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Thank You, Roman: Moments and Matches to Revisit



Roman Reigns

By now, most wrestling fans have heard the news. Roman Reigns was forced to relinquish his Universal Championship this past Monday after announcing that he would have to once again endure a battle with leukemia.

I was sort of emotionless for the rest of the night. I hadn’t really experienced something like this since elementary school when my friends informed me about the tragic news of Eddie Guerrero. Here’s a guy that we invite into our homes every Monday night – a guy that performs above everybody else in the world regardless if he’s cascaded with boos.

When fans were sending in their well wishes Monday night, there were several times where the author felt the need to include “I wasn’t a fan of the Roman Reigns character, but”. I thought this was unnecessary. Regardless of how you felt about the character, Monday was the time to celebrate the man known as Joseph Anoa’i. Think about it. Have you ever seen him botch a move or be reckless in the ring? Have you ever heard about him involved in a scandal or backstage heat? Roman Reigns was putting guys over for two years and wrestling for mid-card belts when it was clear he was the top guy of the company. When I caught wind of the news on Monday, I began to reflect on all of these things and more. I felt inspired to write this piece about some of his best and most underrated matches because he’s certainly a superstar that hasn’t always gotten the credit he’s fought so hard to earn.

Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns (vs. Seth Rollins) – WWE Championship, WrestleMania 31

Of course, the one thing we all remember from this match was Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank contract to win his first ever WWE Championship. It was immediately regarded as one of the most memorable Mania moments of all time. But what I remember is the match before the cash-in. I know it seems like a lifetime ago but this was the first time Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar were going to meet. Fans weren’t crazy about the main event choice but you could tell they were interested. There were no beach balls, booing, or irrelevant chants. Roman Reigns was getting his first major singles push and Brock was booked as being absolutely unstoppable at the time. A case could have been made for both guys. The match included plenty of suplexes and Superman punches but every move felt like it meant something. Every string of offense could have been a turning point for either man. In case you forgot, this is the match were “suplex city” was born. Seth’s moment had us all in shock but I was on the edge of my seat long before that.

Roman Reigns (c) vs Sheamus w/ Vince McMahon as Special Guest Referee – WWE Championship, Monday Night Raw (1/4/2016)

I’ve never heard anyone talk about this match because it wasn’t some 5-star classic and it wasn’t on a pay-per-view. It was the main event of Raw. I lived 2 hours from this venue but when the main event and stipulation was announced the week prior, my friends and I decided we were going to take a little road trip to see it. Other memorable things actually happened on this night. Chris Jericho returned on a full-time basis and the Hall of Fame faction of the Social Outcasts were formed. I don’t remember much of the match but I’ll never forget the pop that Roman got when he overcame the odds and retained the WWE Championship. It was one of the few times I remember an entire venue collectively being on Roman’s side so that’s what I clung to. Unfortunately, Vince let the air out of the building afterward by announcing Roman would be defending his belt at the Royal Rumble. But as I was exiting, I noticed Roman still gave everyone at ringside a high-five after Raw went off the air.

Roman Reigns vs. Big Show – Last Man Standing, Extreme Rules 2015

I wasn’t too excited going into this one. They had been feuding on Raw for weeks with nothing much to sink my teeth into. Show was aging and Roman was still growing into his singles role. Well, they pulled out all the stops for their match at Extreme Rules because I was pleasantly surprised. I was thoroughly entertained in what ended up being my favorite match of the night. I’d say it’s an underrated moment in the career of both men.

Kevin Owens (c) vs Roman Reigns – Universal Championship (No DQ w/ Chris Jericho in a shark cage), Royal Rumble 2017

I’m not the biggest fan of the shark cage stip and Kevin Owens wasn’t having a strong title reign so I wasn’t overly jazzed for this one either. But just like the match with Big Show, they knew how to get the job done. The match itself was awesome and the feud between Braun Strowman and Roman was created at the conclusion. Roman returned later in the night as entrant #30 in The Rumble to a groundswell of groans. We were all expecting the debut of Samoa Joe or the return of Finn Balor. Now that we’ve had enough time to sit back and reflect, I think we can all laugh about how angry we were.

Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns vs The League of Nations – Monday Night Raw (4/11/16)

This looks like a normal tag match on paper but the context is what really sold it to the fans. Four days prior, Bray lost his grandfather, Blackjack Mulligan. This was his return to television and the crowd was completely behind him. It sounds like I’m making an article about Bray Wyatt here but Roman was also able bask in the support. A lot of fans remember the finish of this match where Bray summoned Roman to spear Sheamus to seal a win. Bray and Roman feuded the previous year but there was definitely chemistry throughout the match. Something special could have come from it but Bray was injured soon after.

Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt – Hell in a Cell Match, HIAC 2015

This was the highlight of the feud I just mentioned. It was overshadowed on the night due to the violence and blood of Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker but still held its own. It was the longest match of the night with gruesome and creative spots that lived up to my expectations. I’ve always seen this match as underrated and is surely worth a revisit.

Roman Reigns (c) vs AJ Styles – WWE Championship, Payback 2016 & Extreme Rules 2016

These pair of matches are probably my favorite in the career of Roman Reigns. Roman had just reclaimed his WWE Championship at Wrestlemania and AJ Styles was getting his first shot at a title with his new home. AJ lost to Chris Jericho at Mania so it was a big shock when he got pushed to the top, especially since we were still waiting to see how Vince would handle AJ. It was another dream feud that we got early in AJ’s run with each match providing sheer quality and surpassing all hype.

Roman Reigns (c) vs Seth Rollins – WWE Championship, Money in the Bank 2016

This match came about after Seth Rollins returned to attack Roman after his second match with AJ. It was another fantastic outing in the string of classics from Roman Reigns that was unfortunately overcast by how the match ended. This was the night Dean Ambrose cashed in his MITB contract, resulting in all three Shield members holding the company’s top prize in the same night. As you may have noticed, a lot of Roman’s greatest matches and moments had to take a backseat to someone or something happening in the same night. With that being said, I’ll end with a match that left Roman with the biggest shine.

Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman – Ambulance Match, Great Balls of Fire 2017

Whether you like it or not, Roman Reigns played the biggest part in making a star out of Braun Strowman. Braun needed a major feud to establish himself and Roman was the punching bag the fans wanted. Roman was the babyface in this feud yet fans cheered for him getting thrown off a ledge while strapped to a stretcher. In a time where Smackdown was the ‘A’ brand and Raw had an absent champion, these two guys were producing one of the most consistently entertaining parts of the product. For this particular match, Roman was unsuccessful but everyone can recall what would ensue. In an act you’d be more likely to see in the Attitude Era, Roman reversed the ambulance into another truck with Braun still inside. This was legitimately incredible and would have gotten any other superstar over with the fans which is a shame.

Honorable Mentions:

vs. Finn Balor (Monday Night Raw, #1 Contender’s Match for Inaugural Universal Championship, 7/25/16)

vs. John Cena (No Mercy 2017)

vs. Rusev (Hell in a Cell Match, United States Championship, HIAC 2016)

vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania 33)

Shield Triple Threat (WWE Championship, Battleground 2016)

Shield Matches to Revisit:

vs. Team Hell No & The Undertaker (Monday Night Raw, 4/22/13)

vs. Evolution (Extreme Rules 2014 & Payback 2014)

vs. Goldust and Cody Rhodes (Tag Team Championships, Battleground 2013)

vs. Wyatt Family (Elimination Chamber 2014)

vs. New Day (Survivor Series 2017)

More Moments to Revisit:

It’s a tad lengthy but it’s my favorite segment in a series of promos leading up to the first ever clash between John Cena and Roman Reigns. Even Kurt Angle had a hard time hiding the enjoyment on his face.

My favorite promo in the career of Roman Reigns.

The fans couldn’t get behind the push of Roman at this time but when you ambush the COO with his wife in the car, you come across as a badass to me.

It has less than half the views of the original Shield reunion but this one was more unexpected and written better, in my opinion. It was edited out of this video but any segment that gets a “holy s**t” chant out of the audience is a clear success.

I know this article is a lot of content to digest and sift through but it was the least I could do for such an underappreciated talent. If I can change the perception of Roman Reigns for at least one fan then I will feel like this was a success.


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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!



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?



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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