WWE/TNA 2011 Mid-Year Recap: The 45 Biggest Stories
So far 2011 has given us plenty to talk about. Both current and former wrestlers have made plenty of headlines.
Some have been in the headlines for good reasons, like Kurt Angle's goal to return to the Olympics. Others have been more dubious, like Chyna's adult film career and Jeff Hardy's Victory Road performance.
However, just as these talents amaze us in the ring, they also amaze us outside of the ring, whether they're making surprise television appearances or their mugshots are showing up on TMZ. Week after week, we find ourselves locked into the madness that is the world of wrestling.
So, I have compiled 45 of the biggest stories of the year in this article for your enjoyment. Please take the time to read through it and comment if you like.
Will There Be a WCW-Themed Hall of Fame?
WrestleMania 27 was scheduled to be held in Atlanta, GA.
Atlanta was at one time home to WWE's old rivals, WCW. This was the first WrestleMania to be held in Atlanta since WWE bought out WCW in 2001.
Naturally, many fans were hoping to see a WCW-themed Hall of Fame. Speculation ran rampant, especially since Sting had not yet re-signed with TNA.
Sadly, this would not come to fruition as Shawn Michaels was announced as 2011's first inductee, and the rest is history.
Triple H Takes on a Bigger Backstage Role
The WWE announced that heir to the throne Triple H would increase his backstage duties. This includes helping with talent evaluation and taking a bigger role in talent relations.
The eventual goal is to have Triple H play an integral part in talent development and scouting for the future.
Shad Gaspard Arrested
Former WWE star and "Cryme Tyme" member Shad Gaspard landed himself in some hot water. Gaspard was arrested for what was believed to be jay-walking.
Later, Gaspard would claim his arrest was the result of racial profiling, and this story would eventually fade away.
Jeremy Borash Wishes Death on Fans Family
Borash is known amongst wrestling fans as a pretty approachable guy.
That was until someone continually tweeted negative things about Borash's employer TNA, which led to Borash wishing death on the fan's family.
The tweet was quickly removed and Borash claimed his account was hacked. To this date, I don't think anyone knows the truth.
Twitter Suspends Dixie Carter's Account
Dixie Carter was known to be quite the tweeter while she was on-air for TNA.
For some reason she wasn't happy just having an internet presence, and she opted to have twitter "verify" her account as well.
The "verified account" badge lets people know that Twitter has made sure the person is who they say they are. The badge is given to celebrities, high-profile athletes, politicians, and other public figures.
Twitter responded by temporarily suspending her account.
Scott Hall in Bad Shape
Hall has battled many demons over the years, this was not one of them. Hall was actually doing the right thing by taking his medications.
However, according to his publicist, some of these meds don't interact well with each other, leading to this sad state of affairs.
Jay Lethal and TNA Part Ways
Lethal has been an X-Division staple for years. His "Black Machismo"character proved extremely popular with fans.
In 2010, he ditched the "Machismo"character and entered a legendary feud with Ric Flair.
This gave Lethal enough juice to stay on top at TNA for a few months. Then, all of a sudden, he had a major dip in popularity and was nowhere to be found for months.
Lethal reappeared at Lockdown and was later released.
Hulk Hogan Appears on American Idol
In the eyes of many fans, Hulk Hogan is an icon. For one American Idol contestant earlier this year, it was no different.
So, when it was time for Ryan Seacrest to announce that week's elimination, out came 'The Hulkster."
Hogan got a great reaction, but for some reason made no mention of TNA. This would have been a huge boost for the company, as Idol has a massive following and some might have tuned in to TNA based on Hogan's appearance alone.
WWE Tough Enough Returns
The WWE and USA Network brought back the highly touted reality show Tough Enough.
This news was received well by wrestling fans everywhere, especially after "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was announced as the host. Following that news, fans learned that Booker T, Trish Stratus and Bill Demott would be the trainers for the WWE hopefuls.
Not only was the deck stacked with WWE talent, but Miss USA Rima Fakih was selected to be a contestant.
Booker T and Kevin Nash Return to WWE
In what was the worst kept secret in wrestling, both Booker T and Kevin Nash made their WWE return. Both men came back at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Neither lasted long in the ring, but both landed contracts with the WWE; Booker was hired as an announcer for SmackDown! and Nash received a limited-appearance Legends contract.
Drew Carey: Hall of Famer?
The WWE shocked everyone when they announced that Price Is Right host Drew Carey would be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Carey was inducted into the "celebrity wing", joining the likes of Pete Rose and Bob Uecker.
With the exception of Macho Man's passing, 2/21/11 was the biggest story of the year so far.
Many speculated that the WWE had landed Sting, comparing this promo to an old WCW Sting promo. The same people anticipated that Sting would get a Hall of Fame nod and a match with Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Others figured it was a build up for Undertakers return. These fans turned out to be correct, as on 2/21/11 Undertaker made his return to WWE.
Where Will Sting Go?
Sting and TNA couldn't agree on a contract earlier in the year, and it left him as the biggest free agent available.
Reports ran wild after a WWE aired a promo that many felt resembled a Sting promo from the 90's. The speculation began, and even Eric Bischoff found himself talking about it.
3/3/11 was one of the biggest duds in TNA history, as TNA management decided to make a promo similar to the WWE's 2/21/11 campaign to build up Sting's return to TNA.
Sadly, they missed the mark by two weeks as the 2/21/11 buzz quickly died down after the date passed. If TNA had some foresight, they would have aggressively gone after Sting and created this promo earlier.
Matt Hardy Makes His TNA Debut
Hardy had been pushing for his WWE release for months.
Finally, the WWE granted the release in October of last year. Fans questioned where Hardy would land, and he went straight for TNA.
Hardy's motivation was his desire to reunite with his brother Jeff, who returned to TNA in January 2010. After months of waiting, Hardy finally made his TNA debut as RVD's mystery opponent.
Jeff Hardy Ruins Victory Road
After dropping the title on iMpact, Jeff Hardy was slated to go against Sting in a rematch for the TNA title at Victory Road.
Sadly, the fans and Sting got robbed of what should have been a great main event. Hardy came out under the influence of something, and the match didn't live up to the hype.
Sting squashed Hardy in 90 seconds, and was almost as disappointed as the fans.
Chris Jericho on Dancing with the Stars
Yes, the "Ayatollah of Rock 'N Rolla", traded in his wrestling boots for dancing shoes. Jericho decided to appear on the latest season of Dancing With the Stars.
The show continues to get great ratings, and the appearance gave Jericho a new stage to show off his talents. Jericho had a decent run on the show, as he was the fifth celebrity eliminated.
Kurt Angle Arrested
Angle was arrested for drunk driving after a TNA house show.
The Olympic gold medalist claimed he wasn't actually driving at the time, but instead he had just pulled over to rest.
Shawn Michaels Inducted into the Hall of Fame
Earlier this year, "The Showstopper" took his place among the WWE immortals.
Michaels was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his close friend Triple H.
Finally...the Rock Is Back
The Rock made his long-awaited return to the WWE just prior to WrestleMania 27. The reason for his comeback was simple: The Rock wanted to announce that he'd be hosting "The Grand-Daddy of Them All."
He also took the time to address John Cena and start the feud that will end at WrestleMania 28.
WWE and John Cena in Hot Water with GLAAD
John Cena took to the mic one week after The Rock's return and fired right back. Cena laid into The Rock, using language that GLAAD deemed homophobic.
This wasn't the only complaint the organization had, as Cena's comments directed at The Miz and Alex Riley also offended the organization. The WWE did not take GLAAD's complaint lightly, and Cena quickly changed his tune when it came to insulting people on-air.
Michael Cole Attends Sensitivity Training Courtesy of GLAAD
Cole somehow missed the memo on WWE's partnership with GLAAD, and decided to send an inappropriate tweet to fellow announcer Josh Mathews.
Luckily, his employer is forgiving, and Cole got away with a slap on the wrist.
Snooki's RAW Debut Earns Her a Spot at WrestleMania
The Jersey Shore invaded the WWE.
Snooki took to the ring and was written into a stoy-line with Trish Stratus. After an appearance on RAW, she found herself slated for a mixed tag-team match at WrestleMania 27.
Snooki proved to be pretty skillful in the ring, and thoroughly impressed the WWE Universe.
Jimmy Hart Leaves TNA and Returns to WWE
Jimmy Hart is wrestling royalty. The WWE knows it, and so heading into WrestleMania WWE made Hart an offer he couldn't refuse.
Normally, this wouldn't have been big news, but Hart was still employed by TNA when the offer was made. Hart took the deal, leaving behind a frustrated Hulk Hogan.
Undertaker and Triple H Return on the Same Night
For weeks, The Undertaker's return on 2/21/11 was built up. Finally, the date arrived, and Triple H decided to steal some of "The Dead Man's" spotlight.
This memorable stare-down led to an epic match at WrestleMania 27.
The King Takes His Place in Mania History
Jerry Lawler was one of the few WWE Hall of Famers to never have a match during WrestleMania.
His dream would finally come to fruition at WrestleMania 27, as he battled it out with co-anchor Michael Cole.
Jim Ross Returns to WWE TV
Fans were given a treat at WrestleMania 27, not just in the ring, but in the announcer's booth as well. Jim Ross made a long-awaited return, calling several matches.
I guess the WWE does care.
The Rock and John Cena Make History
After Wrestlemania 27, The Rock and John Cena were still involved in a feud of sorts, so they decided the only way to settle it was on the biggest stage of them all at the main event of WrestleMania 28.
This move was unprecedented, as never before had WrestleMania's main event been announced a year in advance.
Edge had a storied career filled with many controversial moments. He garnered a reputation as an opportunist after taking advantage of several situations.
He and Christian ran through the tag-division in the '90's, but at the turn of the century Edge bloomed as a solo wrestler.
He held every major title in the WWE, and always gave his all. Sadly, he had multiple injuries throughout his career that ultimately lead to his post-WrestleMania retirement.
Christian Becomes World Champ at Extreme Rules
Captain Charisma final reached his goal and became World Heavyweight Champion in the WWE. Sadly, it was due to the retirement of his old friend Edge.
This was an exciting moment for Christian and his peeps anyway. His reign would be a short one, as two days later (or five days in WWE Land) he went on to lose the title to Randy Orton.
John Cena Tells the WWE Universe About Bin Laden's Demise
President Obama announced the demise of Osama Bin Laden on Sunday, May 1st, which just so happened to coincide with WWE's Extreme Rules.
Many fans in attendance were unaware of the, news, so the WWE felt it was only right to have the face of the company let the fans know.
World Wrestling Entertainment Changes to Just WWE
The WWE decided to no longer brand themselves as World Wrestling Entertainment.
This decision was mostly due to the company expanding into other forms of entertainment.
Many fans were unhappy about the decision, but overall the product hasn't changed and they still deliver the number one wrestling show worldwide.
Mick Foley Leaves TNA
The "Hardcore Legend", finally saw the writing on the wall and asked for his release from TNA. During Foley's tenure at TNA, he held the Legends and TNA WHC.
However, after the Hogan-Bischoff era, Foley's TV time became limited, and his ideas weren't as well-received. So what's a man with a sock in his pants to do?
Move on from the WWE rival, and see where life takes you.
Chyna's TNA Debut
After a nine-year hiatus, Chyna returned to the ring. She made her TNA debut as Kurt Angle's mystery partner.
Chyna would go on to wrestle in a mixed tag-team match alongside Angle, taking on Jeff and Karen Jarrett during TNA's pay-per-view Sacrifice.
Chyna Chooses Porn over TNA, Ironic Don't Ya' Think?
That's right folks, "The Ninth Wonder of the World,"decided to take her talents to the world of the adult film industry. Many fans were appalled at the decision, as Chyna had just finished a brief stint with WWE competitor TNA.
Trish Stratus later publicly pushed for Chyna's induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. It never happened, and now it's starting to look like it never will.
If you want to see Chyna in the ring now, you'll have to watch old WWE matches on Youtube.
Michelle McCool Takes a Break from the WWE
McCool was in the midst of a heated feud with her former Lay-Cool teammate. The feud was set to end at Extreme Rules, in a "loser leaves the WWE" match.
Layla scored the win while McCool fell victim to the new debut Kharma.
Kharma AKA Awesome Kong Makes RAW Debut
TNA lost Awesome Kong in 2010 due to a real life feud with shock-jock/TNA employee Bubba "The Love Sponge". Bubba made some remarks about Haiti after the earthquake and humanitarian crisis there that didn't sit well with Kong.
This eventually led to her release, and Kong went on to sign with the WWE. For months, fans eagerly awaited her return to the ring.
Enter the repackaged Kharma!
Kharma Is Pregnant
After weeks of buildup, it appeared that Kharma had finally arrived in the WWE.
A few weeks after her WWE debut, she fell apart in the ring in front of all of the RAW Divas.
The following week she, announced to the WWE Universe that she was pregnant and would be back next year.
TNA, announced a major re-branding of their weekly show, iMPACT.
They kept TNA as the brand name, but changed their slogan to "Wrestling Matters." This move was in response to WWE's re-branding themselves as an entertainment company.
WWE Signs Sin Cara Aka Mistico
Sin Cara was formerly known to the wrestling world as Mistico.
With a new name, Sin Cara left his home in Mexico for the biggest wrestling stage in the world, WWE.
The Price Is Right for Brian Kendrick
Brian Kendrick finally got some love on The Price is Right, when host Drew Carey asked him to "Come on Down!".
Kendrick moved past the panel and got a chance to play on the main stage with Carey, a recent inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Kurt Angle Announces Olympic Run for 2012
In May, Angle made a surprising announcement..
Angle revealed that he and his nephew were training to compete in the 2012 Olympics. Many people questioned his motives, as Angle made the same announcement several years earlier and nothing ever came of it.
However, this time Angle announced that he was determined to make it happen, and worked out an arrangement with TNA that he felt would help him make his dream a reality. Only time will tell how far he'll actually go.
The Passing of a Legend
On May 20th, The wrestling world came to a halt when the death of Macho Man Randy Savage was announced.
Savage had been dealing with heart problems for some time, and things came to a head while he was driving with his wife. His wife recognized the problem, and drove the car off the road.
Sadly, Macho Man was already gone.
Unfortunately, Savage never received the Hall of Fame nod that he rightfully deserved due to some secret problems with WWE boss Vince McMahon.
Ulitmate Warrior vs Hulk Hogan: The Feud Continues
Fans of WrestleMania VI got to re-live the feud between Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior.
This time, both participants took to the internet, and the trash-talking was as intense as ever. The most notable salvo came from the Warrior when he went to the trouble to create a video leveling accusations at Hogan.
Unfortunately, this feud shows no signs of ending.
Jeff Hardy Resurfaces in a Shocking Video
Several months after Jeff Hardy was last seen, he re-emerged on Youtube. Fans that were hoping to see an update on Hardy's return or maybe an apology for his antics during Victory Road were in for a surprise.
Hardy not only tased his brother, but his brother's girlfriend, Reby Sky.