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The Undertaker and Kane: Leading the Way for WWE Part-Timer Resurgence

The Undertaker and Kane are fans are speculating on the company’s for featuring part-time superstars as main event attractions.

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The Undertaker and Kane WWE

The Undertaker and Kane are back together again and it’s led many WWE fans to begin speculating on the company’s future. It’s not necessarily because of the impact that The Brothers of Destruction could potentially have together. It has more to do with the company’s penchant for featuring part-time Superstars as main event attractions. 

(Editor’s Note: This article was written before WWE presented Super Showdown, where The Undertaker battled Triple H in Australia.)

It’s an old argument and one that has been happening quite a lot over the past few years. That’s due to the presence of Brock Lesnar of course, who basically held the WWE Universal Championship hostage for 504 days. That situation was caused by the company itself however, meaning that WWE is very high on the idea of utilizing part-time stars at the top.

Evidently that trend is continuing now. Many WWE fans have a great deal of respect for The Undertaker and he is very worthy of that respect. If anyone in WWE has the right to call his own shot, it’s The Deadman. He’s fought many wars in the past and he’s always stepped up when he was needed the most.

Indeed the aura surrounding The Undertaker is still alive and well. For every fan that complains about Taker’s slowed steps in the ring, there are many more that accept his pace because of The Phenom’s contributions to the WWE product. It’s not that he gets a pass for his age, rather he gets the benefit of the doubt because he’s deserving of it.

So every time he comes back, The Undertaker sees criticism from some and adulation from many. This has been the ebb and flow of his WWE career from the moment he was pinned  by Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. But while Taker continues on and fans debate it, Kane is back and the same conversation is taking place.

Without The Undertaker, there is no Kane. Destiny dictates that their careers always cross and indeed they always will. That’s just how it is. So now that The Big Red Machine is back, it’s only logical that he’s back at the side of his storyline brother. Of course Kane may not draw the criticism that The Undertaker does, but there are still many fans that question the move.

Does WWE really need Kane back in the fold? For that matter, does the company really need The Deadman either? Those questions, while valid, may be unnecessary at this point. Whether or not the audience wants something tends to be irrelevant in the world of WWE. Oftentimes, Vince McMahon’s company delivers what it wants when it wants and there’s just no way to fight it.

WWE wants The Brothers of Destruction back on the roster so that’s exactly what happened. WWE continues to blur the line between expectation and reality, just as it alway does. So even though fans are getting another flashback, it remains unknown if the majority of them actually wanted to time travel.

On the flip side of this coin are Triple H and Shawn Michaels. The Game is always around of course, though he’s not often in the ring anymore. He has his hands full with corporate responsibilities, both on the main roster and in NXT. Triple H is a huge asset behind the scenes and it’s safe to assume that one day, he will either be the man calling the shots for WWE or he will be just to the left of that spot.

Fans seem to have less of a problem with The King of Kings getting back in the ring than the other veterans of WWE. Hunter is at a very interesting point in his career in which he has a great deal of respect for his work with NXT yet some fans still question his motives.

However those questions are whispers these days. They are no longer broadcast for the whole world to hear. The chorus that heralded the unjust rule of the man with the magic shovel has been somewhat quietened over the past few years. Is Triple H truly responsible for “burying” one talent after another during his WWE career? Does it even matter now? As with The Undertaker, it seems some fans are quick to overlook any faults in favor of respecting achievements. 

But the real story here is Shawn Michaels. The Heartbreak Kid has spent the past eight years of his life graciously refusing any offers to return to the ring and politely denying any rumors to the contrary. He’s fielded thousands of questions concerning his possible future between the ropes and he’s done it all with a smile on his face. In a company full of uncertainty, Shawn Michaels was the one constant. But not anymore.

Will he lace up the boots again in 2018? This is the discussion that’s now taking place and this time, the discussion has some real legs under it. It’s no longer a question of whether or not he will at this point. Now the question has become why? Why would the man that had no reason to turn back the clock and proclaimed he never wanted to, actually do it now?

WWE doesn’t need Shawn Michaels back in the ring. The same is true of Triple H, Kane and The Undertaker. These four giants of professional wrestling have accomplished things that other stars, past and present, could only dream of. WWE as a company is still thriving without the quartet on the roster. SmackDown Live’s move to the Fox Network in 2019 didn’t happen thanks to The Brothers of Destruction or DX. WWE as a company is full of talent and every brand brings something different to the table each and every week.

But if this is what the company wants, then there may be no stopping it now. Of every part-timer currently booked, or will be booked in the future, it’s The Undertaker that made it fashionable. He called his own shots a long time ago and he continues to do so now. He has that right and there is no denying that. How long this trend will last is unknown. Whether or not fans want to see it keep happening is a debate that will surely continue for a long time to come.


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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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Opinion

NXT 2021 Year in Review: NXT UK!!!

With the OG NXT rebranding and losing a lot of credibility, at least NXT UK has been consistent! Brad brings his NXT UK awards!

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Let’s give out some special awards to the very best hour on the entire WWE Network.

Mark Coffey

Honorable Mention Most Improved: Mark Coffey

Most Improved is one of my favorite awards. I love watching wrestlers get better. This year, Mark wasn’t just decaf Joe. He showed his personality. Playful little bugger seems like the kind of guy you’d want to have a pint with. Even got a short run as a singles guy. Mark’s growth was definitely one of the highlights of the best overall year in the history of NXT UK.  

Oliver Carter is just getting started in NXT UK: WWE Exclusive, Aug. 28, 2019 - YouTube

Most Improved Male Wrestler: Oliver Carter

When Carter first showed up, it was obvious why he was in a tag team, eating all the pins. I don’t know who the trainers are in NXT UK, but someone put in overtime with Carter. Every week, he’s hitting new and exciting moves in the ring. He’s showing more fire on the mic. It’s only a matter of time before Ashton Smith gets jealous and turns on him.  

Stevie Turner NXT UK - Diva Dirt

Most improved Female Wrestler: Stevie Turner

Her first few matches made me wonder what anyone saw in her. Now I see it. She’s a real loony character, a female Dean Ambrose. She gets rambling about the Fourth Dimension and I’m not sure even she knows where that boat is sailing to. Add to that a significantly increased move set and Turner has legit championship aspirations. 

Kenny Williams | WWE

Most Underrated: Kenny Williams

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. If Williams was built like Drew Mcintyre, he would be on RawDown yesterday. I appreciate a smaller guy who doesn’t rely entirely on the flippy dip and acrobatics. Williams is a big bully in a small man’s body. The Scum of the Earth is ready to infect 2022.

Sam Gradwell – Online World of Wrestling

Best talker: Sam Thunderstorm Gradwell

Gradwell might be the best promo guy in all of NXT. He’s solid gold on the mic AND Twitter. He tweeted that WALTER versus Dragunov II is “Unruly Baboon versus Deadly Panda.” I still don’t know which is which, but it sounds fabulous. Now get on that, you bunch of yogurts!

WWE Women 🎊🍾 — ⭐ Isla Dawn and Emilia McKenzie ⭐

Best Character: Isla Dawn

I prefer personality over character. I don’t want SNL skit rejects. I want to believe there is no separation between who they are in the ring and outside of it. Isla Dawn is the exception. She goes into a trance. She’s collecting trophies from her opponents and doesn’t even care about wins and losses. I’m inclined to believe she’s not a witch in real life, but you never know.    

Noam Dar is ready for the Finals: NXT UK Exclusives, Sept. 16, 2021 - YouTube

Best Sidekick: Sha Samuels

With just a dry erase board & marker, the East End Bookie adds so much depth to Noam Dar, an already amazing personality. Unlike the terribly awkward pairing of La Familia, I get the feeling Dar and Samuels really are best buds. They seem to bring out the best in each other. I can’t wait for them to go after the tag team titles.       

Hamilton's NXT UK Review 10.14.21 | 411MANIA

Best Announcer: Andy Shepherd

He’s not just the best in NXT UK, he’s the best in NXT. Period. He takes everything Nigel McGuinness throws at him and he throws it right back, but he does it with an understated eloquence not typically found in rasslin. Shepherd earns the highest praise I can give an announcer: he sounds like a fan watching the show, shooting the shit with his buddies.  

 

Blair Davenport challenges Meiko Satomura: NXT UK Exclusive, Dec. 9, 2021 - YouTube

Most Improved Division: The Women’s Division

NXT still has the best women’s division. It’s now a little further east. In the past, it was Kay Lee Ray. That’s it. Not anymore. The addition of Meiko Satomura and Blair Davenport. The growth of Amale, Stevie Turner and Aoife Valkryie. The Nina Samuels Show. The steady veteran presence of Jinny and Isla Dawn. The division is not deep, but every week they continue to grow and put on quality matches. It started as obligatory, because you have to have a women’s division. They have since earned their spot. Much respect to the women of NXT UK. 

 

Up next, saving the best for last: 2021 NXT Matches of the Year


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