The year 2011 has definitely been an interesting year to say the least in the WWE. A lot of wrestling fans would say that it's had i's ups and downs; for the majority of those fans, the latter would apply. When one thinks of the word "memorable," usually events, places or memories in general are those that bring pleasant thoughts to the mind.
In the world of professional wrestling, more specifically the WWE, the word memorable can take on a whole new meaning. Some WWE moments from 2011 are those that will be talked about for years; others, on the other hand, are so way out in left field they leave some hardcore wrestling fans scratching their heads and saying: “What is wrong with this company?”
Here, in no particular order, are the 10 most memorable WWE moments of 2011.
CM Punk has always been known for speaking his mind, but on the June 27 edition of WWE Raw, he not only spoke his mind, he veered on the line between a work and a shoot.
After the main event tables match between John Cena and R-Truth, Punk grabbed a mic from ringside and headed for the top of the entrance ramp to give the now-infamous “Shoot” that was heard around the pro wrestling world. He spoke about his contract with the WWE ending on July 17 and blasted Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, calling them a “Doofus” and “Idiotic," respectively.
He commented on John Cena's “Company Man” attitude, being the best wrestler in the world and other taboo topics. His speech to the WWE Universe will always be remembered by fans as a speech that held Kayfabe hostage.
This moment falls into the category of; “What is wrong with this company?”
Ron “R-Truth” Killings was, for years, a fan favorite in the WWE. When the upper echelon of the company decided to repackage R-Truth to turn him heel, it was a massive failure. On the June 6 edition of WWE Raw, Killings, in his quest to get a WWE title shot against then-champion John Cena, donned a Confederate Uniform, marched to the ring, rapier in hand. He apologized to Vince McMahon, who was in the ring at that moment, and the WWE Universe for his actions in the previous weeks leading up to this ridiculous moment.
Considering that Raw had taken place in Richmond, Va., a state that in the late 1800's, consisted of close to 40 percent of the state's population was African-American slaves, it was a low blow to say the least. This abysmal moment made a mockery of what African-American people had endured during that dark time in history.
Kane is known throughout the WWE as being of the most destructive forces in professional wrestling history. That statement added an exclamation point to “The Big Red Machine”'s return to the WWE.
He returned on the December 12 edition of RAW, after a four-month absence due to an injury as a result of a vicious attack by Mark Henry. During the Main Event Match between Henry and John Cena, fire intensely shot out at the top of the entrance ramp, and the dark ominous figure known as Kane emerged with a new appearance and a new attitude.
His appearance brought back instant memories of his debut at the In Your House: Badd Blood Pay Per View in 1997, and Jim Ross's famous words: “THAT'S GOTTA BE KANE!!, THAT'S GOTTA BE KANE!!”
In true Kane fashion, he entered the ring, choke-slammed John Cena, showed the WWE Universe his new improved mask, then made his exit, leaving Cena's limp body in the center of the ring. Kane definitely made a huge impact on his return to the WWE, and he will make an even bigger impact in 2012.
These numbers, to an ordinary person, would not have any meaning. But to wrestling fans, more importantly WWE fans, they have much more significance.
For weeks, the WWE posted a video on RAW depicting an old, beat-up shack, rain coming down and the numbers 2, 21, 11. This mystery had come to a head on the February 21 Edition of RAW.
The Undertaker had appeared in the second hour and made his way to the ring, but shortly thereafter, “The Game” Triple H had entered the ring with Taker as well. The two came nose to nose, not saying a word, not moving a muscle, then in perfect unison, they turned their heads and stared intensely towards the Wrestle Mania XXVII Banner hanging high above the arena.
It was set: Triple H vs. The Undertaker. Speculation was abound that Taker would face former WCW World Champion Sting at WrestleMania, but it never came to be. This future match would be the highlight of the biggest event in pro wrestling.
On May 20, the professional wrestling world was saddened at the loss of one of the greatest of all time: Randy “Macho Man” Savage, a former WWE and WCW World Champion and, without a doubt, the most charismatic performer in the WWE.
On the May 24 edition of Raw, CM Punk, in a classy move, donned Savage's in-ring attire that he wore in the 1980's, the classic pink tights with white stars, his trademark yellow knee pads and yellow boots. He was teamed up with R-Truth in a main event tag-team match against John Cena and Rey Mysterio, with Bret “The Hitman” Hart as special guest referee, when he donned the classic ring duds.
Punk again pays tribute to “Macho Madness" by using Savage's patented elbow drop in his matches. This moment will forever be remembered and revered as an excellent tribute to Randy Savage's legacy.
Mark Henry is indeed “The World's Strongest Man” and one of the largest superstars in the WWE. He is also one of the few superstars that has a tenure in the company, which holds double-digit figures. In the 15-plus years he's been in the WWE, Henry has been in some storylines that have been painful to watch and was never really thought of as being World Championship Material. Much like a good wine, it needs time to age, and that's exactly what Henry did.
He destroyed former World Champions Kane and The Big Show, making him World Championship Material. At WWE Night Of Champions, Henry had finally reached the summit of the WWE, defeating Randy Orton for the coveted World Heavyweight Title. Henry has cemented himself with other legendary world champions, and “The Hall of Pain” will continue to amass bodies in 2012
Since his debut in 1999, Edge has been the most controversial superstar in the WWE, proudly claiming the nickname “The Rated R Superstar." He, along with former tag team partner Christian, dominated the WWE Tag Team Division.
When he branched out to became a singles competitor, his dominance didn't stop there, capturing both the WWE and World Heavyweight Title, as well as being the very first “Money In The Bank Winner” in 2005. After his successful World Heavyweight Title defence against Alberto Del Rio at the grandest stage of them all, WrestleMania 27, Edge was forced to make the hardest decision he ever had to make as a pro wrestler.
On the April 11 edition of WWE Smackdown, Edge vacated the World Heavyweight Title and announced his retirement from pro wrestling due to spinal stenosis, a very common condition for wrestlers. This was indeed a very dark moment for the WWE in 2011, losing a truly gifted performer.
Vince McMahon has always been a ruthless, domineering tyrant as CEO of the WWE. He has made some questionable decisions throughout the years that have made most wrestling fans foam at the mouth. 2011 was no exception.
He attempted to screw CM Punk out of the WWE Title at Money In The Bank, masking the infamous “Montreal Screw Job” Incident in 1997. Both the WWE universe, and The WWE board of executives had lost confidence in McMahon at this point.
On the July 18 edition of RAW, while McMahon was in the ring, Triple H, in an uncharacteristic suit and tie, made his way to the ring. In a moment of pure soap opera cheese, Triple H, on orders from the WWE board, had stripped McMahon of all his duties as CEO, and made himself interim COO.
McMahon, in an “Oscar calibre” performance, was literally in tears of hearing the news. This moment was definitely filed away in the “What is wrong with this company” pile.
Cody Rhodes is on this way to becoming a future world champion in the WWE. Son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes, Cody carries all of the charisma and talent that his father holds, but they differ in one aspect. Cody has a more dangerous side than his famed father.
In 2011, Cody was on a quest for the WWE Intercontinental Title. He fulfilled his quest in becoming the champion in August. Even though he was the IC Champ, he claimed that the title itself was dead. He vowed that he would resurrect the prestigious title, worn by such greats as Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect and others.
At WWE Night of Champions, he lived up to his word. In a successful title defence against Ted DiBiase, Rhodes debuted the new and improved WWE Intercontinental Title he brought to the ring in a velvet bag, bringing back the classic style that past legends have worn around their waists. Old-school WWE fans were ecstatic, and new fans were excited to see a fresh take on the title, it was all thanks to Cody Rhodes.
Alberto Del Rio literally has it all: looks, money, talent. The one thing he does not have is a world championship.
In 2011, his luck in that aspect was beginning to change. Del Rio entered the WWE and had taken on some of the company's top talent to earn himself a spot in one of the WWE's premier events; The Royal Rumble. Along with past legendary WWE superstars that have won the Royal Rumble—Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan and others—Del Rio won the 40-man Rumble Match, last eliminating Santino.
He was on his way to the biggest yearly event in pro wrestling, WrestleMania, to face the WWE Champion of his choice. Del Rio was now a member of a very exclusive club in the WWE, and he is planning to use that membership as a stepping stone in his quest to becoming a champion in the WWE.