Welcome to my first official column for NODQ.com! I’ll be writing weekly going forward, but I’ve not decided on the format just yet. It’s a work in progress, so we’ll see how things go from here. Special thanks to everyone involved here at NODQ.com and everyone who gave me feedback on last week’s column.
This week, I wanted to write about two of the most shocking incidents in 2011, one incident from TNA/IMPACT Wrestling and one from WWE. Weirdly, they both involved two wrestlers from one of the best WWE feuds of recent years. Of course, the men I’m talking about are the charismatic enigma, Jeff Hardy, and the Straight-Edge Voice of the Voiceless, CM Punk.
As we all know, both men had an eventful 2011, so let’s kick off with Jeff Hardy shall we? As a fan, I don’t care whether you’re a heel or a babyface; I just want to be entertained. If I’m entertained, I’m happy, it’s that simple. Jeff has been one of the most entertaining wrestlers of the last 10-12 years.
Jeff’s last run in WWE ended in the summer/fall (which is autumn for us UK’ers!!) of 2009 after he lost a feud with CM Punk. The feud began after Jeff had defeated Edge in a ladder match for the World Heavyweight Title at the Extreme Rules PPV. I can remember the look on Jeff’s face when Punk’s music hit and he successfully cashed in his MITB briefcase to win the title.
Over the next couple of months, Punk and Hardy exchanged victories on TV & PPV until Jeff ultimately lost a cage match to Punk on the episode of Smackdown from 28th August 2009, meaning that Jeff had to leave the company. In reality, Jeff’s contract had expired and he was pretty badly beat up at that point, so he needed some time away from the WWE schedule.
It wasn’t really much of a surprise when Jeff reappeared in TNA at the beginning of January 2010, as their schedule is a lot less hectic than WWE’s. Over the next few months, he tagged with RVD and Mr Anderson before being involved in a triple-threat TNA World Title match at Bound for Glory in September 2010.
At the PPV, Jeff aligned himself with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, turning heel in the process, and won the championship. He held the title for roughly four months before losing it to Mr Anderson at Genesis the following January. Jeff won the title back from Mr Anderson on February 13th 2011 at the Against all Odds PPV before losing it to a returning Sting less than three weeks later.
This is where things started to go BADLY wrong for Jeff and it’s probably one of the most shocking things I’ve seen. Jeff got his title rematch with Sting on March 13th 2011 at TNA’s Victory Road PPV, which he lost within 90 seconds.
You can see the whole match here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYKyhgJ3tvM
Watch the video at the 1:29 mark and you’ll see Jeff nearly fall up the ring-steps before he gets in the ring. It’s clear to everyone watching in the crowd and on PPV that something was wrong that night.
Although Jeff should rightly take some responsibility for what happened, his bosses also have to take their share of the blame. Jeff was in no condition to compete, at ANY level. Surely it would’ve been better to disappoint the fans by changing the match rather than give them a 90-second PPV main-event. We didn’t see Jeff after Victory Road until August 2011.
Since he’s come back, he’s asked the fans for one more shot at regaining their trust and has gone back to being a fan favourite. Last Sunday at Genesis 2012, he beat Bobby Roode by DQ in a World Title match, meaning Roode retained the title.
Jeff Hardy has always courted controversy, whether it’s his in-ring style, his ring attire, or the reported problems he’s had away from the ring. He seems to be a lot happier and more focused than he’s been in a long time so, hopefully, we’ll see the best of Jeff for years to come.
From one controversial superstar to another now and I don’t think that anyone had an impact on the world of professional wrestling more than CM Punk did in 2011.
After winning his feud with Jeff Hardy in 2009, although Punk established himself as one of the best heels in the business, he really didn’t have any outstanding matches until his feud with Rey Mysterio in the spring of 2010. They had three matches on PPV (at WrestleMania, Extreme Rules and Over the Limit), with Punk losing two of them and ultimately having his head shaved as a result of the stipulation at Over the Limit.
Punk ended up being the leader of the Straight Edge Society in 2010, as well as Wade Barrett’s replacement as the head of the Nexus at the beginning of 2011. These reigns were pretty uneventful to be honest, with very little excitement at all. It wasn’t Punk’s fault; he was leading groups of relatively green wrestlers against established stars, so it was pretty difficult to get either group over.
For most of 2011, Punk was involved in main-event feuds with John Cena and Randy Orton, but his most impressive run came during an eight-day period in June. He pinned John Cena on RAW, Rey Mysterio at the Capitol Punishment PPV and Alberto Del Rio on the following episode of RAW.
Punk’s moment came on 27th June 2011, with this epic promo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Is9SdaC-X8.
He turned from an ‘internet darling’ to a bona-fide superstar within 10 minutes. His shoot-style promo made every single one of us sit up and take notice. I could feel every single word that Punk was saying.
There’s no-one on the WWE roster at the moment who mixes old-school storytelling with sports-entertainment better than CM Punk. In my mind, the WWE would have missed out big time if they’d let Punk slip through their hands. After his shoot promo, Punk campaigned for change in the WWE and the first sign of it was at the Money in the Bank PPV in Chicago.
Apart from ECW One Night Stand in 2006, the crowd in Chi-Town that night was the most hostile crowd I’ve ever heard on PPV towards John Cena. Every single person in the building was solidly behind Punk in a way that I’d never heard them before. Cena effectively worked the match in the heel role, but I didn’t believe that he’d lose the WWE Title to Punk. Punk and Cena worked so well together in that match that I was drawn into everything.
When Punk pinned Cena to win the title, I marked out, something I hadn’t done since Eddie Guerrero won the same title in 2004. After the match, Punk disappeared through the crowd, leaving us all wondering what would happen next. We waited less than two weeks to find out. Punk returned after (surprise, surprise!) John Cena managed to win the ‘vacated’ WWE Title from Rey Mysterio and Triple H booked a title match between the two for SummerSlam.
Punk once again overcame the odds, pinning Cena to win the match before a returning Kevin Nash powerbombed him “out of nowhere” (hey Michael Cole, how ya doin?!) Nash’s involvement cost Punk his title, as Alberto Del Rio cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on a fallen Punk.
Over the next couple of months, Punk feuded with HHH and Kevin Nash, which ended with HHH and Nash having a blow-off match as Punk focused on retaining his title from Del Rio. Punk defeated Del Rio by submission at Survivor Series to regain his WWE Title.
Since then, he’s successfully retained his title by beating Del Rio in a singles match, as well as winning a Triple Threat match with Miz and Del Rio at TLC in December 2011. As 2012 begins, I’m really excited about Punk’s future. The WWE is now in a position where they’re turning Punk into a Steve Austin type character, the anti-hero, and it’s something that’s working.
Right now, there are very few people who can pop the WWE crowd like CM Punk does. He’s heading into the Rumble feuding against one of the best young superstars in the WWE, Dolph Ziggler. The return of Chris Jericho on 2nd January makes it likely that we’re going to see Punk/Jericho for the WWE Title at WrestleMania, which excites me more than Rock/Cena.
Please Vince, don’t drop the ball with this, because Punk has the potential to be the Austin of his generation.
Well, there we have it. Two shocking moments from 2011 for their own reasons, but Jeff Hardy and CM Punk are both on the right track going into the New Year. Their destiny is in their own hands and there’s no doubt we’ll watch them every step of the way into 2012.
As always guys, if you’ve got any ideas for topics that you want me to cover, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit me up on twitter @georgec1982.
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