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The Good, Bad and Ugly Pre Crown Jewel 2018

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WWE Crown Jewel

The Crown Jewel is upon us, well some of us.  As most of us won’t be watching because we will be at work at 12 on a Friday afternoon, it is a reminder that this event is just not for the everyday wrestling fan, and an attempt to win over Saudi Arabia.  I will not get into politics or anything media related from here on out though, let’s be impartial, and see good can come from the action!

The Good

Rene Young doing commentary is just Good for business.  I love it, and it is a huge deal in every way!  This makes me happy, and will be a statement for sure!  She is doing something great that needs to be appreciated.

Hulk Hogan!  To me a true blue Hulkamaniac from the 80’s.  I cannot wait to see Hogan back where he belongs!  Any Hogan is Gold Brother!  I WILL BE GOING CRAZY!   Welcome Back Hogan!

  • DX vs. The Brothers of Destruction: I know the last match wasn’t perfect, but we have here the most impressive character in history the Undertaker, pure spectacle, Kane, a mainstay with WWE talent for Decades,  HBK, Mr. Wrestlemania, the Showstopper, the Guy through some of the best years in Professional Wrestling, and of course The Game, the King of Kings, the COO HHH!  Enough said, it has to be good, it has to be good!
  • WWE World Cup:
    • Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley
    • Kurt Angle vs. Dolph Ziggler
    • Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz
    • Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton

I am grading this World Cup tournament as Good all-around as it is the closest thing to interesting to me on this event as a fan of the weekly WWE action.  We have some gold in here.  I love all of these matches as well as the matches to come from them.  The whole tournament is purely and unapplogetically talented.  I would bet we will have a great showing from these superstars who Mr. McMahon himself I’m sure has explained the importance of this very talked about event.  He has his very best going at it, and the crowd will eat this up! The Miz wins the whole AWESOME thing!

  • Universal Championship – Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman:  The battle of the Titans finally will unfold correctly.  I see pure aggression, power, and mega feats of strength and will.  Lesnar is a freak, and Braun Strowman will be on his A game which will not only give us what we want, but will skyrocket his fame somewhere we have yet to see.  Braun Strowman, The Monster, will beat the Beast, and Bring Home his WWE Title.
  • WWE Championship – AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe:  I cannot deny the way these two worked the last show.  I went in sour at this long drawn out feud, but understand the reasoning of this one.  Not to mention it will get the attention it deserves in front of this crowd looking for something gruesome.  I am hoping this is the REAL FINAL CHAPTER to this drawn out disaster.  AJ Styles Retains to start a long overdue feud with The Miz.
  • SmackDown Tag Team Championship – The Bar (c) vs. New Day:  Again, a trend, this rivalry is old, although the Big Show brings a great dynamic, and I have loved watching these teams fight every week. I seriously doubt these insanely talented Tag Teams will stink up the place.  I expect they will be on all cylinders and deliver a stellar performance, because that is just what they do.  New Day Rocks and Rocks the Belts again!  New Tag Team Champions, New Day!
  • Cruiserweight Championship – Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Cedric Alexander:  OH MY GOD!  These two can go better than most.  I am excited to see this happen again.  Action packed, exciting and unpredictably this could be the sleeper of the day.   Although it may not even be on the event.  If it happens we are in for a real treat.  Cedric takes back the gold!

The Bad

You are damn right!   This show better not be bad, Vince has to much to lose PERIOD.

The Ugly

  • No Women’s Wrestling, none, zip.  That sucks on many levels, especially how amazing they just did on there own.  The stakes are so high right now.  I am not happy we will not see female participation.  The boys have some big shoes to fill.
  • No John Cena although we can’t see him anyway, and no Daniel Bryan.  Huge event missing some huge talent, it’s bad for business and will be noticed unfortunately and will draw attention away from the great work that will be done but the participants.  It’s an ugly situation.

Although deep down inside, I am semi-sweet about this event that has bigger ramifications than getting roasted by the IWC, I am going into this with an open mind.  The reason being, THIS SHOW CANNOT FAIL!  Vince would not have gone through with all of this unless he knew he has a winner.  He will do anything and everything he has to do to win!  This is a huge test to Mr. McMahon’s magic, and his ability to deliver.  We will not be disappointed.  I hope.


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NXT Minus 6: A Tale of Two Champions

Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

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Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

Our two new champions could not be more different…

Karrion Kross return vignette airs during NXT TakeOver: WarGames

6. Doomsday Saito comes to the ring and gives a painful, cliched promo. Any wrestler in the back could have said those exact words. Train harder and beat people up. He’s angry. We get it. The only thing Saito could do that would interest me is move to RawDown. On the other hand…

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Not gonna lie, that promo was wasn’t even hot garbage. It was cold garbage.]

Raquel Gonzalez & Rhea Ripley And Bianca Belair Celebrate | Franky Monet Debut | WWE NXT Highlights - YouTube

5. Raquel Gonzalez delivers a genuine, heartfelt promo that only she could give. Tears of joy. It told her story, and it’s exactly why she got the pop and the chant she deserved. The addition of Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair, complete with throwback pic, was icing on the cake. I’m excited for whatever Gonzalez does next. Speaking of…

WWE: Dakota Kai on what she misses about New Zealand and her quest to be NXT champion | Newshub

4. Fantasy booking alert!!! Two weeks ago, Raquel Gonzelez told the world I was the one who believed in her. I was the one who made her a champion. Then Rhea Ripley shows up, and Bianca Belair shows up, and I’m the one sent to the back. How quickly you forget who your real friends are. I was the one who took you to the top, and chicka, I am the one who is going to drag you to the bottom. I used you to get to the top and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am Dakota Kai.

Santos Escobar loses the Cruise Championship to Kushida | Superfights

3. No more Santa Claus Ice Cream Bar. Santos Escobar has earned his name back. His match with KUSHIDA is everything great about NXT. Say it with me. Good things happen when you let wrestlers wrestle! Fast paced. Great action. Surprise ending. I’m going 4.5 stars. Give me a match that good every Tuesday and I’m a happy camper. 

WWE NXT results – 13/04/2021 (Raw and Smackdown Champions appear, Franky Monet debuts) » FirstSportz2. Right now, I don’t know if any two wrestlers have better chemistry than Swerve Scott and Leon Ruff. Every time they get together, it’s electric, and this week was no different. This is quickly climbing into Rivalry of the Year territory. I thought I was happy to see Swerve pick up the victory and move on. Then Ruff goes insane in the membrane and now I’m excited to watch them fight forever.

WWE News: Roderick Strong 'Resigns' From NXT, Video of Karrion Kross' NXT Promo | 411MANIA

1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…Roderick Strong. Kayfabe. Work. Shoot. I don’t care. Strong deserved a better goodbye than what he got. He is the Perfection of Performance (shout out to the Hitman). He and Kyle O’Reilly were the best version of the Undisputed Era tag team champions. I always got excited for a Strong match because I knew he’d deliver. Roderick Strong is exactly the kind of wrestler that makes me love wrestling. Until he returns, he will be sorely missed.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: April 2021

It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means…

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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

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

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.


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