There’s a lot of really bad things going on in wrestling, overall. There’s a lot of reasons to hate on the business. Hell, with WWE alone I could count on two hands how many hands it’d take to count the reasons. Let’s not forget that, even though it is super easy to point out things that are bad and shit all over them, there’s also some really cool things about the business right now. It’s not all gloom and doom. These things deserve pointed out, so let’s go.
1. Roman Reigns Goes Home; Returns Punishment Free
WWE did an amazing thing by letting people go home during the pandemic. We don’t talk about that enough. We were skeptical when it was reported that WWE was allowing them to leave without any repercussions, but it happened. People left and came back to decent pushes, including Kevin Owens who left after demanding the WWE start enforcing masks.
In an interview, Roman Reigns said he was staying home, not just because of his health, but also the health of his newborn baby girls. For those who don’t know me personally, I was diagnosed with Leukemia over the summer during the worst month of my entire life, and I’ve been paranoid of that damn virus ever since. That whole “you only have a 1% chance of dying” thing that people like to spew doesn’t apply to the Big Dog and I. Reigns said he was staying home to set an example, and I felt that.
When Reigns returned this week at SummerSlam, he was immediately inserted into the Universal Championship match at Backlash. To get a good idea of what I’m referring to here, Reigns wasn’t even main eventing when he left. He was feuding with the Human Midcard Machine, Baron Corbin. That’s how “not punished” Reigns was for taking time away from work.
2. Cody Rhodes Puts Over Brodie Lee Huge; Leaves Correctly
I’m a little skeptical about where this is going, but as of right now, Cody Rhodes took a massive beating from Brodie Lee and lost the TNT Championship. In that one sentence, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. When I add that Cody Rhodes defended that title for months on each television show it seems like a much bigger deal. The people he faced were consistently nobodies, and some of them weren’t even signed to AEW, but each of them were treated by the press and the company as superstars. (no pun intended) Somehow, Rhodes managed to put over new talent by winning. Then, when it was time to finally lose, it made it a much bigger deal. Lee destroyed Rhodes in a way not seen since Brock Lesnar manhandled John Cena. It was beautiful.
In a time period where 50/50 booking is done even with champions, it’s nice to see something pan out the way you’d expect it to. Rhodes defended and presented that title like it was a World Heavyweight championship, even though it absolutely wasn’t. This made it a bigger deal for the next person who holds the title because it was built to feel important. Now, what Lee does with the title is going to make or break this whole program, but as of right now, it was one of the best programs worked from beginning to end in wrestling this year because of how many talents it put over.
Not to mention, there’s plenty of speculation that this program was laid out in a way that allowed Cody to put everyone over then take some much-deserved time off to focus on the business portion of his job. Imagine, a boss that builds you up to all the clients and then leaves you to work without demeaning you or holding you down with their thumb on the way out. Insanity.
3. ROH and MLW Cancel All Shows
Ring of Honor and Major League Wrestling both decided to take a step back to protect its employees and fans while everyone assessed the situation with the coronavirus. They didn’t push on like WWE and AEW did, which included manipulating politicians into calling them an “essential business.”
Both MLW and ROH recently announced their return. ROH has new footage on the way, but they waited until a safe and sound method was tested. Say what you want about small companies, but companies like AEW and WWE want all the monies while companies who need the money decided to hold off and make none of it.
When ROH decided to cancel all their shows, they booked all their foreign talent either a flight back home. Anyone who couldn’t get a flight home yet was booked into a hotel. They were informed ASAP. All talent were paid for any events they were contracted to work that were canceled. Imagine if your boss told you that you didn’t need to come to work because of something out of your control. Then, he paid you anyway because you were supposed to be there. Can you imagine that at your job? Stop lying, no you can’t.
In the summer, we witnessed as women all over the world spoke out about how they were treated unfairly. You don’t need to be “woke” or even a woman to spot the misogyny oozing from the wrestling business, but for some reason it had been normalized for decades. Something finally snapped, and oddly enough, it wasn’t Joey Ryan’s penis.
Plenty of women came forward and called out their abuser. Was Twitter the place to do it? Was it right to drag someone through the court of public opinion? We’re not going to debate that here. These women called attention to something most people realized was there but didn’t want to speak out about it. Fortunately, those women were brave. Unfortunately, we also had a lot of women come forward and describe the times they went on a bad date. Any time there’s a movement there will always be some people who think “how can I make this about me even though I don’t fit into the narrative?” It happens all the time. It’s important to ignore those and remember that behind all the “what-about-me-isms” there’s a good cause.
Also, there were a fair share of liars – or, at the very least, people who remembered the events completely wrong. Remember, this was about the unfair treatment of one specific gender, and that liars come from both genders. Don’t let a few bad apples ruin your, I don’t know, anti-sexist apple pie? Any step we make towards equality should be celebrated, and I think the wrestling community handled the movement with maturity for the most part. Maybe a few too many pitchforks without due cause, but when you’re passionate about saving the wholesomeness of the business you love, that’s to be expected.
The Speaking Out Movement called attention to a lot of creeps in pro wrestling. Some of them were even fired. Some of them were blacklisted. Others got away scot-free, unfortunately. We actually got to a point where we, as a wrestling community, were ready to support women in a business that almost inherently and vehemently does not support them and normalized that behavior for longer than some of us were even alive. Did we change the world? No, but babysteps. The first steps were ridding the world of dick flips, and what do you know, we won.