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1. Chris Jericho set to face Kenny Omega
Raise your hands if you ever thought we’d see the Ayatollah of Rock N’ Rolla against the Cleaner? In a New Japan Pro Wrestling ring? If you’re hand is still up you’re lying, and to paraphrase Chris Jericho, “you’ve just made the list.”
Seriously, this match came out of nowhere, but you won’t hear me complain. Chris Jericho is an all-time great and Kenny Omega is, in my opinion, the best pro wrestler in the world today. The bout is set for Wrestle Kingdom 12 on Jan. 4 at the Tokyo Dome.
Omega has been on a tear as of late, dominating NJPW and Ring of Honor, and winning the inaugural IWGP United States championship. The Cleaner and his Bullet Club Brothers (the Young Bucks, Marty Scurll, the American Nightmare Cody Rhodes and Hangman Paige) have never been hotter. The group’s merchandise is practically everywhere (Hot Topic even carries it), and the Monday Night Raw invasion boosted the Bullet Club’s (i.e. The Elite’s) profile and was aided by a cease and desist letter sent to The Elite from WWE, despite the corporation’s likely intentions.
Jericho, on the other hand, is coming off one of his best runs with WWE in years, capturing the WWE U.S. championship and being involved in a red-hot angle with Kevin Owens.
The move was a surprise and could signal NJPW is ready to make dramatic inroads on the American pro wrestling scene.
It will be interesting to see how WWE will responds.
2. AJ Styles defeats Jinder Mahal for WWE Championship
Foot meet mouth. I know last week I told readers not to expect an AJ Styles victory, and lo, I was wrong. WWE booking is hard to predict because not only are last minute changes seemingly common, WWE doesn’t just consider what one market wants.
Many, including myself, regarded Mahal’s dismal title reign to continue through WWE’s upcoming tour of India. Putting the belt on Styles shows the WWE has no confidence in the Modern Day Maharaja and his ability to build interest in survivor series. Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer was of similar mind, saying people were “crapping all of” it. PWInsider reported that Vince McMahon made the decision for Styles to go over Mahal last week.
I could see the WWE giving Mahal the Shinsuke Nakamura treatment and will have him regain the title in India. WWE had Nakamura lose the NXT championship to Samoa Joe in November 2016 at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II only to have Nakamura win the title back in December at an NXT show in Osaka Japan – Nakamura’s home country.
3. ESPN 30 for 30: Ric Flair a stark look at a wrestling legend
Most pro wrestling fans have heard rumors of Ric Flair’s excess, but ESPN shone a bright light on the Nature Boy, exposing his warts and all.
In the documentary, Flair claimed to have consumed 15 alcoholic drinks almost every day, including before matches. Flair claimed to never have wrestled under the influence, but that seems hard to believe. Fortunately for the hall of famer, Flair has never had in-ring incidents exposing his personal demons like Jeff Hardy, Scott Hall and others have had. He also claimed to have slept with about 10,000 women.
It’s truly amazing Flair was able to perform at such a high level, considering his penchant for partying.
Despite Flair’s issues, he came across as a fun loving, likeable guy who enjoyed living it up as the world’s best pro wrestler.
Insights from Hulk Hogan, Sting, Tony Schiavone, HHH, Charlotte, the Undertaker and more gave a glimpse into the man behind Space Mountain. The documentary left me to know more about the man many regard as the greatest pro wrestler of all time.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, the Flair episode drew 1.831 million viewers.
Here is how Twitter reacted to it: