To Be Determined – From Jeff Hardy to Bret Hart

It’s often so easy to focus on the bad things that we see in wrestling. Especially after this week’s horrendous edition of Raw. But since this is the holiday season, I decided to write about some of the good things that happened in wrestling this year.

For a large portion of the year, Smackdown presented us with great match-ups, feuds and matches. Starting the year with Jeff hardy as a champion, feuding with Edge, was an excellent way to kick things off. Hardy stayed in the spotlight throughout the year, whether it was his feud with brother Matt (Which sadly did not send Matt to the main event), ongoing feud with Edge or the terrific feud with CM Punk. I’m not a Jeff Hardy fan, but I have to admit that that he delivered when he had to.

I mentioned CM Punk briefly in the previous paragraph, but he deserves a little more focus. Within a few short weeks he went from being overrated to one of the shining stars of WWE. For once it seemed that WWE was serious about giving him a main event push. After winning his second MITB briefcase he started mixing it up with the Smackdown main eventers. He seized the opportunity that was presented to him with matches against Edge and Chris Jericho and proved that he deserved this spot. His heel turn against Jeff Hardy and their entire feud was one of the best of the year. It’s too bad that he couldn’t keep this spot towards the end of the year.

Continuing with Smackdown, Chris Jericho was once again involved in what is a leading candidate for Feud of the Year – this year with Rey Mysterio. Last year Jericho was writing his feud with HBK, this year he and Rey masterminded their thrilling feud and I think it’s now obvious that Chris Jericho is one of the greatest wrestling minds in WWE today. Even his pairing with Big Show, which many were skeptical about at first, turned into a good thing. Seems like Jericho can’t fail. The only thing missing from his resume is a Royal Rumble win, and hopefully he’ll get it this January.

And still in Smackdown, two young wrestlers got a chance to shine in the spotlight this year and tried to make the most of it. John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler moved to the blue brand after the draft and were poised for a major push. It wasn’t perfect in any sense. Morrison was featured on free TV and praised as the next Shawn Michaels every week, but spent months off the PPV events. Ziggler was feuding with Rey Mysterio over the Intercontinental Championship but when Rey was suspended, the title went to Morrison. As the year ended it seemed like both Morrison and Ziggler were somewhat pushed aside in favor of Sheamus and Drew McIntyre, but they made enough progress this year that the main event can’t be too far. Sadly, all the good things in Smackdown happened before the Undertaker and Batista returned to the brand late in 2009 (Not counting the one night when Batista turned heel – that was awesome), but all in all, the good still outweighed the bad.

Over on Raw, things were not as good but there were still some bright spots. The first one is actually inter-branded – the possible Feud of the Year and definite Match of the Year between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker. Last year HBK and Jericho took part in the best feud, this year their both behind the two leading candidates for this title. The match at Wrestlemania earned the Slammy for best match and I will be very surprised if it doesn’t win that title on all the websites and countdowns (Of course I’m talking about best match in WWE). It’s not often that you see a match and just know that what you’re watching is a classic that people will talk about for years to come. Michaels vs. Taker was one of those rare matches.

As for the other bright spot on Raw, I know that most people will not agree with me on this one, but since I’m writing this, I can put it in. I’m talking about the series of matches between John Cena and Randy Orton. Many people out there hated this feud and those matches, but I loved them. Yes, it might have been too long, but the three final matches of this long going feud were excellent. They told captivating stories, meshed well together and the Iron Man Match was an exciting hour of TV. So yes, I know I’m in a minority here but I liked it.

And if we cross the line to TNA, the last couple of months were really good. The three final PPV events of the year were excellent. Not a bad match and the right people are finally in the center of the promotion. Styles, Daniels, Joe, Desmond Wolfe and of course Kurt Angle with great appearances from MCMG and Beer Money show that the little promotion from the south has the talent to put on an excellent product and from time to time the writers actually rise to the level of the performers. As a whole event, WWE did not put on any show this year that came close to either Bound For Glory, Turning Point or Final Resolution.

For me, the biggest news story of the year is the reports that Bret Hart agreed to a limited contract with WWE and will make his return in January. I believe this is bigger than Hulk Hogan signing with TNA because I think it will have a positive impact on WWE while simply can’t see a scenario where Hogan doesn’t become the absolute center of TNA and overshadow the real deserving talent and damaging TNA when all is said and done. Wrestling fans have been salivating at the prospect of Bret returning to WWE for years and now we are finally getting it. Since the contract is for a limited time only, the safe assumption is either a feud with Vince McMahon or Bret leading the Hart Dynasty against DX. But if he stays on and can actually wrestle (Which I’m still very doubtful about), the possibilities are endless. Can you imagine Bret Hart vs. Chris Jericho or Edge? How about Hart vs. Cena or Hart vs. Punk? Granted, no one knows if Bret can actually work a match in his current condition, but there are so many potential matchups to keep him busy for a long time.

And on a personal note, my absolute highlight this year was my very first trip to Wrestlemania. It wasn’t my first ever wrestling event, but it’s an experience that I will never forget. I remember watching Wrestlemania 24 and as the promo for Wrestlemania 25, turning to my friend Rahav and both of us saying “We’re going”. A year later we sat at the Reliant Stadium for what was one of the best experiences of both our lives. It wasn’t the best Wrestlemania in history but for me, the knowledge that I was there for what may be the best match in Wrestlemania history is something that will live for ever.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone.

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