I started watching WWE again in 2010, and need stuff to write about so this place isn’t barren until January.

Late in 2009 I started watching the WWE-branded ECW out of curiosity. I hadn’t watched wrestling regularly since 2004-ish, and wasn’t particularly interested in getting back into it, but ECW had a very significant advantage over other wrestling programs: it was the only thing on in its time slot. I could probably write an entire post about that version of ECW, but that can wait for another time. Why ECW is important to this article is that it’s how I found out that Bret “The Hitman” Hart was going to be returning to WWE for the first time since 1997. Now THAT I had to see.

Watching RAW for the first time in six years had a lot of the same excitement as the first time I watched wrestling back in 1993. The sense of discovery as I parsed out who everyone was and what exactly was going on, the thrill of seeing wrestlers I recognized, the sense of amazement when I saw a new move. It was all there.

The Bret Hart/Vince McMahon storyline really got me back into wrestling, which is odd because I knew the resulting match would suck. But it did what a good story should: it got me invested in the characters and seeing the heel get his comeuppance.

Aside from the Bret/Vince story, the WWE actually wasn’t that much different than it was six years ago. The main event level talent was actually almost identical; Triple H, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, and The Undertaker were all still kicking around. The first quarter of the year featured John Cena and Batista in the kind of feud that the WWE loves and I hate: the kind where lots and lots and lots of talking leads to a series of matches which are mediocre at best, godawful at worst. I get John Cena’s popularity, because he’s basically a modern Hulk Hogan (okay, technically Hogan is the modern Hogan, since he still refuses to retire) and has more charisma than you can shake a stick it. Why you would want to shake a stick at charisma, I’m not sure. Why anyone would think that having him engage Batista, who had mic skill roughly equivalent to the average cactus, in incredibly long verbal exchanges that led to awkward, boring matches was a good idea, I don’t know.

The 2010 Royal Rumble was the first WWE PPV I’ve seen since the 2002 Royal Rumble (I don’t count 2005’s ECW One Night Stand as a WWE PPV). You can read more about my Royal Rumble experiences, most of which involved a drinking game that seemed like a really good idea at the time here.

The mid card really stood out to me, mostly because it’s where the new faces were found. Jack Swagger’s run of matches with Christian in ECW really solidified him in my view as a guy I wanted to see a lot more of. Young guys like Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler impressed me as well, although not as much as they would later on. Drew McIntyre spent the first half or so of the year on fire with the Intercontinental Title, although that cooled down significantly later on. The WWE tends to neglect it’s midcard, though, so I suppose it’s not much of a surprise that guys like Swagger and McIntyre didn’t break out to the extent that they could have.

The build-up to Wrestlemania made me seriously consider buying the PPV… until I saw how much it cost, at which point I decided that the $25 DVD would suffice (PPV’s are $50 Canadian, or $55 for HD). It was worth it for Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker alone, the other good stuff was really just icing on the cake.

I was excited when the first third of the year ended, because all of a sudden the main event scene wasn’t so familiar. Triple H and the Undertaker took time off and the Undertaker got hurt, which shook things up enough for Jack Swagger to capture the World Heavyweight Championship (not that WWE creative did anything with it, but I thought he did a lot with what little he was given) and Sheamus to really catch fire.

At some point after Christmas, part two!