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SLAM! Wrestling's Best of 2010 - The Stories
By SLAM! Wrestling Staff


Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch.


The SLAM! Wrestling website has been in operation since late 1996, and is one of the most respected and visited on the Internet. It is been in its current incarnation since 2003, with co-founder and producer Greg Oliver at the helm and a dedicated, hard-working staff -- some of whom have been with the website for a decade!

Below you will find a bunch of tidbits about the past year, and a little bit about what our writers remember. (We'll hear from the photographers next week.)

Enjoy the past, and perhaps a glance behind the scenes into how some of the stories came about!

GREG OLIVER: There's no question that the most difficult story I did this year was Trevor Murdoch sharing his memories of his best friend Lance Cade, not long after his death (Sep 23: Trevor Murdoch breaks his silence on Lance Cade). Murdoch had been silent, and had chosen to reach out to the wrestling world through me, since he respected the piece I'd done on him in 2007, where he addressed the delicate subject of the Chris Benoit double murder suicide (July 30, 2007: Trevor Murdoch "confused" by Benoit tragedy). Aside from the fact it was an hour and a half of transcribing to do, including many tears and pauses for composure, writing the story was heartwrenching. Alas, it wasn't the only wrestler to die young this year. Having known Luna Vachon for years, and being friends with her stepfather, Paul "The Butcher" and uncle, Mad Dog Vachon, it was an obituary I didn't want to write (Aug 27: Luna Vachon found dead).

As the Producer of the site, which basically means I am the assignment editor, proofreader, photo editor and managing editor, I saw a ton of great stories get posted. A few of my favourites:

  • Brian Kendrick goes off on, well, everybody, in a talk with Matt Bishop (Jan 12: Kendrick speaks out against the 'backstabbers, power hungry people, suck ups, weak people')
  • Marshall Ward did an interview with Skandor Akbar just a few weeks before his sudden death (Jul 29: General Skandor Akbar still has heat)

    Trish Stratus and Steve Buffery. Photo by Mark O'Neill, Toronto Sun
  • Jason Clevett was like a little kid at WrestleReunion in Los Angeles, and, with the help of photographer Dr. Mike Lano, interviewed Jushin "Thunder" Lyger (Mar 4: A rare interview with Jushin "Thunder" Lyger)
  • Toronto Sun sports columnist Steve Buffery's visit to Trish Stratus' yoga story had me laughing (Jul 15: Sun writer totally Stratus-fied)

    MATT MACKINDER: I think getting the chance to watch Ring of Honor on a regular basis was my favorite part of 2010. It doesn't have the glitz and glamour that WWE or even TNA for that matter has, but it's what old school fans yearn for -- straight-up wrestling. Just get in the ring and go. Have a long feud. Get some color. Simple as that. I only wish more fans would pay attention.

    My favorites written by others are the Brian Kendrick epic Matt Bishop wrote (Jan 12: Kendrick speaks out against the 'backstabbers, power hungry people, suck ups, weak people'), Greg Oliver's emotional piece on Trevor Murdoch talking about Lance Cade's untimely death, and the Scott Steiner "pissed off" piece by Tim Baines of the Ottawa Sun (May 1: A pissed off Scott Steiner speaks out).

    TOP FIVE STORIES TOP FIVE RELEASES
    1. Aug 27: Luna Vachon found dead by Greg Oliver
    2. Aug 13: Lance Cade dead at 29 by Matt Bishop
    3. Apr 3: Chris Kanyon dead at 40 by Jason Clevett
    4. Aug 12: Bischoff reacts to Hogan's Twitter confusion, new show by Chris Schramm
    5. Mar 29: Undertaker ends Shawn Michaels' career in thrilling rematch to cap off Wrestlemania XXVI by Nick Tylwalk and Dale Plummer
    1. Dec 23: WWE releases Smackdown superstar (Kaval) by Jon Waldman
    2. Feb 28: Former tag team champ latest WWE release (Charlie Haas) by Jon Waldman
    3. Jun 12: WWE releases Daniel Bryan by Jason Clevett
    4. Oct 15: Matt Hardy released by WWE by Jon Waldman
    5. Apr 22: Seven released from WWE (Mickie James, Katie Lea Burchill, Shelton Benjamin, Kung Fu Naki, Slam Master J and Jimmy Wang Yang) by Jon Waldman


    JON WALDMAN: This was the first year in a long time that I felt like I truly got back into the swing of doing interviews. In particular, I enjoyed chatting with SoCal Val about her charity work, in part because I wanted to really try my hand at how much of an impact (pardon the pun) Twitter was making in pro wrestling. The interview originated from a conversation I struck up with TNA's siren via the social network platform, and I was truly impressed by her devotion to the ASPCA. There's more coming from that interview in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned! (Aug. 9: Tweets help SoCal Val promote charity)


    Daniel Bryan goes west, to Calgary, only to hear Dolph Ziggler babble on. Photo by Jason Clevett
    The other highlight was my interview with Daniel Bryan. The American Dragon had been on my hit list for quite a while, and he was very open in talking with me both for the Winnipeg story (Oct. 18: Bryan looking forward to Winnipeg and Calgary shows) and the fuller article that ran earlier this month (Jan. 6, 2011: Bryan reflects on WWE return and Cena match, anticipates future feuds). I had always appreciated Bryan's work in the ring, but I have an even stronger appreciation now! Also, I really have to give props to WWE's Al Stavola for this one, because he went out of his way to ensure that I got this interview.

    Other great stories? When you've been at SLAM! Wrestling as long as I have, and led the efforts on our first book (cheap pop!), you get used to seeing a lot of great stories from our writers. So instead, what really impressed me this year was the growth of our photo galleries, especially those by Mike Mastrandrea. Every time I look at his WWE pics from shows I can't help but marvel. It's not uncommon for other wrestling media to take clips from articles we publish, but I wish more sites would link up with Mike's galleries, because I truly feel that outside WWE's crew, he is the single best wrestling photographer working today. (See the Mike Mastrandrea gallery.)


    "The King of Belts" Reggie Parks. Photo by Bob Kapur.
    BOB KAPUR: One of the best things about writing for SLAM! Wrestling is to be able to get experiences that most people will never get to do. That was the case when I went to visit with "The King of Belts" Reggie Parks over WrestleMania weekend. (Aug. 2: A golden visit to Reggie Parks' belt workshop) Reggie has literally created history, in the form of the title belts that champions from virtually every major company has worn around his or her waist. While it may sound corny, to see where they came from was a real mark-out moment for me. The introduction I did to that piece -- where I speculated on the size of the factory that he uses to make them -- was actually what I thought went on... so it was neat to get "smartened up" about it, as the old-timers say.

    One of the things that first drew me to the site as a fan was the profiles on the local independent wrestlers. I'm glad to see that we continue to do profiles on workers like Michael Elgin (May 19: Michael Elgin a young oldtimer), Cherry Bomb (April 28: Cherry Bomb primed to explode onto scene), Kyle O'Reilly (Dec. 7: Kyle O'Reilly's long journey ends with ROH deal) and Nikita (Nov. 10: Nikita, bad girl Russian, a young up and comer on Ontario scene). These young men and women, and hundreds of others like them, go out there, risking injury or worse, in front of crowds that can be as tiny as a dozen people, in order to entertain the fans, gain some experience performing in front of a crowd, and maybe get paid enough to cover the gas it took to get to the show, all in the hopes of one day making it to the big time. I'm glad that SLAM! Wrestling can give them some national exposure as they chase their dreams.

    TOP FIVE STORIES THAT WEREN'T OBITUARIES, TV or PPV REPORTS, or a RELEASE
    1. Aug 12: Bischoff reacts to Hogan's Twitter confusion, new show by Chris Schramm
    2. Oct 6: Darling Dagmar re-enters the wrestling world by Greg Oliver
    3. May 1: A pissed off Scott Steiner speaks out by Tim Baines
    4. June 13, 2007: Dixie Carter reflects on five years of TNA (Note: This was because of the death of actress Dixie Carter)
    5. Sep 23: Trevor Murdoch breaks his silence on Lance Cade by Greg Oliver


    DAVE HILLHOUSE: I would count my time covering Smackdown for half of the year as one long article. I have especially enjoyed covering Kane's antics throughout the latter part of 2010. From fan favourite, to gumshoe, to surprise champion, to hated betrayer, to the Fuzzy Red Monster ... it's been nothing but interesting with Kane on Smackdown.

    From the 2010 archives, I really did enjoy that essay excerpt by J Michael Kenyon (July 7: The history of wrestling "historians"). Once I truly take an interest in something, I like to learn as much of its history as I can. A lot of what Kenyon wrote matched what I felt about my own obligations as I moved from fan to fan/writer. Plus, as much as I love the daily news side of what SLAM! Wrestling brings to the table, I really enjoy the unique articles that pop up -- like this one.


    One of these things is not like the other ... three former world champions -- Nick Bockwinkel, Stan Hansen and Bruno Sammartino at WrestleReunion, with SLAM! Wrestling's Jason Clevett (he's the biggest of them all!). Photo by Christine Coons
    JASON CLEVETT: I can't really choose one article so much as a series of them revolving around WrestleReunion 4. Leading up to the event by talking to "Diamond" Dallas Page (Jan 26: DDP focused on fitness and WrestleReunion) and Rob Van Dam (Jan 27: RVD talks WrestleReunion, indy shows, and, maybe, TNA), covering the event itself, and wrapping it up with interviews with Scotty 2 Hotty (Apr 22: Scotty 2 Hotty relishes life off the road), Kishi (May 26: Family legacy important to Rikishi Fatu, and a huge coupe in Jushin "Thunder" Liger really made my year. I was recruited to help out with some events like photos, and I shot ringside for the ROH and PWG events. It really felt like I was involved with something special and I can't wait to do it again.

    Greg Oliver's heartbreaking interview with Trevor Murdoch on the death of Lance Cade is easily one of the best pieces of 2010, if not the history of the site. It is frustrating when you get an amazing piece, and it has to come out of something awful like death. I know from having interviewed several of Adam Firestorm's colleagues in the wake of his passing in 2009 and Kishi only a month after the death of his brother Umaga that it can be a difficult subject to broach and handle tastefully, which Greg did.

    TIM BAINES: In 2010, I interviewed many of the top wrestling personalities in the world, including Stone Cold Steve Austin (Mar 27: Stone Cold says he has 'has one last match' in him), Daniel Bryan (Oct 16: Daniel Bryan loving WWE roller coaster ride), John Morrison (Feb 20: 'John Morrison is me with the volume turned up'), Wade Barrett (Nov 20: Wade Barrett dreamed of being WWE champ), The Miz (Mar 13: Hated Miz: 'Bring it on') and The Big Show (Aug 14: Big Show at home in current role). One interview, with Scott Steiner, stood out. After being shoved aside by TNA, he was beligerent, irked at the system that pushes some guys to the top, calling them "puppets."

    But my favourite may have been one with wrestlers in the Ottawa area performing on the indy circuit (March 21: Ottawa wrestlers chase The Dream). Many of these performers will never know what it feels like to wrestle on TV or make more than pocket change for a show. But they’re passionate about what they do and they've got The Dream, a desire to compete against the best and to gain the adulation of wrestling fans worldwide.

    TOP FIVE PPV REPORTS TOP FIVE TV REPORTS
    1. Mar 29: RAW: HBK says farewell to the WWE Universe by Dale Plummer
    2. Nov 22: RAW: The Miz cashes in as Nexus costs Orton WWE title by Dale Plummer
    3. Jan 4: RAW: Bret Hart returns by Dale Plummer
    4. Jun 5: Smackdown: ...And The Dead Man Leaveth! by Dave Hillhouse
    5. Aug 10: RAW: Team WWE makes a stand by Dale Plummer



    Jack Laskin, right, is introduced by One of the Boys, Seymour Koening, at a Cauliflower Alley Club banquet. Photo by Mike Lano, WReaLano@aol.com
    MARTY GOLDSTEIN: The growth of my daily radio program and the personal emotional toll I felt by the deaths of Kerry Brown and Adam Firestorm Dykes in 2009 made it difficult for me to dedicate myself to writing for SLAM! Wrestling in 2010 and I apologize to Greg and everyone else for that fact. Greg has been very patient with me. I intend to contribute in 2011 when I get past some emerging health issues that we are dealing with at the moment. However, I want to mention two stories I did not write, but to which I felt a personal connection, however tenuous.

    The obituary of Jack Laskin, penned by the deceased (Nov. 30: Read this obituary of Jack Laskin!), was a wonderful glimpse into the kind heart of a pioneer for many of us fellow sons of Israel who ened up in the business. Around 1988, when Rick Patterson was working in South Africa, I ended up on the phone with the promoter in J-Berg, Sammy Cohen (was it spelled Koene or something?)

    He said "Winnipeg? that's close to Montreal isn't it? There's an old chum of mine, Jack Laskin. I haven't seen him in 30 years. Can you get a hold of him and ask him to ring me up?" I couldn't tell Sammy, (father of the Simpson boys of World Class fame) no, could I?

    Remember, there was no internet. Laskin had never worked near Winnipeg, I had never heard of him. Sammy mentioned he was born in Hamilton. One call to a Laskin in Hamilton, another call to California, a third call and there he was, clear as a bell, on the other end. "SAM?? Is he in Dallas with his boys?". Jack took the time to tell me a few stories and give me some career advice. The same Sammy gave me. "A good Jewish boy always has a back-up plan." I wish I had listened.

    The other story is the Mad Dog Rex obit (Dec. 19: Rest in peace, Mad Dog Rex). Neil Carr was central to the lives of some of my closest friends and without him I never would have met Greg Oliver. It was a beautiful story.

    RELATED LINKS
  • Dec. 31, 2010: SLAM! Wrestling's top stories of 2010