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Opinion

Top 5: Pride Friendly Wrestlers

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Dalton Castle

If you’ve seen the news, you know that June is celebrated by the LGBTQ community as Pride Month. Pro wrestling’s relationship with members of the community can best be described as “complicated”. While many within the business are homosexual or bisexual, including some of the most powerful people involved over the years, wrestling promotions have used fans’ lack of tolerance to get heat as far back as I can remember. We all know that wrestlers will do whatever they can to get a reaction from a crowd, and for most of wrestling’s existence, doing something perceived as gay was a good way to get some boos & some off-color chants.

We’ve all seen the garden-variety gay heels. They’re better off left in the dustbin of history. Some have taken the gimmick & ran with it to the point where they transcended the “cheap heat” barrier with their creativity. Some have lived their lives as members of the LGBTQ community, have faced down discrimination & rose above it to excel at their profession.

These are the Top 5 Pride Friendly Wrestlers.

5. Pat Patterson

Pat’s sexuality was an open secret going back to the sex scandals of the early 1990s & Jim Ross hollering “HE’S SINGLE FELLAS!” on late 1990s Raw commentary. It wasn’t officially acknowledged on WWE television until the final episode of WWE Legends’ House in 2014, and was further covered in Pat’s book that was released in 2016. Patterson’s illustrious in-ring career along with his longtime status as Vince McMahon’s right-hand man & numerous creative contributions show that sexual orientation can’t by itself effect how much someone can accomplish in the wrestling business.

4. “Exotic” Adrian Street

Back in the old days, you had to be a tough motor-scooter to work a gimmick where your sexuality wasn’t known. Wrestling fans thought that Adrian Street wasn’t one of the toughest people in the world & were more apt to go after him than the larger, “manlier” wrestlers. They were in for a bad time if they tried anything. Street was a legit shooter that had no problem busting heads or tying people in knots. He had to in order to survive. Adrian & his valet/wife Miss Linda were among the most hated people wherever they went & always provoked a reaction from a crowd. Since it was the 1970s & 80s, the reaction usually wasn’t good. Street had no problem dealing with it.

3. Goldust

As somebody that had seen Dustin Rhodes come up in WCW, the Goldust character was pretty jarring. The Natural had carried on the Rhodes family tradition for several years, and he gave it up to be a guy wearing a blonde wig, gold facepaint, a gold bodysuit & a golen robe while speaking in movie quotes & playing “mind games” with his opponents. It took a couple of times for me to realize that it was in fact Dustin Rhodes.

1996 was nowhere near ready for Goldust. Announcer, fan & wrestler reaction to him was pretty typical for the time. There were even some men that refused to wrestle him. It was a brave character direction for Dustin to take, and only years afterward did he begin to receive his just due for it. Some would still say he hasn’t.

2. Dalton Castle

Early Ring of Honor was not welcoming to wrestlers that weren’t 100% super straight. The Christopher Street Connection’s role for most of their run was to have fans chant homophobic slurs at them & get killed by serious tag teams. Watching ROH back then, you never thought that a fella that came down to the ring with his boys playing an androgynous showman & was pretty darn flamboyant would get over as the top babyface. I don’t think Dalton Castle would have been accepted by ROH fans in 2002, but by 2015 everybody was ready for him.

A few years before, that act probably would have been booed out of the building. In fact, Dalton had played the more traditional flamboyant heel character in the indies before. He honed his game, brought more of a glam rock feel to it, and everybody bought in. He’s the World Champion of a company owned by ultra right-wing Sinclair Broadcasting. I still wonder how it happened.

Honorable Mention: Chris Kanyon

Kanyon was one of the most talented in-ring performers of his time. He was such a solid hand that WCW entrusted him with training their various celebrity performers & handling the stuntwork in Jeremy Lambert’s favorite movie, Ready to Rumble. Unfortunately, Kanyon’s battle with mental illness led to him passing away at a far too early age.

Honorable Mention: Sonya Deville

Everybody can be proud of WWE’s first openly lesbian competitor. Sonya is still relatively new to the main roster, but has already scored some major victories. The sky’s the limit for Deville, who would have no problem shutting up anybody taking exception to her lifestyle in or out of the ring.

Honorable Mention: Darren Young

Young’s status as WWE’s first openly gay wrestler wasn’t followed up on by the promotion & he was released a couple of years later after doing little of note. It’s tough to conclude that WWE didn’t miss some kind of opportunity there. Even if they didn’t focus on his sexuality in his storylines, there would have been a fanbase there to engage.

1. The Golden Lovers

There have been a number of tag teams over the years that have hinted at a homosexual persona. None have pulled it off as well as Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi. I wouldn’t be able to do most of the story justice, so follow the tweet thread below if you haven’t seen it before:

After reuniting with Kota, Kenny realized that the hate & negativity that had been driving him for years wasn’t enough to attain his ultimate goal of becoming IWGP Heavyweight Champion. He needed to embrace the love he got from his friends, his lovers & the people that supported him. Once he did that, he was able to beat Okada.

Omega tells reporters that people can make whatever they will of his relationship with Ibushi. It’s not something that’s going to be the focal point of storylines. Everybody will be happy if it enhances the appeal of pro wrestling to all types of people. Omega’s matches have certainly opened a window to new possibilities, and his storytelling with Ibushi, the Young Bucks & Cody Rhodes has given New Japan a relatability it didn’t previously have with North American audiences. It’s not just about really cool moves anymore.

The Golden Lovers are for everybody. So is pro wrestling.


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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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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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