-Violet Baudelaire from “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”
That quote from this movie to me sums up the year 2004 from a personal and a professional standpoint in terms of the world of professional wrestling or sports entertainment, for those WWE-type folk who must insist it be called as such.
World Wrestling Entertainment experienced the whole gambit in 2004, going from hell to back, back to hell, and all in between. We saw the highlights of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero embracing as champions at the end of WrestleMania XX, Kane and Lita kissing at the altar, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar wrestling in a match where the fans actually broke character for once, drawing the ire of Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Things that were out of the norm reigned surpreme.
We saw bar fighting, drink guzzling Bradshaw turn into George W. Bush wannabe John Bradshaw Layfield. He ascended to the WWE Title during the summer and he has never looked back, which of course has upset the goodwill that you in the Internet Wrestling Community felt during the spring.
We saw Randy Orton become megaface and flopped, what they wanted to do with Orton work with Batista, Gene Snitsky become a household name, Eugene arrive and piss off the Internet writers, only to have people embrace him as time went on, Christy Hemme become your new Raw Diva, until Carmella, Candace, Maria, Amy Weber, Joy and Michelle McCool make a mockery that the Raw Diva Search was, and Daniel Puder win the Million Dollar Tough Enough. We are just waiting before Miz shows up with his contact in hand.
We saw new names like Carlito Caribbean Cool, Heidenreich, Jesus, and Kenzo Suzuki invade the Smackdown brand and making it at least interesting to watch, for those who actually watch Smackdown.
It does not take a rocket scientist to see that 2004 was a year of change for professional wrestling. The sport often does that, like any sports or entertainment franchise. A new guard comes in and takes over in order to keep the sport fresh and vibrant. However, things do not always go as planned, anybody can tell you that.
On paper, Vince McMahon would lead you to believe that his business model is flawless, that people would eat this brand extension business for breakfast but it is not so. He’ll keep going until he loses money, then it is back to the drawing board.
2004 saw the departure of so many superstars who headed off for greener pastures such as the NFL, TNA or another independent that nobody outside of people reading this column will have never heard of.
Making a list would take too much reading space but here is a list of who left World Wrestling Entertainment in 2004. In no particular order: Kevin Nash, Spanky, Zach Gowen, Ernest Miller, Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Ron Simmons, Terri Runnels, Steve Austin, Brian Christopher, Scott Steiner, Chavo Guerrero, Sr., Jacqueline, Rue DeBona, Sakoda, Rikishi, Sable, Jamie Noble, Tom Pritchard, Pat Patterson, A-Train, Billy Gunn, Test, Gail Kim, Nidia, Chuck Palumbo, Jazz, Johnny Stamboli, Rodney Mack, Rico, Chris Kanyon, Goldust, Sean O’Haire, Paul Bearer, Linda Miles, you get the idea. If I forgot anybody, and knowing my luck, I did, do not be a smart and e-mail me as if I am stupid, I am using this list to prove a point.
Where are most of these people now? For those who have not returned to private life, tried to make a big name for them in an Independent or headed down to Nashville-now Orlando to make TNA a competitor.
Then add the influx of new faces – which I pretty much named earlier, it proves that the cyclical nature of wrestling always rears its head and that 2004 was a year of “Moving On”. Talent moved on from their current situation in chance of a better situation.
In 2004, TNA went from weekly one hour pay per views to a monthly three hour pay per view, delivering two in the form of Victory Road and Turning Point, a dream for fans wanting competition, legitimate competition.
World Wrestling Entertainment made inroads with fans by finally tapping into its huge video library delivering the awesome ECW DVD as well as videos featuring Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero, Trish Stratus, John Cena and more. (I know I forgot some but that is alright) The video library also became the basis for the new WWE 24/7 Video on Demand Service, a dream for wrestling fans craving a slice of history.
It finally leads me back to my first recall, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit embracing at the end of WrestleMania XX, truly a dream that came true for them in their professional careers and a dream to finally see two deserving competitors win major championships.
This and many more dreams made 2004 a year of dreams as well.
Now what does this have to do with me? If you’ve been living under a rock or if you don’t know my life has paralleled the themes of 2004. With the death of my father and loss of my fiancée, this year has certainly been a year or change and moving on. And now here I stand, officially, a graduate of ECPI College of Technology, with an Associates Degree in hand, a dream come true. A miracle considering that 16 months ago, all I had to live for was the Internet Wrestling Community. Now I have my whole life ahead of me….
If there were ever a hall of fame for Internet Columnists, I may not be your first choice, second third, or sixteenth but I know for fifteen minutes, I was honored to have been somebody that you read each week and I am truly grateful for that.
I do not know what the future of my column will be because I know I have been intermittent in my writing since September. I think in this year of change that it is may truly be time for me to move on and ride off into the sunset.
No fanfare, no ceremony, just a college graduate wanting to make his dreams come true. One of them came true by becoming one of the most respected figures in the Internet Wrestling Community, but as with all things, I have outlived my usefulness and now see the IWC passing me by. Do I catch up or do I move on? Only time will answer….
In the years to come, wrestling fans all over will continue to watch the stupid and horrible, 2004 had an abundance of that. But for every 50 stupid moments, there are moments that make us remember the love for the business, like Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero at WrestleMania.
And for every wonderful wrestling moment that makes us smile, there are dozens of life moments that stand out in our minds. Some may even consider certain moments, a series of unfortunate events such as saying goodbye to a parent for the final time, saying goodbye to a fiancée as they drive away filled with hurt, anger and pain. However, think back to the quote at the beginning of this piece. These unfortunate events may be the first step of a journey and they are. They have lead me to where I am now, walking out of school realizing a lifelong dream with a degree in hand. There are more moments that I have not mentioned and more moments that await me in my journey.
All these moments, as well as writing Scotty’s Corner, make me the person that I am today and with it the pain, hurt, happiness and laughter that comes with it.
Wrestling is a fantasy world, which is another thing I learned this year. It is a diversion from the real world and while wonderful as the fantasy world seems, there is a whole world out there waiting for me to conquer as there is for the rest of you.
Always follow your heart and your dreams and keep wrestling in its proper perspective because it can all come to an end without warning. You may be a beloved figure one day and in 24 hours, a thing of the past – no administrator job, site ownership, popularity contest ranking, or writing for all the sites in the world can change that.
Thank you for reading and Happy Holidays.
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