McGuire’s Mondays: Ten things in pro wrestling to looking forward to this summer


By Colin McGuire, Staffer (@McGMondays)

Double Or Nothing is over, which means only one thing: Summer is here. Or, well, kind of. Double Or Nothing falling on Memorial Day means Memorial Day has come and gone and as we all know, Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning to the season. Google will tell you that summer starts in June. Google will be wrong. It’s Memorial Day to Labor Day, damn it. And you can’t tell me otherwise.

Anyway, this ought to be an interesting summer in Pro Wrestling Land. Cody Rhodes has a broken arm (ha!). MJF is still AEW’s Top Guy. Roman Reigns’ family is imploding. Kenny Omega has friends outside AEW. Trinity is poised to take over Impact. Ring of Honor is running three hour (Internet) television shows. New Japan is welcoming the Blackpool Combat Club through its doors. GCW is … GCW. All told, there’s a lot that could happen over the next three months. Here, in no particular order, are 10 things I’m looking forward to the most.

1. Still Fresh. The year of Orange Cassidy continued Sunday night when someone asked him at the post-DON press conference if he thought he was the best wrestler in the world. His response? “No, not even close.” In character or not, the response was delivered with such honesty that you couldn’t help but find another reason to root for him. Count me among those who were glad to see him retain the AEW International Championship on Sunday because, simply put, I’m getting a kick out of his entire run as champ. Here’s hoping he sticks to those once-a-week TV defenses through the summer and here’s hoping the decision-makers don’t even think about taking the belt off him, at least until after Labor Day. For a character that’s low-hanging fruit for the AEW haters out there, Cassidy has defied the odds by making himself interesting again. He might not be the best wrestler in the world, but he’s on one hell of a winning streak.

2. American Nightmares. Well, this ought to be interesting. WWE booked itself into a corner when it proclaimed Cody Rhodes had a broken arm going into Night Of Champions because broken arms don’t heal one, two or even three weeks after they break. Does this mean Cody is going away for a little bit? Would that then mean he’ll be person non grata for Money In The Bank? Or, hell, SummerSlam, even? Heading into the summer, none of those answers seem clear, though they could make or break Cody’s white-hot WWE run. The visual of his multicolored chest against Seth Rollins last year was wild, but the company will run the risk of going to the well too many times if Cody just becomes The Guy Who Perseveres Through Tough Injuries. By the time Labor Day comes around, will Cody still be in the good graces of the WWE fans as much as he is today?

3. Thicker Than Blood? It happened. Jimmy Uso finally snapped and Roman Reigns felt what it’s like to be on the wrong end of a Superkick Party. Now what? Call me a hater if you must, but by sheer proxy, I kind of/sort of believe the best of the Bloodline story is behind us. It’s been going on for so long – and to its credit, it’s been good-to-great for so long – but if the formula isn’t tired, it sure is sleepy. A major development happened Saturday at Night of Champions when Jimmy finally broke, but if it’s only going to lead to another four weeks of yet another wrestler speechifying about how Roman Reigns is a bully who should treat people better than he does, that Bloodline flame might flicker sooner than some think. Conventional wisdom suggests this leads to either Reigns and Sikoa vs. the Usos … or maybe Reigns vs. Jimmy (or Jay at some point). My interest here isn’t dependent on how good the story gets; instead, it’s more about how they can keep me interested.

4. Open The Door. June 25 isn’t all that far away and for reasons I can’t quite explain, my excitement for Forbidden Door 2 is beyond any level I previously thought possible. Last year’s show was an unexpected blast and I’ve got high hopes for this year’s installment – as long as those pesky injuries that tainted last year’s event stay away for the next few weeks. It’s sounding like Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi might be joining forces with Omega, but outside of that, what else do we get? Bullet Club Gold vs. Bullet Club Old? Cassidy/Ospreay 2? Sanada vs. MJF? The only trick will be answering the question of if the novelty of the show not sucking last year was the reason why it was so memorable. There’s only one way to find out. And June 25 can’t get here soon enough.

5. New Beginnings. Two women with Impact ties are going to be a lot of fun to watch this summer. One just got there – Trinity (WWE’s Naomi) is seeing what life is like away from the brightest lights in the wrestling business for the first time and I’m interested to see how she’ll ultimately fare. Her buddy Mercedes Mone recently hit a speed bump in her New Japan run by suffering a leg injury, but how long do we think it’ll be before Trinity captures Impact gold? No later than July 4th, right? Meanwhile, Jordynne Grace recently finished up at Impact, according to reports, and one has to think she’s on the list of potential hires for pretty much every other American wrestling company. Does she land under the AEW umbrella or is she WWE bound? If it’s the latter, does she make a pit stop in NXT? Both stories should be fun to follow as the weather heats up.

6. A Pure Protagonist. And so commences my Katsuyori Shibata appreciation paragraph. It’s wild to think he’s wrestling again – and even wilder to know that he’s the Pure Champion in Ring of Honor. We aren’t seeing much of him, but we also don’t have to. His health and safety far trumps any desire for us to want to see him wrestle more frequently. But, man … Shibata wrestling consistently will forever be a hell of a story to follow as long as it’s unfolding. Some of his New Japan LA Dojo boys are going to have to make a stop through ROH now … aren’t they?

7. Here Comes The Money. Hey, Money In The Bank is headed to London and now, isn’t that fun? Not just because Money In The Bank is typically one of WWE’s most fun PLEs of the year, but also because it’s, well, London. It will also serve as an opening act for AEW once summer ends (more on that in a second), so don’t be surprised if WWE pulls out more stops than usual for this MITB installment. Who wins? Man, who knows. If Cody is going to miraculously wrestling with a “broken arm” all summer, and if he’s not rubber-matching with Brock Lesnar, one might think he’s the favorite. Damian Priest seems like a good idea. LA Knight seems even better (but who am I kidding with that?). Nakamura could use a push out of purgatory. Cameron Grimes could be headed to the moon. Speculating is fun for now; as the MITB matches take shape, the predictions only get more compelling.

8. Worthy Willow. None of us are all that sure it was the plan, but hey, once someone gives you a ball, you gotta at least try to run with it. Willow Nightingale winning the inaugural NJPW Strong Women’s Title surprised everyone (seemingly including her), and she might just be keeping the seat warm until Mercedes can heal up and get back what was most likely supposed to be hers in the first place … but damn, let’s see how good we can make this title reign, eh? Willow is universally loved by fans (and, at least in interviews with her colleagues, other wrestlers, too), so while Mone’s feel-bad story turned into a feel-good moment for the NJPW Strong women’s champ, it’d be nice to see her get a few successful defenses under her belt this summer rather than this just be a nothing-happening title run. Who knows how long Mercedes will be on the shelf; why not make the most of an opportunity like this?

9. Worlds Collide. 
Oh, yeah. CM Punk is supposed to come back to AEW. And oh, yeah. AEW has a new two-hour block of television to fill on Saturday nights. They’re going to call it Collision. I’m sure everything will go exactly as planned and the move will be wildly successful for all involved … right? Maybe the biggest story of the summer, by the time it’s all said and done, will be the fate of Collision on TNT. I was on the ground floor of Rampage, covering it for about the first 90 episodes of its existence, and buddy, when I tell you I watched what it was like to see a wrestling television program fall off a cliff, I very much mean I know what it’s like to see a wrestling television program fall off a cliff. The ratings keep sinking, the cards get more uninteresting and the star wattage consistently gets darker with each passing week. What, exactly, is Collision’s plan to avoid its brethren’s fate? It can’t just be “Throw CM Punk out there,” can it? Only time will tell. And this summer will be the beginning chapters of that book.

10. All In. AEW really did go all in by shooting for the moon – and actually kind of landing on it – when they booked Wembley Stadium for All In 2. It will be the unofficial end of the summer (much like Double Or Nothing is the unofficial beginning of the summer). Will the company find a way to make the event a real, live sellout? 65,000 tickets is still a hell of a number to draw, so you can’t be too pissy if they don’t get there. By the time it rolls around, think of all the developments that could (or, to be fair could not) happen. The debut of Collision. How’s the return of CM Punk working out? Will New Japan have a strong presence at Wembley? Will MJF still be the company’s top guy? Can Jay White find his way out of this pile of nothing AEW has booked for him so far? Some might say the hard part was selling the tickets; I disagree. The hard part here is living up to the expectations a move like this inherently provides. Will AEW do it? We – and they – have all summer to think it over.


Readers Comments (1)

  1. Pockets as Goldberg is ridiculous

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