WWE Year in Review: Ranking the Top 10 News Stories of 2012
The WWE was a lot like CNN in 2012.
In a year in which news stories seemed to be breaking left and right, the company found itself covering these stories as if it was a 24/7 news channel.
It was rare to see much time go by without something big happening, whether it was a superstar getting suspended or a major star returning.
That happens in pro wrestling just about every year, but in 2012, it seemed to happen more often than many previous ones.
Whenever you checked WWE.com, Bleacher Report or any pro wrestling news site last year, odds were that you were going to be reading about some sort of major happening in the WWE.
Here are my rankings of the top 10 WWE news stories of 2012.
10. Evan Bourne Suspended for the 2nd Time
Photo courtesy of WWE.com
On Jan. 17, 2012, WWE.com announced that Evan Bourne had been suspended for his second violation of the Wellness program.
Given that Bourne wasn't exactly a top star, the suspension itself wasn't all that huge. But what made it such a big deal was when it happened.
Bourne's first suspension had just happened not even three months prior to the second one, which WWE.com had recently announced on Nov. 1, 2011.
In other words, Bourne's two Wellness suspensions essentially came back-to-back in what was one of the more bizarre series of events in 2011/2012.
Bourne was suspended but held onto the WWE Tag Team Championship, got suspended again, dropped the title and hasn't been seen on TV since then after seriously injuring his foot in an accident.
Of all the rough years some of the WWE superstars had in 2012, Bourne had arguably the roughest.
9. Great Khali Undergoes Brain Surgery
Photo courtesy of WWE.com
We all like to make jokes about The Great Khali's in-ring abilities, or lack thereof, but those jokes stopped for a brief period back in July.
That's when news broke that Khali had undergone brain surgery to remove a tumor on his pituitary gland.
The surgery took four hours to complete, and thankfully, it was a success.
After all, it's been reported that the tumor was life-threatening and was the same condition that ultimately played a role in the death of Andre the Giant.
Had the tumor not been discovered, there's a good chance that Khali's story could have played out much differently.
While Khali always has and always will get a lot of criticism for his performances in the ring, it's great to see the big guy doing OK after what was a scary occurrence back in July 2012.
8. Brock Lesnar Retires from UFC, Returns to WWE
On Dec. 30, 2011, Brock Lesnar lost to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141.
The fight would turn out to be the last of Lesnar's career, as he would announce his retirement from mixed martial arts shortly after the fight had ended.
As soon as Lesnar announced his decision to retire, there was speculation among wrestling fans that he would end up in the WWE at some point in 2012.
They were right.
Lesnar returned to the WWE on Monday Night Raw the night after WrestleMania 28 and sent shock waves throughout the wrestling world when he nailed John Cena with a devastating F5.
The return of Lesnar created a ton of buzz and excitement among wrestling fans, and Lesnar continued to be the talk of the town when details regarding his lucrative WWE contract started making the rounds on the Internet.
7. Kharma Loses Baby, Gets Released
Photo courtesy of WWE.com
In early 2012, we were under the impression that Kharma had given birth to a healthy child and would be back in the ring as soon as doctors cleared her to return.
Unfortunately for Kharma, however, neither happened.
Back in March 2012, TMZ.com reported that Kharma's child "tragically died before she was able to give birth" and that Kharma hid the news for so long because she was so devastated by her loss.
This was obviously an earth-shattering moment for Kharma, who expected to be a mother but never became one.
Following the tragedy, Kharma and the WWE could never seem to get on the same page, and she was quietly released from her contract last July.
Kharma was expected to make a huge splash in the WWE Divas division, but she never wrestled a televised match for the company.
6. John Cena's Divorce
Photo courtesy of WWE.com
John Cena's TV character is one that thrives on hustle, loyalty, respect and never giving up.
Perhaps that's why it came as such a shocker when it was revealed in May 2012 that Cena had "given up" on his marriage and filed for divorce from his wife of three years.
Cena filing for divorce seemed like a direct contradiction to the values that he preached, which made for an interesting topic of conversation among wrestling fans.
Many wondered why Cena was getting divorced, if he was cheating on his with anyone under WWE contract and whether or not it would affect his performances in the ring or on the mic.
While we heard all kinds of rumors about things being done to keep Cena happy during his divorce proceedings, the only thing we can really be sure about is that his divorce went much smoother than anticipated.
The divorce was settled just two months later in July, and Cena has since moved on to a relationship with former WWE Diva Nikki Bella.
Still, "The Champ's" divorce had the potential to get Hulk Hogan nasty, which is why it was such a story when it first became public.
5. The Brazilian Flag Incident: Chris Jericho Suspended
On May 25, 2012, WWE.com announced once of the most shocking suspensions in WWE history, writing:
"Chris Jericho has been suspended for 30 days due to an irresponsible act of denigrating the Brazilian flag at a WWE live event in São Paulo on May 24."
Now infamously known as "the Brazilian flag incident," the act of Jericho "denigrating the Brazilian flag" quickly became a controversial topic across the Internet.
On one side, there were the fans who said that Jericho crossed the line and that under no circumstance should any WWE superstar disgrace the flag of any country.
On the other side, there were those fans who thought that Jericho's suspension was unwarranted because he was a heel character who was simply trying to generate heat.
While Jericho did break a Brazilian law by kicking the country's flag, it was part of a performance, and it's hard to believe that there was any real outrage over this "incident."
Jericho's suspension was an unwarranted one that only happened so that the WWE could save face, and it probably shouldn't have been the "controversy" that it became.
4. CM Punk Hits a Fan
When CM Punk was in the midst of his heel turn, he found himself swarmed by fans when walking through the crowd on an episode of Raw.
The fans were getting pretty touchy-feely with Punk, and he responded by turning around and smacking the crap out of one of those fans.
The problem? Well, besides the fact that he hit a fan, he apparently hit a fan who didn't actually hit him.
Punk's "hit heard 'round the world" set off a media firestorm, but the WWE quickly tried to downplay the incident.
According to TMZ.com, a WWE rep told the publication: "WWE security was unfortunately not in the appropriate place at the time. Given CM Punk's persona as a 'bad guy' fans were naturally heckling him, but unfortunately a few fans began shoving him and one struck him in the kidney and on the back."
The rep adds, "WWE regrets that proper security measures were not in place, and CM Punk apologizes for reacting in the heat of the moment."
Initially, there were conflicting reports as to whether or not the fan filed any charges, but to this day, Punk hasn't faced any legal repercussions for his actions and was not suspended by the WWE.
Naturally, this has caused many to wonder why Punk was not suspended while a guy like Chris Jericho was for an incident that many deem less serious.
3. Randy Orton Suspended...Again
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Randy Orton had a very rough year overall, but he hit his absolute low point on May 20, 2012.
That's when WWE.com announced that Orton had been suspended for 60 days for his second violation of the WWE's Talent Wellness Program.
News of Orton's suspension was met with plenty of different reactions, but it seemed to surprise most fans. After all, Orton had been viewed as someone who had "cleaned up his act" and was past doing foolish things—like getting suspended—anymore.
Yet Orton indeed was suspended for violating the Wellness policy for the second time in his career (although some think it was the third), and though it's unclear what he tested positive for, it was disappointing, nonetheless.
What sucks the most for Orton, though, is that he just hasn't been booked well since then.
Now that Orton is one strike away from being fired, the WWE doesn't seem to have enough faith in him to push him as a top guy. He's just been sort of stuck in no man's land since returning from that suspension.
Now, with the rise of other top stars and Orton's questionable past, it remains to be seen if "The Viper" will ever make his way back to the top of the WWE.
2. The Firing of A.W.
When A.W. had a live mic as the manager of the Prime Time Players, he would say all kinds of outlandish things to get the crowd to hate him.
But nothing was more outlandish than we had made a dated joke about rape and Kobe Bryant on an episode of Raw.
A.W. (real name: Brian Jossie) would first claim that he was fired for making that inappropriate joke on live TV, only to later claim that he was fired for tweeting about Linda McMahon's Senate race.
At this point, no one seems to know exactly what got A.W. fired, but it's pretty safe to say that it was his own mouth that got him in trouble.
Still, that didn't prevent a major debate from sprouting up, with some fans thinking that (like in the case of Jericho) A.W. was simply playing a character and others claiming that he crossed the line.
No matter what side you're on, though, odds are you read all kinds of reports and blogs about what the WWE should have done with A.W. following his distasteful joke.
1. Jerry Lawler Suffers a Heart Attack on Air
It's rare that something happens on a wrestling show that makes you genuinely fear for someone's life.
On the Sept. 10, 2012 edition of Raw, one of those rarities took place.
After competing in a tag team match with Randy Orton, WWE announcer Jerry Lawler collapsed at ringside during a match between Team Hell No and the Prime Time Players.
An obviously shaken Michael Cole would spend the entire show trying to give us updates on Lawler's condition, as it became clear that whatever happened to Lawler had put his life in serious jeopardy.
As Raw went on, it became agonizing to watch without knowing what was going on with Lawler, but the show concluded with an optimistic update about Lawler's future.
It would later be revealed that Lawler suffered a heart attack and was clinically dead for a short period before the WWE medical staff was able to save his life.
Lawler has since made a full recovery, but for a brief time, there was widespread fear that the worse had happened and that we had just witnessed "The King" taking his final breaths.
A huge outpouring of support for Lawler followed, and on Nov. 12, he returned to the announce table, just two months after nearly losing his life.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!