2016 was a banner year for the business of pro wrestling from top stars moving to new in-ring zip codes, new technology affecting everything from how wrestling is presented to how talent gets signed, and several surprising in-ring results and happenings that had our faithful readers buzzing.
Unless something else substantial happens in the next few days (on Wednesday of course), the following is #6-10 of our most viewed news stories for the year that was 2016 -- a mix of legal happenings, signings, and injuries.
10 -- Bayley gets ‘injured’ at NXT tapings (April)
Well, even those working for pro wrestling websites can get swerved from time to time. And by “those”, I mean “me”.
We got a note from a reader that Bayley had hurt her knee in a match with Nia Jax at a set of late-April tapings, and thanks to our roving reporter JJ Williams, we even had a few pictures. Seeing as she was one of NXT’s biggest stars, this was a no-brainer to do a story on.
However, it was soon pointed out that one of the medical personnel attending to her was actually a developmental talent, so “(maybe)” got inserted into the headline soon thereafter. The injury was part of a storyline and now both Bayley and Jax find themselves on Raw every Monday sans recurring knee injuries.
9 -- Documents get unsealed in Billy Corgan vs. TNA lawsuit (October)
One of the stranger news stories of the second half of the year was the Billy Corgan and TNA/Dixie Carter business marriage quickly turning into divorce. It culminated with a lawsuit by Corgan in an attempt to gain control of the company based on money owed to him and some terms in the contract he signed.
The documents becoming unsealed moved things forward to what ultimately was a court loss for Corgan. However, he was soon made whole by eventual TNA financial angel Anthem Sports & Entertainment and settled everything with the company. Individuals? Not as much yet, but you can hear more about that in his interview with Dave Meltzer & Bryan Alvarez.
8 -- Finn Balor injures shoulder at WWE SummerSlam (August)
Following in the footsteps of Daniel Bryan, Finn Balor became the latest anti-establishment wrestling star to get injured just when it looked like he had broken through the McMahon double-tempered glass ceiling.
In his eventual successful win over Seth Rollins to win the first WWE Universal title at SummerSlam, Balor suffered a labrum tear on a power bomb spot into the barricade outside the ring, putting him out of action for what was expected to be 8-12 weeks and soon turned into 4-6 months.
After surgery, the injury was worse than they expected and as we turn the corner into 2017, there’s no timetable for his return although plenty of fans are hoping it will be at this year’s Royal Rumble even though that would be at the short end of the recovery spectrum.
He has been making appearances in the UK and was on stage at the announcement of WWE’s UK championship tournament, so he’s not completely out of sight. However, we’ll be more excited to see him back in the ring competing in 2017.
7 -- Matanza slices open arm at Lucha Underground tapings (April)
Even if LU isn’t the most watched pro wrestling show out there, a freak injury to one of their top stars was enough to get this story in our top 10.
In a deathmatch against Dragon Azteca, Mutanza (aka Jeff Cobb) punched through a window and sliced a vein in his arm badly enough to the point the match had to be stopped and he had to be sent to the hospital.
Cobb was fine and re-taped the match with Azteca at a later date.
6 -- Chris Hero heading back to WWE (December)
Hero had another fantastic in-ring year on the indies, drawing praise for his matches in PWG, EVOLVE, and in various UK promotions. Regardless of who he worked for and where, reports sent into us always featured glowing remarks about his matches.
That’s what made his soon-to-be inked deal with WWE of such interest. He had already had one run in the company’s developmental group and was a member of NXT before it was truly NXT. That he would be returning to the promotion in any form or fashion was a surprise, but in the Content Era, all bets are off.
As of now, we’re still waiting to hear if all of Hero’s medicals and other pre-contract tests are a go, clearing the way for his signing. Where he goes from there and his course of action will then be another story of interest for our readers.
Later this week, we’ll run down our top five stories of 2016 and will follow up with the top 10 wrestling shows of the year after that.