TCWNN #31: Just For Fun

I think we all know what yesterday was.

It was the third anniversary of the Chris Benoit murder/suicide.

I thought about writing this week’s column on it. I even started to. But in the end, I just couldn’t do it. It’s too depressing, on multiple levels. It didn’t really even leave me wanting to write a column at all, especially when the only really notable story of the week was Owen Hart’s widow Martha suing the WWE once again. So I thought I’d do something else, something that doesn’t dwell so much on tragedy or bum outs or criticism or negativity. Something that maybe that isn’t so much a column as it is a list.

A list of things I like right now in professional wrestling. Just for fun. For the sake of time, we’ll limit it to seven. One for each of the NXT rookies over on Raw.

1. Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor VIII internet pay per view. Start to finish, that was the best professional wrestling pay per view I’ve seen all year (maybe even years), and the Davey Richards/Tyler Black main event was without a doubt the first World championship match since Wrestlemania XX that had me caring as if it were a real sporting event. Yet in this case, I didn’t even have an actual emotional investment going into the match the way I did with ‘mania XX; I don’t get HDnet so I can’t follow ROH’s television show, and as a relative newcomer to the world of ROH, I was only passingly familiar with the angles and a majority of the wrestlers. But it didn’t matter. From bell to bell the ppv was not only action packed, but the main event in particular brought with it a big match feel worthy of a Wrestlemania. You could feel the intensity of the work, the passion of the crowd, and the heat of the building through the computer screen. It felt like a world title match that actually mattered, where there was actually a real championship on the line and not some belt that spins as fast as it gets passed around. I haven’t felt that way about a title match in years. And it was backed up with an undercard that it’s almost a disservice to refer to as an “under”. Were it not for the fact that I’m trying to spread the love, ROH as a whole would get its very own mention on this list. Actually, you know what? Screw it.

2. Ring of Honor. They may be third in the ranks of the major American wrestling promotions right now, but they’re first in terms of being an ACTUAL PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING COMPANY. As I mentioned, previously, I’ve only recently gone beyond dipping only my big toe into the ROH pool, yet with each passing match I become something I haven’t been since college: obsessed with wrestling. As the cashier at my local FYE said as he rang up my purchase of 3 ROH compilations I found on sale in their wrestling section (amusingly mislabeled as ‘Ring of Horror’): “Ring of Honor… the last good wrestling company left”. I’ve become hungry for everything ROH I can find, and I’ve been enjoying it so much that I actually did something I have never done: shoved my social anxiety disorders to the side and purchased tickets to their September 11th show in NYC. It will be my first live wrestling event ever.

3. Davey Richards. Not just because the man is one of the best (and one of my favorite) wrestlers in the world right now, or because I’ve yet to see a match of his that I didn’t enjoy the crap out of, but because he’s announced his intention to retire at the end of the year to focus on family and pursue a career as a fireman. Not only is that an honorable career move, but it’s so rare to hear about a wrestler voluntarily stepping away at his peak, career ending injury free, without ever having even tried to make a run in the WWE. I can’t help but like and respect him for that. Plus it means that a man who has fast become one of my favorite professional wrestlers might escape the fate of far too many wrestlers; in particular the two wrestlers he’s most comparable to in the ring. I’m not selfish enough to be dislike that.

4. CM Punk and the Straight Edge Society. I know I’ve mentioned this before in previous columns, but personal prejudice aside; this is the best heel group around right now. The season one NXT rookies may have the greater heat at the moment, but without a doubt it’s temporary, and really they’re just a hodge podge of characters. The SES complement each other visually and stylistically, without actually having a uniform or a cookie cutter look. And each member plays off the others like they’ve been a unit for years. It helps that they’re rallied around a leader who’s one of the best heels around, and a bonafide heat magnet whenever he opens his mouth.

5. WWE NXT. Not the slowly losing steam angle over on Raw, but the actual show over on SyFy. Sure, it’s floundered through format and rule changes pretty much nonstop since its inception. And sure, the majority of the wrestlers it’s introduced us to do are still too green to be much of anything in the ring. But it’s something that most WWE shows aren’t these days, and that’s new and interesting. Even the current season, which has its rules already apparently set in stone, is providing me with more entertainment in its one hour then Monday Night Raw does in 2 and a quarter. And as long as they keep putting Kaval in matches that showcase his sick kicks and double stomps, it’ll be providing me with more wrestling entertainment as well.

6.Team LayCool. I know a lot of people can’t stand them, and consider them a rip off of the Beautiful People. And that’s fine. But I can’t help it; they’re so over the top with their hammy stereo Mean Girls act that they crack me up. It’s on an entirely different level than the Beautiful People. It’s like a movie that’s so terrible, you can’t help but like it. Throw in Kaval staring stone faced while wearing a pink polo shirt with sparkly letters, and it’s just gold to me. Plus anything that gives Layla something to actually DO is fine by me; I’ve long thought she was one the most under utilized and best looking Divas they had.

7. Ric Flair in TNA. I like exactly one thing about TNA still, and it’s the Nature Boy. Free of the WWE’s shackles, the Nature Boy has cut loose on the mic in TNA, and it’s been absolutely priceless. His stint as AJ Styles apoplectic wheelchair bound mentor was a constant source of entertainment for the short while it lasted, and Naitch has stayed at that level of insanity since. On its own, Jay Lethal’s Flair imitation is nothing more than a hyperactive Bill Cosby (listen closely, that’s absolutely who he sounds like), but with the real deal there to engage in dueling whooo’s and elbow dropping competitions with, it’s a super entertaining segment that’s the highlight of the show. I don’t want him in the ring, and every time he bleeds he somehow taps a gusher that makes me very, very nervous, but as an onscreen personality he is still absolutely priceless.

So that’s 7 things I like that are going on right now in wrestling. I could probably come up with a couple more, but I think it’s time I threw things over to the comments section, where you all can rip my list to shreds (we are on the internet after all), or list your own current favorites. Why?

Because it’s fun. And today I felt like thinking about fun.

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