JC’s Top Rope Report: How Three Weekends Saved My Love For Pro Wrestling
I’ve been a pro wrestling fan since the age of 3. I’m 31 now. That’s 28 years of watching pro wrestling. I remember my mom always telling me that she thought it was just a phase and that I would grow out of it. Yet I never did. I’ve stuck with pro wrestling through the Monday Night War, through the Ruthless Aggression Era and the current generation. To me it is an escape. I can sit in front of a TV for a few hours each week and not have to worry about anything else.
The WWE has always been my go to promotion. Even during the Monday Night War I was always a WWE guy. I would watch the first hour of Nitro, switch over to RAW, and tape the rest of Nitro to watch the next day. This happened even during the nWo days. Shawn Michaels was always my favorite wrestler, with Steve Austin a close second. After the Monday Night War I stuck with wrestling. Even over the years, I remained a watcher as the viewing audience went down. I started blogging about it, then joined up with a few people and started this web site. I reviewed RAW and PPVs for the site. Writing was one of my first passions as a kid and I was excited to start writing online about pro wrestling.
But over the last couple months, it almost felt like watching the WWE was more of a habit rather than an enjoyment. For the first in forever I was bored with the WWE product. It is quite obvious to anyone with an unbiased eye that the product is god awful. I had a blast at Wrestlemania. But since then nothing about the product has been good. There is no consistency in storylines. There are no new stars made. Shane McMahon and Baron Corbin are focal points of the product. The pro wrestling is an afterthought in the WWE. Vince McMahon isn’t booking for the audience. He is booking for himself. And if you heard the Jon Moxley interview, you know things are a complete trainwreck in WWE. Multiple wrestlers are looking to get out. The WWE is at a critical point in there history. Sure they have TV money, but if no one is watching the awful product it will never matter.
I was really starting to question why I was still watching the WWE. I could honestly say that it is mostly out of habit. I run this site and I have a responsibility to it and its writers and readers. But my love for what I considered to me by favorite promotion continued to wane away.
Thankfully, three straight weekends of pro wrestling reminded me why I became a fan of it in the first place. And it reminded me that there is more out there than just the WWE.
First there was Double or Nothing, the big launch of All Elite Wrestling. Every wrestling fan is hyped for AEW. Most of them want it to motivate the WWE to do better. Guess what? The WWE hasn’t done jack since Double or Nothing to make their product better. Double or Nothing provided us with two really great wrestling matches. Cody vs Dustin Rhodes was a bloody battle that reminded us that a great story can be told inside a pro wrestling ring with little to no storylines. You don’t need to have stupid, complicated stories on TV every week. Then the Lucha Brothers and The Young Bucks reminded us what tag team wrestling can really be about. And the show ended with a rejuvenated Jon Moxley showing up and causing havoc. AEW doesn’t even have TV but the show felt like such a huge deal that you wished there was a TV show the following week to see what would be next.
The following weekend was NXT Takeover XXV. Yes, NXT falls under the WWE umbrella. But if you watched NXT and then RAW you would think that they are two different promotions. Of course, NXT is run by Triple H. For all the crap Triple H got as a wrestler (and deservedly so), he knows what today’s current product should be about and he implements that in NXT. NXT puts on a handful of big shows every year. They don’t have a PPV every month. They let their storylines play out and don’t just do rematches to get through a PPV. Every match means something on a Takeover show.
I went into this Takeover show with low expectations and once again NXT proved me wrong. Every match on this show delivered. Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano had the best match out of all three of these shows. They may have topped the one I saw live in person Wrestlemania weekend. The tag team ladder match had some brutal looking spots. And Matt Riddle and Roderick Strong put on a pro wrestling clinic. It goes to show you that if the WWE really gave a damn, they have the ability to put on a phenomenal pro wrestling card. But the old man booking the main show doesn’t care about that. He just wants to tell stories.
Finally, this past weekend was New Japan Pro Wrestling’s second biggest show of the year, Dominion. While this may have been the weakest show of the three I mentioned, it still had wrestling better than the majority of the WWE main roster programming this year. Naito and Kota Ibushi practically killed themselves during their match. It was tough to watch towards the end but they still told a great story in the ring. Will Ospreay, Dragon Lee and Shigno Takagi reminded us what junior heavyweights/cruiserweights could do if they were actually given a a chance to shine.
What do all three of these shows/promotions have in common? They tell the majority of their stories in the ring. Sure, there are promos and angles to build up to the matches. But when it is time to deliver in the ring and the bell rings, they don’t disappoint. The matches actually mean something on every show. They don’t have random thrown together tag team or singles matches with no meaning. Everything gets built up for a reason. Every match has a story and a meaningful conclusion.
Meanwhile, the WWE product continues to lack. Even as I write this RAW has matches that are being thrown together and have little meaning in the end. The same thing with their storylines. Alexa Bliss was slowly turning face last Monday and tonight she is back to being a heel. Bayley lost in her hometown. Why give people a reason to cheer for their hometown hero? Would good would that do? The WWE really needs a massive shakeup, but it isn’t happening as long as Vince McMahon is in charge. Instead of AEW being competition for WWE, I’d rather see more people willingly just leave the company (though I am getting sick of Sasha Banks have hearted attempts to stir up the internet every day).
Despite my complete lack of caring for the main WWE product at this point, these last three weekends reminded me why I loved pro wrestling for so long. And I’m honestly more excited for the future of pro wrestling than I have been in quite some time. AEW is coming, New Japan has the G1 Climax in a month, and NXT continues to turn out quality show after quality show.
There are a lot of movers and shakers in the world of pro wrestling right now. Unfortunately, the WWE is not a part of that group. And until things change, they will slowly start falling behind in the world of pro wrestling. Their TV money might make them profitable, but their poor storyline writing will start to make them even more unwatchable.
Until Next Time,
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka