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What’s forgivable and what isn’t?

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In recent weeks a few things have happened or been reported about involving the not so savory aspects of the business.  There have been rumors about Hulk Hogan trying to work his way back into the good graces of the WWE, a WWE 24 special on the Hardys and the substance abuse problems that led them to essentially get fired from the company and kept them away until last year, the first comments from Enzo Amore since his firing a few months ago, the firing of Enzo’s former partner Big Cass, and lastly the morbid recognition by some on social media of Chris Benoit murdering his wife and son before he committed suicide.  With each case outside the Hardys there was some support for the men in question along with a lot of continued disdain and dissent.  Some people do want to see The Hulkster back, some people think both Enzo and Cass got bad raps in their respective cases, and some people think that Benoit should get recognition for his wrestling career despite the horrendous acts that he committed.  Now as wrestling fans we put up with and excuse a good bit of not cool behavior at all levels of the business – no more than another section of the entertainment business, but enough that we can’t really throw stones from our respective glass house.  So when something particularly bad goes down. what’s forgivable and what isn’t?  Here’s what I think:

The Hardys 

As you know the Hardys are back after years away and presumably overcoming their demons, Jeff’s recent DUI notwithstanding.  Should they have gotten another shot given what’s happened in the business before with some guys recovering from substance abuse?   Sure, as long as they can stay clean going forward.  Matt and Jeff hurt themselves, hurt their families, and to a degree hurt their employer by forcing them to change plans to account for their problems.  They didn’t, however, hurt the company’s bottom line, didn’t disrespect the customers, and didn’t cause any harm to anyone else.  If Vince trusts them then it’s all good, and if they fall back into their old habits he can fire them again.

Enzo Amore

This one’s easy – don’t come back Enzo.  From all reports out there he wasn’t honest with the company about being under investigation for sexual assault, and there have been numerous rumors and such about him not getting along with his coworkers.  Not to mention he wasn’t much good in the ring as it was.  Outside of selling some wigs and T-shirts, he was at the point of having no redeeming qualities.  I don’t miss him and I think most of you guys don’t either.  As far as him being vindicated by way of not being charged with a crime……sure dude, that totally makes you innocent.

Cass

Cass allegedly didn’t get along with anyone, was drinking too much, and went into business for himself a few weeks back for a segment on Smackdown.  And like his former partner he wasn’t great in the ring so they’re really not losing much here.  No brainer, really.  Given how things ended for both he and Enzo it’s finally starting to make sense that they never got a run with the tag titles either in NXT or on the main roster.  It really looks like HHH and some other folks in the back knew that they had a ticking time bomb with with both of them so the only move was to gets as much as you could out of them before the bottom fell out.  I wouldn’t rule either of them out for returning one day but it’s clear that they were more trouble than they were worth in 2018.

Chris Benoit

This is simple.  F@#! Chris Benoit.  Chris was once one of my favorite wrestlers.  When he won the World Title at WrestleMania XX I thought it was earned and when he and Eddie Guerrero embraced to end the show that was a truly touching moment.  Who gives a crap now?  Well some people apparently do based on a few tweets I saw.  Saying that we ‘lost’ Chris around this time in 2007, like he died of cancer or something, is some super tone deaf stuff, ok?  They’re not going to put his name back in the captions on the network and they’re not going to feature him on anyone else’s stuff be it match collections, DVDs, or whatever.  Not sorry about it at all.  If you want to see him so bad there his matches are still on the network.  I’m ok with that because the other person or people he was working with deserve to have their work be fully visible so we can see how good they were.  But he doesn’t deserve a damn thing and people pushing for his name to brought back because he was so good in the ring can have a supersize stadium full of seats.

Hulk Hogan

Last but not least we have the Hulkster.  Hogan got banished from WWE programming because of his racist rant that got exposed without his permission (he in fact won a big lawsuit over it and all).  He’s been trying to get his way back in now that some time has passed and, he hopes, that people aren’t thinking about it anymore.  Of course when you try to get back in yourself and not just wait for Vince to call you, and it gets out that you’re making these overtures, then all the stuff you said is going to get run up the flagpole again and squash your chances.  But never mind the stupidity of his methods, does he deserve another chance?  After all he did ‘just’ say some stuff, right?  And words, no matter how bad they are, aren’t the same as doing drugs, being awful to people at work, lying about being investigated for a criime, or actually killing some people.  And to top it off, without your work 30 years ago the foundation for what we have today would not have been laid.  So you should get that last lifetime achievement award style position to spread the gospel of wrestling and all things WWE, right?

In my opinion, NO.  At a time when the diversity of the audience/customer base and on air talent is greater and/or more recognized than ever before, bringing back someone who was fired for demeaning some of the people who contribute to said diversity is tone deaf and insulting.  It doesn’t fly on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, you name it.  And forcing guys and gals like New Day, Naomi, Titus, Apollo, etc to pretend it’s no big deal and maybe even say nice stuff about him on camera is as insulting as it is trying to get us in the audience to enjoy hearing that dude talk again.  I can watch and appreciate his work and what he brought to the game without him getting a cushy ambassador position and being put in front of my face again.  And it’s not like he has much to say anyway; we’ve seen his pretend to put guys over as a way of getting himself over routine plenty of times already.  The guy doesn’t add much with his perspective the way that a lot of other legends do.  He’s still out there trying to big up himself 30 years later.

At the end of the day, if you play the risk/reward game with Hogan you’d find that you really aren’t gaining anything in return for what you’re jeopardizing.  The people who are pushing the hardest for him are, from my estimation, people who already have network subscriptions and spend money on the product.  You’re not getting any new viewers and you’ll piss off a bunch of current ones.  You have a few that think he should be welcomed back versus a lot of people who will range from indifferent to frustrated to angry.  Seriously what good does he do you right now?  He can’t work a match and he isn’t going to sell anything by showing up (insert any joke you want about Hogan and selling in the ring here).  He’s a founding father of the WWE; unfortunately that’s not just in the good ways but in the bad ways as well.  Keeping him away, in my opinion, is what’s best for business.

 

So there you have it, who I think should be forgiven and who shouldn’t be.  What do you think?


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Top 5 World Championship Reigns In The WWE Modern Era (1984 to Present)

See the lists developed by PC Tunney, Greg DeMarco, and Patrick O’Dowd as they determine the five best world championship reigns in the modern era of WWE!

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Roman Reigns WWE Universal Champion

See the lists developed by PC Tunney, Greg DeMarco, and Patrick O’Dowd as they determine the five best world championship reigns in the modern era of WWE!

Wrestling is one of the most fun topics under which we can rank nearly everything. A simple Google search will reveal entire websites devoted to rankings–wrestling or otherwise.

PC Tunney devised an idea, and I developed a name. Thus, the Impromptu Wrestling Convo (aka, The IWC) was born. The first topic? Top 5 World Championship Reigns In The WWE Modern Era.

PC Tunney, Patrick O’Dowd, and myself each came up with our Top 5, and came together to reveal them on this special podcast (see it above, and below). Definitely give it a listen. But here you can also read our composite list, and see who ranked in our Top 5.

Grading Criteria:

  • Points were assigned for the rankings: 5 points for #1, 4 points for #2, and so on.
  • Ties would likely have been left as ties, but (luckily for me) there were no ties in the Top 5, making that part easy.
  • Any reign starting with Hulk Hogan’s first was eligible to be included.

And now, the list!

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Top 5 World Championship Reigns In The WWE Modern Era

5. Brock Lesnar, 2014

Starting with his dismantling of John Cena at SummerSlam (which was supposed to be Daniel Bryan), Brock Lesnar had a reign that included an incredible triple threat match with Seth Rollins and John Cena at the 2015 Royal Runble, and of course the WrestleMania 31 main event clash with Roman Reigns that ended in Seth Rollins’ iconic cash-in. This reign is mainly notable for how it starts and how it finishes, as there was but one bright spot in the middle.

4. John Cena, 2005

Not the longest John Cena world title reign, but Cena’s run as WWE Champion started at WrestleMania 21 and ended with the first ever Money In The Bank cash-in at New Year’s Revolution. This cemented Cena as the top dog in WWE, complete with a move to Raw in the draft, and the emergence of “Super Cena.”

3. CM Punk, 2011

454 Days that no one will ever forget, CM Punk dominated WWE television in a reign that was ultimately cut short by The Rock. Punk didn’t main event WrestleMania 28, facing Chris Jericho before the “Once In A Lifetime” clash between The Rock and John Cena. This ended at the following Royal Rumble at the hands of The Rock, who would go on to lose that title to Rumble winner John Cena at WrestleMania 29.

2. Roman Reigns, 2020

The present-day WWE Universal Champion nearly tops the list, but what remains to be seen is just how long he holds the title, and how it ends. Roman Reigns is on a monumental ride, with no signs of slowing down. We will see if the emergence of a new megastar ends this journey, or if Hollywood comes calling first. Either way, this will end up being acknowledged as one of the all time great championship reigns.

1. Hulk Hogan, 1984

Hulk Hogan began his 1,474 day reign as WWF Champion on January 23, 1984, defeating The Iron Sheik in Madison Square Garden. Hogan would kick off the Rock-N-Wrestling Era, launching WWE into a stratosphere not seen by any other wrestling company, ever. Outside of an 83 week stretch, no one could touch WWE, and that stretch was fronted by Hogan himself. His reign ended in controversy (something about Andre The Giant selling the championship to Ted Dibiase, evil twin referees, and a tournament at WrestleMania IV), but it still goes down as the greatest ever.

Others getting mentioned:

  • Jinder Mahal, 2016 (yes, that was mine)
  • Brock Lesnar, 2017 (by PC Tunney)
  • Randy Savage, 1988 (Patrick O’Dowd’s)
  • John Cena, 2006 (by Tunney)

To see how each talent was listed, and by who, I made this chart. Keep in mind, a “5” means they were #1 on that person’s list, a “4” is #2, “3” is #3, “2” is #4, and a “1” is #5.

What are your thoughts? Drop them in the comments below, or on social media! Also, give the podcast a listen, it’s streaming throughout this article.


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News From Cook’s Corner 1.17.22: Gory Self-Mutilation

AEW tried to catch lightning in a bottle for the second time. Did it work? What other news struck last week?

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! We’ve got a short column for you this week, which most of you were probably expecting when the Cincinnati Bengals actually on a playoff game. Nah, I didn’t party too much, just had an allergic reaction with my eye again. We’ve done this before. This time I’m pretty sure it had something to do with cleaning my bookshelf and rearranging my books. Hadn’t done that in awhile, so there was a ton of duct. Sitting down and looking at a computer screen sucks, so we have to limit it as much as possible.

There’s still a couple things that warrant discussion though, so let’s get to it.

WWE On The Offensive

Looks like this week’s top stories are about WWE trying to do things to undermine wrestling promotions. We start with Major League Wrestling, who has filed a federal anti-trust lawsuit against WWE claiming that WWE has interfered with their ability to make various media rights deals.

Some of the highlights:

-Former WWE executive Susan Levison allegedly warned an executive from VICE that Vince McMahon was “pissed” they were airing MLW programming. MLW claims that WWE had leverage over VICE due to the Dark Side of the Ring series often being focused on WWE subject matter.

-MLW alleges that when WWE found out about their agreement with Tubi, WWE threatened to stop doing business with Fox. The fallout from the Tubi agreement falling through led to a drop in ticket sales & event cancellations & delays.

-As an example of WWE’s anticompetitive behavior, MLW cited AEW being held out of two arenas in the Cincinnati market due to pressure from WWE. Jon Moxley wrote in his book that the Heritage Bank Center on Cincy’s riverfront refused to book AEW due to WWE influence. I don’t know the other, could be the BB&T Arena across the river on the campus of Northern Kentucky University where WWE has held house shows. AEW wound up running the Fifth Third Arena on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, and outdrew the Raw taping held at the HBC just prior.

-Apparently starting in early 2020, WWE started trying to poach MLW wrestlers that were under contract, and aired footage of an MLW wrestler without MLW’s consent. (Somebody would have to fill me in on this one, I haven’t the slightest idea who this would be.) MLW also claims that WWE sought to prevent wrestlers from working with MLW by refusing to hire wrestlers that had worked there, and that one MLW wrestler demanded to be released early from his contract so he could join WWE.

Do I think that at least some of these allegations are true? Having followed pro wrestling for over thirty years and having read up on the history of WWE…you betcha!

I don’t think there’s a question that WWE has resorted to any means necessary to drive potential competitors out of their market. They’ve been doing this since taking most of the territories’ top stars back in the mid-1980s. It’s been a monopoly for nearly two decades for a reason. The main question I have: Will a judge actually care, or will they throw it out of court because it’s silly pro wrestling?

How do you think WWE slips under the radar on things that other media companies & sports leagues actually have to deal with? People have been trained to not take WWE seriously. As much as people like us obsess over the rasslin’ business, people that don’t “get it” are happy to ignore it. Vince McMahon can do any darn thing he wants, and the reaction from folks outside the wrestling bubble will be non-existent. It’s wrestling! To outsiders, the whole damn thing is an outlaw mudshow.

AEW = Gory Self-Mutilation

The Toronto Sun did an article on All Elite Wrestling over the weekend, talking about their status as a competitor to WWE. They asked WWE for comment & got one:

“If you look at the gory self-mutilation that bloodied several women in the December 31 event on TNT, it quickly becomes clear that these are very different businesses. We had an edgier product in the `Attitude’ era and in a 2022 world, we don’t believe that type of dangerous and brutal display is appealing to network partners, sponsors, venues, children, or the general public as a whole.”

A few notes here:

1. I’ve been doing this stuff longer than I care to admit, and I never thought of asking WWE for comment on something. Should I start asking people for comments on topics I’m writing about? I doubt I’d get any answers, but it might be worth a shot.

2. This has been WWE’s strategy when asked about AEW for some time now. We remember Vince McMahon using the phrase “Blood & Guts” to describe the promotion on a conference call. They know that people get squeamish about blood, especially when it comes to blood coming from women. The Fabulous Moolah never busted anybody open on television, and she trained most of the women for years. People aren’t used to seeing it, and they often get uncomfortable with things they aren’t used to seeing.

3. Most people find other people bleeding pretty gross. There’s a reason why deathmatch wrestling is a niche produxct. People that love it really, really love it, but it’s a very small percentage of the marketplace.

4. WWE’s belief is that advertisers & media companies aren’t big on blood, so they make sure to mention AEW’s apparent lust for the red stuff whenever the subject comes up. Their hope is that advertisers will shy away from advertising with AEW, and media companies won’t give AEW big money when their current deal with WarnerMedia is up.

5. Thus far, whenever Tony Khan is criticized on something, he doubles down on it. So there’s a pretty good chance that we’re going to see even more matches with female bleeding. AEW’s female workers seem happy to do it.

6. WWE could be called out as being hypocritical on this front, but there aren’t many people that will hold them accountable.

It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. All I know for sure is that the smack talk between these two promotions and their fans is just beginning. Think it’s tocic now? Wait a couple of years.

Welp, that’s all for this week. Thanks for reading! Join me later in the week for some Divisional Round picks. Until then, keep your stick on the ice.

In Memoriam: Pete was a longtime reader from back in the day. From my dealings with him he was a kind person that knew how to use his head. When you’ve written things on the Internet as long as I have, you learn that’s a rare thing. From what I’ve read from people that knew him in real life, he was the same way off the computer. Sadly he passed away from cancer on Friday night. Pete was always about serving others, as he was a U.S. Air Force veteran & a regular blood donor. He will be missed.


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