When the calendar turns to November, families start making plans to get together and celebrate what they all have and what they should be thankful for.
As the turkey roasts in the oven, the pumpkin pie puts a scent in the air, and the festive tablecloth gives the aura of togetherness, we all gather with friends and family and tell one another how glad we are of the things we have and share.
As wrestling fans, we all have plenty to be thankful for. Whether it is an event forthcoming, something we all enjoy, or a fond look back at memories gone past, let’s see now what wrestling fans can rejoice in their bounty.
In the name of Jesse, Vince, Shane, and Stephanie, let us pray.
Wrestle Kingdom 12
January 4th should be marked on everyone’s calendar. Not because 20 years ago the wrestling landscape changed (The Finger Poke of Doom and the “Butts in Seats” Mick Foley WWF Championship win), but because we get to see Chris Jericho wrestle a big name outside of the confines of a WWE ring.
At Wrestle Kingdom 12, Y2J will take on Kenny Omega. We see wrestling’s past, and still one of the most charismatic workers both in and out of the ring, take on one of independent wrestling’s true superstars.
Omega, both before and during his affiliation with the Bullet Club, has a following as large as most on the WWE roster, and is one of the most over men in the industry. His moveset, combined with the cult-like following he has, should make the largest non-WWE show in the world that much more attractive. It remains to be seen if he will stay on the List of Jericho.
Influx of new talent from the NXT Women’s roster.
Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan all made their debuts on Raw and SmackDown this week. It gives fans hope that we may not have to see the same 12 faces competing for the titles on the flagship shows of the WWE.
With the destruction of the women’s roster by both shows, and the re-addition of Paige, the women's division on both shows suddenly has a lot more intrigue. Hopefully, this new influx of talent will bring fresh rivalries to the division, and give Asuka, Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, and Charlotte some new feuds and breathe life into the shows.
The ESPN 30 for 30 show on Flair, titled The Nature Boy, showed everyone who may have forgotten what a true professional wrestler is. His story, minus the success, is typical of most who lived through the NWA era, and is something, like the movie The Wrestler, that every man should have on their must watch list.
Flair was, and to a certain extent still is, the biggest name in the industry's history. While Hulk Hogan has been in and out of the headlines recently (of his own making) for things we don’t need to discuss, Flair has been the very definition of what wrestling is all about.
His recent health scare brought tears to many eyes, including this writer, who was tasked to draft an obituary in the event he didn’t pull through. Ric Flair is (to use a JBL line) a wrestling God. Flair played the game while the rest of us just watched.
Now more than ever, wrestling is at our fingertips. Podcasts have allowed us to hear from the masses. Legends like Jim Ross and Stone Cold Steve Austin have shows that are downloaded by the masses, and we can hear the voices that narrated our wrestling youth.
While JR is only pulled out on special occasions, we can still hear him speak about the industry we love, and peddle his BBQ sauce. But it is more than just those two guys. Vince Russo has a popular show that many listen to (and has even featured a RealSport writer as a special guest!) Guys like Jim Cornette, Chris Jericho, Colt Cabana, and a litany of others give us hundreds of hours a week to immerse ourselves in the industry.
It is now easier than ever for fans to join this community as well. Fan run podcasts (like the Caps Locks and Chair Shots Podcast, found right here on RealSport) have given hardcore followers of wrestling a voice outside of social media. It is now possible to listen to wrestling commentary 24/7, and that is a good thing.
The return of Starrcade
While it may be just a small thing, like the renaming of a house show, it means certain things from wrestling’s past have not died. It has been over 16 years since the death of WCW. Now, at least in a small token, something many of us watched, will live on.
While it may not be a network special, and only the privileged few in attendance may watch, it still means something. Starrcade means something. The main event won’t be Ric Flair versus Ricky Steamboat, or Goldberg versus Kevin Nash for the World’s Championship, but Starrcade still isn’t dead.
For just $9.99 a month… that was turning into a commercial. The WWE Network has just about everything an “old school” fan could want. If you want to see old matches from the NWA, they are there. If you want to see Hulk versus Andre at WrestleMania III, it is there. If you want to see what is it like to ride on the road with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, it’s there too.
Everything from ECW in its heyday to classic WCW Thunder episodes, to NXT and Table for Three, the WWE has taken a giant step forward in preserving the industry’s history. While they are not fully there yet, and won’t be until a museum and Hall of Fame have a physical home, the WWE is honoring those who came before them, and us, in wrestling.
Petey Williams and the X Division
While Impact has become a shell of its former self, the X Division is still a reason to locate Pop TV and watch Impact. Is it good? On some nights, not really, but the X Division is always an attraction.
Seeing the Canadian Destroyer in use is a thing of beauty. It goes beyond just the Canadian native. Guys like Trevor Lee, Caleb Konley, Dezmond Xavier, Ishimori, and Sonjay Dutt are putting on matches that should be featured on a larger platform.
To Impact’s credit, bringing in Johnny Impact (John Morrison/Johnny Mundo), Taya Valkyrie, El Texano, El Hijo del Fantasma, and Alberto El Patron have given Impact new life in the last year. The stale, nonsensical product maybe making a turn. While they have a long way to go, they are fixing their issues, albeit slowly. Impact, thanks to the X Division is on the rise.
Thank you, professional wrestling
While we all gear up for the holiday season, professional wrestling offers us an escape from the real world. We can sit and be fans for as much as we like. We can openly criticize what we see, without fear of retribution. Wrestling offers us a social commentary, mixed with controlled violence, and a dash of humor.
As we begin the WrestleMania preseason between Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble, we can push off family drama because our drunk Uncle Ned said something about your Aunt’s mole. We can forget about the pending doom of finals week. We can set aside the credit card bills that will surely be inbound after a marathon Amazon shopping cart ensured a Merry Christmas for everyone but your bank account. We can sit down and take part in a sport, where we, the fans, are just as big a part of it as the athletes who compete.
Happy thanksgiving wrestling fans!