Favourite Five

Reasons To Be Cheerful | NJPW In America, STARDOM & Finn Balor

Shaun Pond looks at AEW, NWA and New Japan in this weeks reasons to be cheerful from the wrestling week!

If last week was a slow one, then this week has gone by at warp speed. Much like with the Enterprise, it hasn’t been plain sailing but the positives far and away outweigh the negatives.

From NXT, to NWA, AEW, and NJPW this has been a week of big news and fantastic shows. The reasons to be cheerful are plentiful but allow me to furnish you with the five biggest.

5. New Japan Pro-Wrestling In America

This week the powers that be in NJPW announced a surprise press conference. It could have been to discuss literally anything as rumours were hardly swirling ahead of it. By the grace of the wrestling gods, it turned out to be in order to announce an American expansion for the company, complete with a US based promotion.

Whilst information is a little thin on the ground at this early stage, it has been revealed that the promotion will be airing shows on New Japan World as well as continuing their existing relationship with AXS TV (Who are owned by Impact’s parent company).

What is interesting here is that it may reveal the reason for New Japan’s fractured relationship with AEW. The latter are unlikely to take a kind view to such similarly styled competition emerging in the same market as them.

For fans this is a cause for celebration. Wrestling is on the up once more and this bold move forward from what many consider to be the best promotion out there is sure to lead to a whole new wave of incredible action here in the West.  

4. Bushiroad Purchase Stardom

Sticking with Japan for the moment, NJPW didn’t just make one ground-breaking announcement this week. Their parent company, Bushiroad, revealed that they have purchased the all-female promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom.

Whether or not this means that New Japan will finally feature women’s wrestling on the card is not clear, but it does mean that the fantastic wrestlers of this surging promotion will have far greater job security going forwards.

Undoubtedly Stardom will also experience an increase in visibility as their new owners look to expand the promotion and make good on their investment. As this happens, fans will be treated to action the likes of which many will never have seen before. The stardom roster is jam packed with exceptional talents, as you’d expect from the promotion that produced Asuka and Io Shirai. Now they will be able to bring their classic encounters to a much wider audience and that is a very good thing for every wrestling fan.

If you’d like to take a look at some of Stardom’s best wrestlers, our very own Matthew Roberts published a list of five of themright here.

3. Finn Balor Goes Bad

Just a few short weeks ago the wrestling world was in a fervour after it was announced that Finn Balor was once more a full time NXT roster member. The idea of him mixing it up with the likes of Adam Cole and the other resident villains was enough to bring out the nerd in anyone. However, NXT management didn’t go that route.

This week Balor accompanied DIY to the ring to confront The Undisputed Era and, in a shocking turn of events, he attacked Johnny Gargano instead.

Leave it to NXT to subvert audience expectations and put together something wholly unexpected and fantastic. A heel turn is exactly what Balor needed to freshen up his act and it should lead to the kind of brilliance that he showed in his Bullet Club days of old.

Triple H and co. continue to push boundaries and entertain audiences with wonderful storytelling and this is a prime example of that. Now we all get to see Balor and Gargano tear the house down in what is almost guaranteed to be a MOTY candidate.

2. Time Limits Matter

Not everyone is a fan of the way that Moxley vs. PAC ended on AEW Dynamite this week. It is something that crowds are no longer used to seeing as WWE has very rarely given any credence to time limits in matches. Back in the territory days it was a different story though and the addition of a definite end point to matches raised the tension as the action edged closer to that limit.

This tension is exactly what was produced in the aforementioned main event of Dynamite. A draw is never the most popular way to finish a match, but it served a purpose. In going this route AEW proved both that their announced time limits really do matter and that PAC and Moxley are evenly matched. The latter point means that you can build from there to a surely epic clash with no time limits in the future.

Long term storytelling is all but dead in the WWE but it is things like this that show that it is alive and well elsewhere. How can that not be a source of joy for us wrestling fans?

1. The Promo Isn’t Dead

Not to rag too much on the WWE, no matter how easy that may be, but their scripted nature has seen a massive decline in the quality of promos over the last decade or more. Nobody seems genuinely angry because everything they say is so clearly written for them. Even when they are given a little more leeway it comes off as hokey due to the fact that most of the roster seem to think calling someone a bitch is a suitable substitute for genuine emotion. The same cannot be said for NWA’s roster.

On Powerrr this week, Eddie Kingston started off the show by calling out The Dawsons and you could feel the rage bubbling through your screen. Kingston was as believable as they come when delivering pointed threats to the super heavyweight pair. As a fan, it was easy to buy into the idea of him wanting to legitimately kill these two men and so it’s easy to get excited for a future match.

It seems so simple to just add a little intensity to your words but so few seem to be able to do it and not come off as a stage actor. Kingston is a different breed of wrestler and he has no trouble in this area.

The NWA has a lot going for it right now and this may well be the biggest check in plus column.

There you have it, five excellent reasons to be a cheerful member of the wrestling faithful. Things are looking good right now as the Wednesday Night Wars are hotting up and all three promotions are putting their best foot forward. Add to that the growth of New Japan and other such promotions and you have all the making of a wrestling golden period.

That’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.

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