With Thanksgiving right around he corner, I’d like to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude to some of the biggest stars in the wrestling business.
I’m thankful for C.M. Punk. When Punk debuted in WWE six years ago I never would’ve imagined him reigning as WWE World Champion for over a full year. Although Punk broke through the glass ceiling in 2011, it seems that he’s recently hit his stride as a heel. His lengthy championship reign has brought a level of credibility back to a championship that had been sorely lacking over the last few years.
I’m thankful for Paul Heyman. I never thought I’d see Heyman working in WWE again (with the exception of serving as a talking head on various video releases) following his bitter departure with the company in 2006. Therefore, I was as shocked as anyone to see him return to television in the role of an advisor to Brock Lesnar. I was shocked even more when he started an affiliation with C.M. Punk. I was initially curious as to how he could possibly enhance Punk’s character. After all, it’s not like Punk has ever needed someone to do his talking for him. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that they were onto something special with these two. Heyman brings out the absolute best in Punk and their interaction reminds me of some of the very best wrestler/manager pairings.
I’m thankful for John Cena. I found myself more emtionally invested in him than any other period I can recall. Cena’s feuds against the likes of Rock, Brock Lesnar, and Punk produced some of the more memorable matches of the year in WWE. His tireless work ethic with the Make-A-Wish Foundation truly makes him a class act. Cena is already a living legend and we should all appreciate his contributions to the business as such.
I’m thankful for Hiroshi Tanahashi and the entire New Japan Pro Wrestling roster. A strong argument can be made that NJPW is the best pure wrestling company in the world today and that Tanahashi is the best all around worker in the entire business. The guy has it all–the look, the charisma, the incredible working ability, and not just athletically, but his ability to understand when to do what is equal to anyone in wrestling. Other key talent such as Yugi Nagata, Hirooki Goto, Minoru Suzuki, Low Ki, Prince Devitt, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tetsuya Naito, and Kazuchika Okada are excellent performers in their own right. Perhaps the biggest strength of the promotion is that everyone has their own distinct character and working style which makes for a consistently great in-ring product.
I’m thankful for Dolph Ziggler. He is so close to touching the brass ring that I can almost taste it. He’s been one of WWE’s most outstanding performers for quite some time and never fails to produce anything less than great television. Whether he’s taking bumps like the second coming of Curt Hennig, or cutting cocky promos that remind us of the late Rick Rude, Ziggler is always entertaining.
I’m thankful for Kurt Angle. I don’t watch TNA regularly, but the one thing I can always expect to see whenever I tune in is that Angle will just about always be in the best match of any show he’s on. Although you can debate whether or not he should still be wrestling in his current physical state, there is no way you can deny his greatness. Only the very elite have been able to compete at such a high level past the age of 40. I’m not sure how much longer his body can hold out, but I’m going to enjoy him for as long as he’s here.
I’m thankful for A.J. Lee. Over the past year this little firecracker has become one of most interesting women to ever lace a pair of boots in WWE. While Trish Stratus is regarded as the best women’s wrestler in company history, she has nothing on A.J. when it comes to being such a prominent part of the main event scene. She’s been in high profile angles with Daniel Bryan, Punk, and Cena, not to mention her stint as general manager on Raw. A.J. is a stark contrast to the silicone-induced blondes that have proliferated WWE’s Divas division over the last decade. She has a genuine appeal that resonates with nearly everyone.
I’m thankful for Chris Jericho. I’m not sure about Jericho’s current contractual status with WWE, but one thing I do know is that WWE will always welcome him with open arms. Jericho’s career is an example I wish more veterans would emulate. Having established himself as a legitimate Hall of Famer during his 2007-2010 run, Jericho returned to WWE for the sole purpose of working with young talent. His notable accomplishments of 2012 included being one of the final two participants in the Royal Rumble match, engaging in a heated rivalry against C.M. Punk, competing in the Money in the Bank ladder match, and having a tremendous SummerSlam outing against Dolph Ziggler. The thing I respect most about Jericho is that he always puts the needs of the business ahead of his ego.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a happy Turkey Day!