PWI Weekly for January 22, 2024
Jordynne Grace, Musings w/ Matt Brock, Pro Wrestling Free Agency Period?
DID YOU ORDER your copy of the latest Pro Wrestling Illustrated? Subscribers are already getting theirs in the mail—and the issue hits newsstands in just a couple more weeks—but we’ve still got limited print copies for sale on our website. Don’t miss out on your chance to own the XL-sized “2023 In Review” collectors’ issue!
WOMAN OF THE WEEK
At Hard to Kill, TNA Wrestling began a new era (with an old name) but it wasn’t just the company that was turning over a new leaf. So, too, was the Knockouts division.
Jordynne Grace dethroned Trinity in Las Vegas that night to become Knockouts World champion and in the process, established herself as the new figurehead of TNA’s women’s division. As veterans like Mickie James and Deonna Purrazzo have moved away from a Knockouts locker room that they’d dominated in recent years, Grace could become TNA’s next superlative female champion.
As someone who went to war with both James and Purrazzo, Grace has the veteran savvy and finely honed ring skills of those competitors, but she also possesses strength and power that most others do not.
While a whole roster of new or newly motivated Knockouts lines up for a title shot, we wish them luck—-wresting gold from Jordynne Grace won’t be easy!
A QUICK WORD ABOUT
Though other major sports have designated free-agency periods where athletes get to test their worth on the open market and find new places to showcase their skills, professional wrestling allows for no such thing. However, in recent months, one could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
Will Ospreay, Adam Copeland, Jade Cargill, Deonna Purrazzo, and Nic Nemeth are among the recent free agents who have sought out bright new pastures. Add those moves to the ongoing rumors surrounding the respective futures of Mercedes Mone and Giulia, and it’s no wonder that wrestling fans are abuzz about the changing landscape of the business.
With last week’s news that Kazuchika Okada—almost inarguably the biggest star in Japanese wrestling—would not be renewing his contract with NJPW when it expires on January 31, “The Rainmaker” becomes the biggest free agent to hit the market this year. So, while wrestling may not have an official free agency period, fans who are excited to see fresh faces in new places are certainly being treated to one of the most exciting stretches in recent memory.
MUSINGS, WITH MATT BROCK
In 1979, Jimmy Carter was in the White House, Pink Floyd sat atop the charts, and Harley Race was the baddest man in whatever town he happened to visit on any particular night. It was also the year that a brand-new wrestling magazine hit newsstands. I didn’t give a hoot about politics back then (still don’t), and, to me, music stopped and started with The Rat Pack (not the Mid-South faction that would come later). Yet, I did care about wrestling.
Sure there had been magazines focusing on the grappling game for many years before—some of which made me pursue the career that I did—but this new one felt different. I remember picking it up and staring at the color picture of Mil Mascaras and Dusty Rhodes that graced the cover. Big, bold lettering atop bragged that what I was looking at was “THE WORLD’S BIGGEST WRESTLING MAGAZINE.” Not one for big marketing ploys, I scoffed at the notion.
Okay, maybe I was intrigued by the interview with Bruno Sammartino and the article about the fear that was haunting Bob Backlund. Then, there was the open letter to Ricky Steamboat and the story on Andre beating the entire AWA … in one night. Before I knew it, a good five to 10 minutes had passed with me reading the magazine.
By that point, I knew I wouldn’t be able to set it down again. I didn’t, and I never have since. That magazine, of course, was Pro Wrestling Illustrated, which this year, will celebrate its 45th birthday.
I’m happy to still own that very first issue, and, yes, I am even prouder that my name has appeared in the magazine as a contributor over the years. There will be plenty more birthday celebration pieces to come throughout the year from the younger folks at the magazine, and I will very likely read them. For now, though, I might just re-read that issue from 1979 to remind myself who the poor S.O.B. was that inspired Harley Race to hold “hatred in his heart.”
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FROM THE VAULT
We recently happened upon this one-of-a-kind item from our archives, which is a slightly weathered Volume 34 of the combined The Wrestler/Inside Wrestling magazine. This particular copy is autographed by cover star Trish Stratus, with a message for longtime PWI Publisher Stu Saks. It reads:
To Stu and the Kappa Crew! Thanks for all the support and Stratusfying Issue #34! Trish Stratus
Pretty cool, eh?