10 ways 2014 changed WWE forever
The last 365 days saw Stephanie McMahon step back into the squared circle, the final issue of WWE Magazine, the 30th WrestleMania and the reformation of legendary faction Evolution. The fact that none of these moments made this list of the biggest game-changers of 2014 should tell you something about the year that was.
Every year comes with its fair share of classic matches, iconic returns and heart-stopping reveals, but 2014’s memorable moments all come with long-term fallout. Records fell, power shifted, and new Superstars reached for the proverbial brass ring. Sports-entertainment will never be the same after this wild year.
These are the 10 most surprising and incredible events of 2014.
John Cena loses to Brock Lesnar
John Cena climbed ever closer to Ric Flair’s championship record at Money in the Bank, but it wasn’t how Cena captured his 15th World Championship in 2014 that had people talking. It was how he lost it.
Regardless of the challenge or the odds, the Cenation leader always fought back and never gave up. But with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on the line at SummerSlam 2014, Brock Lesnar destroyed those principles with 16 German suplexes and two F-5s. The crowd — aside from a lone child’s undying chant of “Let’s go Cena!” — sat in uneasy silence.
The Beast became the champion, and Cena had to respond to adversity like never before.
NXT takes center stage
“NXT is the next generation,” Triple H proclaimed to kick off the first live NXT event, NXT ArRival, “and the next generation has arrived!”
From Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn to Hideo Itami and Finn Bálor, WWE recruited the most promising Superstars and Divas from around the world into their developmental program, NXT. And thanks to WWE Network, these up-and-comers showcased their skills every Thursday night.
After a slew of match-of-the-year candidates, it’s clear that future champions, game-changing teams and WrestleMania headliners were honing their craft in NXT. And it’s only a matter of time until they make their mark on WWE.
Hulk Hogan comes home to WWE
From standing tall at the first WrestleMania to body-slamming Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan created some of the most iconic moments in WWE history. But when 2014 began, The Hulkster hadn’t appeared on WWE TV since 2007.
The Immortal One ended that hiatus on Feb. 24, though, returning home to the company he helped turn into a global phenomenon.
Whether joking around with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock to kick off WrestleMania 30 — in the Superdome,notthe Silverdome — or reuniting The nWo for one night only, he quickly showed that Hulk still rules.
Seth Rollins turns on The Shield
Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns joined forces to rid WWE of injustice. For more than a year and a half, the trio dubbed “The Hounds of Justice” did so convincingly. They called each other “brother” and bested teams of WWE’s top stars, like The Brothers of Destruction & Daniel Bryan and The Wyatt Family.
After The Shield battled a reunited Evolution in a series of unforgettable matchups, though, Rollins betrayed his “brothers” with a series of chair blasts to become The Authority’s new golden boy. One of the most dominant groups in sports-entertainment split, and The Hounds all charged into the main event picture as solo stars.
The Ultimate Warrior enters the Hall of Fame
The Ultimate Warrior was never expected to return to WWE, but on April 5, after 18 years away, the former WWE Champion returned to receive sports-entertainment’s highest honor: entering the WWE Hall of Fame.
Warrior took the stage in New Orleans and entertained the WWE Universe with tales from his incomparable career and his memories from traveling the world.
Sting steps into a WWE ring
WWE’s purchase of WCW in 2001 brought a slew of new stars like Goldberg and Booker T into the WWE fold, but 13 years later, one holdout remained. Speculation ran rampant for years, as the WWE Universe wondered if six-time WCW Champion Sting would ever come to WWE.
Questions circulated over his motive, but one thing was for certain: Sting finally arrived.
Daniel Bryan overcomes the odds
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon did everything possible to hold Daniel Bryan down after SummerSlam 2013. Bryan had to stage an “Occupy Raw” to get Triple H to finally relent and give him an opportunity to prove he was much more than the B+ player The Authority dismissed him as.
Bryan kicked off WrestleMania 30 by defeating the COO with a Running Knee and capped it off by forcing Batista to tap out to the “Yes!” Lock to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
The Authority’s reign of terror ends
No matter how many lives The Authority ruined, they always did it under the guise of being “best for business.” But with their power on the line at Survivor Series 2014 — courtesy of a stipulation made by Mr. McMahon — business caught up with them.
Thanks to Sting’s shocking debut and Dolph Ziggler’s resilient performance — he battled back from a 3-on-1 deficit — Team Cena ended The Authority’s 15-month regime, bringing tears to Stephanie McMahon, rage to Triple H, and disappointment to Mr. McMahon.
Furious at the unceremonious goodbye, the COO cryptically warned that WWE would crumble without The Authority.
WWE Network launches
During the Rock ’N’ Wrestling days, the WWE Universe could tune in to four pay-per-views a year and syndicated shows every week. In the New Generation, they could watch Raw every Monday and tune in to five events. The Attitude Era brought two weekly shows and a full year’s worth of pay-per-views.
But after Feb. 24, WWE Network went live, giving the WWE Universe 24/7 access to a wealth of sports-entertainment whenever and wherever they wished. Twenty years ago, you had to wait months to see Hulk Hogan run wild on your TV set; but now, you could even watch him while running at the gym.
Brock Lesnar breaks The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak
For more than a decade, no Superstar could get the better of The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Even the Superstar nicknamed “Mr. WrestleMania,” Shawn Michaels, couldn’t hand The Deadman a loss in two matches at The Show of Shows. WWE Hall of Famers, Legends and icons all fell to The Undertaker as he built a 21-0 record on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
But Brock Lesnar doesn’t care much for history — he just wants a fight. The Beast Incarnate arrived at WrestleMania 30 unfazed by arguably the most impressive competitor in history. With three F-5s, Lesnar conquered the unconquerable Streak and left a raucous WWE Universe in stunned silence.