By Nick Perkins, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@WesternRebel)
Hello friends, neighbors, readers and Edge-Heads. My name is Nick Perkins and I am your flag-bearer, your Paul Bearer, your Ring Bearer in the world of professional wrestling. Take my hand and follow me as I lead you through the week month that was. We’re delving into the highs, lows, mediums and ‘mehs’ of pro wrestling and there is nowhere I would rather be than right here, right now, with you. Whether you’re an old fan, a new fan, or you land somewhere in the middle and just hate-watch these shows out of habit, I am proud to be the bearer of good news, bad news and the downright ugly news from WWE, AEW, ROH, Impact and more. With that being said, let’s step through the ropes and into the proverbial ring, as Pro Wrestling Dot Net presents Ring Bearer: Exploring the Week that Was in Professional Wrestling.
My oh my, how much can change in a month? A month ago, I was working for a non-profit, living with a girlfriend, and spending way-too-much money to live in a town that I hated (Poughkeepsie, New York to be exact). It was not a fun period of my life and it was taking a major toll on my mental health, so girlfriend and I decided to high-five and part ways, I respectfully resigned from my job, and I returned to the only place I’ve ever called home – good ole Wyoming. In all honesty, my journey to New York and back is eerily reminiscent of Eric Bischoff’s, and if Easy E can keep a good attitude about everything, so can I.
Needless to say, writing about professional wrestling hasn’t been on my biggest list of priorities (a list that includes: moving across the country for the second time in six months, finding a different job, finding a new place to live, mending a bruised-but-not-quite-broken heart, downloading Tinder, deleting Tinder, downloading Tinder again, deleting Tinder again, helping my dad recover from heart surgery, finding some semblance of self-worth, etc.).
Still, a lot has happened in the world of wrestling and now that things in my life are semi-stable, I’m eager to share my thoughts!
Obviously, the biggest news to come out of this last month has come from the Royal Rumble. A month ago, I wrote that I was underwhelmed and unexcited about the potential of the Royal Rumble. I said that the build to the Rumble felt lazy and uninspired and, to be fair, it did. But the event itself more than delivered. In that same article, I wrote that “I would love for Drew McIntyre to win and challenge Brock Lesnar for the Championship, but I just don’t think it will happen. I believe McIntyre will get the Kane-in 2001 or Reigns-in-2014 treatment, in that he will put in a great showing but will ultimately fail to win. In doing so, however, he can set himself up to be the true breakout star of 2020.”
Well, I was half-right. In a huge surprise, McIntyre actually did end up winning the Royal Rumble, eliminating Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in the process. It was a huge move and it made me eat crow faster than Moira Rose in The Crows Have Eyes 2 (Schitt’s Creek fans represent!). This was exactly the adrenaline shot WWE needed in their main event scene and the potential for this story is almost as good as the buildup to Daniel Bryan’s WrestleMania 30 win. Maybe it’s even better.
Drew McIntyre was a man deemed ‘The Chosen One’ by Vince McMahon more than ten years ago. Things didn’t quite work out that way for the man from Glasgow, and after a few unmemorable Intercontinental Title reigns, a stint in Three Man Band and a release from employment, McIntyre found himself on the independent scene, where he very quickly reinvented himself to become the superstar that we all know, love, and respect today. For those unaware, there’s a fascinating documentary about the former Drew Galloway that shows just how much passion he has for that business. Hopefully the story will reach a precipice in the coming weeks, because this has all the chance in the world to be a magical WrestleMania Moment.
Speaking of moments – wow! What a moment it was when Edge returned at the Royal Rumble. There were rumblings of his return for the weeks leading up the event, but I had taken more of a ‘wait-and-see’ approach as to whether his return would actually come to fruition. My heart wanted him to, but my head was weary. As we would come to find out, though, Edge’s fate had already been written in the stars. He returned at #21 to a thunderous ovation. More than that, the reaction Edge received was real. It wasn’t storyline-driven, it wasn’t because he was a “good guy” or a “bad guy.” It was because he was a man that had his dream taken from him before he was ready to let it go and, now, he was taking it back. It is moments like these that remind us why we are wrestling fans. It’s why we slog through Monday after Monday, Baron Corbin match after Baron Corbin match – because we know that, once in a while, we get to witness magic. We get to witness miracles.
Another miracle is the fact that, in the Year of Our Lord 2020, Randy Orton is one of WWE’s most interesting characters. After a brief reunion with Edge at the Royal Rumble, it was Orton who ruined Edge’s return speech, the following night on Raw. Orton, seemingly out of nowhere, hit Edge with an RKO before reintroducing an old friend to the man who created it. Orton gave Edge a one-man con-chair-to and put him back on the reserved list until, I’d say, a few weeks before WrestleMania. In subsequent weeks, Orton came face-to-face with Edge’s greatest ‘frenemy,’ Matt Hardy. He destroyed The Broken One both times, but it was done in such a way that it made Hardy look extremely courageous (especially because he was defending one of his biggest rivals) and it made Orton look extremely vicious. Randy is having fun with this program and I think it will only get better in the coming weeks.
Elsewhere in the world of wrestling, AEW continues to present an effective, entertaining, logical show that I continually look forward to, week after week. Yes, there are some things that can be improved upon, but the biggest difference between AEW and WWE, to me, is that AEW seems to use the constructive criticism thrown their way to make actual changes (scaling back on The Dark Order, getting rid of Brandi Rhodes’ Nightmare Collective, giving Adam Page an actual character, etc.). It seems as though the powers-that-be in AEW listen to the criticism and pivot when necessary.
Something they absolutely do not need to pivot from is Cody Rhodes as the company’s top babyface. The dude just gets it. His matches, though they feature less “high spots,” more than make up for it with drama and human emotion. He created it with his brother, he created it with Chris Jericho, and he will absolutely create it in his inevitable clash with MJF at AEW Revolution.
Also scheduled to clash at Revolution are the key players of The Elite. The Young Bucks are taking on AEW Tag Team Champions Kenny Omega and Adam Page and it is sure to be a match for the ages. This will have the aforementioned high spots, as well as some genuine drama and emotion and it’s the match that I may be looking forward to the most. Adam Page’s character is in a unique position – it seems like he’s either going to be the rebellious, beer-drinking anti-hero (ala Stone Cold Steve Austin) or the “drinks too much, destroys his life, loses all his friends” Scott Hall-in-WCW type. Hopefully, it’s the former. Addiction stories can be told in the entertainment world, but it’s hard to tell them well. And frankly, wrestling doesn’t have a super great track record of presenting these stories in an elegant, honest, or meaningful way. Maybe AEW will surprise us and tell a thought-provoking, emotional story.
But probably they’ll just have Adam Page adopt the “Stone Cold” moniker/gimmick while he tells other people to hold his beer. Regardless, this is the most interesting Adam Page has been since AEW started, and I’m just happy to be along for the ride.
It says something (I’m not sure if that thing is good or bad) that out of the three main stories going on in AEW right now, the one I care the least about is the story involving the World Title. Don’t get me wrong, Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley are great and I have no doubts they’re going to tear the house down. The story they’ve told has been simple and effective, but it just hasn’t tugged at my heart strings or got me thinking, like the other two stories have. I have no doubt their match at Revolution will be great, but I certainly don’t think it will be the match of the night. But perhaps Jericho will prove me wrong. He’s done it before.
That’s it for this week, folks. Hopefully I’ll be back on a more regular basis now that life stuff has somewhat calmed down. We’re officially on the Road to WrestleMania now and I, for one, am happy to be along for the ride. See you next month/week!
The Best of The Boom features Eric Bischoff joining Jason Powell in this March 20, 2019 discussion on whether there are similarities between Verne Gagne's booking during the AWA's dying days and Vince McMahon's WWE booking today, AEW, a Turner network shakeup, and more...