What better way to say goodbye to the year 2010 than to count down the 10 biggest stories of the year in professional wrestling?
This 10-part series is designed to do exactly that, and each installment will be dedicated to the stories that fueled the very Internet fodder that makes the dirt-sheet media world go round.
No. 6. Daniel Bryan Fired from WWE Following "Tiegate"
2010, like any year in WWE, saw a revolving door of talent being released, retiring and even leaving for greener pastures. Popular WWE Diva Mickie James was fired from WWE when diva-like behavior during a European tour reportedly served as the straw that broke the camel's back. Promising young diva Serena Deeb suffered the same fate for similar reasons.
Equally popular superstar MVP asked for his release earlier this month after floundering in the mid card despite showing main event potential early in his WWE career.
As we learned in the last installment of this series, the late Lance Cade was released from the WWE earlier this year just months before his untimely passing.
This year's lengthy WWE axe list also included, but was not limited to, Internet darlings Kaval, Shelton Benjamin and even Matt Hardy who asked for his release following an infamous fallout with WWE earlier this year.
Among the litany of exit stage lefts in WWE this year, none was more simultaneously shocking and controversial as the sudden firing of Daniel Bryan.
Also known as Bryan Danielson, Bryan forged a legendary career on the independent scene unlike few (if any) wrestlers who would eventually go on to be signed by WWE.
With a strong fan base already in tact prior to jumping ship to the fed, Bryan had to endure a name change as well as a series of nationally televised hazing activities to be broadcast on WWE NXT every Tuesday night.
Along with fellow NXT rookies, Bryan was booked to be paired with reluctant pro the Miz, flounder in rookie challenges, and lose almost every match he competed in all while being ridiculed by lead announcer Michael Cole.
The hazing activities were expected. Bryan is the darling of all darlings when it comes to jaded wrestling fans who inhabit the Internet, and such hazings were simply WWE's way of poking a stick at the rabid, yet small, Internet Community that lives to criticize them.
When it was all said and done, standout rookie Wade Barrett was declared the winner of WWE's NXT show designed to find the next breakout WWE superstar. However it is what occurred in ensuing weeks that created one of the most controversial stories of the year.
At the conclusion of an otherwise awful episode of RAW, during a time in the summer where wrestling ratings were still in the thick of a post-Wrestlemania lull, NXT winner Wade Barrett was booked to interrupt that night's Viewer's Choice main event between John Cena and CM Punk.
Barrett was to be joined by the seven other NXT rookies who were subject to public humiliation for the better part of 15 weeks, and the ensuing beatdown on John Cena, CM Punk, and (kayfabe) unsuspecting WWE staffers was quite possibly the most well done angle of the year.
By the end of the aggressive assault, the set of RAW looked as if Charlie Sheen had booked it for one night. The only thing missing was a terrified hooker under the ring.
While the formation of a stable later to be known as the Nexus would become one of the biggest storylines of the year, one particular spot during the Nexus' attack had caused the initial uproar.
While attacking WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts, Bryan choked Roberts with his own tie. The spot, later known as Tiegate, was shown on camera at the time of the attack, however subsequent recaps edited out such a violent scene in accordance with WWE's TV-PG format.
In fact, in accordance with WWE's TV-PG format Bryan was fired for the spot.
The Nexus angle was booked to appear to be so real (and this is professional wrestling) that many questioned whether or not Bryan's firing was a work. Speculation quickly turned into outrage when new details revealed that Bryan's actions reportedly upset an important sponsor, rumored to be Mattel, and WWE's hands were tied as they were forced to legitimately fire Daniel Bryan.
With many on the Internet already crying foul when it came to WWE's booking of Bryan while he was employed, the firing of Daniel Bryan created a cavalcade of reaction on the Internet from both fans and superstars.
Even WWE poster boy John Cena got in on the act, speaking out against WWE's decision to fire Daniel Bryan via twitter. Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, and even Bryan's former (kayfabe) disgruntled pro the Miz spoke out in support of the independent wrestling icon as an imminent reinstatement for Daniel Bryan appeared to be more of a possibility.
Further fueling speculation that Bryan could return when "Tiegate" blew over, it was reported that Vince McMahon himself called Bryan to give him news of the release. This was extremely rare, as these matters are usually handled by WWE VP of talent relations John Laurinaitis, and was an indicator that Bryan may have been told not to make any rash career moves as he wouldn't be fired for long.
With an unofficial movement to reinstate Daniel Bryan in full swing, and with help from both stars and fans of the Internet, Bryan's shocking yet inevitable return came to fruition during the main event of SummerSlam in August just months after Bryan was fired.
Shining in the main event of one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year, Bryan appeared as if he hadn't missed a step and was brilliant before being eliminated from a WWE vs. Nexus main event due to outside interference from the Miz.
Bryan's career has progressed nicely since his return to WWE as he currently holds the United States Championship and is currently in an active storyline where he is the apple of the Bella Twins' eyes.
Top Ten of 2010
6. Daniel Bryan Fired from WWE Following 'Tiegate'