Top 50 WWE Moments of 2012


It was a big year for WWE, including the historic 1,000th episode of Raw, WrestleMania XXVIII, the 10th anniversary of Tribute to the Troops and many more exciting events! As the entire WWE Universe awaits what 2013 has in store, relive 50 of the most memorable moments of 2012 now.

Brock Lesnar returns to WWE

Brock Lesnar returns to Raw and attacks John Cena.

We all know WrestleMania is The Showcase of the Immortals; the place where Superstars become Legends. It’s an event so big the entire WWE Universe waits all year for that one, special night. So what happens when it’s over? What happens after The Grandest Stage of Them All is cleared?

Well, one night after WrestleMania XXVIII, Brock Lesnar happened.

Just 24 hours removed from the epic “Once in a Lifetime” battle between The Rock and John Cena and The Undertaker extended his streak to an unfathomable 20-0, the WWE Universe was rocked to its core yet again.

When the familiar, screeching opening guitar strain of “Here Comes the Pain” blared through the speaker system at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena on the April 2 episode of Raw SuperShow, the building came unglued. Brock was back, and he had his sights set squarely on John Cena.

One thundering F-5 to the Cenation leader later, and the WWE Universe knew the WWE landscape had changed.

Ric Flair makes a surprise return on Slammy night

After CM Punk berates the returning Ric Flair, "The Nature Boy" fends off an attack from the WWE Champion and locks Paul Heyman in the Figure-Four Leglock.

After a three-and-a-half–year absence from the WWE ring, two-time WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair returned to Monday Night Raw. The 16-time World Champion handed out the Slammy Award for Superstar of the Year to John Cena. When the three-time winner tried to pass the honor off to Flair, WWE Champion CM Punk took great offense, unleashing a verbal assault on “The Nature Boy.” Flair challenged Punk to a fight and after the WWE Champion smashed one of his crutches over the Hall of Famer’s back, Flair poked him in the eye then put Paul Heyman in the Figure-Four Leglock. Suddenly, The Shield appeared, unleashing a relentless assault on “Naitch” that not even WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No could stop. Finally, Ryback entered the scene and laid waste to Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. Team Hell No and Ryback gave Flair the heroes’ welcome he deserved, raising him up on their shoulders for a moment the WWE Universe won’t soon forget.

John Cena becomes the first Superstar to cash in his Money in the Bank contract and lose

CM Punk defends his WWE Championship against John Cena in the main event until things get out of control when Big Show and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson get involved.

Nearly 250 days into his WWE Championship reign, CM Punk faced one of his hardest challenges when he battled the tenacious John Cena.

Looking to become an 11-time WWE Champion — and gain some revenge on longtime rival Punk — Cena earned his championship match by winning the Money in the Bank contract at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view two weeks earlier. Much like the many previous encounters between the two Superstars, the Raw 1,000 clash quickly devolved into a physical, back-and-forth battle of wills.

Cena relied on his power to wear down the champion, while Punk fought back with his vast array of kicks and submission maneuvers. Ultimately, vengeful giant Big Show interfered and twice attacked Cena, leading to a disqualification win for the Cenation leader. Since titles do not change hands with disqualifications, however, Punk remained the champion and Cena’s precious title opportunity went up in smoke.

This shocking development made John Cena the first and only Superstar to fail at cashing in a Money in the Bank contract, a most uninspiring “first” on Cena’s otherwise sparking WWE resume.

What will 2013 bring in the long-running rivalry between Cena and Punk?

Charlie Sheen joins WWE as Celebrity Social Media Ambassador

Charlie Sheen uses Skype to talk about watching Raw 1,000.

Award-winning actor Charlie Sheen joined WWE as the Celebrity Social Media Ambassador for the historic 1,000th episode of Raw. During the three-hour milestone event, the actor entertained his 7.5 million Twitter followers and the WWE Universe all night long with his unique 140-character analysis of the action, in addition to appearing on the TitanTron via Skype.

After AJ Lee ditched Daniel Bryan at the altar to assume the mantle of Raw General Manager, Sheen made a few derogatory comments about the submission specialist. Bryan responded and provoked the ire of Sheen by claiming the notorious wild man needed “life management.”

Sheen replied to the bristling Bryan by offering an open challenge to come seek him out the next time Bryan finds himself in Los Angeles. Although Bryan never battled Sheen in-person, he did later undergo “anger management” with his adversary Kane, finding a new partner and a path to WWE’s Tag Team Titles.

Maybe Charlie Sheen was right all along?

The Brogue Kick is banned

Booker T calls to explain his actions on banning the Brogue Kick.

After personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez, suffered an injury as a result of being Brogue Kicked by The Celtic Warrior on Raw, Alberto Del Rio and his legal representation, David Otunga, set the wheels in motion for what would be among one of the most controversial rulings by a General Manager in 2012.

After they presented a high-pressure case to SmackDown GM Booker T, the leader of SmackDown opted to ban The Celtic Warrior’s signature move temporarily, just nine days before Del Rio would challenge him for the title at Night of Champions.

The ruling set a dangerous precedent and left many in the WWE Universe wondering what other moves might be deemed illegal in the future. 

be a STAR celebrates its first birthday

On April 29, WWE’s extraordinary anti-bully campaign, be a STAR, turned 1 year old. The historic anti-bullying initiative encourages children to show tolerance and respect to each other and strives to help rid schools of bullying and abuse.

WWE Superstars have helped spread the message of be a STAR all around the world, with rallies from Miami to Italy, and everywhere in between. So far, it has traveled to 40 different schools, talking to more than 20,000 students.

WWE Saturday Morning Slam debuts on Vortexx on The CW

WWE does Saturday mornings a little differently than everybody else. Tune into Saturday Morning Slam this Saturday with a brand new 10:30 a.m. start time, only on The CW.

On Aug. 25, 2012, a new WWE program debuted on the Vortexx programming block on The CW: “WWE Saturday Morning Slam.”

Airing Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. alongside marquee titles like “Justice League Unlimited,” “Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy” and “Iron Man: Armored Adventures,” “WWE Saturday Morning Slam” is a half-hour of exciting, action-packed TV-G television for WWE fans of every age.

For riveting in-ring action, larger-than-life WWE Superstars and WWE’s entertaining brand extensions, “WWE Saturday Morning Slam” is the fastest, most energy-filled half-hour on television. WWE Superstar profiles, behind-the-scenes footage and an exclusive WWE match every week combine to make “WWE Saturday Morning Slam” the perfect destination for the youngest viewers in the WWE Universe. Tune in every Saturday!

Chris Jericho returns

Raw: Chris Jericho returns to WWE after weeks of cryptic "1-2-2012" videos

“The end begins,” went the mysterious videos that unspooled during Raw through the end of 2011, depicting a pair of children in an abandoned schoolhouse delivering a mystifying prophecy to the WWE Universe. The haunting vignettes heralded the return of a man who was coming to reclaim what was rightfully his, promising that the individual’s identity would be revealed on Jan. 2. On that edition of Raw, the arena went dark and “the end” arrived in the form of Chris Jericho, who made quite the entrance but refused to reveal his motives, shrouding his return in mystery by refusing to utter a single word for weeks on end.

When The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla finally did speak, though, he didn’t mince his words at all: He had come back to reclaim the WWE Championship and his mantle of “The Best in the World,” both of which had been taken by CM Punk. Jericho launched a psychological and physical onslaught against The Voice of the Voiceless in an attempt to claim the title, but fell short at WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami and then again at Extreme Rules in Chicago in a pair of classic bouts that took Punk to the proverbial limit. Y2J stayed in the hunt for World Title gold for much of 2012 after that, though, challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship and proving he was still worthy of his elite status against Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam after The Showoff questioned whether Jericho could still win the “big one.”

Unfortunately, Jericho’s luck ran short after that, as Ziggler bested him in a contest that put Jericho’s WWE contract on the line against Ziggler’s Money in the Bank contract. The defeat sent Y2J packing from WWE, but knowing him, it’s only a matter of time before he finds a way back. And when that time comes, rest assured, WWE will never,eeeeeevvvvveeerrr… well, you know the rest.

Pay-per-view live-streamed Pre-Shows debut

16 Superstars compete in a Battle Royal for the chance to vie for the United States Championship.

At WrestleMania XXVIII, introduced a new element to WWE’s already action-packed pay-per-view Sundays: the free, online Pre-Show. Since then, every WWE pay-per-view has kicked off with half-hour live-streams simulcast on, YouTube and Facebook.

To characterize the Pre-Show as “must see” programming would be an understatement. To start, championship gold has changed hands there, like when with Antonio Cesaro claimed the United States Title in a win over Santino Marella on the SummerSlam Pre-Show. But the Pre-Show can also lay the groundwork for events that transpire on the actual pay-per-view card later that night, making viewers of the Pre-Show the first people to learn of breaking news. At WWE Extreme Rules, the Table Match stipulation for Big Show’s Intercontinental Title defense against Cody Rhodes on pay-per-view was decided on the Pre-Show. By winning a Battle Royal on the Pre-Show in September, Zack Ryder scored an opportunity to face Cesaro for the U.S. Title at Night of Champions. ( WATCH)

Other times, the Pre-Show takes on a distinctly interactive vibe by putting the WWE Universe in the driver’s seat. WWE fans Touted and tweeted questions to John Cena during a rare Q-and-A with the Cenation leader on the WWE Hell in a Cell Pre-Show in October. More recently, the winners of’s exclusive online-only Slammy Awards, which were voted on by the WWE Universe, were revealed on the WWE TLC Pre-Show. Sweetening the pot further, makes the Pre-Shows available, in their entirety, on pay-per-view night, meaning you don’t have to wait long to go back and relive the excitement or, if you tuned in late, check it out for the first time.

The emergence of 3MB rocks the WWE Universe

During the match between Brodus Clay and Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal help The One Man Band lead a vicious assault on The Funkasaurus.

On the Sep. 21 episode of SmackDown, it looked like The Funkasaurus, Brodus Clay, was boogieing his way to another victory as he physically dominated Heath Slater, who was in the midst of a disastrous losing streak.

Before The Funkasaurus could finish the red-headed Superstar off, however, Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre suddenly launched a surprise sneak attack. The recovering One-Man Band joined in, making it a three-on-one assault that culminated in McIntyre’s Future Shock DDT and Mahal’s Camel Clutch. Leaving Brodus writing in pain on the canvas, the trio sent a strong message to the dancing Superstar and the WWE Universe.

In the following weeks, Slater, Mahal and McIntyre attacked other Superstars like Zack Ryder, Santino Marella and Yoshi Tatsu, eventually proclaiming themselves 3MB. With excellent size, experience and talent, in addition to drawing on extremely diverse backgrounds and supreme air guitar skills, 3MB could be the next big act to go to the top of the charts in WWE. Slater, Mahal and McIntyre appear to have what it takes to eventually “go platinum,” but it remains to be seen what 3MB has planned next on their world tour.

Rock on, 3MB. Rock on.

Rogue referee Brad Maddox costs Ryback the WWE Championship

Mr. McMahon gives Brad Maddox a $1 million opportunity after the former WWE Official explains why he attacked Ryback at Hell in a Cell.

Well, pardon the expression, but nobody quite had the stones to make their debut in 2012 quite like rogue referee Brad Maddox did. The wannabe Superstar first made his name known when he three-counted John Cena to victory against CM Punk despite Punk’s foot clearly resting on the ropes. But that was nothing compared to Hell in a Cell, when Maddox — who was officiating Punk’s title defense against Ryback — dropped to one knee and hit Ryback with a punishing uppercut to the groin, allowing Punk to pick up the win on the hobbled challenger. When asked to explain himself, Maddox revealed his motive to be deceptively simple: He just wanted to be famous. And over the next several weeks, he’d try to do just that, taking advantage of several “opportunities” for a million-dollar WWE contract that placed him in one-on-one contests with the likes of Ryback and Randy Orton. Needless to say, those attempts failed miserably, but given Maddox’s presence as a rising YouTube star (he’s even got his own cameraman, Carson), it’s a near certainty we haven’t seen the last of him. He just may get famous yet.

D-Generation X reforms

DX is one of the most popular and controversial groups in WWE history and they reunite for Raw's 1,000th episode.

On the historic 1,000th episode of Raw, Triple H and Shawn Michaels joined together in the ring for a DX reunion. Butas the duo looked out across the WWE Universe, they admitted something was missing.

That “something” turned out to be Billy Gunn, Road Dogg & X-Pac who joined their DX brethren in the ring for a celebration of one of WWE’s most notorious factions. When their reunion was interrupted by the likes of Damien Sandow, DX agreed to humor him at first. But soon enough, HBK drilled him with Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere, followed by The King of Kings planting him into the canvas with a Pedigree. DX then proceeded to further humiliate Sandow by stripping him down to his flamboyant trunks.

Big Show and Sheamus brawl it out

The first clash between Sheamus and Big Show at Hell in a Cell 2012 — which garnered the giant the World Heavyweight Championship — proved to be only the beginning of a volatile showdown that was so personal, it was destined to stretch beyond the ring, time-and-time-again.

The World’s Largest Athlete attacked The Celtic Warrior and William Regal in a Birmingham pub while the WWE was touring in the United Kingdom. On SmackDown, just two days before their rematch at Survivor Series, Sheamus engaged the giant in a massive brawl inside the parking lot. And after Big Show got himself disqualified at Survivor Series to retain the World Title, the Irish Superstar unloaded on him with a chair outside the ring, hitting him 31 times with the unforgiving steel weapon.

The situation got so bad that SmackDown General Manager Booker T forced the two Superstars to sign a No Contact Clause, forbidding them to lay a hand on each other before their Chairs Match at WWE: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.

Edge gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame

WWE takes a look back at the prestigious career of "The Rated-R Superstar" Edge.

Edge accomplished incredible feats in the squared circle during his legendary career — 11-time World Champion, 14-time Tag Team Champion, King of the Ring and winner of both the 2005 Money in the Bank Ladder Match and the 2010 Royal Rumble. But Edge’s legacy will always be intertwined with lifelong best friend and tag team partner Christian, with whom he won many of those Tag Team Championships.

It’s only fitting, then, that Christian was the one who ushered Edge into revered company as a 2012 inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame. Forever enshrined next to idols like Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart, Edge capped off a career that’s truly one for the history books.

From The Brood to the World Heavyweight Championship, with multiple trips to the tops of ladders and five-second photo ops along the way, the iconic Superstar never failed to entertain, anger and inspire. Although Edge’s career ended abruptly and sooner than most would have hoped, The Rated-R Superstar gave the WWE Universe everything. His humorous, tearful, humane acceptance speech was just one more unforgettable moment he gave the WWE Universe, like a cherry on top.

Thank you, Edge.

Mr. McMahon names AJ Lee the General Manager of Raw

AJ leaves Daniel Bryan at the altar after accepting Mr. McMahon's offer to become the permanent Raw General Manager.

AJ leaves Daniel Bryan at the altar after accepting Mr. McMahon's offer to become the permanent Raw General Manager.

Daniel Bryan blamed his girlfriend AJ Lee for the 18-secondlong loss of his World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXVIII. When AJ fell for WWE Champion CM Punk, though, it started a love triangle between Punk, Bryan and the Diva — and Kane for a bit, too.

The night after Punk defeated Bryan with AJ as guest referee at Money in the Bank, Bryan shockingly told AJ he loved her and proposed. The next week on Raw 1,000, the couple joined Rev. Slick and the WWE Universe for their nuptials.

But you know what they say about WWE weddings.

AJ said “Yes!” that night, but not to her beau. The Diva interrupted Slick before he could pronounce the couple husband and wife, prompting Mr. McMahon to join the fray and announce she was actually accepting his proposal to be the Raw General Manager. Some brides run away from their wedding. AJ skipped out. 

The WWE App debuts

Check out the WWE App for all your smart devices, featuring the second screen experience "WWE Active".

With just the tap of a finger in 2012, the WWE Universe discovered an incredible new way to connect to their favorite WWE programs and Superstars like never before.

The free, official WWE App, launched in August, became an instant hit with millions of WWE Universe members as they read breaking news, explored a colossal multimedia library, and unlocked exclusive content in WWE's ultimate second-screen experience, WWE Active. Available on Apple iPad®, iPhone® and Android, the official WWE App provided instant access to everything from show highlights and schedules to Superstar profiles and photos, as well as a direct pipeline to interact with the entire WWE Universe through Twitter conversations.

As the WWE App soared in the rankings for top free entertainment apps in December, WWE took another unprecedented step by letting the WWE Universe decide who deserves a Slammy Award, with all of the 2012 Slammy voting done exclusively through WWE Active. More than 583,000 Slammy Award votes were cast during the Dec. 17 episode of Raw, and the event pushed the WWE App over the 3-million download mark in a mere four months since its launch.

Heading into 2013, it's clear that the best is yet to come for the WWE App.

John Laurinaitis defeats John Cena at WWE Over the Limit 2012

At WWE Over the Limit, John Laurinaitis endured a punishment by John Cena every member of the WWE Universe wishes they could have doled out themselves. The WWE executive looked to be only a three-count away from finding himself on the unemployment line when something big happened.

Stunning WWE fans worldwide Big Show – terminated by Laurinaitis days earlier – aided the man who publicly fired the 7-footer and saved his ex-boss’ job in the process.  The delight of the WWE Universe turned to sheer shock as The World’s Largest Athlete landed a knockout punch to Cena's jaw.

Booker T is named SmackDown General Manager

Mr. McMahon reveals to the WWE Universe that Booker T has been named the new General Manager for SmackDown.

Following the ousting of John Laurinaitis as the General Manager of Raw and SmackDown, Friday night was left without a leader.

That void would be filled, though, when five-time WCW Champion and SmackDown color commentator Booker T accepted the role of GM for the blue brand on Aug. 3, offered by none other than WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon himself.

With Senior Advisor Theodore Long at his side, the new, no-nonsense leader took charge of SmackDown, forging a new era on Friday night.

CM Punk hits GTS on The Rock

CM Punk defends his WWE Championship against John Cena in the main event until things get out of control when Big Show and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson get involved.

CM Punk’s infamous 2011 “pipe bomb” rant against the WWE establishment stunned the entire WWE Universe. A close second shocking moment of Punk’s career could be the GTS he blasted The Rock with on the 1,000 episode of Raw.

After Big Show attacked John Cena in his match with WWE Champion CM Punk, The World’s Largest Athlete began to pummel Cena. The Rock, however, wasn't about to watch idly backstage as his WrestleMania XXVIII rival took a beating.

The Great One rushed out to the ring and wobbled the 441-pound Superstar with rights and lefts, then totally leveled him with a huge spinebuster. With Big Show reeling, Punk re-emerged to batter The People's Champion with a running clothesline, followed by a Go to Sleep as the WWE Universe watched in bewilderment. As both Cena and The Rock lied strewn across the canvas, the weary — and seemingly conflicted WWE Champion — slowly dragged his feet back up the entrance ramp.

Ryback signs the contract for his first WWE Title Match

Ryback makes a major statement against his Hell in a Cell opponent, CM Punk.

When forced into a corner about picking his opponent for Hell in a Cell, WWE Champion CM Punk lashed out at Mr. McMahon and John Cena. Punk signed his name on the match contract, despite not knowing who his opponent would be.

With the entire WWE Universe on pins and needles about who Punk would face, Cena curiously pushed for Ryback to be the one to give Punk a beating at Hell in a Cell! ( MORE ON CENA’S THINKING)

After Ryback signed the contract, he slammed Punk’s head into the signing table and then Shell Shocked him right then and there. The stunning events whipped the WWE Universe into a frenzy, as it witnessed the biggest moment in Ryback’s young career.

Mr. McMahon and Superstars visit troops overseas

At the end of November, with WWE Tribute to the Troops 2012 just around the corner, WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon, Superstars The Miz and R-Truth, and Divas Layla and Eve Torres traveled overseas to visit U.S. troops as part of a USO Handshake Tour. ( PHOTOS)

The trip included a stop on the USS John C. Stennis, where the Superstars and Divas visited with sailors, signed autographs and witnessed the day-to-day operations of one of the U.S. Navy’s finest vessels.

Mr. McMahon and Co. kicked off the holiday season and brought a little bit of home to the brave United States servicemen and servicewomen stationed abroad. Their visit was followed up by numerous meet and greets with armed forces members and, of course, an unforgettable Tribute to the Troops event in December.

The Rolling Stones team with WWE to say farewell

It was, perhaps, the musical event of a generation. When arguably the greatest rock band in history, The Rolling Stones, announces there’s just one more go ’round before all the tours are over, the world watches and listens.

So when the legendary band set a date for their last live concert, tickets literally sold out in minutes.

The very last of the Rolling Stones 50th anniversary shows took place at the Prudential Center on Saturday, Dec. 15, but good luck finding a ticket inside the building! Not to fear, though, as the worldwide leader in pay-per-view events came to the rescue. Teaming with The Stones, WWE provided fans around the world with the best seat in the house, as the unforgettable show took place live on pay-per-view.

AJ Lee forms a love quadrangle with Bryan, Punk and Kane

AJ adds more mystery and questions to her relationship with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.

After Daniel Bryan broke up with his girlfriend, AJ Lee, she underwent many changes. In addition to exhibiting a completely new, erratic attitude, AJ also turned her affections to the submission specialist’s chief rivals, WWE Champion CM Punk and The Big Red Monster, Kane. This soon evolved into a dangerous love triangle that quickly spun out of control — with the increasingly unpredictable Diva playing an intricate part in the WWE Title power struggle.

Every week, the WWE Universe would tune in to see what AJ would do next, whether she was dressing up as Kane, Punk or Bryan, slapping one — or all — of the Superstars, or kissing them before putting them through a table.

Eventually, just weeks after proposing to Punk, AJ accepted Bryan’s second marriage proposal. Before they were to tie the knot, however, AJ informed her fiance she had opted to take on a different Moniker instead of “Mrs. Daniel Bryan” — that of Raw General Manager.

John Cena rises above cancer with Susan G. Komen for the Cure

The WWE Universe & WWE Superstars help in the fight against breast cancer by donating $1 million to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization.

The WWE Universe & WWE Superstars help in the fight against breast cancer by donating $1 million to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization.

John Cena and WWE participated in a heartwarming partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure in October. Cena debuted special-edition pink-and-black gear that preached “Rise above cancer” to bring awareness to breast cancer.

One hundred percent of the profits from the sale of his T-shirt, pink headbands and armbands, and pink hats went to the organization. Other Superstars, Divas and WWE personalities showed their support for Komen with pink ribbons, “Never give up” T-shirts and videos about how breast cancer affected them and their families. Throughout October, the middle ring rope was painted pink and the Komen logo was emblazoned on the entrance ramp as a constant reminder to “join the fight against breast cancer awareness.” 

The partnership raised $1 million to find a cure for breast cancer, and the 12-time World Champion presented the check to Komen representatives in a ceremony on the Oct. 29 Raw.   

SuperSmackDown LIVE is born

Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio compete in a Falls Count Anywhere Match in the main event of SuperSmackDown LIVE.

Several times in 2012, WWE transformed SmackDown into a blockbuster live event on Tuesday night, better known as SuperSmackDown LIVE.

This squared circle extravaganza would break new ground and showcase the blue brand at its best time-and-time again. Sometimes, the show aired as specially themed events like “Blast from the Past” — featuring a slew of WWE Hall of Famers and Legends that included “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Sergeant Slaughter and Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart — or “The Great American Bash” — which included a 20-Man Battle Royal featuring the likes of John Cena, CM Punk, Big Show and Kane.

In November, the crown jewel of this event would air, as WWE brought SuperSmackDown LIVE to the United Kingdom for the first time.

John Laurinaitis is fired as Raw General Manager

John Cena and Big Show duke it out in a steel cage with John Laurinaitis' job at stake.

At No Way Out, it took an Attitude Adjustment, some assistance from Mr. McMahon, Brodus Clay and Kofi Kingston, and a little bit of luck, but John Cena did it. He beat Big Show in a Steel Cage Match.

In what will be remembered as one of the most harrowing bouts of his career, the Cenation leader overcame a 441-pound giant inside a dangerous steel cage to not only save his own career, but to also end the tyrannical reign of General Manager John Laurinaitis. For the 10-time WWE Champion, few victories will be this sweet.

Brock Lesnar breaks Triple H's arm

An irate Brock Lesnar viciously attacks the COO of the WWE, Triple H.

Just one day after Brock Lesnar fell short in a brutal match against John Cena at Extreme Rules, WWE’s COO Triple H confronted him on Raw, informing the fierce competitor that WWE would not be agreeing to the outrageous list of demands Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis had agreed to prior to his match with the Cenation Leader.

As a result, Brock would absolutely snap. When The Game turned and ordered Laurinaitis to butt out of their conversation, Brock suddenly attacked. Cinching in the Kimura Lock on The King of Kings, the aggressor did not release the dangerous maneuver until Triple H’s arm was broken!

Sheamus wins the 2012 Royal Rumble Match

Everyone remembers the night Sheamus’ World Title reign (Brogue) kicked off at WrestleMania, but what would become one of the most dominant years in WWE history truly began at Royal Rumble. For it was there The Celtic Warrior overcame 29 other Superstars in the over-the-top melee, earning the Irish grappler the chance to face Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

It was during the Rumble Match that the flame-haired Sheamus reignited his career, and once again became a force to be reckoned with in WWE.

What a way to kick off a year — and what a year it would become for The Celtic Warrior.

Mr. McMahon battles CM Punk one-on-one

CM Punk looks to beat the respect out of Mr. McMahon.

Shades of Austin/McMahon danced across the eyes of the WWE Universe on the Oct. 8 episode of Raw, as Mr. McMahon challenged WWE Champion CM Punk to a match to teach him a thing or two about respect.

What started off innocuously enough with The Chairman delivering the “State of WWE Address” quickly devolved into chaos when Punk’s music hit the speakers and the champion took to the mic. “You’ve been slapping me in the face for years,” Punk told his boss, then proceeded to slap Mr. McMahon across the face. As Punk exited, The Chairman climbed to his feet and challenged the champion to a match, vowing that by the end of the night, Punk would learn something about respect.

When the time came for the night’s main event, even though it wasn’t officially a match (the bell never rung), it was a fight for the ages. What played out was a brutal battle, reminiscent of days gone by as, at one point, Mr. McMahon brandished a Kendo stick to fend off the merciless assault of the champion.

The fight could have — and very well would have — lasted hours, but when Ryback’s music echoed through the arena, Punk had the tables turned on him, and it was all the titleholder could do to scramble from the ring and out into the crowd for an early exit.

Mr. McMahon may not have gotten the better of Punk inside the ring that night, but he did something few have ever accomplished — he momentarily silenced The Voice of the Voiceless when he presented Punk with an ultimatum: At the upcoming WWE Hell in a Cell, he would either face John Cena or Ryback. And if the champion hadn't made up his mind in a week’s time, The Chairman would make it for him.

WWE Live Tour visits Abu Dhabi and Egypt

Having already visited far away lands like China and Doha, Qatar in previous years, the WWE World Tour made stops in Abu Dhabi and Egypt for the first time ever in 2012.

The visit to Egypt featured three shows from Thursday, Oct. 18, through Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Cairo Stadium Complex. Along the way, Superstars and Divas had the unique opportunity to visit some of Egypt’s historical monuments, including the great pyramids! ( PHOTOS)

The visit to the land of The Egyptian tour came on the heels of a successful WWE Raw World Tour in Abu Dhabi in February. During a press conference  atop the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai – the tallest manmade structure in the world – things turned chaotic when Kane attacked John Cena. ( FULL STORY)

What countries will WWE bring its action-packed style of sports-entertainment to in 2013? ( FULL WORLDWIDE COVERAGE)

Health Slater gets rocked by Lita, Vader and other WWE Legends

With the help of some other WWE Alumni, Lita faces Heath Slater in a No Disqualification, No Count-Out Match.

Before he was jamming with 3MB, Heath Slater suffered a string of legendary beatdowns in 2012.

Beginning at the start of June, the self-professed “One-Man Band” suffered a series of humiliating destruction at the hands of a series of WWE Legends. This included the unlikely combination of Roddy Piper and Cyndi Lauper, as well as Rikishi, Scotty 2 Hotty, Road Warrior Animal, Sycho Sid, Vader, Bob Backlund and Diamond Dallas Page. Finally, on the 1,000 episode of Monday Night Raw, Lita scored the most embarrassing loss to date, with a little help from The APA.

AJ Lee turns on John Cena at WWE TLC

In one of the most shocking moments of 2012, AJ Lee betrayed John Cena by interfering in the Ladder Match for Dolph Ziggler’s World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank contract. The Diva pushed Cena off the top of a ladder, helping to secure The Showoff’s victory! The move was surprising because just a few weeks earlier, AJ passionately kissed John Cena live in the middle of the ring on Raw on the same night she attacked Dolph Ziggler — who called her “trash,” desperate” and “pathetic” among other things . As unpredictable as she’s been, at WWE TLC, the geek-chic girl-next-door turned Raw General Manager may have finally proved to the WWE Universe she’s a true force — albeit an unstable one — to be reckoned with.

Team Hell No commences a hellacious WWE Tag Team Championship reign

Newly crowned Tag Team Champions Kane & Daniel Bryan defend their titles against the former champions Kofi Kingston & R-Truth.

Along with WWE Champion CM Punk, Kane and Daniel Bryan spent months in a WWE Title struggle, made more intense by their love triangle, centered on the unstable AJ Lee.

When AJ became the General Manager of Raw, she ordered her ex-fiancé Bryan to attend anger management classes. And following a series of episodes — including attacks on WWE announcer Josh Mathews — Kane also ended up in the same class, run by one Dr. Shelby. Together, AJ and the good doctor eventually placed the two volatile Superstars into a tag team as a type of experimental therapy. The result was Team Hell No, a name picked by the WWE Universe as part of RAWactive.

As they teamed-up, Team Hell No continued to argue and constantly upstage each other at every turn, making them one of the most dysfunctional pairings in WWE history. In spite of this calamity, however, it just … somehow … worked — so much so that before long, they overcame R-Truth & Kofi Kingston to capture the WWE Tag Team Champions at the Night of Champions pay-per-view.

But success did not stop them from bickering. The only thing that did was the moments when they could channel their rage on the competition. Nowhere was this stronger than when they teamed with the ultra-intense Ryback against The Shield at WWE Tables, Ladders & Chairs.

While their relationship continued to rest of the shaky edge of dysfunction, no one could deny the dominance of the unlikely duo.

WWE debuts on Tout

Members of the WWE Universe use Tout to share their favorite Raw Moments.

In 2012, WWE took a ground-breaking new step into the realm of social media with Tout — a media platform that allows users to shoot 15-second video status updates via smartphones and webcams. With the help of Tout, the WWE Universe could not only instantly sound off with their thoughts on the latest in WWE, but also become part of the Raw and SmackDown broadcasts.

CM Punk undergoes knee surgery

With the help of Paul Heyman, WWE Champion CM Punk updates the WWE Universe on his condition following knee surgery and even challenges anyone to strip him of his title.

After surpassing John Cena’s 380-day title reign, there appeared to be no stopping WWE Champion CM Punk as 2012 came to a close. That was until his body said otherwise.

After being driven through a table by Ryback on the Dec. 3 edition of Raw, The Straight Edge Superstar took a late night flight to Florida for an emergency consultation with Dr. James Andrews. A review of his condition resulted in the WWE Champion’s immediate surgery to trim a cartilage tear in his knee.

With Punk unable to compete at WWE TLC, Ryback is seething to get his massive hands on the champion who defeated him at Hell in a Cell and in a Triple Threat Match at Survivor Series. With Punk now on the mend, all signs are pointing to his scheduled match with Ryback on Jan. 7 being all systems go.

Sheamus defeats Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds at WrestleMania XXVIII

Since cashing in his Money in the Bank title opportunity at WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2011 to capture the World Heavyweight Championship, Daniel Bryan had found a way to retain his title in the most controversial of circumstances – against the likes of Big Show and Mark Henry.

That all came crashing down, however, when Sheamus challenged the submission specialist for the World Title at WrestleMania XXVIII — and it would be over in the blink of an eye.

As the opening bell rang, Bryan turned to kiss then-girlfriend AJ Lee, causing him to take his eye off his No. 1 contender. Knowing all too well that a Superstar needs to take any advantage he can to find success at The Show of Shows, The Great White didn’t hesitate to capitalize on his opponent’s blunder. Out of nowhere, he hit the Brogue Kick for the huge victory in an earth-shattering 18 seconds!

The Celtic Warrior captured his first World Heavyweight Championship, setting a new record for the quickest World Heavyweight Title change in the history of The Showcase of the Immortals. The incident also lit a fuse on the explosive fallout between Bryan and AJ that would lead to even greater fireworks.

The Shield attacks at Survivor Series 2012

Michael Cole tries to gain insight on the motive for the recent actions of Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.

At Survivor Series 2012, up-and-coming NXT hopefuls Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins appeared from nowhere, interfering in a Triple Threat WWE Title Match between WWE Champion CM Punk and John Cena and Ryback. As Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns Powerbombed Ryback through an announce table, Punk was able to score the three-count on his Cenation adversary. Questions immediately began to circulate as to whether or not they had acted on the outspoken titleholder’s behalf.

Later, the trio explained that they had arrived to correct "injustice" in the WWE, referring to themselves collectively as The Shield. Neither Punk nor the new faction claimed that they were connected.

Over the next few weeks, the rogue attackers assaulted several Superstars, including WWE Tag Team Champions Kane & Daniel Bryan, Ryback, Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, The Miz and Randy Orton.

Eventually, they would take on and defeat Team Hell No and Ryback in the first-ever Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match at WWE TLC.

John Cena defeats Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules 2012

The match between John Cena and the returning Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules 2012 was truly one of the most brutally intense contests of the year, simultaneously hard to watch and impossible to turn away from. Absent from WWE for eight years, Lesnar insisted he would “legitimize” WWE and basically recreate it in his own image. Ironically, standing in his way would be the very Superstar who built his legend while Lesnar was gone. 

The unspeakable carnage Lesnar unleashed on the 10-time WWE Champion in their anything goes pay-per-view showdown sent the clear signal he meant business. With an Extreme Rules stipulation firmly in place, Brock punished Cena from the start — drawing blood immediately and injuring Cena to such an extent that it forced WWE medical technicians to stop the match momentarily to tend to The Cenation Commander-in-Chief.

And while Brock would ultimately fall to the incredible intestinal fortitude of the Cenation leader — taking the Attitude Adjustment onto the unforgiving steel steps — the brutality of the match will live on in the collective mind of the WWE Universe for some time to come.

WWE announces that WrestleMania 29 will come home to the NY/NJ area

On Feb. 16, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a slew of WWE Superstars and other important dignitaries came together to announce WrestleMania 29 would come to the WWE Universe from the New York City/New Jersey area — emanating from MetLife Stadium, Sunday, April 7, 2013. In short, WrestleMania would be coming home!

In the midst of the excitement, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made a startling announcement, declaring he would be at WrestleMania 29 and would “electrify MetLife Stadium like never before.”

A weeklong celebration — which began in New York City’s Madison Square Garden — WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium is expected to generate more than $62 million in revenues for the New York City area and northern New Jersey suburbs.

The Showcase of the Immortals will be televised in more than 100 countries and 30 languages.

The World Heavyweight Championship turns 10

On Sept. 2, the illustrious World Heavyweight Championship turned 10 years old. One decade earlier, then–Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff established Triple H as the first titleholder, after then–WWE Champion Brock Lesnar formed an agreement with SmackDown GM Stephanie McMahon that he would only defend his championship gold on the blue brand.

Since that day, the title has earned a prominent place in WWE history, with a respect forged in battle, around the waist of such elite competitors as The Undertaker, Edge, Batista, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Sheamus — and most recently — The World’s Largest Athlete, Big Show.

WWE Main Event debuts on ION Television on Oct. 3, 2012

Kofi Kingston faces The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship on WWE Main Event.

The Miz and the Superstars and Divas of WWE are coming to ION Television - Wednesday nights 8/7c.

WWE Main Event premiered Oct. 3, giving the WWE Universe a new destination for action. The new program cut the gap in the four-day wait between WWE TV shows and offered one-of-a-kind matchups and a medium for younger Superstars to shine in.

Kofi Kingston was the first of these Superstars tojumpat that opportunity. Kingston challenged The Miz for his Intercontinental Championship on Oct. 17 after Miz called him nothing more than a “B player.” Kingston came ready to shut up the loudmouth in the first title match on ION Television.

Miz foolishly tried to pin Kingston while using the ring ropes for leverage, prompting the referee to stop mid-count. As Miz argued with the official, Kingston rolled him backward and delivered the deciding Trouble in Paradise when The Awesome One staggered to his feet. The victory marked Kingston’s fourth Intercontinental Championship and the debut of his wilder side. 

Ryback Shell Shocks CM Punk atop Hell in a Cell

After John Cena stepped aside and cleared the way for Ryback to face WWE Champion CM Punk inside Hell in a Cell in the pay-per-view of the same name — it seemed as if the titleholder’s long-standing reign was destined to reach its inevitable conclusion.

But in the match’s crucial final moments, when Ryback was about to deliver Shell Shocked for the probable triumph, referee Brad Maddox suddenly delivered a low blow to the challenger, clearing the way for Punk to steal the victory with the help of the corrupt official’s fast-count.

After dispatching Maddox by throwing him out of the ring and into the unforgiving steel of the Cell, Ryback chased the fleeing Punk outside the towering structure and then up its side to the roof.

With nowhere left to run, Punk was snatched up by the human wrecking ball, who Shell Shocked his prey onto the Cell as the Atlanta crowd went absolutely berserk.

Ryback lost the bout, but as he put a foot onto the chest of his fallen opponent, he looked every bit the victor. “Feed Me More!”

John Cena grants his 300th wish for Make-A-Wish

John Cena appears on "Good Morning America" to grant a special wish for young Jonathan Littman.

In June, John Cena continued the tradition of making a real positive difference in the lives of children, as he achieved an awe-inspiring milestone of granting his 300th wish to Jonathan Littman of Make-A-Wish.

The moment in which the two met was captured on ABC’s “Good Morning America" — since Jonathan’s wish was to meet Cena and also become a television star. There, the Cenation leader asked the youngster to join him as his special guest on Raw’s historic 1,000th episode.

While he would be honored months later for the achievement, Cena made it clear his participation in the organization is not about the number of wishes, but rather what he can do for the kids. He also stated that, without a doubt, he is “just getting started.”

Tribute to the Troops celebrates its 10th anniversary

Take a look back at 10 years of Tribute to the Troops.

With its long history of supporting America’s servicemen and women, WWE celebrated the 10thanniversary of Tribute to the Troops in 2012.

“We are honored to bring our unique brand of family-friendly entertainment to those who have sacrificed so much for our country,” said WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. John Cena has called Tribute to the Troops bigger than WrestleMania and WWE’s most important show of the year.

This year, WWE’s Most Patriotic Show of the Year, featured high-octane competition, top notch musical performances from Flo Rida and Kid Rock and special appearances from Disney’s The Muppets, in honor of America’s bravest men and women. Emanating from the U.S. Navy’s largest installation, the 10th anniversary of WWE Tribute to the Troops was an extraordinary experience. ( FULL COVERAGE)

Jerry Lawler makes a full recovery after suffering a heart attack during Raw

A exclusive look back at the tragic events revolving around Jerry "The King" Lawler suffering a near fatal heart attack during Raw.

On the Sept. 10 edition of Monday Night Raw, Jerry “The King” Lawler was calling the action alongside Michael Cole at ringside when, all of a sudden, he collapsed at the announce table. The WWE Hall of Famer was suffering a heart attack on the air.

Even as the match continued in the ring, WWE medical personal rushed to Lawler’s aid and, with good fortune in their corner, were able to stabilize his condition and move him to a local medical facility. Cole would alert the WWE Universe to the situation and, out of respect for the beloved WWE personality, the rest of Raw’s matches that night would be carried out without commentary.

Lawler would make a full recovery and would soon return to Monday night with a new lease on life.

John Cena and AJ Lee kiss

John Cena and AJ Lee lock lips in a kiss seen throughout the entire WWE Universe.

On the Oct. 22 edition of Monday Night Raw, General Manager AJ Lee was forced to step down as the leader of WWE’s flagship show, thanks to Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler’s controversial accusations that she was fraternizing and even having an affair with John Cena. In the weeks to come, WWE’s “Queen Diva” would bring forth picture and video “evidence” of AJ’s inappropriate “relationship” with the Cenation leader.   

Finally, after weeks of hearing their rhetoric, Cena looked to put an end to the talk by making out with AJ in the ring! The following week, AJ kissed Cena back. After that, there was no need for rumors, as the pair seemed to be creating their own fireworks, all by themselves.

Raw celebrates 1,000 episodes on July 23, 2012

The Brothers of Destruction reunite on the 1,000th episode of Raw to fight off their attackers.

When your flagship show hits 1,000 episodes, you don’t just let that milestone slip by. You do the thing big. And for the 1,000th episode of Raw, WWE pulled out all the stops to make the night as unforgettable as possible. D-Generation X —allof D-Generation X — reunited and put a beating on Damien Sandow. Mae Young and Mark Henry’s son got all grown up. The Doctor of Style himself, Slick, threw on his frock to officiate the (wildly unsuccessful) wedding of Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee. Lita and a cadre of legends put a hurtin’ on a beleaguered Heath Slater. The Rock laid down a challenge for the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble and was promptly put to bed by CM Punk’s Go to Sleep. And The Brothers of Destruction set aside their differences to lay waste to a pack of challengers. It truly had everything in it, and in it, everything.

The Rock defeats John Cena at WrestleMania XXVIII

The Great One takes on John Cena.

A year’s worth of frustration, insults and mind games finally boiled over in Miami when The Rock collided with John Cena in the “Once in a Lifetime” bout that the WWE Universe had been anticipating for a full 365 days. The interaction between the two Superstars had largely been verbal, with The Great One and the Cenation leader swapping barbs on the mic and tossing thinly veiled threats at each other in what was, retrospectively, perhaps the greatest feat of restraint in WWE history. When game time arrived, though, the time for talk ended and the two unloaded on each other in one of the most physical contests in WrestleMania history. The bout was less a blitzkrieg than a war of attrition, as Rock and Cena matched each other blow for blow for the majority of the contest, and the Miami crowd wondered which Superstar would be the first to make a fatal error.

It turned out, perhaps surprisingly, to be Cena. The 10-time WWE Champion had The Great One defeated, but decided to rub it in Rock’s face instead of going for the pin by attempting The Brahma Bull’s own People’s Elbow as an exclamation point on his victory. While Cena gallivanted about in mockery of The People’s Champion, The Rock sprang up from the mat and unleashed a Rock Bottom on his mighty opponent, defeating Cena and basking in the hometown adulation. For him, it was validation of a lifetime’s worth of hard work and a year’s worth of effort to reclaim his rightful place atop WWE. For Cena, it was just a haunting instance of what could have been.

CM Punk becomes the longest reigning WWE Champion of the last 25 years

A special look at CM Punk's record shattering WWE Title reign that is running at an impressive 365 days and counting.

WWE Champion CM Punk began his current title reign by defeating Alberto Del Rio in a grueling match at Survivor Series on Nov. 20, 2011. Since then, The Second City Savior has successfully defended the prestigious WWE Championship against the likes of Chris Jericho, Kane, Daniel Bryan, Big Show, John Cena, Ryback and more.

As the longest-reigning WWE Champion of the past 25 years, Punk continues to make history. ( CHARTING PUNK’S REIGN). But with Ryback in hot pursuit, and other Superstars eager for a chance to face the champion, how long can The Second City Saint hold onto his precious title?

The End of an Era: The Undertaker defeats Triple H inside Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania XXVIII

At WrestleMania, Triple H battled The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell, a match which would be appropriately referred to as the “End of an Era.”

In an encounter last year between two WWE Legends, The King of Kings fell to The Phenom, but the showdown was so brutal The Demon of Death Valley could not exit the ring under his own power.

So it was destiny that they would meet one more time to see — once and for all — who was the greater legendary force. And as if the circumstances weren’t extraordinary enough, Shawn Michaels, the very Superstar who The Deadman retired on The Grandest Stage of Them All, would serve as the Special Guest Referee.

The epic contest that followed was absolutely incredible, with both Triple H and The Undertaker leaving everything they had in the squared circle. And while The Phenom did ultimately reign supreme, in the end, it was Triple H, Michaels and The Undertaker walking out together.

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