The wrestling industry has drastically changed throughout the past decade in ways no one could have predicted. WWE introducing the WWE Network and moving forward with new projects would see their philosophy change in many ways. Top names from TNA and Ring of Honor started to join the company showcasing that the wrestlers of smaller sizes could thrive in the new landscape of WWE. The overall approach to presenting wrestling changed a little in general thanks to social media growing.
New promotions have started to find success with the industry appearing healthier than its been since the days of the Monday Night Wars. The past decade has given us many surreal moments that have us questioning just how things changed this quickly. Someone who'd given up wrestling in 2009 and came back today will be stunned at the sport's current state. These are ten facts about wrestling that would have been unbelievable ten years ago.
10 Steve Austin hit AJ Styles with the Stone Cold Stunner
One recent instance of a wild wrestling moment to put things in perspective of how much things have changed in wrestling came during Steve Austin’s Raw appearance in Madison Square Garden. Austin making such a return to WWE and hitting a Stone Cold Stunner was wild enough.
However, the move being against AJ Styles showed the wild landscape of today’s industry. Most fans didn’t expect Styles to ever work for WWE a decade ago and taking part in a segment with Austin would make it even more unbelievable. Austin stunned Styles for a cool moment for all involved, including the fans.
9 The Undertaker is still wrestling in 2019
The Undertaker was still delivering great matches about a decade ago during the classic rivalry with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania. Despite the positive results, Undertaker was viewed as being towards the end of the road in his career due to his older age.
The current age of Undertaker in his mid-50s makes it shocking to realize he’s still going after all these years. Undertaker recently wrestled in Saudi Arabia against Goldberg in embarrassing fashion and in a more entertaining tag match to make up for it. There will likely be more matches for Undertaker moving forward.
8 New wrestling promotion debuting on TNT
All Elite Wrestling starting their television show on TNT is one of the most surprising stories in recent wrestling memory. No promotion has had a deal this impressive since WCW went out of business in 2001. AEW found a way to end up on the same network with a live weekly show on Wednesday nights.
Once fans realized TNA would never compete with WWE about a decade ago, the belief was that no promotion would ever reach the level AEW is currently at. Time will tell how strong their success will be in the grand scheme of things, but this was unbelievable just a few years ago.
7 Kevin Owens is a former Universal Champion
Kevin Owens was still making his name in Ring of Honor a decade ago with impressive matches and entertaining promo. Despite the incredible work, most pundits expected Owens to never receive a WWE contract due to his unconventional look and wrestling style at the time.
WWE would start to expand their horizons by giving talents the opportunity to prove their greatness. Owens joined NXT with zero guarantees of a main roster run, but he was an instant success. WWE called him within months and he eventually won the Universal Champion to hold the top prize in the company.
6 Goldberg returned to win Universal Championship
Another shocking Universal Champion in the past decade to surprise the wrestling world was Goldberg. WWE would see Goldberg leave the company in controversial fashion after a horrible run in 2003-2004. The expectation was that Goldberg would never work with WWE again due to the bad blood.
That changed in 2016 when Goldberg worked with WWE for the video game promotional stuff along with the eventual return to the ring. WWE used Goldberg to his strengths while hiding his weaknesses this time around. The older Goldberg won the Universal Championship and had a stronger run as his career is still going.
5 The women main evented WrestleMania
The women’s division finding relevance and credibility in WWE has been one of the most important changes over the past decade. WWE made an effort to give their female talent enough time to showcase their skills and create a compelling division.
Becky Lynch would become the hottest rising star in WWE from 2018 to 2019 culminating in the women’s first WrestleMania main event at WM 35. Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair fell just shot against Lynch in the triple threat match. This feat felt impossible a decade, but it was expected in 2019 since the ladies earned the spot.
4 Kofi Kingston wins first world title in 2019
Kofi Kingston was a rising star for WWE about a decade ago. The incredible Madison Square Garden moment against Randy Orton has been shown on WWE television in recent content due to the feud resurfacing, but this truly felt like a star-making moment in 2009.
Fans would be shocked to realize that Kingston went until 2019 before winning his first WWE Championship. The wait made the win that much sweeter at WrestleMania 35 in one of the most emotional moments in WWE history.
3 CM Punk had the hottest WWE storyline of the decade
CM Punk was already an upper tier name for WWE a decade ago, but he was nowhere near the level of John Cena, Batista and Randy Orton. The biggest push of Punk’s career came in 2011 when the summer of Punk allowed him to show his full potential.
Punk’s chase for the WWE Championship and threat of leaving the company with the title created the hottest storyline of the past decade. The success of Punk was limited since WWE’s booking did slow down his momentum, but the accomplishments made him a legend.
2 Brock Lesnar breaking Undertaker’s streak
Brock Lesnar returning to WWE at all felt like a tough thing to believe a decade ago. The former WWE main eventer was removed from his wrestling career. Lesnar was doing well in UFC, but that eventually came to an end.
The surprise return of Brock created a huge shift in WWE as a major attraction in the part-time role. Things would get even more shocking when Lesnar ended the undefeated WrestleMania streak of The Undertaker. This would lead to Brock dominating the WWE roster with lengthy world title reigns.
1 Daniel Bryan winning the WWE World Championship in the main event of WM
The rise of Daniel Bryan is not only one of the most surprising moments of the last decade, but it was among the most unlikely stories in WWE history. Bryan did not have the look or persona of the average WWE main eventer a decade ago.
Fans however believed in Bryan enough to make him the hottest star of 2013-2014. WWE was forced to change plans due to the crowd chants and response heading into WrestleMania 30. Bryan was added to a match with Randy Orton and Batista where he won the WWE World Championship on the biggest stage against all odds.