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The State of Pro Wrestling Heading into Wrestlemania Season

This Sunday is the Royal Rumble which marks the beginning to the Road of Wrestlemania. Pro Wrestling has evolved into a sport entertainment spectacle. Wrestlemania season isn’t just a chance for WWE to shine, it’s a great opportunity for other companies to shine because Wrestlemania season is when the most people watch pro wrestling. There are multiple wrestling companies being aired nationally in the states and it’s time to look at their strengths and weaknesses.

Lucha Underground started just a few months ago and I think it’s a great fast past show with a cinema type feel to it. They do have some recognizable names such as John Morrison(Johnny Mundo), Chavo Guerrero and Big Ryck(Ezekiel Jackson). They recently signed Alberto El Patron(Del Rio) which is good because that will bring some attention due his accomplishments and style. The one problem with Lucha Underground is that it is very one dimensional. It’s all fast pace and almost feels like a stunt show. Some of the matches could have better story telling. Some have said that it is exactly Wrestling Society X but Lucha Underground I think is a couple of steps ahead of what WSX was. If Lucha Underground can get more big name Lucha’s like a Rey Mysterio, La Parka, Psicosis, Super Crazy or others like them I think Lucha Underground could very successful.

New Japan is another company that recently hit the states. New Japan Pro Wrestling has partnered with Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling to produce pay-per-view and some TV for the American Wrestling.  New Japan has current stars like AJ Styles, Doc Gallows, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Shelton Benjamin, Rob Conway, Alex Shelley, and Cody Hall. The issue with New Japan is not everyone gets AXS TV. The other factor is what is going to happen when Global Force Wrestling starts and how much longer will Ring of Honor allow their talents to travel over to Japan. A lot of die hard wrestling fans think New Japan is the hottest pro wrestling company in the world at this very moment. I have only seen a couple of episodes so therefore I can’t make that statement just yet.

In a year of many changes, one of the big changes is that Impact Wrestling was kicked off Spike TV and had to find a home in Destination America. Dixie Carter has changed everything from the logo, the commentating team and lack of touring. I can honestly say I have never heard of Destination America until the deal to bring Impact Wrestling there for TV. Destination America is another one of those channels that not everyone gets and I feel it’s only going to hurt viewership and it’s going to hurt their negotiations with talent. Who wants to go to a wrestling promotion that does not have a major TV deal? I believe Impact is holding on to survive and 2015 might just be the year they finally shut down. It’s sad because the original TNA and it’s structure could competed with WWE within time if leadership and booking wouldn’t have did a 180. Losing Jeff Jarrett, Vince Russo, Dusty Rhodes and Jim Cornette really hurt TNA long term.

While some of these promotions struggle to find good TV deals, one promotion that is featured in over 50 major markets across the United States. Ring of Honor might just have the greatest wrestlers on the planet. When you think of ROH’s history you have to think about Bryan Danielson(Daniel Bryan), Tyler Black(Seth Rollins), El Generico(Sami Zayn), Kevin Steen(Owens), Claudio Castagnoli(Cesaro). These guys have paved the way for future ROH. ROH has so many talented wrestlers on their wrestlers it is hard showcase them all on a consistent basis. I love that Ring of Honor’s story telling is getting a little bit better but it’s not corny or unbelievable like a cartoon. The one thing that concerns me is when Global Force Wrestling wrestling finally launches because of their partnership with New Japan. A lot of Ring of Honor talent love going to New Japan so it could be a possibility that some ROH talent could leave. The one great thing going for ROH is that they are constantly being referenced and acknowledged by WWE. This in the long run could help ROH build for the future.

When it comes to ROH I can’t help but think about NXT. I look forward to NXT every week due to the talent, the characters and presentation. Triple H has a great vision for the future of WWE. My top 5 that I am looking forward to seeing progress are Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Adrian Neville, Finn Balor and Charlotte. I think all of them have bright futures and I am sure there will be even more stars with bright futures. The one thing I would like to see happen with NXT is that they are featured on WWE pay-per-views. I think NXT should get one match on the pay-per-views or atleast the pre-show. It would be a great way for these NXT stars to get noticed before they make a permanent stay on the main roster. I believe NXT is the doing everything right and will continue to a lot of great things.

Now we get to the big time and that is WWE. The WWE this year really needs to build for the future. The first thing in mind is don’t bury everyone who comes up from NXT like Adam Rose, Bo Dallas and a few others. They need to push younger talent like the NXT talent and guys already on the main roster who work hard. This year and heading into Wrestlemania they need to focus on Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Rusev. All these guys have great styles, and great matches. I would consider pushing Ryback and Luke Harper more. I know everyone talks about Roman Reigns being the future but there are others just as deserving of it too. The other thing that needs to happen is no more part time performers holding the WWE title. I believe Brock Lesnar holding the WWE title has hurt WWE tremendously. It serves them well on shows he fights on but the rest of the time it hurts the product. The WWE Title should be the main focus of every Raw, Smackdown and pay-per-view. It’s time for some new blood to hold that title and time to move guys like Cena and Orton out of the title picture. I believe WWE has a great chance to build for the future heading into Wrestlemania 31. Whether they do it remain to be seen but the opportunity is there.

It’s a great time to be a pro wrestling fan, and even a pro wrestler. New options and opportunities are starting to surface and present themselves. I think if those who just watched WWE would watch all wrestling you would definitely see the landscape of pro wrestling change for the better. I honestly think WWE’s best form of competition is within their own company with NXT. Many fans say the specials are better and the weekly show is better than what the main roster. Wrestlemania season is here and it’s a time not only for WWE to shine but the entire world of professional wrestling. Pro wrestling is becoming great again and hopefully it can peak in society like it once did in the mid and late 90’s. Keep tuning in throughout Wrestlemania season for my weekly column The Road to Wrestlemania for updates on matches, stories and rumors. The season is upon us so let’s get ready to rumble.

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