy’s, which is always a slog. Although that show has some fairly big moments like John Cena being rehired and the return of David Arquette to the ring. Miz seems to be getting humbled as the new WWE Champion. He can’t escape this mini feud Jerry “The King” Lawler. At the Slammy’s, Miz steals the Slammy from Angry Demon Miz Girl who wins Fan of the Year. Miz is called to pull double duty on Smackdown, I suspect due to a lack of roster depth on the go home episode heading into TLC. Miz does A Chrismas Carol parody on the Raw after TLC which I found amusing but I’m also probably alone on that. John Cena has an interesting month. He starts out as a renegade attacking The Nexus. Then he gets rehired. Cena finishes his business with The Nexus at TLC. John moves on to a mini feud with Dolph Ziggler. By the end of the month, Cena is getting attacked by CM Punk. Raw becomes a busy show, with lots of small storylines happening.
Even though John Cena is fired, he continues to jump the Nexus during matches, in the back stage, and even in hotel rooms. The obvious answer to this is to call the police. We all know what happens when a fan jumps into the ring during a match. Apparently, when you’re John Cena and you jump the rail, you get your music played, some time to pose in the ring, and maybe even a chance to speak on the mic. Why isn’t security stomping him into a puddle and hauling his ass to jail? CM Punk calling all of this out on commentary isn’t helping create a sense of realism. The Nexus are getting tired of being assaulted so they beg Wade Barrett to rehire John Cena. On the Slammy’s, Barrett agrees so that The Nexus can jump Cena, like they do. That night, Cena squashes David Otunga in a noncompetitive match. This leads to a Chairs Match at TLC between John Cena and Wade Barrett to finally settle this issue once and for all.
At TLC, John Cena jumps each member of the Nexus. Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel are attacked during a WWE Tag Team Title Match, allowing Santino and Kozlov to keep the titles. Other members are jumped in the back. This leaves Wade Barrett all alone during the Chairs Match. The match might be Wade Barrett’s best so far. The post match really sets Barrett back for the foreseeable future. After the match is over and Cena has one, he drags Wade Barrett over to the stage decorations. He carefully places Barrett is just the right place then buries the Nexus leader under a pile of chairs falling from the set. “A powerful symbolic message sent by Cena here tonight” says Michael Cole and he couldn’t be more right. John Cena literally buried Wade Barrett. It’s a very humbling moment for Wade but it mercifully brings this whole episode to an end.
CM Punk on commentary is very critical of John Cena’s actions. Not anymore than you would expect from a heel announcer but still, it is there. Cena is giving his victory speech over the Nexus the next night on Raw. Then who should interupt but Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero. Why they are allowed to be here from Smackdown is never explained. Vickie is offended that Dolph isn’t getting enough attention for his win at TLC in a Triple Threat Ladder Match against Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger. So Dolph challenges John Cena. They have a decent match. It feels like it could have been better. After the match, CM Punk leaves his announce position to attack John Cena. Smackdown is happening the next night, live on a Tuesday for once. Dolph and Vickie challenge Cena to a handicap match. It’s a pretty good match. Cena gets the win again and again CM Punk attacks Cena. To open up the next Raw, Cena cuts a promo where he just keeps saying “CM Sucks”. Cena has had a pretty good year in promos. This last one to end the year really brought down his average. Punk response that he is going to get even with Cena for being mean to all of the heels. Basically, Punk sees Cena as a bully and a hypocrite. Near the end of the night, a confrontation between Punk and Cena is planned. Cena waits for Punk but instead the Nexus minus Wade Barrett come to the ring. David Otunga tells Cena that the Nexus is under new manager and offers a peace treaty to John Cena. Cena turns him down, not trusting Otunga. That brings about a Nexus beat down. Once they are done, CM Punk comes out to continue the assault. This feud will get very interesting in 2011.
Michael Cole has to explain to Jerry Lawler why he cost The King the WWE Championship the previous week when Lawler faced Miz in a TLC Match. The Raw GM orders Cole and Lawler to not get physical. Randy Orton and Miz find their way into the segment. It’s revealed that at TLC, Miz will defend the WWE Championship against Randy Orton in a Tables Match. Michael Cole ends up getting RKOed in the segment, which was very satisfying. On the 12/6 Raw, however, Randy Orton will have to face Alex Riley. Riley puts forth a game effort but Orton eventually gains the advantage. Miz runs in, causing a DQ win for Orton. Miz tries to put Orton through a table to send a message but Riley ends up going through the table instead when Randy turns things around. The 12/13 Raw is the Slammy’s. Orton is stuck once again facing Miz’s lackeys. This time it’s a handicap match against Alex Riley and David Arquette. The match isn’t anything special but it ends with David Arquette getting put through table, which everyone enjoys.
At TLC, Orton and Miz have a pretty good match. Probably the best thing we have seen from Miz in a while. This match has a very cleaver false finish. During the course of the match, the ref gets bumped and Alex Riley gets RKOed through a table. Miz sneaks behind Orton and hits the Skullcrushing Finale. Miz assesses the situation. First, he gets Riley off the broken table and out of the way. Next he puts a fallen Randy Orton on the broken table. Finally, he wakes up the ref, who sees Randy Orton laying on a broken table and that’s good enough for him to declare Miz the winner. The Anonymous Raw GM interrupts and restarts the match. Shortly thereafter, Alex Riley accidentally knocks Randy Orton off the apron and through a table, giving the win to the Miz.
Also at TLC, John Morrison defeats Sheamus in one of the best matches of the year. Now he is the number one contender to Miz’s WWE Championship. All of Miz’s rivals team up against him on the 12/20 Raw. Jerry Lawler, Randy Orton, and John Morrison face Miz, Alex Riley, and Sheamus. This match ends with Lawler getting a pin on The Miz. The next night on Smackdown, Miz had a rematch with Randy Orton, which Orton wins by DQ when Riley interferes. To finish the month, on the 12/27 Raw, Miz will face Jerry Lawler once again. Lawler wins by a countout when John Morrison distracts Miz.
So Miz’s epic title reign so far has been barely winning a TLC Match against Jerry Lawler when Michael Cole interferes, eeking out a fluke win against Randy Orton in a Tables Match, getting pinned by Lawler in a Six Man Match, and losing by countout to The King. Is this really a formula for getting over a top heel?
The King of Parkour.
The issue between Morrison and Sheamus carries over from November. Sheamus cuts a promo declaring himself to be the High King of Ireland. Morrison interrupts and vows to never bow before King Sheamus. The next week they face each other in a rather short match that ends in a double DQ. At TLC, they will face each other in a Number One Contenders Ladder Match. The build was pretty mild and expectations were low.
I would really like to get some feedback on this match. Later in this article, I will be listing John Morrison vs Sheamus in the Ladder Match as the second best match of the year, behind Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker at WrestleMania. I’d like to hear from people which they think is better. Morrison vs Sheamus might suffer from not having as much story and emotion behind it that Shawn vs Undertaker had. The match is largely built around John Morrison selling his leg and trying to work around a leg injury in a ladder match. It sounds simple but Morrison does such a good job selling his injury. Morrison shows such good struggle and it seems at moments like there is no way he can comeback from the beating Sheamus is laying on him. Sheamus does a good job in this match too as a ruthless heel, attacking Morrison’s weak spot. Maybe I’m over rating this match because my expectations were so low or maybe this really was Match of the Year quality or maybe 2010 had a lack of good matches so this stood out.
The next night on Raw, Morrison is still selling the leg in his confrontations with The Miz. It’s a small point but appreciated. Sometimes guys show no signs of wear the night after a brutal pay per view match. John Morrison will receive his Title Match with The Miz on the first Raw of the New Year. This match should have been a star making performance for John Morrison. That his title opportunity won’t be at Royal Rumble really hurts Morrison from gaining any momentum coming off this match. We will see but I think we all know that Morrison doesn’t get elevated to the main event level going into 2011. As great as this match was, it seems like a missed opportunity considering they don’t use it to take John Morrison to the next level.
A Push for the Comedy Act.
On the 12/6 Raw, Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov were in a Four Way WWE Tag Team Title Match against Champions Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel, Mark Henry and Yoshi Tatsu, and The Usos. Santino and Kozlov get the win with some help from a fired John Cena jumping into the ring and distracting Gabriel and Slater. Tamina celebrates this big moment with Santino, which is a humorous moment the way Santino got manhandled. Now that they are Tag Team Champions, Santino and Kozlov can appear on Smackdown as well. Their first successful defense is against Chavo Guerrero and his mystery partner Drew McIntyre. Chavo challenged the Champions and they gladly excepted. After the match, Drew turns on Chavo. Earlier in the night, Chavo lost to Hornswoggle while wearing the Swagger Soaring Eagle costume, showing that if nothing else Chavo was a company man. Santino and Kozlov present an award at The Slammy’s in a less than funny and awkward moment. Moving on to Smackdown, Chavo has a new mystery partner to challenge for the WWE Tag Team Titles. This time it’s Tyler Reks and the results are much the same. Santino and Kozlov win by a DQ at TLC against Slater and Gabriel when the Nexus attack. The next night on Raw, Santino teams with Tamina in a winning effort against Ted DiBiase Jr and Maryse, who are still in the process of a slow motion break up. As you can see, Santino is getting a ton of TV time. The next night on Smackdown, Santino gets caught hitting on Kaitlyn, NXT Season 3 winner. Santino figured Tamina is just his Raw girlfriend. Santino squares off against Chavo in singles action and picks up another win.
When putting together our GWWE list, a lot of emphasis is often put on work rate, great matches, and amazing moments. For WWE, they place a lot of value on their comedy acts. Even if someone like Santino isn’t having excellent matches, he is getting more TV time than superior workers. While the comedy role isn’t valuable to many fans, it is valuable to the company. Perhaps that makes it worthy of consideration when finding a spot at the end of our lists.
And the Rest.
The Bellas Twins have taken a romantic interest in Daniel Bryan. This brings out the worst in Michael Cole on commentary.
Tyson Kidd has his 1-on-1 match against former tag team partner David Hart Smith on the 12/6 Raw. He has a very Diesel-like bodyguard accompany him to the ring. This bodyguard is named Jackson Andrews. I have zero memory of this.
Melina becomes the Number One Contender to Natalya’s Divas Championship. Melina slaps Natalya in the face.
Smackdown ends up leaning a lot on talent coming over from Raw during the middle and end of the month. It’s interesting that within this year of there being a Unified Tag Team Title, Santino and Kozlov are the one team that has worked frequently on both shows. The main programs are all continuations from the previous month. Edge is still chasing Kane’s World Heavyweight Championship. Kane is still chasing Edge with the kidnapped Paul Bearer. For some reason, Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio’s feud gets folded into the World Heavyweight Championship TLC Match. The Intercontinental Championship Match between Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, and Jack Swagger isn’t so much a program as a reason to get these guys involved in a very good match on the show. If either of these shows feel like they are coasting towards the end of the year, it’s Smackdown. But we do get a rare John Cena appearance on Smackdown, so there’s that, which is nice. Also, Edge and Rey Mysterio team up together a lot this month. They have great chemistry and although they aren’t intended to be a full time tag team, they are the best tag team in the company and its not even close.
The backstage segments involving the Kane and Edge feud took a lot out of me, I’m not going to lie. The way Paul Bearer squeals for Kane really got on my nerves. Edge’s elaborate traps and tricks as he wheels Paul Bearer through these arenas, they were Looney Toons levels of ridiculousness. Long story short, Edge tricks Kane into accidentally murdering Paul Bearer. This should be a bigger moment than it was. But the angle was not connecting and I think most fans were actually glad it was over. To further water down the match at TLC, Teddy Long adds Rey Mysterio and Albert Del Rio to the TLC World Heavyweight Championship Match involving Kane and Edge.
At TLC, Edge finally wins the World Heavyweight Championship. The match was pretty good. In many ways, this has been a year long quest for Edge. That wasn’t really sold well on commentary or in the storyline. Compare the pop when Edge appears at the Royal Rumble, the pop for his entrance at WrestleMania, the pop when he wins this match, and the pop when Edge gives his victory speech on the Smackdown after TLC. There are definitely some diminishing returns. It will take time and a really good storyline to wash the stink of this Kane feud off of him. And I can’t blame Kane. His match with Edge was better than I could have expected and was hurt by a bad finish. Kane works really well in this TLC Match. Kane’s work in 2010 is fairly underrated but it’s hurt by some really corny storylines.
Get The Tables!
LayCool have really been back peddling ever since losing the Divas Championship. Layla is able to wrap up the loose end of Rosa Mendes wanting to be part of their crew by defeating Rosa in an uneventful match on the 12/3 Smackdown. LayCool are on commentary for a Natalya match against Melina on the 12/6, Raw. They are supposedly special guests of Michael Cole. The previous week, LayCool were not allowed in the building, as they were no longer the Divas Champion and are assigned to Smackdown. It wasn’t a serious segment but there isn’t a lot of consistency of who is allowed on what show. John Cena, Randy Orton, and The Miz all appear on Smackdown this month without anyone making a fuss. Dolph Ziggler shows up on Raw without an issue. While the segment of LayCool was amusing enough, it get confusing when they are the only talent not allowed to crossover shows at will. On the 12/10 Smackdown, Layla loses to Natalya. Michelle McCool is awarded Diva of the Year Slammy by winning a battle royal on Raw. Natalya and Beth Phoenix interrupt a LayCool promo and they have a very ugly, custom painted table with LayCool designed on it. At TLC, we will see the first ever Divas Tag Team Tables Match. The match is likely the best Divas Match of the year. Seeing LayCool finally get their comeuppance after a year of running wild on the women’s roster is quite satisfying. LayCool’s time seems to be coming to an end. It was a great moment for Natalya and to a lesser extent Beth Phoenix, putting the dreaded heels through a table for the world to see. LayCool lose one more time to Beth and Natalya on the last Smackdown of the year for old times sake. Natalya seems to have moved on to a feud with Melina. I don’t know what the point of this match was.
Cody Rhodes has an in ring interview segment at TLC. He insults the city of Houston’s grooming habits. Just in time though, Big Show comes out dressed as Santa Claus. Santa Show is passing out DVD copies if Knucklehead, probably the only way anyone has seen that movie. He has the Bella Twins and Hornswoggle as his elves. After some “humorous” banter, Cody gets laid out by Santa Show. On the 12/21 Smackdown, Big Show reprised his role as Santa Claus in a “hilarious” segment. This time, there was no brawl with Cody Rhodes. I’m not sure why they did this other than to hand out more Knucklehead dvds. To end the year, Big Show faces Cody in a match on Smackdown. Show wins and it was rather uneventful. I don’t know if this will continue into the new year. Cody could sure use a big win to propel him forward.
On 12/3 Smackdown, Kofi Kingston defeats Jack Swagger to become the Number One Contenders for the Intercontinental Championship. The next week, Kofi and Dolph Ziggler have an excellent match. The match ends in disqualification when Jack Swagger runs in and pulls Kofi out of the ring with an Ankle Lock. As for Dolph and Kofi, it seems that time away from each other for a few months did wonders for their in ring chemistry. Dolph and Kofi tend to have very good match that deliver diminishing returns if they keep having the same match week after week. On the Slammy’s edition of Raw, Kofi Kingston teams with Daniel Bryan to defeat Dolph Ziggler and Ted DiBiase Jr. On the 12/17 Smackdown, Kofi teams with Kaval to take on Dolph and Jack Swagger. Kofi and Kaval get the win, Kaval’s last on TV. Swagger turns on Dolph Ziggler after the match, earning him a stop in the Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship at TLC. This was an inexplicable decision by Teddy Long. I think Teddy has checked out for the rest of the year and is willing to go along with whatever.
The Ladder Match at TLC had an interesting ending. Either you’re going to love it or hate it. Kofi and Swagger are tussling for the belt at the top of the ladder. Neither man has control of the title. The belt goes flying outside of the ring and into the waiting hands of Dolph Ziggler. Dolph retains the belt in the most unusual of circumstances. The match was quite good. The match is also notable for Vickie Guerrero’s attempt to climb the ladder. Kofi gets in the ring and tries to dump Vickie off the ladder. Swagger is thankfully there to make the save. It’s a real heel move by Kofi but it gets forgiven and forgotten pretty quickly. Nothing really comes of it.
As stated above, Dolph invades Raw to challenge John Cena. I’m sure better Dolph Ziggler vs John Cena matches exist but it was a good taste of what they could do.
On the other side of this program, on the 12/21 Smackdown, Kofi teams with Rey Mysterio to face Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio. Usually, these tag matches with guys thrown together don’t offer much in the ways of excitement. As a Tag Match, it didn’t feature a lot of top notch tag work. But what made this match remarkable is it became a great showcase for all four workers. Everyone got to show what they could do well.
To finish the year, the last match of 2010 is a Triple Threat Match between Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, and Jack Swagger for the Intercontinental Championship. Dolph gets the win. It was a fine match and not a bad way to end 2010.
And the Rest.
I don’t know if Edge is already experiencing some of the injuries that will end his career in a few months. It is interesting however that of Edge’s matches on TV, all three of them are in tag team matches with Rey Mysterio. On 12/10, Edge and Mysterio face Alberto Del Rio and Kane. Kane never shows up for the match and Edge leaves half way through. The next week, Rey has one of the best TV matches against The Miz. For some reason, Rey and Miz have to pull double duty that night because for the main event Rey and Edge team again to beat Miz and Alberto Del Rio. To end the year, Rey and Edge defeat Del Rio and Kane, this time all of the participants show up for the match. And even though Edge has tricked Kane into murdering his father, Kane is more than content to just use his same old offense on the Rated R Superstar.
Drew McIntyre is being savage in the ring but gentle backstage with Kelly Kelly. Drew crushed Kaval in The World Warrior’s last appearance on Smackdown. The next week Drew beats Trent Barrett so bad the referee needs to stop the match. Backstage, he is flirting with Kelly Kelly and saying he really is a kind soul. This doesn’t exactly work out well for The Sinister Scotsman.
Vignettes featuring Ezekiel Jackson touting his return to Smackdown start to air. There was no trade for him to Raw. There has been a lot of start and stops with Zek over this year. Maybe 2011 will be different.
Cody Rhodes takes The Masterlock Challenge. He is unable to break Chris Masters Masterlock. It’s very odd they would bring back this concept considering how little has been done with Masters lately.
- Sheamus vs John Morrison. Number One Contenders Ladder Match. TLC.
- Kane vs Edge vs Rey Mysterio vs Alberto Del Rio. Fatal 4 Way for the World Heavyweight Championship TLC Match. TLC.
- Kofi Kingston vs Jack Swagger vs Dolph Ziggler. Triple Threat Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship. TLC.
- Rey Mysterio vs The Miz. Smackdown. 12/17/10.
- Dolph Ziggler vs Kofi Kingston. Smackdown. 12/10/10.
- Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger vs Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio. Smackdown. 12/21/10.
- John Cena vs Dolph Ziggler. Raw. 12/20/10.
- The Miz vs Randy Orton. Tables Match for the WWE Championship. TLC.
- LayCool vs Natalya and Beth Phoenix. Tables Match. TLC.
- Kofi Kingston vs Jack Swagger. Smackdown. 12/3/10.
- John Cena vs Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero. Smackdown. 12/21/10.
- Dolph Ziggler vs Kofi Kingston vs Jack Swagger. Triple Threat Intercontinental Championship Match. Smackdown. 12/31/10.
- John Cena vs Wade Barrett. Chairs Match. TLC.
Three times a year, I adjust my rankings based on what I have seen so far.
The Undertaker. Previously 15th. Based on what Undertaker did in the CM Punk match where Taker screwed up and looked weak on purpose, I really feel like he deserves to move up the list. There isn’t much room past 15 but I want to move him up a spot or too. I also appreciate how unselfish he was in the Kane feud, allowing The Big Red Machine to win the final chapter of their epic feud.
The Miz. Previously 46th. Even with this lackluster start to his title reign, Miz has had a terrific 2010 and earned his opponent to hold the WWE Championship. The end of the year doesn’t negate the rest of the year.
Jack Swagger. Previously Unranked. It’s hard to ignore that his name keeps coming up in the top TV matches each month, even though he hasn’t been in a meaningful program in a while.
Drew McIntyre. Previously Unranked. The general feeling is that Drew’s 2010 was a failed run. He has been lost in the shuffle but Drew delivers when he is given a chance.
Michelle McCool. Previously Unranked. The Tables Match at TLC helped a lot to keep her in the running. It’s likely the best Divas Match of the Year and that should be taken into consideration.
Sheamus. Previously Unranked. The Ladder Match against John Morrison at TLC was the first great Sheamus match I have seen.
John Morrison. Previously Unranked. See Sheamus above. Morrison has also been incredibly consistent as a performer on TV when he is given enough time for a match. He is very similar to Dolph Ziggler but without the push.
Natalya. Previously Unranked. Nattie finally dethroned LayCool. That good match at TLC helps her case. I’ll be watching closely what she does as champion.
John Cena. Previously 4. Rey Mysterio. Previously 20. Daniel Bryan. Previously 21. CM Punk. Previously 23. Randy Orton. Previously 24. Edge. Previously 30. Christian. Previously 43. Kane. Previously 52. Kofi Kingston. Previously 56. For all of these, there just isn’t much room for movement above them. I think this will be the last I’ll include this unless there is some movement.
Heath Slater. Previous Unranked. One of the untold stories of The Nexus is how much of the talent faded to the background during this storyline. This negated a lot of the “getting to know you” work that was done on NXT.
R-Truth. Previously Unranked. I’m waiting to find a reason to include this long term employee.
Jimmy and Jey Uso. Previously Unranked. I don’t think they have won a match on Raw yet. They will eventually be amongst the greatest teams in company history. But they are off to a very trying rookie season.
William Regal. Previously 29th. One reason I ranked him so high is his ability to do anything asked of him. One reason he is sliding down the list is his willingness to do whatever is asked of him, no matter how bad it looks. Whether its corny segments on Raw or bad, short matches. It would be nice to see Regal stand up for himself and command some respect in this company.
Dolph Ziggler. Previously 28th. He won’t slide down by much. He is the model of consistency. But also a lot of his stuff becomes the sound of white noise because it’s very much the same as what we have seen before.
Cody Rhodes. Previously 61. He may be preserving his spot soon. The dashing character is getting over but he hasn’t been put in any meaningful stories since.
Wade Barrett. Previously 84th. Wade has not helped his case with how he has faired in main events in 2010. He probably was given too much too soon. It’s going to be difficult to hold on to his spot.
2010 was a rough year. WWE should be given credit for doing some different things and taking some risks. Money on the Bank is a winner as a pay per view concept. On the other hand, Fatal 4 Way was not successful as a concept. With key departures on the top of the roster, WWE leaned heavy on multi-man main events to carry their pay per views. Five Pay Per View Main Events were multi-man matches and another seven were featuring main event talent or title matches that didn’t end the show. While many of these matches created a great visual spectacle, sometimes feuds and storylines suffered as a result. The worst victim of this was Edge, as his feuds with both Randy Orton and Kane became diluted when settled in a match featuring other competitors.
One thing that becomes clear in 2010 is that John Cena doesn’t need to be WWE Champion to be the top guy in WWE. Big Match John has a two title reigns in 2010. The first one ends in minutes after he wins it in the Elimination Chamber and immediately Batista is given a WWE Title Match by Mr McMahon. Cena recaptured the title at WrestleMania and loses it at Fatal 4 Way in a Fatal 4 Way Match to Sheamus, which also featured Edge and Randy Orton. With John Cena tied up in the Nexus storyline, it gave Randy Orton the opportunity to rise to the spot of the number 2 babyface on Raw and perhaps in the company. Even with Cena not in the title picture, there is no doubt that he is the top guy in this company. 2010 is firmly in the middle of John Cena’s run as the top star in WWE. His time is definitely now, or rather then. It goes to show that the spotlight on Raw can be shared, which was often guilty of being a show with a singular focus.
You can’t say they didn’t try to push guys in 2010. They strapped the rocket to a few guys during this year. But the results were often an explosion on the launch pad.
Sheamus starts the year as the WWE Champion, although he has been on the main roster for less than a year. The Road to WrestleMania has a lot of traffic though and The Celtic Warrior got lost in the shuffle. If that happens to an Intercontinental or US Champion, it’s understandable. It’s happened so often that one has come to expect that should happen. But Sheamus was the WWE Champion. When Sheamus loses the title in the Elimination Chamber, although it was a good match, our reigning champion was an afterthought. Sheamus gets slightly more respect his second time as champion, in the sense that he gets tv time and inserted into angles. Even with that, he wins the WWE Championship in a Fatal 4 Way Match. He was fortunate enough to have hid from an attack by The Nexus and snuck in a pin fall amongst the chaos. It was a clever, heel way to win the belt but not exactly a ringing endorsement. During his title reign, Sheamus gets on the wrong side of Nexus during a backstage segment and runs to hide behind John Cena. That pretty well cut the nuts off our heel champion. Sheamus loses the title in a Six Pack Challenge Match at Night of Champions. So he wins and loses the title both times in the most unusual of circumstances and three of these occasions were multi-man matches. The lack of a decisive win or lose in a 1-on-1 situation hurts Sheamus more than it helps, in my estimation. His signature win of the year was in the King of the Ring tournament over John Morrison. It would be an exaggeration to say these title reigns were successful. They didn’t create a nasty heel that is a threat to our top babyfaces. However, they do have someone with the resume and credibility that in a pinch they can use him in a main event position to this very day.
I explained it during Jack Swagger’s epic title run. They have a guy who has been on the main roster less than a year, whose character is getting a little bit of traction on Raw. So they give him the Money in the Bank briefcase and expect this to be a star maker. Once he wins the title from a heel Chris Jericho by cashing in the briefcase, they decide to change his character into a boring jerk who loses non title matches on TV frequently. When changing a guys character during the biggest push of his career doesn’t work, they make him a Greay Value Kurt Angle. Someone needs to tell WWE that the Ankle Lock is not an amateur wrestling hold. This was their idea of pushing a heel. It’s a testament to Jack Swagger that he had as long of a run as he did considering what was done with him in 2010.
Speaking of Chris Jericho, he became an unlikely champion, winning at the Elimination Chamber over The Undertaker. Jericho carried him as champion well, although his reign was short. I still don’t know why they put the belt on Swagger and derailed the entire Jericho vs Edge feud. Jericho meanders at the top of the card for much of the year. Three times this year he threatens to leave the company or loses a match in which he has to leave Raw forever. By the time Jericho does leave, it happened so subtly, it took me a few months to realize he was gone. That’s another big hole to fill at the top of the roster.
No one can deny that Wade Barrett and the Nexus got off to a hot start. That carried through the summer but by fall, the luster had worn off. Very few people could have been ready for the kind of push he received. I don’t know what they could have done to save the work they had put in. But I can say they didn’t create a main event heel for the near or distant future.
One of these rocket pushes that have worked out great so far is Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio burst on the scene putting Rey Mysterio on the shelf. Ever since, Del Rio has grown to being a top heel on the Smackdown side of the roster. Del Rio is still intertwined with Rey Mysterio for a lack of other options. Smackdown is suffering for a lack of babyfaces as we sit at the end of 2010. There is no better evidence for this than them bringing in John Cena and Randy Orton onto Smackdown. Edge is the current World Heavyweight Champion. Rey Mysterio is likely the top active babyface on the roster. Undertaker is on the shelf for the moment. After that, we have Big Show, MVP, and Kofi Kingston. Del Rio needs to move beyond Rey Mysterio. We will see what that looks like in 2011.
With so much focus on pushing new guys and heels, there were some missed opportunities throughout the year. Everytime MVP appears on TV, it is apparent his connection with the audience is there. However, MVP was not really put in any meaningful storylines in 2010. He’s just kind of there. Creative just had nothing for him. Similarly, R Truth has slightly more going for him on Raw. He at least has his team with John Morrison and feud with Ted DiBiase Jr to hang his hat on. Truth has more tv time but there don’t seem to be any plans to elevate him beyond being John Cena’s buddy.
There are a few break ups that happen over the year that they really didn’t capitalize on. The Hart Dynasty is broken up and their feud consists of one lackluster match on Raw. Without anything better planned for either of them, it sure would be nice to try to develop that feud. In the breakup of The Straight Edge Society, Serena gets fired so it’s hard to do anything with her. Joey Mercury just kind of goes back to his behind the scene duties, stuck with an awful haircut to boot. CM Punk and Luke Gallows have one match on Smackdown that didn’t really have time to develop. Punk moves to Raw to join the commentary team, which works out great for him. Luke Gallows rarely gets seen on TV after that. Gallows showed some flashes of potential while teaming with CM Punk. A feud against The Straight Edge Savior could have really done some great things for him but it wasn’t meant to be.
The biggest missed opportunity of the year is not capitalizing on Edge’s Royal Rumble victory. The crowd was eating out of his hand. They were so ready for him to be champion and the leader of Smackdown. Eventually we get there but much of the luster had worn off nearly a year after winning the Royal Rumble. 2010 on Smackdown looks a lot different if Edge wins the title at WrestleMania and gets the chance to run with it. I don’t know why they didn’t just ride this hot hand as far as it would take them. I guess the Kane title reign was too juicy an opportunity to pass up.
Matches of the Year.
Whatever can be said about 2010, you can out together Playlist of the best matches for the year and have a good time. If there are any I have forgotten or overrated, I would love to hear your feedback. I’ll see you next time kicking off 2011.
- Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker. Career vs Streak. WrestleMania
- John Morrison vs Sheamus. Number One Contenders Ladder Match. TLC.
- Rey Mysterio vs Jack Swagger. Smackdown. 7/23.
- CM Punk vs Rey Mysterio. CM Punk’s Hair vs Rey Pledging to the Straight Edge Society. Over the Limit.
- Royal Rumble 2010.
- Drew McIntyre vs Matt Hardy. Smackdown. 6/25.
- Six Pack Challenge for WWE Championship. Night of Champions.
- Smackdown Elimination Chamber. Elimination Chamber.
- John Cena vs Batista. Last Man Standing Match. Extreme Rules.
- Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler. Bragging Rights.
- John Cena vs Batista. I Quit Match. Over the Limit.
- Jack Swagger vs Edge vs Chris Jericho. Triple Threat Match. Smackdown. 4/16.
- Daniel Bryan vs The Miz vs John Morrison. Submissions Count Anywhere. Hell in a Cell.
- Raw Elimination Chamber. Elimination Chamber.
- Edge vs Chris Jericho. Steel Cage Match. Extreme Rules.
- Rey Mysterio vs Jack Swagger. Money in the Bank.
- Raw Money in the Bank. Money in the Bank.
- CM Punk vs Rey Mysterio. Extreme Rules.
- The Miz vs Daniel Bryan. US Title Match. Night of Champions.
- Team Raw vs Team Smackdown. Bragging Rights.
- Sheamus vs John Cena. Money in the Bank.
- Money in the Bank Match. WrestleMania.
- Smackdown Money in the Bank Match. Money in the Bank.
- Christian vs Drew McIntyre. Smackdown. 7/30.
- CM Punk vs Rey Mysterio. Smackdown. 2/12.
- Jack Swagger vs Rey Mysterio. Smackdown. 6/11.
- Edge vs Kane vs Rey Mysterio vs Alberto Del Rio. World Heavyweight Championship Fatal 4 Way TLC Match. TLC.
- Jack Swagger vs John Morrison. Raw. 4/26.
- Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler. Raw. 10/25.
- Edge vs Kane. World Heavyweight Championship Match. Survivor Series.
- Kane vs Undertaker. World Heavyweight Championship Match. Night of Champions.
- Dolph Ziggler vs Kofi Kingston vs Jack Swagger. Triple Threat Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship. TLC.
- Drew McIntyre vs Kofi Kingston. Fatal 4 Way.
- Edge vs Dolph Ziggler. Smackdown. 10/15.
- Christian vs Kofi Kingston. Smackdown. 5/14.
- Jack Swagger vs Undertaker. Raw. 4/19.
- Christian vs Edge. Raw. 5/17.
- Drew McIntyre vs Teddy Long. Smackdown. 6/18.