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The WWE Universal Championship Redemption for Finn Balor

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Sarah lays out the best thing to come from Raw this past Monday. Finn Balor is back in the main event picture, let’s see what she thinks about it!

It has been a long two, plus years for Finn Balor and his fans of the Balor Club when it comes to the WWE Universal Championship.  Even though Balor lays claim to being the first Universal Champion, an ill-fated shoulder injury would force him to relinquish the belt as the injury sidelined him for several months.

In turn, it seemed that the plans for the future would take a backseat for Balor.  He was sent to the back of the line time and time again.  Frustration is evident, and Balor made that perfectly clear on this past Raw.

“I am a little tired of always being left out of these types of conversations.”  He stated, pertaining to the Universal Championship picture.

He’s not wrong.  If anything, Balor is owed that chance at redemption on the main roster.  His world-renowned success speaks for itself in addition to his successful run in NXT.  If fans needed a reminder, tune in to this past weekend’s NXT UK Takeover Blackpool.  Forget the surprise factor; the ovation for Balor was tremendous in terms of respect that he’s earned over the years.

Photo: WWE

Balor’s redemption hasn’t come easy, and Monday was just another obstacle for the former Champion.  CEO Vince McMahon automatically casts Balor as the underdog, setting forth what’s to come for him.  No time was wasted in that fact, as Balor had not one, but two grueling matches to earn the Universal Championship match – something he never technically lost to begin with.

The underdog success is how great stories are told, but when the opponent is Brock Lesnar it is anything but.  Lesnar has been damn near unstoppable since his WWE return seven years prior.  Everyone has tried and failed from The Undertaker to Roman Reigns.  Sure, Reigns was able to defeat Lesnar at last year’s WrestleMania, but it took him the better part of three years to get there.

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So what makes the case for Balor seem that the writing is on the wall for him to get where he was supposed to be three years prior?  Not only does his backstory write itself, but with Braun Strowman out of the Championship equation it presents a grand idea.

Strowman undoubtedly has unfinished business with the Beast Incarnate.  Does this mean that he will find a way to cost Lesnar the Championship at the Royal Rumble?  Never say never in this case, but if Strowman is on the quest to take him down then why not take away the one thing that seems to be dear to him?  Not only does he get back at Lesnar, but at the same time, it drives the two to meet at WrestleMania, which isn’t a consolation prize considering Strowman’s injury status.

This is not to say that Balor can’t win the Championship on his own.  It’s a pro wrestling David vs. Goliath with the veteran Balor taking on one of WWE’s greatest success stories.  Balor has plenty of experience with his past battles, so the believable factor would heavily come to play on his end.  Say if Strowman did provide the distraction, Balor can’t be blamed for taking advantage of the situation.  Look at what he has had to overcome since his return to Raw.

But with Strowman having building tension with Baron Corbin, and Balor would need an opponent for WrestleMania post-Rumble, it leaves the idea up in the air.  There’s still the Royal Rumble itself in addition to anything can happen between now and two weeks from now.  WWE has done stranger things, however with Strowman recovering from his elbow injury in addition to Reigns’ long absence, the time seems right to pull the trigger on what Balor can be in the company.


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News From Cook’s Corner 3.1.21: No Big Show

Steve Cook brings the birthday shout outs and a nice variety of different wrestling topics! Check it out!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! My name is Steve Cook, and I’m somewhat decent at remembering birthdays of people close to me thanks to social media notifications, but ages are another matter. A day ago, I would have wished Larry Csonka a happy 67th birthday. Not that he would have been 67 years old, it’s just a gimmick I do with people that are older than me. Assign them an age much older than they actually are. Greg DeMarco has been on the receiving end of this before.

It’s good times, loved by all. (Actually, Larry hated it and I’m pretty sure Greg does too.)

With the way things have been in the world over the past year, there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you’ve lost somebody you cared about over the past year. Wrestling has seen a nearly non-stop parade of death, including the loss of the man who played Jocephus & The Question Mark last week. His passing touched a number of his brothers & sisters in the wrestling business, who posted about how great he was as a person.

All we can do is hang together and help each other through our periods of grief. We all go through it, and it’s definitely been way too much of a thing over the past year.

You can still donate to help out Larry’s family!

It’s tempting to wonder what Larry would think about the things going on now. I won’t pretend to know how he’d react to most of 2021, but I can safely assume that he would be excited as I am about Tully Blanchard having a match on television this week, and also wondering why a bigger deal isn’t being made of it. He probably would have written the best column about Tully Blanchard since 1999.

The best way I can think of to celebrate Larry’s birthday? Ramble through some wrestling news a day after it! Makes sense, right?

AEW Signs Paul Wight

This one came as quite the surprise when it broke on Wednesday. Paul Wight, the wrestler formerly known as The Big Show (or The Giant if you’re more of a WCW fan), has decided to take his wrestling and announcing talents to All Elite Wrestling. Wight had worked for WWE for most of the past twenty-two years, with the exception of February 2007-08. He hadn’t done much with the company over the past several years, appearing for brief periods of time in the ring. WWE did help produce The Big Show Show, a sitcom that lasted one season on Netflix.

It seems like this comes down to Wight wanting to do more, and WWE not really having anything for him to do. Since his sitcom was ended, he only made a handful of appearances on WWE television, with his last appearance consisting of Randy Orton berating him for not being able to wrestle anymore. Wight will apparently be doing some wrestling in AEW, which will be interesting on a number of levels since there isn’t a bevy of talent there that’s anywhere near his size. I mean, there is Shaq, and that’s been a dream match for some for years, but there’s no telling whether or not Shaq will be back after his tag match this week. He’ll also be announcing alongside Tony Schiavone on AEW’s new YouTube show titled AEW Dark: Elevation.

AEW has made it a priority to keep increasing their online presence, as we saw on Sunday night when they aired some of their Women’s Championship Eliminator matches on Bleacher Report’s website. Including Riho vs. Thunder Rosa, which made some pretty angry when it was announced as they would have preferred to see the match on Dynamite. While I get that they need matches like that to draw eyeballs to new platforms, it will raise some eyebrows from those that see things like this as demotions. They aren’t meant as demotions, as having Wight on this new show further indicates.

I don’t see this changing the momentum of the wrestling wars, but I think its nice for older talent to have viable options other than a WWE Legends contract.

WWE: Still Big In India

Jinder Mahal WWE Bold Prediction

People like to make a big deal of how many viewers these wrestling shows have. One thing we often forget: Americans aren’t the only people that watch television! Sure, on average we probably watch more programming via various devices than anybody else. However, there’s a great big world out there of people watching wrestling that we often don’t keep track of!

Fortunately, we have people like Lucha Libre Online to keep track of places like India for us. Here’s what they told us!

4 million people watch Raw every week, while 3 million watch SmackDown and 1 million watch NXT. Which makes me wonder if Raw viewers are forced to choose between SmackDown & NXT. Are they in the same time slot?

People are making a big deal about how this means more people in India are watching WWE than in the US. I mean…India has a few more people, right? I’m guessing their share of the overall audience is lower than it is here.

All I know for sure is that all this proves that India doesn’t need Jinder Mahal pushed on top to remain interested in WWE.

NWA Pulls Videos From YouTube

NWA Power

I have to admit that I was concerned when WrestlingInc & other websites drew my attention to the fact that the NWA had pulled their videos from YouTube. Not really the best timing on that either, as I’m sure there were fans of Jocephus & Question Mark looking for something to watch after his tragic death last week. It’s easy to see why people thought the worst.

As we know, the NWA has virtually ceased production since the pandemic started. A good amount of their wrestling talent has moved on to other opportunities. If David Lagana has been replaced behind the scenes, we haven’t heard who it is. Heck, the women’s division has pretty much become part of AEW. We’ve been waiting to hear some kind of NWA news for awhile now, either good or bad.

We’ve finally got something new coming from the NWA. Dave Meltzer reported that they’ll be holding TV tapings from March 21-24. No word on where the tapings will be taking place, if fans will be allowed, or who will be involved. As we’ve noticed, a good number of NWA wrestlers have moved on to other places. Hopefully the NWA will be able to fill those slots with new, compelling characters that can give fans the same level of enjoyment they got out of Powerrr.

I’m always in favor of more wrestling produced for the people.

Marty Scrull Returns to New Japan

Marty Scurll

Our friends at Fightful got the inside scoop from the NJPW Strong tapings back in January and found out that Marty Scrull appeared on the show. He did an angle with Rocky Romero that will presumably air at some point. Scrull has not been seen or heard from in any major way since parting ways with Ring of Honor.

I remember reading before that New Japan might be the most likely landing spot for Scrull, since apparently sleeping or doing other things with underage females is less frowned upon over there. And there is a bit of a difference between having someone work for you as a wrestler or in a management position. Scrull was management in ROH, and keeping him around would have been unneeded publicity.

That’s what all of these Speaking Out defendants are going to be dealing with in their attempts to return to pro wrestling. The ones that haven’t yet will try eventually, it’s just a matter of timing and business. Companies will bring in these people if they find them valuable. New Japan finds value in Marty Scrull, who has enough friends there to help him out.

The question, as I’ve stated before, is if fans feel strongly enough about Scrull and his failings to hold it against the people that employ him. If they do, and they don’t watch NJPW Strong, Scrull won’t be around for too long. If fans don’t care, then promotions don’t need to, and Scrull will be twirling his umbrella back into the wrestling world.

As for my opinion? I’m really the wrong person to ask, as Marty Scrull wasn’t a draw for me before all his business came out. I’m not inclined to watch his stuff, but I already wasn’t. What matters is how the people that did fawn over Scrull in the past take to him now.

Klein vs. ROH

Kelly Klein

Its been a minute or two since we’ve talked much about the former Women of Honor Champion. It wasn’t too long before the pandemic when all of this drama went public with Kelly’s allegations about her treatment in Ring of Honor, Kelly getting divorced after her former husband (BJ Whitmer) accused her of being unfaithful with the man assisting her in making allegations (Joey Mercury), and ROH eventually stripping her of their championship and not renewing her contract.

Things died down on this front over the past year, largely due to the global pandemic thing. Klein isn’t going away though, as she filed a lawsuit against Ring of Honor & Sinclair Broadcasting, naming Greg Gilliland, Delirious & Jay Lethal as defendants. Klein’s issues with ROH came to a head when she suffered a concussion during a match and there was no protocol or staff on hand to address her problem. There were other issues, including pay, which apparently ROH’s female roster members get considerably less of than the males.

ROH has never really had much interest in pushing women’s wrestling. That’s just a fact. The Women of Honor re-boot in 2018 seemed to be a step in that direction, but the company quickly lost interest in featuring the competitors. Since the debut of the ROH bubble, the only woman regularly appearing on television has been the studio host, Quinn McKay. McKay has an angle going with Mandy Leon & Angelina Love, but that hasn’t been touched on at all on television and has been confined to an Internet show where they did one confrontation and that was it. Leon & Love appear in the opening video, but that’s the only place they’ve appeared on television in months. Vita Von Starr appears with The Righteous on occasion & Maria Kanellis-Bennett recently made her on-screen return to commentate on a match.

So, no, it doesn’t surprise me that ROH had/has no interest in paying women equally to men.

There’s a lot going on within the lawsuit, including harassment claims directed towards Lethal. The main thing to keep an eye on here for wrestling purposes? Klein is claiming that she was an employee, not an independent contractor, and the State of Maryland has a strong policy to ensure that workers are not misclassified. So we’re saying there’s a chance this issue might actually be addressed in a court of law after how many years. Stay tuned.

That’s all we have time for this week! Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice.


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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: The Most Pointless Match Ever

There are some things Brad really enjoyed, and others that made no sense. Do you agree with his assessments?

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Not just pointless. It was Charles Barkley turrible. 

Dexter Lumis - NXT Entrance (15-04-20) - YouTube

6. Dexter Lumis is in dire need of a makeover. Since his debut two years ago, the only thing that’s changed is the possible addition of new arm tattoos. Great athlete. Deceptively agile. No depth to his character. He is the worst thing you can be in wrestling. Boring. 

POLLOCK'S REVIEW: NXT UK 10/24 feat. Fans revolting on Zack Gibson

5. Zack Gibson strikes again. Drake Maverick & Killian Dain are Shrek and Donkey. Savage! Gibson is on the mic what Wade Barrett needs to be. I like watching him wrestle. I love listening to him talk. 

NXT Next Week: WWE Women's Tag Team Titles Will Be On The Line 4. How good was it to hear Shayna Baszler’s music again in NXT? I am cranked to 11 for the women’s tag team title match. So many stories. Baszler and Dakota Kai have a long history. Raquel Gonzalez and Nia Jax, the two biggest, baddest bitches in WWE are out to prove who is the alpha bitch. Titles on the line. Baszler’s homecoming. Kai’s shot at validation. I’m smelling MOTY contender.

Xia Li reacts after gruesome double attack on this week's WWE NXT

3. I am fully and deeply committed to the notion that Xia Li is the baddest person in the entire NXT locker room, male or female. Madame Li, I will never get on your bad side. If I accidentally cross that line, I will change my name and flee the unidentified state in which I currently reside. Un-Lished.  

2. That thing between Santa Claus Ice Cream Bar and Doomsday Saito was possibly the most pointless match ever. The feud was based on nothing. Why is a heavyweight going after a cruiserweight? Why do they continue to pretend Ice Cream Bar is a cruiser when he clearly isn’t? How does Saito survive a 3-on-1 beat down to pop up fresh as a daisy and get the victory? It dragged on and on and on and on and on and on and on, clocking in at just under 92 hours. Let us never speak of this match again. No, it doesn’t get a pic. 

WWE NXT results – 24/02/2021 (No DQ match, NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai in action) » FirstSportz

1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…unidentified camera man! I’m on my couch, digging Leon Ruff’s entrance. BTW, his music kicks all kinds of ass. Ruff is hanging on the ropes, loving life, when BAM! Kick to the head from Swerve Scott. I was genuinely surprised, never saw it coming, because the camera man was fully focused on Ruff, and so was I. Nice work, unidentified camera man.  


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