Editorial Note: Due to the Passover holiday, Michael Dworkis is taking the week off. Pop-Break’s editor-in-chief Bill Bodkin is filling in.
We’re heading into an extremely interesting time in the world of professional wrestling world.
In the past two weeks since we saw The Streak end, Daniel Bryan win the WWE Title, Jeff Jarrett announce the launch of a new promotion, Ring of Honor announce they’ll be heading to live pay-per-view, Evolution reunite and wrestlers like Antonio Cesaro and The Shield get the proverbial rocket strapped to their back.
Does this mean we will be heading into a new wrestling renaissance or will be let down by broken promises, lukewarm title runs and half-hearted pushes? Let’s discuss…
Hey, notice who I didn’t mention two paragraphs before? TNA. That’s because this company is reaching WCW depths of stupidity and piss poorness. First, let’s look at the company from a business standpoint — they allow: AJ Styles, Sting, Christopher Daniels, Chris Sabin and Frankie Kazarian walk after spending the better part of the past decade building the company. Of those, letting Sting walk makes the most sense. He doesn’t have that marquee, headlining draw anymore, at least for TNA. He’s done everything he could do there. However, the others? They were still exciting, marketable and beloved wrestlers and TNA is going to suffer greatly from their loss. Think about what does this company even have left to offer? They’ve done a great job making new signings: The Wolves, Tigre Uno, Senada and Bobby Lashley look completely ineffective or don’t book them enough for the audience to remember. But, don’t sweat it, they’ve resigned Robbie E of The Bro Mans and Gunner to long-term deals. Not saying these guys aren’t solid wrestlers, but pinning long term hopes on these guys is a foolish move for TNA.
The company’s deal with Spike is up in the near future and one has to wonder what the network’s motivation would be to re-up this company for a new deal? They’ve got no real major draws anymore (Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy in his Willow persona aren’t bringing people to the table anymore) and the product is just so Vince Russo 2000 WCW-esque that it’s going to be turning more and more people off by the week.
The biggest mistake TNA can make is letting their cornerstones go because you know Jeff Jarrett is going to scoop them up for his new Global Force Wrestling promotion. Combine that with the fact Jarrett does have a good eye for bringing in exciting, unsigned talent and the well for TNA’s talent could be running extremely dry very quickly. Speaking of GFW, one had to hope they start giving us more announcements in the near future and less selfies of Karen and Jeff Jarrett with various wrestlers Double J encounters while wrestling on the indie circuit.
Ring of Honor going to PPV could easily knock TNA down from #2 promotion in the US to #3. Ring of Honor has better, but lesser known talent (excluding Matt Hardy) plus they tour the country and are syndicated on a major cable distributor (Sinclair). They easily could make things really interesting with more TV clearance around the nation. It’s crazy that this company has been able to survive and evolve after it had everyone of its original superstars from CM Punk to Daniel Bryan to Samoa Joe depart, had their original owner go through a huge sex scandal and are currently on their third owner in 12 years. They’ve built new guys, have red hot matches and keep trying new things. Even if it doesn’t become the #2 company, it has certainly made an indelible mark on wrestling history.
In a headline most people won’t read — Roman Reigns cleanly defeated Randy Orton in a singles match at a house show in Saudi Arabia. Kinda huge in my opinion. This reaffirms, at least in my mind, the WWE’s commitment to building the stars of tomorrow.
Now, we’ve seen this before — sometimes this youth movement has been successful (see the rise of Cena, Orton and Batista) and sometimes disastrous (see the pushes of Shelton Benjamin, the handling of CM Punk post-pipe bomb, Zack Ryder, The Miz and countless others.) But right now, the WWE is pushing their chips to the center of the table on some extremely talented young wrestlers in the form of Daniel Bryan, Antonio Cesaro, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins and Paige. They are letting them all run with big pushes, high-profile victories and even higher-profile feuds. If you look back at the majority of the failed youth movements (outside of CM Punk), the wrestlers in them weren’t exactly…good. Not knocking Shelton Benjamin’s in-ring ability, but at the time, he had the personality of three day old french fries. Imagine putting Paul Heyman with him? It would’ve been great.
I digress. Putting this crew of younger yet mostly seasoned wrestlers into a position of prominence makes things exciting. Maybe we don’t have to see the 53rd version of an Orton/Cena feud. Maybe we can stop shoehorning aging vets like Kane, Big Show, RVD, Mark Henry or Chris Jericho into main event feuds because there’s no one else that can legitimately contend. I think the guys being pushed are really exciting and the matches they’ve all put on have been thrilling. Look at The Shield, for example, they are stupid over with live crowds based upon their entrance alone. When they get in the ring, they just make a crowd explode.
But, do I have faith in the WWE?
Historically, I don’t, but there’s just something different about this time around that makes me think otherwise. Is is a changing of the guard or am I just delusional.
Let’s check back at Summerslam to see where my theory lies.