Yes there is no getting around the fact CM Punk didn’t do anything wrestling related this year past the Royal Rumble. But what he did in the meantime is extraordinary. He did absolutely nothing wrestling related but yet he became the most sought after wrestling free agent. . Sure placing him on a list of top five wrestlers of the year is a bit dicey but name one other wrestler who was in a wrestling promotion that was and still is as hot as CM Punk. His silence on his WWE departure captured people’s attention. Just when the clamoring and fervor seemed to dissipate The Art of Wrestling Podcast drops out of nowhere and ramps up the publicity for him all over again. He turned his notoriety in to a UFC deal while getting one over on WWE’s infamous no compete cause. Everything came up tulips and puppies for CM Punk this year without performing but a handful of moves in January. Since then he has made different appearances on projects while, as he stated, getting his health back in line and actually feeling fresh. He now has created a brand for himself and turned it into an opportunity to compete in UFC. The results won’t matter much as his name value will rise even higher as his first even in 2015 draws closer. If he wins, which isn’t as unlikely as most will argue, his 2015 will eclipse 2014 easy. Not a bad for a guy who “quit” or “ was fired.”
Daniel had the hottest run of his career while seemingly being held back by the WWE office. This is the story I am going with for the purposes of this post at least. Daniel saw the year start off as a minion of the Wyatt’s only to turn two weeks later and then lose and not even compete in the actual Royal Rumble match. He has a shot at the title again which no one should have believed was going to happen in the Elimination Chamber. All of this losing though seemed to be the most positive step that could have been taken. After Elimination Chamber and due in part to the absence of CM Punk, WWE had no other star to ride out side of John Cena. The Yes movement was born and culminated with his title victory at WrestleMania 31. It created a special moment that not one person thought would happen. When WWE signed Bryan Danielson the idea of him main-eventing a PPV, let alone WrestleMania was an afterthought. The significance of his victory was a bit muddled as he was lost for the year with arm and shoulder issues. Daniel Bryan though, even in the face of possible career ending issues remained as hot of an act as he was when he left. He appeared in different avenues promoting and using the Yes chant. He worked his celebrity and name, along with the Yes chant let’s be honest, in to gigs promoting the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco Giants. The godfather of the Yes chant was immediately brought to mind with every outside avenue aping his signature phrase all the while rehabbing and hopefully healing up. Not a bad gig for a guy who was never supposed to make it to the top.
See a theme developing here? Whether viewed as a part-timer or not Brock was the most over guy in WWE and he barely appeared. He also had some of the best and if not best, the most memorable matches of 2014. His year started off slow with his weird assault of Big Show at the Royal Rumble. It was a beat down that was never avenged nor given the opportunity for vengeance by The Big Show. It was quickly forgotten though when Brock was inserted in to the sacrificial lamb spot on WrestleMania 31 against the Undertaker. The build up for the match made Brock look cowardly and sort of stupid so we should have seen it coming. Being at The Superdome for his historic victory gives me a different perspective on the streak ending. It gave Brock the upperhand on everyone in WWE. He was given something that will never be taken away or minimized. He then disappeared until Summerslam where he ruined John Cena for near twenty minutes. He took the WWE World Heavyweight Championship much to the chagrin of fans. During the rematch he was able to show some ass and have John Cena run over him but still ended up walking out with the title. He then took the rest of the year off while champion and started reconsidering a fight career. His star is now brighter and his financial terms have grown exponentially by wrestling four times this year. Not bad for a part-timer.
A guy who hasn’t had a match on television since January 23rd, 2014 had a year many would envy. As soon as Sting left TNA behind the fervor for a WWE run swelled. WWE flirts and teased Sting and the fans and finally signed him to a contract and filmed a commercial for his likeness since he would be appearing as a DLC character for WWE 2K15. You got both the Surfer and The Crow versions for god’s sake. He then appears out of nowhere at Survivor Series and is inserted in tot eh biggest program going for WWE. That’s it. Outside of an appearance during the Ultimate Warrior program on WWE Network, Sting appeared three times in 2014. While limited to three legitimate appearances Sting got paid and hasn’t taken a bump since January. He is more relevant than 95% of the roster while not having spoken on WWE television. Not a bad year.