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The top stories of 2007
By SLAM! Wrestling Staff


Wrestling made the front page for all the wrong reasons in 2007.

As much as we said, this time last year, that 2006 was one of the most pivotal years for North American wrestling, 2007 beat it flat out, though not always for good reasons.

When the SLAM! Wrestling crew began picking the top stories of '07 -- there was little debate as to what the biggest story of the year was -- one that transcended the demi-sport we all love and had an impact that reached mainstream media and brought worldwide attention to a demon that has haunted the squared circle for far too long.

The impact of that story was so great, in fact, that in a close internal vote, we kept the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide linked with WWE's steroid policy and the overall scope of usage as one pick.

As you will see below, however, there were a number of other events that will make 2007 memorable. Once the votes were tallied, we had 16 stories that we felt were the top headliners. As always, we welcome your feedback, and look forward to seeing what you felt were the top highs and lows of this past year. Now, onto the list.


1. The murders, the lists, the policy
There's no question the top story from 2007 was the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide the weekend of June 23-24. SLAM! Wrestling had it covered from the very beginning and had many exclusive interviews. This whole ordeal prompted a tough look at WWE's self-imposed Wellness Policy. Benoit's autopsy revealed he had 10 times the normal level of testosterone in his system and bottles of anabolic steroids were found in his suburban Atlanta home where he killed his son, Daniel and wife, Nancy (Woman in wrestling circles) before hanging himself on a piece of workout equipment. This whole series of events that caused Benoit to no-show the Vengeance pay-per-view, where he was allegedly scheduled to win the ECW title in a tournament final match with CM Punk, sent shockwaves through the wrestling community. Benoit's name appearing alongside current and past WWE stars on several steroid and other drug lists seized by authorities and published in mainstraim media led to WWE coming under heavy scrutiny, even from the U.S. Congress, for their health issue awareness and hectic schedule. To his credit, Vince McMahon has made numerous appearances on national TV shows in recent months defending his company, but it appears the damage has been done. Hopefully, 2008 means WWE starts to make positive waves once more.

2. A greater "Impact"
Virtually since the premier of Impact on SpikeTV, TNA had coveted one thing more than anything else -- a two hour timeslot. This past fall, their long-standing desire came to fruition. With the additional 60 minutes (less commercial time, naturally), TNA has been able to showcase more of its talent and could make things interesting in the new year for pro wrestling fans in North America.

3. Paging Dr. Wrestling
This year saw a number of big-name wrestlers go down with an assortment of injuries as Triple H, Booker T, The Undertaker, Edge, Bobby Lashley, Shawn Michaels, Mr. Kennedy, John Cena, Rhino, Konnan and The Big Show all went on the shelf in 2007 and in Show's case, permanently. All except Cena, Lashley and Rhino have since returned to action and Konnan, having had kidney and hip replacement procedures, is now relegated to managerial and booking duties. Cena should be back next spring.

4. The Next Big Thing in the eight-sided ring
When Brock Lesnar moved from WWE to the NFL, critics panned the big man, and relished in his inability to crack the Minnesota Vikings squad. When Lesnar announced his move to MMA, however, the same critics were noticably silent. Now, with a 1-0 record to his credit, Lesnar moves into the octagon, having signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Given the high popularity of the sport, especially the cross-over appeal it has with wrestling fans, UFC could have their next big star, as Brock makes his debut this February against Frank Mir.

5. Saveus_Y2J
In September, a mysterious code promo began showing up on WWE programming with the message "Save.Us_22." As the weeks went on, speculation (and obvious clues in the code) was that this was the way to announce the return of Chris Jericho. On November 19, Jericho returned to Raw to interrupt a promo by Randy Orton, much like he did with The Rock back in August 1999, and was also wearing pretty much the same outfit.

6. 'Mania is still running wild
Think wrestling is in the downtime of its cycle? Tell that to WWE, who drew record revenue for WrestleMania XXIII. Highlighted by the first-ever match between John Cena and Shawn Michaels, 'Mania, along with the Hall of Fame induction and other associated events, WM weekend proved to be a major moneymaker both for the Fed and the city of Detroit, as well as independent events such as a legends reunion show and a Ring of Honor event.

7. RoH on PPV
Ring Of Honor took a big jump this year in going into the pay-per-view market via G-Funk Sports & Entertainment with iN DEMAND Networks, TVN and the DISH Network. While their shows aren't live, but taped weeks earlier, this is still a positive ("baby steps" if you will) for the company. Their inaugural PPV show back in June, Driven, saw Bryan Danielson defeat Nigel McGuinness in a match from two weeks earlier in Philadelphia. Because of the PPV deal, TNA immediately yanked its contracted talent from ROH. To date, Ring of Honor has taped four pay-per-views (Respect Is Earned, Driven, Man Up and Undeniable) with the fifth scheduled for Dec. 29 in New York.

8. In need of a policy
Amidst talk of a re-vamping of WWE's Wellness Policy and the U.S. Congress discussing possible sanctions on steroids in pro wrestling, word around the 'net began to leak that TNA, in fact, had no drug standards in place, and that testing was rarely, if ever performed. TNA has since noted that it is in the process of developing a plan, one which the wrestling community hopes will be in place sooner rather than later.

9. The written word
This was a memorable year for book publishers as Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Ivan Koloff, Deepak Massand, Batista and "Dr. Death" Steve Williams penned autobiographies and SLAM! Wrestling producer Greg Oliver co-authored a book of essays on the Benoit tragedy and one on pro wrestling heels. Two Bruiser Brody books (one co-written by his widow) also came out in 2007 along with books on Memphis wrestling, the NWA, broadcasting (by Bill Mercer) and general books on the sport.

10. In memory of...
It's unfortunate, but once again the number of deaths in pro wrestling dominated many of the year's headlines. As has been the case throughout much of the young century, several wrestlers, including Sherri Martel, Bam Bam Bigelow and Brian Adams among others, passed away well before their time. None of these fine athletes will ever be forgotten (Editor's note: SLAM! Wrestling will have obituaries of those who left us in 2007 in the coming weeks).

WHAT YOU THINK
What was the biggest wrestling story in 2007?
TNA Impact goes to 2 hours - 1%
Chris Benoit murder/suicide - 87%
Brock Lesnar joins UFC - 1%
Booker T jumps to TNA - 1%
Chris Jericho returns - 3%
Fabulous Moolah dies - 1%
Vince McMahon's limo explodes - 1%
Ring of Honor on PPV - 1%
Injuries to top talent - 1%
Wrestlemania's big numbers - 1%
TNA drug policy - 0%
Deaths of past stars - 2%
More wrestling books - 0%
TNA leaves NWA - 1%
Other - 1%
11. Fabulous Moolah passes away
Considering the horrendous year WWE had, the Fabulous Moolah's passing in November didn't have any drama as drugs did not play a role. She was a living legend, was a true wrestler in every sense of the word, once held the women's title for 28 years and still made occasional appearances on Raw with longtime friend Mae Young. She showed up at WrestleMania 23 in Detroit in a backstage segment and also at SummerSlam. Moolah, real name Lillian Ellison, died at the age of 84 possibly from a heart attack or blood clot related to recent shoulder replacement surgery.

12. TNA leaves the NWA
When TNA was first established, the ties to the National Wrestling Alliance was extremely heavy, as past champions had a strong presence early on. Through the new company's growth, however, the old-school ties dwindled, first in name, then in spirit. By mid-2007, rumours began to spread that the NWA would remove its titles from TNA, who had been the main holder of the belts, due to the champions not travelling to the different territories as per tradition. TNA seemed none to worried about dropping the affiliation, and indeed created its own titles and completely separated from the Alliance. While the split has had no effect on TNA, the NWA has all but dissappeared from wrestling headlines once again, following the completion of its tournaments to establish new World and Tag Team champs.

13. McMahon fakes his death
On the June 11 edition of Monday Night Raw, Mr. McMahon strode to his limo after the show and it inexplicably exploded, presumably killing the WWE chairman instantly. While just a storyline, some mainstream media picked up on it as reality and fans reportedly sent cards and flowers to Stamford. A "funeral" was planned for June 25 on Raw, only to have McMahon come on camera at the beginning of the show, announce that his character Mr. McMahon was "dead" and proclaim that night's Raw to be a Benoit tribute show. The death angle was later revealed to be a hoax.

14. Booker has a new kingdom
Last year, Kurt Angle was the biggest name in wrestling to switch companies. This year, it was Booker T, who moved to Orlando with his wife, Sharmell, after being released by WWE. The former King Booker had been on suspension from the Fed and wrestled his last match after SummerSlam in a losing effort to John Cena. Booker's move to TNA was one of wrestling's worst-kept secrets, as he debuted at Genesis as a "surprise" partner for Sting in the main event. Booker nowhas his eyes set on the big gold in TNA, with the potential to become the first wrestler to wear the Heavyweight strap in WWE, WCW and TNA.

15. A ring of their own
Women took a greater in-ring role this year in TNA and a Knockouts champion was crowned at Bound For Glory as Gail Kim won the first-ever women's title. The company is now busting at the seams with female talent such as Awesome Kong, ODB, Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, Christy Hemme, Roxxi Leveaux, Jackie Moore, Karen Angle, Traci Brooks and Sharmell. Leticia Cline was a popular backstage interviewer, but she has since left TNA.

16. Famine instead of Fest
It's an all-too familiar story -- a fen festival promoter skips town before paying wrestlers their dues. What happened in San Francisco at Wrestle Fest 2007, however, took that story to a whole new level, as fights broke out in the host hotel's bar and a general lack of order from organizer Chris Cramer made for an absolute disaster of a show. Hopefully, incidents like these will not be seen in 2008.


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-- compiled by Jon Waldman and Matt Mackinder