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NEWTON: Pro wrestling is back in business
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling.

Ever since I was nine years old, I could remember tuning in every Monday night for WWE RAW and Friday night for WWE Smackdown. It was four to five hours each week of excitement and fun. It captivated my attention like not much else would during that time period.

I got to witness the glory days of wrestlers like John Cena, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio, all of whom are all-time greats in the world of pro wrestling.

But what really drew me to wrestling was not so much the in-ring action or the cool moves, but rather the stories that these wrestlers tell on a weekly basis.

This is why I flocked to characters that would be able to tell those compelling stories. Wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt (rest in peace) and the all controversial CM Punk.

Even though many wrestling historians consider this 2010-2015 time period to be a downfall in wrestling, I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

However, there came a time where the stories got dull, the characters weren’t as good and it just wasn’t fun to watch. So I stopped watching wrestling for a little while.

My cousin got me back into wrestling in 2018 after we watched the annual WWE Royal Rumble event together. It was interesting to see how much had changed in just a few years.

But one thing remained the same.WWE’s writing and storytelling was still widely forgettable and borderline unwatchable. Longtime owner Vince McMahon seemed to become out of touch with his own product, and it seemed like the glory days of WWE were in the rear. 

After doing some research and seeking out all forms of wrestling in addition to WWE were on the rise. The gap between WWE and wrestling that existed outside of WWE was decreasing. 

This became especially true when a new wrestling company launched in 2019 called All Elite Wrestling (AEW). AEW was billed as a “true alternative product” – the first of its kind since WCW in the 90’s.

The problem was that no other wrestling company was able to single handedly fill the gap between WWE and the competition ever since WCW became bankrupt in the late 90’s to early 2000’s.

A company named TNA tried in the 2000’s and had mild success, but ultimately failed. Ditto with another company by the name Ring of Honor.

This left a lot of fans, including myself, optimistic but speculative. Thankfully, that speculation has been put to rest (for the most part).

In four years, AEW has established itself as a true alternative and true competition for WWE. That in itself is great for business, because competition is known to bring out the best in everyone.

That didn’t happen in WWE – until “the game” was changed. Insert Paul “Triple H” Levesque.

Levesque, commonly known as the wrestler Triple H, is McMahon’s son in-law and had long been involved in creative work with the company with WWE’s developmental brand, NXT. This developmental brand often outshined the main roster in all ways from wrestling to storytelling and creative.

So when Vince McMahon announced his long awaited retirement in 2022, I was optimistic that Triple H could bring the best out of the product.

And boy, has he done that.

The product now is much easier to watch, with easy to follow stories that make sense and an in- ring product that is at the very least, desirable to watch. Triple H has also brought back several former superstars into the fold to help with boosting the star power of WWE, including some from the new competition company AEW. This included former AEW executive vice president and superstar Cody Rhodes and former TBS champion and one of the most exciting prospects in all of wrestling, Jade Cargill.

But these would not compare to Nov. 25, when Triple H brought back his biggest name yet, CM Punk.

As I’ve already mentioned, CM Punk is a controversial figure in the world of wrestling. Known for being outspoken and willing to say whatever, whenever, Punk has always been loved and hated by many. 

Punk opted to leave the WWE in 2014 and retire from pro wrestling altogether, vowing to never return to WWE or wrestling again.

That was until 2021, when he made his AEW debut at his hometown in Chicago. The reception of that crowd was one of the loudest in pro wrestling history and culminated in a big moment in pro wrestling history that further established AEW as competition.

But things didn’t work out over there for Punk. Backstage issues and real-life fights got in the way of Punk’s success. He was fired from the company in September following an alleged second backstage incident.

Immediately, with Punk now a free agent and a large live event called Survivor Series coming up in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, speculation came up that Punk would make his grand return to WWE.

It seemed delusional. Why would Punk come back to a place that he’s publicly trashed and claimed he never wanted to come back to? It seemed impossible — only that it wasn’t.

On Saturday, Punk shocked the world and returned to WWE for the first time in nine years. He had somehow managed to outdo the crowd reaction he had received just two years prior.

I’ve long been both a supporter and a critic of Punk over the years, but there’s no denying the star power he brings. People are talking about wrestling again. Not just WWE, not just AEW but pro wrestling.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, pro wrestling is back in business. We are in the next “boom” era of wrestling.

Wrestling companies are now listening to their audiences. They want people to know that they will bring their a-game to every show, delivering the best product possible.

And you know who’s the biggest winner in all of that? The fans. Me. You.

Evan Newton is the news editor of The Covington News. He can be reached at