NOT JUST PURORESU LOVE
Hi, hello, and greetings to you. I'm Jonathan Leung and this is my debut column. Some background information: I'm a Journalism and Media college student and hopefully will be a journalist one day. I live in New York, about thirty minutes from the Big Apple. And I like professional wrestling. I'm sure you figured that one out since this column is on a wrestling website, but for those just keeping score, there you go. With that short introduction, let's get started and hopefully you won't think it's a waste of time.
The WWE is going through some tough times lately, with the roster split and all the political happenings. Ratings are down, fan interest has declined along with house show attendances, and people are worried that the upswing that professional wrestling experienced the past couple of years is over. Even Jim Ross admitted in his weekly Ross Report that the WWE isn't exactly setting the world on fire as of late. So what is the solution? The elevation of some well-deserved workers? Tighter storylines? Giving Sho Funaki more television time?
You can say the WWE needs a mixture of everything to improve its product. While the WWE struggles to get back up on its feet, there is still some good wrestling in the world. There are matches that last more than five minutes or the fifteen minutes the WWE allows for their pay-per-view shows. There are moves that have to be seen to believed that are just waiting to be stolen and put on Monday nights. There are workers who show as much charisma like the Rock and talent like Rob Van Dam. So where is this magical place?
It's in Japan.
Now before you start going off or clicking the Back button, let it be known that I'm not this "Puroresu snob." I'm not a guy who hates the WWE and every single thing about it. In fact, I still enjoy watching Raw and Smackdown these days despite the "slump." I still attend WWE shows whenever they hit the Tri-State Area. I sometimes make a trip down to The World to grab a bite to eat and see what merchandise they have there. I still have fond memories of attending my first pay-per-view event, Summerslam 1989 in New Jersey. I also remember attending Wrestlemania 10, one of the best Wrestlemanias of all-time at Madison Square Garden. I was in attendance at an Albany RAW last year when two of my favorite ECW wrestlers, Rhyno and Spike Dudley, made their debuts. I still mark out for great moments and yes, it's strange but true....I'm not afraid to wear a WWE shirt in public. It's pretty funny though to have people come up to me and ask me about my Rhyno shirt and what "Fear The Gore" means.
With Keiji Mutoh being named the 2001 Wrestler of the Year, I had to find out why so I purchased some Puroresu tapes. There was no doubt that Mutoh had a spectacular year. He was different than he was when he was the Great Muta in WCW and teamed with Vampiro. He had a totally different look, with an Austin-like look with a bald head and a goatee. He also had a new gimmick, where he basically came out and said that he wasn't a fan of the Mixed Martial Arts influence on Japanese wrestling and thus, he wanted to spread the "Puroresu Love." Instead of using his high-flying moves, he decided to use a ground game, with a pinch of high-flying.
I saw footage of Mutoh having great matches in the middle of 2001, capping it off by winning the Triple Crown in a pretty exciting match against Genichiro Tenryu. Having watched both Mutoh and Steve Austin, I would have to say that Mutoh was the Wrestler of the Year, but it was pretty close. Austin's matches with Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, and Chris Benoit, including the three-way dance that I saw live at King of the Ring, were incredible. I just happened to enjoy Mutoh's matches a little bit more.
It's not just Mutoh who I enjoy watching. Satoshi Kojima is a helluva wrestler in All Japan Pro Wrestling and will be a superstar in the next couple of years. Toshiaki Kawada is one of the best wrestlers you will ever see. Masahiro Chono is Japan's version of the Rock with the look of cool and the charisma. And remember Yuji Nagata from the WCW days when he was teamed with Sonny Onoo and feuded with the Ultimo Dragon? He turned out to be a pretty darn good wrestler and is currently the IWGP title holder.
Despite its current problems, I still like watching the WWE. As proof with this past Monday's Raw show, they still can put on an entertaining show. They're not dead in the water as people claim they are. It's just that I'm slowly becoming a Puroresu fan and hopefully will get people to talk about it more. Maybe it's good to be a fan of both the WWE and Puroresu. You get the best of both worlds.
And my opinion on how to solve the WWE's current slump? Can we say Sho Funaki, Undisputed Champion?
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