We’ve come so far, and we’ve reached so high
And we’ve looked each day and night in the eye
And we’re still so young, and we hope for more…
We’ve come a long way
But we’re not too sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success (Tudutu), we’ve had good times (Tudutu)
I’ve got to admit, I’m incredibly tempted just to post the complete lyrics of Take That’s 1995 hit Never Forget as it perfectly describes WWE’s journey over the past 10 years. I won’t though because that would be a bit too lazy.
WWE had a great year in 2008. If you’re thinking ‘but this was after the Attitude Era therefore it had to be rubbish’, this was the year when Jeff Hardy jumped off the Raw stage onto Randy Orton, the year John Cena made that return at the Royal Rumble, the year ‘I’m sorry I love you’ became a meme, and the year Floyd Mayweather legitimately popped The Big Show’s nose.
In terms of society, 2008 was a year where everyone with a tiny penis wore Kanye’s shutter glasses, the year vampires became your favourite pastime, and the year Mike Ashley sold James Milner and bought a load of rubbish over Kevin Keegan’s head, forcing the Messiah to walk out on my beloved Newcastle United for the second time.
A lot has changed since then. Let’s have a look at 10 things our 2008 selves wouldn’t believe were possible but are actually happening right now in WWE…
10. Shane McMahon Can Have A Better Match With AJ Styles Than Kevin Steen
WrestleMania 33: AJ Styles and Shane McMahon open the show but put on what was undoubtedly the match of the night.
SummerSlam 2017: Kevin Owens and AJ Styles, with Shane as Special Guest Referee, disappoint in a high-profile match where the story of KO vs. Shane ‘O’ got in the way of the action.
If you were to place these two matches side-by-side and showed them to wrestling fans who had no idea who the three men involved were – if that’s even a thing that could possibly exist – they would undoubtedly choose the ‘Mania opener as the superior match.
While Shane vs. AJ was the culmination of a feud, despite taking place on the third biggest event of the year Shane vs. Owens was a match put on to build to another match. The special guest ref on the night took away from the action while adding to another developing story – admittedly, a very difficult balance to keep in check.
The fact remains, however, that 47-year-old Shane McMahon had a better match with AJ Styles than Kevin Owens did in what has to be his prime – an unfathomable thought 10 years ago.
Back in 2008, Kevin Owens was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest names on the Independent scene with his size the only thing seemingly between him and a move to WWE – oh how times have changed for the better in that respect. While Mr Steen was tearing it up for the likes of CZW, PWG and Ring Of Honor, Shane McMahon was a bit part player on WWE television, working alongside his sister Stephanie as Interim Raw GM.
Just looking at the two men and their prospects in 2008 makes this fact all the more bizarre. The thought of a fellow the size of Owens making it to WWE back then was fanciful. We were deep in the body era if you want to call it that, where guys with a belly simply weren’t welcome – unless your name was Viscera, Trevor Murdoch or Umaga. And secondly, while one man was well on the way to becoming one of the best on the planet back in 2008, the other was heading towards middle age and a seven-year hiatus from all things WWE…