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Andy QuannNovember 23rd, 2016BlogComments Off on Quann’s Corner: Is 2016 the Biggest and Craziest Year Since 2001?

Quann’s Corner: Is 2016 the Biggest and Craziest Year Since 2001?

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2016: A Reflective Analysis of the Insanity

What a year it’s been… and it’s not over yet. I can’t help but write this article after thinking about how much sports entertainment has changed in the space of eleven months, making it official in my mind that 2016 is the biggest year in this business since 2001.

Those who were born after, or don’t remember, 2001; let me give you a brief history lesson. In 2001, two major wrestling companies went out of business – WCW, and ECW. The second and third most-popular companies in the world were bought out by the WWE, making Vince McMahon the king of pro wrestling. Meanwhile, in world of MMA, the struggling UFC was bought out by Zuffa. Dana White and Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta took the reins, changing the course of that company forever.

WWE; Women’s Evolution, NXT Shake-up, Brand Split

Fast forward to January 2016, and one of the biggest stars in the industry, who had never officially signed for the WWE before, made his debut… AJ Styles. A man that many thought would never be in WWE debuted to a tremendous ovation in a marquee match, the Royal Rumble. The craziness would continue further, when, of all people, the Chief Operating Officer of the WWE would go on and become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H.


Another name that would go on to become world champion was AJ Styles himself. Oh, and who has been beaten this year? Some guy called John Cena, perhaps the biggest name in the industry in the past fifteen years… nothing major. If you couldn’t tell, I am being sarcastic. It’s insane to think how far we’ve come.

However, it’s been an up-and-down year. I know I’ve been very critical of a certain Roman Reigns, but it has been a fascinating year for that man. “The Guy” has had quite the year for himself: WWE pushed him to the moon, but the fans were not going to accept him as their champion. Currently, he is now the United States champion, which is an obvious change from being in the main event picture. The opposite was true for Dean Ambrose, as he finally got the chance to be the World Champion, which is crazy to think that after all the oh-so-nears, he became the champ. What a difference a year makes.

Meanwhile, NXT has had the fans praise… but, the brand has dramatically changed over the course of the year. It’s not just one or two call-ups – the roster has been drained of a majority of its major stars, such as American Alpha, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Apollo Crews, Becky Lynch, Finn Balor, and Enzo and Cass, just to name a few. So, to help replenish the star power, WWE signed Shinsuke Nakamura, one of the three biggest stars from Japan, which many fans never thought they would ever see happen.

As far as call ups go, Finn Balor was the first ever Universal Champion, which was brought in because the brand spilt was introduced. The spilt itself has been yet another major shift in the world of sports entertainment – it’s separated the content that WWE produce, brought back former pay-per-views, and created new championships.


Women in the WWE have truly completed their revolution this year. Instead of having a butterfly-shaped Barbie accessory for a belt, and being given the derogatory label of “Diva”, they are now officially WWE Superstars. This was unthinkable a year ago, and it sounds so stupid looking back.

The women have had an incredible year; a Hell in the Cell match, main eventing a pay-per-view… seriously, dissect that sentence; a Hell in a Cell match, and a main event on pay-per-view? Holy crap… I have argued that the build for the match wasn’t the greatest, but, it’s in the history books, so kudos to them. All in all, the WWE is completely different, and is a big contrast to the WWE of 2015.

TNA: Almost Dying, Becoming Broken, Smashing Pumpkins

TNA has also dramatically changed over the past year. Stars such as Bobby Roode, Eric Young, amd Austin Aries have jumped ship to NXT, which has broken the TNA roster up and caused the biggest shake up in the company’s history.

But, some things are “broken”, and have still changed the company; enter Matt Hardy.
I originally hated the gimmick, but my hate has faded away and classified itself as obsolete. I don’t know if I think it’s so stupid it’s funny, or if it’s secretly a work of genius. Either way, it’s been a distraction from the news that TNA have been suffering backstage issues all over the year, while saying that TNA was going to die.


Many reported that this was going to be the final nail in the coffin, but thanks to Anthem and the Fight Network, TNA lives to fight another day. Oh yeah, and Billy Corgan, the Smashing Pumpkins lead singer, was almost the actual president of the company. Think about that; if I told you that a year ago, you’d probably laugh at me. The company has gone through some major changes and 2017 will be an interesting year to say the least; what will the new ownership dynamic do? What’s going to change? Only time will tell…

UFC: New Stars Made, Other Stars Leave, Major Fights

Speaking of new ownership, UFC have been bought for over $4bn. Since 2001, the UFC has grown to be a juggernaut in the world of MMA, which only exists because of the company’s rise. From being a company that was banned essentially everywhere in the USA and banned on pay-per-view, it has had quite the journey, which had a new chapter begin this year.

The company have also seen a shakeup in staff, with the long-time matchmaker Joe Silva leaving the company. UFC Chief Global Brand Officer Garry Cook, who was integral in getting UFC onto BT Sport, a major sports network here in the UK, also departed. Major names have left the company too, such as former world champion Ben Henderson, and Rory McDonald, just to name a few.


Championships have shockingly changed multiple times, such as the Women’s Bantamweight title. From Holly Holm (who beat Ronda Rousey), to Miesha Tate (who is retired now), to Amanda Nunes. And in December, Rousey gets her title rematch – but with rumours of her retirement coming soon, who knows? There might be one last piece to add to the puzzle that has been 2016.

A year ago, I would have argued that the biggest star in the sport was Ronda Rousey. But since her loss a year ago, there has been one name that has transcended the sport. His name is Conor McGregor. The Irishman’s reach has extended to sports worldwide such as the NFL, football (soccer for our transatlantic cousins), and basketball, with sports stars doing the billionaire strut. McGregor has single-handedly put more eyes on the product, and is must see TV.

It’s crazy to think that he has lost this year, but has come back even stronger because of it, and has become the promotion’s first ever double-champion. All in the most famous arena on the planet, Madison Square Garden, for the first time in New York. The man has had quite a year, as had the promotion, with its major stars such as Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey being out of the sport for different reasons. They have needed a name like McGregor. Heck, there’s a rumour that he might fight one of the biggest names in boxing, Floyd “Money” Mayweather.


More Craziness to Come?

2016 has truly been the biggest change in the world of sports-entertainment since the end of the Attitude Era, and Zuffa buying the UFC, in 2001. We kinda got used to the changes over the past year, but when you sit down and think about it, it’s been one crazy year. In comparisons to other years, I can’t remember a year where so much as changed, and set the course of things to come in 2017. And it’s not over yet; there could be more craziness in store… no one knows.

As for my picks for the best of worst of 2016, well, you will just have to wait until the End of Year Awards in January. I wouldn’t want to give those away now, would I?

Until then, this has been Quann’s Corner.

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