2011 was a rocky year for WWE.
Things started out with a bang as fans saw Alberto Del Rio win the Royal Rumble as well as the returns of the Rock, the Undertaker and Triple H.
Then things took a dive with WrestleMania 27. Let’s be honest, the show was pretty bad.
The pay-per-views that followed weren’t much better as Extreme Rules, Over the Limit and Capitol Punishment were all below average shows.
Then CM Punk performed a worked shoot and everything changed.
WWE bounced back with Money in the Bank and things have been looking up ever since.
While there have been some storylines that didn’t end too well, 2011 has been an enjoyable year.
Here are my top 10 moments of the year!
Let me start off by saying that I’m not a fan of Mark Henry. I never have been and I probably never will be.
Why is this on my list then? Well, it’s because of two reasons.
The first is the fact that Mark Henry is not John Cena or Randy Orton, two wrestlers who have dominated the World Championship scenes on both Raw and SmackDown for quite some time.
New blood was in the title picture and it was a breath of fresh air.
The second reason is who he became after the title win.
Mark Henry has always been the “World’s Strongest Man” but he’s never used it to his advantage. He’s usually been a loveable big-man like the Big Show. And when he was a heel he wasn’t very convincing.
This new Mark Henry is very convincing as a heel and has taken out everyone in his path, inducting them into his “Hall of Pain.”
Henry is the literal definition of a “monster heel.”
While he has turned into more like a cowardly heel in recent months, it’s still better than his previous gimmicks.
I’m still not much of a fan of his but someone new was holding a world title and it transformed his career; that’s what I enjoyed about this!
Part 2 of the segment.
Did anyone ever think that the man formally known as K-Kwick from 1999-2002 would have ever become a star? I know I sure didn’t.
Truth returned to WWE in 2008 as a face and spent most of his time singing and dancing.
He did win the United States Championship but his reign as champion was largely forgettable.
It wasn’t until April of this year when R-Truth’s career took a turn for the better.
After losing a shot at the WWE Championship to his partner John Morrison he attacked him. He then proceeded to light up a cigarette and blow the smoke in his face.
Since then, R-Truth has given some great promos including the one where he wore a Confederate uniform and his interaction with Triple H.
As a member of the Awesome Truth he continued to have great mic work as well some good in-ring performances.
With Little Jimmy by his side, Truth seemed unstoppable.
Then he was attacked by the Miz and put on the shelf. He returned this past Monday, and while back as a face he is still the crazy R-Truth we got to know over the past year.
Truth’s transformation from face to heel was one of the best I have ever seen and his career was given one hell of a boost because of it!
Two weeks after WrestleMania, videos starting airing hyping the debut of former TNA Knockout’s champion Awesome Kong, now to be known as Kharma.
She didn’t look like the typical WWE Diva and that was her gimmick. She wasn’t a diva; she was a monstrous wrestler that wanted to rid the WWE of the Barbie dolls that called themselves wrestlers.
In the videos she ripped the heads off of Barbie dolls and gave a sinister laugh afterwards.
At Extreme Rules, Layla defeated Michelle McCool in a match where the loser left WWE. As Michelle sat in the ring crying, some unfamiliar music started to play.
Then Kharma appeared and the fans were in awe. The people in the audience who don’t go on the internet wrestling sites or watch TNA were shocked as this monstrous woman made her way to the ring.
She entered the squared circle, rushed Michelle and gave her an Implant Buster.
For the next three weeks on Raw and SmackDown, Kharma would interrupt Divas matches attacking Maryse, Eve Torres, Layla and then-Divas champion Brie Bella.
On more than one occasion she would leave Kelly Kelly alone leading to speculation that Kelly was her real target but was saving her for last.
Then on May 26th Kharma dropped down onto her knees and cried in front of the Divas roster.
The following week she would reveal she was pregnant and after the Bellas made fun of her, vowed to destroy them when she returned.
Kharma’s debut was an impactful one and shook the Divas division in ways it hasn’t been shaken in years.
Things were looking up for the division but it was cut short due to her pregnancy.
The division took a huge dive when she left, even now with Beth Phoenix as champion.
I’m hoping she still has the title when Kharma returns as that’s a feud that could very well revive a division that’s dead in the water.
Kane had been missing from WWE television since July after he was injured by Mark Henry.
Fans awaited his return so that they can witness him take down the World’s Strongest Man.
Last month a video aired hyping his return. People got excited that the Big Red Machine was returning but got more excited for what happened at the end.
At the very end of the video, and all of them for that matter, Kane’s mask fell to the floor engulfed in flames.
Rumors started swirling that he was returning with his mask while other theorized that the mask on fire signified that the gimmick was gone for good.
Then the last one aired and Kane actually put the mask on! I was pumped!
On December 12th Kane made his triumphant return to WWE during Raw’s main event featuring John Cena and Mark Henry.
He walked down that ramp wearing a metallic mask and was heading right for Henry, or so we thought.
Henry ran off and Kane chokeslammed John Cena straight to hell! He removed the metallic mask revealing a blood red mask that kind of looked like it was made of skin.
Kane was back and he was out for blood!
The following week he attacked Cena again, this time ripping off and taking his “Rise Above Hate” shirt.
What did Kane want with the shirt? Was it the slogan that bothered him?
On the final Raw of 2011 Kane revealed his intentions towards Cena. He said that Cena was living a lie and that the “Cena sucks” chants were eating him up from the inside.
Cena stood on the ramp and was shaking his head, but Kane went on to make his point. He was going to help Cena embrace the hate so that he could stop living in denial.
As the fans chanted “Cena sucks,” Cena looked worried.
Kane’s return was an explosive one and it will be very interesting to see where we go from here!
I’ve been a fan of the “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson since his indy days and loved his work in Ring of Honor Wrestling.
When he was signed by WWE in 2009 I was a bit worried due to Vince’s love of big guys.
A year later he debuted on NXT as Daniel Bryan and he was forced into doing ridiculous challenges and only got to showcase his wrestling ability once in a while.
When the Nexus storyline began he was fired for choking Justin Roberts with a tie.
WWE let go someone who had pure wrestling talent because he made a split decision to choke someone with a tie.
At that point I had hoped that he’d head to TNA but he returned to WWE at Survivor Series and later won the United States Championship.
After losing the belt he became a jobber. When he won Money in the Bank things changed, though.
He started winning more and was able to showcase his ability in the ring. His mic work was also getting better as WWE let him talk.
He was becoming the American Dragon once again!
After having his cash-in reversed on him, Bryan cashed it in again at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs to become the new world heavyweight champion!
A wrestler, not an entertainer, was finally the world champion again and his climb to the top was complete!
Thanks to Daniel Bryan, as well as CM Punk, the future is not only looking bright for WWE, but the future is the present!
Christian has been with WWE since 1998 but would leave the company in 2005 after having won every title there was to win, except for one.
He found his way to TNA where he won the once prestigious NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice.
With the title not having the honor it once had, some fans didn’t count it as his first world title.
He returned to WWE in 2009 and would win the ECW World Championship. Once again, not exactly a world title to be proud of holding.
Christian’s time would finally come when his former partner Edge retired after WrestleMania 27.
With the world title on SmackDown vacant, Christian earned a spot to compete in a ladder match against Alberto Del Rio at Extreme Rules.
When it was all said and done Christian had finally won his first real World Championship!
After 16 years in the business Christian had reached the top!
His reign would end two days later at a SmackDown tapping to Randy Orton.
The fact remains, though, that Captain Charisma captured the World Championship and it was quite the emotional moment!
It’s the general consensus that WWE Money in the Bank was the pay-per-view of the year and I agree 100 percent.
At first I was a bit worried about the show. It seemed like the entire show was dependent on the CM Punk/John Cena match and the fact that if Punk won he’d be leaving WWE with the WWE Championship and Cena would be fired as a result.
While the PPV was very dependent on the match, WWE showed the fans that the show was a must see event.
The SmackDown Money in the Bank match was phenomenal and was the better of the two MITB matches.
The Divas Championship match was a Divas match and was the only dud of the night.
The Henry/Show, the Raw MITB, World Championship and WWE Championship matches were either a great match or told a great story.
John Cena showed that he had more than five moves and put on a showcase with CM Punk in the main event.
When Punk left the company with the title something big was happening. It was the beginning of a new era for WWE.
This PPV was great and it picked the WWE back up after the very lackluster WrestleMania 27, Extreme Rules, Over the Limit and Capitol Punishment PPVs.
In February Vince McMahon revealed that WrestleMania was going to have a special guest host.
Rumors ran wild about who it was going to be. It you were a big name star in WWE you were rumored to be the host.
On Valentine’s Day the host was revealed.
After a moment of silence and some suspenseful audio, The Rock’s music hit and building exploded.
I have been a wrestling fan for a long time and that was the loudest reaction from a crowd I had witnessed in years. I was incredibly jealous of the people in the audience because they were witnessing the return of the People’s Champion live in person.
In true Rock form, he laid into quite a few people. For the time Rock was on television, WWE was in no way PG.
His main target was John Cena and criticized him on various topics, which eventually led to the setup of Rock vs. Cena at WrestleMania 28.
The Rock ended it by saying he was never leaving again, but then didn’t come back until just before WrestleMania.
Since then he has appeared sparingly, mostly via satellite if he did appear.
He would return to the ring, though, at Survivor Series in a winning effort teaming with Cena against the Awesome Truth.
The Rock showed that he still had it and was without a doubt the star of the match.
Then he disappeared again and probably won’t be back until the Royal Rumble if we’re lucky.
Despite his return not being a full-time return, it was still great to see the People’s Champion return to WWE and to the ring.
The Rock has still got it, both in the ring and especially on the mic. While he wasn’t around much, the Rock’s return to the WWE was one of the best moments of the year!
In June WWE Raw saw the greatest mic work from a wrestler in years. After costing John Cena a match against R-Truth, CM Punk grabbed the mic, sat on top of the stage, and spoke.
Punk said that he liked Cena, but hated the idea that he’s the best because Punk is the best. The only thing Cena is better at is “kissing Vince McMahon’s ass.”
He mentioned how Paul Heyman brought him in like he did with Brock Lesnar, and much like Lesnar will be leaving the company.
He’s the best on the mic, the best in the ring, and the best at everything.
He took a shot at John Laurinaitis for telling McMahon only what he wanted to hear. He then went on to say the McMahon was running WWE into the ground and would be better off if he was dead.
Then again, it wouldn’t be any better if his “idiotic” daughter and “dufus” son-in-law were in control. He was about to go into the anti-bullying campaign when his mic was cut.
CM Punk shook the WWE in ways it was never shaken before.
That night Punk began to usher in a new era of WWE.
He would go onto win the WWE Championship and leave with the belt only to return a few weeks later.
The damage was done, though, and all eyes were on Punk. No one cared about John Cena anymore; in fact Cena’s boos have gotten louder.
With CM Punk’s shoot came a revolution. It has paved the way for the wrestlers in WWE to wrestle and now there’s a new generation of champions in the company.
The young guns hold all of the gold and it started with CM Punk speaking up against the company he worked for!
This got the wrestling world buzzing big time.
These promos started airing after the Royal Rumble and featured a small house in the pouring rain.
The promos closely resembled the WCW Starrcade 1997 promos for the big Sting/Hulk Hogan match and the Internet Wrestling Community went nuts.
Speculation started and while some believed it to be the Undertaker, more held hope that it would be Sting’s debut with WWE.
Sting is probably the greatest legend to never work for Vince McMahon and a Sting vs. Undertaker match has been a dream for fans since the debut of Sting’s crow gimmick.
As time went by we got to see someone walking up the steps in black boots and a black trench coat which added fuel to the fire that it was the Icon Sting.
The wrestling world was truly buzzing for the first time in years.
Was Sting finally coming to WWE? The answer to that question turned out to be a big no.
Before February 21st hit, a promo aired showing someone through the window which was clearly the Deadman.
On the date the videos were hyping, the Undertaker made his return after a three month hiatus.
As he got into the ring and took off his hat, Triple H’s music hit. The Game was also making his return after a nine month hiatus.
What happened when these two Attitude Era stars went face to face? Nothing, but that nothing was more powerful than any words that could have been said.
They just stared each other down until Triple H glanced up at the WrestleMania 27 sign. The Undertaker looked up at it as well but just smirked and shook his head.
As he was walking out he stopped, turned around and cut his throat. He accepted his challenge. The Game answered back with the crotch chop.
How do you start a feud without any words? That’s how you do it! They didn’t need words as their actions did all of the talking.
The hype for this was beautifully done and the result was just as awesome.
They went onto WrestleMania to have a very physical match that Undertaker won. He hasn’t been seen since, though.