By Will Pruett
I didn’t have any thoughts worth over 1,000 words this week, so have some random thoughts from my head space!
– Chris Jericho jumping over to NJPW to wrestle Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 feels like the biggest wrestling news in quite some time. I’m excited to see Omega in another major match at the Tokyo Dome and to see what Jericho has to bring in this circumstance. I’m also a little cautious about getting over-enthusiastic. Jericho hasn’t impressed me in the ring recently in WWE, but but hopefully will here.
– AJ Styles as the new WWE Champion feels like a dark cloud over wrestling finally lifted. Jinder Mahal has not been good and has not been fun to watch. Even going back to John Cena, Bray Wyatt, and Randy Orton all holding the WWE Championship, no one has seemed at the level of AJ Styles with that title. I sincerely hope this is a long-term move and Styles isn’t being moved into this scene just to make Survivor Series better.
– Speaking of Survivor Series, as someone who usually skips most of that Thanksgiving-ish classic, I’m almost sad to see how important WWE is making it feel. That’s wrestling I’ll actually have to watch and not just skim now.
– Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles would have been a dream match three years ago. Now it is happening and I’m trying to work up some excitement. It’s a massive improvement over Jinder Mahal vs. Lesnar. Styles tends to have everyone’s best match with them (even Jinder Mahal’s on Tuesday’s Smackdown). Will Lesnar be motivated at the level he’ll need to be to have an epic with Styles? We know AJ is game to work with anyone, but can Lesnar summon the pre-Suplex City magic?
– How entertaining was James Elsworth vs. Becky Lynch? I could watch Lynch beat up Elsworth all day long.
– Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s hot start as an antagonistic duo is getting a little weird with Survivor Series happening just after. The Red vs. Blue feud may be more interesting (or at least have more interesting matches) this year, but it can still get in the way of the rest of the stories WWE is trying to tell.
– Here’s hoping any issues Zayn and Owens are running into backstage aren’t going to hurt them on the air. WWE does seem like a hellish apocalypse of a work space sometimes though.
– The Shield vs. The New Day seems like the kind of match WWE would book just to bring joy to all of our hearts. I appreciate joy.
– Jay White challenging Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship is another big surprise and another delight. NJPW seems to be using the Tokyo Dome to take risks under the Naito vs. Okada and Jericho vs. Omega matches. I appreciate the effort here.
– Cody Rhodes getting Kota Ibushi as an opponent at the Tokyo Dome is pretty awesome. I hope this is better than past ROH Championship matches have been at this show. Up until last year, they seemed like throwaways. Even with the title change from Kyle O’Reilly to Adam Cole, the match only went 10 minutes last year. I’d love to see Ibushi and Cody get a chance to tell a great story.
– Asuka’s first month on WWE’s main roster is another place where I’m finding Survivor Series to be inconvenient. I’d love for her to be emphasized as more than a part of the red team.
– We recently passed the one year anniversary of WWE having women main event a pay-per-view for the first and, thus far, only time. While Charlotte and Sasha Banks did great work that night, remember how much work there is to be done.
– If it took losing the tag titles to get The Shield vs. The New Day, I thank Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins for their sacrifice.
– Braun Strowman, the trash terminator, is still exceptionally entertaining. It’s been about a year since he started being truly great and his trajectory has been awesome all year long.
– NJPW running in Long Beach again and running a 5,000 person venue will be neat. Hopefully fans turn out for their show like they did this past year.
– I think I like the new Erick Rowan and Luke Harper.
– I am in no way surprised that Total Global Non Stop Impact Force Action Wrestling ran a very bad pay-per-view. I am surprised and appalled at them having a wrestler use a real life domestic violence situation concerning them in a storyline. This company and Alberto Del Rio/El Patron deserve each other.
– Survivor Series still feels a little pointless with the Raw vs. Smackdown thing. WWE is doing a great job of making this show worth seeing, but Raw and Smackdown pride aren’t compelling reasons for anything. Hopefully the show delivers on the hype.
What I absolutely positively love in wrestling this week:
Instead of one item, I have more of a category this week. I love those moments that still surprise us, and do so in a good way. Wrestling is an increasingly predictable medium and it’s hard to get viewers to react. Today, I am in love with moments like AJ Styles winning the WWE Championship clean in the middle of the ring and Chris Jericho popping up in NJPW. It’s those moments that make you do a second take and refresh Twitter to see the excited reactions of other. They’re great.
If you enjoy getting a little bit of what I love in wresting each week, check out my new YouTube series called “What I Love About Professional Wrestling!”
What I absolutely positively love in the world this week:
Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok – The Thor movies have traditionally been the least interesting corner of Marvel’s sprawling film universe. While it had Natalie Portman as a redeeming quality, it felt like watching paint dry. Ragnarok is completely different. Jeff Goldblum brings his best work. Chris Hemsworth is great and funny. Everything about this movie works. It learns from the lessons of Guardians of the Galaxy and creates a fun dynamic. It’s one of the better Marvel movies, which is a major accomplishment.
Got something to say/react to in today’s piece? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wilpruett. Just let me know whether you’d like your name attached to your statement or not. Alternately, there’s a comment section just below this article, so comment away!
“So you want better, more interesting, more logical stories from WWE? I advise you to go into hibernation until after Survivor Series, when the ‘battle for brand superiority’ will be over for another year.”
It’s still worth calling for WWE to do better. That’s one of my biggest reasons for writing about wrestling.
Barton Hallow, who’s name seems to come from a great song from The Civil Wars commented:
“Seriously. It’s annoying, at best, to hear his constant whining and complaining because wrestling isn’t the combat sports equivalent to high school musical with far left progressive politics being shoved down people’s throats.”
I literally wrote about loving professional wrestling and wanting it to be better. I don’t want it to seem like a musical at all. I believe wrestling is a beautiful art form. While I would love it if it were more progressive, I spend a ton of time praising wrestling that isn’t. I also write a lot more about wrestling I like than wrestling I despise.
SSMGOTW (Superfluous Shane McMahon Gif of the Week):
Sweet Baby Shane O’Mac!
We’re Done Here:
As we wrap up this week, let’s all do a bunch of fun things! WWE is making Survivor Series super fun. NJPW is rounding into Wrestle Kingdom time prior to making me ignore it for a month during the tag league. Everything’s coming up Milhouse!
Will Pruett writes about wrestling and popular culture at prowrestling.net. Of interest to him are diversity in wrestling and wrestling as a theatrical art form. To see his video series “What I Love About Professional Wrestling” subscribe to his YouTube channel. To contact, check him out on Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email him at email@example.com.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Brian Pillman Jr., who discusses his training, following his father's footsteps, his own career aspirations, being part of the Hart Foundation faction, his big match at the MLW Saturday Night SuperFight pay-per-view, working with Jushin Liger, touring the WWE Performance Center, and much more...