Hey everyone. I hope you all are doing well. It’s a little moist where I am. We go from one of the biggest snowfalls in 20 years to one of the most heavy rain falls within seven days. Go figure. Why do I bring this up? The climate in today’s wrestling seems that seems that much more volatile. Whether it’s TNA’s position as a wrestling company or WWE’s build to Wrestlemania, things are changing rapidly.

Anyone that knows me knows that I hate to disparage TNA. The men and women of the Impact Wrestling roster work hard and it shows in the ring. Anything between the ropes for that brand is spectacular and everyone has the creative freedom to really express themselves with their art. Unfortunately, past business practices has caused the company to really lose luster and the number two spot in the US. Without touring, and proper television coverage across the continental United States ROH has now really cemented their spot as second to the WWE juggernaut.

Ring of Honor, who themselves had been struggling under the Sinclair Broadcasting purchase for years, have seem to find a Renaissance following their agreement with New Japan beginning in 2014. ROH still has trouble with television distribution across the US as some stations in major markets don’t carry what is dubbed “The Best Wrestling on the Planet”. However, the company makes very smart decisions in regards to production. Most notably how they keep their television taped but still feel important. TNA will record months television at a time where Ring of Honor tapes three weeks at a time. They move from venue to venue where TNA will be based out of Orlando at Universal Studios. And probably the most important difference between the two. TNA has all but given up on pay-per-view even though they claim they will do two live (most likely live to tape) pay-per-view specials that will air in the US. ROH looks to have live four pay-per-view specials this year. Why is that important? It gives your television something to build towards and makes Ring of Honor something compelling.

As TNA superstars wait for months until the next television taping, they struggle to make ends meet with indie bookings and selling their own gimmicks. Whereas ROH is touring a lot more with new merchandise, like T-shirts and action figures giving them more incentives to stay with the company. What a difference a year makes if you’re a Ring of Honor superstar.

I meant to talk about this last week, but I got sidetracked. How interesting is it that AJ Lee is back in WWE right now? Some might call it crazy to return to the company that is suing your spouse? And maybe it is. But maybe it’s genius?

Think about it. Why not return to the company knowing that they have to tread lightly with you given their legal position with significant other. Otherwise, you could show malice with the company in regards to a lawsuit that they claim to have no position on. It basically makes you bulletproof in a weird way because if they tried to undermine you with a character it puts WWE in the weirdest spot possible. Because I understand business is business. But they fired your husband on your wedding day. There’s a reason why there was a story line waiting for AJ when she returned from her neck injury. WWE wants to make sure he’s taking care of and featured so they don’t get fired with ammunition when the lawsuit with CM Punk gets ugly. I don’t think AJ is re-signing after this and I think her deal may run up until the summer. So if you’re AJ you’re sitting pretty right now. No one is going to say anything to you or do anything to provoke you for fear what may come later on.

Does that mean that she will be Divas champion ever again? Probably not. But she will be heavily featured in the division until she disappears off the scene for good.

I know a lot of people are not liking the build to this year’s Wrestlemania. And it’s easy to understand why as three of the top feuds are not really feuds as they are monologue based. Not to mention that with their more multi-man matches than ever before. A Battle Royal, ladder match, multi-man tag team encounters are on this year’s card. WWE is trying to do all they can to make everything feel big and spectacular. They gave an hour to the Intercontinental and Tag Team Title picture on Raw this week. That’s bizarre when you consider where the company is playing those titles before. But as I said last week in my article this is all due to Brock Lesnar and his limited dates. When you don’t have the crown jewel you have to focus on other gems. Could this build be better? Sure. But with all the pieces in place you have to be very careful not to overexpose everything so it feels special. There’s a delicate balance. WWE is trying to walk that. However fans are used to WWE going all out in the lead up to The Grandest Stage of Them All so a lot of fans are not happy. Truth be told fans weren’t happy with last year’s build either but it turned out to be one of the most solid shows from top to bottom in the franchise history. Will the same be said for Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara? We will find out March 29.

Some argue that the most exciting thing going on in wrestling right now is NXT. With its prevalent spot on the WWE’s over-the-top service, not to mention it’s international distribution, the show has grown from a replacement for the failed experiment that was the new ECW to hybrid programming that we’ve never seen before. Much like Miramax was a division of Disney that produced grittier, edgier films that older fans could enjoy in the 1990s, NXT is no different to the world of professional wrestling. Using Internet darlings as their main stars WWE has created a buzz that is unknown on their main Mickey Mouse product. Last week they went to Ohio on a little tour and did really well selling out with very little mainstream advertising at all. Triple H is said that he hopes NXT can grow to be their own standalone touring brand and that looks to be coming to fruition. But what does that mean for the independents who inhabit those smaller buildings. Is it true that when WWE prospers so did the industry? I think so. But only time will tell how WWE’s corporate Indy label will affect others around them. Things will be interesting in 2015 that’s for sure.

Those are all my ramblings for one day. I will see you next time.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.