THIS WEEK: THE LOSS OF A LEGEND, THE RETURN OF A POWER-INDY, HYPE FOR THE GRR, INDY SHOWS IN CANADA, MATCH/PODCAST PICKS OF THE WEEK AND THE BEST THEME IN WWE JUST GOT BETTER
For years I've written about, done radio shows about, and contributed to numerous sites that cover one of my passions: Professional Wrestling. Every week, I'm going to choose up to five different things to talk about, as a fan and as someone who is still involved in the independent wrestling scene. Feel free to agree, disagree, and send me ideas to email@example.com, with the subject line, "WOAW".
1). BRUNO SAMMARTINO
It hasn't been a week since the longest reigning WWE/WWWF Champion, Bruno Sammartino passed away at the age of 82. Some fans are just now discovering what a mainstay Bruno was in his prime, as a longtime rift between he and WWE saw the two virtually ignoring each other since his departure from the company in the 1980's.
Personally, I had the pleasure of seeing Bruno return to the company, and be inducted in the the WWE Hall of Fame in Madison Square Garden, a venue he was largely credited with helping make "The most famous arena in the world".
WWE did a great job paying tribute to Bruno, but one of the best stories came from E and C's Pod of Awesomeness, where Adam "Edge" Copeland told the story of Bruno tracking him down before his neck surgery, and calling him personally to make sure he was ok. It's well worth the listen.
2). The Return of MLW
Big congratulations going out to Court Bauer and the crew of Major League Wrestling. Bauer, a former WWE Wrtier and head of one of the leading wrestling podcast networks, has taken advantage of the white-hot US Independent wrestling scene, and found a way to bring a new brand of wrestling back to television. Airing on the beIN Sports Network, MLW airs Friday Nights and is generating some great buzz. What started as a one-off Pay-Per-View turned into more PPV's, and now has found a TV deal - something that companies with arguably bigger budgets and access can't easily tout.
Debuting with an incredible end to a 3-Month Tournament between Shane Strickland and Matt Riddle for the new MLW World Championship, the slick production and fantastic commentary (including the return to wrestling of WCW heritage voice Tony Schiavone) is worth getting into the grassroots of.
3). The Greatest Royal Rumble
"In the beautiful city of Jeddah... at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium..." man... did they ever hammer that home this week. It's pretty amazing that a promo for the largest Royal Rumble in history could even be played in a bigger window than a match, but I'm guessing WWE is hoping to see a massive spike in WWE Network viewership for this card.
It is kinda crazy, considering non-regular competitors like The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, and even Rey Mysterio are expected to be a part of the show. From a promotional side, this is what the power of a "bought show" looks like on the grandest stage. Talent, production, and any other costs are likely all paid in advance, with the tickets being sold at a substantial discount.
I don't know enough about Saudi Arabian culture to speak about what a show at a Kingdom means, other than these fans will be seeing a LOT of star power in one night. With a start time of 12PM ET, 9AM PT, it's safe to say any workplace with WWE Network Subscribers on staff shouldn't expect a lot of productivity on this side of the world.
4). Big Indy Shows in Canada
While the return of MLW, the uptick of Impact Wrestling, and the steady viewership of ROH and NJPW, there is a LOT of wrestling to watch online and on TV. Don't forget to support your local indy wrestling promotions though.
Big Congratulations to Kurt Sorochan, whose Prairie Wrestling Alliance recently celebrated their 17th anniversary. On the card was former WWE Superstar Emma, AKA Tenille Dashwood and Christopher Daniels. PWA has been a mainstay in Edmonton, Alberta, and has expanded to Calgary as well, with strong followings in both cities. From launching some of the best regional talent, to seeing many names become international superstars, PWA's evolution has made it a must-follow company. PWA has been the home ring for Jinder Mahal, Natalya, Tyson Kidd, Harry Smith, Viktor, Tyler Breeze, and many other performers who have graced WWE, New Japan, among others.
With some bias, I must also mention that THIS FRIDAY, in Regina Saskatchewan, the company I ring announce for, High Impact Wrestling will be hosting one of its biggest shows, "Spring Meltdown". As for a marquee name, former WWE Superstar Ryback is scheduled to face Mike McSugar. The match to watch is the Central Canadian Heavyweight Championship Three-Way Dance, as HIW core wrestlers, Dixie Dragon, El Asesino, and current champion "Sky Flyer" Jeff Tyler will compete for the company's top prize. King Kash vs. Michael Allen Richard Clark will be in a steel cage, which sees the veteran vs. the next generation in what should deliver. Cody Rhodes will also be visiting HIW in May, for their Saskatoon show, "Battle Arts".
Danny Duggan's CWE is bringing another legend across the country with WWE Hall of Famer Ron Simmons. While I have yet to see a CWE show personally, I have many friends on the roster and look forward to the continued growth of opportunities for Canadian professional wrestling.
I'd love to find out about what wrestling is happening in BC, Ontario, and anywhere you happen to be reading this from! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your events!
5). Classic Match/Podcast of the Week
Since it's the first column in a long time, and I've been racking my brain trying to pick what match I want to put here. While part of me thought it appropriate to post a Bruno match, another part of me wants to pick some of my favorite matches from the past. So, with that said, I can't help but pick one of my favorite matches. I'm a WWE guy through the good times and bad, but I have favorite matches from all over the world.
That said, with the "Greatest Royal Rumble" in our sights, it's hard to ignore what talent-wise may have been the ACTUAL "Greatest" Rumble until now. The 1992 Royal Rumble Match had it all. The World Championship on the line, and a talent roster so loaded, one wonders that if Saudi Arabia were booking it today, even they might need to take out a loan to pay the bill.
As for this week's Wrestling Podcast recommendation, my first pick comes from a pair of entertainers I have followed through their own ups and downs. These guys get things done, and manage to still maintain the same quality they had when backed by a major company.
If you were a fan of the last incarnation of Live Audio Wrestling, you'll be happy to know that for some time now, John Pollock and Wai Ting continue to "Rewind-A-Raw", "Rewind-A-SmackDown", and cover all sorts of great wrestling news each and every week through their venture, PostWrestling.com. Pollock's puns continue, and Wai's love to hate little production glitches will keep you laughing as they cover the industry with knowledge, insight, and like any other good wrestling fan, just the right touch of sarcasm.
6). ONE LAST THING...
How AMAZING is Shinsuke Nakamura's new theme?!?!!?!
Thanks for reading, catch you next week for more Wrestling on a Wednesday!