Headlines, headlines, headlines… The wrestling industry knows how to both make news and break news, and 2014 was no different. TNA lost (and found) a home. ROH emerged on Pay-Per-View. Still, bigger names and bigger networks emerged. What were they? Read on to find out…
Brian Fritz (@BrianFritz): There are several choices that quickly come to mind between The Undertaker’s streak coming to an end to CM Punk walking out of the WWE and later unloading on them before signing to fight in the UFC. Neither are my picks though. Instead, I’m choosing the launch of the WWE Network and where it is now because of the ramifications it has on their business. While the network can be viewed at as a great value for wrestling diehards, it has not been the instant hit that the WWE had planned and it may be years before it comes close to the numbers the company expected. And because of that, it has had a ripple effect on WWE business between major layoffs in 2014 and possibly more in the coming year along with changes to various departments and what exactly to do with the WWE Network going forward. At the beginning of the year, the WWE thought it was going to strike it big between the network rollout and its new television deal but neither happened the way they hoped. So much has been put into the network and with it not meeting expectations so far and really hurting their pay-per-view business — one of their main sources of income — that it has become a real issue they have to figure out quickly. That’s just the business side with another major issue is talent pay from the network which is another big question mark that should have been bigger if their was another promotion even close to the WWE where the wrestlers could work.
Michael A. Wiseman (@therealwiseman): Everything about the WWE Network was revolutionary. Everything still IS. But, despite how much of an impact it made, the launch itself faltered, subscriber numbers were down, and subsequently, investors became nervous. So I think the biggest news story had to be CM Punk walking out on WWE (then airing his grievances on the Colt Cabana podcast, then signing a deal with Marvel, and eventually showing up on UFC TV). No one man is bigger than wrestling. But the way CM Punk stole headlines this year, and the way wrestling websites couldn’t stop talking about him, shows that the industry is still about star power. I wish we could’ve moved on easier… and I wish both parties (CM Punk and WWE) would’ve handled things differently… But when Vince McMahon himself has to comment publicly about an ex-wrestler’s podcast, you know it’s a big deal. Here’s less Punk in 2015!
Josh Lopez (@JoshLopezCSR): I’m going with CM Punk revealing the reasons as to why he left WWE on Colt Cabana’s “Art of Wrestling” Podcast. CM Punk is my all-time favorite wrestler and part of my passion for wrestling left with me when Punk left WWE after the Royal Rumble last year. The podcast of course was controversial, but what totally sucks is finding the actual reason as to why he left and also hearing the stuff he actually told Vince/Triple H that day in Cleveland is some of the most revealing behind the scenes moments in wrestling history. CM Punk vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 30 was a dream feud that was stripped away from me and who knows if Punk stayed maybe he would’ve done the same thing Daniel Bryan did at WrestleMania. I got my closure from this issues and I moved on and hope that maybe one day he’ll be back in the company.
Danny Bixby (@DannyJBixby): Say it with me: $9.99!! In my opinion the creation and promotion of the WWE Network is a serious wrestling fan’s dream come true. The amount of classic content, combined with new programming for a fraction of what you’d pay each month for a PPV? Absolute madness! But the real story is the future of the WWE Network. Because we’re not seeing it in its finished form. Not a chance. WWE realizes that the future of their entire company, perhaps the future of the pro wrestling industry, rises and falls on the success of the Network. They’re going to have to get more gung ho with it, put a larger focus on it, put more exclusive content there, the whole 9 yards. Even though I’d argue NXT is worth the $9.99/month on its own…still, nothing can top the importance of the launch of the future of pro wrestling: The WWE Network.
Nathan McCarter (@McCarterN): This has been a big news year for professional wrestling. There are 3-5 stories that could have easily taken this category on any other given year, but the WWE Network is a game changer. NJPW has already followed suit with NJPW World. The WWE had been rumored to be working on a network for years, but it finally came to fruition at a big bargain. Cable and satellite companies have already dropped WWE from their schedules in response. The WWE has had to layoff some staff and cutback in other departments. We have seen big news reports from financial outlets concerning the WWE’s subscription numbers. Why? Because this is a big deal. It is a huge shift in the business. CM Punk and others may be more fresh on our minds, but the WWE Network had an impact industry wide. That’s why it is the biggest news story of the year.
Think we got it right? Or did something else make your “Biggest News Story of 2014”? Tell us in the comments below! Then, catch up with our entire Best of 2014 series.