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    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    31 Days of Wrestling (12/23/17): The Festival of Friendship

    Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2017 produced for us.

    Ah, yes... The Festival of Friendship, a.k.a the segment that single-handedly compelled every single audience member to consider psychiatric therapy after being left in the most depressed state ever. And ironically enough, that was also the moment we all simultaneously agreed that it was one of the best things WWE has ever done.

    Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens took up the third hour of RAW last February 13, celebrating the six months these two had been best friends and teaming up with each other. Jericho didn't shy away from taking advantage of the things Las Vegas had to offer and gave Owens the party of his life, showering him an overwhelming amount of presents. Owens of course returned the favor and gifted his partner one back—a "List of KO" with Jericho's name on it.

    My heart literally just sank after typing that. It's been quite a few months, you guys, but I still remember that feeling it gave me like it was yesterday. It even made all my wrestler friends, grown-ass men, cry their hearts out. I had to take a moment and curl up in a ball with a pint of ice cream in bed to numb the pain this segment had caused me.

    Chris Jericho mentioned on Metal Injection’s Squared Circle Pit podcast that he has Jimmy Jacobs to thank for the story behind Festival of Friendship. He apparently co-wrote the masterpiece along with Y2J, with the latter demanding WWE's head writers to have Jacobs work on every single promo. Would this have gotten anywhere near as good if it was all up to WWE writers? Most likely not.

    When the tag team started out, I admittedly thought it was random and thought that it wouldn't work as well as it did. I remember getting bored by their early matches as a team and was convinced it was just one of those odd pairings of two stars who have nothing else to do. To an extent, it might've been the actual reason they were put together—but the beauty in all of this is how they took something so small and meaningless, and then gave it a meaning. For months, they displayed hilarious behavior and rubbed their friendship on everyone's faces—very well, too, may I add, given that they're both some of WWE's greatest actors—telling a story all throughout.

    The best way to describe this whole segment is a roller-coaster of emotions. Or like, Game Of Throne's Red Wedding, or something. You know, how it started out as something so fun and beautiful, and went south too fast. I remember laughing at the start, feeling deeply touched towards the middle, only to find myself sobbing into my hair at the corner of my bedroom the very next minute.

    It was the promo—I swear to god, it was the promo Chris Jericho had cut prior to the tragedy. Talking about how Kevin Owens had made it the most fun year of Y2J's entire career—with such a real, warm tone in his voice—alone, made me feel such overwhelmingly good things, enough to make anybody shed a tear. In addition, using the concept of The List made it an even stronger slap in the face in which the pain was felt by the entire arena and resonated towards the rest of the earth. All of it is what made Owen's turn so freaking horrible, like I swear the man is the real-life devil and is the worst person to have ever lived and I hope—okay, Nicole, it's not real, it's not real... It's just a TV show, it's just a TV show...

    But that's the best part—how it worked so well enough to not only include it in our 31 Days Of Wrestling, but more importantly, enough to talk about for the rest of time. This was a segment in the modern era you can easily throw in with the other classics of the far past and it wouldn't be out of place. That's pretty rare.

    Playing with our emotions and making us feel things is the reason we watch WWE—it's a twisted, violent, athletic version of a soap opera for weirdos like us. With today's slightly stale storylines, some of us feel like we've slowly detached from the product—but the Festival of Friendship reminded all of us why we all love this in the first place. It entertains us. It takes very relatable situations in love and friendship, and violently stomps all over it once they deem the audience too comfortable. Just like real life, really! So we all ultimately feel the pain. We feeeeeel it.

    Though I verbally swore to myself I never wanted to watch wrestling ever again after that segment destroyed my soul for life—please don't act like I'm the only one—the pay-per-view after that was WrestleMania 33, so, like, I couldn't just stop there... I had to know who would win their match to take home the United States Championship!

    Photos by WWE


    31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2017.

    Read our previous entries:

    1. The Okada/Omega Trilogy
    2. Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 33)
    3. The Mae Young Classic Finals
    4. Billy Suede vs. Jake De Leon (Wrevolution X 2017)
    5. WarGames
    6. Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Dark (Ultima Lucha Tres)
    7. Fatal Four Way for the WWE Universal Championship (SummerSlam)
    8. Manami Toyota's Retirement
    9. Jinder Mahal Wins the WWE Championship
    10. Roman Reigns Tries To Take The Torch (No Mercy 2017)
    11. Hanzello Shilva vs. Aldrin Richards (MWF Balikbayan 2017)
    12. Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega (G1 Climax 27 Finals)
    13. The Implosion of #DIY
    14. Ubusan ng Lahi (PWR Vendetta 2017)
    15. The First (and Second) Women's Money in the Bank
    16. Cody Rhodes Wins the Ring of Honor World Championship
    17. The Beginning of the Zo Train Era
    18. Killshot vs. Dante Fox, Hell Of War (Ultima Lucha Tres)
    19. The 16-Time Champ is Here
    20. Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii, G1 Special
    21. Kurt Angle Joins The Shield for the TLC Main Event
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    Item Reviewed: 31 Days of Wrestling (12/23/17): The Festival of Friendship Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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