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Top 5: Wrestling Comebacks

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I’m generally not a fan of the rain. It makes driving more difficult. It makes me want to stay indoors & get fat. It delays baseball games and makes working somewhere else the next morning much more difficult due to lack of sleep.

But I am a huge fan of Rain the wrestler. Going back to her days teaming with Lacey as the Minnesota Home-Wrecking Crew & her time in TNA as Peyton Banks, I’ve always had an appreciation for the Radiant One. She’s tough as nails, a solid worker in the ring, an effective heel and a beautiful woman, which admittedly was what I noticed when I first saw her.

WWE Evolve Shine Rain
Her toughness & desire has been on full display over the past couple of years. She originally retired from wrestling in January 2014 due to years of wear & tear & needing a break to handle other matters. A month later, on Valentines Day, she was involved in a horiffic car accident due to a texting driver ramming her car head-on into a tree. She nearly died in the accident & had several surgeries to get well again. Now, Rain has used the accident as motivation to get back into the ring & settle some unfinished business in the world of wrestling. She recently came back to Ring of Honor & is getting bookings all over the place.

In honor of Rain’s comeback, I thought now was as good a time as any to list the Top 5 Comebacks in wrestling history.

5. Bob Backlund

Mr. Backlund basically dropped off the face of the earth after the end of his WWF Championship reign on December 26, 1983. He left the company several months later & didn’t do much of note for several years. Some Japanese appearances & rare one-offs for small American promotions were all we saw from Backlund until his return to the WWF in 1992. At first, Backlund was lost in the shuffle & seemed out of touch with the current WWF. In the summer of 1994, he got his groove back when he turned heel on Bret Hart after a match on WWF Superstars.

The Mr. Bob Backlund persona was born, and Backlund’s career had new life. He reached the top of the mountain again at the 1994 Survivor Series, winning the WWF Championship from Hart, a title he claimed he had never lost.

Backlund lost the title to Diesel three days later, but he still completed one of the great comebacks in wrestling history.

4. Hacksaw Jim Duggan

WWE WWF Hacksaw Jim Duggan

In 1998, ol’ Hacksaw faced the toughest opponent he’d ever faced: kidney cancer. It was an advanced case, but fortunately it was detected in time & Duggan got the treatment quickly enough to defeat the disease. He was back in WCW rings months later & still competes on the independent circuit on occasion today.

3. Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels had already had a Hall of Fame level career in 1998 when he was forced to retire due to a back injury. He came back four years later and had another Hall of Fame level career. The back injury was suffered during a casket match with Undertaker at the 1998 Royal Rumble, so when he started feuding with Undertaker at WrestleManias it didn’t bode well for his second career.

2. Harley Race

WWE WWF NWA Harley Race

The eight-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion almost never got a chance to get his first championship. Very early on in his career, in 1960, Race was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of his wife & a leg injury that led to doctors considering amputation. Gust Karras, the promoter that had started Harley in the business, came to his rescue & forbade the doctors from taking Harley’s leg.

They still said that Harley would never wrestle again, but they underestimated the desire of Harley Race, who returned to the ring after several months of physical therapy. Soon after his return he would form a successful tag team with Larry “The Axe” Hennig, and then he would make his trek towards the NWA Championship thirteen years after he was never going to be able to wrestle again.

Honorable Mention: Kurt Angle

A multi-time world champion and member of several different Hall Of Fames, Kurt Angle is among the greatest to step foot both in a ring and on a mat. At 48 years of age (he just turned 49 last weekend!), Kurt Angle returned to a WWE ring as an honorary member of The Shield, substituting for an ill Roman Reigns at the WWE TLC pay-per-view event.

1. Ric Flair

WWE WWF NWA WCW Ric Flair

Ric Flair’s career supposedly ended on October 4, 1975. He was involved in a plane crash with several other wrestlers that broke his back in three places. Flair had been getting over to a large extent in Jim Crockett Promotions’ territory & was showing potential as a tag team partner of Johnny Valentine, whose career was ended in that plane crash. Flair had just begun a feud with Wahoo McDaniel, one of wrestling’s biggest stars and a man that taught Flair a lot about being a star & how to chop people. All of that was thrown out the window with the plane crash. Doctors told Flair he would never wrestle again. He returned in eight months and picked up right where he left off.

Almost six years after the plane crash, Flair beat Dusty Rhodes to win his first NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Flair had his last match almost thirty-six years after the plane crash.


And here’s another shot of Rain, because she WAS the inspiration for this Top 5 list!

Shine Rain


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Opinion

Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: Get Your Popcorn

Chris King is back as he runs down why he believes Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn at WrestleMania is a potential show-stealer.

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Chris King is back as he runs down why he believes Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn at WrestleMania is a potential show-stealer.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are simply incredible performers and storytellers in the ring. Every time they are on the opposite side of each other they create magic. I did a little history lesson on their almost twenty-year rivalry, going back to their days in Ring of Honor and PWG where it all began. Heel Owens to me is a stone-cold killer, he’s out for one purpose to be the best. Zayn has found out the hard way what happens when you get in his way.

Poor Zayn didn’t learn his lesson and dropped his guard in NXT when KO made his in-ring debut at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution. Owens utterly destroyed his so-called best friend and hit a vicious Pop-up Powerbomb onto the apron. KO then went on to defeat Zayn two months to the day of his debut at NXT TakeOver: Rival to capture the NXT Championship. Owens beat the living shit out of Zayn that night, to the point where the officials have to physically stop the match.

Zayn once again came rushing back for another chance to best his bitter rival but was demolished yet again. Dammit Sami just stay down and live to fight another day. This time Samoa Joe had to stop KO from causing more carnage to Zayn. We would not see the former NXT champ until months later at the 2016 Royal Rumble, where he would cost Owens the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

The two bitter rivals would fight again during the ladder match at WrestleMania 32 for the Intercontinental Championship, where Zayn would cost Owens the title. At the 2016 Payback pay-per-view, they would do battle again, Zayn would lose yet again. Zayn and Owens would square off one final time at Battleground in another hellacious battle, except this time Zayn finally got his comeuppance after two Helluva Kicks.

Over the past few years, Zayn and Owens have been on the same page, and shockingly enough the same team. The two best friends would come full circle again after Zayn returned to Friday Night SmackDown because of the pandemic. Zayn has been spurting all of this nonsense about this huge conspiracy going on around him for months now. Owens has been unsuccessfully challenging for the Universal Championship but ran into his friend backstage.

A few weeks ago, Zayn attacked his rival, for being paranoid I guess was his excuse. Owens however didn’t care and goaded him into a match at this year’s Mania. Owens and Zayn are about to create history and fulfill a lifelong dream of having a match on the Grandest Stage of Them All. I can only imagine how incredible this. the moment will be for those two, and the WWE Universe is honored and privileged to be able to experience it.

I’m very thankful that WrestleMania is two nights now because these two wouldn’t be given the appropriate amount of time if they were crammed into a seven-hour event. Please just give Owens and Zayn fifteen to twenty minutes, and let them create magic in the ring.


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Cook’s WrestleMania 37 Night Two Gambling Picks

After delivering (and standing?) his Takeover and WrestleMania Night 1 picks, Steve Cook is back with Night 2. For (sports) entertainment purposes only!

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WrestleMania 27 Stage

After delivering (and standing?) his Takeover and WrestleMania Night 1 picks, Steve Cook is back with Night 2. For (sports) entertainment purposes only!

Welcome back to the gambling picks!

If you missed Night 1, go ahead and click here!

I’m not going to lie to you guys, I’m already a bit peeved at WWE.

Why? Because they rendered part of my Night 1 pick column useless when they made Sasha vs. Bianca the main event after saying Drew vs. Bobby was! Like, what the hell man? At least I’m pretty confident they won’t change the main event of Night 2, so let’s make some picks for entertainment purposes only!

Kevin Owens (-350) vs. Sami Zayn (+225)

Independent wrestling fans would have never seen all this coming a decade or so ago. Kevin Owens as a babyface? Sami Zayn as a heel, without a mask? A YouTube personality as part of the build while Steve Corino agents away & Colt Cabana chills with the Super Smash Brothers? I’d have a hard time explaining all this to 10 Years Ago Me.

Not that this would be at the top of the list of things to warn 10 Years Ago Me about. Just saying…this is all wild stuff.

Kevin Owens is the likely winner as Sami gets punked out by his “buddy” Logan Paul. Slight chance Sami pulls the upset, but I doubt it’s worth throwing fake money on.

Randy Orton (+500) vs. The Fiend (-950)

I haven’t had a lot to say about this feud since it started, and that trend continues here. Not for me, and since I won’t be watching live I’ll surely be skipping ahead of this one. Hopefully those who are into this type of thing have fun.

Fiend likely wins, but if you really wanna throw a few bucks on Randy Orton at +500, maybe it’ll pay off.

United States Championship Match
Riddle (-160) vs. Sheamus (+120)

We can certainly question the methods WWE is using to feature Riddle, but it’s clear that they see something in him and want him to be a big deal. Sheamus has had a strong 2021 so far, and will give Riddle a good match and a big win for his first WrestleMania appearance.

I don’t have much else to add here. Should be hard-hitting.

Intercontinental Championship Nigerian Drum Fight
Big E (+120) vs. Apollo Crews (-140)

As we all know, the  “Nigerian Drum Fight” goes back to the early days of the legendary Nigerian pro wrestler Power Uti. If you’re not familiar with Uti, many consider him to be to the Nigerian Wrestling Federation what Undertaker has been to WWE over the years. They have a ton in common, including holding victories in major specialty matches over Mick Foley.

In the original incarnation of the Nigerian Drum Fight, the object of the match was to bash your opponent’s head into a drum in each corner of the ring. The first to hit all four corners in succession won the match. It looks like WWE is shifting the rules somewhat, and are just doing the typical No DQ thing they like to do. I assume that drums will still be legal, but am unsure of the spear.

If the spear is legal, go with Crews. I get the feeling that Big E is in line for the win here, and thus is my pick, especially since he’s the underdog.

Raw Women’s Championship Match
Asuka (+250) vs. Rhea Ripley (-400)

Once upon a time, Asuka was the new star fresh out of NXT looking to make an impact at WrestleMania. She won the Royal Rumble, but ended up losing at WM to Charlotte Flair. It happens. Just ask Rhea, who lost to Charlotte at last year’s WM. The best news for either of these two is that WWE avoided the urge to insert Charlotte in this match, as we know who the betting favorite would be then.

(Well, we think they’ve avoided the urge. Won’t be sure until the bell rings.)

I’m a big Rhea fan and am definitely supporting the Nightmare here. We all know that Asuka’s days as champion are numbered, as she’s seemed like an afterthought for most of her reign. However, there are reasons to believe that Asuka could get it done here. Mostly, the fact that her feud with Charlotte isn’t over yet.

Nah, I gotta stick with Rhea Ripley here. I’m not sure how Vince & the main roster creative folks feel about Rhea, but they probably haven’t had enough time to turn against her yet.

Universal Championship Triple Threat Match
Roman Reigns (+150) vs. Edge (+115) vs. Daniel Bryan (+200)

This is the first WrestleMania main event in a long time where the favorite doesn’t seem super obvious on paper. For one thing, there’s no reason for Roman Reigns to lose the Universal Championship. He’s superb in the role right now and should sit at the head of the table as long as possible.

Then there’s Edge, who against most other champions would be the obvious favorite. He’s making his big comeback complete by main eventing WrestleMania. Having him win only makes sense, and there are plenty of ways to go with it after, whichever side of the fence you want to put him on.

Daniel Bryan is the longest shot in this match, but we all know that’s when he’s at his most dangerous. One last run on top for Bryan wouldn’t be met with many arguments, and you can set whoever you want with him after & it’ll work.

Any of these picks are a winner in my book. I’m going to go with Roman Reigns because it isn’t often you’ll get those kind of odds on him. Usually he’s the heavy favorite, and for good reason. I wouldn’t be surprised by any outcome here, and that’s what makes this match a true main event.


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