We can put all our thoughts into what were the most important stories of the year, what changed the sport of professional wrestling, or altered the trajectory of sports entertainment. But in the end, there are some stories that just get more page views than others here at SlamWrestling.net.
With the ease of reports / analytics these days, we figured, Hey, let’s see what the top stories of 2021 are!
It was not a surprise to the staff that the obituaries ranked high, as, through the years, people have come to expect good stories about people who have passed from SlamWrestling.
(Note that we are excluding “home” pages from our list, since the SlamWrestling.net homepage, News & Rumors, TV reports, Event reports, and Obituaries, always are consistently on the top; the Canadian Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame would be on that list too, but we only relaunched it on Canada Day 2021.)
TOP TRAFFICKED STORIES FOR 2021
1. BRIAN BLAIR’S SON, BRETT, KILLED — This was a July story that SlamWrestling’s Greg Oliver broke, not the kind of piece that anyone wants to write about. Brian has been a fan and supporter of the website, and Slam has contributed the bios to the Cauliflower Alley Club program for years. A sad story all around.
2. ‘DAFFNEY’ SHANNON SPRUILL DEAD AT 46 — If we put all the Daffney stories together, including the earlier story about her Instagram live stream where she talked about killing herself, the photo gallery, and the story with her friends remembering her, collectively they’d be at the top. Again, it’s not a feel-good story at all. We’d interviewed her at the site numerous times as well.
3. ANGELO MOSCA DEAD AT 84 — Again, SlamWrestling’s Greg Oliver had the news first (and best). So many of the mainstream obituaries (and there were a lot of them, especially in Canada) glossed over his wrestling days, but Big Ang wrestled longer than he played football, plus was a commentator and promoter. Add in the story where Oliver talked to Mosca’s son, Ang Jr., right after his father’s death, and again, it was a moving, important package about a legend in both wrestling and football.
4. PROMOTER JIM CROCKETT JR. DEAD AT 76 — Jim Crockett Promotions, with its Four Horsemen, Dusty Rhodes, and so much more, was a big part of many of our lives, so it’s natural that people wanted to read about Crockett.
5. GUEVARA REPORTEDLY IN HOT WATER WITH AEW AFTER NIXING IMPACT STORYLINE — This was a February scoop for SlamWrestling, by Bob Kapur, and generated plenty of controversy since it was denied. But hey, did Sammy Guevara ever do anything in Impact? Didn’t think so.
6. APRIL HUNTER BARES ALL ABOUT NAKED WOMEN’S WRESTLING SHOW — Bob Kapur wrote the original story on the Naked Women’s Wrestling League back in 2006, which is still one of our favorite pieces — and decided to do a follow-up. This story from January 2021 has consistently performed year-round, which likely has something to do with search engines!
7. CHRIS YOUNGBLOOD OF FAMED ROMERO CLAN DIES — Our obituary was one of the few that actually had quotes from Chris, since we had gotten to know him off and on through the years. Those connections matter.
8. ‘BIG’ JYM ANDERSON, ROCKER/INDY WRESTLER, DEAD AT 42 — This is the opposite of the Youngblood, someone we knew nothing about, but found the backstory itself interest (punk rocker / wrestler), so an obituary was commissioned.
9. WOMEN’S GREAT ANN CASEY DIES — It was and wasn’t a surprise when she died on March 1st. Ann was active online, even running a Facebook group, until near the end, yet she was 82, and had lived a good, full life.
10. ALARMING INSTAGRAM VIDEO FRIGHTENS DAFFNEY FANS — See above.
11. NWA USA IS ON ITS WAY — Producer Greg Oliver was able to sit in on the first ever taping of the NWA USA show, debuting January 8, 2022. Oliver teases what is to come without any spoilers, making for a good lead-in. He also got a ton of interviews at the NWA tapings in Atlanta, including: Matt Cardona, Dirty Dango/Fandango, “That Dude” Jamie Stanley, Marshe’ Rockett, Matt Taven & Mike Bennett, and Doug Williams (with Nick Aldis), with more to come in 2022, including an audience with the NWA World champ, Trevor Murdoch.
12. FLORIDA’S ‘CYBORG’ KEVIN DONOFRIO DIES — Wrestling was almost a footnote in the interesting life of Donofrio, who was big in the health and fitness equipment industry.
13. DOMINIC DENUCCI DIES — He was a gem, plain and simple. Denucci is in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame for a reason, and as a show of respect, Bruno Sammartino insisted on going to upstate New York to induct his friend. If that doesn’t tell you something about Denucci, nothing will.
14. ‘GOLDEN BOY’ MICHAEL CAMMETT PASSES AWAY — Amos Mina did his obituary on a young wrestler from the Northeast, and it turned out, as we were working on the piece, that he had died in an accident while rafting. No one should be gone at 24.
15. DON KERNODLE (1950-2021): REMEMBERING ‘KERNODLEDOODLE’ – We called on Steve Johnson to write up a piece, since he had known Don a long time and interviewed him many times. He delivered an amazing story, as much character study as obituary.
16. SHEIK’S SON, CAPTAIN ED GEORGE, DEAD AT AGE 71 — There’s a saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything,” that could apply here. It’s a bit of an understatement to say that Ed Farhat Jr. wasn’t loved in the greater Detroit area. But he was a part of the history of the area, and his story deserved to be told. The obituary on his brother, Tom, from 2020, got a boost too. Unfortunately, the author of this obit, Mark Bujan, also died in 2021.
17. LEGENDARY BUDDY COLT DIES — Another pro wrestling legend gone, and we learned so much more about him along the way — like all his kids. One of his sons, Ricky Nance, shared his eulogy with SlamWrestling.net readers.
18. ‘VICE VERSA: CHYNA’ DOCUMENTARY ‘GRIPPING’ AND ‘DIFFICULT TO WATCH’ — This was our highest-ranking television report, and Tommy “Milagro” Martinez was so disturbed by what he saw in the doc, which wasn’t a part of the Dark Side of the Ring series, that he subsequently wrote a column: MAT MATTERS: A MESSAGE ON CHYNA FOR THE KIDS.
19. TONY MARINO DIES — Trapper Tom Leturgey covered off a Pittsburgh legend. Marino had always escaped interviews, and stories from his long career are now lost.
20. ‘HACKSAW’ BUTCH REED DIES — Heart complications took down one of the toughest men to ever get into the wrestling ring.
21. BELOVED WRESTLER, TRAINER RUSTY BROOKS DIES — This is proof that you can make a huge impact on people without being a main event star. Brooks was an enhancement guy in WWF and WCW, but set up shop in Florida and taught so many the ropes that his legacy will live on for years.
22. MAT MATTERS: COLE, DEAD AT 50, WAS THE ORIGINAL WHISTLEBLOWER FOR #SPEAKINGOUT — Jamie Hemmings has long been one of our most talented writers at SlamWrestling, and she lets it all out here — her personal dealings with both Tom Cole and his brother, Lee, and her own personal battles. It’s an amazing read.
23. COLT’S GAY FILMS A PURPOSEFUL DIG — When Jonathan Plombon pitched the story of Chris Colt’s gay films to the site, there was no second-thought. Colt has long been one of the great mysterious figures of pro wrestling and this long piece promised to provide some insight into him. It did and much more. Then, in chatting with photographer/manager Brad McFarlin, we learned that he had a great Colt story too, about heading out with Chris to see Joe Cocker perform. Another no-brainer of a story, and more insight into Colt. Check it out too: MAT MATTERS: WHEN CHRIS COLT MET JOE COCKER.
24. GRIZZLY ‘DARK SIDE OF THE RING’ EPISODE IS DIFFICULT TO WATCH — Reviewer Todd Denault offers plenty of warning that this episode, which addresses the abuses Grizzly Smith inflicted on his children, was not for everyone. It’s likely many read this review before deciding whether to watch the Vice doc for themselves or not.
25. WRESTLER TURNED ACTOR BRICK BRONSKY DIES — We shone a light on another lesser name, and the crossover into the entertainment world likely helped goose the numbers.
Top TV show report? Not a WWE or AEW report, but Dave Hillhouse’s report on Young Rock episode three (‘YOUNG ROCK’ EPISODE THREE: THE WRESTLING BUSINESS SHOW).
Top archival pieces? We are a well-indexed site, and so when people search for something through a search engine, are 20+ years of content come up high. The two top archival stories, both from 2017, were ‘BRUISER’ BOB SWEETAN LEAVES A COMPLICATED LEGACY and ALL JAPAN’S FOUR PILLARS OF HEAVEN SET THE STANDARD.
The takeaway from the above list?
People come to SlamWrestling.net for the quality of its writing, especially its obituaries and features, and the photos.
For that, we say thank you! We are looking forward to more great content in 2022!