Top wrestling stories

As 2011 quickly approaches, it’s time to reflect on the 10 biggest pro wrestling stories of 2010.

A "washed-up" Hulk Hogan continued his downward spiral in 2010.

A "washed-up" Hulk Hogan continued his downward spiral in 2010.

As 2011 quickly approaches, it’s time to reflect on the 10 biggest pro wrestling stories of 2010.

1. Shawn Michaels retires: His body battered after 26 years inside the ring, Michaels decided to call it a career. But before leaving World Wrestling Entertainment, the 45-year-old Michaels turned in one final performance worth remembering: a fabulous headline bout last April against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 26. Unlike Ric Flair, another grappling legend who resurfaced in 2010, Michaels actually seems committed to staying out of action. Michaels could return as a guest referee for Wrestlemania 27 provided The Undertaker is able to wrestle following recent rotator cuff surgery.

2. The short-lived Monday night “war”: So much for TNA Wrestling recapturing the magic of the mid-1990s, when World Championship Wrestling and WWE battled for television ratings supremacy. After a January special drew surprisingly strong numbers on Spike TV opposite USA Network’s Monday Night Raw, TNA shifted its Thursday night Impact shows in March, hoping to provide WWE with full-time opposition. This became a bigger slaughter than the Hart family demolishing Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania 26. TNA ratings fell despite an influx of former WWE talent like Hulk Hogan, Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam. The experiment lasted about two months before Impact retreated to Thursday nights, where ratings are roughly the same as before TNA owner Dixie Carter went on her ill-advised spending spree.

3. WWE begins a youth movement in earnest: At this time last year, Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio were working for Florida Championship Wrestling as WWE developmental talent. Both enter 2011 as headliners for WWE’s Raw and Smackdown brands, respectively. Barrett and other newcomers — such as David Otunga, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater — were successfully packaged as The Nexus, a group of outsiders who began running roughshod over WWE’s established talent. Mike “The Miz” Mizanin and Jack Swagger also enjoyed their first stints as WWE champions. Creating new stars was a necessity with veterans like Michaels, The Undertaker, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, Chris Jericho and Dave Batista either injured or having left the company.

4. The trials and travails of Extreme Championship Wrestling: No company in pro wrestling history had as many lives as ECW. But this cat finally ran out of luck in 2010. WWE canceled the ECW brand in February to push a revamped show for developmental talent (WWE NXT). That didn’t stop TNA from invoking the ECW spirit. TNA hired a slew of ECW talent from the promotion’s 1990s heyday — notably Tommy Dreamer, Scott “Raven” Levy and Terry “Sabu” Brunk — to form a group called EV2. But after an ECW-themed August pay-per-view show (Hardcore Justice), most of those grapplers were phased out. If the ECW nostalgia ever resurfaces, it will likely be on the independent circuit.

5. Linda McMahon loses her bid to become a U.S. senator: The former WWE CEO and wife of chairman Vince McMahon spent $50 million of her personal fortunate campaigning as the Republican nominee in Connecticut. Call it money for nothing. McMahon fell to Democrat Richard Blumenthal. McMahon’s wrestling background was a turn-off for many of the state’s voters, especially among women.

6. WWE continues living up to its name: WWE is drawing better crowds for international tours than shows in North America, with Mexico and Europe particularly strong markets. WWE also made its debut in China, which could become a huge source of revenue, and will begin airing again in Russia in February. Such expansion is helping to compensate for domestic woes. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that pay-per-view buy rates in the U.S. were down almost 20 percent from 2009.

7. WWE Smackdown shifts from MyNetworkTV to Syfy Network: The demise of WWE’s “B” brand continued with Smackdown leaving the broadcast television airwaves in October for basic cable. WWE didn’t have a choice with MyNetwork streaking toward irrelevance. But it wasn’t as if other broadcast networks were frantically bidding for the product, either. The first 12 Friday-night Syfy shows have averaged 2.6 million viewers, down from the 2010 MyNetwork ratings. WWE, though, remains committed to Smackdown and is trying to better cross-promote through its more successful Raw brand.

8. Ring of Honor keeps rolling: Following in the footsteps of Daniel Bryan, Tyler Black (aka Seth Rollins) became the latest ROH star raided by WWE. But the Philadelphia-based company is still staying strong with the industry’s best technical wrestling and most logical storylines on its weekly telecasts (8 p.m. Mondays, HDNet). Young workers like Kevin Steen, El Generico, Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong continued to improve. The company also received a boost from the addition of former WWE and TNA talents Christopher Daniels, Nelson “Homicide” Erazo, and the World’s Greatest Tag-Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin).

9. Hulk Hogan’s personal and professional spiral: His TNA debut was a bust. His surgically repaired back is a mess. Even his wedding was ruined by a confrontation with an uninvited photographer. In some ways, the 57-year-old Hogan has become a real-life version of washed-up grappler Randy “The Ram” Robinson from the award-winning 2008 movie, The Wrestler.

10. Wrestler deaths: Unfortunately, drug abuse contributed to the premature deaths of two more ex-WWE performers: Lance Cade, 29, and Luna Vachon, 48. Another former WWE grappler, Chris Kanyon, 40, committed suicide. The wrestling world also lost some of its most legendary performers from yesteryear in Jack Brisco, John Tolos, Edouard Carpentier, “King” Curtis Iaukea and Gene Kiniski.

Alex Marvez writes a syndicated pro wrestling column for Scripps-Howard News Service. He can be reached at or followed via Twitter at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Ethan Rowland battles with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Brett Kemp during WHL action at the Centrium Saturday night. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers claw back, hand Rebels 11th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 The same old issues continue to plague the… Continue reading

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
AstraZeneca-linked blood clot confirmed in Alberta

A case of an AstraZeneca-linked blood clot has been confirmed in Alberta,… Continue reading

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees selected the name St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School to be built in the north end of Red Deer. (Photo Courtesy of  Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raises about $8,720 for Terry Fox Foundation

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raised about $8,720 for the Terry Fox… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Ontario Premier Doug Ford points on a COVID-19 caseload projection model graph during a press conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, Friday, April 16, 2021. Ontario was set to backtrack on controversial new police powers to enforce stay-at-home orders implemented in the battle against COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ford backtracks on new police COVID-19 powers amid intense backlash

TORONTO — Furious criticism of new anti-pandemic powers that allow police in… Continue reading

The official program for the National Commemorative Ceremony in honour of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, sits on an empty pew prior to the ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa on Saturday, April 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prince Philip remembered as ‘a man of great service’ during Canada’s memorial service

Canada’s commemorative ceremony in honour of the late Prince Philip offered a… Continue reading

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy speaks to his players during the team's practice Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
CF Montreal puts on a show, defeating Toronto FC 4-2 in MLS season opener

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — CF Montreal, carving open Toronto FC’s defence, cruised… Continue reading

Demonstrators using umbrellas as shields approach a point in a perimeter security fence during a protest over the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Journalists allege police harassment at Minnesota protests

Some journalists covering protests over the police fatal shooting of Daunte Wright,… Continue reading

A container ship is docked in the Port of Montreal, Wednesday, February 17, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Montreal dockworkers begin weekend strikes as talks drag on

MONTREAL — Dockworkers at the Port of Montreal kicked off a series… Continue reading

Brad Dahr, 53, is facing numerous charges. (Photo contributed by Alberta RCMP)
Alberta man charged for alleged sexual offences against children

An Edmonton man has been charged for alleged sexual offences against children… Continue reading

A person walks past a COVID-19 mural designed by artist Emily May Rose on a rainy day during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, April 12, 2021. Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off the job or coming into work while knowingly sick could warrant discipline in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Risky pandemic behaviour off the clock could mean workplace discipline: lawyers

CALGARY — Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off… Continue reading

Vials containing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at the San Marino State Hospital, in San Marino, Friday, April 9, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Antonio Calanni
China, Russia using their COVID-19 vaccines to gain political influence

OTTAWA — China and Russia have been using their locally produced COVID-19… Continue reading

Most Read