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Rob: Looking At The AEW TV Follies

Rob takes a look at the near comedic nature of the AEW television deal and the internet’s treatment of it.

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All Elite Wrestling AEW

Rob takes a look at the near comedic nature of the AEW television deal and the internet’s treatment of it.

This past Thursday brought out a lot of chatter on Twitter about AEW and their very unclear prospects at landing a TV deal.  We’ve been hearing for some time now that they have multiple bidders offering good money and that it’s a matter of picking which one.  We’ve also heard that Warner Media appeared to have decided to go in with them and that an announcement of some kind should be coming soon.  But now a new rumor surfaced, that they might have to pay for the TV themselves.

Which brought on the jokes from a lot of different people and in turn brought out the ‘you guys are a bunch of WWE stans, why do you want AEW to fail?’ responses from some supporters of AEW.  So yes, Thursday night on Wrestling Twitter became the clusterf@# that most nights tend to be.  Now before I go any further, let me put out a little disclaimer here.

I am not anti-AEW.  I got no quarrel with any of the people there.  I’m not a fan of some of them as performers but it’s nothing personal.  At least from what I’ve seen Cody in particular has been nothing but gracious towards his former employers and co-workers, and has shot down many an attempt by fans to goad him into bashing WWE and/or Vince McMahon. I don’t know him personally but he seems like a good dude all around, and I respect the hell out of him for not just leaving WWE but leaving with a plan to accomplish what he did not there and not going on and on about his push or lack thereof.  I do however take issue with the constant bombardment on my Twitter feed from overzealous fans predicting that AEW is going to take down the WWE, the constant rumors about this WWE wrestler or that one being unhappy why they could/should go to AEW, and with Dave Meltzer’s state run media treatment towards them.  Dave has always loved those guys but since the run up to All In he’s become co-opted by The Elite and has spun everything they do as successful and a big deal.  He’s already declared that they are the number two company even though they haven’t run a show yet.

So yeah, when something pops up that runs contrary to all the bragging and boasting that the worst AEW fans have been doing….yeah, there are gonna be some jokes fired off.  That doesn’t mean we want it to fail, ok?  To be honest most of the people I’ve talked to are curious but not necessarily interested in it at all, and would be perfectly fine leaving it to exist and not saying a word one way or the other.  As for myself, I’m more interested in the operational side than whatever kind of content they’re ultimately going to be producing.  Quite frankly I’m not that pressed to see more wrestling than what I already watch, and that’s not where their success is going to come from anywhere.  The thing that rarely gets talked about re: WWE is that how they’ve run their office vs all of their former and current would be competitors has been the real difference maker and not the quality of their wrestling.  There are plenty of guys and gals who can get in a ring and put on a good match but there aren’t as many people who can competently run a wrestling company.  But anyhow…..

Does this thing have any credibility? We don’t know of course, but consider that virtually every other wrestling company outside of WWE is in a less than prime spot as far as television.  Even if the Turner folks don’t hate wrestling like they did 20 years ago there hasn’t been much demand shown for anything that’s not WWE, which has 35 years of branding and trust built up working to it’s advantage.  AEW or any other start up company is walking into a network environment that, while it may be friendlier than before, still isn’t looking to do any favors to a wrestling company that may not even out rate some of the reruns that they carry.  While them having to pay or maybe just not getting any rights fees may not be what happens, I’m willing to bet they don’t get some huge amount of money.  Why?  Take off your fan hat and look at things objectively.  What kind of audience they’ll bring in is purely speculation at this point – just how many people fit into the pool that might be interested but will actually tune in to watch?  That’s the real question, and we don’t know yet.  So far they’ve only announced special events, one offs that are easier to sell because they’re rare.  But when it’s the middle of July and you’re running the third week in a row of matches between the same people to further an angle, are there enough people willing to do that for a company they’re not already invested in?  That’s the key, in my opinion.  Can you get enough people in the tent who will stay with you through that?


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We’ll see what happens.  Network upfronts are coming soon and then all will be revealed.  The TV deal, should they get one, is an important building block in any success they have.  TV rights don’t just get you exposure they often pay the bills.  The NFL has been dining out on TV rights fees so much that attendance at games is an afterthought now.  A good timeslot where they have a chance to draw a good number will be the difference between them doing well or going down the tubes in short order.  But this whole thing is also a referendum on Dave Meltzer, as he has been doing a full Baghdad Bob routine and insisting that they have multiple big money offers and it’s just a matter of choosing which one.  Dave sounds like a full on shill at this point and has been straight up cheerleading them the whole time.  And look it’s fine to be a fan/shill for someone, but you just got to admit it and not play objective reporter.  Dave is All In (pun intended) on AEW, to the point where he’s venturing into crazy talk land to boost them up.  We’ll find out soon enough just how this thing plays out, and then we can go back from pretending to be TV experts to pretending we know how to book wrestling shows.


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Opinion

Top 5 World Championship Reigns In The WWE Modern Era (1984 to Present)

See the lists developed by PC Tunney, Greg DeMarco, and Patrick O’Dowd as they determine the five best world championship reigns in the modern era of WWE!

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Roman Reigns WWE Universal Champion

See the lists developed by PC Tunney, Greg DeMarco, and Patrick O’Dowd as they determine the five best world championship reigns in the modern era of WWE!

Wrestling is one of the most fun topics under which we can rank nearly everything. A simple Google search will reveal entire websites devoted to rankings–wrestling or otherwise.

PC Tunney devised an idea, and I developed a name. Thus, the Impromptu Wrestling Convo (aka, The IWC) was born. The first topic? Top 5 World Championship Reigns In The WWE Modern Era.

PC Tunney, Patrick O’Dowd, and myself each came up with our Top 5, and came together to reveal them on this special podcast (see it above, and below). Definitely give it a listen. But here you can also read our composite list, and see who ranked in our Top 5.

Grading Criteria:

  • Points were assigned for the rankings: 5 points for #1, 4 points for #2, and so on.
  • Ties would likely have been left as ties, but (luckily for me) there were no ties in the Top 5, making that part easy.
  • Any reign starting with Hulk Hogan’s first was eligible to be included.

And now, the list!

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Top 5 World Championship Reigns In The WWE Modern Era

5. Brock Lesnar, 2014

Starting with his dismantling of John Cena at SummerSlam (which was supposed to be Daniel Bryan), Brock Lesnar had a reign that included an incredible triple threat match with Seth Rollins and John Cena at the 2015 Royal Runble, and of course the WrestleMania 31 main event clash with Roman Reigns that ended in Seth Rollins’ iconic cash-in. This reign is mainly notable for how it starts and how it finishes, as there was but one bright spot in the middle.

4. John Cena, 2005

Not the longest John Cena world title reign, but Cena’s run as WWE Champion started at WrestleMania 21 and ended with the first ever Money In The Bank cash-in at New Year’s Revolution. This cemented Cena as the top dog in WWE, complete with a move to Raw in the draft, and the emergence of “Super Cena.”

3. CM Punk, 2011

454 Days that no one will ever forget, CM Punk dominated WWE television in a reign that was ultimately cut short by The Rock. Punk didn’t main event WrestleMania 28, facing Chris Jericho before the “Once In A Lifetime” clash between The Rock and John Cena. This ended at the following Royal Rumble at the hands of The Rock, who would go on to lose that title to Rumble winner John Cena at WrestleMania 29.

2. Roman Reigns, 2020

The present-day WWE Universal Champion nearly tops the list, but what remains to be seen is just how long he holds the title, and how it ends. Roman Reigns is on a monumental ride, with no signs of slowing down. We will see if the emergence of a new megastar ends this journey, or if Hollywood comes calling first. Either way, this will end up being acknowledged as one of the all time great championship reigns.

1. Hulk Hogan, 1984

Hulk Hogan began his 1,474 day reign as WWF Champion on January 23, 1984, defeating The Iron Sheik in Madison Square Garden. Hogan would kick off the Rock-N-Wrestling Era, launching WWE into a stratosphere not seen by any other wrestling company, ever. Outside of an 83 week stretch, no one could touch WWE, and that stretch was fronted by Hogan himself. His reign ended in controversy (something about Andre The Giant selling the championship to Ted Dibiase, evil twin referees, and a tournament at WrestleMania IV), but it still goes down as the greatest ever.

Others getting mentioned:

  • Jinder Mahal, 2016 (yes, that was mine)
  • Brock Lesnar, 2017 (by PC Tunney)
  • Randy Savage, 1988 (Patrick O’Dowd’s)
  • John Cena, 2006 (by Tunney)

To see how each talent was listed, and by who, I made this chart. Keep in mind, a “5” means they were #1 on that person’s list, a “4” is #2, “3” is #3, “2” is #4, and a “1” is #5.

What are your thoughts? Drop them in the comments below, or on social media! Also, give the podcast a listen, it’s streaming throughout this article.


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News From Cook’s Corner 1.17.22: Gory Self-Mutilation

AEW tried to catch lightning in a bottle for the second time. Did it work? What other news struck last week?

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! We’ve got a short column for you this week, which most of you were probably expecting when the Cincinnati Bengals actually on a playoff game. Nah, I didn’t party too much, just had an allergic reaction with my eye again. We’ve done this before. This time I’m pretty sure it had something to do with cleaning my bookshelf and rearranging my books. Hadn’t done that in awhile, so there was a ton of duct. Sitting down and looking at a computer screen sucks, so we have to limit it as much as possible.

There’s still a couple things that warrant discussion though, so let’s get to it.

WWE On The Offensive

Looks like this week’s top stories are about WWE trying to do things to undermine wrestling promotions. We start with Major League Wrestling, who has filed a federal anti-trust lawsuit against WWE claiming that WWE has interfered with their ability to make various media rights deals.

Some of the highlights:

-Former WWE executive Susan Levison allegedly warned an executive from VICE that Vince McMahon was “pissed” they were airing MLW programming. MLW claims that WWE had leverage over VICE due to the Dark Side of the Ring series often being focused on WWE subject matter.

-MLW alleges that when WWE found out about their agreement with Tubi, WWE threatened to stop doing business with Fox. The fallout from the Tubi agreement falling through led to a drop in ticket sales & event cancellations & delays.

-As an example of WWE’s anticompetitive behavior, MLW cited AEW being held out of two arenas in the Cincinnati market due to pressure from WWE. Jon Moxley wrote in his book that the Heritage Bank Center on Cincy’s riverfront refused to book AEW due to WWE influence. I don’t know the other, could be the BB&T Arena across the river on the campus of Northern Kentucky University where WWE has held house shows. AEW wound up running the Fifth Third Arena on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, and outdrew the Raw taping held at the HBC just prior.

-Apparently starting in early 2020, WWE started trying to poach MLW wrestlers that were under contract, and aired footage of an MLW wrestler without MLW’s consent. (Somebody would have to fill me in on this one, I haven’t the slightest idea who this would be.) MLW also claims that WWE sought to prevent wrestlers from working with MLW by refusing to hire wrestlers that had worked there, and that one MLW wrestler demanded to be released early from his contract so he could join WWE.

Do I think that at least some of these allegations are true? Having followed pro wrestling for over thirty years and having read up on the history of WWE…you betcha!

I don’t think there’s a question that WWE has resorted to any means necessary to drive potential competitors out of their market. They’ve been doing this since taking most of the territories’ top stars back in the mid-1980s. It’s been a monopoly for nearly two decades for a reason. The main question I have: Will a judge actually care, or will they throw it out of court because it’s silly pro wrestling?

How do you think WWE slips under the radar on things that other media companies & sports leagues actually have to deal with? People have been trained to not take WWE seriously. As much as people like us obsess over the rasslin’ business, people that don’t “get it” are happy to ignore it. Vince McMahon can do any darn thing he wants, and the reaction from folks outside the wrestling bubble will be non-existent. It’s wrestling! To outsiders, the whole damn thing is an outlaw mudshow.

AEW = Gory Self-Mutilation

The Toronto Sun did an article on All Elite Wrestling over the weekend, talking about their status as a competitor to WWE. They asked WWE for comment & got one:

“If you look at the gory self-mutilation that bloodied several women in the December 31 event on TNT, it quickly becomes clear that these are very different businesses. We had an edgier product in the `Attitude’ era and in a 2022 world, we don’t believe that type of dangerous and brutal display is appealing to network partners, sponsors, venues, children, or the general public as a whole.”

A few notes here:

1. I’ve been doing this stuff longer than I care to admit, and I never thought of asking WWE for comment on something. Should I start asking people for comments on topics I’m writing about? I doubt I’d get any answers, but it might be worth a shot.

2. This has been WWE’s strategy when asked about AEW for some time now. We remember Vince McMahon using the phrase “Blood & Guts” to describe the promotion on a conference call. They know that people get squeamish about blood, especially when it comes to blood coming from women. The Fabulous Moolah never busted anybody open on television, and she trained most of the women for years. People aren’t used to seeing it, and they often get uncomfortable with things they aren’t used to seeing.

3. Most people find other people bleeding pretty gross. There’s a reason why deathmatch wrestling is a niche produxct. People that love it really, really love it, but it’s a very small percentage of the marketplace.

4. WWE’s belief is that advertisers & media companies aren’t big on blood, so they make sure to mention AEW’s apparent lust for the red stuff whenever the subject comes up. Their hope is that advertisers will shy away from advertising with AEW, and media companies won’t give AEW big money when their current deal with WarnerMedia is up.

5. Thus far, whenever Tony Khan is criticized on something, he doubles down on it. So there’s a pretty good chance that we’re going to see even more matches with female bleeding. AEW’s female workers seem happy to do it.

6. WWE could be called out as being hypocritical on this front, but there aren’t many people that will hold them accountable.

It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. All I know for sure is that the smack talk between these two promotions and their fans is just beginning. Think it’s tocic now? Wait a couple of years.

Welp, that’s all for this week. Thanks for reading! Join me later in the week for some Divisional Round picks. Until then, keep your stick on the ice.

In Memoriam: Pete was a longtime reader from back in the day. From my dealings with him he was a kind person that knew how to use his head. When you’ve written things on the Internet as long as I have, you learn that’s a rare thing. From what I’ve read from people that knew him in real life, he was the same way off the computer. Sadly he passed away from cancer on Friday night. Pete was always about serving others, as he was a U.S. Air Force veteran & a regular blood donor. He will be missed.


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