Written by Roger Malcolm I’ve been watching pro wrestling since I was 4. I was a teenager during the time of pro wrestling known as the Attitude Era and have always seen 1997 as my favorite year. After 10 years of watching, 1997 just seemed to come together so perfectly to me. Bret Hart, leading the Hart Foundation, was a heel in the U.S. and still a babyface in Canada, which made for great television and diverse crowds. Stone Cold Steve Austin, where as he was never a favorite of mine, began his meteoric rise to super-stardom. Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley formed D-Generation X. Though perhaps the most important factor of all these former WWF personalities performing in 1997 was the announcing by Jim Ross. He was the driving force in a lot of ways. I easily took him for granted at the time yet looking back he told the stories better than anyone I’ve ever heard.
I’ve always claimed my favorite announcing team to be Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura. I grew up watching PPV tapes of those two over and over. Yet, neither of them ever announced like Jim Ross. Jim sold the character, his actions and his mistakes. He somehow handled the often annoying banter of Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler with ease. In recent years, I’ve heard countless praise after praise for Good Ol’ JR. Nowadays I catch the occasional podcast of his on The Ross Report to hear what knowledge he feels like dropping for the wrestling fans of today. He typically always seems to have interesting conversations with his guests, besides the random spell where a guest might spend a bit too much time discussing something a little too mundane. Jim usually praises what he likes today in pro wrestling and offers constructive criticism on the things he believes could be better.
As for modern WWE product, I myself, have been left in the dust practically. Luckily TNA Impact wrestling introduced me to New Japan Pro Wrestling back in 2008. TNA aired their Global Impact episode and I was able to watch Kurt Angle wrestle Yuji Nagata at Wrestle Kingdom II in the Tokyo Dome and have been a diehard puroresu fan ever since. It took some time obviously to familiarize myself with the product of NJPW. I didn’t speak any Japanese at the time and all of their broadcast’s are presented in Japanese of course. However I would never let something as menial as that stop me from enjoying the performances of the wrestlers in the ring.
Without being distracted by an announcer telling something either they personally feel needs to be said, or without a tyrannical corporation attempting to dictate all the nuances so the fans stay in a constant state of control, I was able to use my own critical thinking to differentiate the personalities solely based on their performances. I’ve equated it to myself as the closest I could ever get to reliving my early days of watching pro wrestling from the age of 4 through witnessing the bloom and boom of the Attitude Era. Sure they are completely different styles and times all together, however there are fundamental elements that have either been lost or ignored in much of pro wrestling which I find fully intact when watching New Japan Pro Wrestling. Indeed I respect Vince McMahon for what he accomplished but at the same time I feel I have been abandoned as a fan. I’ve given a lot of my own hard earned money as a teenager and as an adult to the King of Gimmickry WWE, not including what my family use to pay for PPV’s in the late eighties and early nineties, nor the gifts folks have bought for me over the years. I’m sure I would be rather surprised at just how much money I forked over for magazines, video games, t-shirts and all other randomly related merchandise. Though I no longer will give a penny towards WWE. Not even for their $9.99 a month Network, which might have worked 20 years ago for me.
They’ve become their own worst enemy in my view. They’ve got superstars but they really are just pro wrestlers being disrespected and given scripts. It’s mind-numbingly nauseating to watch for me. WWE is all and only about money. Indeed, money is what controls the majority of everything in our current system which is controlling the world we live in, yet the product is still a lost cause to me. They need someone with a true passion for the pro wrestling business and some kind of true individual creativity to rejuvenate the product. I hear it’s always about the ratings nowadays. I disagree, as I believe they just make it all about the ratings nowadays. I hear about the certain attempts to update the product but a real overhaul could be used for the WWE product. I respect all the WWE performers and crew members that want to offer their bodies to entertain the fans, yet I respect the ones that get the experience and take it somewhere else even more. Pro wrestling must spread to survive as it is being killed inside the WWE system.
With all that being said, I am truly ecstatic (in my own calm way) over the recent announcement from Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling. They announced they would be presenting New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest show of the year Wrestle Kingdom 9 at the Tokyo Dome, which will be aired on PPV in North America. Though that was cool to hear, it wasn’t what I’m ecstatic about, as that would be the announcement of none other than Jim Ross being the English announcer for the event itself. Jim has praised Japanese pro wrestling as of recent weeks and teased at the possibility of this actual possibility. A possibility I humoured inside but didn’t attempt holding my breath on. I truly look forward to the event every year as it’s my Wrestlemania or Super Bowl, yet this coming Wrestle Kingdom has become a bit more special.
You can read more at the official GFW site through this link.