Wrestling fans have a lot to be thankful for this year. Even with nearly 80 WWE wrestlers released, and the temporary closure of Ring of Honor, this is a great time to be a professional wrestling fan.
For the first time in 20 years, we can finally say that there are two MAJOR wrestling promotions in the United States. With consistent ratings, and even a few victories over Raw in the 18-49 category (the demographic your advertisers care about and what usually keeps a show on air), anyone who doesn’t consider AEW competition is deluding themselves.
We are also at a time in history where access to professional wrestling is at an all-time high.
Come 2022, All Elite Wrestling will move to TBS, and keep quarterly specials on TNT. WWE still has strong network deals with USA, Fox and Peacock. Impact Wrestling has remained a successful entity on AXSTV, (which you can usually catch OnDemand, even if you don’t have AXSTV).
Fite.tv brings fans Ring of Honor, New Japan, Major League Wrestling, NWA, GCW, and much more. IWTV will bring fans the rest of the best of what Independent wrestling has to offer.
And then there’s YouTube, which offers up a lot of what I mentioned above in smaller quantities if you don’t want to pay for additional wrestling fixes.
LOTS OF WRESTLING. So with that, let’s go around the table for 5 promotions (I can’t do them all) I appreciate what I’m thankful for…
All Elite Wrestling
Professional wrestling (in its pure form) is back.
In the traditional sense, professional wrestling is a territorial product. Simply Google “wrestling territories” and you’ll get a larger sense of just how many different wrestling promotions have existed over the last near 100 years. While AEW is its own major entity, they aren’t afraid to keep the “forbidden door” open to work with other promotions.
Khan has secured relationships with Impact, New Japan, AAA, NWA, and many more. There is no reason NOT to acknowledge that other wrestling exists in the world, especially with the access fans have to wrestling these days.
All in all, I am thankful for a wrestling promotion in 2021 that doesn’t treat the fans like they’re dumb. AEW offers a more wrestling-based product geared towards the more savvy wrestling fan base. And given the ratings, it’s working.
Being able to see C.M. Punk vs. Eddie Kingston and Kenny Omega vs. Adam Page (on PPV) in a major promotion in 2021 is an absolute delight. This product was created for fans, by fans — and it’s a great time to witness AEW’s continued rise. Thanks, TK!
World Wrestling Entertainment
Anyone that reads my material knows I am not a WWE fan. I think Vince McMahon is a garbage human being, and that his kids-based content hog product values brand over quality. I personally hate this, but it does come with perks to be thankful for:
WWE serves a purpose for the fans who want a safe, nostalgic product. The type of WWE fan is one that likely wouldn’t enjoy a product like AEW, and especially other smaller promotions like MLW and Impact. In Stamford, Connecticut, bigger is better, branding is king, and the bottom line supersedes loyalty.
It is what it is. But at least some fans are still watching wrestling in SOME form — and that’s all that matters.
Championships are props, and nothing really matters — just buckle up and enjoy the ride (for better or worse). There is a comfort this this logic, because as a fan, you know what to expect. Without the corporate villain, you can’t have an AEW.
In many ways, WWE corporate is the biggest heel within their own company. There is a certain beauty in the chaos that tends to follow with it. After so many decades, WWE have become a comfortable parody of themselves, and it’s something to be thankful for.
How many times was TNA supposed to “die” within the first few years of its existence? Long past are the days of SpikeTV where management (stupidly) favored young studs like Jeff Jarrett and Kevin Nash over washups like A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe.
In all seriousness, while a shell of its former self, Impact Wresting is pretty damn good these days. I can easily argue that between Deonna Purazzo, Jordynne Grace, Su Yung, and newly crowned Knockouts Tag Team Champions, The IInspiration, some of the best women’s wrestling in the industry exists right here.
This isn’t counting former Impact World Champion Tessa Blanchard, and other former stars such as Kylie Rae and Taya Valkyrie.
Dexter Lumis, Brian Cage, MSK. Kiera Hogan — and many more former Impact stars have found success in other promotions (I won’t mention Karrion Kross for reasons…)
Impact has successfully mixed its ring veterans with upcoming stars, and have seemed to have learned the lessons from the distant past. Ace Austin, Moose, Trey Miguel, The Influence, Decay, Chelsea Green, Jake Something — all names worth keeping an eye on in this worthy promotion.
Be thankful TNA Wrestling/Impact still exists, and it’s pretty good.
Major League Wrestling
This is probably the best wrestling promotion you may not know about. MLW reminds me of a “polished” ECW. It’s gritty, it’s fun, and a little violent. You can usually catch full episodes on YouTube, and the quality of their programming keeps getting better.
Alex Hammerstone, Myron Reed, the Sea Stars, Hollidead, Tom Lawlor, Ross Von Erich, King Muertes, and Jacob Fatu are all names to keep an eye on in this promotion. (TK, PLEASE SIGN WILLOW NIGHTINGALE ALREADY). You’ll see other names pass through, including the likes of Bobby Fish, Alex Shelley, Nicole Savoy, and a plethora of others.
If you want to get started, please enjoy the episode below, and be thankful that wrestling so easy to enjoy in 2021! (for FREE — on YouTube)
New Japan Pro Wrestling
What else can I say? If you want strong-style greatness, look no further. With Shingko Takagi as current IWGP Champion, the landscape looks a little different absent Will Ospreay and Kota Ibushi out with injuries. Kazuchika Okada and Tanahashi are no doubt reliable veterans moving forward, but I have found KENTA, Toro Yano, EVIL and SANADA holding their own as a fantastic upper-mid-card.
New Japan is also sending over talent to AEW, as well as vice verse. You’ll also see MLW talent head to Japan on occasion as well. New Japan is thriving right now, and you’re guaranteed pure wrestling bliss every time you watch.
Haven’t seen it? get introduced to it below:
Last, but not least, can we be thankful for women’s wrestling? It’s come such a long way, but it still has more mountains to climb. Stardom, Shimmer, WOW, Rise, Mission Pro, Gatoh Pro, Ice Ribbon — the list goes on of great all-women’s wrestling promotions all over the world.
Regardless of personal preference (and poor booking in my opinion), it’s still refreshing to see Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks at the top of WWE cards. While I want Tony Khan to make women’s wrestling feel MORE important in AEW than it has the potential to be — I’m still thankful for a TBS Women’s Championship tournament, and pillars in Britt Baker, Kris Statlander, Thunder Rosa and Hikaru Shida (as well as upcoming stars like Jade Cargill, Abadon and Jamie Hayter).
Women’s wrestling has always been treated as lesser than the men’s, and we’ve seen matches in 2021 that simply prove that notion wrong. Whether it’s the bloodbath that was Baker/Rosa or Baker/Statlander at All Out, or Belair/Banks at Wrestlemania or Flair/Ripley at MITB — women’s wrestling continued to evolve and get better.
It’s not just important to support Independent wrestling, but women’s wrestling. Great wrestlers are all around us, as you can see here in this compilation of classic Shimmer outtakes…You might recognize a few names in this video…
The future of pro wrestling is all around us, and we’re in a time where we get to pick and choose what we watch based on our very unique wrestling interests. C.M. Punk was right — “there are no more casual fans”. We have so much to choose from now, and it’s so easily accessible that there really isn’t an excuse for a true wrestling fan to miss out on the sport they claim to love.
Whether you like safe and comfortable, hot and trendy, violent and extreme, or puroresu and women’s wrestling — there’s a product for you. And that’s something to be thankful for.
Pro wrestling is back, and 2022 could be the biggest year yet.
Can we all just be thankful for and appreciate the names in this video? Be in awe of the absurdity that pro wrestling can be! I think in this often divisive wrestling landscape, you kind of have to.