Each week I try to pick a specific topic that’s weighing on my mind for one reason or another. I try to express every feeling I have on that topic and look forward to hearing what the readers think. Most times we seem to all be in agreement and when we’re not, I enjoy the exchange of ideas and opinions. But I feel like I’ve been expressing more negative feelings lately so I’ll do something a little different this week. To kick off the holiday season I will write the things I’m thankful for in the world of professional wrestling.
First and foremost, I’m thankful for the year Seth Rollins was turning in before he was injured. His cash-in at WrestleMania was probably the highlight of the past year for me. It left me on a high to close that weekend. I’m also thankful that I got to witness Seth perform live three times in the last 10 months.
I’m thankful for Sasha Banks and Bayley both individually and for their feud that went from the end of the summer and into the fall. I’m thankful I was in attendance as these two women captured and owned the imagination of the Brooklyn crowd at TakeOver. Although I wasn’t in attendance for their Iron Man Match at Full Sail, I felt very fortunate to watch the story they told and they effort they put in to entertain us and lift women’s wrestling to a new level.
Sasha is one of very few performers to buy in to the idea of being a heel and goes all out to turn favorable crowds against her. Aside from her entertaining antics, she puts her body on the line every time she steps in the ring and bumps harder than most of the men. She also does a great job of antagonizing both fans and her opponents on the microphone. I’m thankful for the electricity and star power she brings to my TV each week, and for the long career she has ahead of her.
With Bayley, I’m thankful that her character is such an inspiration to young girls and even young boys. I’m even more thankful that her character shows that nice guys and girls don’t always have to finish last. Just because you like to hug, high five and be positive doesn’t mean you can’t dig down deep and overcome adversity to achieve your dreams. Bayley shows that sometimes achieving your dreams means even more when you remain true to yourself.
I’m also thankful for the WWE Network. Without the network I probably never would have rekindled my love for WWE and professional wrestling in general. The $9.99 a month price tag is worth is solely for the ability to relive your favorite matches and PPV’s from the past. With their growing list of original content and the ability to watch every PPV, a monthly subscription is a steal no matter what is happening on Raw.
I couldn’t be more thankful for the experience I had at WWE Performance Center: All Access. I got to see how the next generation of WWE talent is nurtured and build from the ground up. I got to meet the coaches and trainers, cut my own promo, take part in a live event and meet and watch some people in the process of chasing their dreams. I’m thankful I got a sneak peek at a couple future stars in Hugo Knox, Levis Valenzuela, Roddick Moss and Nia Jax. It was a blast and an inspiration and a day I will never forget.
Watching a talented and dedicated performer like Jay Lethal have an unprecedented double-title run in a promotion like Ring of Honor was incredible. I was fortunate enough to go to a show at the old ECW arena in August where I met Jay. He was a cool guy who seemed to appreciate my words of praise. He even indulged me with a picture that I laughed too hard to complete properly. I can also say that I’m thankful for the opportunity to see New Japan’s Shinsuke Nakamura perform at the same show.
I’m thankful for the creation and the emergence of The New Day. I’ve appreciated each of these performers individually, and it has been nothing short of thrilling to see them grow each week. They are talented in the ring and on the microphone and they are consistently funnier and more entertaining than anything else trotted out on camera. I wish WWE had run a little harder with the angle of New Day being slightly more serious and menacing, but just watching these guys go out and have fun and become the most over act in the business is good enough for me.
I feel that the Steve Austin and Jim Ross podcasts are something we all should be thankful for. Two of the most influential voices in what a lot of us consider the greatest era in pro wrestling remain alive with these podcasts.They bring a ton of entertainment value, give us great interviews from people in all walks of the industry and provide us with incredible insight and information into the business.
One of the things I’m most thankful for is Brock Lesnar’s decision to stay in WWE instead of going back to the UFC. Lesnar is a treat to watch and one of those rare performers that makes every match feel like a real event. I’ll always enjoy seeing someone take a trip to Suplex City and I’m glad we haven’t seen the last of it. Also, Brock affords us the opportunity to see his advocate, Paul Heyman every now and again. I’ll always be grateful whenever I see either of these two on Raw.
I’m also thankful for the fact that I was able to attend the Royal Rumble, SmackDown!, a Live Event and two NXT shows in Philadelphia, Payback in Baltimore, NXT Live Events in Pittsburgh and Orlando and NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. I was fortunate to see the Lesnar/Rollins/Cena Triple Threat at the Rumble, the Rollins/Reigns/Ambrose/Orton Fatal 4 Way and Sasha vs. Bayley in Brooklyn. On top of the tremendous shows I got to see, I’m thankful for the awesome fans I got to meet in every city.
Despite his lack of popularity and the fact that I couldn’t stand him until recently, I’m thankful for John Cena’s U.S. Championship run. The Open Challenge was a weekly highlight on Raw and Cena generated some of the best matches of the year. He helped raise the level of the mid-card and that title in particular. I do have to say, I’m also thankful to Jon Stewart for keeping the WWE World Heavyweight Championship out of his hands at SummerSlam.
I’m thankful for Kevin Owens getting a clean win over Cena as well as him being given a reign as Intercontinental Champion. I’m thankful for how fun Enzo and Cass’s entrance is. I’m thankful for how awesome Finn Balor is, demon or otherwise. I’m thankful that the Dolph Ziggler/Lana storyline came to an abrupt end and I’m thankful that Sting finally got an opportunity to perform at WrestleMania. I’m also thankful that I got to meet Mick Foley twice and he was such an amazing and personable guy.
On a more personal note, I’m thankful to Mr. John Canton, owner and proprietor of TJR Wrestling (thanks Rey Moralde) for giving me this space to share my thoughts on this art form that we all love. It is greatly appreciated and a responsibility I don’t take lightly. I’m thankful for the other TJR writers for producing such great content and pushing me to get better every week. I’m thankful to Jeremy Bennett and Matt Black from Lost In The Midcard for discussing my article on All Access. Last but not least, I’m thankful for the readers for taking the time to read what we write and the commenters for caring enough to engage in the conversation.
As much as myself and many others have complained about the state of WWE and pro wrestling in general, it has been pretty good to me recently. I’m thankful for the great times this business has given me and I’m hopeful that in the future those times will continue to get even better. Please feel free to share in the comments anything you’re thankful for as well, I look forward to seeing what I may have forgotten to mention.