Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers! For everybody else, Happy Thursday! As is the tradition here on the blog, we have our Top Five Wrestling Turkeys for the year. Basically, the very worst in pro wrestling this past year. What bombed, flopped or simply stunk in professional wrestling?
WWE’s Queen’s Crown Tournament
I think the concept of a tournament similar to the King of the Ring for female wrestlers was very much welcomed. Especially by me, who felt that the Queen’s Crown tournament could elevate an undercard wrestler and turn her into a bigger star much like King of the Ring has been able to do. Now believe me, I have no problem with Zelina Vega winning the inaugural crown. She definitely had an up and down year…and earned the opportunity. My issue was the actual tournament and how WWE seemed to not make it more of a big deal.
WWE is filled with a bunch of extremely talented women, but the matches seemed to be rushed and weren’t given a lot of time. The WWE could have easily taken a page out of the Mae Young Classic playbook and duplicate it for the Queen’s Crown tournament, but sadly did not.
Samoa Joe’s NXT Run
When Samoa Joe was released from WWE earlier this year, I was upset and confused how the company could be so foolish to let a wrestler with such an amazing skill set go. When Triple H and NXT resigned him, I was happy to see it. I was also happy to see him once again be used as a wrestler and not just a color commentator or authority figure. WWE for the longest time, refused to medically clear Joe for active competition.
In NXT, Samoa Joe was once again cleared to compete and went on to win the NXT title from Karrion Kross. It looked as if Joe would lead NXT into its new direction as the champion. Unfortunately, the injury bug once again hit Joe and he was forced to relinquish the NXT title. Joe’s entire WWE career has been plagued with injuries and the latest just might spell an end to an absolutely fantastic career. While I hope Samoa Joe can continue to wrestle for years to come….his NXT run was a bit of a disappointment. No fault of his own…just unfortunate timing.
AEW’s Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch
When All Elite Wrestling announced that two of the promotion’s top stars (Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley) would settle their long feud in an exploding barbed wire death match, naturally many fans became excited. Thoughts and memories from hardcore wrestling fans think back to the old FMW days in Japan and the destruction those matches can create. With Omega involved in the match and all his years and experience wrestling in Japan…many thought this was going to be epic!
As great and as brutal the actual match was, the ending of the contest was nothing short of disappointing. Instead of a huge explosion with fire and the whole deal….AEW fans were treated with sparklers and some uninspiring pyrotechnics. The fizzle of the actual explosion, sadly took away from the match and the card, which was pretty good to great. Tony Khan and the company initially tried to spin the blunder, but ultimately admitted failure.
The IWGP World Heavyweight Title
As much as I have loved New Japan Pro Wrestling over the last few years, the merging of both the IWGP Intercontinental and IWGP Heavyweight titles, didn’t make too much sense to me. The title belt was then called the IWGP World Heavyweight title and despite the new look which most fans disliked worldwide, the championship itself seems to be directionless. The inaugural champion Kota Ibushi received the new belt, only to lose it exactly one month later to Will Ospreay. While Ospreay looked to be pushed from junior heavyweight to heavyweight, he suffered a neck injury which forced him to vacate the title just a little over a month after winning it.
The title was subsequently vacated and a match was set up between Shingo Takagi and one of NJPW’s top stars…Kazuchika Okada. It was Takagi, a great undercard wrestler who upset Okada to win the vacant title. While I respect New Japan trying to build new main event stars, the IWGP world heavyweight title, to me, hasn’t really meant as much as the IWGP heavyweight title. Shingo’s reign hasn’t been all that memorable and it has somewhat dulled the product for me.
Vince McMahon and “Budget Cuts.”
Look, I do realize that pro wrestling is a business like anything else. WWE is the top wrestling promotion in generating revenue whether it is from merchandise, television deals, streaming rights etc. Vince McMahon and company are indeed making money hand over fist. The question is, when is enough money enough and when does acting like a boss that cares for his fans and employees matter? Does it even equate?
In 2021 alone, McMahon has released some of the finest talent in the wrestling industry. He doesn’t seem to care or even blink in cutting wrestlers from their contracts. He has even gone as far as “jokingly” say he’ll release even more wrestlers if anyone is interested. I get it, McMahon and WWE have to answer to stock holders and at the end of the day…it is how much money they get back on their investment. It just seems to me that WWE was a far better place to work before they took their company public.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.