The Royal Rumble “Go Home” shows. Did they produce entertaining content, or limp towards the finish line since most will watch Rumble purely on name value. Let’s find out!
Now given that I enjoyed Raw so much last week, I’m tempering my expectations for this week. It’s been longer than I care to try and remember, that WWE has knocked it out of the park two weeks in a row.
With the low bar set, do we see a Fosbury Flop, or well…just a flop. Let’s see!
- Finn Balor vs Braun Strowman: Balor wins via DQ after Lesnar interferes – * 1/2
- Apollo Crews vs Bobby Lashley: Lashley wins via Spear – *
- Seth Rollins vs Drew McInture: Rollins wins via Cradle – ** 1/2
- Lucha House Party vs Jinder & The Singhs: Gran Metallik wins via Backbreaker – -* (yes it’s negative)
- Elias vs Baron Corbin: Corbin wins via End of Days – N/A
- The Ascension vs Heavy Machinery: Otis wins via Caterpillar – N/A (squash)
- Raw Tag Team Titles: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable vs The Revival: Gable retains via Rollup – ***
- Bayley & Sasha Banks vs Natalya & Ronda Rousey: Banks wins via Bank Statement on Natty – ***
- We kick off things with talking…well now, new changes right? Heyman does his played out thing by now, Vince comes out and tells his own variation of a Wikipedia edited David and Goliath story. Braun shows up to try and look menacing and speak words that don’t matter. Finn walks out after like 15 minutes of bickering, to point out that this is typical. He then tells a closer to correct David and Goliath story. Vince gets the bright idea that Brock should be at ringside for the real David and Goliath bout of Finn versus Braun.
- Now before this match started, we all knew how it was gonna end. Brock at ringside, Braun is a monster so he can’t lose clean and Finn is the challenger…so he can’t lose clean. So yeah, making matches that can’t logically have a winner is a waste of time, much like this match. The action was alright, the spot where Lesnar catches a falling Balor just to Overhead Suplex him to the floor was moronic since the referee saw it and didn’t throw out the match there. Finn fights back valiantly, then right after landing the Coup de Grace, Lesnar F5’s Balor and THAT’S a DQ apparently. Must’ve gotten NFL referees for this match.
- Lashley and Lio come out, and every bit of praise I gave them the last two weeks goes out the window here. Lio is worthless saying nothing of merit, and this somehow devolves into a pose off when Apollo Crews comes out to throw his hat in the ring. The pose off did showcase a little personality from Apollo, so that was a bright spot, but come on…this is dumb. Then Lashley attacks him and a match happens regardless of any previous words or stipulations to the pose off (yay wrestling).
- Lio apparently will now be a bigger player in the matches, which is fine. But when no one cares about either wrestler, we came off roughly 20 minutes of talking into a gimmicked finish, for another match without a clean finish. Short match with no story or reason to care.
- Rollins comes out, gives a speech we’re supposed to care about, but I really don’t. He brings Roman up AGAIN, and really seems to be going through the motions almost to a disingenuous point. McIntyre comes out to save the segment before it leads to a match, cause everyone in the Rumble needs to be showcased leading to it, yeah, that sounds right, sure.
- The match is standard fair for a Rollins match. Okay work rate, slightly predictable sequencing, but since the finish was a Cradle…that’s different. I don’t know, the match was fine, but McIntyre losing just signals that now he wins the Rumble or finds a way to at the very least, cost Rollins the win.
- The Revival discuss their position with Vince in the back, say they’d like an impartial special guest referee and Curt Hawkins walks up. Vince tells him he’s the special ref and Hawkins has the best line of the night with “Well, I have seen a lot of threes lately…”, and then the Revival start buttering him up before the match.
- Lucha House…Jinder and the Singhs…WHY!? This has no business being a thing beyond they are two groups of 3. Stupid, useless, worthless, I hate the Lucha House Party. Send them back to 205 Live, deport them, I don’t know…just stop. This is not good, they have no personality, and have been damaged from that dumb House Party rule gimmick from a few weeks back. Screw this team. And who wins with a Backbreaker not named Roderick Strong?!
- Dana Brooke is talking at EC3, I say talking at cause he doesn’t respond and she just hits him with a litany of questions as Elias walks to the ring.
- Elias tries to do his thing, Corbin interrupts, a forgettable match happens and Corbin wins cause he needs to look like he’s marginally competent going into Rumble.
- Alexa Bliss’ Moment of Bliss, is a train wreck again, multiple women just walk out, declare their piece for the Rumble, Alexa even makes note of all her shows have been awful and she’s sick of it. So she announces herself in the Rumble, the only highlight was Lacey Evans finally came out and said a few things for the first time. All you Nasties are gonna learn.
- The Ascension get to be fed to Heavy Machinery! Well I guess that proves they’re staying on Raw since Raw loves job matches. Only real note from this is Otis’ Worm, is not called the Caterpillar. You know, like the company that makes heavy machinery. The writers are true wordsmiths I tell you.
- This tag match was like a highlight real of heel wrestling 101 and a referee actually being attentive. Hawkins is by far the best referee of the night (and weekend probably too), so a decent match. Nice spots, these two teams have nice chemistry and we see a reuniting of Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins at the end. So maybe that’s where The Revival go next. Only odd take away is why would you make The Revival sympathetic for the last few weeks and then ruin it completely in 2 weeks. The direction just makes no sense.
- Ronda with a passionate, yet clumsy and weird biblical promo with the hair washing feet thing. What since David and Goliath was referenced now we’re quoting the bible for promos? Ugh…no more talking Ronda please.
- Yes we all know Sasha had a wardrobe malfunction during this match. But let’s not have that take away from a decent match and the fact that Bayley and Sasha did technically give Ronda her first loss in WWE. So building up the challenger for two weeks right before the PPV seems like the obvious set up, but be honest, 99% of us have Ronda winning anyway. Sasha could’ve defeated the whole women’s division and we’d still go, “yeah but”. It was nice to see Bayley and Sasha continue to work decently as a team, but they did sow some seeds for Bayley versus Sasha since Sasha tended to move out of the way a lot and let Bayley eat moves.
Overall Score: 5/10
There really seemed to be no passion or imagination in this show except for Ronda’s odd promo. As Tony Acero so nicely put on Raw Reaction, I was just saying “okay”, through most of this show. It didn’t surprise, intrigue or go outside of the box at all. Just a basic color by numbers Raw. Mediocrity encapsulated in a show, if you will. SmackDown has to be better…
SmackDown Live Ratings:
- Mandy Rose w/Sonya Deville vs Naomi: Rose wins via pinfall – **
- Miz w/Shane vs Cesaro w/Sheamus: Cesaro wins via Gotch Neutralizer – ***
- Mustafa Ali vs Samoa Joe: Joe wins via Coquina Clutch – ** 1/2
- 2 out of 3 Falls: Rey Mysterio vs Andrade Almas: Rey wins via DQ 2-1 – *** 3/4
- So since it’s WWE we start off with talking, but this one is Becky and Asuka, and we like them. Becky does the old school heel thing of listing Asuka’s accolades but making sure to mention that Asuka didn’t BEAT her and she’s still just better than Asuka. Charlotte saunters out, let’s out a Woo and Asuka tries to get in a cheap shot on Becky, thus creating a brawl for a few minutes. Becky gets the upperhand throwing Asuka into the announce desk, before the brawl heads backstage.
- Naomi has every right to try and kill Mandy. She tried to cause problems in her marriage and Naomi had the upperhand in most of the match. A flurry of kicks and elbows from Naomi give us hope she’ll get her revenge, but Sonya’s interference becomes too much, giving Mandy the opening to show Naomi into the ring post and cover her for the pinfall.
- Miz and Shane might be my favorite thing on SmackDown story wise. I mean I love Andrade & Rey Mysterio angle, but the sheer fun and enjoyment Miz and Shane seem to be having is infectious.
- The match had a lot of good resiliency from Miz. The Miz has been looking like a better wrestling ever since the World Cup tournament. Miz tried to get an early win with the Figure Four Leglock, but Cesaro got out of it. Sheamus eventually takes out Shane so they can get in a cheap shot, which leads to a Gotch Neutralizer and a win for Cesaro. Post match beatdown sees Shane eat a Brogue Kick, as well as getting driven through Miz and effectively through the announce table. Feels like a heavy signal that Miz and Shane will win at Rumble, but who knows.
- Mustafa points out an interesting aspect of Joe beating him down last week. That being, Joe looks down on him, like he doesn’t belong there and he wants to prove himself.
- Vince basically moderates the discussion between Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles. Not much is really said except for AJ turning the FICKLE word against Bryan and it catching a little. Styles chases Daniel outside the ring, lays in a few shots, rolls him back in for the Phenomenal Forearm, Daniel uses Mr. McMahon as a shield to then lay out AJ with Knee Plus.
- Truth and Carmella are walking through the back discussing the Rumble. Truth toys with the idea of challenging Buddy Murphy for the Cruiserweight title, and when Carmella points out the weight limit, he takes it as her calling him fat and storms off a bit. Charlotte and Carmella have a few words, but nothing really noticeable here.
- Ali showed that he learned from last week and turns around some call back spots into flips and body presses. But Joe eventually proved to be too much and Ali taps out to the Coquina Clutch.
- New Day have a nice moment discussing Rumble plans, Kofi has a moment of doubt if he can’t come up with a cool spot, Kayla tries to ask the question everyone does about would they eliminate each other. After going through a list of people who asked, they say “Is Tony Chimmel gonna ask us too?”, and Chimmel shows up before they shoo him away asking if they look like Edge and to get going.
- YAY! 2 out of 3 falls match! Andrade and Rey all day! First fall comes after Andrade connects on an Avalanche Sitout Powerbomb. Rey hits a Code Red, doesn’t’ get him, but pulls out the Canadian Destroyer as a counter to what looks like a Powerbomb and evens it up at one a piece. Rey tried to get a quick win with the West Coast Pop, but Andrade kicks out. After Rey finally connects with a 619, Samoa Joe shows up to ruin the finish. In the middle of making his final decree, Randy Orton RKO’s Joe to a giant pop from the crowd.
Overall Score: 7/10
Well okay we’re back to the normal situation of SmackDown being the clearly superior show and Raw being mediocre at best. Andrade and Rey are just wonderful together, that match could’ve been something special if it were allowed to finish decisively. I look forward to a time when they get 20+ minutes on a PPV to just tear the roof down. SmackDown is such a treat coming off a Raw that left, not a sour taste in my mouth, but ashy disappointment.
News From Cook’s Corner 3.8.21: Explosions R Us
Cook brings us all the explosive news! Big, small, literal, figurative…an explosion is an explosion…right?
Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! So much going on in the world of wrestling this week that it’s tough to keep track of it all. We do our best here, and pretty much anything I don’t cover here is covered in a column or podcast here at the Chairshot.
I would say that the rest of March might be a bit busy for me due to college basketball, but the Louisville Cardinals men’s team probably has two games left at most. One ACC Tournament game, then one game in whatever other tournament they make. Fun! At least the women should be able to make a pretty good run, and that won’t affect things too much. Especially since I’m cutting back on the drinking and also not watching games out of the house anymore.
I might actually be productive this March! That’d be nice. Let’s be productive and go through the news!
Was There A Revolution?
Yes there was! I was working during the first part of it, but we definitely need to talk about some of the major happenings of this show…
Hall of Fame Worthy Signing = Christian Cage
I’m never really a fan of hyping up surprise signings for major shows. Everybody gets their hopes up to the point where unless it’s Ric Flair somehow in his prime again it ends up being a disappointment to most people. Pretty much every WWE Hall of Fame level talent not doing anything right now tried to make us think it was them on social media. It ends up being Christian Cage, complete with TNA theme song.
Definitely two schools of thought on this one. Christian has a lot of admirers that were happy to see him return at the Royal Rumble. They then wondered where he went afterwards. It makes sense. Christian had to leave WWE in the mid-2000s to get a real chance to shine as a main event level star. Now, he has to leave WWE again to get a real chance to end his career on his terms.
Then there are those out there making the TNA comparisons. It’s a lazy talking point, but you’re not going to get people off of it once it starts. As long as Christian adds to the shows and doesn’t detract from them, I don’t see the issue. I also think he’s worthy of being in the WWE Hall of Fame, so I can’t accuse AEW of false advertising here.
It has to be asked, though. How did WWE let this happen? How did they not make sure Christian was locked up after the Royal Rumble? Booking Edge & Christian against Roman Reigns & Jey Uso, or Jey & a returning Jimmy Uso, seemed like an obvious & logical way to keep the Edge/Reigns story moving. Seems like a missed opportunity for them, but I’m guessing that Vince McMahon doesn’t see it that way.
Ethan Page Returns From The Dead
It’s happened before. Allie died in Impact’s Undead Realm, then re-appeared in AEW. Now it’s Ethan Page. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing? Page appeared in the Face of the Revolution ladder match, having a good performance but coming up short to Scorpio Sky. Page is a good talker and a solid in-ring talent, hopefully he won’t get lost in the shuffle here.
Maybe he could form a team with his brother Adam Page. I just hope John Silver doesn’t get confused now that there are two Pages. Actually, three when DDP is around.
Double or Nothing announced for Sunday, May 30
It’ll be AEW’s second straight Sunday PPV event, which Tony Khan says he’ll only try to do on three-day weekends going forward. To which I say “What in the blue hell is a three-day weekend?” Must be nice! DoN will be going head to head with the Coca Cola 600, but apparently NASCAR has fewer crossover fans with AEW than boxing or UFC.
One bad exploding ring ruins the night
It’s a shame, too. The inner blood mark in me was enjoying seeing the various clips of explosions & barbed wire & blood and all that stuff that “smart” fans are supposed to act like is garbage. What can I say, I’m a sick fuck. I don’t need to see the blood & guts every week, but there’s definitely a time & place for it. Kenny Omega & Jon Moxley’s time & place was on Sunday night, and it seemed like a pretty exciting time for all involved…up until the finish.
According to AEW, this is the ring being "blown up".
— Wrestle Critic (@WrestleCritic) March 8, 2021
We all know how these things work. Opinions on wrestling matches & shows are largely based around the finish. A good finish can make us forget a match sucked. A good main event can turn a thumbs down show to a thumbs up. On the other side of the spectrum, a bad finish can turn us against a match, or against an entire show.
AEW Revolution would have been more well received had the closing explosion not been a dud. They should have just started firing off the explosives used for Cody’s entrance again, that could have covered the ring stuff up. All it takes is one bad explosion to make people forget three & a half hours.
Maybe the moral of the story is to not have your show end with an explosion, but I don’t want to entirely dissuade future pyromaniac wrestling promoters.
Is the “Wednesday Night War” Over?
Speculation is rife that NXT will be moving to Tuesdays in April, with the first Tuesday episode coming two days after WrestleMania. The idea of NXT switching nights has been talked about for the past several months now, and the rumors really picked up when it was announced that NBCSN would be closing up shop and some of their main properties would be moving to USA.
So Wednesday Night Hockey is a bigger deal than I thought it was. Who knew? That’s what I get for sticking with Fox Sports Tennessee coverage of Nashville Predators games.
Nothing has been officially announced yet, but apparently William Regal has a “landscape changing announcement” scheduled for this week’s NXT episode. Could be it. Could also be an announcement that they’re going to put security guards in the NXT parking lot so people don’t get beat up. Ya never know.
I’d like to wait until everything’s official until we start speculating on the fallout, but I do get the feeling that AEW won’t see as big an increase in viewers as you might think. I tend to think that wrestling fans that wanted to watch AEW on Wednesday night were already doing so. Maybe there’s some NXT viewers that haven’t checked out AEW yet, and maybe some of the holdouts in that older demo are swayed by AEW bringing in more people in their age group, but I’d pump the brakes on any idea of Dynamite getting those Raw ratings numbers.
Last week we knew that the NWA was holding tapings from March 21-21. We now know that the March 21 show will air on FITE, is called “Back For The Attack”, and will cost viewers $19.99. We also know that NWA Powerrr will be back airing regularly on Tuesdays at 6:05 starting on March 23, and will be available on FITE “via a low-cost subscription bundle”.
It’s obviously risky putting all of your content behind a paywall. You can’t even find the old episodes of Powerrr for free anymore. The idea seems to be that there are enough people that enjoyed what the NWA was doing pre-pandemic that a pretty good number will be willing to fork out whatever price it is per month to keep taking the ride. FITE has been a reliable streaming platform in my experience, so if you’re going to try something like this they’re probably the best bet. It definitely helps increase FITE’s presence to add “exclusive home of the NWA” to their portfolio.
In other NWA-related news, Serena Deeb, AEW roster member & current NWA Women’s Champion, recently had her left knee scoped. The Internet tells me that recovery from such a procedure takes approximately six weeks, so Deeb might not be available to work the coming TV tapings. They could use those tapings to build up a challenger for her, which I figure they will since taking the title off of her in the boardroom wouldn’t make too many people happy.
Then again, Serena said she’d be back “before you know it”. Theoretically she could return on an episode taped in advance and we wouldn’t know it if there were no spoilers!
Joey Ryan Almost Got Back In The Business!
It was close! There was a show scheduled to run in Knoxville, Tennessee on March 20 called “Wrestling For Women’s Charity”. Sounds innocent enough, right? They posted their info on the social media with the venue address, ticket prices, streaming details, covid protocols (which, by the way, some of you Southern promoters seem to be doing a pretty poor job with your protocols from the clips I’ve seen. Not naming any names, but pretty much any show south of Kentucky with a recognizable star looks like a virus pit.), and the usual stuff. Of course there was a show poster, and one of the wrestlers on it just happened to be one Joseph Cornelius Meehan-Ryan.
This obviously got some attention, and the Internet started doing some digging around. What they found out was that the event was being run by Bar Wrestling, which is the fed that Meehan was running in Southern California prior to #SpeakingOut. Apparently the wrestlers involved didn’t know about this, and started pulling out of the show. FITE, who was mentioned by the show as their streaming partner, said they wouldn’t be airing the show. Tony Khan said that the AEW wrestlers wouldn’t be participating, but offered to donate to the chairty. Then, Khan wondered if there was actually a charity, considering who was involved.
There was a charity! Since Joseph Meehan-Ryan claims to have found God since the fallout of #SpeakingOut (who apparently has commanded him to sue his fellow wrestlers), he was going to divert money to Project GRL, part of Joyce Meyer Minstries’ missions arm. In case you’re like me & wondering who Meyer is, she’s one of those televangelists that flies around in private jets & owns several homes funded by the people sending her money for Jesus. It seems like a pretty lucrative deal if you can make it work.
The show was cancelled, but whoever was running the Twitter account had to get in one last shot:
“We apologize for riling everyone up. It is clear that we’re in over our heads. We’ll say that everybody booked was fully aware of all details including going through AEW’s 3rd party booking system for talent. Rather than put talent in a tough situation, we’ve canceled the show.”
Throwing everybody under the bus, which is 100% on brand for Meehan. People wonder if he’ll use this as more evidence that he can’t make a living and file some more lawsuits. Me, I’d prefer that he find another way to make a living, but I know that we’ll be dealing with this guy trying to do things and suing people for years to come. Wrestlers will just have to be more careful about who they accept bookings from, which is probably a good idea anyway.
Another Week, Another Lawsuit
Last week, we talked about Kelly Klein filing a lawsuit against Ring of Honor, Sinclair Broadcasting Group & others concerning her alleged mistreatment by the wrestling promotion. This week, it’s her partner in crime (are they still partners in areas other than crime? No idea.) Joey Mercury. We mentioned how one of the interesting parts of Klein’s lawsuit involved challenging ROH’s classification of her as an independent contractor, and Mercury’s lawsuit addresses that as well.
Mercury claims that he was forced to resign, ROH refused to respond to his claims of an unsafe work environment, and that he was paid less than others with his job positions. He also says that he was misclassified as an independent contractor rather than an employee, which he figures he was since he was a producer.
I look forward to discussing another ROH lawsuit next week. Has Joseph Meehan-Ryan sued them yet? Surely he’s got some beef with how he was used there way back in the day.
No More Thigh Slaps!
Vince McMahon has had enough. He has stands all he can stand until he can’t stands no more. All these young kids slapping their thighs and legs when they kick somebody. No more! There are signs backstage now telling the wrestlers not to slap their leg when kicking.
Many people will be happy with this, as they feel that thigh/leg slapping is one of the things killing the business. It’s never really bothered me, but I might just be used to it. I will say that leg slapping got Yoshihiro Tajiri over with me way back in the day. Did anybody ever time it better?
Welp, that’s all the damage I can do here this week. Make sure to keep coming back to The Chairshot for your best show coverage, wrestling opinions and NFL quarterback top 5 lists! Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice.
NXT Minus 6: Bloody Brilliant
Brady focuses on the action across the pond, a little more than usual. Check it out!
This week, NXT UK steals the show.
6. If you aren’t watching NXT UK, you’re missing some of the finest character work anywhere. Ilja Dragunov is a deeply tortured soul on the edge of madness. If I took a bazillion chops from WALTER, it would probably shatter my brain bananas too. Dragunov is on another level. His battle to overcome the WALTER demon should be the talk of the wrestling world.
5. Dragunov’s match this week with my man Thunderstorm Sam Gradwell was a-freaking-mazing. 4.6 stars. It started with solid grappling and broke down to a savage brawl. Post-match, Gradwell is laughing because he got knocked out and Dragunov is attacking a ref. Insane drama. This was as good as a mid-week match could be without a title or something bigger involved. But it wasn’t even the best match of the night.
4a. Kay Lee Ray versus Meiko Satomura was bloody brilliant. 4.8 stars. Near flawless. Oh how these two deserved a live crowd. I was worried because the build was rushed and forced. Silly me. After 25 years of bumps, Satomura is still quick as a blink. I can only imagine what she looked like in her prime. I’ll be honest. The post-match show of respect from KLR was so genuine, I shed a tear. Icing on the cake.
4b. By the way, the backdrop graphic they use in NXT UK is so damn cool. They should use that across all of NXT.
3. I want to issue a formal apology to Kay Lee Ray. I called her 2019 Takeover match with Toni Storm the worst match of the year. I thought she was reckless and it was a matter of time before she crippled herself or her opponent. I was 100% wrong. KLR is world class and would be in the title picture in any women’s division anywhere. They desperately need to bring more worthy talent to NXT UK to challenge her. Right now she’s not just a big fish in a small pond. She’s a whale in an inflatable kid’s pool.
2. If it doesn’t end in a Wrestlemania rematch, then Dakota Kai-Raquel Gonzalez versus Nia Jax-Shayna Baszler was absolute ass trash. Why was the Raw GM there with a Raw referee? And why does the WWE think we’re too stupid to ask why the RAW GM and a Raw referee were backstage? There are a million ways to end a match dirty. This was possibly the worst. Even if they did still lose, Kai and Gonzalez deserve so much more. Speaking of…
1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…Raquel Gonzalez. Specifically, her pre-match pose. Shotzi Blackheart can jump around like a kid on a candy high. Doomsday Saito can have his veeeeeeery long low budget horror movie intro. Gonzalez’ pose is simple yet effective. She spreads those traps and without saying a word, she is telling you that she is a woman ready to kick all the asses. Less is more and right now Gonzalez is the most.
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