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Top 5: Things For Wrestling Fans To Be Thankful For

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It’s the one week of the year where everybody takes stock of what they’re thankful for. Writers write about it so they can get done early in the week & go eat turkey. That’s why we’re here, I ain’t gonna lie.

Here are the top 5 things that pro wrestling fans are thankful for in 2017.

5. Social Media

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How did we watch wrestling without Twitter? As much as we make mockery of WWE for making everything about hashtags, the social media is a godsend during these television shows. The life of a wrestling fan could be lonely back in the day. It still can be if you live with people that don’t share your obsession. Now, all you have to do to find people to talk with during wrestling events is turn on your smartphone.

Sure, there are plenty of evils with social media. Our political process has been pretty much ruined by Twitter. People spend way too much time in other people’s business. But the positive of having a collective wrestlegasm a couple of times a week makes the other stuff worthwhile.

4. Liking Wrestling Has Rarely Been Less of a Stigma

I was a happy kid in elementary school. I had no cares in the world. Everybody seemed to like me. Then middle school came and I met new people that didn’t like me at all. One of the main reasons was the fact I was a professional wrestling fan in 1995–96. I was made fun of and ignored for the entirety of my 6th grade year. In years afterward I gained a certain level of acceptance among my peers. There were even a couple of years there where the same people that made fun of me then got all excited about Stone Cold & the NWO. I never forgot how everyone tossed me aside that first year out of my comfort zone. I’ve never been the same happy trusting soul that I was in elementary school. It’s still inexplicably hard for me to get to know people & make lasting friendships.

Obviously, this is still a problem in our schools. Kids are ostracized & made to feel unwelcome, curtailing their development & ability to function within the norms of society. The good news for people whose weirdest attribute is watching wrestling is that sports entertainment has been accepted as part of nerd culture. Being a nerd isn’t the faux pas that it was twenty years ago. Wrestling fans are now known to be in on the joke. Whether it’s “fake” or whatever, it’s a television show just like anything else. The stigma is no longer there. You can wear your wrestling t-shirts out in public. It helps that the t-shirts are wider in variety & you can find ones that look cool.

3. Variety Is Back

There was a period of time where WWE was the only real outlet for wrestlers & wrestling fans. WWE was the only place for wrestlers to make money. WWE was the only wrestling that the majority of Internet wrestling fans wanted to talk about. I remember when Larry Csonka & I were the only two people on 411mania that wanted to talk about something other than WWE. Then Ari Berenstein became the only person on 411 that wanted to talk about Ring of Honor. Readers would complain because they only wanted to hear about the almighty WWE & HLA & the never-ending Triple H title run & all the wonderful things that were going on back then.

Now we have plenty of choices for our wrestling dollar. New Japan is making waves over here, along with their business partner Ring of Honor. Guys are making money there & on the indies. T-shirt sales are through the roof. Lucha Underground is pretty cool when it’s around and has increased exposure of key talent. And Impact Wrestling is still alive somehow.

Not to mention how WWE has convinced a lot of people that NXT is a different company.

2. Women’s Wrestling Is Legit

Back when I first started watching pro wrestling, it was easy to forget that women even competed. Sure, there were managers like Sensational Sherri & Madusa, but young me had no idea that they started out as accomplished wrestlers & got into managing simply because there weren’t opportunities for women in the ring in the main North American promotions. Once the Attitude Era came around, women were allowed to wrestle because it was hot. Sable wasn’t exactly a top-notch competitor, but she was popular with WWF crowds because of her assets.

WWE still pushed that aspect of women’s wrestling for a long time. I did it myself in my writing. It was what the people wanted at the time. Fortunately, women’s wrestling has evolved. It’s not a T & A sideshow. Sure, cosmetics still plays a role, but it always will to some degree. It plays a role with the men too. The main focus is on competition. As somebody that’s pushed women’s wrestling for years, I’m thankful that now when I do it people aren’t rolling their eyes at me.

1. Streaming Services

I can sit here all day and tell you about how much better pro wrestling was back in the day. Back when we had blood & guts. When we had guys that could call it in the ring. When we had bookers instead of writers, bullet points instead of scripted promos & crowds full of fans that believed & gave a damn about the wrestlers winning & losing instead of fans trying to get themselves over at the expense of the show.

You know what wasn’t better back then? Access. We had video tapes. We could trade them if we wanted more wrestling from a far-off location. We could go to Blockbuster & rent major releases for a few days. We had satellite dishes & VCRs. It had its charms, but wrestling addicts only got their fix a couple days a week. Now, we can get it whenever we want it. WWE Network has a pretty good percentage of WWE’s library. New Japan has a service. Impact Wrestling has a service. ROH has their thing. Smart Mark Video has one. Pretty much any wrestling company you can think of has some service that will let you watch whatever you want whenever you want.

We’re spoiled. I, for one, am thankful that these companies figured out that their fans will fork out money to watch an excessive amount of wrestling. Can you believe that promoters used to tape over their old shows to save money? No wonder they all went out of business.


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Too Soon For Ricochet To Take The Title

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Up until the go home episode of NXT Adam Cole vs Ricochet had the least build of all the matches on the Takeover Brooklyn 4 card.

However, on NXT this week there was a very well-produced video package that has increased my excitement for the match. One thing that stood out is they mentioned this is the first time Cole is defending the North American Championship on a Takeover. Before this I could have seen Ricochet walking away with the title but the more I think about it Cole needs to retain.

Despite consistently defending the title on the live events and even defending at the UK Championship Tournament and in Evolve, Cole has had very few defences on NXT TV. The only one I can think of is his defence against Oney Lorcan. If Cole just walks into Takeover and loses the title after barely defending it, just proves that he’s everything Ricochet says he is. Which in my opinion, would make him look pretty weak and seem like an undeserving champion.

If Cole does retain I don’t think it will be clean. I can see Cole having the feet on the ropes or grabbing the tights to get the win. This gives Ricochet a legitimate claim to a rematch where he will finally take the title. I think Undisputed Era need something coming out of this show, since I don’t see Strong and O’Reilly walking out with the tag titles.

This also allows NXT to avoid a troop that they have been guilty of in the past which is the Indy star who comes in and just takes a championship way to early. This nothing against the wrestlers themselves but they come in and have some good matches they get very little in the way of storylines. It happened with Drew McIntyre, Shinsuke Nakamura and I don’t want it to happen to Ricochet.

The heelish nature of how Cole would win wouldn’t hurt Ricochet and would give him a story for the fans to invest in. He mentioned in the video package how close he came to winning the title in New Orleans before Cole pushed him off the ladder. This would be another part of that and make Ricochet the underdog.

Ricochet has already lost on NXT, being pinned before Chicago by Lars Sullivan. That loss didn’t hurt him because it was part of the story they were telling. Ricochet only lost because Dream turned on him setting up their match and it gave Sullivan a big win to justify challenging Black for the NXT Title. This is similar to what I think should happen because the loss would just be on chapter of an ongoing story.

Ricochet said himself in a recent interview that one of the things he wants to do in NXT is to be part of a story rather than just being put in dream matches like he was when he was on the indies. So if they went the way I think they should I think Ricochet would be up for that.


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Things I’d Like To See Happen at SummerSlam (But Probably Won’t)

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The biggest event of the Summer goes down this Sunday. We all have things we’d love to see happen at WWE SummerSlam. If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed that most of the things you’d like to see happen end up not happening. A lot of times, things end up working out for the best. At least that’s what people tell me anyway.

I find its important to keep my expectations limited. Here are some events I’d like to see happen at SummerSlam that I know probably won’t.

Daniel Bryan defeats the Miz

When Bryan returned to the ring, this is the match I wanted to see. Many of you were probably fantasizing about all sorts of dream matches, or matches with IWC favorites. Me, I wanted to see a match that had been built for years. I wanted to see one of wrestling’s best current rivalries back in the ring. Forget all the riff-raff, this is why Daniel Bryan needed to come back.

As a Bryan fan, I always root for the guy to win. I’ll definitely be rooting for him against The Miz, a guy that I’ve always found more enjoyable to root against. The thing is, I’m somewhere around 90% sure that Miz is winning. It makes the most sense to continue the rivalry. It’s the smart choice. But when you’re a fan, you don’t care about the smart choice.

AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe will be a 5 star match

Given the reputations that Styles & Joe have built up with us over the years, expectations will be high surrounding their first WWE PPV matchup. Not as high as they were for Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, but people will still be expecting a 5 star classic. That’s not going to happen. The Styles vs. Joe build has been very personal, with Styles being whipped up into a rage by Joe talking about his family.

Don’t expect a scientific, cosmetically pleasing match here. It shouldn’t be one based on the build. Styles should come out like a raving lunatic, much like he did in the Saudi Arabia match with Nakamura. It’ll be more of a good ol’ fashioned street fight, which I love, but part of me yearns for a five star classic like they have in Japan.

Peyton Royce does something significant

You knew I had to work this in somehow. Peyton took offense to something Dave Meltzer said on a podcast this week in relation to her look now versus her look in NXT. Most of the WWE roster & other people in the business that have had issues with the DIRT SHEETS over the years joined her in running the bus back & forth over Meltzer’s carcass. It was an interesting thing to see everybody that had an axe to grind and people that wanted brownie points with those folks jump in on the guy.

Those who have listened to Dave talk at some point know that he’s poor at articulating his points via the spoken word. A lot of writers are, and that’s why they write. Dave’s reference to Peyton being lighter in NXT was in reference to the breast augmentation she underwent before hitting the main roster. He was trying to be sly about it because some people are sensitive when it comes to fake breasts, but when the alternative was people thinking he meant she was fat, he should have just said it was the boobs. Hey, if you’re going to take unwarranted shots at peoples’ looks, make sure it’s obvious what you’re going for.

The best way for Peyton to silence Dave & the critics would be to do something. Anything. She & Billie Kay haven’t accomplished a whole lot since their arrival to the main roster. Hopefully they get a chance soon. WWE loves to stick it to the sheets, so hopefully this will encourage them to do something.

The crowd won’t be the most interesting part of Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns

Like many of you, I suffer from Lesnar vs. Reigns fatigue. Other Chairshot writers will jump up & down & scream about how they’ve had the same number of matches as other feuds that people actually like & we’re not being fair to Roman’s continual failed attempts to win the Universal Championship. The number doesn’t matter. If the match isn’t interesting, I don’t want to see it. Sorry.

Maybe Brock & Roman surprise us and do something other than suplex-suplex-suplex-punch-punch-suplex. Probably not, but stranger things have happened. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you’re into this kind of thing, the most interesting aspect of the match will be the Brooklyn crowd’s reaction to it. Will they boo both men out of the building? Will they spend the match chanting things having nothing to do with the match? Or will they be too tired to have much of a reaction to anything?

Hopefully we can move past this trend where crowd reaction is the only thing anybody talks about after a major event. It won’t be this month, as the Brooklyn hipsters will be sure to take their spot as part of the show.

There is one idea I can think of that might not make this a thing…

Braun Strowman Cashes In…At The Beginning Of The Match.

This would require a couple of things to happen. First, Braun would have to beat Kevin Owens in short order. This would make some people angry, but not me. I like KO, but he doesn’t need to be winning the briefcase right now. Braun should be the next champion, and cashing in at SummerSlam would be interesting. However, he’s not the kind of guy that should be cashing in during the middle of a hard-fought match, or after one. Doing that would make him look weak, or as weak as a man of his size could. If he’s going to interrupt a match, it should be before it happens.

Nobody would accuse Braun of being weak if he had to go through Lesnar & Reigns to get the title. His winning is something that the Brooklyn crowd wouldn’t crap all over. At least I think they wouldn’t. Smart fans still like Braun, right?

The show will end before 11 PM Eastern.

As somebody that has a job that also writes about these PPV events, I love shows that end early. Money in the Bank got a positive review from me mainly because it didn’t overstay its welcome. At this point in my life, I’d rather be in bed than struggling to stay up through a Roman Reigns match at 11:30.

There will be no such luck with this show. Thirteen matches, an Elias concert & who knows what else WWE has in store for us? Midnight is a safer bet. On the bright side, I’ve already told my other bosses about my Fantasy Football draft delaying my SummerSlam recap, so this doesn’t matter as much to me as it would have otherwise.


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Edge Of A Wrestling Revolution: Why Wrestling Is Seeing A Resurgence

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In the past, definitely 8 years and arguably the last decade, wrestling outside of the media magnet known as the WWE has been pretty much dead or dying. The last major competitor and the last remaining promotion from the territory system World Championship Wrestling folded in March of 2001, some seven months before I was born. This leads to a roughly 13-year drought of no promotions on anywhere close of a scale to WWE.

This all ends when AJ Styles’ contract with TNA Wrestling (then considered the number two largest promotion in the US) expired and he chose not to renew. In January 2014 Styles made his return to Ring of Honor and with it, he quickly helped build a partnership with Japan’s largest promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling. This partnership has expanded greatly even since AJ Styles left in 2016. Most recently a Supercard put on by the two companies sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City. The last wrestling event that sold out MSG was a Monday Night Raw telecast in November 2009.

Similar to this is Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks partnering up to create arguably the wrestling weekend of the year beating out WrestleMania by far in my opinion, All In. A non-WWE or WCW show to sell more than 10,000 tickets hadn’t happened since 1994, if you exclude Lucha Libre shows and only count shows marketed towards English speaking fans that date goes all the way back to 1986. 32 years without an independent show selling 10,000 tickets and All In sells out 29 minutes and 36 seconds without a single match being announced.

There’s more wrestling on TV nationally than ever. In addition to WWE’s seven hours of original content every week you get promotions like Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Lucha Underground, Major League Wrestling, and most recently Ring Warriors who I discussed in my last article, all being signed to contracts to provide at least an hour of content each week to a major tv network available in at least 50% of American homes. Never before has more than 3 major companies be available in the majority of homes every week, now we sit at twice this number.

Those numbers don’t begin to include smaller independent companies in the US and abroad such as House of Hardcore and Rocky Mountain Pro which use streaming sites such as Twitch to stream their content. This is a constantly growing medium that is attractive to smaller promotions because it is free to broadcast and popular with fans because it is free to view. Twitch has 15 million daily users and this number is constantly growing since their buyout by Amazon in August of 2014.

Live events have been popping up more frequently as well. In the state of Oklahoma, where I am located, the majority of the companies I work for are there and account for 9 shows. When I first was around independent wrestling there was an average of 2-3 shows a month. This pop in indy wrestling has also been heavy in Texas I can think of at least 10 promotions that have been founded within the past 5 or so years. More independent promotions means more local fans coming to shows, if a casual fan who comes to an independent show gets hooked and starts using these streaming services and sites, attending local shows, and watching the nationally available product as many hardcore fans do it only helps strengthen the wrestling community and help it grow so new content can be developed and produced.

Over the recent years wrestling fans have called out saying “We want a different product.” for so many years we had one option and we got tired of it. That’s when we saw the rise of Ring of Honor which really started the small promotion revolution and really they influx of international companies to the US with New Japan, now even promotions such as What Culture Pro, Defiant Wrestling, and the Wide World of Sports causing a stir in the US from across the pond. There is an independent company with some sort of streaming service or delivery service for every taste from southern rasslin’ such as AML out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina to House of Hardcore and Combat Zone Wrestling bringing hardcore and deathmatches back to wrestling. It’s almost hard to be a hater on today’s wrestling scene because there is so much good content. Promote the good things that you like and ignore the things you don’t and the whole wrestling business gets better.

So hopefully this article makes you want to go out and watch more wrestling live, on cable, online, it doesn’t matter but go and enjoy and spend your money on independent wrestling it keeps guys like myself and my fellow Chairshot writer “Sly” Jordan Fox going to see the fans funding us, funding a business we all share a mutual love for, and having a good time with people who enjoy the same crazy things we do. Keep the love of wrestling alive.

 

  • Wrestling with the Revolution from the Desk of James Southard


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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