Roman Reigns vs Jinder Mahal
I will always say this on my show. If you Mute the TV and watch Romans matches, they are not that bad! The problem is, most of the Internet Wrestling Community are trained by other members of the IWC to hate Roman no matter what type of performance he puts out. It is a lose-lose situation for Roman. Hell, I’m convinced they don’t even watch his match. They are too busy throwing boo’s out, doing the wave, going to the bathroom, and playing with beach balls. I understand you paid your money and all that blah blah bull junk, but give the guys some respect even if your IWC pals say you shouldn’t. Here is a better idea, THINK FOR YOURSELVES! Roman Reigns is the guy for the next 10 years. Get used to seeing him, oh and by the way Vince knows what type of reaction Roman is going to get, but guess what, He doesn’t care. Why? Because he already has your $!!! As far as Jinder, He is slowly improving. He is much better in the ring now than he was when he held the WWE Title. This match was pretty good. Better than some of the other matches on this card. Thumbs up from me.
Carmella vs Asuka
This match was what it was. I have to ask myself though, is Asuka important anymore? Losing her undefeated streak to Charlotte at WrestleMania now seems like a total waste after seeing how Charlotte has been used! Is Asuka just an afterthought now? Sure seems like it to me. As far as Carmella, I understand what WWE sees in Carmella, great heel! Old School Heel. You need heels like this in today’s business. Very rare you have a heel that gets a negative reaction from 90% of your crowd. That’s what Carmella gets. What better way to draw even more heat pn Carmella than to have her pin Charlotte and Asuka in the middle of the ring within 6 weeks? Oh I know, have James Ellsworth return to help her defeat Asuka. With James back by Carmella’s side, there is no stopping this duo and when it does happen, it better be good and it better be the right woman! Until them, let Carmella and James do their thing and draw as much heat as possible.
AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura
These two athletes have been going at each other for years and years. The dream match we all wanted to see inside a WWE ring…..Until we finally saw it. Then we wanted to take it back. The problem with the first match at WrestleMania, is there was no backbone to the build up. Good guy vs good guy. That’s not what I wanted to see, but for what we got at Mania, it wasn’t as bad as everyone said it was. So let us fast forward to Money in the Bank. We actually have a storyline. Some meat on the bone. A good guy and a bad guy. Which is how I like my wrestling. When I first heard this was going to be a “Last Man Standing Match” all I could do was put my head down in disappointment. Why you ask? I hate last man standing matches. The dreaded slow counts to 10….over and over again, it’s enough to make me want to change the channel, but this match, this match did not disappoint one bit. This was the best of the WWE’s series of matches from AJ and Shinsuke. Many of us had Shinsuke winning, but AJ stood tall at the end
of the night holding up the WWE Title and once again proving why he is deserving of that Championship. Both men put on a fantastic performance. I’m excited to see where both men go from here!
Ronda Rousey vs Nia Jax
As previously stated in my AJ/SN article, talk about no build for a match. That is what we got here. A random challenge thrown out to Ronda from Nia with no explanation as to why! The one thing I look forward to in my build up’s are physicality, the one thing this lacked until the go home episode of Raw. Although looking back, I honestly feel this match did not need a physical build up. Ronda being involved alone was enough for me. A lot of fans are complaining that Ronda is getting a title shot on her first singles match, crying and whining, what’s new? Again, just enjoy the show. Enjoy the publicity Ronda brings to the WWE, enjoy her athleticism, enjoy her in a skirt while she walks down to the ring. This match did NOT disappoint. I am not at all shocked at how quickly Ronda is picking up on wrestling. Let’s not forget she is a bronze Olympic medalist, and a UFC Hall of Famer….She is an athlete. Want another example? Kurt Angle. If anything, I would be disappointed if she didn’t pick up wrestling this fast. Ronda showed her ass during this match and earned the respect of a lot wrestling fans around the
country. As far as Nia Jax, Yes, this was her best match thus far in the WWE, but I personally give more credit to how dominant Ronda made her look than I do Nia. Nia as a character wasn’t doing anything for me nor anyone else. Overall, this was a great match and I am looking forward to seeing more Ronda in the WWE.
Alexa Bliss cashes in her MITB Briefcase
Right when we as the WWE Universe thought Nia was going to tap out to Ronda and we were going to see a new Raw Women’s Champ…Out comes Alexa Bliss to cash in her Money in the Bank contract. Alexa beat the hell out of Ronda with that briefcase. Alexa made sure that Ronda wasn’t going to be a factor in her attempt to regain the Raw Women’s Championship. Alexa did a fantastic job as making sure that wasn’t going to happen as Ronda was out cold on the outside. Alexa cashes in and defeats Nia JAx to become the New Raw Women’s Champion. The title is back home where it belongs, around the waist of the Goddess among Women, Alexa Bliss. I did not expect this to happen, nor did anyone else! If they did , they are lying. I never saw one prediction of Alexa winning the contract and cashing in the same night. This was pure genius by WWE. It’s obvious they still have a lot of faith in Alexa and believe in her to carry this Woman’s division. One of the most unexpected cash-ins we have ever seen. Bravo WWE!
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
It is here we find out that Kofi is going to represent the New Day in the MITB match. I enjoyed this match. Nothing special, nothing we have not seen one thousand times.You have to give credit to all these men though for putting their bodies on the line during this match. Especially Kevin Owens, who took a fall off of a 20 foot ladder onto a table thanks to Braun Strowman. Just like the women, all the men were given their chance to shine and they all took advantage of it. Nothing really to complain or nag about. It was a good match with a good ending. Braun gets the win and is the new Mr. Money in the Bank. I was surprised to see Braun win here. I was for sure Kevin Owens or The Miz was going to take this with Braun winning the Royal Rumble. I am not mad at all at the decision for Braun to take the contract. The more I think about it, the more I like this decision. Braun won’t cash in like your typical cash ins, I have a feeling he will either go face to face with Brock and tell Brock he is using his contract or get on the mic one Monday night and call out Brock and tell him he wants him now! Either way I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out.
Steve Cook’s Fave Five: April 2021
It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means…
It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means.
It’s time to talk about my current five favorite wrestlers like I’m Booker T. Let’s break down the Fave Five!
5. Samoa Joe
A gentle reminder that Samoa Joe is one of the greatest talkers in the game pic.twitter.com/p4TZeZIAV7
— Kenny Majid – A Kenny For Your Thoughts Podcast (@akfytwrestling) April 15, 2021
I figure what happened between Samoa Joe & WWE was the following: WWE offered Joe an announcing contract since either they didn’t want to use him in the ring or their doctors wouldn’t clear him to wrestle. Joe looked at the contract, noticed the financial discrepancy, realized he could probably get NJPW to let him train young boys in California for that kind of money and said “thanks but no thanks”. Nothing else really makes sense to me.
Unfortunately, those who thought that WWE wouldn’t utilize Joe to their fullest potential were right. It wasn’t all WWE’s fault though. Joe had a lot of miles on his tires when he got there. Injuries are always more of a concern with larger wrestlers the older they get. And when Joe was healthy, he did get to do some good stuff and show people a glimpse of the Samoa Joe that people like me raved about back in the mid to late 2000s.
In any event, Joe got his WWE run. It was a thing that happened. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t wind up in AEW because he seems like the kind of guy Tony Khan would throw all the money at. Should be fun!
4. Kris Statlander
— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) April 15, 2021
AEW does have a pretty insane number of factions right now. It risks the possibility of all of the groups blending together, with none of them really capturing the attention of fans. However, there are positive things about AEW’s faction warfare that shouldn’t be overlooked. It makes booking fresh matches to fill cards pretty easy. You can have groups facing off each week, but in different combinations that keep it fresh.
Another good thing: It can help us decide how we feel about characters that we might be on the fence about. Kris Statlander’s character was a topic of discussion from the moment she entered AEW. A lot of people weren’t sure how to take her. Wrestling aliens, or wrestlers who think they’re aliens, aren’t exactly common. Its the kind of thing that gets over in the indies, because those feds attract fans that are more willing to buy into unique concepts. Mainstream is a tougher sell.
Aligning Kris with the Best Friends makes sense to those in the know, since she came up working shows with them. It also helps people that don’t know about her figure out more. The Best Friends are a happy go lucky group that are the whitest of white meat babyfaces you’ll find in AEW, and that’s a good thing. They’re welcoming to people with unique personalities, as Orange Cassidy’s presence establishes. A friendly alien couldn’t ask for a better group to surround herself with, and from their appearances so far she seems like a perfect fit.
Add in the fact that the time on the shelf helped her get into better shape and refine her look & presence, and the sky’s the limit for Statlander. As long as she can stay in the ring, I’m expecting big things from her in 2021.
3. Tay Conti
Sometimes, all one needs is a change of scenery to approach their true potential. Tay spent a few years at the WWE Performance Center learning how to be a professional wrestler. During her time there, Tay never showed much in the way of potential. Even though she had a combat sports background and had the type of physical appearance that gets attention, Conti’s TV time was very limited and uneventful. She seemed like one of those wrestlers that was bound to stay in developmental until WWE gave up on them, then drop off the face of the earth without most wrestling fans noticing.
Tay’s story took a different route. She ended up being one of the cuts that AEW took an interest in, and was brought in for the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament. Her teaming with Anna Jay worked well on & off-camera, and she pretty much fit right in with the group immediately. She started training with Dustin Rhodes, and pretty much immediately started looking better in the ring & figuring out what worked for her. Now, she’s one of the people helping AEW’s women’s division go to a higher level.
This isn’t meant to denigrate WWE’s Performance Center or its methods. There just isn’t a wrestling training center out there that’s going to work for everybody. Tay had to find what worked for her. The people that recently got cut will have to do the same. Hopefully, the people that recently got signed by WWE will thrive in that environment.
2. Bianca Belair
We’ve recently seen three new Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella, all of whom are great in their own way. I’ve talked about Rhea Ripley before, she’s got unlimited potential and so far she’s done very well on the main roster. Raquel Gonzalez is doing very well on NXT and her push to the championship made perfect sense & got over. I do think the best of the title changes was Bianca’s defeat of Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania Saturday. It was a special moment for Bianca, a very fun match to watch, and a great performance from both Bianca & Sasha Banks, who did everything she could to make Bianca in that match.
You see the video of the NXT segment up above, with the three current Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella celebrating together. Apparently there was a picture taken in 2019, and there were pictures taken after this week’s NXT, with Triple H making sure to get in there as he likes to do with all new champions. I’ve never really been a fan of that sort of thing, even the “Horsewomen” celebrations on previous NXT shows didn’t do much for me.
Besides the usual complaints people have about things like that, the thing that I didn’t like was how Rhea & Raquel came off. They were all smiling & happy like they were Big Daddy Cool Diesel after beating Mr. Bob Backlund in 1994. Completely against what Raquel has been up to this point, and what Rhea has been when she’s been at her best. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing for Rhea for the portion of the NXT audience that likes their lady wrestlers crying & happy after their performances, and hopefully it’s leading to Raquel getting dismembered by Dakota Kai, who can’t be happy about her heater winning the championship and then turning into Smilin’ Diesel.
Fortunately for Bianca, it does nothing to affect her character or our opinion of her. That’s why I think her title run will go best. I’m also putting her here because I’m pretty well convinced there isn’t a wrestling move or spot she can’t do well. Insanely talented, and the more experience she gets the better she’ll be.
1. Darby Allin
Sometimes you just want to watch something that’s stupid fun. Something that doesn’t need too much thought in order to enjoy it. Just people doing crazy things to entertain an audience. Darby Allin matches are just what you need when you’re looking for something like this. There isn’t anybody crazier in pro wrestling today than Darby, which is probably for the best. I’m convinced this kid has a death wish.
The one thing that kinda gets me about Darby sometimes is how he kicks out of everything. Poor Matt Hardy wasn’t going to beat that kid unless he shot him with a gun, and apparently there’s a metal detector at Daily’s Place. (Shoutout to Matt by the way, hell of an effort in that match.) But then I remember that Darby Allin is a daredevil and constantly posting videos online where he’s jumping off high places and doing crazy things. Obviously, it’s going to take a little more to beat a daredevil than your average pro wrestler.
What’s it going to take to beat Darby Allin? That’s a good reason to keep watching.
NXT Minus 6: About that Cole-O’Reilly match…
It was the Takeover match that held the most promise. Where did it go wrong?
It was the Takeover match that held the most promise. Where did it go wrong?
6. I was jacked to 11 for Adam Cole versus Kyle O’Reilly. I was ready to give it a Tokyo Dome 6 stars. MOTY before the bell rang. A masterwork of storytelling. I correctly predicted it would be an unsanctioned match. Then the action started, and it quickly became “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”
5. After the first few acts of violence, it was apparent that the problem with the match would be the stipulation. The last NXT unsanctioned match was Johnny Gargano versus Tommaso Ciampa in 2018. That was 3 short years ago, but things move quickly in today’s world. There is very little chance an unsanctioned match can deliver the level of violence it promises as long as NXT is on the PG-13 Peacock.
4. Fans are losing their minds over all the content Peacock is leaving on the cutting floor. A lot of it was offensive and would never work today, but that’s not the point. The fact is there’s only so much violence Peacock’s parent company NBC will tolerate from wrestling. Take the chain, for example. Other than the clothesline, it was practically useless. O’Reilly tried to make it work, but it fell flat. In an unsanctioned match, 20 feet of heavy duty chain should be all you need to decimate another human being.
3. Maybe I’m a victim of my own wrestling memory. An unsanctioned match in Memphis in the 80’s would have been a bloodbath. Someone would have been hung over the top rope with the chain around his neck. Whipped across the back. Hog tied. Someone would have wrapped it around their fist for a few stiff shots to their opponent’s forehead. But that goes back to my original point. None of that would fly today even if NXT was only on the WWE network.
2. I’ll go so far as to say the only violent-promising stipulation that interests me is Falls Count Anywhere. There is zero drama in wrestlers pulling chairs from under the ring. The chance to use the naturally occurring environment as a weapon still holds a world of suspense. Someone is going through windows, walls, off the stage, over the guardrail, stuffed in a locker. Honestly, I’m tired of people getting hit in the stomach with folding chairs. Of all the ways to hit someone with a folding chair, that’s the least practical.
1. I’m sorry to say Kyle O’Reilly versus Adam Cole didn’t deliver what I expected. Maybe I’m in the minority. Maybe I don’t need over-the-top violence to entertain me. Maybe I don’t need wrestling to keep pushing the envelope. Five of my top 6 matches of 2021 are straight up wrestling matches. Maybe all I need is two (or three or four) strong characters and a good story. Damn, I sound old.
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