Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille (@SteveWille34) will take you through the biggest story of the week in the world of wrestling, adding in a unique view to help put the story in perspective.
Justin Rozzero GLENN BUTLER! @glenniebun then takes a quick look at other important stories of the week. If you have any tips or story ideas, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
In the past couple months, Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards, the American Wolves, have resembled free agents from the days of the Monday Night War. As noted in the first edition of the High Spot, Richards and Edwards performed on NXT in hopes of garnering a WWE contract. Richards was unceremoniously dropped from Ring of Honor after some dubious comments in the media, and he cryptically acknowledged going to Orlando at his last show for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Some assumed that this meant the Wolves would be reporting to WWE developmental, but, evidently, Richards fooled us all, as they debuted for TNA Wrestling yesterday evening, in storyline, as the first members signed by a new investor in TNA.
Davey Richards has his critics due to his style and gruff demeanor, but there’s no doubt he’s a credible talent. I personally witnessed him have an amazing live match with his protégé Kyle O’Reilly at a Ring of Honor event in Milwaukee this year, and his presence on the Evolve show last week played a role in propelling me to order my first DGUSA/Evolve show in two years’ time. Eddie Edwards, though perhaps the less known of the Wolves, likely has a greater upside. He’s a personal favorite of mine, and he continues to improve both in and out of the ring every year. Both have in If the Wolves remain a team, they’re easily at the top of the heap of TNA, along with Bad Influence. Separately, they help build the decaying number of potential X-Division competitors.
While all of the attention focuses on the loss of big names like AJ Styles, Hulk Hogan and what is likely a sabbatical by Jeff Hardy, several lower-tiered wrestlers have recently departed TNA for various reasons. Former Aces & Eights members and Kenny King are out of the picture, and over the last few weeks Manik (TJ Perkins) has been missing from the active roster. The depth of the roster is lacking, and shows on the post-Bound for Glory Impacts, where the format has heavily leaned towards skits over in-ring matches. There’s no shortage of young talent on the independent scene, several of which have experience in TNA. Trent Baretta and Jigsaw performed on the Destination X episodes of Impact last summer and impressed many. With a reduced schedule, TNA can afford to tryout outside talent for a week of tapings without signing them to long-term deals. Signing Edwards and Richards starts to fill in some of these holes, and Dixie Carter has insinuated that more moves are to come. There’s a clear move to reduce costs, and continuing to bring in new, younger talent helps with this, as well as decreasing the notion that TNA attempts to make money on the back of ex-WWE talents. My sincere hope is that the signing of the Wolves can shift the tide towards exciting, high-quality athletic matches, which is what always made TNA stand apart in years past.
- Well, Hell, Michigan Did Freeze Over: On the January 13th Raw, WWE announced that the Hall of Fame class of 2014 will be powered by immense and unimaginable Destrucity, as the first inductee is The Ultimate Warrior. As with Bruno Sammartino last year, WWE is using the Hall of Fame as a way to clear bad blood it’s had with the stars of its past. (Whether this was a primary motivator, or the dearth of past stars not yet in the Hall of Fame now that nearly the entirety of the 1980’s and large swaths of the 1990’s have been inducted, or whether these even conflict at all, is left as an exercise for the reader.) Warrior and WWE had much more bad blood to clear than WWE and Sammartino, or at least more legal & public conflicts, considering Warrior’s messy departures from the company in 1991, 1992 and 1996, lawsuits over the rights to the Warrior character in 1996 and 1998, and the blisteringly negative DVD documentary “The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” released in 2005. Relations have cooled a bit in recent years, with Warrior appearing in the Mattel Legends line of action figures and the “Legends of WrestleMania”, “WWE All-Stars” and “WWE 2K14” games, culminating in this week’s announcement for the Hall of Fame. The ceremony in New Orleans will be Warrior’s first appearance on WWE television since the July 8th 1996 Raw. In other bad blood news, the current supposition/rumor is that Hulk Hogan might make his own return to induct the Warrior in honor of their legendary bouts in 1990 and 1998.
- Forever Young: Sadly, it was also announced recently that Mae Young, legendary in the world of wrestling for her toughness, crude sense of humor and amazing longevity, has died at the age of 90. While she was used almost exclusively in gimmick matches and comedy skits in sporadic WWF/WWE appearances from 1999 to 2013, she was as serious as any new wrestler when she broke into the business in the late 1930’s. She was one of the first popular female wrestlers in Canada while working for Stu Hart in the early 1940’s, and was part of the broadening of women’s wrestling during World War II, at the same time that women were taking many other opportunities that would otherwise have belonged to the men who had gone to war. Young was welcomed into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004, and the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
- Banged Up: After the amazing visual at the end of Raw this week, when the Boston crowd erupted at Daniel Bryan’s revenge on Bray Wyatt, it is immensely deflating to hear that Bryan suffered a concussion during the preceding match. One report indicates Bryan did not even retain any memory of the end of the show at all. On a storyline level this could, perhaps, not have come at a worse time for Bryan, who has been riding the wave of some of the most massive crowd reactions of his career thus far and has been heavily rumored to have a major role to play in the coming months at the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania XXX. More importantly, it highlights the troubling ubiquity of concussions and other head injuries in wrestling and various sports, and the danger people are placed in while performing any of these activities.