clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Was 2010 the most boring year for pro wrestling in recent memory?

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I'm pretty sure that there isn't much of an argument.  In previous years, if you didn't like one thing, there were always numerous alternatives around.  Nowadays?  It seems like almost everything is pretty dire.

In WWE, for the last several years, if you didn't enjoy Raw, Smackdown would often be the exact opposite, a must-watch show with great matches and superior writing since head writer Michael Hayes (being a wrestler who came up through the territory system and booked a few promotions in the '80s) kept the show out of Raw's traps, was willing to listen to the wrestlers' ideas, etc.  This year, while things started well enough, the booking got more questionable (the split of the Straight Edge Society), the talent dwindled (Luke Gallows, who had become a hell of a worker and the highlight of many shows, was uneventfully turned face and released, while mentor CM Punk was traded to Raw for Edge, who might be the most stale wrestler in the whole company), and when moved to Syfy from MyNetworkTV, the show's format was changed from being the designated "wrestling show."  It's suffered pretty badly.  There are still good matches, but the show feels lifeless.

ECW was also a fun show much of the time, with simple, effective booking and good matches featuring a nice mix of younger talent and veteran "player coach" types like Fit Finlay and Goldust, but Finlay was retired by the office and ECW canned in favor of NXT.  NXT started well enough, but slid in its second season and was banished to the internet in its third.

On and off, though, Raw was hot.  The Vince McMahon-Bret Hart feud went back and forth between being awesome and weirdly bad, and culminated in a beyond depressing match at Wrestlemania.  In fairness, Bret's return culminated in his return to Madison Square Garden, which was pretty awesome and mostly made up for the botched Vince stuff.  The initial Nexus angle was one of the best TV angles in years and initially, it was followed up on well, even with whatever the hell went on with Daniel Bryan.  The Raw team beating Nexus at Summerslam started a rapid decline for the program, and Nexus eventually settled into being generic heels instead of the fresh talent who came off as a threat.  The badly handled Cena-Nexus feud made things worse, although the Cena feuding with Punk (now the new leader of Nexus) does have a lot of promise.  Daniel Bryan has been having good undercard matches and getting over in spite of awful booking, which has breathed some life into the shows, but in the end, Raw was as uneven as ever.

TNA is TNA.  Nothing ever really changes even when they say it does.  At least they gave us the comedy of the first show under the new regime, with the bright red plastic cage, Homicide being unable to climb out of the cage and falling down, the debut of the Nasty Boys/Orlando Jordan/Val Venis, and Hogan's interpretation of Ian Rotten's "LET'S GIVE A BIG HAND FOR THE BOYS IN THE BACK!" speeches after the Angle-Styles match, and more that I've probably blocked out.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, things got kinda depressing when they exploited OutSports to push Orlando Jordan's crazed bisexual freak character as as GLBT role model and then made a transparently insincere attempt at starting their own anti-bullying campaign.

The independent promotions have grown stale with little in the way of interesting new talent, and business has dropped.  Nobody's offering anything out of the ordinary.  ROH has successfully adopted the internet PPV concept, but the picture quality and numerous reports of technical problems may be holding them back, as $14.95 may be a little too much for the sub-DVD picture quality on top of that.  I'm curious how the PPVs would do at $9.95.  They also badly misstepped in running their free TV tapings in Philadelphia, their number 2 market, killing the town.

Japan is still in a rut, especially with Pro Wrestling Noah still a mess after the loss of network TV (still a huge deal in Japan, even with a bad late night time slot) and the death of Mitsuharu Misawa.  Business is pretty bad outside of New Japan's rebound, but while the shows are good enough, nothing's especially exciting the way that so many promotions were until the last decade.

Mexico saw AAA become more and more of a mess (both backstage and on TV) while CMLL quickly gave up on its hottest angle, the heel turn of top face Mistico.  The indies have provided some good stuff, but the footage is often limited to YouTube.  Hopefully higher quality downloads for the promotions without US TV (which includes CMLL in many markets for its B-shows and all markets for it's A-show) keep coming a fast as possible.

In 2010, covering and talking about the news, especially stuff like Linda McMahon's campaign, was often a lot more fun than watching/covering/discussing the actual entertainment product.  I hope that there are a lot of changes for a better in 2011.  With Japanese television transitioning to being all digital satellite like the UK, all TV viewers will have access to Noah again (as well as more substantial New Japan programming than the weekly half hour network show), which could give them a shot in the arm.  With PPV buys eroding more each month and no indication of a killer match/angle/guest for Wrestlemania, WWE badly needs someone to pull a rabbit out of their hat, which hopefully will lead to something interesting.  ROH has moved TV tapings to Louisville, which should at least help repair Philadelphia eventually, though they don't have much interesting on the horizon unless Low-Ki rejoins Homicide there now that he's been released by WWE, so I'm hoping that something like that happens.

I've watched wrestling most of my life, and I could always find something to enjoy.  In 2010, I've been finding myself enjoying WWE Classics On Demand and other old footage many times more than I enjoyed just about everything current.  I hope that changes in 2011.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats