2013 started out with a lot of potential. The Rock came back, the spinner belt was retired, Hulk Hogan’s TNA contract wasn’t renewed, Jim Cornette stopped booking ROH, Brian Danielson became the biggest star in the business, and Brock Lesnar made magic with CM Punk at Summerslam in an absolute masterpiece of a pro wrestling match. However, as I’ve been reading various dirt sheets’ year in review lists, blogs, polls, etc one thing is clear…2013 was an overall down year for the business.
Ratings, attendance, and buy rates were down for each of the big three. WWE, TNA, and ROH were each at one point during the year completely unwatchable, although as per usual ROH kept their bad programming to a minimum and insanely awesome programming to a maximum. Especially as the year went on, Delirious distinguished himself as one of the best bookers of post attitude era, if not the best in my personal opinion. Many would say TNA was unwatchable the entire year, I wouldn’t argue per say, but would stick up for the last month of the BFG series and the last month of the year. We all know when WWE went downhill don’t we? I’ll give you a hint, the entire season of autumn.
I’m from Chicago, I’m not a Cubs fan but waiting until next year seems woven into my DNA whether I want it to or not. I believe 2014 will be a very good year for pro wrestling/sports entertainment. Here’s why:
WWE: Lesnar, Batista, Taker will all be in the fold from January through April. WrestleMania season is literally a 1/4 of the year and those three part timers mixed with the emerging era of midsized workhorses WWE has developed (Bryan, Punk. Cesaro, Ziggler, Ambrose, Rollins, Rhodes, Sandow) will lead to great matches by default that will only need good storytelling and production value to pop a rating, both of which are WWE’s specialties. My money is on Brian Danielson main-eventing and winning the Undisputed Title at WrestleMania XXX. Why? A gut feeling guided by pattern recognition from 24 years of watching pro wrestling.
TNA: In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by all metrics of monetary success, you haven’t, TNA Impact Wrestling has been putting on quality television for a whopping six weeks now. Although many haters shat all over the Dixie gimmick tournament, and Dixie Carter in general (deservedly so), the pacing, production, character development, and storytelling segment to segment, show to show, has become definitively solid since Bound for Glory. TNA has a history of this, see 2009, and even though I may not find the majority of the show personally entertaining, good TV principles are good TV principles, and TNA is utilizing them consistently for six weeks and counting.
ROH: As a mark for the original ECW it should come as no surprise that I find ROH to be the most entertaining company in the modern wrestling era. The fast paced, aggressive, more high spots less selling style appeals to me more personally. BUT my match of the year 2013 is CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar, which was the opposite of what I just described. Take the indyriffic matches out of it and I still say ROH is producing the best television show consistently, week in week out, month in month out, big show to big show. Everything that takes place on ROH TV means something, leads to something, and/or is connected to something that has been going on in the company for at least three months. If you bitch and moan about WWE and TNA being piss poor (which at times you’d be right) then you better be watching ROH. In case you missed it, Cornette is gone, so it’s safe to come back, Smokey Mountain of Honor died as of Final Battle 2012. 2013 was a great year for the company and unless the entire roster reports to NXT, 2014 should see them grow as big and bright as Sinclair Broadcasting is willing to monetarily invest.