By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
It’s Valentine’s Day.
Yes, I know that’s not a particularly great first sentence for a weekly feature about professional wrestling. Hey, I didn’t make the rules. Here’s hoping you have a lovely love-filled, love-tastic day filled with … well … love. Or at least chocolate.
Anyway, as it goes, I typically split these McGuire’s Mondays pieces into five sections. And because this will publish on “Actual Valentine’s Day” and not “Valentine’s Day Week,” I thought I’d take advantage of that serendipity and pen five brief love letters to five things in pro wrestling right now. I thought I’d do this not only because so often I find myself writing love letters to one thing or another some weeks in this space anyway, but also because there’s too much snark and criticism out there (yes, I’m very much guilty of falling into that, too), and this is supposed to be a day of positivity, affection and … yes … love.
So, let’s have at it. And to channel Brother Love, never forget, I looooooovvvveeee youuuuuu!
DEAR ROMAN REIGNS,
It’s fashionable to talk about giving people their flowers these days, but you know what? That phrase isn’t used nearly enough for what you’ve been able to accomplish over the last two years. You turned heel, elevated the Usos, welcomed Paul Heyman into your orbit, and somehow managed to never grow stale throughout a 530-plus day run as the WWE Universal Champion. Time after time, each week, I wonder if you’ll slip up or fall victim to the questionable WWE creative decisions that seem to plague every other wrestler in the company.
But it just never happens. Through it all, you continue to entertain, you continue to dominate, and you continue to exude a very specific blend of magnetism that’s historically been reserved for only a handful of people in the history of the pro wrestling business. It makes me wonder if people are taking you for granted or if you’re the only one who managed to discover the cheat code when it comes to current day WWE stardom and you aren’t allowing anyone else in on the secret.
Speaking of which, moving forward, can you please continue to not suck? Like, pretty please? Because without you, the weekly slate of WWE programming would be an almost-impossible meal to digest. It would be infinitely more boring and the company as a whole, no matter the brand, would lack one of its two true stars (the other is your opponent at WrestleMania, but we don’t expect him to stick around for a while, now do we?). Actually, come to think of it, do you think you could lend some of that star power (or maybe even a few numbers of the cheat code) to a few of your colleagues? The more stars you have around you, the more elevated you’ll appear. I know you know that. And if you don’t, just ask your special counsel.
Anyway, I don’t want to go on for too long here, so I’ll wrap this up. Thanks for running with an idea, owning it, and embodying hope for perhaps other wrestlers who are currently in a position you once found yourself in not too long ago, what with the fans not being on your side and you seemingly spinning your wheels. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a heel turn. Sometimes, it’s as simple as adding a person or two to your act. Whatever it is, you embraced simple and you embraced change and hopefully, you’re enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Oh, and because it’s Valentine’s Day, I hope you finally get those flowers you’ve long deserved.
DEAR THUNDER ROSA,
Dude! Your hustle alone is worth a love letter on this fine day. It seems like you’re everywhere — between one-hundred-thousand indie shows and, of course, AEW, I don’t even understand how you have time to tweet. By all accounts, it seems that pro wrestling has been a dream of yours, and I can’t tell you how happy I am for you that you get to live out your dream. It feels like you live, breathe, eat and drink wrestling and if there’s anyone who deserves some shine, it’s you.
Speaking of living out your dream, though, I’m primarily penning this note for what you did over the weekend after your match with Athena (f/k/a Ember Moon) at the Warrior Wrestling event. I wasn’t there, of course, but a video of you putting fans in their place after your match made the rounds and I gotta say: God bless you for all you do.
That’s not to throw fans under the bus — I’m a fan, myself. There are great fans out there. But as is the case with everything in life, when there’s something great, there’s also something awful. And from what I understand, some of those fans were disrespecting you and Athena and by the time all was said and done, you had enough. I don’t quite understand wrestling fandom a lot of the time. The word “fickle” is thrown around a lot, and while that’s true, I think the bigger issue is just how mean they can be.
After everything Athena went through, being released from WWE last year, and everything you, yourself, have been through, carving out your own lane in the complicated world of professional wrestling, it seems unfair for these supposed fans to disrespect both of you, let alone become The Story after a match that I’m sure was at worst pretty good and deserves to be The Story itself. Your courage in speaking up after the match should not go unnoticed and the strides you continue to make along your path should be celebrated.
If only I had a box of chocolates to give you, I’d respectfully ask that you throw the cherry/raspberry pieces in those fans’ faces, because nobody likes those flavors … right?
Thank you for existing. It seems like a lot of people give you a lot of flak for a bevy of reasons, but this is Valentine’s Day, so we won’t focus on those. Instead, I want to give you a big, old hug for finally pulling the trigger on the Richard Holliday turn — and even adding Alicia Atout to the mix. Both the turn and the romance have been boiling for months, and to see it finally play out was a lovely treat. Holliday vs. Alexander Hammerstone has potential to be the best program you guys have put together in a little while, so I hope you treat it with the compassion it deserves.
That said, I’d also like to send you some of those heart candies solely because of Jacob Fatu. That’s it. That’s the reason. Not only is his in-ring work impressive, but these videos you’ve been putting together for him have somehow turned up his star meter in recent weeks. He was always a badass, but now he’s a relatable badass. It would be great to see him back in a title picture soon, but we can just chalk that up to a Valentine’s Day wish if need be.
Finally, expect a stuffed teddy bear from me to you for filing suit against WWE. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All the skeptics can be cynical and maybe you’re an easy target to some for engaging in such a bold move. But, hell. That takes balls. Even if you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the case or receiving any form of compensation, it’s a fun wrinkle in the current-day pro wrestling landscape. High-five for that.
Now, if only we can just shave a few hours off those television tapings …
DEAR MATT CARDONA,
Hi, Matt. I just finished writing a note to MLW and come to think of it, you’d be a great addition to the top of their card. You’ve held so many belts since WWE let you go, why not try to get your hands on their title? Just a thought.
Anyway, I am writing this today to let you know that what you’ve done on the indie circuit over the last year or so has been more than just one stroke of brilliance. I don’t need to tell you that for you to know it, of course. But sometimes people need to hear reinforcement and sometimes it’s just nice to know that your work is appreciated. I don’t know how you did it, but you’ve utterly redefined yourself, all the while becoming one of the biggest attractions on the independent circuit.
It couldn’t have come easy, but it also shouldn’t be as much of a surprise as it’s been for so many of us. If we do recall, you were one of the first wrestlers in WWE to embrace the Internet and essentially lay the groundwork for so many of these wrestler vlogs that seem to pop up on YouTube every five minutes. It makes sense, then, that you would know how to set sail on this new chapter in your pro wrestling career and make the most of it.
Still, I would have never guessed “death match” would be on that Bingo card. But you did it. You figured out how to be what Jerry Lawler was to ECW in GCW. At this point, you’re a heat-seeking machine and everything you do, be it in GCW, Impact Wrestling, the NWA (congrats on the title win!) or anywhere else in between … well, it seems to work. It’s both miraculous and inspiring to see someone not give up and ostensibly be rewarded for their commitment to their passion. I’m not sure this feat is as appreciated as it should be within the pro wrestling discourse, but here’s hoping one day, it will be.
Congrats on the marriage, too. I’d send you some roses, but I’m sure Chelsea has you covered.
Yo!!! Where you been?!?! This isn’t so much a valentine as it is a note to make sure you still plan on coming back. Because you do plan on coming back. Right? You are definitely coming back. Are you not? Please don’t tell me you aren’t. Please, please, please don’t tell me you aren’t.
You pop up every now and then on the Twitter machine, but all it does is remind us of the hole that’s left in WWE whenever you aren’t around. I’m sure you heard that Ronda Rousey is back, so there’s that. And, of course, the emergence of Bianca Belair has added to an already-crowded top of the card in the women’s division. But, you’re so missed, dude. Things are just a little less interesting without you around.
The humor you bring to the product is unparalleled. The glee with which you work is infectious. The promos never disappoint. The feud with Michael Cole is must-see-TV. I know you’ve been rehabbing an injury, so I don’t want to put any pressure on you … but damn. Come on, man. That women’s division needs you to come back and confront your old running partner Sasha Banks. Or, shoot. Did you hear about what happened to Nikki Cross? Yeah, I think only you and your wit could help save that.
So, here’s hoping you’re back soon. And here’s hoping your leg is better.
Now, ding dong! A Happy Valentine’s Day to all, and to all a good night.