For as long as I can remember, people have been telling me that Ring of Honor would never make it on a major scale. Many of the same people have been telling me that New Japan Pro Wrestling would never gain a viable audience in the United States.
The main reason they presented that I agreed with was, the fact that neither ROH or NJPW was particularly great when it came to character development. NJPW had the language barrier while ROH lacked a consistent roster & name recognition. Each promotion typically draws crowds based on the workrate. While fans like us love fantastic wrestling matches & moves whether there’s a story involved or not, the casual fan needs a stronger connection. They need a story. They need characters that they care about. Without either of those, any wrestling promotion is going to have a tough time competing for the American wrestling fan’s dollar.
It seems the tide is turning. ROH is drawing more fans than they ever have in their sixteen-year history that’s produced some of WWE’s biggest stars. New Japan just drew over 4,000 fans in Long Beach, California, and hope to draw even more than that when they run the Cow Palace in the Bay Area in July. I would bet Greg DeMarco’s house that they will.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that WWE is in trouble anytime soon. I am saying that both ROH & NJPW are stronger than they’ve ever been, and stronger than most people thought they ever would be. From where I sit, there is one person to credit for it. It’s not Okada. It isn’t Omega. It’s not even Dalton Castle, as much as I love that man & his Boys.
It’s the American Nightmare.
That suggestion, of course, is kryptonite to many. My colleagues on multiple websites would vigorously disagree with this assessment. My best friend of multiple decades isn’t particularly high on his in-ring work. Everybody will line up to tell me that Cody isn’t the greatest wrestler of all time. He doesn’t do the most flips. He doesn’t do the most submission moves. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him throw a lariat. I can tell you one thing he does better than anybody else I see in professional wrestling right now. He can make people hate him.
My main criticism of Bullet Club ever since it debuted is the fact that they want to be cool heels so they can sell t-shirts & make money. I understand why, as professional wrestling is a business. It just makes for a less enjoyable product from my point of view. I like my heels to have no redeemable values. I want them to be complete assholes that you really can’t get behind unless you’re just an evil person. Heels will always have some crowd support. It’s the ones that can even manage to piss off those fans that really stand out.
Everybody that gets released from WWE will soon after talk about how the handcuffs are taken off. They’ll claim that WWE held them back from achieving their full potential. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but many of these people prove to be liars. I also think that fans tend to misinterpret what wrestlers mean when they say the handcuffs are taken off. Even the wrestlers themselves fail to fully take advantage when those proverbial handcuffs are removed.
To be fair to those gentlemen, they don’t know the business as well as Cody does. Their father wasn’t one of the greatest characters & bookers in the history of professional wrestling. When Cody got out of WWE, it wasn’t to have longer matches and do cooler moves & win more championships. The main reason Cody left was because he was held back creatively. He knew that WWE saw him in a certain light, and he was never going to reach his full potential unless he got out. He wasn’t going to break out on his own & become a legendary figure like his father was as long as he was under the WWE umbrella.
Ever since leaving WWE, Cody has embraced the darker side of his personality. There was a period of time where he had to be a good guy because indy fans will cheer ex-WWE guys right out of the box no matter what. After that passed, he became a total freaking asshole. Outside of his wife Brandi, he hasn’t been able to foster too many long-term friendships.
Cody’s cool. Cody’s a heel. Cody isn’t a cool heel.
The peak of Cody’s assholishness has been the breaking up of Bullet Club. Everything was fine with Kenny Omega as leader. The problems started when they took Cody into the group. He isn’t at the point where he wants to take a back seat to anybody. The whole point of leaving WWE was the fact that he didn’t want to be a background player. If he was going to join a stable, he was going to be the leader.
Which was fine, except for the fact that people preferred Omega in the role. Cody’s managed to get the other members of the Elite on his side, but the split between Kenny & Cody has extended to dissension between the rest of the Club as well. For their part, the Guerrillas of Destiny don’t seem interested in taking either side.
The drama between Cody, Kenny, Kota Ibushi, the Young Bucks & other people crossing their paths has made for some dramatic television & YouTube videos. Go check out the Being The Elite YouTube channel if you haven’t already. The knock against New Japan all these years has been lack of storylines, but I’d put this up against anything WWE’s presenting right now. That’s not me taking a shot against WWE, they’ve got some pretty good storylines going on. I just don’t think they’re as dramatic as this one. Cody’s ability to be a tremendous asshole takes it to another level, and takes the companies he works for to another level.
Ring of Honor has had some quality bad guys on top of their cards. Men like Christopher Daniels, Bryan Danielson & Nigel McGuinness could all get some good heat. CM Punk was a master at getting fans to hate him. ROH fans, who by & large cared about workrate more than any other attribute a wrestler possessed, still respected these men at the end of the day.
New Japan has had a bevy of talented top stars. Okada & Tanahashi’s feud will go down in the history books forever. The problem Japanese stars face with American audiences is that it’s tough for them to get heat without playing the stereotypical Japanese heel role. Even doing that, there’s only so much heat that can draw. Taijiri was a great heel but he was never a main eventer. Yokozuna didn’t exactly set box office records. Great Muta was in WCW so he was probably screwed either way.
Casual fans are inclined not to care about wrestlers that don’t speak English. Hardcore fans typically love Japanese wrestlers regardless of face/heel alignment. Put those two factors together, and you see how it’s tough for New Japan to make a dent in this market.
Unless, of course, they find themselves an American Nightmare.
Cody might not have the best matches on the card. Dave Meltzer might not be giving him six snowflakes anytime soon. He’s better than anybody else in New Japan or ROH at making the people care about his match or anything else he’s involved in. If you want to include WWE, there’s only one person in the business that gets a better heel response than Cody, and that’s Roman Reigns.
The worse Cody gets, the better he is.
The Good, Bad and Ugly: Pre WWE Elimination Chamber 2019
Is WWE Elimination Chamber shaping up to be Good, Bad, or Ugly?
Bobby gives us the Good, Bad and Ugly of how Elimination Chamber looks on paper!
WrestleMania is obviously the big show coming up but we have a couple of pit stops along the way. This pit stop is a Good one though. We have potential for a lot of changes, a lot of memories and a lot of action in a jam packed Pay Per View! Let’s find out if the layout is looking Good, Bad or Ugly?
WWE Title Elimination Chamber Match– Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton vs. Samoa Joe
Like all Elimination Chambers of the past, we have a lot going on here in this one. The Chamber itself will lend a hand in this ultra-violent, insane battle for a prestigious Championship. The participants are also bred for action, as all of them have been in crazy matches almost their whole respective careers. How do you make it even better than it already could have been? You add Kofi Kingston after he had a freak of a showing on this week’s SmackDown. This match is going to be non-stop and deliver even to the most outlandish fan. I expect nothing but Good, in fact, Great things here, and a hell of an effort. However it will be Daniel Bryan retaining his New Title! I also expect to see the return of a certain “creepy, kooky family” and I don’t mean Gomez. Follow the buzzards because this match is going to kill it!
WWE Women’s Tag Team Elimination Chamber Match– Nia Jax & Tamina vs. Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Carmella & Naomi vs. The Riott Squad vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville vs. The IIconics
Like the WWE Title Match, this match has the advantage of being in an Elimination Chamber almost guaranteeing success. It will be entertaining and full of action. The talent here is 50/50. Some Good, some Bad, and even some Ugly, however we will see an abundance of Good here as the teams will need to show off, and put the WWE Crew on notice. These teams have a lot to prove in this historic match. They will show up and they will beat the hell out of each other until only 1 survives, and it will be Good. It has to be Good. The whole world is watching. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville Win!
WWE Raw Women’s Title Match– “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (C) vs. Ruby Riott
Ruby Riott is dangerously underused but this match is to act sort of as a remedy to that. Riott and her girls bring a ton of entertainment value and the in ring work isn’t disappointing either. This is Ruby Riott’s biggest match so far in her career and puts her center stage against one of the most watched athletes of any sport, Ronda Rousey. With a talent like Ruby Riott, Rousey should be able to keep it together and have a Good, concise match. Hopefully Riott can control her. Rousey Retains!
WWE Intercontinental Title Handicap Match– Bobby Lashley (C) w/ Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor
Both guys are rocking out lately. Finn Balor never loses a step and always delivered. He simply is one of the best. Everything he does gets the audience amped up and he constantly outdoes himself putting it all on the line. Lashley since having Lio Rush has been very impressive. Not having the pressure of promo’s and being able to just be this freak of nature has suited him well. Not to mention Lio Rush being actively working and being a huge part of the match will benefit the whole thing. The Man of the Hour is supremely talented and can move around like no other. With Lio Rush, Lashley certainly deserves his current run and dominance. Even with Lio Rush in the ring, Finn Balor will shock the world and win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
WWE Cruiserweight Title Match– Buddy Murphy (C) vs. Akira Tozawa
Another 205 Live match with two underappreciated, great high flyers. Buddy Murphy’s unorthodox style is an acquired taste but a Good one. And athough Tozawa has become a comedic character he can certainly move around the ring artfully. It will be a solid match but will not leave any more of an impression than 205 Live ever does. Most just don’t seem to care. Buddy Murphy Retains!
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Title Match– The Miz & Shane McMahon (C) vs. The Usos
As Good as the Usos are, and as Good as Shane and Miz are, this match isn’t very exciting. The buildup, the gimmicks and stories are all really unnecessary. McMiz is obliviously horrible. Shane McMahon is an incredible athlete and a genius. He has had some of the craziest matches and high spots as any legend. The Miz, one of the best and most underappreciated figures in sports entertainment. The Usos are straight legends. So why should we be skeptical? The chances of botched, awkward spots will be aplenty and the match already is pointless. There are chances for serious injuries to all and a ton of potential for failure. McMiz will win but that is the biggest loss of the night. So many other teams could have a shot but McMiz with the belts is an unforgivable waste.
Baron Corbin vs. Braun Strowman
Before this gets Ugly, Baron Corbin has been a lot better as of late. He has improved immensely both on the mic and in the ring. He has been working hard and getting a lot of tv time to show for it. Strowman always is a major presence anytime he is on camera but has been horrible lately. This could be a very ugly, hard to watch match and we will all hope and pray for a quick squash to give more time to some other more deserving matches.
- GOOD- 6
- BAD- 1
- UGLY- 1
All signs point to Good. This show looks like it has some big time spots ahead and a lot of potential changes to occur. No matter the outcomes we can all expect it to be a Good, entertaining pay per view. Can Elimination Chamber deliver or will it be an Ugly shame? We will all be watching Sunday Night where all of our questions will be answered. Enjoy the show!
Vitalli: Pro Wrestling Is For Everybody. Kind Of…
Is pro wrestling for everyone? There are two sides to the argument, and this is the side most aren’t qualified to share.
The generational fight for pro wrestling continues, but this time you get the view from the talent side thanks to Dom Vitalli!
Wrestling is for everybody. You see and hear it all the time. Sounds cool to say and looks great on a t-shirt, but what happens if we really break down such a broad statement? What if, something that has become common place, particularly out there in the indie scene, creates more harm than good? There are two viewpoints one must consider when encountering this statement; the fan’s and the wrestler’s.
For the fan, I think this term is nearly flawless. Anyone, from any socioeconomic background, can enjoy professional wrestling, especially with the variety available out there in today’s market. In general, wrestling fans are quite welcoming to newbies, aside from the internet or course! Die hard wresting fans have a very unique way to make brand new fans feel at home and a part of something special. On the other hand, we also need to consider that not everyone loves this as much as we do. To this day, I’m sure we all hear every now and then, “you still watch that stuff”? No matter how great wrestling can be, how exciting/entertaining it is, or how much it plays on our heartstrings, there will always be those that just do not get it. Those people, wrestling is surely not for.
So what about the wrestlers? Surely pro wrestling is all-inclusive and should be open to anyone and everyone, right? Wrong! Now when I say that, I don’t mean that from it’s broadest perspective. Of course it should be open to wrestlers of all color, race, religion, sexual orientation, and so on. What I’m referring to is, just because you love professional wrestling, doesn’t mean you get to be a part of this. For years I have heard the argument from so many people that have snuck into our locker rooms that they deserved to be there because they’ve, “been a fan for X amount of years” or “am more passionate about this than anything else”. That’s all fine and well, but those are just claims any and everyone can make. Then what?
Somewhere along the line, the barriers to entry to pro wrestling became a bit too lax. If you ask me, it’s because policing a dressing room is now looked down upon as a form of “bullying” from a much more sensitive generation. We are still on the tail-end of the last generation of guys that had to fight, scratch, claw, and nearly sell a vital organ just to be considered to enter this amazing business. Forgive us if we don’t take too kindly to those that get in on east street. Also consider, the talent pool has been completely watered down due to this epidemic. This generation has a tremendous amount of guys and gals with amazing talent and natural ability. Far more than years past. It also has a gigantic surplus of people that call themselves wrestlers that really have no business being inside of a wrestling ring, let alone on our side of the rail. These folks are put on low-level, castaway shows due to them “being a nice guy” or “deserving a shot” completely unrelated to any of their ability of lack thereof. For every Shane Strickland’ there are 100 Shitty McBackyard’s. To me, safety needs to be the top priority for all wrestlers. The more lax we get on who we allow on our stage, the more we put our bodies, our livelihood, at risk.
The fans are the fortunate ones here. There is a wrestling show out there for all of you. Something that will strike a cord within and put a smile on your face while you get lost in the moment. As for the wrestlers, remember that what you do is not easy. If done right, it takes years of hard-work, sacrifice, and training to attain. It is okay to be protective of what you hold so dear. Just remember this; everyone wants to get into the nightclub known to be the most difficult to get into. The nightclub that let’s anyone in is almost always the backup plan or last resort with the shittiest clientele. Wrestling should ALWAYS be the hottest nightclub in town.
Dom Vitalli has two decades of experience in a professional wrestling ring, and has grown to be one of the most renown trainers in the state of Arizona.