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Opinion

The #MeToo Challenge: The Wrestling Media Wasn’t Ready

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Michael Elgin #MeToo

You had to know that #MeToo wasn’t going to confine itself to Hollywood.

For better or for worse, we follow the cues of celebrities. Celebrities doing things encourages us to follow in their footsteps. Sometimes, in the case of electing celebrities to public office, that’s a bad thing. Sometimes, in the case of exposing serial sexual harassers and overall scum of the earth, that’s a good thing.

We had to know that sooner or later the movement would make its way to professional wrestling. Let’s face it: wrestling has been a seedy business for most of its existence. I’m not saying everybody involved is a horrible person, or that most of the people involved can’t be trusted, but the business does tend to attract more than its fair share of weirdos, deviants & abusers. With Hollywood celebrities coming out & telling their truths, it would only be a matter of time before those with similar stories involving people in professional wrestling would feel empowered enough to tell theirs.

We all know wrestling’s history when it comes to women. The phrase “ring rat” has been around longer than anyone can remember. Women are painted with that brush to demean any accomplishments they may obtain. There is more #MeToo in wrestling than we’ll ever know.

Wrestling is often a promiscuous business. Men are encouraged & deified for being with multiple women. Ric Flair was looked up to for his sexual track record. If Charlotte Flair had a similar one, she would be the laughingstock of the business.

Wrestling is no different from life in this outlook, of course. Parents are disappointed when their little girl has her first sexual encounter. Their little boy gets an attaboy after his.

Times are changing. The sexual playing field is becoming less tilted. Mens’ behavior is getting exposed.

Not surprisingly, this has presented quite a problem for wrestling media. Most of us are ill-equipped to deal with these types of situations. I myself have problems talking to members of the opposite sex without sounding fifty IQ points dumber than I actually am. I am 100% clean when it comes to sexual harassment because I don’t think women even want to talk to me, much less do anything beyond talking. I can be real passive-aggressive when I get my feelings hurt, but that’s as harmful as I get.

There’s also the whole 411 Wrestling Hot 100 thing that pretty much shoots any credibility I might have had in the foot. 411 does still encourage me to do most of my opinion columns on women’s wrestling though, and I’ve successfully transitioned to not sounding like a total pervert 95% of the time. So maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit. All I know for sure is that I’m lucky that wrestling sites only expect me to pop off at the mouth about wrestling and not actually report anything.

Many of you probably have heard something about the situation involving the St. Louis wrestling scene, sexual harassment/assault, & Michael Elgin. My old friend Michael Melchor has an informative piece on the matter to catch you up if you’re not aware. For one side of the story, you can read Pro Wrestling Ponderings’ interview with the accuser. For another side, you can read a Tumblr account discrediting the accuser that was linked by Dave Meltzer when asked why he didn’t talk to her.

America’s longest-tenured wrestling journalist has taken a lot of fire over the past couple of years. Some of it is over meaningless balderdash, such as how many stars he gives New Japan matches that he likes because he’s friends with the people involved. Some of it is over his track record on breaking news taking a hit lately & his response usually being “plans change”.

If Dave Meltzer & his associates are ignoring claims of sexual assault because they’re friends with somebody involved, that’s a more damning indictment of Meltzer as a person than anything that anybody’s said about him over the past thirty years. Whether some of us like it or not, Meltzer is THE wrestling journalist of record. Not David Bixenspan, Mike Johnson, Ryan Satin or anybody else you want to throw out there as your favorite wrestling news reporter. It’s his responsibility, more than anybody else’s, to report on matters like this.

I’ve read through his coverage of the WWF sex scandals in 1992. Nobody else was covering the issue like Dave was. It still stands as a record of a time that WWE would prefer we forget. Twenty-six years later, his head appears to be stuck in the sand.

Now, Dave isn’t the only experienced wrestling journalist that suddenly has a case of the limber-tail. Bruce Mitchell recently wrote about issues surrounding indy wrestling booker Brad Stutts that led to his departure from CWF Mid-Atlantic. It’s a well-written article. Mitchell has always been one of wrestling news reporting’s best writers.

It had to be a tough thing for Bruce to write about, as Brad has appeared on many editions of his podcast as a co-host. I know the bond that develops between podcast co-hosts, as I consider Larry Csonka, Greg DeMarco, Jeremy Lambert & the Voodoo Penguin my blood bothers. It would be very tough for me to report on any transgressions involving these men. Bruce’s coverage shows that it was tough for him to report on a podcast co-host as well.

Then there was Stutts’s “inappropriate behavior” with a CWF employee. Anyone who has hung around with the guy knows the phrase, “Just Brad being Brad” and his wife Katie’s sly smile. He’s big personality guy, and he loves women.”

And with three sentences, Mitchell killed any credibility his column had. Making sure we knew Stutts loved women (like we couldn’t figure it out from what he was accused of), putting quotation marks around “inappropriate behavior” and inserting the phrase “Just Brad being Brad” gives the impression that Mitchell is a good ol’ boy making excuses for his fellow good ol’ boy. The #MeToo Challenge returns.

Should we be surprised? No. Meltzer & Mitchell are creatures of another era. The era where women weren’t afraid to report sexual harassment or sexual assault because they weren’t even phrases. It shouldn’t be surprising that they would be out of touch in regards to that, or that they would be more inclined to protect their friends than hold their feet to the fire.

It’s a lot easier to be pissed off at people taking advantage of power when you’re young & powerless. When you’re old & have power…why attack your friends?

Then there’s the next generation of wrestling writer after the Meltzers & Mitchells. The generation that I’m a part of. It’s tough for us too. Not because we’re friends with the people involved. From a personal perspective, most of the people in the business I would consider friends or acquaintances have retired. I’m not really inclined to seek out more friends either, as it could influence my opinions. Opinions are what I’m asked for. If those start getting compromised, I got nothing to offer.

The #MeToo challenge for us is simple: We don’t want to talk about this.

I am perfectly happy with writing about a SmackDown storyline, or an upcoming PPV match, or anything that’s related to the on-screen wrestling product. It’s fun to read the backstage gossip of who’s being held down, who’s getting the push & why. It’s even fun to read about who’s dating who.

Do I want to write columns about disturbing actions by disturbing people on a weekly basis? No. I don’t really have the stomach for it, nor do I have the ability to report these things in their proper context. Back when I did news columns, I was like a late night talk show host trying to make jokes out of anything. Sexual assault/harassment is nothing to joke about. I feel like I’m in way over my head whenever I’m discussing topics like it.

I would love for the people that commit these actions to be run out of wrestling on a rail. I’m glad that the British wrestling scene has taken action this week against people that have abused their power. The victims spoke up, the fans reacted, and the wrestlers took the right side.

I wish it would be that simple in America. It isn’t. As usual, our past gets in the way of progress. Ric Flair is widely considered the greatest American wrestler of all time. Most of our favorite Ric Flair stories involve sexual harassment. Those who believe that sexual harassment isn’t a crime will bitch & moan about how if Ric Flair was able to do it in 1988, *fill in the blank* should be allowed to do it in 2018.

Wrestlers need to be held accountable. Just like actors, politicians, public figures, and non-public figures. We can’t ignore #MeToo, and we need to do as much as we can to help it. I don’t think wrestling media is capable of doing so today, but it can be. Perhaps wrestling fans & readers can pressure wrestlers & wrestling writers to be better. If we can’t get better, we will be made obsolete.


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Opinion

AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21

AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?

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As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.

Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!

#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time

There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…

THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!

I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.


#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic

Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.

People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.

I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.

#3- Overuse of Certain Moves

This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…

Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.

If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.

How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.


That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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