Welcome, friends and fans, to the opening entry of Geek Versus Pro Wrestling. When we checked our watches, we determined that, FINALLY, it’s clobberin’ time! Coverage of the wide world of wrestling would be just 2 Sweet! Yes, Yes, Yes!
…Okay, so what really happened was simply me asking Tony, the proprietor here at Geek Versus, if I could do it and he said it was cool, so off we go. I assure you the cheese and pandering up there in that opening paragraph won’t be a regular feature.
Because this is the first entry in a weekly review series, it may be helpful to do a little more table setting than focusing purely on the events of the past week. We really couldn’t have asked for a better week to start a wrestling blog. It quite honestly feels like we’re on the verge of another period of professional wrestling that transcends the bubble occupied by the millions of us weirdo die-hards walking around with extensive knowledge of, and passion for, this artform. Don’t mistake that for for hyperbole, either; Pro Wrestling is a distinct performance art with various styles and traditions based on different geographical, cultural, economic, and epoch elements. Feel free to quote that last sentence in your undergraduate research paper for any appropriate topic and dare your instructor to prove it wrong.
We’re entering a period for Millennials that feels similar to what the Monday Night Wars/Attitude era was for Generation X. As a teenager, I would watch ECW on a low-watt public access television station that required constant fiddling with the antenna to get a clear picture during the heyday of the promotion. WWE’s internet exclusive developmental brand, NXT, feels like a similar bridge to the world of wrestling outside of the “big leagues” (with a substantially better picture quality than what I had to settle for with ECW back in the day).
It could be argued that that the working relationship between Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) could potentially function as a comparable competitor to WWE, a la WCW. The nWo feel of the Bullet Club is hard to overlook, particularly with the recent incident at Ring of Honor’s War of the Worlds that saw Adam Cole (baybay) brought into the fold.
The heavy internet attention attracted by this year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament currently going on in NJPW could also support such a bold statement. Specifically, the much discussed match between Ricochet (who you may also recognize as Prince Puma in Lucha Underground from director Robert Rodriguez’ cable venture, The El Rey Network) vs. Will Ospreay (a young high flyer who is part of a generation of up and coming talent from the UK/European scene that includes emerging stars such as Zack Sabre Jr., Marty Skurll, Tommy End, etc.).
Ricochet vs. Ospreay is truly a one of a kind match and probably requires multiple viewings for even the highest trained wrestling eye to catch all of the subtleties. Comparisons are being drawn to the legendary encounter between Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kid in the early 80’s. On his latest podcast, Stone Cold Steve Austin referred to the match as a remarkable work of performance art that only the two of them specifically could’ve achieved. This is high praise coming from someone like Austin, who is a universal inclusion in the frequent “greatest wrestler of all time” debates amongst fans.
Attention like this match has been getting is how professional wrestling goes beyond the bubble of the passionate fan into the realm of pop culture at large. These type of high caliber performances support the more showbiz elements designed as latching on points for casual viewers. Whether or not today’s era is destined to reach the heights of the Attitude Era or Hulk Hogan’s Rock n’ Wrestling era is yet to be seen, but it’s certainly a great time to be a fan.
King of the Week – Kevin Owens
Choosing an inaugural “King of the Week” proved to be a more difficult task than I anticipated. Since this first selection is a general one, rather than one based on the previous week alone, deciding who would be the standard bearer from here was no easy task. The impact of AJ Style’s heel turn and Seth Rollin’s “WWE 24” special on the WWE network would typically be easy reasons to award them the crown. Dean Ambrose, who was my choice for the best wrestler in 2015, literally said he was “the king around here, buddy”, on the weekly exclusive interview on WWE.com.
For me, the two people who rule the wrestling world right now are Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura. Denying The King of Strong Style his crown felt nearly blasphemous. Nakamura’s debut in NXT over Wrestlemania weekend back in April felt completely joyous, and comparable on an emotional level only to Owens’ in 2015. I can’t wait for him to get to the big stage so the rest of the world gets to see the man that stole my heart and took it back to Japan. I’ll be seeing him at NXT:Atlanta this weekend and his match with Austin Aries at NXT:Takeover the following Wednesday has “showstealer” written all over it, so it may be a forgone conclusion that he will be my choice next week.
Kevin Owens, however, has made his way to the top of WWE and surpassed every possible expectation anyone had for his first year in the bigs. No one’s heel game is stronger. His improvisational skill both in the ring and out is sublime. Nothing gets past him, be it on Twitter or live commentary. Owens is a unique talent that’s entertaining in a way that the casual wrestling fan cannot deny. Fingers crossed that the former Ring of Honor champion walks out of Money In The Bank later this month with the briefcase and a contract guaranteeing a shot at WWE’s grand prize. He indubitably deserves it.
Geek Versus Pro Wrestling is an esoteric weekly editorial column reviewing the vast world of professional wrestling. That’s right. The word “esoteric” was just used to describe a series of internet articles about wrestling. Hang that from your turnbuckle and chop it.
J. Aaron Poole is a 21st century writer, musician, and geeky thing liker. He is a member of the American Sociological Association with an academic interest in the relationship between media, technology, and modern culture. Currently residing in Fort Walton Beach, Florida by way of Atlanta, Georgia, he’s recently begun archiving his work at Station146.com. Aaron can be found making absurd comments on Twitter, PSN, and other social media platforms as @JAaronPoole.