It’s no secret that this writer despises the modern “super indy” era of professional wrestling. All the over the top moves that don’t seem to cause much damage just makes wrestling look foolish. I really tried to adapt to it, and actually managed to support it for a number of years, attending ROH, CZW, NXT, and other shows. At one point in time NJPW was my absolute favorite promotion, especially The Bullet Club. As time went on though, everything I had accepted got bigger, sillier, and wilder. Occasional high spots became constant, and no one was selling them, they’d just jump back up to take, or deliver, another high spot. It became eye-rollingly bad, and nearly impossible for me to take (i.e. suspend my disbelief, as wrestling fans say.) How did all this happen? Why did it happen?
Between Vince McMahon’s killing of kayfabe in federal court, and his WWE’s “Attitude Era,” current day wrestlers got sillier, and sillier, but places like Ring of Honor, and Evolve held out for quite some time, presenting wrestling much like Stardom does today from 2006 to 2010 or so. What changed all that? I believe the arrival, and the eventual success of The Young Bucks changed it all. When the Bucks first arrived on the scene in places like Ring of Honor, and Evolve, they weren’t widely accepted at all. They were presented as faces, but more often received as heels, because of their look, and style. Matt and Nick Jackson were perceived as scrawny, no selling, Hardy Boy wannabe’s. At first I didn’t know how to take them, but when I figured out their gimmick, and what they were doing, I enjoyed them. Yes, I enjoyed the Young Bucks for several years. The Young Bucks used to be a rare thing, fresh, and different. They came in dressed in their Rocker’s style gear, and did all kind of crazy moves, and didn’t give a crap about what anyone thought. I saw them as “frat boy,” types, the kind of rich kids that think their crap doesn’t stink, and are better than anyone they have to “work” with. They came across as entitled, and juvenile. I thought it was the perfect heel shtick to have on the “indy’s,” and a great way to rock the boat.
A funny thing happened on that boat. As time went on the Young Bucks became more, and more accepted. Eventually they became popular, and one day soon extremely “over.” This created a problem that I never saw coming. While I was happy for their success, and owned several of their t-shirts, I never realized just how imitated they would be. Sure, looking back that makes sense, but I never considered just how much influence their style and gimmick would have on the entire world of wrestling. Soon many were copying their moves, and no (or quick) selling in hopes of getting over like the Young Bucks. Guys like Kevin Steen even started dressing like them when he teamed with them! Tough guy, slobby looking, street fighter, Kevin Steen started wearing tassels and teal colored tights… yikes! Soon what was once just the Bucks attitude (gimmick) seemed to be nearly everyone’s gimmick. Screw the traditions of wrestling, we’re “Killing the business!” I never dreamed that when the Young Bucks said that, and printed it on t-shirts, that they meant it.
Maybe you need more examples? I actually liked the Bucks being brought into Bullet Club. Their arrogance fit, and they need to be heels in my opinion. However, the longer the Bucks remained in Bullet Club, the more Bullet Club seemed to reflect the Bucks, it seemed to be “Young Bucks Club.” Kenny Omega came into Bullet Club as the cool looking “Cleaner,” with his trench coat, and sunglasses. Not long after he became sillier, and sillier, with he and The Bucks actually carrying brooms to the ring (cleaner, get it? har, har). Soon after that Kenny also adapted Young Buck style gear for many of his matches. Omega went from the bad ass “Cleaner” to another juvenile, silly, cocky, over the top, frat boy. Kenny Omega became the third Young Buck! Later came Cody Rhodes! Rhodes came into Ring of Honor as the ex-WWE guy that thought he was too good for places like ROH, and wanted to take out guys like Jay Lethal to prove it. I enjoyed that, and thought someone like Rhodes could really pull that off. Soon after though Cody was made the newest member of Bullet Club. His gimmick changed overnight. Now Rhodes was another rebel, a cigar chomping arrogant, silly, leader of the frat boys. The one who decided what pledges to the fraternity had to do for him, as he and his cheerleader wife laughed, and laughed, at their shenanigans. Cody became the fourth Young Buck! Adam “Hangman” Page then came along to the Bullet Club. Page came in a gritty, hardnosed, tough guy with a leather vest, and a noose around his neck. In a short amount of time he became another goofy, silly, wild move performing, frat boy. Page became the fourth Young Buck!
he Young Bucks, once a “different” kind of act in wrestling, that added some fun and levity to serious, hard hitting companies like ROH, Evolve, and NJPW, were taking over. Maybe because all the other wrestlers saw their merch sales and wanted in on the game. Maybe because many wrestlers don’t have the kind of mind it takes to create new and fresh ideas for themselves? I’m not sure what happened exactly, but I do know that Matt and Nick Jackson changed wrestling. Now instead of two Young Bucks, there are about eight of them, after you toss in the fact that they will feature guys like Joey Ryan, and Flip Gordon in their “Elite” videos. I think of wrestling like coffee. Some like their coffee black, other with some crème, and others with a little sugar. That said though, if you take a cup of sugar and just drizzle some coffee into it, you don’t have coffee anymore, you have some sugar sludge with a hint of coffee flavoring. The Young Bucks have caused my coffee to be that sludge, and ironically it is just…..too sweet. That's not "Wrestling Done Right."
Every day I become less and less of a wrestling fan. Yes, the women do things right, but to be honest...that's not enough. There aren't enough women's shows to tide wrestling over. Stardom is the only company I know running frequently. Nearly everyone else is once a month at best. That's not the only problem though. Wrestling can no longer get me to "emotionally invest" any more. I always loved wrestling because it was a "combat sport." Even after I learned what a "work" was, and what "Kayfabe" was, I still saw it that way. It was a violent sport where I lived vicariously through the "workers." It was very much like "The Walking Dead" is for so many today. Everyone knows that TWD isn't "real," but by god it's presented as if it is. Many get so attached to the characters (workers/gimmicks) and their stories (angles) that they have real emotional reactions to them. The possible death of Rick Grimes tonight has millions on edge. That story (angle) is causing a legitimate reaction. That story is "viral." Wrestling doesn't even try to get anything like that reaction anymore. The WWE still does "angles/stories" but they are almost always horrible. They have an amazing roster, being wasted by soap opera writers and Vince McMahon's unwillingness to get anyone "over" in a major way. The indy's are simply matches. Promoters look for performers they feel will create a good match/performance, and try to book those wrestlers. That's all indy wrestling is anymore, and it's just not enough.
Why is that not enough? Well, because if I want to see a "combat sport" that's only about the best fighters (not performers) going up against each other, then there's no doubt that's MMA/Kickboxing. The thing that wrestling always had over anything else was the ability to make me care about more than just what happened in the ring. Wrestling used to make you care about each wrestler, and why they were fighting. It was never just about "lets see which one of these two guys (or tag team) is better than the other." Hell, even if there was a time or two where a wrestling match focused only on "who is better" it was almost always for a championship title, and today, championship titles mean less and less. I could argue that most titles in wrestling today mean nothing at all. Too often wrestling titles are placed on lesser performers because "they need the rub." Wrestling companies today are so bad at getting their performers over, that they often put a title on them hoping that will do it for them.
I am at the point today where if I want to see two guys, or women fight, just to see who is the better of the two, then let it be an MMA or Kickboxing fight. Why? Well, because at least those are real fights, to obtain a real ranking, to chase after a real championship, that really means something. Wrestling has gotten so bad today that not only did they give up on their ability to create story lines that elicit legitimate emotions from their fans, they'v even made most of their "cool moves" meaningless. The moves were something else wrestling had on all other sports. Superplexes, pile drivers, DDT's, and clotheslines were things you saw nowhere else! Today, these moves have graduated to even bigger moves like Canadian Destroyers, brainbusters (often even on the apron) death valley drivers, and an unbelievable amount of dives from the ring, to the outside venue flooring, sometimes even the cement part of the floor, without padding. The occasional chair shot has turned into multiple chair shots, kendo sticks, canes, whips, and even sledgehammers! The problem is that far too often these amazing, unbelievable, over the top, moves, don't hurt the wrestler on the receiving end enough for him to be pinned. No only that, far too often a wrestler who has taken a move (bump) like that, is back on his feet on offense, with no visible signs of having taken such a move.
All this just to say that my ability to "suspend disbelief" is as dead as the kayfabe era. I only watch wrestling today in order to discuss it, and break it down on social media. I don't watch wrestling for fun. I don't watch wrestling for excitement, and I can't even recall the last time I was able to live vicariously through a wrestler, or a wrestling match. If you took away my ability to analyze and break down a match, a card, a show, I'd never watch wrestling again. I believe that's telling me everything I need to know. I've moved past a sport I used to love more than any other. I hung on to the end of that rope for as long as I possibly could, but I slipped...and I've fallen away from professional wrestling, and the slapstick, variety show, parody that it is today. I'll be covering MMA and Kickboxing now, and discussing what's wrong with wrestling, and how it could be "saved" on my monthly podcast Jason and Adam Save The Wrestling World. What wrestling was is dead, and what it is...is something that wants to compete with MMA, and it just doesn't stand a chance doing that. Wrestling that doesn't want to compete with MMA is often the kind of wrestling that introduces penis flips, invisible bullets, wrestling dinosaurs, and male wrestlers wearing dresses with their hair in pigtails "just because". I've never had any interest in that garbage. It was a great 40 years as a wrestling fan, who even got to spend several years in the business. I'll always remember it fondly, but I have to get out before I completely start to hate the business I've loved most of my life.
Killing the business doesn't have to mean the crowds are small. It doesn't have to mean ticket sales are down. It doesn't have to mean no one watches wrestling on TV, PPV, DVD, etc. When I argue that many of today's workers are killing the business I get ticket sale stats, and pictures of full venues for wrestling shows. What those of you sending me that stuff don't realize is that those things don't prove that the business isn't being killed by today's performers.
Since no one teaches about protecting the business in all these wrestling schools anymore, and the only thing guys that SHOULD be protecting the business do is kiss ass, and tell wannabe wrestlers to go make money, to go "get yours," we are left with guys that are selfish bastards, flipping people with their penis, shooting opponents with bullets from their finger gun, doing killer finishing type moves 2 minutes into a match, performing moves on the ring apron that are kicked out of, etc. etc. and then bragging about all the money they are making. Well isn't that special?
No one stops to consider the most important question of all. That question being..."What's next?" Seriously, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to consider that question. After all these insane moves, after the penis flip, and invisible bullets, what the hell is next? Since wrestling stopped being about stories, since it stopped being about psychology, and selling more simple moves, since so few can cut a decent promo anymore, or even begin to understand why they should be able to, everyone has had to top each other with their move set. A splash became a frog splash. A frog splash became a swanton, a swanton became a moonsault, a moonsault became a 360, a 360 became a 540, and a 540 became a 720. Then all of those dives became moves done from inside the ring, to outside the ring.
Before someone one bitches, and gives me dates on when those moves were first used, I know that isn't the exact way those moves came into being, but my point is still the same. The more wrestling becomes about the "moves" the more over the top moves have to become. Even though spinning three times as you dive from the top shouldn't really make a top rope splash hurt anymore, we have to put on a bigger show to keep the audience's attention! Now we see moves getting goofy, and silly, because they can't be taken any more over the top unless man learns how to legitimately fly. So instead of guys taking bumps off the top of buildings (well, except for idiotic Joey Janela) they are resorting to silly things like penis flips, invisible hand grenades, and bullets. Silliness also keeps you from bumping as much, like trying to find more over the top moves, causes you to do more of. The audience, now having seen every kind of dangerous, wild, and insane flip and dive, are awoken to how "fake" wrestling is, so hey...why not just laugh at it? The workers (performers really, because nobody really "works" anymore) have exposed it all so badly, the curtain's been pulled back so far, that now they create a slapstick variety show to entertain those that supposedly "love" professional wrestling, but are willing to laugh at how fake it all is.
I don't have much hope left anymore, but I am holding some out for places like USA Championship Wrestling, and All Japan Pro Wrestling, and even Stardom, as these companies are all business between the ropes, and don't rely on insane moves, or over the top "comedy" stuff to maintain their audience. Companies such as these still rely on selling "regular" wrestling holds, and moves, while telling stories in the ring. I believe this can still be done. Sadly though, I also believe most performers today are killing the business they claim to love by taking it somewhere that can't be topped. I believe most performers today are killing the business because soon there will be nowhere left to take it, so it will either stagnate and die, or get goofier than ever. I already barely recognize the sport I grew up watching, and fell in love with. Please don't tell me you love it too, while slowly strangling it to death.
I’ve told my story more than once. How I grew up watching wrestling, mostly the old NWA shows on Superstation WTBS along with World Class, and the UWF (Mid South). I discovered the “WWF” when Hulkamania was born, and while I thought it was okay, it never compared to my southern wrestling (and I’m a Pennsylvania guy!). Back then I didn’t care about “work rate” or who was “getting a push” or who they “put the title on.” Sure, I had my favorites, and I got frustrated when someone I didn’t like defeated them, or beat them for their championship, but I never once even thought someone was being “held back.”
For example, I hated Jimmy Valiant, even as a kid he was too silly for me. Yet I recognized that he was good, or a threat, because of how he was presented. I didn’t really like that he was a threat, because I wanted my favorite guys to beat this silly man up, and be done with him, but I realized they would have a “fight” on their hands against him, whether I liked it or not. Today, like nearly all other fans, I get angry when someone I don’t like puts up a fight against my favorite guys because they aren’t as good, or their work rate is so much lower, or they don’t have the moves, or skill set that my favorite guy has. Today I get angry that better “wrestlers” (based on my perception of what a good wrestler is) aren’t placed higher on the card than worse wrestlers. Wrestling today isn’t about the perceived competition, even to those of us willing to “suspend disbelief” and forget that kayfabe is dead. Wrestling fans view wrestling much like they view fantasy football, or those less popular fantasy wrestling booking games. Wrestling fans today worry about who is “best used” and who needs or deserves a “push” over who doesn’t. As such, professional wrestling today has turned into an argument of best placement on the card/show than anything else. I’m writing this article to say that I’m sick of it. I’m writing this to make a pledge that I’m going to stop doing those things, and to ask anyone reading this to commit to the same.
As a fan of the old school era, I at one time stopped watching professional wrestling because it wasn’t the same. I wound up missing it, and returned. Upon my return I decided that I was going to fully embrace the “new era” of wrestling. I was going to accept the fast paced, less selling, modern professional wrestling. I’m pretty sure I even have articles on this site where I defend “flips and dives” and talk about why wrestling is new, and different today. At one time I was absolutely “All in!” During that trip down the rabbit hole, to “Wrestling Wonderland” I came to realize that anything went. There were no rules, no guidelines, nothing. In this “new era” anything goes! You see, in Wrestling Wonderland, since kayfabe is dead, there is nothing that can’t be done. From children winning championships from full grown men, after getting choke slammed, to men using their penis to put wrestling hold on their opponents, literally ANYTHING goes. In Wrestling Wonderland, of this “new era” nothing hurts in a wrestling match. There are all these amazing moves, flips, dives, etc. but few of them do any damage. DDT’s on the cement floor, multiple pile drivers, and burning hammers on the apron all bring ewwwwwwws and ahhhhhhhhs from the crowd, but they don’t end matches. Instead, matches often end with random roll ups out of nowhere.
Thankfully a return to watching the old 1980’s NWA shows from Superstation WTBS brought me out of the rabbit hole. Now I fully believe the only real “cure” to doing wrestling “right” again, at least in the United States, is to take it back old school. It’s time for a return to studio wrestling where top guys in the company work a lot of squash style matches, with an occasional match between two of the top guys promoting an upcoming major show. A studio show where wrestlers are interviewed between matches so we can get to know who they are, and what they stand for. In this company the heels and the faces will be clearly defined, and the wrestling will be psychologically driven. This means we won’t see spot fest matches with 8 false finishes, we won’t see insane moves that are kicked out of, and we won’t see a bunch of video game type of no selling nonsense. We will see wrestlers that you’ll come to love, or at least appreciate or maybe even hate, or at least want to see have their ass kicked. You’ll see good story lines that make sense, and aren’t so dumb that they make you want to denounce professional wrestling for life, and deny that you were ever a fan. This show won’t be able to bring in primadonna’s that will hijack the company, or hold them up, because they are “too big” to do what they’re told. This company will be filled with workers (wrestlers) that are all about doing business.
Is this company some “fantasy” of mine? No, it’s not. This company has been around for a long, long, time. They are taking the rest of 2018 to get better in style and presentation. My good friend Matt Riviera is a player in this company, and he’s the man that was behind TCW, Traditional Championship Wrestling, and as such I fully trust him. This company is “USA Championship Wrestling”, headed by long time, and well respected wrestling promoter Bert Prentice. Mr. Prentice is known for his knowledge and old school style. USACW is absolutely old school, studio, southern style wrestling. I don’t expect many of you to get into it. It’s not Ring of Honor, or New Japan. It’s not a spot fest show, it’s not full of fancy pyro and catch phrases, it’s wrestling how it used to be. If I can get a selection of my audience to give it a chance I’ll be happy. There are some of us that crave what we consider legitimate wrestling again and I hope USACW brings that to us. If this doesn’t work out, it will be my last foray into wrestling in the United States. If this doesn’t work out, I’ll walk away from wrestling in this Country forever, legitimately handing it over the “dick lovers” out there. I’ll be rooting for USACW to help me not do that, and to give a place in this Country for “Wrestling Done Right!”
You can watch USACW's weekly 30 minute TV show below:
USA Championship Wrestling TV
How Roman Reigns could have been what Vince McMahon wants him to be
I asked my Facebook friends a question a week or so ago. I asked them…who is the modern day Magnum T.A. …the man that debuted in 1978, as Terry Allen and captured the Global Tag Team Championship (in the NWA Florida territory) on five separate occasions with Scott McGhee, Dusty Rhodes, and Brad Armstrong. Shockingly, do you know who I believe could have been? Roman Reigns. I want to lay out my case as to why Roman isn’t the modern day Magnum T.A., but how and why he could have been. While popular (just like Roman Reigns was with The Shield) Magnum wasn’t pushed as a major singles star too quickly. The territories he worked in realized that while he was a good worker, attractive, and popular, that a slow build for a baby face was best suited. Allen eventually moved on to the Mid-South territory where he took on the name “Magnum TA.” While this wasn’t a major reinvention of who he was, it was a significant change, based on his good looks and the popularity of the TV show “Magnum P.I.” Still, it wasn’t until 1984 that Magnum captured his first major single’s title, the North American Heavyweight Championship. It took Magnum six years to win a major singles title…six years! Magnum only held that title for five months, then moving on to Jim Crockett Promotions. Magnum got a nice mid-card push with JCP, beating Wahoo McDaniel for the United States title, defending it for some time, before losing it to Tully Blanchard, to win it back in a brutal steel cage, I quit match. It was during this time that Magnum got a few World title shots, but never beat the champion, Ric Flair. Finally, in what many believed was a way to prepare Magnum for a world title run, he lost an amazing “best of 7” series of matches against Nikita Koloff, giving Koloff the United States Championship. Sadly, Magnum was in a crippling car accident shortly after, forcing him to retire.
Taking a look at Roman Reigns, one can see why Vince loves him so. From his size, to his looks, to yes…even his in ring ability, which isn’t as bad as so many say it is. The guy clearly has the “it” factor and Vince wants to exploit it ASAP. Therein lies the issue. While the fans supported Roman Reigns in The Shield, that didn’t mean that they saw him as the next big thing, not yet. Pushing Reigns as “the man” coming out of a disbanded Shield, would have been like Florida Pushing Magnum as their star after his team with McGhee, Rhodes, or Armstrong lost their tag titles. As popular as Magnum was then, that would have led to resentment like we see with Reigns for being pushed as such. Even when Magnum came into JCP, and was pushed hard on the midcard, with the United Sates title, he wasn’t instantly pushed as a threat to Ric Flair. He absolutely didn’t come into JCP by capturing the World title, let alone capturing it multiple times!
If Roman would have become a strong mid-card guy, coming out of the disbanded Shield, if he would have won the tag titles a few times, then the U.S. or I.C. title while challenging for, but just coming up short of the WWE title, if he would have backed up more popular stars as their buddy, their insurance policy, their friend, if he would have gotten new gear, a new entrance theme, and not walked through the crowd anymore, he could be today what Vince wants him to be. Roman Reigns could have been the next Magnum T.A. Instead he a borderline heel that the company wants to be a baby face, but they messed it up. The only answer is for Reigns to go completely heel and get support, as most modern day fans cheer, and support heels. Then he could slowly work his way back to honest baby face, and likely carry the fans with him, but I suspect Vince McMahon is far too stubborn to do that, even though that is clearly what worked for “The Rock.”
Today there has never been a wrestler like Magnum T.A. There could have been, but the WWE blew it.
Here are my "worst case" scenario's, that if happen, would make NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom 12 a complete failure!
Wrestle Kingdom 12 worst case scenario's-
Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship)
Worst Case: The Young Bucks win. This match is where a torch has to be passed. We have to see RPG Vice 3K billed as the new big thing in the Jr tag division. If not, what's the point?
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa) (c) vs. Chaos (Beretta, Tomohiro Ishii, & Toru Yano) vs. Michael Elgin & War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Takashi Iizuka, & Zack Sabre, Jr.) vs. Taguchi Japan (Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Togi Makabe) (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship Gauntlet Match)
Worst Case: Chaos wins when Yano nut shots everyone they face on the way to victory. It'll be bad enough if they win one phase of this "gauntlet" that way. Chaos should be eliminated first with Yano getting pinned.
Cody Rhodes vs. Kota Ibushi-
Worst Case- Omega comes out to save Ibushi from defeat, and they embrace after. Second worse case, Cody wins due to Brandy getting involved, third worse case, they try and make it look like Cody can even compete with Ibushi. Ibushi should go over big here, and Omega should be nowhere to be found unless it sets up splitting The Elite from BC!
Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith, Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (IWGP Tag Team Championship)
Worst case- Tons of SG and LIJ interference Which I highly suspect. I want this to be a completely CLEAN 2 on 2 match up with a clear winner!
Hirooki Goto vs. Minoru Suzuki (c) (NEVER Openweight Championship Hair vs. Hair Match)
Worst Case- Actually, with SG being banned from ringside, this may be one of the best matches on the card. The worst case is Suzuki losing, because he's already practically bald. What would he lose here other than the title, which is all this match should be about anyways. Goto should lose here, get his head shaved, and turn into a completely different worker, even possibly joining SG!
Hiromu Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA vs. Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship)
Worst case- Worst case is already happening...a 4 way match for a title in New freaking Japan. I'm sorry, but watching 2 of these guys lay around outside the ring most of this match will suck. Multi-man matches for single titles SUCK! KUSHIDA should win and bring prestige back to this title.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. “Switchblade” Jay White (IWGP Intercontinental Championship)
Worst case- Tanahashi retains, if he does, I don't see the point of the match. Just to make Jay look strong? Egh....Jay should destroy the ACE and show he means serious, serious, business and that he's a major part of NJPW's future.
Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega (IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship No Disqualification Match)
Worst Case- Ibushi runs in to save his lover from defeat as the commentators go on and on about how special that is. Second worst thing, this is a typical WWE style hardcore match with multiple BC members getting involved, especially the Bucks. This match can't possibly live up to the hype, especially with the no DQ stip being added. I'd have Jericho win and take the title to WWE where it belongs, then Kenny can sign there for the rematch.
Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Heavyweight Championship)
Worst case- LIJ help Naito win the title. If Naito goes over here he needs to go over clean. If that's not going to happen, Okada should win and hold the belt for at least another year.
I am a fan of NJPW but they've been Westernizing the company like crazy as of late. I doubt this all happens, in fact I suspect most will not happen, but even if some of these things happen it's a blow to New Japan for me. I want and need New Japan to be better than all of these scenarios. Not some of them, all of them. I'll be watching on January 4th. Will I watch much after that? Well, it all depends on how many of these scenarios actually occur on this card.
NXT is very likely the best professional wrestling we have in The United States. That's not saying it's amazing, but it's enough to make me watch the Takeover specials. Here are my thoughts on "War Games" from Houston on 11/18/2017
Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan:
This was a "decent" match that exposed just how "green" Lars is. I understand the idea was for someone as amazing as Hero to help "lift" Lars up to the next level, but Lars isn't ready for that yet. As great as Hero is, even he struggled to make Lars look great. The match had some cool "moments" which were both men kicking out of huge power moves. Lars has a rocket strapped to his back, where the hell is Ohno going?
Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream:
In what many (too many imo) are calling the "match of the night" these two men did a very good job in a match that finally happened after weeks of confrontation. The build was a lot of fun, and I have to give NXT that, they are very good at the build. Bayley was one of the best "builds" that I've ever seen in my life. They know what they are doing with that. The mechanics of the match were great, both guys know how to work. What didn't do it for me was what I feel was the over working of character building in expense of wrestling. This match as an excellent sports entertainment match, but I'd simply call it a good wrestling match. I am glad to see Patrick Clark get a character/gimmick that's working though. Black "saying Dreams name" after the match was a cool moment.
Fatal 4-Way Match for the Vacant NXT Women's Championship, Ember Moon, Kairi Sane, Peyton Royce and Nikki Cross:
I hate 3,4,5, etc way matches with a passion. When they are title matches I abhor them. Royce is another example of character work being pushed over actual wrestling, as she can't wrestle anywhere as good as Patrick Clark can, so I just find her annoying and out of place here. She's a distraction from everyone else in this match that are so much better than she is. Moon was a stellar performer on the indy's as "Athena" but she's lost something in WWE for me. No, her ridiculous finishing move doesn't help with me. It's going to hurt someone real soon. The indy's get a lot of flack for guys taking unnecessary risks but this move tops them all. It felt to me like Moon won just because it was her "turn" and she did so while the best wrestler of the group, Kairi Sane laid outside the ring because that is what multi man title matches are for, to keep the best wrestlers from winning without actually losing. This match accomplished that goal.
NXT Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas:
Now this ladies and gentlemen was a freaking WRESTLING mach. This had a solid baby-face (even though I prefer him as a heel personally) and a pretty good heel (wow, they've figured it out with Almas after not having a clue for months) clashing in a match that showed that they are two of the best workers in that company. No one carried anyone, no one was out of place, and there wasn't a botch to be found. This back and forth, athletic, hard hitting, wrestling is what I look for on a show. Those of you who think this style of work in every match would get "boring" annoy the piss out of me. If you want to see this kind of work all show long, you need to join me in watching Pro Wrestling Noah. This match would have fit right in there. I hate that McIntyre lost already, but Almas won me over in this match. I didn't like his little girl friend interfering, but I can get past it.
War Games (not really) Undisputed Era, vs Sanity, vs AoP and Strong:
I just couldn't get into this. This was not "War Games." The WWE owns that name now, so they can call it that, but the convoluted rules, and the cage having no roof, just took my desire to see this almost completely away. They all did a nice job for what it was, and yes Killian Dane got himself more over with his hard work, and bumping, and the right team won for me, but I just didn't enjoy it over all. Not because it was "bad," but because for me, these over the top gimmick matches do nothing for me anymore. I know many love them, especially in this Country, but I'm not one of them. It was put together decently and worked for what it was so I'm not crapping on it. Just not my style. I was also very disappointed that Roddy Strong didn't join his ROH comrades.
I'd gave the show 3.5/5 stars personally and 4/5 stars generally based on people that don't have the ridiculous tastes that I do. Black vs Dream and Almas vs McIntyre were the matches that made the show what it was. War Games was the cherry on top for car wreck wrestling fans.
The next biggest company in professional wrestling…”Two grown men, pretend fighting in their underwear!” I mean why not? I’ve seen some of the biggest names in all of wrestling today using this ridiculous statement to defend every ounce of stupidity in the business. From Joey Ryan’s dick flips, to Kenny Omega and Toro Yano’s G1 match with their ankles taped together, to no selling the most over the top moves ever performed. What gets me most of all though is that these so called “workers” don’t even understand that they are simply further insulting the business they claim to love. Maybe they do understand, and they just don’t care?
So many Times on Twitter if a fan so much as lightly critiques a workers performance, the worker replies with something like “Well, the next time I’m in my underwear pretending to fight another man in his underwear, I’ll keep that in mind.” This response has really exploded since Kenny Omega and Marty Scurll decided to kiss each other on the mouth during a match in New Japan Pro Wrestling. If a wrestling fan dared to say they didn’t care for that, wrestlers were quick to bring up how two oiled up men in their underwear wrestling around a mat was as “gay” as it gets, so why should them kissing be bothersome?
This is where we are today folks, men who used to closely guard the business now mock, and ridicule it. They scoff at it, and use the fact that it’s “fake” to allow them to do anything they want, say anything they want, and perform any way that they want, in what was once considered “the sacred” squared circle. Nothing is sacred anymore. Anything goes in professional wrestling today because as Zack Sabre Junior loves to say “Wrestling is for everyone!” This makes me miss men, real men, like Bruiser Brody, Dr. Death Steve Williams, and Terry Gordy. Do you really think they would have put up with this kind of nonsense? Wrestling has no real men defending it today. Wrestling has a bunch of tough guys in the ring, but it’s just a persona for the crowd.
Does anyone know why wrestlers officially perform in shorts, or tights, and what should also be the norm, shirtless? Is it for sex appeal? Is it homo-erotica? Television ratings? To show off the physique’s they work so hard to maintain? No, it’s none of those reasons. The reasons professional wrestlers perform in a small amount of clothing is that it’s supposed to lend to the realism of professional wrestling. Now that so few desire for wrestling to look real, then there’s no reason a wrestler can’t perform in jeans, sweatpants, dress shirts, overalls, or any type of clothing he or she wishes. The idea of wrestling in little clothing is based on the fact that clothing provides your opponent with a distinct advantage. Clothing can be grabbed, pulled, twisted, and used against you in various forms. Another problem with wearing clothing in the ring is that with sweat, it gets heavy, and burdensome on a body that’s trying to move fast, and as agile as possible. Clothing also restricts movement, and gives the wrestler wearing it a modest form of protection against chops, strikes, kicks, etc. It makes no sense to allow shirts, and other forms of loose fitting clothing to be worn in the ring. If and when a wrestler chooses to dress as such, his opponent should always attempt to use it for chokes, restraints, and any other form or maneuver that he or she finds possible in the midst of the match. But you see…that would require the mind of a worker that wants to make wrestling look as real as possible. A mind that sees wrestling as “gay looking” is too small to understand the concepts in this article. Instead those types of “wrestlers” will just do any stupid thing they want, and smack down anyone that questions it with that brilliant old defense of the mighty T.G.M.P.F.I.T.U. federation! This is what “wrestling is for everyone” has gotten us, and I fear it’s only going to get worse. If you want to find, follow, and watch the best wrestling in the world, keep your bookmark right here at Wrestling Done Right! Oh, and if someone puts T.G.M.P.F.I.T.U. on a t-shirt, I better get some damn royalties.
I was a huge Kenny Omega fan. Especially once he came to Bullet Club as “The Cleaner.” He was cool, he was bad ass, he was cocky, he was arrogant, and my god can he wrestle! He and The Young Bucks started calling themselves “The Elite” and I was on board with that too. At times they were a little silly, a little goofy, but to me it was just their arrogance. They were so good that they could act like idiots and still win championships with relative ease. I just decided to forget about Kenny wrestling a blowup doll, and a little girl. This was New Japan that was some other stupid company…so what? Then little by little I started to learn that I shouldn’t have dismissed that stuff. From his comedy matches with Yano (one during the G1 tournament no less!) to dressing up like a Disney Princess and kissing his tag partner Marty Scurll (yeah, yeah, I know it was Halloween) Kenny started showing me that silliness and over the top comedy was something he is still very willing, and perhaps even exited, to do. I once discussed this with him on Twitter and Omega told me flat out that he has never, and shall never “forsake” any style of wrestling, confirming to me that goofiness and silliness is still something that’s a big part of what he does. There is no doubt that he’s one of the best bell to bell “wrestlers” in the world, but for this journalist/wrestling snob, his desire and passion to clown way too much keeps me from keeping him at the top of my favorite wrestlers list. I don’t hate Kenny Omega, but he disappoints, and sometimes frustrates me.
Enter Jay White…his look and style instantly reminded me of Omega but that’s not to say he’s a Kenny Omega rip off. Not at all. Jay White simply has phenomenal wrestling skills, and a look that reminds you of Omega’s. I do not believe that Jay was even inspired by Omega (I could be wrong, I’ve never asked him) I just think he is who he is, and the comparisons to Omega are just that. What I like about White more is that he doesn’t have the goofy past, and so far has shown no signs of wanting to be a comedy/silly worker in or out of the ring at all. The Omega comparisons have increased since New Japan revealed that he was the wrestler behind the “Switchblade” gimmick, likely because White’s hair was wet down, and he wore a leather jacket.
White is only 25 years old and went through the NJPW Young Lion Dojo program which many agree is the best and most difficult training in all of professional wrestling. White came to the Young Lion program after teaming with Prince Devitt in a match. Devitt told White to keep in touch, and shortly after White was contacted by Bad Luck Fale due to Devitt’s recommendation, and was invited to join the Young Lion Program. White was a standout in his class, and after completing the program went on “excursion”(NJPW send their Young Lions to other countries after graduation to gain even more experience) to Ring of Honor where he went undefeated for quite some time. White also worked for the U.K. standout promotion “Revolution Pro Wrestling” where he was also a top star, as well as Pro Wrestling Gruella where he got experience working a heel that will likely help him in his “Switchblade” gimmick in New Japan.
What this writer hopes to see from “Switchblade” Jay White is what I’ve always wanted to see from Kenny Omega. That is a serious, hard hitting, no nonsense, wrestler that is out to get to the top of the business. When New Japan brought White back from excursion with the Switchblade gimmick that they teased for weeks before the reveal, and then had him challenge, and attack, the “Ace” of their company Hiroshi Tanahashi, the IWGP Intercontinental Champion, I got very excited. For a returning Young Lion to come back to the company and receive a title match on Wrestle Kingdom (New Japan’s biggest show of the year) is a sign that the company sees White as a very big deal. It’s a good sign that everyone needs to pay attention to this kid, Switchblade Jay White. Oh, and remember who told you to get on his bandwagon when he was just a “Young Lion”….Wrestling Done Right!
As I sit here getting ready to watch All Japan Pro-Wrestling’s “Jun Akiyama and Takao Omori Debut 25th Anniversary Show,” I find myself both excited, and a little sad. Several years ago I started a website called “Wrestling Done Right.” I was covering every company I could, attending shows up and down the East coast. From large companies like “Ring of Honor,” and “Combat Zone Wrestling,” to small ones like “Pro Wrestling Empire” (when it was called UWE) to “Legacy Wrestling.” To me, if it was wrestling outside the WWE, I wanted to support it. A funny thing happened though…as I watched all this “indy” wrestling I started to get more particular in regard to my tastes. Several things caused this to happen, the main one being lesser talented guys getting larger pushes than guys much more talented than them. That seemed an awful lot like the WWE that I hate so much. Other things like guys wearing horrible ring gear, being grossly out of shape, and getting placed on shows as a favor, or because they were the only one at the wrestling show that had a promoters license or insurance, began to give me a distaste for “indy” wrestling. While I am not here to write off indy wrestling as a whole, because there is no doubt that many indy wrestlers are better, and more entertaining, than WWE “sports entertainers,” they are however too often performing on shows with guys that don’t deserve to be in the same locker room as them. Since the WWE’s raid of the indy’s as of late, this problem has seeped into places like CZW, ROH, and Evolve. Money is so tight on the indy’s (something I understand) that promoters can’t often afford to book the best indy guys available. Then you have money marks that run places like Wrestle Circus that can snatch up just about anyone they want by simply paying more than other places. There is little loyalty in the world of indy wrestling these days. If you agreed to do a show somewhere, but a place like Wrestle Circus outbids them for your services, so be it. I’m not writing this article to debate that practice, but it personally annoys me.
Three years ago my colleague Chuck Ransford suggested I start watching “New Japan Pro Wrestling.” I resisted at first because of the language barrier but finally broke down and watched a few of their shows. I immediately learned three things. One, the language barrier doesn’t matter. Good wrestling is good wrestling. Two, legitimate, old school style, hard hitting, professional wrestling only died in America. Three, I wanted more of this, as much as I could get. You see, I not only once accepted anything outside the WWE as “Wrestling Done Right,” I was convinced that old school wrestling that consisted of good selling, strong strikes, submission holds, etc. had died and the super spot fest wrestling was now what professional wrestling was. I didn’t want to be an old codger refusing to allow wrestling to “evolve.” New Japan taught me that was wrong. However…New Japan has its share of spotty matches and wrestlers. I like that, for the most part, they are confined to a “Juniors” division but could it be possible that there were Japanese companies that didn’t do any of the spot style matches? Don’t get me wrong, I am not a total hater of high flying matches. When those matches are done by those that are the most talented at those types of performance, they are enjoyable, but if I could find a company full of Katsuyori Shibata’s and Tomohiro Ishii’s I would be in my wrestling dream world!
Having known of the Japanese companies for years, but having never really followed them much outside of their major stars like The Great Muta, Giant Baba, Kenta Kobashi, and Mitsuharu Misawa, I had no idea what Pro Wrestling NOAH and All Japan Pro Wrestling looked like today. Was I ever pleasantly surprised! While their rosters have dwindled, and they are far from their glory days, the wrestling in those two companies is as solid as ever. The old school, no spot style, solid selling “Kings Road” and “Pure” professional wrestling remained and is on display in every match for these companies. NOAH and AJPW outperform New Japan Pro Wrestling when it comes to taking wrestling seriously, and presenting it like a legitimate athletic competition. As I got to know their current rosters I feel in love with these companies and recognized that they best represent “Wrestling Done Right. This is why I am so excited as I prepare to watch All Japan Pro-Wrestling’s “Jun Akiyama and Takao Omori Debut 25th Anniversary Show.” I’m sad though too, because so few American fans follow my lead. Yes, I am thankful for those that do, but I wish I had more people to discuss the greatness of these companies with. I wish there were more Facebook groups talking about these companies and their wrestlers. I just have to accept that only the most intelligent, the most particular, the most demanding, fans on pure pro wrestling will support these companies. Only the niche market that doesn’t see wrestling as a joke, that doesn’t see wrestling as some kind of silly “variety show” will realize and accept that while NJPW is awesome, it’s AJPW and NOAH that display the greatest and truest form of Wrestling Done Right!