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  • The 05/27/96 episode of WCW Monday Nitro featured the shocking return of Scott Hall and the beginning of a landmark storyline in the industry, one that would effectively swing the balance of power towards WCW (legitimizing the company in the eyes of the mainstream public) and keep it there until the WWE came back with a vengeance a couple of years later.
    • Of course, the big Wham of the storyline came at Bash at the Beach '96, when Hulk Hogan went Hollywood.
    • The 07/29/96 episode of WCW Monday Nitro opens with the great announcement, tonight we have two title matches: The Giant and Arn Anderson for the World Heavyweight Championship and Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Eddie Guerrero for the Cruiserweight Title. That alone is awesome, but after the opening match Ric Flair's theme starts and it's Ric Flair and two of the Four Horseman against Sting, Macho Man and Lex Luger. Man, this show is going to be awesome. I mean, seriously SERIOUSLY awesome. In the middle of the match Stinger is getting the crap beaten out of him, and it's looking like it could be comeback time. But then Jimmy Hart runs into the arena screaming "Get back stage!" and we find Scott Hall and Kevin Nash tearing shit up and beating Arn Anderson and Marcus "Buff" Bagwell up with baseball bats. Then Rey Mysterio comes in only to get picked up and thrown into the side of a trailer HEAD FIRST and lies on the concrete motionless. EVERYBODY runs backstage and there is chaos, wrestlers in agony and people screaming for help. Then it hits you: there is going to be no title matches tonight. The nWo have hospitalized the competitors. Everything is ruined and the entire show is thrown into chaos. Bobby Heenan doesn't feel safe and walks out on the commentary team. Before this the nWo were nothing but Hulk Hogan and his buddies talking shit and pulling silly stunts. This episode, shit got real.
    • Uncensored 1997. The nWo win the main event match and what amounts to basically a perpetual "Money in the Bank"-type clause for all WCW titles. The REAL development, however, is Sting ending months of speculation on whose side is he on by kicking the nWo's collective asses, striking the first real blow against the renegade group.
    • WCW Monday Nitro Jan 4th, 1999. Finger-Poke of Doom.
  • Rocky Maivia joins the Nation of Domination and becomes The Rock.
  • The 04/13/98 episode of WWE Raw had the company teasing a match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon, leading to the creation of their own Wham storyline which not only broke WCW's 84-week-long winning streak in the ratings war and swung the momentum right back in the WWE's favor, but kept it there permanently after WCW went bust.
  • The 03/26/01 episodes of WCW Monday Nitro and WWE Raw, which both ended in a live simulcast of each other. Raw opened with Vince McMahon gloating about his purchase of WCW. WCW was known to be in financial turmoil at the time and there were (mostly unsubstantiated) rumors that McMahon was working to purchase it, but few people knew about the deal or McMahon's plans until that moment on Raw. The simulcast to close both shows also culminated in a huge swerve involving Shane McMahon, as if Vince McMahon buying out his bitter rival wasn't huge enough for one night. To say nothing was the same in pro wrestling after this night would be a dreadful understatement.
    • And then a few months later, when ECW showed up...
  • The NXT Riot. The Holy Shit Quotient in WWE went through the roof for the first time in years.
  • 1997 had back-to-back Whams in Survivor Series and Starrcade. Both PPVs featured controversial main event finishes that would steer the course of both WWE and WCW in the coming months.
    • And both of which involved Bret Hart somehow.
  • Hell in a Cell, The Undertaker vs Mankind at King Of The Ring 1998. Not because of any story development, title change, or things like that. No, it counts because its now infamous spot of Mick Foley getting thrown off the cage more or less changed the landscape of mainstream Professional Wrestling forever, and is the standard to which all Hell in a Cell matches are judged today.
  • WWF Over the Edge 1999. Owen Hart falls 5 stories to his death in front of a live crowd.
  • WrestleMania 21 (April 2005), definitely. It wasn't just that the World Heavyweight and WWE Championships changed hands on the same night, although that had hardly ever happened before. It wasn't even that Triple H, the God Mode Sue of the past three years, lost (he had lost at the previous WrestleMania too). No, what was different was this: Triple H had jobbed to three previous opponents (Shawn Michaels, Goldberg, and Chris Benoit) while World Heavyweight Champion, but he had always managed to win the title back a few months later at the most. This time, Batista kept the title for a whopping nine months (after which he had to relinquish it following an injury) and Triple H never won the title back (mostly because he and the world title remained on separate brands since June 2005); that must have been quite surprising to many viewers at the time. An even more drastic change occurred with regards to the WWE Championship: ever since the "Invasion" storyline, it had been more or less regularly jumping from one holder to the next. But once John Cena managed to win it from John Bradshaw Layfield, the "Doctor of Thuganomics" reigned supreme, and World Wrestling Entertainment had its first truly iconic babyface world champion since Stone Cold Steve Austin. Not only that, but Cena would mutate into a genuine God Mode Sue in his own right in less than two years and arguably change the face of the company itself, bringing lots of young females, children, and people who had previously just not cared about wrestling into the WWE fold.
  • Nov. 13, 2005 - "The WWE is saddened by the passing of Eddie Guerrero"
  • New Year's Revolution 2006. Edge cashes in Money in the Bank and defeated then WWE champion John Cena.
  • Vengeance: Night of Champions 2007. Chris Benoit is a no show. Next day, he along with his wife and son are found dead in their home.
  • Monday, April 4th, 2011: John Cena and The Rock make a challenge for a match at Wrestlemania 28 next year in Miami, Florida.
  • In a more Real Life sense, Edge's retirement in 2011 caused a pretty massive upset in the balance of WWE's main event roster, as he was the World Heavyweight Champion at the time. Due to there not really being a free main event Face at the time (Rey Mysterio, Jr. was in the middle of a feud with Cody Rhodes), it caused the draft to come about six weeks earlier than expected and caused some massive shifts in the roster, most notably sending Randy Orton to Smackdown while Smackdown mainstay Rey Mysterio and up and comer Alberto Del Rio were brought to RAW, in addition to mixing up the mid-card scene. Quite possibly the most drastic thing to happen as a result of this is the Orton/Christian Title debacle.
  • September 9th, 1991 on WWF Prime Time Wrestling. Ric Flair, the Real World's Champion, makes his debut in the WWF.
  • Ring of Honor had a big string of these in 2004 alone; all of them coming after the Rob Feinstein nightmare. Generation Next started it all with Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, Alex Shelley, and Jack Evans shooting to the top of the card immediately. World Title Classic started the Samoa Joe - CM Punk trilogy. Reborn: Completion had the return of Low Ki. Testing The Limit was the show with Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson wrestling for 75 minutes. Mick Foley debuted at Glory By Honor III. Jushin Thunder Liger came over stateside for the Weekend of Thunder. Joe vs. Punk II and All-Star Extravaganza II completed the Joe-Punk trilogy. All of this led to Final Battle 2004, and the two biggest wham moments of the year. Not only did Austin Aries kick Alex Shelley out of GenNext, he ended Samoa Joe's 21 month world title reign.
    • Death Before Dishonor III: CM Punk unseats Aries to win the ROH World Title in his last night in ROH.. and then turns heel in a big way, threatening to walk out as champion. At the end of Punk's legendary promo, we had the big return of Christopher Daniels.
    • Arena Warfare: ROH makes the mistake of running a show in CZW territory, and pays for it. BJ Whitmer becomes ROH's martyr while Samoa Freakin' Joe shows fear for the first time, running from a weedwhacker wielding Wifebeater.
  • Monday, June 27, 2011: CM Punk ends the episode with one of the most shocking worked shoots of the decade, tearing down the WWE establishment and status and leading the company on a path no one saw coming, which leads to...
  • Money in the Bank 2011: CM Punk walks out of the main event - and the company - WWE Champion.
    • Monday, July 18, 2011 - Triple H returns to inform Vince McMahon that due to his actions as of late (i.e. most likely everything involving Punk), the board of directors have filed an injunction and relieved him of duty.
    • Monday, July 25, 2011: CM Punk returns to the WWE with his WWE Title to confront the current "Paper" WWE Champion, John Cena.
  • SummerSlam 2011: Kevin Nash Jackkniving CM Punk costing him the Undisputed WWE Championship.
  • Monday, October 3rd, 2011: THE ENTIRE WWE walks out on Triple H after a unanimous vote of no confidence.
  • Monday, October 24, 2011: John Cena calls for his Wrestlemania 27 opponent, The Rock to be his partner to face Awesome Truth at Survivor Series.
  • Sunday, December 18, 2011: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. CM Punk retains his title in a Triple Threat TLC Match, but is joined in the champion's circle early on by Zack Ryder, who defied the WWE machine by using the internet to push himself from jobber to United States Champion in less than a year. Then, to round off the night, Daniel Bryan cashed in his Money In The Bank contract to become the new World Heavyweight Champion. Joined by Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes, Dark Action Girl Beth Phoenix as the Divas Champion, and the high-flying Air Boom as the tag-team champions, the two ROH legends and the superstar fans have begged WWE to pay more attention to caused a collective joygasm by the IWC by defying nearly every stereotype that WWE had set up for its booking practices in the last couple of years. Of note were the following:
    • The Divas' champion being a wrestler who happened to be female, as opposed to having the 'model look' at the expense of wrestling ability (Beth Phoenix)
    • People who made names for themselves in other promotions - indy promotions in particular - tended to get the shaft by WWE's booking. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were both indy stars before joining the WWE, and Evan Bourne, one half of the tag champs, was also an indy standout known as Matt Sydal in Ring of Honor.
    • Air Boom, although they were somewhat thrown together by the bookers and only lasted for several months, may one day be credited for stabilizing the Tag Team division and starting it back on its road to relevance. For the first time in perhaps several years, the team was promoted as a tag team - they had their own gear, their own team name, and for a brief time, their own entrance theme that wasn't just a mash-up of the two Superstars' music. The team they beat, Epico and Primo, would eventually win the titles from them and become an established cornerstone of the revived division in its own right, even adding in a valet/manager for good measure, as an homage to some of the tag teams of old.
    • Also worth noting is that every male wrestler in the champions' circle after that PPV was billed at 220 pounds or lower. WWE had long been accused of pushing guys that cut impressive figures over charismatic performers or talented wrestlers. Even Cody Rhodes, who is a homegrown second-generation superstar falls into this category. He's not big, but he's skilled and sound in the ring and has standout mic work, especially given his young age.
    • Last, and perhaps most surprising was WWE not leaning on its default go-to guys during the PPV. Even if other superstars were on the card in title matches, WWE had an annoying tendency to shoehorn its favorites onto the card and - even more glaringly - those matches were given attention at the expense of the title matches. Randy Orton was on the program, but in a non-title match with Wade Barrett that didn't headline, and had enjoyed a few weeks' worth of set-up beforehand. John Cena? Wasn't booked at all. [1]
      • More importantly than not being booked, he didn't even appear on that pay-per-view.
  • Monday, April, 2 2012. John Cena just lost to The Rock at Wrestlemania 28 just 24 hours ago. Cena called The Rock to personally congratulate him. Then suddenly, here comes... THE PAIN!!!
  • Monday, May, 7 2012. Paul Heyman returns to the WWE after five and a half years since the disastrous ECW December To Dismember.
  • Over The Limit 2012:
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  • Starrcade 1999. Bret Hart suffers a concussion in his match with Goldberg which forced him to retire.

Notes

  1. In fact, in storyline, he had given up his match to allow Zack Ryder another chance at Dolph Ziggler's United States Championship.
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