wrestling / Columns

The Top 7 Happiest Wrestling Moments

April 15, 2019 | Posted by Steve Cook
Daniel Bryan WrestleMania WrestleMania 30

One of the highlights of WrestleMania 35 saw Kofi Kingston win his first WWE Championship in an epic match with Daniel Bryan. Though Kofi has been with the company for eleven years, the story pretty much popped up overnight & caught fire at the right time. All of a sudden, the entire WWE Universe became massive Kofi Kingston fans and needed him to be WWE Champion. They didn’t even know they needed it until Xavier Woods & Big E told them so, but once they did it had to be done.

I did notice that Kofi’s championship victory brought a great amount of joy to a lot of people. I can certainly see why, though I won’t insult your intelligence by saying I identify with it. Most WWE Champions have had the same skin color as me. It’s not something that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, as there are plenty of physical differences between me and Caucasian pro wrestlers. I can understand the happiness though.

Wrestling fans have plenty of reason to be happy these days. Not only did Kofi bring the WWE Championship home, but Seth Rollins took the Universal Championship off of Brock Lesnar & Becky Lynch won both women’s championships. Tons of championships changed hands within the last week that brought joy to many people.

What are your happiest wrestling moments? We all likely have different answers. Here are my Magnificent Seven. You may agree with some. You may agree with none. But these are the moments that brought joy to my heart.

7. Bret Hart returns to WWE

There are few things in life better than closure. Bret Hart had anything but that in the years after the 1997 Survivor Series. Between what happened there, the death of his brother Owen, the stroke & many other setbacks to hit the Hitman, you had to root for something positive to happen. The best thing for Bret & his fans across the world would have been for WWE to welcome him back into the fold & honor him as the legend he is. Bret was stubborn and didn’t want to come back for many years, but it finally happened on January 4, 2010.

Part of me thought it would never happen. Bret was that stubborn about it, and sometimes it was tough to blame him. Eventually, enough water passed under the bridge, and Bret was able to come to peace with everything that had happened. Bret Hart assumed his rightful position as one of WWE’s most honored legends, and all was right with the world. I was happy for Bret for finding closure, and for the fans that would get to enjoy his work for as long as WWE was a viable company.

6. Mark Henry has a lot left in the tank

I remember this Raw segment from 2013 more than anything else that happened that year. We hadn’t seen Mark Henry in a little while, and the speculation was that he was heading into retirement. He came out after a John Cena interview segment to do his retirement speech in a salmon blazer, and the results were simply classic. Words can not do justice to how well done this was, so go ahead and watch.

Tell me that Henry squashing Cena and declaring that he’s got more left in the tank doesn’t put a smile on your face! I was so pumped when this went down. The only downside is that Henry can never do another retirement speech, as nobody would believe it.

5. CM Punk loses the ROH Championship in Dayton

Mid-2000s Ring of Honor is one of my favorite wrestling promotions of my lifetime. This was when people like Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson & Punk were really coming into their own & showing the potential for the greatness they would exhibit later on bigger stages. Gabe Sapolsky knew how to utilize most of the talent he had to its fullest potential, and formulated a product that catered to what smart marks like myself wanted at the time.

I disliked Punk well before most of you turned your backs on him. I didn’t think he was as good as he was hyped. Looking back, they did a good job working me. The Summer of Punk, where Punk held the ROH Championship hostage on his way to WWE, was some good storytelling. Making it even better for me: getting to see Punk lose the championship live at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.

I mean, I would have rather seen Joe or Christopher Daniels win the four-way than James Gibson. Gibson was just another guy on his way to WWE at that point. Nevertheless, it was a tremendous moment to see live. This is a wonderful example of getting happiness out of someone else’s failures. Which is what we specialize in here in 2019 America.

4. Mankind wins the WWF Championship on Raw

I had followed Mick Foley’s career since I started watching WCW in 1992. There was always something about him that seemed relatable. It was pretty obvious, even to my young eyes, that the guy went the extra mile and took punishment that most of his peers wouldn’t. He was among my favorite wrestlers through the next few years as he moved from WCW to ECW and finally to the WWF.

Foley’s matches brought with them an added sense of danger & excitement that most couldn’t match. His speaking ability made people that might be skeptical turn in his favor. People like him weren’t supposed to be world champion, so when he beat the Rock for the strap there was a pop the likes of which shouldn’t have been possible in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The only thing that would have made it better from the perspective of unadulterated happiness is if it happened on a live show. Although, the fact it was taped meant that Tony Schiavone got to poop on it while calling Nitro, which added immensely to the story of the Monday Night War.

3. Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero celebrate at the end of WrestleMania XX

Obviously, this is a moment tainted by what happened in the years afterward. Its hard to explain to people that didn’t live it just what Benoit & Guerrero meant to Internet fans. You don’t really see guys garner the universal adulation these two did in their heyday, and maybe that’s for the best.

(Perhaps there’s one that’s their equal in that department. We’ll talk about him in a minute.)

Eddie reached his goal one month earlier in California, and it was a glorious night. His best friend achieved the same goal in Madison Square Garden, and us smarks that had followed their journey from being overlooked as vanilla midgets to being the top guys in the world had all the feels.

It would take ten years to top that feeling.

2. Daniel Bryan wins the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX

WWE likes to give the diehards happy endings at their landmark events. WrestleMania X saw Bret Hart win the WWF Championship back from Yokozuna. WrestleMania XX had the two smark darlings reign supreme. WrestleMania XXX gave us Daniel Bryan.

I had watched Bryan wrestle in a national guard armory along with approximately 50 other people. I saw him numerous times at a county fairgrounds barn with about 450 others. Its tremendously satisfying to watch somebody you saw back in the day reach the pinnacle of the business.

There was a time where I feared that wrestling had peaked for me at WrestleMania XXX and it was all downhill from there. It hasn’t been a straight dropoff, but I do wonder if I’ll reach the heights of “Bryan at WrestleMania XXX” again.

Honorable Mention: Taeler Hendrix passes the TNA Gut Check

Has it really been seven years since Larry Csonka & I interviewed Taeler Hendrix on the 411 on Wrestling? That’s very hard for me to believe, but apparently it’s true. Ms. Hendrix was working in Ohio Valley Wrestling at the time they formed an arrangement with TNA Wrestling, so it only made sense that they would bring her in for the Gut Check Challenge they were doing at the time.

I was in my “use pictures of attractive women to get clicks” phase that 411 was more than happy to indulge, and Taeler was a big part of that. She ended up making several appearances on the 411 on Wrestling & the Greg DeMarco Show during this time period, so I felt a bit of a personal connection during all of this. (Not too personal, as I wasn’t nearly as delusional as my writing at the time indicated.)

Personal connections are cool though, and I was so excited when Taeler got her gig with TNA.

I have to admit that my excitement was somewhat dampered by the fact that it was TNA, a company that was known for squandering potential. Unfortunately, they ended up squandering Taeler’s as well, as she never ended up doing much of note during her time with the promotion. As far as I know, the checks cleared, so it wasn’t all for naught.

1. Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XIV

We’ve talked today about wrestlers I grew up following. At the same time I became familiar with Cactus Jack in WCW, I was introduced to Stunning Steve Austin. Once he became Flyin’ Brian Pillman’s tag team parter in the Hollywood Blondes, I became a huge fan. Pillman was a former Cincinnati Bengal & grew up in the Greater Cincinnati, so I was solidly in his corner. Austin became the beneficiary of that, and even after the Blondes broke up I took a liking to the guy.

WCW wasn’t as high on Steve Austin as I was, especially once Hulk Hogan and all his friends came in. Austin wasn’t marketable enough & was too injury prone, so they let him go. After a brief & awesome stint in ECW, Austin arrived in the WWF. The Ringmaster sucked, but once he got Stone Cold business began to pick up. He spent 1997 working his way up the card, and by the time WrestleMania XIV rolled around, it was time for the Rattlesnake to be the guy.

Having watched Stone Cold work his way up from WCW made it that much sweeter. It also helped that Austin had a tremendously cool character that was catching on with other kids my age. Just a year or two prior, I had been made fun of in school for being a wrestling fan. To be fair, the product WWF was putting out in 1995-96 was easy to make fun of. The fact that I hung in there through the garbage men & clowns & plumbers made it even better after everybody jumped on the bandwagon in 1998 when Stone Cold, Goldberg, DX & the Wolfpac were the coolest things in the world.

I was at the perfect age for the Attitude Era. I was rooting for the right wrestler. Everything just came together at the right time and ensured perfect happiness.