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5 things WWE fans should be thankful for

Jul 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; WWE wrestlers Mizanin, known as The Miz, and Maryse Ouellet arrive on the red carpet for the 2016 ESPY Awards at Microsoft Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Today we give thanks. We give thanks not just for our loved ones, but for our loved modality of entertainment. While our first instinct as a wrestling fan is to criticize, there are dozens of reasons to be legitimately thankful for WWE in 2017.

So today, in honor of one of the holidays most synonymous with professional wrestling, we are most thankful for …

5. Shane McMahon Isn’t Dead – Seriously, how is this guy still walking, talking and kicking so much butt? Shane O’Mac is clearly not sane, and we love it. As if his death-defying fall at WrestleMania in 2016 or his brutal concussion at last year’s Survivor Series were not enough, the 47-year old prodigal son doubled down for his fans this year.

Less than a month after McMahon almost died at the hands of Team Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens (or Team Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn), he faced even more destruction at the hands of Braun Strowman and Triple H at Survivor Series. And McMahon is not done, because there is a score to settle after Owens and Zayn screwed their brand Sunday night in Houston.

Of course we are thankful for the jaw-dropping moments since McMahon’s return to his family’s company. But we are even more thankful that McMahon keeps getting back up. The Smackdown brand needed a fresh feeling for the second brand split, and an authority figure that fights back is best for business.

4. The Birth of a Goddess – Birthing deities may cause some holiday brand confusion with this whole Thanksgiving thing, but the transcendent 2017 of Alexa Bliss is everything we didn’t know we needed. ‘The Four Horsewomen” can only be so much of a part of the “Divas Revolution,” and with other superstars like Paige not available for much of this year, Little Miss Bliss became the star of two separate women’s divisions.

After Alexa’s five feet of fury went out on her back on SmackDown before the “superstar shakeup,” she instantly revitalized the Raw division. As much as this writer admits his bias in a love for Bayley, Bliss was the perfect foil to transition out of the Hugger’s WrestleMania win.

Little more than a third wheel on a developmental brand two years ago, Bliss is a merchandise machine, heat seeking heel and key commercial piece on a show. Behind the scenes, Bliss appeals to all ages and backgrounds. Her character feels real, and anyone that follows her courageous battle with anorexia can’t help but root for her.

The best part? We, as fans can’t wait to see what happens when she inevitably talks too much and someone like Asuka, Paige or Nia Jax runs right through her.

3. Real Talk – In a world with so many passionless promos and verbatim commentary off a script, the wrestling world needs more men like the Miz and Paul Heyman. The words of an FRS SLAM! article do not measure up to what men like Miz and Heyman do on a microphone. Simply put, we are thankful that these men are able to talk us into any match, and even make something as absurd as LaVar Ball mildly entertaining.

2. Braun Strowman Isn’t Finished with Us Yet – Every time Braun Strowman destroys something, the planet takes a step closer to world peace. When was the last time WWE fans liked a big man push? That is what is happening with Strowman, and it’s awesome. This is another situation where Braun’s path of destruction speaks stronger than any words written. From trash trucks to ambulances to demons and big dogs, Strowman is the hottest heavyweight in WWE, and we cannot wait to see what comes next after he destroys Kane for what he did last week.

All we can do now is await the moment where we become most thankful – when Strowman claims the heavyweight championship he was born to hold. Until then, Mick Foley can be thankful that Strowman can no longer yell at him about wanting more competition.

1. Mended Fences Means All-Time Greats Come Home – The year 2017 was a year of redemption for some of the sadder stories in the last 15 years of WWE departures. Be it drug abuse, legal issues, the disaster of Goldberg’s first WWE run or simply creative differences, we are thankful for the chance to see so many from the Attitude Era get proper sendoffs while they still can.

There is nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake, and then there are legitimately happy moments that stem from the returns of former stars. Kurt Angle and both Hardy Boys found the best home possible after TNA’s sad implosion. To see the American hero that won a gold medal on a broken-freaken-neck get his Hall of Fame induction and then return both to television and the ring has been a joy. To see Goldberg and Vince McMahon right the wrongs of his final days with the company last time brought back a lot of fans. It also gave Goldberg the kinds of moments any father wants for his son (and a pretty good WWE 24 documentary). Matt and Jeff Hardy had some terrible moments since they left WWE. They return as broken, brilliant family men with the chance to do something special.

Yes, these moments have real emotion tied to them, but we, as fans, can also be selfish about how exciting they were. The Hardys return is up there with the best surprise moments in WrestleMania history. Goldberg gave us the match we all wanted 13 years ago at WrestleMania. The fact that it lasted all of four minutes makes it even better on a show that felt never ending.

Whether these returns end prematurely like when Sting debuted in WWE or they revitalize careers like every time Chris Jericho returns to WWE does not matter. What matters is 2017 will be the year where Kurt Angle, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy and Goldberg truly came back home.

Sam Hellman spends his work hours as a college football and basketball writer with 247Sports on the CBS Sports network. A product of the Attitude Era, Hellman has been a life-long follower of professional wrestling and is proud to put his thoughts to print on the FRS Slam platform.

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