2017 was quite an eventful year for professional wrestling. There were several stories which made the headlines but these are my top 10 stories for 2017. They are in no particular order of importance.
KURT ANGLE GOES IN THE WWE HALL OF FAME, GETS RAW GM JOB AND RETURNS TO THE RING
2017 was certainly the year of Kurt Angle. The former WWE and TNA champion was announced as the headliner for the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2017 as he returned to the company for the first time since 2006. The night after WrestleMania, he was given the job of Raw General Manager by Vince McMahon and then, against all odds, he returned to the ring on a 3-day notice at TLC to replace Roman Reigns with The Shield. He wrestled at the Survivor Series and at some non-televised live events as well. Angle was also involved in a storyline which revealed Jason Jordan as his son.
MAURO RANALLO QUITS WWE, THEN RETURNS AS VOICE OF NXT
One of wrestling and MMA’s most prolific commentators quit WWE in March after suffering from depression. It was later revealed that Ranallo was being constantly bullied by his fellow Smackdown commentator John “Bradshaw” Layfield and that led to him walking out of WWE, missing WrestleMania. Ranallo was then announced as the lead commentator for Bellator MMA and later was given the task to do play-by-play of one of the biggest fights in history with Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor. Then a new twist came in June as WWE announced that Ranallo would be returning to be the voice of NXT.
MATT AND JEFF HARDY RETURN TO WWE AT WRESTLEMANIA 33
After Matt and Jeff Hardy decided not to renew their Impact Wrestling contract, it was only a matter of time before their iconic theme song was heard again at WWE events. That moment came as a major surprise to everyone at WrestleMania 33 as hosts The New Day announced that the triple threat ladder match for the Raw Tag Team titles would now be a fatal 4-way match. Cue in the Hardyz theme song and the entire Camping World Stadium in Orlando came unglued. The Hardyz won the match and the titles much to the enjoyment of the fans. Their return video on YouTube has 23.4 million views and nearly 300,000 likes.
WWE WOMEN MAKE HISTORY WITH FIRST-EVER MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH
The WWE women continued to break glass ceilings and 2017 saw the first-ever women’s Money In The Bank ladder match. The five individuals who made history were Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Carmella, Natalya, and Tamina. Carmella won the match with controversy after her sidekick James Ellsworth climbed the ladder and grabbed the briefcase, handing it over to her for the win. As of this writing, Carmella still carries the briefcase and has not cashed in yet. On a related note, Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss also became the first female WWE Superstars to wrestle in the very strict country of the United Arab Emirates. What’s next for the WWE women? The first-ever all-female Royal Rumble!
TONS OF PERSONAL PHOTOS AND VIDEOS OF PAIGE LEAK ONLINE
It was a turbulent year for WWE Superstar Paige. Her two back-to-back suspensions in late 2016 were followed by neck surgery, putting her out for the majority of 2017. Her relationship with Alberto El Patron was in the public eye throughout the year, with fights and drunk videos published on social media. But Paige’s world was rocked when tons of personal photos and videos were leaked on the Internet, showing her in compromising positions with former WWE star Brad Maddox and current Superstar Xavier Woods. The videos and photos were splashed all over the Internet but Paige pulled through and eventually made her return to the ring in November. WWE Studios and The Rock’s production company Seven Bucks also filmed a movie about her family so 2018 should be looking better for Paige. Other WWE women – past and present – also had their photos and videos leaked and victims included Charlotte Flair, Maria Kanellis, Victoria, Kaitlyn, and others.
RIC FLAIR FIGHTS FOR HIS LIFE
Wrestling fans are not ready to live in a world without the Nature Boy Ric Flair but that almost became a reality in mid-August. What was announced as “routine monitoring” by his former management turned out to be a full-on fight to save his life. The former 16-time world champion underwent surgery after his vital organs shut down. He was given a small percentage to live, but Flair kicked out and after a lengthy stay at the hospital, he returned home and is now doing much better. Flair dumped his management company and hired a new one after he came out of hospital. ESPN then aired 30 for 30: Nature Boy, a documentary special on the life of Flair which was well received by fans and critics. Wooooo!
THE UNDERTAKER RETIRES?
The Undertaker’s undefeated legendary run at WrestleMania came to an end at WrestleMania XXX against Brock Lesnar but Taker still wrestled – and won – at WrestleMania 31 and 32. At WrestleMania 33, The Undertaker headlined the show with Roman Reigns and asked for Jim Ross to do commentary for the match. Roman Reigns inflicted Taker’s second defeat at WrestleMania 33 and after the match was over, Taker left his gear neatly in the middle of the ring and then disappeared in a hole in the entrance ramp similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator 2 ending. He has not appeared on WWE television ever since and WWE is playing it as it was his retirement match. Or not?
JEFF JARRETT GETS TOP JOB AT IMPACT BUT IS FIRED LATER IN THE YEAR
If there’s someone who can give Paige a run for her money for a bad 2017, that person is Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett returned to Impact Wrestling in January after Anthem Sports & Entertainment took over the company from Dixie Carter. Jarrett was given the role of Chief Creative Officer and was tasked with the day-to-day runnings at Impact. Anthem also announced that they would rebrand Impact to Global Force Wrestling, the company Jarrett founded after he left TNA years earlier. Things turned for the worse in September when Jarrett was given a leave of absence to tackle personal matters. In late October, Anthem permanently fired Jarrett from his role and ended their business arrangement with GFW. A few days later, Jarrett entered a WWE-sponsored rehab facility where he spent two months and returned home just before Christmas.
CHRIS JERICHO AND KENNY OMEGA TO WRESTLE AT WRESTLE KINGDOM 12
Chris Jericho was always considered to be a “WWE lifer” ever since he moved from WCW in 1999. Known to be a company man through and through, Jericho gave WWE years of service and made several returns after taking time away to continue his musical career with his band Fozzy. But after entering in some Twitter arguments with NJPW’s Kenny Omega, Jericho surprised everyone by appearing via video at the end of NJPW’s Power Struggle to challenge the IWGP United States champion Kenny Omega to a match at Wrestle Kingdom 12. The match will take place on January 4 at the Tokyo Dome at New Japan’s event which is considered to be their version of WrestleMania. The dream match between the two has created a lot of buzz for NJPW and Jericho as well who always finds a way to reinvent himself throughout the years.
ALBERTO EL PATRON GETS SUSPENDED AND STRIPPED OFF THE IMPACT TITLE
It’s no surprise that Alberto El Patron hates WWE and hated the fact that his girlfriend Paige was stuck there. The two had a weird relationship which involved a lot of public fighting and El Patron was considered to be a bad influence on the young Brit. In March, he won the Impact title but his reign came to an end a few months later after he was detained by police at Orlando International Airport following an altercation with Paige. The incident was covered on many websites, including TMZ who ran the audio of their argument. A few days later, Anthem suspended El Patron but he still was left part of the Impact tapings which were already filmed. The incident took a twist after Paige came out defending her boyfriend, saying it was her who caused the disturbance and attacked him and not the other way round. In July, Orlando police cleared El Patron of any wrongdoing but an internal investigation by Anthem revealed several shortcomings from their champion, thus stripping him off the Impact title. El Patron eventually returned to Impact at Bound For Glory.