Fall and Pray
Poor Karrion Kross. By the time 2021 started, he was currently back from the shoulder injury that quickly ended his very first NXT Championship reign. He won the title back in short order from Finn Balor at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, but in the months that followed something regularly felt ... off.
His discussion felt personalized for WWE's primary roster and his matches-- multiple Saito suplexes, seldom selling an opponent's offense and a Kross Jacket submission finish-- badly clashed with the remainder of the NXT roster pre-reboot. And once Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano started calling out Kross on his shortcomings on television the big man could never recuperate.
Then things simply got weird. He appeared on Main Event with the NXT Championship and effectively nothing else from his NXT presentation. Then he lost in less than 3 minutes to Jeff Hardy in his Raw launching. And not long after dropping the NXT title to Samoa Joe, he began appearing on the Red Brand with ring gear that might charitably be referred to as "Gladiator gimp."
And after all of that, he and Scarlett both ended up getting cut on Nov. 4. There's no doubt his mishandling will be studied for years to come.
2021 Was Rated R.
Edge probably will not end up winning too many Wrestler of the Year awards (including ours), but he silently had an impressive 2021. He won the Men's Royal Rumble from the No. 1 spot, primary evented WrestleMania 37, had an outstanding follow-up with Roman Reigns then sunk his teeth into a trilogy with Seth Rollins, putting on a Match of the Year contender with "The Visionary" at (of all places) Crown Jewel. All the while, he showed off his acting chops by regularly taking his character to darker, more deranged locations as his fights went on. He even handled to produce chilling monologues from inside the ThunderDome!
The Ring General's Reign.
Walter's historic reign as NXT United Kingdom Champion was finally given an end earlier this year, making it the longest champion reign in WWE in decades at 870 days. Every defense was a must-see moment, showing that one of WWE's finest bell-to-bell wrestlers is somebody who presently doesn't wrestle in the United States full-time. Whether or not he's changed his mind about that remains to be seen.
It's not simply that Bray Wyatt was suddenly released over the summer-- Lord knows we will get to that later-- it's that his final storyline in the WWE was quickly the most incomprehensible. Wyatt liquidated 2020 by being set on fire by Randy Orton, leaving the berserk Alexa Bliss to act as his mouthpiece for weeks on end. Ultimately, Wyatt was revived, and by the time he showed up at WrestleMania 37 for his long-awaited grudge match with Orton the "burned" element of The Fiend had been entirely cleaned away. However then we got that finish, which was obviously the outcome of WWE's authors having no endgame in mind for the storyline between Wyatt, Orton and Bliss.
Unexpectedly Wyatt was off TV once again and Bliss started associating residues of his shtick and an awful doll called Lily (complete with CGI winking!). Bliss was then crossed out television when Charlotte Flair ripped Lily to pieces while she tried (and stopped working) to get an Alka Seltzer to make her appear like she was lathering at the mouth at Extreme Rules.
The second half of Dark Side of The Ring Season 3 started with a retelling of the "Plane Ride From Hell." But while the notorious global flight has frequently been viewed as a humorous catastrophe in shoot interviews, the episode showed the real damage it triggered when among its flight attendants summarized being supposedly sexually assaulted by "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. The reaction caused fans to reexamine their views on Flair and his infamous tales of "Stylin' and Profilin'," at the same time he rejected any wrongdoing.
On top of all of that, Flair requested his release from the WWE simply one month before the episode aired and WWE's action (removing Flair from the opening signature on all WWE shows) has actually triggered him to declare on his podcast that he'll never return to the company which they're trying to "erase his legacy.".
Ring of Honor Shutters, For Now.
The Baltimore-based promotion revealed back in late October that it would be going on a months-long hiatus following the Final Battle pay-per-view. News broke nearly instantly afterward that every wrestler was efficiently being released from their contracts, and that any deals that lasted previous Dec. 31 would just be acknowledged till March.
The announcement was a letdown for lots of reasons. When viewed as the destination for premiere in-ring talent and numerous of its alumni now form the world of expert wrestling as we understand it, ROH was. It's also a shame that, not long earlier, it was considered as the No. 2 promotion in the company behind WWE. However the departure of The Elite, the launch of AEW and a few of the company's innovative decisions caused it to fall further and even more down the pecking order.
The biggest shame of all is that, more than any other US-based promotion, ROH took the most precautions when it concerned the COVID-19 pandemic and made certain it took care of all of its wrestlers during that time. Yet today, when the depth of pro wrestling talent currently on the free-agent market is seemingly at an all-time high, ROH is briefly closing its doors.
Hopefully, it will find a method to keep going.
The Death Match King.
What a year it's been for Matt Cardona. After being released by the WWE in April 2020 and having a brief stint in AEW, the man formerly known as Zack Ryder made the dive to Impact Wrestling at the start of the year while likewise expanding his podcasting empire. However he kicked things into a brand-new gear over the summer by showing up in Game Changer Wrestling and embracing his function as the most hated man in the company.
By funneling his WWE roots, Cardona immediately clashed with GCW's outspoken fanbase and made him the ideal foil for the majority of GCW's roster.
The scene of Cardona getting pelted with garbage after winning the GCW World Championship in July is practically deserving of its own spot on the list, but he managed to pack many moments into just a single year-- dressing up as Vince McMahon as ECW Champion, making a GCW Universal Championship spinner belt, crowning himself the Deathmatch King, dropping the title to Jon Moxley, Chelsea Green's arrival, the PBR commercial and losing the Internet Championship to Effy just among others. And now that he's shown up in the NWA while preserving his GCW persona, it looks like 2022 might be another enjoyable year.
Jeff Hardy was suddenly released from the WWE on Dec. 9, days after he was pulled from the roadway following a bizarre scene at a WWE live event in Edinburg, Texas. Hardy has yet to formally discuss the scenario, though a conspiracy theory has actually already emerged on social networks that he somehow deliberately got himself fired. Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful put an end to that theory on Monday night, writing on Twitter, "It seems ridiculous to resolve this at all, however according to those close with him I talked to-- Jeff Hardy wasn't attempting to get fired from WWE. He wasn't 'working to leave his offer.'
The exact phrase I was offered was that it was an 'absurd take.'".Jeff made his very first appearance since his shooting on Matt Hardy's Twitch channel on Monday night. Matt then explained on his stream that WWE "may have beat the gun" in letting the former WWE Champion go and that the drug test he took prior to his departure is expected to come back tidy. Hardy was detained two times in 2019 for alcohol-related occurrences and asked WWE to send him to rehab. Matt verified Jeff rejected WWE's offer to send him to rehab following the Edinburg show as he felt it was unneeded..
It seems silly to resolve this at all, however according to those close with him I spoke with-- Jeff Hardy wasn't attempting to get fired from WWE. He wasn't "working to leave his offer." The specific expression I was offered was that it was an "ridiculous take."- Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com
" What I am stating is Jeff is in the very best place I've seen him in a long time," Matt said. "As far as the details of what decreased on that evening and because match, I've talked with Jeff, I feel great about everything he said and that's Jeff's story to share. And he told me he will, when he's all set to."
" But before anyone rushes to judgment, undoubtedly they drug checked him after all this things, wait till you hear the results of that and when that comes back clean then ideally people will feel much better about it," he continued. "Because I feel excellent about Jeff, I feel great about Jeff. And WWE, I comprehend their stance too. Since of his history, they felt like they were backed into a corner. Despite the fact that they might have jumped the weapon with this a bit, they decided and it is what it is. Jeff did say he wasn't going to go to rehab since he didn't feel he required to. And I don't think he did either. That's the honest to God fact.".