2012 Was a Great Year in WWE History
There are only a few days left on the calendar and only one episode of RAW, set for this Monday night, on the schedule for 2012. Regardless of what happens on Monday night's New Year's Eve edition of RAW, the case sure can be made for the idea that this past calendar year has been the best ever for WWE. From the resurgence of Sheamus to CM Punk's quest for respect, 2012 has shown WWE a whole lot of positivity.
Buyrates for pay-per-views in 2012 were up for most of the year compared to 2011, but WWE began with a slow start with disappointing Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber pay-per-views.
WrestleMania 28 changed all of that with a record-setting 1.217 million buys. Six of the next seven events would also improve on 2011 buyrates, including over 350,000 purchases of SummerSlam. This year's Survivor Series, which didn't feature The Rock like 2011's did, fell to 230,000 buys, down 50,000 from what many believed was a disappointing 280,000 buys that Survivor Series 2011 brought. TLC buyrates are unknown at this time, but the promise of WrestleMania 29 looms, as does the return of The Rock at Royal Rumble in January 2013.
The real battles for WWE were in TV ratings against the likes of Monday Night Football. Despite the juggernaut of the NFL dominating the airwaves, WWE still found a way to hold its own.
In today's world of spoilers, when a taped SmackDown episode still generates a rating as low as a 1.7 and brings in 2.5 million viewers on a science fiction cable channel, it still shows power from the WWE name.
RAW and SmackDown ratings have had problems at certain points throughout the year, including live SmackDown episodes that were outperformed by their Friday night replay. It still doesn't hurt that, even with lower-than-expected ratings, RAW and SmackDown are still among the top cable shows in their respective time slots.
Inside the ring, WWE brought in an old-school feel with the dominance of CM Punk as WWE champion for the entire calendar year. That was the first time a world champion had the same reign for an entire 12 months since Hulk Hogan spent all of 1987 as champion, in the middle of his 1,474-day reign.
Punk took on superstars like John Cena and Kane while also bringing in rising stars like Ryback and legendary superstars like Chris Jericho. 2013 begins with much of the same for Punk, who has a date in January with The Rock at Royal Rumble. It will be Punk's first pay-per-view match after his knee surgery, which kept him out of December's TLC pay-per-view.
John Cena had an up-and-down 2011 that included no titles, but it did include his first Money in the Bank briefcase. Cena was the first Mr. Money in the Bank to not cash in the title successfully when he lost via disqualification at RAW 1000.
At other points during the year, Cena made Kane relevant again with his Embrace The Hate storyline early in the year, and he ended the year by making Dolph Ziggler a household name at TLC. In between, Cena ended his yearlong build to a WrestleMania match against The Rock, got into an awkward love scandal with AJ Lee and lost a pay-per-view match to John Laurinaitis.
As far as the less-established stars, it was a good year for helping those who had seemingly been forgotten. Big Show won the Intercontinental Championship, making him a Grand Slam Champion, and he also became World Heavyweight champion for more than 45 seconds. Sheamus began the year as a shocking Royal Rumble winner and ended the year with more televised victories than anyone else in WWE.
2012 was also the year for establishing new stars. Antonio Cesaro debuted and quickly became the United States champion. Ryback, known previously as NXT rookie Skip Sheffield, burst onto the scene and made his way rapidly through the WWE Championship scene. The crew of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, known collectively as The Shield, have placed themselves in a position to right what they believe are injustices. Big E Langston, Damien Sandow and Brad Maddox (if he ever wins a tryout match) are among the other fresh faces we saw in 2012.
Speaking of Sandow, it was his alliance with Cody Rhodes that headlined the resurgence of the tag team division.
Team Rhodes Scholars may be future tag team champions, but it is Team Hell No, the unlikely tag team of Kane and Daniel Bryan, that became the holders of the titles. It was a division that was on life support, but 2012 was the year of the tag team.
Perhaps 2013 can revive yet another division, with next year potentially being one where the Divas division can see a turnaround.
The Divas roster looks a bit thinner with the releases of Kelly Kelly, The Bella Twins, Beth Phoenix and Kharma in 2012. If it wasn't for the barely competing AJ Lee, there would be close to no mention of a Diva on the average RAW or SmackDown.
AJ has been aligned with many superstars, from CM Punk to Daniel Bryan to Kane to John Cena. Now AJ's choice in men has brought her to Dolph Ziggler. In the middle of the year was her reign as RAW general manager, which likely won't be very memorable in the history of the show.
Speaking of the history of RAW, the 1,000th episode of RAW in late July drew massive ratings and brought back a bunch of RAW alumni. The reunion of DX highlighted a year of returning superstars to WWE, which also saw Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar return to the ring. Both are currently back out of the squared circle for the moment, but something tells me that Lesnar may be back in before next April's WrestleMania.
Who knows where WWE will wind up in the coming year, but if it is anything like the product WWE put out in 2012, the year 2013 may also rank among the greatest ever.
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