The Summer of 2017 has been ridiculous for wrestling fans. To think that just three years ago, CM Punk divorced the WWE while AJ Styles left TNA after being the face of the company for more than a decade. ROH was being raided by Triple H for some of its best names, but Daniel Bryan was and wasn’t able to wrestle anymore. The names Okada and Omega were only known and revered by the most hardcore of fans. I suppose we are in the “boom” period now with so many indie promotions like WrestleCircus in Austin or Smash Wrestling in Toronto becoming hot beds for talent. There are many more, but for so long fans thought that they could only get a quality wrestling experience if it was provided by the WWE. The term “quality” has changed. It used to be all about the package, presentation and big atmosphere, but the way we take in content has allowed even the most intimate of settings to become some of the best places for pro wrestling.
- New Japan brought its brand of wrestling to the states for the first time a few weeks ago, and it felt bigger than any throwaway PPV from WWE. The stars of NJPW aren’t over exposed which makes even someone like Sanada feel just a bit more important. The G1 Special was a welcome change to the wrestling palette of many people. We’re indoctrinated to see red on Monday nights. We know when an interference is coming. We know when a match is going to break before it actually goes on one. Having the G1 Special and Slammiversary in the same weekend was more than enough for solid non-WWE wrestling for me.
- Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar happened, so I watched it because, you know…JOE. LESNAR. Every blue moon, WWE will throw fans a bone and say “Have at it.” This was one of those times. Joe vs. Lesnar was one of the few dream matches that they could deliver upon and it was a short and fun. I’d love to see it again. (Make it happen, Vinny Mac.)
- Every single talent outside of Titan Towers is their own individual business, and fans get to follow how each wrestler operates. The intimacy of pro wrestling has changed the way we watch the action and react to talents. The emergence of Broken Brilliance couldn’t have happened in 1996 and been successful, but in the previous version of TNA, Matt Hardy and company were able to create a universe of characters so different yet so proper for the way fans see wrestling today. If WWE does get the gimmick, will it be the same? Probably not, but I’ll watch.
- We saw a grand opening and grand closing all in one day as Dixie Carter debuted on WWE TV and Austin Aries made like a banana and split. (That was bad, I know.)
- Oh, and Mauro Ranallo was re-introduced as a member of the NXT announce team. This is probably the best decision for both parties.
- Jeff Jarrett finally did what he wanted to do for years when Anthem Media fused the Impact and Global Force brands together to make one entity. The elimination of the TNA initials is the first true step in the redemption story of the wrestling company founded in Nashville, Tennessee. The post-Slammiversary shows have posted record ratings for POP TV this year, so the brand is obviously doing something right with fans this time, but…
- Paige and Alberto El Patron really do need help. They aren’t going to make it right themselves, and Paige’s family is either stating falsehoods or choosing the wrong methods to speak the truth.
- Kenny Omega couldn’t be trained under the sheltered eye of WWE and be the superstar he is today. Omega’s thought process behind what should happen within a match, promo or vignette is so refreshing. People will quickly tell you that Kazuchika Okada was misused in TNA. Maybe he was. Maybe he learned a lot individually by not doing much. Maybe it was necessary in his journey to be one of the top wrestlers in the world today. Okada’s flashy, wildly entertaining entrance doesn’t match his demeanor in-ring. He trades the flash for preciseness and its a special thing to see. When Okada calls for his Rainmaker finisher, it takes me back to the days of playing WCW/NWO Revenge or No Mercy with my friends. The Rainmaker is a flawlessly performed finisher, and the anticipation for it is the key to its effectiveness. Fans would love to see Okada and Omega in WWE where they can succumb to 50/50 booking and other WWE-isms.
- Cody is the ROH World Champion. It took 31 years for a Rhodes to hold another world title and its well deserved. From Impact Wrestling to Ring of Honor to everything in between, Cody Rhodes became a star under his own banner.
- The Mae Young Classic just wrapped up taping for now, but another all-womens show, GLOW, was the talk of the wrestling and entertainment business for the last few weeks. The Netflix exclusive received very good reviews and feedback. Hopefully, it will get a second season. The various wrestlers involved didn’t seem out-of-place, and Awesome Kong/Kia Stevens lives up the “awesome” part of her name on the show. Great performance.
For anyone that says wrestling isn’t alive and well — #KILLTHATNOISE.
Follow me @willmarelle on Twitter.
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