An unlikely WWE Champion, a “hostile takeover,” great matches, the end of a career, and a historic embrace – all of these moments, in my mind, were the highlights of a year that was exciting and remarkable in World Wrestling Entertainment. Everyone will have his or her favorite memories, and in this article, I will share my top five picks in 2010. My fifth choice was the crowning of a new WWE Champion.

The night after the 2010 WWE “Survivor Series” a re-match of that event took place. Randy Orton defended the WWE title against Wade Barrett. As Orton walked to the ring, he was attacked by Barrett’s group – the “Nexus.” Even though he was hurting, Orton still participated in the match, and emerged victorious, to the shock and approval of the fans. But, the main story occurred after the match.

The Miz, who captured the “Money in the Bank” briefcase (which had a contract inside allowing the winner to receive a title shot anytime over the year) “cashed in” the opportunity right after Orton’s match. Randy was vulnerable, and The Miz knew it. The Champion fought valiantly, but his pain was excruciating. The challenger utilized his “Skull crushing Finale” finisher to gain the pin. The Miz became the new WWE Champion. He saw an opportunity, one where he believed he could be successful, and took advantage of it. The fans, however, were upset with the outcome – the disapproval was apparent by the looks on their faces and the boos heard in the arena. The Miz worked hard to improve his in-ring moves, his microphone skills, and his “heel” (bad guy) persona. The WWE recognized that, and decided to give him an opportunity as champion. It shows that the company rewards young athletes who work hard to improve themselves. I think The Miz has done a great job so far in his reign as champion, and I hope he keeps the title for a few more months.

An episode of “Raw” in July was when my fourth favorite moment of the year occurred. It did not take place in a scheduled match. Oh no, it was in a post-match scenario designed to build hype and excitement at a pay-per-view event later in the month, and again, it involved Randy Orton.

The main event that night featured Edge and Randy Orton. After intense action and several close calls, Edge pinned him, only because of a distraction from Chris Jericho. In the aftermath, Jericho attacked Edge, knocking him out, then Orton administered his “RKO” on Jericho. Evan Bourne (who was in the midst of a very brief “push” at the time) ran to the ring, and kicked Orton to the mat, causing Randy to land half-way across the ring. What happened next was a thing of beauty.

Bourne climbed to the top rope, looking to execute his “Air Bourne” splash. As Bourne jumped off the top rope, and started to flip, Orton quickly got off the canvas, and nailed a breath taking “RKO” on Bourne in mid-air. That was an amazing and spectacular move – the image of it was phenomenal – words alone can not do that moment justice. The crowd became excited, loud and raucous after the performance. The announcers thought Evan had nailed his “Air Bourne” splash, but Orton’s counter happened in a split second. Replays of the incident were shown numerous times from different angles. The timing of the move had to be precise, and applied with caution and accuracy to avoid any injury. That brings me to memorable moment number three.

The place: Miami, Florida. The event: “The Takeover.” It was the June 7th edition of “Raw” which featured John Cena wrestling C.M. Punk. As the match was progressing, Wade Barrett (who won the first season of “NXT” – a show designed to find “the next breakout star) came out and stood on the ramp. Then the other six rookies entered through the crowd to attack Punk and the other two members of his group -“the Straight Edge Society.” The group of rookies jumped into the ring and surrounded Cena. John tried to fight back, but the numbers proved to be too much. Once Cena was laid out, the group attacked the commentators, the ring announcer, the ring crew, the cameramen, tore the ring ropes down, and destroyed the ring. After inflicting more pain on Cena, the “Nexus” (the name the group became known as), vacated the ringside area.

The ringside area was a disaster, fans and viewers were stunned at what transpired. I think the “hostile takeover” that night, was a great move by the WWE. It got the audience talking, it created interest, and generated some life into a product that had become relatively stale. It became clear that the original attack was to send a message, that even though Barrett won a contract by winning “NXT'”, he wanted contracts for the other rookies as well, which were eventually granted. The storyline that followed between John Cena and the “Nexus” became one of the best of 2010, because fans wanted to tune in for the next development in the rivalry.

The night after the WWE’s biggest event of the year, the second most memorable moment of the year took place. The previous night, the Undertaker extended his Wrestlemania undefeated streak by defeating Shawn Michaels, and ending his in-ring career. When Shawn entered the arena in Arizona on March 29, it was evident that the spectators were sad, because they knew what a loss it would be for the wrestling world. When the Undertaker entered the arena to a mixed reaction of boos and cheers, he stood on the ramp, and literally tipped his hat to Shawn. It was the ultimate sign of respect from one legend to another.

Shawn then took the microphone and talked about his in-ring career. He said he always wanted to give the fans something to remember, and tried to “steal the show.” He became emotional when talking about spending time with his family. He thanked the fans for their support and acceptance. The crowd chanted “Thank You Shawn” and “One More Match.” When he finished, he was given a standing ovation. Tears filled the eyes of the spectators, as well as Shawn’s, as he left the ring as a competitor for the last time.

Giving Shawn that time to publicly reflect on his career in the WWE was a great way to send him off into retirement. It was a grand exit for a superb athlete and wrestler. Fans will miss him, not only for his skill, but also for his charismatic nature. Whether he was a “face” (fan favourite) or a “heel” (bad guy), he always gave an A plus performance inside the WWE ring.

In my mind, the most memorable moment of 2010 occurred at the beginning of the year. Wrestling fans have heard of the “Montreal Screwjob” incident which took place at the 1997 “Survivor Series,” where Shawn Michaels won the WWE title, even though Bret Hart did not submit. For many years, Bret vowed never to work for the WWE or step into a WWE ring. But, that all changed thirteen years later.

On the January 4 episode of “Raw”, Bret Hart entered the ring as “guest host”. The fans were pleasantly surprised and delighted. He addressed the spectators and talked about putting the entire incident behind him. He then asked for Shawn Michaels to come to the ring. People were witnessing a moment they thought they would never see.

The two rivals discussed what happened that night and who may have been responsible for it. Shawn admitted that he knew what was going to happen at that “Survivor Series.” After a lengthy and sometimes heated exchange, one of the most surreal moments in WWE history occurred – Bret and Shawn embraced. Fans were stunned at this. But, I wasn’t “buying it”, and was waiting for Shawn to superkick Bret. I was pleasantly surprised that it did not happen. It just goes to show that even in the world of professional wrestling, time does heal all wounds. What a touching and memorable moment in the history of the WWE – it truly deserves to be ranked at the top WWE moment of 2010.

Now that the year has concluded, it’s not too early to look at what could happen in 2011. I am sure the year will bring more intense, extraordinary and breathtaking moments, not only on “Raw”, but on “Smackdown” as well. I hope that stars like John Morrison, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, and Alberto Del Rio, will continue to get “pushed” and also be given an opportunity to hold the WWE or World Championship sometime during the year. The WWE has a fantastic slate of rising young superstars who can wrestle. If Mr. McMahon can get behind all these superstars, and give them time to demonstrate their skills and strengths in spectacular matches, they will become “main event” level superstars in the new year.  Let us wait and see what the executives have in store for us – the fans and followers of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Azeem Kayum

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