HAPPY THANKSGIVING from the Retirement Home and the Excellence in Column Writing offices… During my full-time years as a writer for LoP and now NoDQ, I always prided myself on giving my readers something to read for specific holidays, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s usually a “thank you” for a great year together with my readers, but it’s also a good opportunity with people having smartphones and needing something to do after they digest a big meal.
For all of you newbie writers and content creators out there, think about that!
With today being Thanksgiving, I don’t want to bring out my carving knives on the wrestling business as you may be accustomed to on my columns… Nope, we’re going to stick with the holiday spirit and I’m going to mention what I’m THANKFUL for as a wrestling fan. I have written these kind of columns in the past for Thanksgiving and felt a newer version of this kind of column would work well. After all, the Internet Wrestling Community is highly cynical right now and they need some positivity right now (myself included).
Without further ado, here is what I’m thankful as a wrestling fan and as Mr. Tito.
What I’m THANKFUL for as a Wrestling Fan and as Mr. Tito
• I’m thankful to my readers, both recent and longtime. I still hear it from readers who have stuck with me since the late 1990s when I began (October 1998), while hearing support from recently acquired NoDQ readers has warmed my heart as well. You have to think about it this way… I’m seriously CRAZY for writing these columns for FREE, as Calvin Martin from LoP and Aaron Rift from NoDQ have never paid me a dime. I write these columns because I’m not only on great platforms to do so, but because of my readers. I write these unique columns for YOU. For all of you who troll me or throw hateful comments at me, I’ve seen your crap for 20 years. The positivity that I see from my loyal audience outweighs the negativity.
• I’m very grateful to have worked for 2 great wrestling websites. I worked Lords of Pain from October 1998 through July 2020 and have been with NoDQ since August 2020. Both have awesome webmasters in charge that promote creative freedom, don’t shove schedules down your throat, and they’ll have you back on any content posted. Both Calvin Martin (LoP) and Aaron Rift (NoDQ) work extra hard to keep up a successful website to give me a built-in audience to yell at, too, with my megaphone. I’ve been very fortunate to work with both.
• I’m very grateful for having NoDQ crew around me. There’s some great content creators at NoDQ and I want to send out my praise to them. This website pumps out many columns and lots of YouTube content for you to enjoy, and not from a paywall like many other websites are pushing. All of us are doing it for the love of pro wrestling and contribute like a team.
• I’m very thankful for the 2022 chaotic year of wrestling news. Folks, I fully intended on not writing much at all for 2022. I wrote my Predictions column on 12/31/21 and felt that I had said all I needed to say on the wrestling business. Then, the WWE volcano erupted and Vince McMahon got in trouble and then left the business! Holy cow! Then, AEW’s volcano erupted with the CM Punk vs. The Elite stuff. I just couldn’t resist commenting and I have written some of my BEST columns ever this year covering that stuff. Unless the news cycle remains chaotic, I’ll probably hang out more at the Retirement Home for 2023, but we’ll see.
• I’m very grateful for CM Punk being in the Pro Wrestling business again. Punk is the most polarizing figure in Pro Wrestling, period. Every fan has a position, whether he is the answer to saving pro wrestling or if he is overrated as a performer. There is NEVER a middle ground with that man, and anytime that I write a column about Punk, I get heat from both sides of this coin. Both LoP and NoDQ have told me the same thing, as CM Punk stories always draw the viewers. I have a distinct feeling that when CM Punk is healthy from his triceps injury that he’ll make more headlines when he sues AEW to possibly get out of his contract. Seeing the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega stir the pot last night just makes you wonder if CM Punk is willing to business or if they were just spiking the football on successfully getting rid of him.
• I’m thankful for Triple H stepping up. Look, you know my criticisms of Triple H as a Creative Team leader and Talent Relations guy… However, when the WWE was in a significant predicament this year with Vince McMahon
resigning retiring, someone with an insane work ethic had to step up and fill his shoes. Triple H may be the only guy with Vince’s work ethic and ability to live off 4 hours of sleep to replace Vince. Hopefully, Triple H can learn to delegate better than Vince did, as I greatly worry about Triple H’s health. He needs help and WWE has enough financial resources to pay a team to help him.
• I’m grateful for Tony Khan and AEW to keep things interesting. Pro wrestling BEFORE 2019 was boring and in fact, I tried to enter the Retirement Home during 2018 because I was sick of covering the lame WWE. Then, during 2019, AEW was formed and it brought me back… We can have arguments over AEW’s quality all day long, but the fact remains that AEW being around makes pro wrestling interesting. The last great talent signing steal from another pro wrestling promotion was probably Kurt Angle during 2006… We didn’t have that feeling of a major free agent acquisition since then and were excited when Jon Moxley joined AEW in 2019 and debuted on their first Pay Per View. Remember how excited we were with CM Punk joining AEW? We all watched him on Friday night! Then, Cody rejoining WWE at Wrestlemania 38 was freakin’ HUGE. Thanks to AEW, free agency is fun again and opens up many possibilities that will help wrestlers get PAID now.
• I’m very thankful for the WWE Network. For just $9.99, they might as well give it away for free. And then you get the NBC/Universal library with it? Come on… If you dislike today’s Pro Wrestling, then just go down memory lane on WWE Network. I’ve binged WCW Nitro from 1996-1997 a few times, along with 1997-1999 WWE RAW. Just amazing content that you can get lost within and enjoy if today’s stuff isn’t your cup of tea. WWE Network is easily the best live content streaming service on the market, but its archived stuff holds up against the best streaming services. Plus, the documentaries on there are top notch and WWE’s production crew never gets props for that.
• I’m very grateful to have great wrestling Video Games again! Competition breeds quality, folks… The second that AEW announced that they were working on a video game, 2K Sports took things a little more seriously and pumped out WWE 2K22 after taking a year off from that franchise due to quality issues. AEW Fight Forever appears to be a love letter to the best Nintendo 64 era games (WCW Revenge, Wrestlemania 2000, WWF No Mercy). On top of that, we had other games appearing recently on consoles such as Action Arcade Wrestling and RetroMania Wrestling. And I’ll tell you this much, I have nothing but FUN with Wrestling Empire… Complete cluster, but I love it. Finally, we have GOOD wrestling video games to play again. The latter years of THQ and most of 2K’s WWE entries have been so lazy.
• I’m thankful for all of the contributions that Jim Ross gave to Pro Wrestling. Jim Ross is the greatest contributor to Pro Wrestling of all time, calling it now. From his announcing to his talent developmental systems to his back office work, Jim Ross helped make Pro Wrestling a better place. Obviously, he’s the best play-by-play guy and lucky for me, I’ve heard his voice for over 30 years spanning multiple promotions and programs. Ross grew up working for promotions that forced you to do “more with less” and that became his philosophy anywhere he worked. His work as Talent Relations manager restocked the WWE with younger quality talent during the late 1990s and helped its resurgence and continues to give WWE fresh talent to this day. Yes, Ross is older, but I still love hearing him commentate on AEW. It’s still HIM and that matters to me. I’m forever grateful for Ross sacrificing his personal life goals to help make Pro Wrestling a much better place.
• I’m very grateful for Eric Bischoff fixing WCW during the mid-1990s. Say what you will about how WCW folded and his contributions since, but Eric Bischoff fixing WCW and making it into a powerhouse made Pro Wrestling so much better. Thanks to Eric, wrestling was geared more towards adults, wrestlers got paid, and wrestling became cool again. The New World Order is stuff of legends, particularly the 1996 version before it got all bloated and disorganized. Thanks to WCW emerging, it lit a fire under Vince McMahon’s arse to change his business model and make significant changes to the WWE. Eric deserves major praise for leaving a major imprint on the business. Eric also freed up Jim Ross, Steve Austin, Sean Waltman, and Mick Foley so that they’d have something to prove and it worked out well for them (though were mistakes in hindsight for Eric).
• I’m very thankful for Pro Wrestling getting cleaned up from drug and concussion issues. 15 years ago, WWE was scared straight from the Chris Benoit murders and the online pharmacy scandal. However, if you look at things now, the Wellness Policy is working and we’re seeing workers living beyond the age of 50 and many are still participating in the business. WWE’s Wellness Policy not only scans current roster members, but also provides rehab services to former wrestlers in need. Other promotions are taking WWE’s lead on this and they are running clean operations as well. Wrestling having concussion protocols has been huge, too… We’re now going to see many of our favorite wrestlers grow old and we’ll be there at the wrestling fests or comicons to shower them with appreciation.
• I’m highly thankful that Diamond Dallas Page exists. He’s truly an angel, folks… His DDP Yoga, his ability to be a loving friend, and ability to motivate have saved many wrestlers. Buff Bagwell is the latest success story, as I saw him at an autograph signing earlier this year and I was legitimately worried. Now, he’s in great spirits thanks to DDP’s system and we’ll get to enjoy him longer. While it was very sad that Scott Hall passed away this past year, DDP helped add almost a decade to his life (Hall was bad shape before he joined DDP’s program). Look at Jake “the Snake” Roberts, who is actually surviving some serious health scares because he’s in good physical shape thanks to DDP. Then, you have wrestlers like AJ Styles and Chris Jericho who are dedicated DDP Yoga users and swear by it extending their careers. DDP is truly an angel to the Pro Wrestling business and the Ultimate Warrior Award that is given out during the WWE Hall of Fame needs to be renamed to the “DDP Award”. DDP gave back to pro wrestling and humanity, made it better.
• I’m very thankful for choice in Pro Wrestling. In addition to just zoning out on the WWE Network, you have so many choices in Pro Wrestling. WWE is on Cable/Satellite and on their WWE Network. AEW is on TBS/TNT. Impact and NWA are on their own networks or streaming services. Lots of Indy promotions out there. International promotions are out there to enjoy, too. Soooooo much content that it’s difficult to choose from, but with there being plenty to choose from, you can back whatever horse that you want. Think about things 12 years ago… You had WWE but TNA and Ring of Honor with their wheels falling off. With the money going up thanks to TV deals, you could see more athletes trying to become Pro Wrestlers.
• I’m grateful for Instragram. Thanks to corporations and sponsors having sticks up their arse, we’ve been getting PG content on wrestling shows for over a decade now. Gone are the fun times of Sunny, Sable, Torrie Wilson, Lita, and Trish Stratus showing how amazingly beautiful that the human body can be… Now, everyone is a serious athlete… But Trish and Lita were serious athletes, too. But don’t worry, just log into Instagram and you’re favorite female wrestling superstars show it all there. That’s fine, because it saves wrestling fans HOURS of watching wrestling and just needing to scroll up or down on their smartphone. Given all of the follows and likes on Social Media along with OnlyFans participation, I’m baffled as to why neither the WWE or AEW even tries to push sexuality. Mandy Rose and her 2 partners on NXT is the closest thing to the older era with their revealing outfits, but even that isn’t in comparison to what entertained during the Attitude Era.
• I’m thankful for the many great Survivor Series Pay Per Views of the past. That show used to be the legitimate #2 show for the WWE through the 1990s, especially when they began adding a serious singles main event match on top of a show full of quality 5 on 5 survivor style matches. Go back and watch Survivor Series from 1995 through 1998 and be STUNNED by the quality of matches and storytelling. WWE overexposing themselves with RAW and Smackdown hurt the credibility of this show, along with 12 Pay Per Views per year. Those 5 on 5 matches were often when you’d first see 2 wrestlers actually fight for the first time and from there, it would build new feuds. Now, RAW and Smackdown have 5 hours to fill weekly and everybody has wrestled each other already.
• I’m thankful to be alive for the past 40+ years to witness a great era of Pro Wrestling. I was born during the early 1980s which means that I got to witness the rise of Vince McMahon Jr.’s WWF and Hulkamania while enjoying NWA morph into World Championship Wrestling (WCW). I got to see Extreme Championship Wrestling from start to finish, too. The Monday Night Wars… Holy cow, what an honor to watch wrestling from 1996-1998, and then seeing how good WWE would become from 1999-2002 with that loaded talent roster that kept things going throughout most of the 2000s. While the last 10-15 years haven’t been up to par with the past, it still gives you thrilling moments. Brock Lesnar has been a beast for the business and has created many moments that put chills down your spine. How about AJ Style’s WWE debut? How about witnessing Roman Reigns figuring out his purpose during 2020? CM Punk’s AEW debut? Jon Moxley finally thriving in AEW… I’ve said it for years, as I’m a huge NFL and NBA fan too… When Pro Wrestling clicks, there is NOTHING better than it as a television product. I still get chills when I see Brock Lesnar staring down an entire ring of legends for Hulk Hogan’s birthday party. Where else can I feel that way?
Well, maybe just 1 more.
• I’m very thankful for Vince McMahon’s contributions to Pro Wrestling. Am I 100% condoning what he did in the WWE offices or backstage that prompted large sexual harassment payouts? Nope… Am I 100% condoning Vince looking the other way as his talents were abusing drugs or performance enhancers? Not at all… But damn, his 40 year journey on building the WWE empire was incredible. Hulkamania was amazing but the Mega Powers exploding captivated me as a child. And who else could make the Ultimate Warrior appear like a legitimate star? Nobody but Vince. His capacity to create new Main Event stars is unreal. After 1992, he lost most of his top stars from the 1980s but reloaded the gun by pushing HBK and Bret Hart while pushing new stars like Diesel, Razor, and the Undertaker. Then, he pushed new guys like Austin, Rock, Mick Foley, and Triple H. After that, the Class of 2002 to push as new stars and then kept pushing and pushing Roman Reigns until fans finally figured him out (well, the heel turn worked). Think about all of the episodes of RAW or Pay Per Views that you enjoyed. Look at the grand bargain of the WWE Network that he gave you and saved you TONS of money on buying Pay Per Views. Vince did all of that… I worry that, with time, WWE might start wobbling a bit without his guidance.
How about just 1 more?
• I’m very thankful and grateful to the wrestlers themselves.. Yes, Pro Wrestling is scripted entertainment… But you go take a bump on that ring. That isn’t exactly a trampoline out there, as it’s a wood ring with a light layer of padding. Still, it’s your spine and body hitting that ring. I’ve tried taking bumps in an actual ring and it is physically painful, but to see wrestlers hitting the mat so quickly and with force makes me appreciate what they do. They are landing safely, yes, but doing that nightly adds miles to their body. Plus, things can go wrong. Furthermore, pro wrestlers travel excessively and take time away from their families to entertain YOU. Oh wait, many wrestlers don’t have families because they are on the road so much. To be a pro wrestler, it’s tough physically but also mentally. Just closely watch the bumps that they take and ask yourself if you could handle that nightly. I couldn’t… But they do and I’m very grateful for the entertainment!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
So just chill ’til the next episode…