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Opinion

What Progress Looks Like: Women At WWE WrestleMania

The women’s division has changed a lot in ten years.

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Sasha Banks WWE WrestleMannia Women

A look at ten years of women’s matches at WrestleMania and the progress WWE has made.

To say that the state of women’s wrestling in the WWE is nowhere near where it once was is no longer hyperbole, it’s a fact.  Even in just a year’s time there have been some huge strides albeit among the usual mess that is the business we love.  We’re coming off a season now where there has been an all women’s WWE pay per view in Evolution (which most people rightfully put on their list for best show of the year in 2018), the women have some of the best segments on RAW and Smackdown every week, and they’re even main eventing house shows now.  But despite some really rapid progress it’s been a long, slow road to get to this point.  Just look back on the women’s matches at WrestleMania since 2010:

  • WrestleMania 26 : A 10 Diva tag team match that lasts a whopping 3:26.  I haven’t watched this match, did all 10 women even get to do anything in the match?  And this was on a show where Bret Hart wrestled Vince McMahon…….in 2010, not 1999.  Good grief.
  • WrestleMania 27: Mixed Tag featuring John Morrison, Trish Stratus and Snooki (remember her?) vs Dolph Ziggler and LayCool.  I have watched this.  It wasn’t terrible, but again they got all of 3 minutes and change here (3:17 to be exact).  Yes you have to protect the TV star but with five other people in the match they could have gotten more time than this.  Please note that on this show Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole got almost 15 minutes for what was a truly terrible farce of a match.
  • WrestleMania 28: Kelly Kelly and Maria Menouos (the TV show host) vs Beth Phoenix and my first wrestling crush since getting back into it, Eve Torres (please come back for a Rumble or Battle Royal or something…we miss you!).  This one was fine for what it was, they got 6:22 to work with which is fine for a match with a non wrestling celebrity in it.
  • WrestleMania 29:  The nadir.  No matches at all.  Nothing.  There was a Diva’s champion, Kaitlyn, but they decided that a Puff Daddy ‘performance’ (I’m being nice here) was more deserving than having her defend the title even in a short match.  The Bellas and The Funkettes were scheduled for a mixed tag team match that was cut for time. To be fair, United States Champion Cesaro also didn’t have a match. Sheesh…….

Well you couldn’t do any worse than that so there was only one direction to go.  And things did go up……a little teeny bit.

  • WrestleMania 30:  AJ Lee defended the Diva’s title in a 14 woman invitational match.  Not a battle royal, or a gauntlet match, or a six pack challenge style elimination match, just a 14 woman one fall match.  LAZY.  On a show where Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker got 25 minutes (about 10 too many for real), no reason that this couldn’t have gotten better than 6:48 and something better than a straight up one fall match.  But at least the title got defended on the show.
  • WrestleMania 31:  AJ Lee and Paige, who’d been feuding over the Diva’s title until Nikki Bella won it in November, beat Nikki and Brie Bella in a tag team match that went 6:42.  On the same show where HHH and a 56 year old Sting had a match that went almost 20 minutes and had about 50 run ins, and tacked on another 10 minutes for entrances and a post match staredown.  Five minutes off of that wouldn’t have been asking too much.

Now that’s just WrestleMania matches; we’re not even talking about the weekly embarrassment of sending them out there every week on TV for literal 2 minute matches, even 8 and 10 woman tag matches and battle royals that should never go s short as 2 or 3 minutes.  But things have really taken an upswing since then.  At WrestleMania 32 Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch had arguably the match of the night to crown the new Women’s champion (now the RAW Women’s Title).  WrestleMania 33 was a mixed bag in that there were two women’s title matches thanks to the brand split but the Smackdown one got cut really short in an unintended consequence of it getting pushed to the main show after originally being on the pre-show (remember folks, 10 to 15 minutes on the preshow is often better than 5 minutes on the main show).

Last year, at WrestleMania 34, we got Charlotte vs Asuka in what was a match of the night contender, another MOTY in the mixed tag with Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs Triple H and Stephanie, the RAW title match with Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss and the Women’s Battle Royal.  For now that’s the high point for inclusion.  This year we’re sure to get the battle royal, two singles titles matches, a match for the new Women’s Tag Team Titles, and possibly an intergender match featuring Nia Jax.  That’s almost half the card right there, and it’s deserved because the Women’s side has been bringing the heat more than the men since the fall.

And to me that’s the best part of this.  They’ve gotten some opportunities, they have consistently outperformed the men, so they are getting to drive the train here.  As someone who has a been a fan for over 30 years this is truly remarkable and I’ll admit that if you came to me in 1989 with the notion that one day the women would be the best thing going every week I would have called you crazy.  But here we are.  The job isn’t finished yet, though.  This momentum needs to be kept up and maintained.

The women’s side of the roster has gotten pretty deep and more of them need the time and exposure they deserve.  (If there’s a hour for just the women somewhere in that Fox TV deal that would be great).  We as fans need to reward what’s being done here, with our attention and most importantly our financial support so that it proves to be viable over the long haul.  They deserve a spot on the stage and the way they’re going now they deserve the bigger one.  The guys had a long run with not so much as an inkling of competition but it is there now and quite frankly they need to step their game up.

All in all, this is a time to be a little happier with the state of professional wrestling.  Leave the Debbie Downers on the internet and social media alone for a bit and enjoy what we’re getting here.  Long way still to go but this is a true bright spot.


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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