Steve Cook takes a look back at his Top 5 (Non-WWE) Stories of 2019 from the beginning of the year–how did it pan out?
We’re travelling back in time this week. First, we looked at the Top 5 WWE Stories of 2019, as I predicted them back at the beginning of the year. This time, we’re looking back at the Top 5 Non-WWE Stories of 2019 as originally posted on January 11, 2019.
It’s been an interesting year. Did it pan out the way I thought? Let’s take a look…
5. First a penis. Then a tampon. What’s next?
“Joey Ryan has been around for a pretty long time. He’s one of the founders of PWG. He’s been featured in Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Wrestling Society X & Lucha Underground. Ryan’s been around the world and back.
He’ll forever be known as “the penis guy.”
Priscilla Kelly hasn’t been around nearly as long as Joey, but she’s made some strides early in her career. She was in the second Mae Young Classic and often appears for EVOLVE, which is an NXT feeder fed.
She might end up being known as “the tampon girl.”
Ryan flipping other wrestlers around with his penis isn’t my thing. Kelly shoving her tampon in another wrestler’s face doesn’t do it for me either. I don’t knock either one though, because this sort of thing has an audience.
Joey’s had a lucrative run in wrestling while maintaining his status as an independent wrestler thanks to his penis. Priscilla will probably see an increase in bookings now that she’s achieved more notoriety. Those promoters will want her to bring her tampons.
What I want to know is this: which enterprising Indy wrestlers will take note of this & come up with something ridiculous of their own in an attempt to get noticed? How far will it go before somebody gets a show shut down with their insanity? You know it’s coming. Just wait for the backlash when somebody takes out a vibrator & goes to town on their opponent. It won’t be good.”
What Happened: Things kind of cooled down on this front as far as I could tell. Unless I missed something, nobody came up with something grosser than a tampon to use in a wrestling match. Thank goodness for that. I feel like indy folks are policing themselves because they have more places to get signed now. Priscilla’s doing fine on the indies but it doesn’t seem like the major promotions are too interested at the moment. Joey did an independent retirement tour then immediately returned to the indies, so there’s that.
4. ROH’s Next Era
“We talked about how WWE needs to make top stars that aren’t named “Roman Reigns”. Ring of Honor has had a similar problem making stars of its own over the past few years.
Ever since the partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling started, ROH has based its booking around NJPW’s whims & desires. Bullet Club was a staple of ROH television through the AJ Styles, Kenny Omega & Cody eras…when they were available. ROH’s biggest shows have featured New Japan talent. The other shows aren’t exactly setting the world on fire.
With the Elite gang gone, ROH should be looking for new names to feature. Instead, the Elite were putting over the likes of Jay Lethal & the Briscoes on their way out. I mean, the Briscoes were on the first ROH show & Lethal was around a year or two after that. They don’t need a rub from anybody at this level.
ROH has been signing a lot of new talent, which is a good sign. The bad sign is Booker Lizard Man’s track record when it comes to building new talent. Its not great. It needs to be in 2019 if ROH wants to be able to stand on its own. That NJPW partnership might not exist forever.”
What Happened: Most of 2019 was the Matt Taven Show for Ring of Honor. Then we saw some Rush, and we ended the year with PCO as champion. ROH definitely tried to build & feature some different talent. You can’t really say it worked though, as the promotion has less buzz now than it’s ever had. ROH is still looking for their next Era. We’ll talk about that NJPW thing later.
3. Impact’s TV Situation
“People tell me that television doesn’t matter anymore. Nobody watches it. You can catch any type of wrestling you want on YouTube or an array of streaming services. They say it doesn’t matter what kind of a TV deal a wrestling company gets.
These people are wrong. WWE’s recent deals worth over a billion dollars blow that theory out of the water. The right TV deals being revenue, availability & prestige. Airing on Fox is a big deal. Heck, ROH’s local slots have helped grow their promotion. Airing on the Pursuit Channel late on a Friday night does nothing for you.
As good as Impact Wrestling’s roster & product are right now, their limited availability & bad time slot on a hunting channel makes them look bush league. Impact will need an upgrade sometime in 2019 if they want to be on par with the other promotions listed in this column.”
What Happened: Anthem bought a better channel. They got themselves a stake in AXS TV & now Impact airs every Tuesday night. It’s definitely a better situation, and things look better for them from a live audience perspective as well. They’ve still got a ways to go, but 2019 wasn’t a bad year for Impact Wrestling.
2. New Japan’s Big United States Shows
“NJPW’s American expansion has been confined to the West Coast so far. A dojo in Los Angeles. Some shows in Long Beach & San Francisco in smaller arenas. Kinda cool, but nothing too substantial yet.
They’re kicking things up a notch in 2019. Of course, there’s the WrestleMania weekend show co-promoted with ROH at Madison Square Garden. WWE clearly prefers running in Barclays Center these days, but MSG will always be associated with the McMahon family as far as wrestling goes.
New Japan & ROH running in MSG feels like the Big 10 running their men’s basketball tournament there. We’re used to seeing WWE & the Big East there. It’s tough to get used to new people coming in.
NJPW has also announced a show to take place in Dallas’s American Airlines Center on July 6. It’s called “G1 Climax 29 – Opener”, which is big. The US has seen G1 Specials before, and the MSG show will be a G1 Supercard, but the G1 Climax Tournament has never had matches take place in America. That seems to be going down in Dallas, unless the Opener is New Japan’s equivalent to the Kickoff Show.
New York should do well, and I would expect a lot of people to fly into Dallas for authentic G1 matches. Will that be all for 2019? Probably not. I’d expect some random West Coast shows to be announced at some point, and maybe since there’s 2 blocks in the G1 we’ll see another tournament show here. Some of New Japan’s biggest North American stars won’t be there. That won’t stop New Japan from taking the next step.”
What Happened: Kind of a mixed bag for New Japan’s US experiment in 2019. They sold out Madison Square Garden, but Ring of Honor’s portion of the event was so ghastly that it left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. The G1 in Dallas was a solid event, and the crowd probably would have looked good if the show hadn’t been in an NBA arena. They did a small tour in the Northeast & a couple of events in California in the late part of the year that drew sell outs for the venues, and already have another American tour scheduled for late January. They’re hitting the South this time around, and one would expect them to be back in the Northeast & California at some point. One big problem: AXS TV has new ownership that doesn’t seem interested in continuing the current arrangement. They aren’t even airing that Wrestle Kingdom thing. Oh, and ROH seems to be a less viable partner these days.
New Japan is running out of friends here, it’s a shame they don’t know anybody Elite that could help.
1. Will All Elite Wrestling Be Elite?
“If the first week of 2019 is any indication, AEW will take up a lot of our attention this year. We all like shiny new toys. We know the general feel of WWE, ROH, Impact & everybody else. They’re old hat.
AEW is new and exciting. We don’t know what to expect from Cody, the Young Bucks, the Khan family and whoever else might be involved. Its a fun mystery that we’ll find out bits and pieces of each week.
Will Kenny Omega come on board? What about Chris Jericho? Goldberg? What kind of TV deal can they get? When will they start running shows? Will they be good shows?
We don’t know any of these things right now, but we’ll find out as 2019 rolls on. Its a great time for people like me that need things to write about. AEW will be the biggest non-WWE story of 2019, whether it succeeds or not.”
What Happened: A lot! Omega & Jericho came on board. No Goldberg, but some familiar faces to WCW viewers have appeared on TNT since AEW Dynamite’s first episode. AEW was without a doubt the biggest non-WWE story of 2019. They’ve had some successes & some failures along the way, and there will be more ups & downs to come in 2020. AEW might not be Elite every week & every segment, but they’re going to work hard to try & get there.
You know what’s coming next week, right? The top 5 stories of 2019! WWE, non-WWE, whatever we can think of! Join us then.