Written by Bill Bodkin & Michael Dworkis
Editor’s Note: There was a ton going on with WWE and TNA over the past week. However, there was also a ton of comings and goings with the world of independent and international wrestling, so we figured we’d engage those news topics with a special “WWE-ek” column.
In case you were wondering, Jeff Jarrett pissed off all the internet trolls recently. What did he do now you ask? Well, the ringleader for Global Force Wrestling has inked a deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling in a formal talent exchange. This past week, he showed up at the G1 Climax Tournament in Japan, where an official signing and announcement was made about the partnership between NJPW and GFW. Sounds good, right? Except it did not end there, Jarrett opted to get himself involved in a heel-based storyline, aligning himself with IWGP Champion AJ Styles and the heel stable, The Bullet Club by bashing a guitar over the head of popular wrestler Hiroshi Tanahashi.
A bit of background, the Bullet Club is a primarily non-Japanese stable originally led by Prince (Fergal) Devitt (now signed to NXT). Current members who you may know are Doc Gallows, (Festus, Luke Gallows, or D.O.C. in TNA), and The Young Bucks (formerly known as Generation Me in TNA). At the event, the full stable, including Bad Luck Fale, “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson, Tama Tonga, and Yujiro Takahashi, were joined by Jeff Jarrett and Scott D’Amore in an obvious promotional bid to publicize the deal between NJPW and GFW.
Is it really so bad? The IWC (internet wrestling community) blew up with venom over Jeff Jarrett sticking his nose where it does not belong, showboating, and drawing attention around himself. Sure, he did it plenty in TNA. Half the pay-per-views saw him main eventing and winning the TNA title whenever he wanted. There was a time everyone joked he was going to script himself to tie Ric Flair for title reigns. Thankfully, it did not happen. But here we see Jeff Jarrett taking an opportunity to join an already established heel faction in NJPW. His goal is to bring talent from all over to his promotion. He does not want to be another failed NWA. Jarrett was recognition on a global scale, and bring in talent. Is that such a bad thing? Imagine tuning in to an American channel to find some of the best talent from Japan? –Michael Dworkis
[Editor’s Note: Bill Bodkin will be taking over the remainder of the column.]
We travel from Japan to Mexico and the question has to be asked, “What’s the Spanish word for ‘shoot?’ because it was happening all night long hermano. Mexico’s top promotion AAA held its annual Triplemania (their Wrestlemania) on Sunday night August 17th, the same night as SummerSlam and boy is the WWE pissed at what went down. First, Alberto Del Rio, much less than 90 days after his release, stormed the ring with his father, the legendary Dos Caras, and cut a heated shoot promo, burying the WWE 20 feet below the earth’s surface.
“”History will mark this day as the day that El Patron returned home. But the truth is, after listening to that grand reception, I don’t think El Patron ever left, because his heart belongs to you, it belongs to Mexico. A lot has been said about why I left, why I came back. Seven years ago I embarked on that dream, that adventure called America. And by suffering, blood, sweat and tears we showed North Americans and the entire world, that when you do things with heart, with passion, with love, and being humble under the eyes of God our Father, dreams do come true. Of course it wasn’t easy, and then came a day that the dream turned into a nightmare. Similar to many of you, or if not you, to family members of yours, who have gone to the other side looking for a better life for those that we love, I came across a monster, a monster called racism. Racism doesn’t distinguish sex, race, religion, color, it doesn’t care…if you have money, if you don’t have it. But this man that’s standing right here (points at his father Dos Caras), who has given me everything and has made me the person that I am, gave me the biggest gift a father can give his son – honesty and the spirit to triumph. He never lowered his head, so that I could learn to never lower it in front of anyone. I love you, Dad. In the U.S., they might be able to take my job, but they’ll never, ever take away my dignity and my pride. And on this night, my fellow Mexicans, I promise you and God that never again will someone come and disrespect my people, myself and all those that I love – because I am El Patron Alberto and I am Mexican ladies and gentlemen!”
Now a promo, no matter how damning, doesn’t violate the WWE 90 Day Non-Complete or at least it shouldn’t. BUT, Alberto couldn’t leave well enough alone. He had to throws hands. He had to get physical and that’s a massive no-no. After his promo as “El Patron” our old pal Konnan came down with his faction of rudos, Perros del Mal, to get in ADR’s face. They then shoved Dos Caras and ADR retaliated with some fists and shoving. It was all rather sloppy, but the quality of the physicality doesn’t matter — Alberto got involved physically with wrestlers from another promotion on that promotion’s television…and in this case, a massive iPPV. Bad move, ADR, bad move.
But the burying of WWE didn’t stop there as the #FREEREY movement began at Triplemania. Yes, WWE contracted wrestler Rey Mysterio appeared “via satellite” to address the AAA crowd. The gist of his promo was again, the burial of WWE, and a promise that he’d be coming home to AAA soon enough. Mysterio has reportedly not been cashing WWE checks as of recent and wants to desperately wants to leave his WWE contract. However, the WWE rolled his deal over for another year due to the constant state of injury Rey is in and it looks like they want to get the final year out of their investment in Rey. Honestly, the WWE needs the Latin superstar to draw that segment of the audience in, but how many times has he wrestled in the past two years? The WWE needs to build a new Latin star and his name isn’t Sin Cara. No, that man is Kalisto, the former Samuray del Sol (a better name in my opinion), who is so dynamic, so breathtaking, that he’d make the Universe forget about Rey.
The world of independent wrestling took a major blow this past week as “Mr. Wrestling” Kevin Steen announced that he officially signed with the WWE and would be reporting NXT where he undoubtedly will be rechristened something horrific like Steenly Kev or Devon Stream. Regardless, two of the biggest indies out there, Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Steen’s two home promotions, lost a massive part of their roster.
Ring of Honor baffles me. They have lost every single major name they have developed to TNA, Ring of Honor, Japan or injury/retirement and yet they still draw major houses, are on weekly television and sell tons of merch. Look at the roster of people who’ve left ROH to bigger things (obviously some have returned):
CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Antonio Cesaro, Austin Aires, Low Ki, Luke Harper, Homicide, Christopher Daniels, Chris Hero, Doug Williams, Hernandez, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Jay Lethal, Sami Zayn, Kenta, Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, Jamie Knoble, Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Jerry Lynn, Joey Mercury, Evan Bourne, Mickie James and Sara Del Rey.
Again, some of these competitors, have returned here and there, but to lose so many wrestlers who were that important to your promotion (Truth be told Ambrose, Harper, Williams, Hernandez, Sabin, Shelley, Mercury, Bourne, James and Del Rey were not major main event players in ROH) and you’re still able to be successful…that says something about your promotion.
The promotion has done a great job establishing new guys to step up and 2014 is no different. Adam Cole, Jay Briscoe and “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin have been groomed for the main event and have secured a stronghold in the fan’s hearts. A returned AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Jay Lethal and Frankie Kazarian bolsters the marquee value of the company while younger talents like ACH and reDRAGON keep climbing their way up the ranks and into the collective consciousness of ROH fans.
As for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, the promotion is quite possibly the best wrestling promotion in the world right now. If you’re like me and still yearn for the days of ECW, then PWG is your panacea. It’s probably what would’ve happened had ECW stuck around and evolved its style. It’s crazy high spots, hard hitting strong style action, compelling and hilarious in-ring performers, a frenzied crowd accentuates the action with their live and die with each move mentality and of course, a little bit of blood and guts when needed.
Since I started watching PWG back in 2013, the promotion has lost so many of its heavy hitters: El Generico, Sami Callihan, Davey Richards, Eddie Edwads, Drake Younger and now Kevin Steen. Hell, throw in undercard guys like Samuray del Sol and Willie Mack and that’s a crazy amount of guys PWG has lost. But, like ECW, this Reseda, California-based promotion knows how to craft stars for the future.
They’ve taken a tag team wrestler turned intense grappler/striker named Kyle O’Reilly and put the strap on him. The guy is as vanilla as vanilla gets when it comes his personality, but when he gets in the ring, he becomes an animal. And people love him for it. The promotion has also found unlikely new fan favorites in the skinny bearded high flyer Trevor Lee, the WWE castoff Trent? (Barretta) and “The World’s Cutest Tag Team” Joey Ryan and Candice LaRae, the latter who got busted wide open in a “Guerrilla Warfare” match and proved she’s as bad ass as any guy.
In the end, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla isn’t about personalities it’s about providing their fans with the craziest, most athletic wrestling imaginable and they are continuing to do so in spades.