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The Importance of Charlotte vs Asuka at Wrestlemania 34

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Charlotte vs Asuka WrestleMania

There was a time not too long ago when women’s wrestling wasn’t just considered to be one of the least important aspects of a professional wrestling card, but for many people was sadly relegated into the category of ‘bathroom break’ which is a position no talent wants to be in at any point in his/her career. Prior to the most recent growth of the ‘Women’s Revolution’, women were sadly handed the short end of the stick on the vast majority of WWE shows and as a result some dark days loomed over some of the most talented individuals in the wrestling world.

When looking back at the period of 2002-2006, women in the WWE were generally placed at the bottom of the card, with a few exceptions on the odd occurence. Instead of being offered storylines and matches that would emote care and passion from their loyal fanbase, they were shoved into meaningless and sometimes revolting angles that position them more as sex-symbols than anything. Matches such as ‘Bra & Panties’ and the use of the word ‘Diva’ not only detracted from everything that made women like the legendary Mae Young so special but gave the WWE fanbase very little to clamour over, other than vanity.

Further combining the lack of compelling characters, matches with far too little time to invoke a reaction or a general sloppiness & inconsistency in terms of their creative direction lead to a complete disconnect with the mainstream audience. This wasn’t through any fault of their own, as at the time women in professional wrestling, at least within North American territories, just weren’t viewed in the same light as their male counterparts.

Thankfully, with a complete shift in their backstage influencers and creative directions, women haven’t just received attention equal to that of men but on countless occasions have outshined their efforts and made their mark.

Our most recent example in this shift is ‘The Empress of Tomorrow’, Asuka.

The recent ‘Women’s Revolution’ has brought along a plethora of fresh and new talent, the likes of Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax, Carmella, Becky Lynch, RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss and SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte have all become standouts in this revitalized division. None however, at least in my eyes, have been positioned in the seat of dominance the way Asuka has been since her 2015 debut in NXT.

As of April 2nd, Asuka’s undefeated streak stands at 265 wins, a streak that has spanned over 908 days and the conquering of 8 former Women’s champions. To know this streak not only stands as the longest of the modern era isn’t just a testimony to the importance that women now play in the landscape of WWE, but the magnitude that this upcoming match with Charlotte at Wrestlemania 34 could have on everyone. This includes not just us as fans, but likely the many talents who will be backstage during the match itself.

Charlotte has long been considered the best pound-for-pound women’s wrestler on the main roster, this goes without mentioning her previous heritage to her father, 16-Time World Champion ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair. Many, myself included feel Charlotte’s historic victory at Wrestlemania 32 was the renaissance of women’s wrestling and a sign that change had finally come after a long overdue wait. Her brutal rivalry with Sasha Banks that shortly followed throughout 2016 pushed the women into all new territory, breaking ground and providing them with a platform previously unheard of in the business.

While we all watched this history unfold, there was no collision course clearer than the eventual one with Asuka, who at that point had been dismantling the women down in NXT for well over a year. Both women achieved historical accomplishments during their time in WWE; Charlotte becoming the inaugural RAW Women’s Champion, while Asuka cemented her legacy by winning the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble earlier this year.

Those achievements not only raised the legitimacy of both women’s respective careers, but made fans question what would happen one day, the one day that we got to see ‘The Empress of Tomorrow’ clash with the best that WWE had to offer. That day is soon to be upon as, and we only need to wait until this Sunday at WrestleMania 34 to see which woman truly lives up to their own name.

Charlotte Asuka WrestleMania

It may seem like a normal match on paper, but Charlotte vs Asuka is far more than just what it’s billed as on the surface. It is a clash of the talent that came out of NXT and accomplished so much in such a short space of time, and it is also a clash to once and for all find out who is truly the best. Having beaten 8 former Women’s Champions there is little left for Asuka to prove, but Charlotte could potentially be the one to break the streak that has ruled the WWE landscape for so very long. At the same time, there is no challenger who possess a bigger threat to the ‘Queen’ of Smackdown than Asuka herself, as her previous track record will leave a large section of the audience with fear in their hearts.

It is storytelling like this that makes this match on Sunday so pivotal. Along with pairing up the two current best in the world, it shuld generate an image of how far our women have come in such a short space of time. This isn’t intended to harm the reputation of the other Women’s matches on the card, as I’m expecting nothing but quality, but no match on the card has the core WWE fanbase more interested than this historical clash.

If you’re like me, and are tuning in this Sunday, I advise you to consider the importance of this match. We are also lucky enough for have 3 other prominent matches involving some very lucrative female talent, but none hold a candle to what Charlotte & Asuka have the chance of producing at WrestleMania 34. This is more than just a championship match, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted women’s wrestling to embody; a solid storyline, well-defined characters and a match that any WWE or NXT fan has been waiting to see for almost 3 years.

WrestleMania has ridiculous potential with the card on offer this year, if you’re looking for this years ‘Dark Horse’, look no further than the SmackDown Women’s Championship match.


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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: Let’s Make History!

Bradley Jay makes history in this week’s edition of the NXT Minus 6. What kind of history is he making? Well, that’s for you to read and see!

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WWE NXT Undisputed Era Breezango

Bradley Jay makes history in this week’s edition of the NXT Minus 6. What kind of history is he making? Well, that’s for you to read and see!

This will be the most historic column in the history of history!

Less than half of Americans know that alcohol is a carcinogen. Big Booze wants to keep it that way.

6. Did you notice how many people want to make history? It’s all anybody talked about this week. I turned it into a drinking game. Every time someone said they wanted to make history, I took a shot. After 10 minutes, I died from alcohol poisoning. So much history.

NXT's Shotzi Blackheart Reveals Ember Moon as Women's Dusty Classic Partner

5. Shotzi Blackheart will make history as the first person with green hair to win a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament. Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro will become the first tag team in history to win a DRTTC whose collective weight would qualify for 205 Live. Ember Moon will make history as the first person to leave NXT, return and win a tournament that didn’t exist the first time she was there. BTW, the tag team I want to see is Kayden Carter & Ember Moon.  

MSK Revealed After Debut on Tonight's WWE NXT

4. Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory will make history as the first mentor/mentee team to win the DRTTC. KUSHIDA will make history as the first wrestler to win in all caps! MSK will make history as having the most God-awful name of any team to win. Unless it’s a shout out to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, then the name is doo doo on a stick.

Killian Dain | WWE3. Grizzled Young Veterans are sssssooooooon to make history as the first team to lose in the finals and win it the next year. Killian Dain by himself will be the hairiest team ever to win the DRTTC. Bollywood Boyz will make history as the first…I can’t finish that sentence. Those gomers aren’t winning Jack Squat. 

WWE NXT Releases the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Bracket

2. Overall, it was a good start to the tournament. Every match was 3.5 stars. Nothing memorable, nothing horrible. Breezango versus Undisputed Era was the best of the bunch. It would have been better without the horribly overbooked end. I’m not sure the point of it all if Breezango couldn’t use it to pick up a victory.   

Video: Wade Barrett sits down with Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher before NXT Fight Pit on WWE NXT - Wrestling Inc.

1. “You look like a man who is questioning if he’s still got it.” It was a filler line, but that’s the story! I’m slightly excited for Tommaso Ciampa versus Timothy Thatcher, primarily because of the Fight Pit. Right now, it’s two tough guys wanting to beat each other up. I want to see Ciampa fighting to prove he’s still got it. I want to see Thatcher fighting to crush the soul of the locker room leader. That’s the story.  


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NFL

Cook: Breaking Down The 2021 NFL Divisional Round

Steve Cook breaks down the NFL Divisional Round Playoffs, getting you ready for one of the best football weekends of the year!

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NFL Divisional Round Playoffs Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers

Steve Cook breaks down the NFL Divisional Round Playoffs, getting you ready for one of the best football weekends of the year!

Many experts say that the Divisional Round is the best weekend of the NFL season, and I agree with them. The Wild Card Weekend gets rid of all the riff-raff, and we’re left with teams that deserve to be there. A bitter pill to swallow for me as a Cincinnati Bengals fan whose team can never win one playoff game when they get there, due to the Bo Jackson Curse. I still have to swallow it because it is what it is. The cream rises to the top, and any team that manages to win one playoff game has earned their position on the stage.

I know everybody out there is wondering who will win these games. Fortunately, I’m here to break it down for you, and let you know what’s going to happen. After all, I did win 3 out of the 3 fantasy leagues I was in this season. Just saying, I know what these folks are capable of statistically. Ask anybody here on The Chairshot. I broke them all down and made them humble at some point during the fantasy season. Laid waste to all these folks, who all are intelligent in their own right. No disrespect to anybody I was up against. Their arms were just too short to box with God.

Saturday, 4:35 PM: LA Rams at Green Bay Packers

You know it’s a stacked weekend of action when this is the curtain-jerker. We got the best defense in the NFL going against Aaron Rodgers, on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Where there will be 6,000 ticketed fans, along with first responders. Not enough to make a difference like a typical Packers home game.

As good as that Rams defense is, you don’t like them nearly as much when Aaron Donald is off the field. Donald says he’s ready to do, so does Jared Goff, so the Rams are heading into Green Bay with all hands on deck. I went with the Rams at +6.5, largely because they’re looking as healthy as possible heading into this one, and you have to be impressed with what they did in Seattle. That being said, the Packers represent much stiffer competition. And I don’t care if Aaron Rodgers has only won one Super Bowl, I’m still picking his team to win in Green Bay. They don’t have to leave Wisconsin until the Super Bowl, though they might want to leave before then.

Yeah, I know. Kentucky guy talking state smack.

Cook’s Pick: Green Bay Packers

Saturday, 8:15 PM: Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills

Lamar Jackson finally got that monkey off of his back and won a playoff game. I was in a tough spot seeing Lamar compared to Andy Dalton, a perfectly competent Bengals QB that couldn’t win a postseason game. This is the closest line right now, because Vegas and everybody knows this: Once you let Lamar Jackson out of his cage, he’ll pile the bodies to the sky. One of the most fun athletes to watch of my, or anybody else’s, lifetime. I mean, if you don’t like Lamar, what do you like?

I’m a big fan of the Bills’ story, and I’d like for them to go a long way. Josh Allen is a talented SOB and fun to watch. I’m not sure he’s as fun as Lamar Jackson, but then I’ve seen many more Lamar Jackson games. This will be a big game for the future of both men, and might not be the last time we see them face off in the playoffs. I picked Baltimore at +2.5 largely because of my Lamar Jackson fandom, and the fact that the Ravens are just one of those franchises that excel in the playoffs. You always see them making a deep run. Buffalo? Well, they had four pretty deep runs, and you don’t mention any of those in Buffalo if you want to get out alive.

Cook’s Pick: Baltimore Ravens

Sunday, 3:05 PM: Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

One of those games that will be closer than it should be for most of the game. Imagine the Browns going into an overly loud Arrowhead Stadium against Patrick Mahomes. It would be ugly. The fact that this stadium won’t be crowded as usual kind of gives Cleveland a chance. The spread is -10. I’d typically take Cleveland on those odds in this environment. Except…man, that offense is pretty awesome and I bet KC wants to put on a show. Pittsburgh couldn’t do it because they’re awful, but Kansas City definitely can.

Browns fans are hoping that the Chiefs overlook them, and the team itself is trying to use Chiefs quotes as bulletin board material, but I just don’t see Kansas City overlooking these guys. The “NOBODY RESPECTS US!” motivational tactic is as old as time and more often than not is based off of nothing. Listen, if you’ve made it to this point of the NFL season, there is somebody out there that respects you. This is the best Browns team since the days of Bernie Kosar. Just don’t ask Cleveland fans of a certain age what happened when they played an AFC West team in the playoffs. Still a touchy subject.

I’m kind of hoping the Browns go away for one simple reason: It’s awkward being a Bengals fan and seeing everybody in love with these guys. Not to be “NOBODY RESPECTS US!” guy, but I sure don’t remember the Bengals getting the same type of good vibes from the people when they were good. What’s up with that?

Cook’s Pick: Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday, 6:40 PM: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

We got Tom Brady & Drew Brees up past their bedtime. Nah, we need to get past the old people jokes, as honestly I’m pretty happy to see a game with two quarterbacks older than me playing in it. Makes me feel not quite as old. They still got skill too, both men were in the top 10 QBR rankings for the 2020 regular season. I’m pretty sure QBR gives Brady & Brees 50 points just based off of being Brady & Brees, but they still had impressive seasons. We’re talking about their buddy Ben Roethlisberger possibly retiring, but nobody’s really talking about either of these guys doing it. Unless they just want to go out on top, which with Brees is definitely a possibility.

The Saints won the first two meetings, and we all know the old saying about teams that meet three times. We also know that it’s dang near impossible to beat a Tom Brady-quarterbacked team in the postseason. Dude’s won more postseason games than some teams have won games over the past twenty years. OK, a little exaggeration, but would you be surprised if it’s true? Betting against Tom Brady in the postseason is like betting against Undertaker at WrestleMania. You just don’t do it.

Unless it’s in New Orleans.

Wrestling Fans

See what I did there? I like the Saints because I like their skill position players better. Alvin Kamara looks good and recovered from the rona. Michael Thomas is back in the mix, which can only be a good thing for the Saints’ passing game. They also have a slightly better defense, and we all know that as much as we talk about the shiny quarterbacks, defense wins championships. Saints in a barn burner to end the weekend on a good note.

Cook’s Pick: New Orleans Saints

Thanks for reading! Fun to do the ol’ sports again, maybe I’ll do more of it in the future…


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