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Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review Issue #1

 

Welcome to the debut edition of Spandex and Suplexes, your soon to be go to blog about the biggest news and topics in world of Pro Wrestling! First, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Nicholas Slade. I started my writing career in 2013. I earned my BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment from Full Sail University in 2015 and have had a number of short fictional stories published in an array of literary magazines. I have been a fan of what many call the Sport of Kings since I was a little kid living in a small town in southern Mississippi. It all started one day when I happened to catch my dad watching a wrestling match on television. It was the legendary wrestlers, Ric Flair and Sting, going one-on-one and it immediately changed my life forever. From that moment, I became a huge fan of professional wrestling. The action and drama in the ring drew me in instantly and it has been a constant in my life to this very day.

Pro Wrestling is something very important to me. It was something that my dad and I bonded over and we spent our time watching it together every week. This remained true, even up to the day he tragically passed away from stomach cancer in 2013. After my dad passed, I stopped watching wrestling for a while, as it reminded me as to what I had lost. However, with the help of my friends, I found myself drawn back into this crazy world of suplexes and submissions. With that, let’s get started talking about what’s been going on in and out of the squared circle the past couple of weeks.

 

WWE Raw:

Since SummerSlam I feel Raw, under the leadership of Paul Heyman, has made great improvement in quality compared the past few years. Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Funhouse and Fiend character is, in my opinion, the best thing going in WWE today. It is yet another positive example of what happens when you let a creative wrestler like Wyatt do his own thing and not be suffocated by the creative writing team and Vince McMahon’s micro managing. I am highly looking forward to Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship inside Hell in a Cell. If Wyatt doesn’t win and have a dominate reign afterwards, it would be one of the biggest creative mistakes WWE has made in a very long time.

Me with Jason Jordan and Chad Gable at Evolve 54 2016

Another storyline I have been invested in is the rise of Chad Gable. If you asked me who would make it to the finals of the King of the Ring before the tournament began, Gable’s name would not have been anywhere near the top of the list, but I’m really glad he did. Like many people, I too was disappointed that Baron Corbin ended up winning the crown over Gable as I feel like Corbin has been forced down our throat for far too long. However after doing some thinking about it, I can see why it was done. WWE is aware of how much the fans hate Corbin and they knew having him win the tournament would raise the crowd’s ire against him even more, especially having him win over a highly respected wrestler like Gable. Wearing the cape and crown works with Corbin’s character which is to troll the fans as much as possible. As long as this Corbin/Gable feud ends with Gable coming out on top, then it will all be worth it as a big win against Corbin with the amount of heat he currently has with the audience will do wonders in making Gable an instant major star and making new top stars is something that WWE has needed to be doing for a long time.

The match of the night was obviously the fatal five-way elimination match to determine who will face Rollins this Monday on Raw’s “season premiere” for the Universal Championship. The match featured Ricochet, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Rey Mysterio, and Robert Roode. The match ended with Mysterio getting the win by eliminating Roode. Mysterio vs. Rollins is a dream match for sure and it will be interesting to see how much involvement a certain Fiend has on the match. In other notes, Becky Lynch delivered a great interview hyping up her upcoming Hell in a Cell match with Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship in what should be an excellent match. Also, WWE showed once again why the 24/7 Championship is the second best thing in WWE today (thanks mostly to the comedic timing and creativity of R-truth) by having Carmella finally turn on Truth by rolling him up and winning the 24/7 title. What made it better was Truth’s reaction. Rather than being upset, he was impressed. This adds a fresh angle to the ever ongoing 24/7 title storyline with Truth and Carmella’s roles now reversed with Truth now having to help protect Carmella and her title from the rest of the women’s locker room.

 

WWE Smackdown:

Kofi vs. Brock
photo copyright owned by WWE

The biggest news story from last week’s Smackdown was the shocking return of Brock Lesnar who challenged Kofi Kingston for a WWE Championship match on Smackdown’s debut show on Fox on October 4th. Kofi has held the title since winning it at WrestleMania in what was an amazing moment in which he finally broke through the glass ceiling by defeating Daniel Bryan. Since then, Kofi has had a respectable title reign beating the likes of Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Dolph Ziggler, and Randy Orton. In the opinion of many people, this reign will end on October 4th. While I have enjoyed Kofi’s reign, I wouldn’t mind Lesnar winning the title as long as he has a more full time schedule and not the part time disappearing acts that were his last three title reigns.

In what has been a weird storyline, Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns officially formed an alliance against Erick Rowan and Luke Harper and the two teams will be having a tag team match against each other at the Hell in the Cell PPV. At this point, I have no idea where this feud is going to go. While I would like to see Bryan and Reigns go one-on-one, revealing Bryan as the ultimate mastermind on the attacks on Reigns by Rowan and Harper, to me, would be too obvious and unoriginal. Rowan being the actual villain in this story has been an interesting twist to what seemed like a cut and dry story. The fans have also shown they are ready to cheer Bryan again as a babyface after his fantastic nearly yearlong heel run.

The Kevin Owens/Shane McMahon feud started off really strong with Owens dropping his own version of CM Punk’s infamous pipe bomb promo and doing what appeared to be a modern day Stone Cold Steve Austin/Vince McMahon feud. Unfortunately, since Owens defeated Shane at SummerSlam the storyline has taken a downturn in quality. Originally presented as a cool, anti-authority badass, Owens was reduced to blubbering and crying every week about a heavy fine put on him by Shane with Owens having to file a lawsuit in order to get his hands on Shane. Can you imagine Austin doing that in the Attitude Era? I didn’t think so. It now looks like the feud is finally going to end at Hell in a Cell in a ladder match with both Owens and Shane’s WWE careers on the line. Hopefully this match will end with Shane being taken off television for a while and Owens being build up as a top babyface that can go up against Lesnar in the event The Beast wins the WWE Championship against Kingston, though I fear the damage to Owens character has already been done.

 

WWE NXT:

Me with Keith Lee at Evolve 81 2017

Since the announcement of NXT’s move to the USA Network and the show going live for two hours each week, I like many others were wary on how the product could possibly change. I am happy to say after watching their first two shows, I believe those fears can be put aside for now. The first show had some awesome matches including the Strong vs. Dream title match and the women’s four-way match. This week’s NXT kept the ball rolling with Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic having an awesome match. Keith Lee is a wrestler I have been highly impressed with since I first saw him wrestle live over WrestleMania weekend in 2017. When he first signed with NXT I was excited, but then quickly became disappointed when it seemed that they had nothing for him to do which I found ridiculous with Lee’s level of atheism and charisma. His recent feud with Dijakovic has been amazing and gives me new hope that they are finally ready to set him loose. This guy has future NXT Champion written all over him.

Speaking of the NXT title, we now have a new #1 contender for Adam Cole’s belt in Matt Riddle after Riddle’s street fight victory over Killian Dain. Riddle feels like the logical next challenger for Cole. Whether Riddle ends up being the man who ends the Undisputed Era leader’s reign remains to be seen. Another big highlight was Dakota Kai making her long awaited return from injury. Since seeing her wrestle in the 2017 Mae Young Classic, Kai has been one of my favorite women wrestlers to watch. She is a natural babyface and is easy to get behind and root for. If Rhea Ripley is not the woman to end the reign of terror that has been Shayna Baszler’s NXT Women’s title run, then I see Kai being the one to do it. Next week’s show is stacked with three big title matches including Cole vs. Riddle, Baszler vs. Candice LeRae, and Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly vs. The Street Prophets, but I’m sure it has nothing to do with the debut of a certain company’s new show airing in the same timeslot. Speaking of…

 

All Elite Wrestling:

AEW Fyter Fest 2019: AEW’s 2nd PPV

When I first heard the rumblings of AEW’s creation and then the official announcement, I became very excited. With the backing of the Khan family and with stars like Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho, The Lucha Bros, The Young Bucks, and Cody Rhodes announced as roster members, AEW became the first promotion to give fans real hope of giving WWE its first major challenger since the demise of WCW. Since then, AEW has put on four PPVs, signed Jon Moxley, crowed Chris Jericho as their first Word Champion, and has announced a new weekly show called Dynamite that is set to debut on TNT this Wednesday night where they will crown their first Women’s Champion. I had the pleasure of attending their June PPV, Fyter Fest, live in Daytona Beach, FL and it was one the best live experiences I’ve ever had at a wrestling show.

AEW is the first promotion to make WWE nervous in a long time and that is a good thing. Real competition creates better products across the board as was shown during the Monday Night Wars in the 1990s. AEW’s next PPV is Full Gear on November 9th and it will be headlined by Chris Jericho defending the AEW World Championship against Cody Rhodes and will also feature Jon Moxley taking on Kenny Omega. I can’t wait to see how AEW’s product operates on a week to week basis and hope nothing but the best for this new company.

 

Impact Wrestling:

Impact Wrestling Redemption 2018: The first PPV of the new era

I have been a long time TNA/Impact Wrestling fan from the very beginning of the company in 2002. The company went from an exciting rise to a very crushing fall from grace. It became the favorite target of the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) to kick around and the actions of Dixie Carter, Hulk Hogan, and Eric Bischoff in running the brand didn’t make it easy on the company. Every single year, the IWC was full of people repeating the same line of “oh, this will be the year TNA/Impact finally goes out of business”, but through it all I never gave up on this promotion. Things started to take a positive turn when the company was bought by the Canadian company, Anthem Sports & Entertainment. Since Anthem put the amazingly talented Don Callis and Scott D’Amore in charge of running the company starting in January 2018, Impact Wrestling has risen once again like a phoenix from the ashes, putting on amazing show after amazing show. While putting on an excellent product, they had been having trouble getting their product seen by a larger audience due to being on a small network. Well, that problem is no more.

Earlier this month Anthem announced it had purchased a controlling interest in AXS TV, the American broadcast home of New Japan Pro Wrestling as well as Women of Wrestling. Soon after, they announced that Impact will debut on AXS TV on October 29th. I am very excited for Impact’s future. They have been putting on fantastic shows as I said and have a highly talented roster that includes Brian Cage, Sami Callihan, Tess Blanchard, Rob Van Dam, Moose, Michael Elgin, and many more. With them soon to be airing to a much bigger audience, it my hope they go on to have greater and greater success. Their next big show is Bound For Glory on October 20th. You can also catch up on their product through their new streaming service, Impact Plus. If you are not already following the resurgence of Impact, I highly encourage you to check them out.

 

New Japan Pro Wrestling:

Jushin Thunder Liger at CEO⨯NJPW: When Worlds Collide 2018

New Japan has had quite a year so far with the promotion having a highly successful show called G1 Supercard at the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York City along with Ring of Honor. It is my hope that New Japan’s western expansion continues to grow. As I mentioned above, the more competition the better for both the fans and the wrestlers alike.

The latest big news to come out of the Japanese promotion involves one of their greatest legends. Jushin Thunder Liger, one of the greatest junior heavyweights of all time, had announced earlier this year that he will retire at next year’s Wrestle Kingdom at the event’s second night on January 5th and has been on a retirement tour since. At NJPW Destruction in Kobe this past Sunday, Jushin Thunder Liger teamed with Rocky Romero, Tiger Mask IV and Hiroshi Tanahashi in a losing effort against Suzuki-gun members Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Douki by disqualification. Just a few days earlier at Destruction in Kagoshima, Suzuki attacked and unmasked Liger, saying he wanted the “real Liger”. In Kobe, Liger and Suzuki would brawl with Liger unmasking himself, revealing his dark alter-ego, Kishin Liger, and attempted to stab Suzuki with a massive spike. Suzuki managed to escape, but this fight is far from over. The Kishin Liger persona has rarely been seen, only appearing three times before in 1996, 2006, and 2012. Liger unleashing his dark side against Suzuki will be very interesting. With Liger set to retire at Wrestle Kingdom, could Suzuki be his final opponent? We shall see.

 

Ring of Honor:

Rush from the Feb. 9th, 2019 ROH TV Taping

I am a semi-regular viewer of Ring of Honor. I keep up with their storylines and matches and have enjoyed attending their live shows whenever they are nearby, however I feel like ROH has been overshadowed by other promotions recent growths such as with AEW and Impact. After the Elite left ROH all at once (with the exception of Marty Scurll) to go and form AEW, ROH had a big talent hole to fill. They did this by hiring some very talented wrestlers, including Rush, Bandido, Tracy Williams, PCO, and Brody King. One negative thing I would say about ROH is that I feel that they have the weakest women’s division out of all the major promotions. Another questionable booking decision was their decision to have Matt Taven and not Marty Scurll, who was and is far more popular and profitable, win the ROH World Championship back at the G1 Supercard during WrestleMania weekend. One of the reasons I have heard for this decision is that Scurll may be planning to leave ROH for AEW once his contract expires in December, but this logic doesn’t make sense to me. They could have had him win the title at G1 Supercard and then drop it before he leaves, but that is not how things turned out.

At Friday’s ROH PPV, Death Before Dishonor XVII, two major title changes took place. The first title change occurred when Angelina Love defeated Kelly Klein to win the Women of Honor Word Championship. In the show’s main event, Rush became the man to finally dethrone Matt Taven and capture the ROH World Championship. It will be interesting to see where ROH goes from here with Rush as their new top guy. Their next major show is Glory By Honor XVII on October 12th.

 

National Wrestling Alliance:

NWA World Champion Nick Aldis from the Feb. 9, 2019 ROH TV Taping

When Billy Corgan bought the, let’s be honest, pretty much dead brand that was the once mighty NWA in 2017, I was interested to see what he could do with a promotion with such a long and prestigious history. Since then he has slowly build it up to be an interesting promotion with much potential. He has built the company around many major names including current NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis, current NWA National Champion James Storm, Eli Drake, and Colt Cabana. The company slowly gained more recognition with their “Ten Pounds of Gold” YouTube series and their partnership with Ring of Honor that lasted from 2018 to this past July. The NWA will be putting on two events in Atlanta, GA this coming Monday and Tuesday. If you are going to be in the area, you can still buy tickets here.

 

 

 

That’s it for this week’s Spandex and Suplexes! With all the major events going on in multiple promotions, it is an exciting time to be a wrestling fan. I am looking forward to see how AEW continues to grow, how promotions like Impact and the NWA will continue on their paths to greater glory, and how WWE will react to the growing competition. Until next time, I’ll see you at ringside!

 

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Nicholas grew up reading J.R.R. Tolkien's books, watching Disney and Studio Ghibli films, and reading Marvel comics and Japanese manga. The superb storylines and characters ignited his passion for writing. He graduated from Full Sail University in 2015 with a BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment. During his writing career thus far, Nicholas has had numerous short stories and articles published in an array of literary magazines and websites.

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