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Shawn Cooperation or Mega Corp Power Grab (Part 1)

Moves going down in Asia, including WWE and more.

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HKWF Hong Kong Wrestling Federation

Shawn takes a look at the movement happening in Asia and what it mean for wrestling!

Late Wednesday 20 March 19, a lone tweet by a small wrestling promotion was sent out on twitter.  To the casual reader, this tweet appears innocent enough.  Many may agree that multinational partnerships are great.  The creation of a women’s wrestling division in China is also a major step forward.

Analyzing the situation brings dark omens from the phantasmal claws of an overreaching mega corporation.  Which is it? At this point noone knows for certain, but the evidence is stacking against the case of Regional cooperation.  The impact it could make from either option will require two articles to understand the depth.  So we start with the dark and dirty first.  Proceeding in the direction this one tweet leads the Asian/Pacific regions into; only one of two options appear most likely to occur in the near future.  Regardless of the choice, the appearance of today’s scene will forever be changed.  After my analysis, the fan debate will rage in favor of the choice they prefer.

Mega Corp Power Move

The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has been active in Asia since 2016.  The WWE’s Chief Operations Officer Triple H has visited multiple times, meeting with independent promotions and government officials.  While conducting a question and answer session, Triple H revealed future plans for WWE to expand the NXT brand.  Triple H spoke about Asia  “It’s the same grassroots territory feeder system that existed before – except now, not on a national level but on a global level. And all under the WWE banner.

The WWE’s expansion plan was travelling at a liesurely pace, a tryout camp, a couple live events, and meetings took place, but no real attempt to take over.  Then something happened and it wasn’t the starting of All Elite Wrestling.  A group of former WWE talents filled the Asian markets (John Cena, Zeda Zhang, Ho Ho Lun, the Great Khali) promoting active partnerships.

Ho Ho Lun and Great Khali created wrestling promotions as Zeda went on tour building relationships.  Still, this sounds innocent enough.  It isn’t the actions above that concern me, it is the impact that could happen.  Fans can point out that John Cena was working on a movie with Jackie Chan.  That is not all he was doing though, he also made appearances discussing WWE’s expansion.  And if it were just for a movie, why make appearances for the WWE in locations like Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan?

Taking a second look at the tweet, notice what promotions are included, their locations, and who was not included.  Middle Kingdom Wrestling, Hong Kong Wrestling Federation, and New Taiwan Wrestling.  Three of the four big boys outside of Japan and Australia.  Middle Kingdom and Hong Kong Wrestling have had relationships with the WWE since 2016. That alone shifts the balance of power into Vince’s hands. The early risers Grapple Max Pro (Singapore), Singapore Pro Wrestling, Philippine Wrestling Revolution, Saigon, and Malaysia Pro Wrestling would create a second monopoly under the grasp of the McMahon family.

Yes, there are other promotions in Asia.  However, such an alliance with WWE would strangle those promotions quickly.  Asian wrestling promotions rely heavily on smaller Japanese promotions and free lance wrestlers for talent bookings.

The problem arises when such wrestlers can no longer participate in the WWE umbrella.  That forces these wrestlers to fly from Japan directly to Thailand, the Philippines, Pakistan, and India.  Saigon won’t be impacted immediately.  It is a minor promotion relying on WWE videos for training.  This move would enure Saigon Wrestling Club never grows outside of a small promotion.  Considerably more expensive flights without the ability to wrestle in closer cities to build the funds to support their tours.  This alone threatens the existence of these promotions.  Most major independent promotions in Australia and New Zealand are partnered with Vince.

As usual, there will be some fans that applaud this move by the World Wrestling Entertainment.  They would support placing all of professional wrestling under this banner regardless.  These fans enjoy one type of wrestling and shun any other options.  Other fans will respond with a sense of dread and hope that one little tweet won’t lead down this rabbit hole.


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News From Cook’s Corner 9.20.21: The Column From Hell

Plane rides aren’t the only thing on the docket! Cook’s News corner is definitely unique this week!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and it’s been a rather eventful week in the world of wrestling. Big E became WWE Champion on Monday night. The new NXT debuted Tuesday night & had a pretty eventful outing that got their best rating in quite some time. About 85 million things happened on Dynamite, as is typically the case. There are no shortage of current wrestling events to talk about here.

So of course we’re talking about the Plane Ride From Hell instead of all that stuff.

This might be a first. I don’t think previous Dark Side of the Ring episodes led to people getting punished at their workplace. We’ve had some people come off poorly on that show, but nothing led to anybody getting any sort of punishment other than being yelled at on the Internet. Which, as somebody that’s been yelled at on the Internet pretty often, I can say isn’t the biggest deal. Annoying, sure, but you move on.

One had a feeling that a re-visit of the Plane Ride From Hell could lead to issues for some people. You know how it is…we tend to forget things. Those of us around back then heard most of the steamy details. Since it was the early to mid-2000s, most of us didn’t think too much about it. We laughed at Michael Hayes getting his ponytail cut off. Curt Hennig & Brock Lesnar getting into a fight seemed amusing. Nobody was surprised to read about Scott Hall falling off the wagon. We laughed at Dustin Rhodes singing to his ex-wife…and yep, we laughed at Ric Flair doing his signature robe spot. As detailed in the documentary, Ric had done the “naked under the robe” thing on numerous occasions. It was part of what made Ric Flair Ric Flair. Wrestlers & wrestling writers told us this, so we believed them.

Now, this is the part where I have to plead ignorance, which annoys those wishing to excuse Ric’s behavior by telling us that everybody already knew this stuff, and we’re just getting hot & bothered now because it’s 2021. I didn’t really follow up on the story when the lawsuit went down, didn’t look at the legal documents or anything like that. I was just a 411 wrestling writer with a weekly “news report” where I took the piss out of everything. So, I had no idea that Ric Flair did anything on that flight other than the robe stuff, which is pretty gross in its own right because who needs to see that?

As for the the point that peoples’ reactions to this type of stuff have changed in the nearly two decades since this all happened…well, duh? Some people do evolve. When the Plane Ride From Hell happened on May 5, 2002, I was a senior in high school. I was no different from most high school boys, a sex-crazed idiot that didn’t know anything about anything when it came to sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. As most of my 411 columns from the 2000s will show, that phase lasted awhile. As I got older & learned things I should have learned a long time ago but didn’t for a myriad of reasons, my viewpoints have changed. Some people don’t understand how it’s possible to change your mind on something over the course of twenty years, as we see in politics. They keep their head in the sand & believe the same things they believed before they had any type of life experience, which must be nice.

Just because I say Ric Flair is the greatest wrestler of all time doesn’t mean he was the greatest person to ever lace the boots. Two different things.

For those of you that didn’t see the broadcast, I recommend you do so since I won’t be able to paint the full picture here. We’ll run down some of the major points here.

-Tommy Dreamer has been suspended from his position with Impact Wrestling, where he serves on the creative team & wrestles fairly often on television. Dude got a title match on his 50th birthday not that long ago, which was made a big deal of because everybody in the business loves Tommy Dreamer. At least they did until he went on this program and made an ass of himself. Dreamer somehow managed to make himself come off worse than the actual subjects of the show, which is fairly impressive.

I’ve seen some people upset over Dreamer being punished because it’s not like he was one of the people forcing themselves on the flight attendants or anything like that. Thing is, when you’re in a position of authority, as Dreamer is with his role on creative and as a veteran leader of the locker room wherever he goes, people have higher expectations for you. When you go on national television blaming sexual assault victims for what happened & bemoan the fact your ugly hairstyle probably offends people since everybody gets offended these days, your reputation is going to take a hit. Some people in Tommy Dreamer’s locker rooms aren’t going to look at him the same way now. That lessens his value as a “locker room leader” greatly.

Dreamer did the social media apology thing that everybody does now. I figure he’ll be back in Impact eventually & will say the right things to rehab his image with most of his wrestling peers. It’ll take some time though. It’s interesting that Dreamer will probably get the biggest punishment out of anybody involved here…but at the same time, at least the people that actually did the acts can claim that they’re different people now. Scott Hall & Dustin Runnels have talked openly about their past and the fact they’ve changed for the better without substances controlling them. As far as we know, they have. They also got punished at the time, Hall being fired & Runnels getting fined.

Dreamer doesn’t have that as an excuse. He’s just an idiot who wishes he could go back to the ECW Holiday Inn.

-Ric Flair’s future could be a little murky. CarShield has “paused” their national commercials featuring him for the time being. More importantly, one has to wonder how this affects his future plans within pro wrestling. Everybody figured he would end up in AEW pretty soon, as he’s friends with Tony Khan, his son in law needs a manager, and a good percentage of his old friends already work there.

The question will be if Tony thinks it’s worth the potential backlash that could happen if Flair makes an appearance. It was already kind of debatable if a Ric Flair in his early 70s would add a ton to AEW’s presentation. Add in the current heat on his name, and AEW’s probably best served to wait until this thing dies down. One has to think that WWE isn’t too sad to have Ric off the payroll at the moment.

Also of note: Flair recently said on Renee Paquette’s podcast that if this program tries to paint him in a bad light, he’s going to take everybody down with him. So be on the lookout for that. Could be an interesting week.

-Brock Lesnar showed Terri Runnels his penis. Jim Ross apparently heard of multiple incidents involving Brock Lesnar’s penis appearing at inappropriate times. This one’s flying under the radar mostly because…well, do you want to get Brock mad at you? I wouldn’t mention it myself if I had a larger audience.

-Scott Hall has no recollection of any of this. Not surprising.

-One possible issue for Dark Side: Was Vince McMahon on this flight? Multiple people on the show say he was, but reporting from the time period suggests that Vince did not make the Europe trip. Vince not being there would explain why certain members of the talent roster felt more emboldened to do dumb things. Or at least dumber than usual, since Vince was on a number of other flights where things got hairy. One untruth on a documentary is enough for many to cast aspersions on everything else on the program. The producer stated on Jim Cornette’s podcast that everybody they talked to said Vince was on the plane.

-Another possible issue for Dark Side: Getting people to go on their show in the future! Jeez, if I was a wrestler and saw how poorly most of these people on this show came off, the last thing I’d want to do is go on it myself.

Definitely one of the most interesting Dark Sides yet, with the most fallout from a given episode. Next week’s will feature the story of Chris Kanyon, and there’s a good chance that some people will look bad there too. I think most of them are retired, but there may be somebody I’m forgetting!

NXT Contract Update

Contract updates have become a weekly feature of Internet reporting, as it seems like our favorite Internet reporters have a better idea of when these things come up than WWE does. Wild, isn’t it? All I can say about it is that Fightful must have quite the mole in that front office.

Pete Dunne re-signed with WWE for three years. It’s fair to wonder what Dunne’s ceiling is in WWE. He’s a talented wrestler, but is much smaller than the athletes WWE tends to feature, and doesn’t seem to have the charisma to make up for it. It’s still the right move for Dunne, as when you’re a foreign talent wrestling in America, it makes sense to stick with your current company as long as possible. Otherwise, you’ll get sent home. If Dunne wants to stay in America, staying with WWE is the easiest way to do that.

Johnny Gargano’s contract is set to expire in early December. I could see keeping him around as a veteran to work with the young guys that WWE sees potential in, but don’t be surprised if Dexter Lumis carrying an axe around with him leads to something. Not that WWE does murder.

Yang Time?

Remember Andrew Yang? Yeah, the guy that ran for President in 2020, then later promised to go after WWE for their third party policy that kept their “independent contractors” from using certain sites for profit. He went off to do other things for a minute, including a run for Mayor of New York City that went nowhere. Now he’s talking about wrestling again, which is good because there were a ton of people that got fired during this pandemic that might have used some help. Fortunately, Andrew Yang is with us now!

Yang says that early returns are positive. He also used the phrase “bolieve”, so we can only hope that Bo Dallas becomes the star witness in whatever happens here. I don’t think we’ll get much, especially since it involves a politician.

Welp, that’s all we have time for tonight. We’ve got a big week coming up though, with the Week 3 NFL Picks (actually done on time this week!) and some Extreme Rules Gambling Picks! Yep, that show’s next Sunday! Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep your stick on the ice.


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News From Cook’s Corner 9.13.21: We’re Outta Time!

Cook’s News is filled with some odd, awkward and unexpected criticisms. Let’s see what we got on tap this week!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and it’s been a pretty wild weekend. There’s a pretty good chance that this will be the only weekend where both of my football teams won games. Expectations aren’t too high for the University of Louisville or the Cincinnati Bengals. U of L won handily, but didn’t do much to inspire confidence when they play real teams, like this Friday when they get UCF.

Those Bengals though…well, their division’s still pretty stacked. But Ja’Marr Chase can catch passes! That can only be a good thing. Let’s get to the wrestling news now so I still have something to write about for Thursday.

We’re Outta Time!

Time has always been one of the biggest enemies of pro wrestling and its fans. How many times did Mid-South Wrestling run out of time in the middle of a main event or a major happening? Of course, Bill Watts’ shows were designed with that flaw in mind. If you run out of time at the right time, fans want to see more. They might even pay to see what you deprived them of.

Of course, here in the twenty-first century when wrestling shows run short on time, it’s almost never by design. Unlike back in the old days when regional promotions taped or filmed their programming before sending it to their TV stations for airing at their convenience, these national promotions are airing their shows live on major TV networks or cable outlets. Unlike back in the not quite as old days when WCW & the WWF were allowed to run super late with their live shows, the networks have hard outs. Fox isn’t going to let WWE run into its local news timeslots. TNT wants their movies to start at 10:00 sharp.

This means that formatting shows and making sure everything has its proper amount of time is super important. If people early on the show go long, that extra time they took has to go out of something else. We saw that happen twice on prime time television this week, and the companies involved took different approaches to solving the problem. Both managed to anger the fans. We’re easily angered though, so let’s take a closer look and see just what happened here.

Wednesday night’s AEW Dynamite card was set to be highlighted by a clash between local Cincinnati maniac Jon Moxley & his rival from New Japan, Minoru Suzuki. I admit to being skeptical of the booking because of previous experiences I’ve had with Southwest Ohio wrestling crowds. Let’s just say they didn’t exactly have their finger on the pulse of Japanese wrestling. I wasn’t convinced they would recognize Suzuki, and I knew that online wrestling fans were going to clown Cincinnati because they didn’t sing along with Suzuki’s music like Chicago did.

As it turned out, neither of these things were problems. Cincinnati recognized Suzuki, even mustering up a “Holy Shit” chant for The King. They didn’t sing along, but they didn’t get the chance to, as the music cut off before Suzuki could enter the ring to “KAZE NI NARE”. The Internet complained about that until the match ended seven minutes later, then they complained about the match being too short.

Honestly, the match length didn’t bother me. Suzuki got busted open, they threw some heavy lumber, you got pretty much everything you could expect out of a match with those two. Mox’s finisher hasn’t been looking great lately, and he messed Suzuki up on the first one, but you take the good with the bad. You could have trimmed a couple of minutes off of Moxley’s celebration, though it’s understandable that AEW would want to show Jon Moxley celebrating with his hometown fans. Feel-good moments are a good thing, right? I mean, I like feeling good. It happens so rarely!

But yeah, cutting off Suzuki’s entrance was pretty egregious, and was pretty fixable. You can’t tell me you can’t cut thirty seconds from that show somewhere. The celebration seems the obvious part, but there were some other choices. Dustin Rhodes & Malaki Black had a good match, but Malaki could have killed Dustin sooner. MJF probably went long with his promo, but it was good stuff. Some were saying they could have cut Dan Lambert, but the guy made the trip to Cincy so that wouldn’t have been nice. Maybe could have lived without the Dark Order match…but wasn’t it nice to see FTR on Dynamite?

See, all this is trickier than we think. When you have a big roster with a lot of mouths to feed, it’s tough to tell them to eat less. Just ask WWE. They ran into a similar problem on the SmackDown broadcast this Friday. Some early things went long, so WWE had to make some cuts to later things on the show. They opted to cut a tag team match pitting Zelina Vega & Carmella against Liv Morgan & Toni Storm, instead of taking time away from anything else on the show.

Ordinarily, I don’t think most people would see this as a big deal. Zelina, Carmella, Liv & Toni don’t really seem to be a WWE priority at the moment, and it’s one of those things you can put off until next week. However, as Eric Bischoff likes to say: context is king, When you realize that WWE spent most of that Friday hyping their 9/11 documentary and patting themselves on the back for how they were the first major live entertainment event after the attacks, you’d think they’d be happy to put somebody who lost their father in the attacks on their television show. Apparently not!

The whole Zelina/WWE thing has been weird for awhile anyway. First she leaves because she got hot over WWE’s policy towards third-party platforms. Then she comes back. Then, before she even appears on television again, her husband gets fired. Now she’s cut from a show that was undeniably important to her & her family given it was the day before the 9/11 anniversary in her hometown.

I know there are plenty of excuses to be made here, and it’s just the nature of live television. But man…it’s such a bad look. Somebody should have thought for a minute and came up with “huh, maybe we want Zelina on our television given that we’re celebrating the 9/11 anniversary and tooting our own horn over how we treated it”. I mean, did Roman Reigns really need eight minutes for his entrance? Couldn’t we have carved a little out of Usos/Street Profits?

These are tough choices, I don’t deny that at all. I just happen to think that WWE made the worst possible choice there, and one that could have been avoided. That’s all.

Not everybody in AEW is happy

One thing people have noticed about all these new arrivals in AEW is how happy everybody seems to be. I don’t think I’ve ever seen CM Punk this pleased with life. Ruby Soho has never been so smiley. Adam Cole is pretty glad when Tony Schiavone isn’t around trying to steal his girl. Even before these new folks showed up, people have noted that you don’t hear about a lot of discontent on AEW’s roster. Certainly not compared to the top wrestling promotion in the world, where nobody seems happy unless they’re looking at their bank accounts.

However, it would be foolish to assume that all the workers at any company feel exactly the same. No matter how rosy things look on the surface, there’s always going to be somebody that you could classify as disgruntled. You gotta have a big ego to succeed in wrestling, and if you’re working for a major company and not doing enough, you’re going to wonder why you’re not doing more.

Or maybe your spouse will wonder why you’re not doing more. That’s the situation Brian Cage finds himself in. Cage is one of those guys with a million dollar body that stands out in an airport. He’s appeared in AAA, Lucha Underground, Impact Wrestling & other shows before, and got some major matches early in his stint with the company. Lately, Cage has been used to put Ricky Stars & Powerhouse Hobbs over after getting bounced from Team Taz. Cage had been the featured player of the group, but is now feuding with the younger members in order to increase their standing. It makes sense to me, but Cage’s wife, Melissa Santos, isn’t a big fan:

I’ll admit it up front: when it comes to Melissa Santos, I am a big fan. Loved her work in Lucha Underground, where she was the most effective ring announcer since Howard Finkel’s heyday. Great voice, great performance, great look, loved the whole presentation. Liked seeing her in Impact by Cage’s side, and I wouldn’t have minded her showing up in AEW at some point. Barring this story being part of an angle where Melissa comes in as Brian’s taskmaster, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Which is a shame, but what can ya do.

It’ll be interesting to see if anything comes from this. Maybe it’s Cage leaving when his contract expires, or maybe it’s Cage getting more of a push. I mean, if Melissa was making suggestions to me I’d be willing to listen. Dunno if Tony Khan is as easily persuaded as I am, I’m guessing probably not.

Samoa Joe Drops The NXT Championship

For the third time in its history, the NXT Championship has been vacated by a wrestler due to injury. Samoa Joe made the announcement Sunday night on social media, releasing a video where he stated that WWE doctors ordered him to take some time off to recover from an unstated injury. This comes just days before the long-awaited NXT relaunch, and it’ll be interesting to see which direction WWE goes with the decision. Do they go with an established veteran to carry the top spot, or will they choose somebody that exemplifies the new direction they want to go in. I have the feeling most online fans would prefer the former. I’d go for the latter, though of course it would have been better had they defeated Samoa Joe.

As for Joe himself, we wish him a speedy recovery, and a steady direction once he returns.

Death Before Dishonor Results

Since I have to write about ROH every week, it’s only right that we include the major results of their big event here. Death Before Dishonor took place on Sunday night at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. Looked like a healthy crowd from what I saw, hopefully they leave healthy too.

Alex Zayne won an Honor Rumble to earn a future world title shot: Zayne had most recently been seen on WWE’s 205 Live program as Ari Sterling. He made two ROH appearances in early 2020, including a victory over Bandido at the Honor Reigns Supreme show. So this is an interesting way to bring him back. I’m not sure I’ve seen him wrestle, since it’s not like I was watching 205 Live at any point this year.

Taylor Rust beat Jake Atlas: Apparently this match got cut short due to an injury for Atlas, which would be disappointing. Atlas got a ton of hype coming into WWE but had some ups & downs while there that led to him not meeting that potential. Hopefully he’ll get a chance someday.

Josh Woods won the Pure Championship from Jonathan Gresham: Bit of an upset here. Woods hadn’t really featured as strong on television recently even though he’d been established as a contender previously. It’s Gresham’s first loss in the division and leaves the Foundation without any championships.

Shane Taylor Promotions retained the Six-Man Tag Team Championship against LFI: Taylor missed most of the match after Kenny King took him out prior with a steel chair. He returned to aid his group at the end, delivering a chair shot to King’s skull. I have a feeling this will get some discussion for ROH, and not in a good way. People aren’t big on the chairs to the head in 2021.

Rok-C pinned Miranda Alize to win the ROH Women’s Championship: This was the right choice, Rok-C had been one of the most impressive competitors in the tournament throughout. As for what’s next, a feud with Angelina Love seems likely, as Love can claim her arm injury was the reason she lost in the tournament. Max The Impaler also recently extended their contract, so one could see that as a match as well. Neither will get five snowflakes, but both should further establish Rok-C as a likeable competitor.

Bandido retained the ROH World Championship in a 4-way: Makes sense, Bandido hasn’t really been properly established yet on top & ROH likes to have long title reigns. The longer the better.

There were a couple other matches, but those are the main results you’ll need to know to keep up during work conversations. After all, it’s not like FITE aired anything else of note this weekend. ROH currently has nothing outside of TV tapings scheduled.

Thanks for reading! Hope you have a great week, and keep your stick on the ice.


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