Good morning and Happy Autumnal Equinox everyone! That’s right, over the weekend we said goodbye to summer and hello to fall, and so I thought it would be an apropos time to take a look at some of the events that transpired during the Summer of 2012 in professional wrestling and see where this conversation takes us. After all, from WWE Monday Night Raw 1000 and three-hour Raws to a disappointing SummerSlam PPV and solid episodes of TNA Impact Wrestling LIVE, there has been a whole lot to digest when it comes to Rasslin’ … so let’s discuss, shall we?
Oh, and please feel free to fill in any blanks I miss or leave comments with your own thoughts on the Summer of 2012.
CB’s World: 10 Thoughts on the Summer of 2012 in Pro Wrestling
Before I proceed, let me say I excluded Jerry Lawler from this list because it was not a storyline development. I am thrilled that Lawler seems to be recovering well and like everyone else, I hope that the King can get well soon.
1. Remember when we were all writing and talking about what THAT BIG STORYLINE of the Summer of 2012 would be? Well, as it stands right now, you can actually make a case for the emergence of Team Friendship — Kane and Daniel Bryan — as the most successful story of the summer. Some people will say it’s Triple H’s “retirement” or CM Punk holding on to the WWE Championship all summer / enlisting the help of Paul Heyman, but for my money the entire Kane and Daniel Bryan saga has been absolutely golden.
2. Oh, and you know who helped kickstart this whole thing between Team Friendship. You guessed it, AJ. That one’s for you Blair.
3. On the TNA side of things, the biggest story to come out of the Summer of 2012 is the emergence of Austin Aries as the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. This all happened at TNA’s Destination X PPV, when Aries gave up his X Division Title for a chance to face Bobby Roode for the biggest prize in TNA. And, of course, Aries delivered on multiple levels in this “make or break” match:
TNA Destination X – Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Part 1:
TNA Destination X – Austin Aries vs. Bobby Roode for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Part 2:
This was a landmark moment for Aries and a great move by TNA — one of several they had over the summer — and the best part is that the belt wasn’t hot-shotted back to Roode, enabling Aries to still be the champ right now as I type this.
4. Speaking of TNA, another development I’ve thoroughly enjoyed is the continued brilliance that Bully Ray has shown with his character. I am very happy that Ray re-upped with TNA for two years so he can continue his great character work, and I especially loved the chemistry that Ray had with Joseph Park throughout this summer. Here’s my favorite moment, when Bully Ray beat the blood out of Park, only to get a surprising Black Hole Slam from for his troubles:
5. How sad is it that the best thing to come out of these three-hour episodes of Monday Night Raw is this?
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that promo spot, but the actual week to week execution of a three-hour Raw product must be painstaking for WWE, and it’s certainly a laborious task to watch 3-plus hours when much of the extra time has been used for filler and commercials rather than anything of actual substance that could have added to the product being presented.
6. Speaking of three-hour Raws, the first installment of this new era was (of course) the 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw, a.k.a. Raw 1000. At the end of this landmark event, the following development occurred right before our watching eyes:
And at the Night of Champions PPV, we were reminded that CM Punk “has beef” with “Dwayne” when the WWE Champion delivered the Rock Bottom to John Cena during their title match:
Clearly, this whole Punk vs. Rock vs. Cena saga is actually the biggest storyline of the summer in WWE’s eyes, though I still think Team Friendship has been executed much better overall (see Thought 1).
But hey, I’ll give WWE credit for the slow burn here when it comes to The Rock vs. CM Punk, although they have no choice with Rocky not really being at Vince’s beck and call like the others.
Let me reiterate that I just hope this leads to CM Punk vs. The Rock ONE ON ONE for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble … and that Punk retains.
7. Speaking of which, the John Cena vs. CM Punk part of this equation with The Rock removed for the time-being has been up and down this summer to say the least. This Punk heel turn just seems forced … and that’s with Punk being incredible on the microphone and now having Paul Heyman to back him up. As I said after Raw 1000, I would have preferred Punk to stay the way he was and not turn completely. After all, Punk’s initial claim that the WWE Championship should have been the main focus instead of John Cena vs. was legitimate, and I think it would have been more interesting to keep Punk as Cena’s antagonist without trying to make EVERYONE hate him.
And if I had to pick a NEW BIG FOUR PPVs for WWE — meaning the four PPVs each year that I personally think are the most worthwhile to watch — they would be as follows:
January: Royal Rumble
February: Elimination Chamber
July: Money In The Bank
Notice how three of the four PPVs all fall under WWE’s “Road To WrestleMania” period from January through April where they seem to really try to put their best feet forward. I then chose Money In The Bank because over the past two years MITB has been a MUST-SEE event, and I feel like this PPV does two things really well: 1. It has the best of all the gimmick matches built in, those being the Money In The Bank Ladder matches; and 2. The results of the two gimmick matches built into the show have serious title implications that are fun to both predict and then watch unfold.
What would your BIG FOUR be these days? Sound off in the comments sections below.
9. Let me close out with something fun, my two favorite guilty pleasures of the Summer of 2012 in pro wrestling:
First up, and I can’t be the ONLY one who thinks this, but I kind of liked the whole Heath Slater vs. Legends segments that transpired this summer. It was fun to see guys like VADER and Sid and DDP come back to Raw for these nostalgic little stints, and you know something, Slater sold this stuff like a champ:
10. Lastly, with or without the recently departed AW and even though they were bumped off Night of Champions for Team Friendship, I still have a soft spot for The Prime Time Players and their whole “MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!” schtick. There’s even a compilation out there on YouTube that was posted by one of their family members biggest fans:
And thus concludes my 10 Thoughts on the Summer of 2012 in the world of professional wrestling. As stated earlier, please fill in those blanks and share your own thoughts in the comments section below.
That’s all from me — CB.
Oh, wait, I almost forgot:
11. Dear TOUT:
I don’t care if Brock Lesnar announces he’s quitting WWE through you or Sheamus proves he can really BE A STAR by stealing Alberto Del Rio’s car. Your value is NEVER going to be worth anything more than the price of a 1987 Topps Billy Hatcher baseball card on eBay.
Actually, let me correct that: My apologies to Billy Hatcher.
Okay, NOW I’m done, and I must say this was a whole lot of fun to put together.
As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the Comments section — CB.