With what were, in my opinion, the worst parts of WWE programming of the last year firmly behind us it is now time to focus on the positive. This year featured a number of great moments from impressive debuts and the re-introduction of characters to some surprisingly creative, not to mention edgy, storylines. It is without further delay that I present what were, in my opinion, the three greatest events in WWE of 2012. Once again I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this matter.
The Shield of Justice
I imagine that most fans reading would have probably seen this section coming, not just because the heading can be seen from the top of the page where the blog begins by the way. Although far from a completely innovative idea and still in their early stages The Shield have made as big an impact as anybody has in the WWE this year, not bad for a stable of three rookies who have only had one televised match.
At the Survivor Series PPV that took place on November 18th, 2012 the monster known as Ryback looked all but set to vanquish John Cena and reigning champion CM Punk and win the WWE Title in the process. However in a curve ball that quite honestly took me and many others by surprise, three wrestlers from the WWE’s developmental territory suddenly jumped the guardrail and attacked Ryback in what was a brutal and seemingly unprovoked attack. The three perpetrators who were identified as Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns fled the scene and would attack Ryback in a similar fashion the next night on Monday Night Raw.
The predictable thing to have done would be to have The Shield align themselves with CM Punk and have them act as his bodyguards, but this was thankfully not to be. Instead they began attacking other wrestlers such as Randy Orton, John Cena, The Miz, Team Hell No and even Brodus Clay. These attacks were executed superbly and really felt like the brutal and merciless beat-downs that they were intended to be. It was clear that these three athletes were legitimately tough but it was their skill with words that truly amazed me.
Over the following weeks a number of pre-recorded segments starring the three rookies began airing on both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown. Rather than throwing their wallets at these segments in predictable WWE fashion the videos were shot on a grainy hand-held in a location that looked like the sort of place you’d expect to find Freddie Kruger hanging out. The three figures introduce themselves and explain that they are on a crusade to rid the WWE of injustice. The group clearly state that they work for themselves and have no alignments with anybody other than each other. Everything from the way the camera shoots back and forth between the three members to Dean Ambrose’s borderline psychotic style of delivery is spot on and there are honestly wrestlers who have been on the roster for years who could learn a thing or two from these promos.
At the Tables, Ladders and Chairs PPV on 16th December, The Shield made their highly anticipated in-ring debut and they did not disappoint. As soon as their theme tune hit and the members swarmed the ring from the sky boxes at the top of the building the crowd knew they were about to see something special. Both The Shield and their opponents , Team Hell No and Ryback battled in a twenty plus minute Tables, Ladders and Chairs match which featured some of the most hard hitting spots and legitimate ring psychology that I’ve honestly seen in a match of its kind in a long time. The Shield eventually emerged victorious, a wise creative decision as defeat would all but bury them and take away any heat they initially had.
You would be hard pushed to find another set of WWE wrestlers who can claim a more impressive in-ring debut than The Shield. Everything is just right with them at the moment, they are legitimately talented athletes, they are great talkers and their cause isn’t the usual ‘I want my break and I’m being slept on’ routine. In fact their cause and agenda can almost be sympathised with making them incredibly difficult to hate but they still carry enough malice to be clearly identified as villains.
The challenge now lies in whether or not the creative team can keep the concept fresh and push The Shields story forward without completely burying them like they did with The Nexus in 2010. However unlike The Nexus this group is not bloated with no-talent rookies and they’ve come at a time that suits their style and characters perfectly. Here is hoping to a successful 2013 for Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, welcome to The Shield of Justice.
Millions of Dollars, Millions of Dollars!
At the start of 2012 Darren Young and Titus O’Neil were featured on what felt like the 30th season of NXT, an undercard show that was taped before Friday Night Smackdown every week. Like almost every other regular feature on that god-forsaken show the pair were going nowhere, their gimmicks were non-existent and they had already been effectively buried by the ridiculous reality show aspect of the show that was prominent in its early days.
The truth was at this point Darren Young’s only unique selling point was that if you squinted while looking at him he almost looked like a tanned version of John Cena and Titus O’Neil moved around the ring with all the gracefulness of a Bull in a China shop wearing flippers. Yet despite these short comings the two possessed more potential than the rest of the NXT Rookies combined and after a brief and directionless feud with one another they were put into a tag team together.
In what now seems like a match made in Heaven the pair seemed to click instantly and not only possessed chemistry in the ring but were actually quite amusing on the microphone as well. They were promoted to the main roster and made their Friday Night Smackdown debuts on 20th April it was not however until the 1st June that they named themselves the Prime Time Players and began really gaining momentum.
O’Neil’s trademark ‘Dog Bark’ is oddly infectious and the groups chant of ‘Millions of Dollars’ accompanied by a simple but comical dance routine is, at times, borderline hilarious. However what really began to stand out about this tag team to me was their clear determination to be noticed. Every time they are on a camera they possess an infectious energy. I get the sense that they are a pair of athletes who are genuinly over the moon to be where they are and are so keen to stay in the minds of their audiences, not to mention superiors.
They have clearly impressed the decision makers at Titan Towers as well; otherwise the late summer of this year could have spelt a very premature demise for them both. At the No Way Out PPV on 17th June The Prime Time Players picked up a charismatic manager in the form of A.W and the team appeared to go from strength to strength as a direct result of this acquisition. Perhaps another match made in Heaven? Unfortunately not as the alliance was short lived when A.W was sent to the chop, metaphorically of course on 10th August for making offensive comments during a broadcast the week before. Despite his short WWE career A.W gained an overwhelming amount of support from fans via Twitter and other media’s who truly believed that the success of The Prime Time Players was purely down to his input.
In all honesty even I thought that the PTP’s next stop was the wrestling burial ground but thankfully this was not the case. O’Neil and Young responded positively and as a reaction were given far more time on the microphone, proving that they never actually needed a manager to speak for them in the first place. They have also sharpened up in the ring and have for all intents and purposes shown that the reason for their ascent was not down to A.W but down to their own talents.
Granted, the Prime Time Players are not the finished product yet and the creative team don’t trust them quite enough to give them the Tag Team Championships at this precise moment. However they have been there or there-about for the last few months and have received positive reactions from everyone concerned, leading one to believe that their time will soon come. For now I believe they deserve a spot on this list as they are a perfect example of how two half’s can indeed make a whole and that just plain old determination and hard work can still sometimes get you over.
CM Punk – Best in the World!
The year of 2012 has certainly been an eventful one for WWE. It has also been truly unique because from its beginning to its end the company has had just one WWE Champion. The last time one man held the richest prize in the game for anything close to that long was over eight years ago, and that reign wasn’t quite a year. The current WWE Champion is of course CM Punk and the decision to have him hold the title for this long is, in my opinion, a superb one both for the career of Punk himself and the legitimacy of the WWE Championship.
The truth is with Cena carrying the belt things got boring due to his lack of in-ring ability and squeaky clean image. While when the title was being passed around in the late point of 2010 like a joint in a bedsit it began to lose its importance as anybody could lose it and gain it again in the space of just a few months. This is a factor that played a huge part in the demise of World Championship Wrestling over a decade ago and could have potentially gone some way towards doing the same to World Wrestling Entertainment.
By holding the title for as long as he has Punk has shown true class as the crowds may love or hate him but the important thing is they are not ‘bored’ of him. Many wrestlers have held the title for half as long and run out of steam, not Punk. The list of stars that he has been allowed to defeat has been impressive as well and truly shows his in-ring diversity and ability to adapt to any style of match. A match against Chris Jericho and a match against The Big Show carry two very different styles of ring psychology but Punk was able to pull them both off in spectacular fashion. Punk’s ability to switch from a fan favourite to a villain almost overnight is truly an incredible feat as well and one that very few stars have ever pulled off while holding a title. Whether loved or hated Punk is respected in every department, which is something that the likes of John Cena and Alberto Del Rio can never claim and as a result the company’s richest prize once again feels like just that.
With the title picture being the way that it is, the stage is set for an excellent start to 2013. Punk is all but confirmed to be locking up with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson at Januarys Royal Rumble PPV and it is set to be spectacular. It is for these reasons that I see Punks title reign as the best event of 2012 for the WWE.
Completely agree? Think I’m talking ‘floating Mars Bars’, as my old Geography Teacher used to say? Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Many thanks for reading and have a great New Year!