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The Good, Bad and Ugly: WrestleMania 35 (2019)

WrestleMania is here.  The Professional Wrestling Universe has been more than spoiled and now the main course. It is appreciated by many and should be by all, of the sacrifices made by all who worked and participated up to this point, as well as WWE’s best of the best.  

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WrestleMania is here.  The Professional Wrestling Universe has been more than spoiled and now the main course. It is appreciated by many and should be by all, of the sacrifices made by all who worked and participated up to this point, as well as WWE’s best of the best.  

As my friend Pat Masters said to me today, this is a special occasion to the Wrestling Community as a whole. 

For me it’s bigger than the Superbowl.  The Food is served and the beer and wine are flowing. 

In the words of the Chairman Vince McMahon, Welcome to WrestleMania! 

GOOD

WWE Cruiserweight Championship- Buddy Murphy (C) vs. Tony Nese

Not wasting any time The Kickoff Show opened with a hell of a match.  Tony Nese is a perfect opponent against the unorthodox and effective move set of the Champion Buddy Murphy.  This was very physical, Murphy having a lot of the control.  Buddy Murphy has a lot more experience in big shows and was the ring general here.  Nese really took it to him when he got some breathing room.  Heavy strikes and some high impact moves that we always have were the spotlight.  205 Live does high risk best and on this scale nothing was held back.  The more we get of Buddy Murphy shows that he really is in another league and could better be utilized maybe against some high caliber NXT talent.  We saw a lot of really complex stuff here.  This was a Great Match!  It was over, Nese hit with a Murphy’s Law, but Nese got a foot on the rope. Out of nowhere, Tony Nese got an edge, hitting Murphy with a head of steam with a devastating knee to the back of the head.  Tony Nese Wins the long held Cruiserweight Title from Buddy Murphy. 

Women’s Battle Royal

Whoever wasn’t watching already will be upset but obviously a lot of people are.  This was a draw to a lot of people and a vested part of the event.  My pick was Sonya Deville but I would be happy with a few options.  Opening strong Nikki Cross went crazy.  Maria didn’t last long as she got destroyed and thrown out 1st.  Cross got axed by Asuka.  Then they just started falling like flies.  The crowd started weeding out but the action looked great.  It was nonstop and a ton of taunting and reaction.  Kairi Sane shut Lana up when was greatly appreciated and the Riott Squad led by Sarah Logan finished her off.  Everything was clicking and looked sharp.  The Riott Squad shined taking out some of the heavy favorites.  Dana Brooke emerged and just leveled the Riott Squad with two huge eliminations of Ruby and Liv.  Deville and Mandy Rose teamed up but Mandy was eliminated by Mickie James who then also got eliminated.  Deville, Asuka and Logan left, this was awesome action.  Some of the best, Deville and Asuka got whacked out and Logan stood last in the ring.  Carmella then rejoined but Logan destroyed Mella.  It was anyone’s Match but Carmella hit a game changing Superkick to eliminate the Viking Princess of the Riott Squad.  Great showing by the Women’s Division.  At WrestleMania 35 Mella was $.  I’m sure a lot of people were hoping for others to win but Mella got it and it will be fun to see where this goes. 

Raw Tag Team Championships- The Revival (C) vs. Zach Ryder and Curtis Hawkins

This will be fast paced and very physical.  The Revival and Ryder and Hawkins are amped for this match.  This is another treat for the KickOff Show but decent placement given the rest of the card.  As expected The Revival had frequent tags and were merciless with their stiff strikes and chops.  Zach Ryder took the brunt of the abuse and the Revival shined.  While it being WrestleMania you always have it in the back of your mind that anything can happen.  It looked over with Zach Ryder just not getting a break from the punishment.  Ryder hits a double neck breaker and still no break as Dawson took out Hawkins and made another quick tag.  The Revival would only make it harder, not letting up on the beaten Challenger.  Zach Ryder rallied for the much needed tag.  Hawkins was alive and full strength completely taking control of the match with the crowd loudly behind him.  Hawkins and Dawson went down but Ryder was up and waiting for the tag.  Zach Ryder again came out hard but it was short lived.  The Revival took control again but then it happened Hawkins got the surprise roll up and Won the Raw Tag Team Titles!  Anything can happen and Curtis Hawkins not only won for the first time but just beat one of the hardest hitting Tag Team Champions we have had.  Ryder and Hawkins Win the Titles! 

The Goddess Alexa Bliss presents, The Immortal Hulk Hogan

For me an original Hulkamaniac, you cannot get enough of Hulk Hogan and he is in his element on the grandest stage of them all WrestleMania.  It is just a treat and always Good for the show.  Hogan will always be magic to some of us. 

WWE Universal Championship- Brock Lesnar (C) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Seth Rollins

Before Hogan’s music was even over, Paul Heyman begrudgingly walked to the ring and announced if the match isn’t the Main Event we are getting it out of the way before Lesnar heads to Las Vegas where he belongs.  Lesnar marched out ready as ever.  Opening Match of WrestleMania is Main Even level for the Universal Championship.  Lesnar attacked Rollins before he even entered the ring and gave the Challenger tons of punishment including an F5 on the outside.  Lesnar brutally beat Rollins all around the ring, the match hasn’t started yet.  Brock wouldn’t let up not giving Rollins a second to recover.  The bell has rung officially as Rollins wasn’t even standing yet.  Lesnar then took Rollins lifeless body to Suplex City.  Rollins hit Lesnar into the ref and got a low blow.  The ref back in Rollins hit the beast hard.  The Stomp gave Rollins time to regain himself again.  Another stomp but Rollins still not full steam.  A 3rd stomp Rollins Wins the Universal Championship!  Oh my God!  That was insanity!  Good stuff and a little bit shocking how it all went down!  This was a hell of a Good moment for Rollins and the wrestling audience. The Beast is Freakin’ Conquered.

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton

Orton and AJ are high pressure performers.  Orton got the upper hand and control early on and proceeded to methodically tear apart AJ Styles.  This was a well paced match with Good energy all around as both guys just work at such a high level.  Styles would come back and put on a fight gaining some momentum but Orton is always one step away from getting it back.  When Orton turns it on he is vicious but AJ Styles expertise makes him even more dangerous.  Both guys were beaten down and completely exhausted, it could have been either guy’s match.  It looked like Orton had the win after a devastating Superplex but Styles kicked out and the match continued.  Orton had went for the RKO, Styles kicked Orton and got a full moon rollup, but ended up in an RKO.  AJ Styles kicked out!  Orton completely freaked out went to RKO off the top to Styles but got countered and Pele Kicked out of the ring.  Styles matched it by hitting a Phenomenal Forearm over the Top to the outside hitting Orton.  Orton countered almost hitting an RKO but Styles escaped hitting another Phenomenal Forearm this time getting the hard fought win!  Good Match for what it was!

SmackDown Tag Team Championships- The Usos (C) vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev w/ Lana vs. The Bar

The Belts are on the line and it is anyone’s match.  The Bar has tasted the Gold, Ricochet and Black are hungrier than ever after a legendary performance at Takeover this past Friday against the War Raiders.  Nakamura and Rusev have had their share of success and Gold as well.  All are big players on the big stage.  This is money.  This has to be surreal for Aleister Black and Ricochet after all they have done lately to be in a Tag Team Championship Match at WrestleMania is extraordinary.  There were lots of blind tags and tons of back and forth.  Every team got some time in control.  Highlight early on were some sick exchanges with Cesaro and Ricochet.  The Bar shined and got control momentarily.  Cesaro torqued back with a textbook Sharpshooter but it was broken up.  Again it was anyone’s match.  Rusev destroyed Ricochet just manhandling him.  Somehow after a giant full on slam off the top involving everyone in the match, Ricochet from atop the group rolled out unscathed.  Ricochet hit a “630” on Sheamus but was broken up by everyone!  Everyone then took each other out with their respective kicks to the face.   Sheamus was standing tall until the Usos Superkicked the life out of him.  The Usos then hit a game changing Double Splash on Sheamus for the victory, retaining the SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships!  This was unexpected but what a strong Good match no matter your feelings of the Winning team.          

Falls Count Anywhere Match- The Miz vs. “The Greatest in the World” Shane McMahon

The Best in the World Shane McMahon no matter what happens is going to be doing some stunts that will make you question his sanity.  This heel Shane is playing is over the top here which is actually both effective and warranted.  The Miz who never is a babyface is has the crowd behind him.  His Father front and center, Miz is here to kill it.  There is some Good heat here and can and will happen.  Things started off shaky.  Shane throwing horrible strikes that rarely connected and looked cheap.  After the initial cat and mouse it went downhill.  Shane beat down Miz most of the beginning mostly kicks and strikes.  After Shane got going things looked a lot stiffer and a lot better.  Shane got Miz on an announce table and Shane got on the top.  Miz’s Father blocked between them but Shane changed his mind.  Shane invited Miz’s Father into the Match who then entered the ring.  Things went from Bad to Worse here as everything involving Miz’s Father looked terrible and was just cringe worthy.  The Miz came in hot though and picked things up.  However Miz then tended to his Dad instead of continuing the fight.  This is just weird and awkward.  Miz then kicked it back up again taking the fight back into the audience right after Shane.  Miz wiped the floor with McMahon, using all the space he could find to punish Shane.  The action picked up as well as the overall feel of the match.  Shane and Miz were doing fantastic raising the bar.  They were warmed up and things went crazy.  Shane was taking huge bumps getting killed by the Miz.  Shane would manage to kick out though and continue to fight with the Miz.  Here we go, Shane climbing camera platforms and getting ready for chaos.  Shane was cornered with nowhere to go beaten down, begging.  Miz took it farther Superplexing Shane off a high up platform through a stage.  This was the big finale, as Shane was on top of Miz as a result of the Extreme Superplex, and Shane got the 3 count without even knowing it.  This was a strong finish with insane action that over came after a horrible start.  The ending was very Good though therefore, another one for the Good column.   

Women’s Tag Team Championships- Sasha Banks and Bayley (C) vs. IIconics vs. Beth Phoenix and Natalya w/ Bret The Hitman Hart vs. Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka

The IIconics gear, Wow!  Besides that everyone looked ready!  This is a very big match and very important to the Women’s Division.  Big shoutout to the genius work the Mikaze did on Banks and Bayley’s gear also it looks fantastic.  The common enemies here were Tamina and Nia Jax which was a Good strategy as they are the powerful team of the group.  The IIconics were iconic and showed the world that they are game for the big show as much as anyone.  Both Royce and Kay did very well and showed a ton of poise on the grand stage.  With the Gold on the line, there were frequent tags and tons of combinations of talent going at it.  It was non-stop and plentiful action.  Natalya pulled off a Double Sharpshooter on the Tag Champs but got dropped by Tamina.  Jax and Snuka back in it pulverized their opponents.  The Glamazon was taken out quickly and the IIconics followed.  Last was the Tag Team Champions Boss N Hug.  Tamina and Nia Jax looked to finish the job but it was broken up by Beth Phoenix.  After resting a moment Banks and Bayley looked like they had the win but Phoenix kicked out and proved hard to beat.  Phoenix grabbed up Bayley and hit a Glam Slam off the top, but The IIconics jumped in, dropped out Beth Phoenix and stole the 3 count.  The IIconics Win the Tag Team Championships!  This was awesome!  Congrats to the IIconics on a great match and a huge achievement.  Your new Women’s Tag Team Champions the IIconics!       

WWE Championship Match- Daniel Bryan (C) w/ Rowan vs. Kofi Kingston w/ New Day

New Day showed up correctly for the Big Night for their friend and brother Kofi Kingston.  Daniel Bryan at the ready to defend his Eco-Friendly Title.  Kofi had the whole world behind him and fully confident he was walking out the Champ.  This was a classic, well done technical match with a ton of action.  Both men showed their guts and strengths to achieve clinic like offense.  Kofi came out with some unique big moves to gain advantage but Daniel Bryan killed it as well.  Kofi took one to many risk crashing hard into an announce table opening the door for a painful beating by Daniel Bryan.  Bryan preyed on the hurt Kofi Kingston taking the dangerous Challenger down and out.  Kofi would not quit constantly fighting for his spot.  Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston fought to the point of exhaustion but still kept fighting.  Eventually strikes became a full on brawl then back and forth, with both guys almost scoring pinfalls.  It was constant counters the Challenger and Champion badly wanting to win.  Daniel Bryan calling for the Yes chant getting back full No’s.  Kofi hit an SOS but got hit into the “LeBell Lock.”  Kofi escaped but the damage was done.  Daniel Bryan did everything right but Kofi just was overwhelming.  Just as Rowan got involved New Day neutralized him.  Kofi had his chance but was smashed by the flying knee strike by Bryan but still managed to kick out.  Daniel Bryan viciously stomped Kofi’s face into the mat.  Bryan locked in the LeBell Lock again but Kofi still managed to fight back.  Kofi hit the Trouble in Paradise and finally got the 3 count!  Kofi Kingston is your new WWE Champion at KofiMania!

United States Championship- Samoa Joe (C) vs. Rey Mysterio

This would be a nice touch to the career of Rey Mysterio but at what cost.  Samoa Joe will for sure be physically impossible to beat without taking a horrendous beating.  Mysterio has his hands for with Samoa Joe let alone at WrestleMania.  This is speed for brutal power.  Speaking of which after kicking the face right off Mysterio to start out, Mysterio didn’t hold back and got him down quick. However Samoa Joe overpowered the smaller foe and locked in a match ending Coquina Clutch for the decisive, impressive victory absolutely squashing the Lucha legend.  Joe retains the US Title.  This was quick but no complaints, just kind of unnecessary and would have worked on the preshow.    

Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre

Two guys skyrocketing to the top of the WWE food chain and absolutely similar in roles.  These two big guys have to go through each other first to get there.  McIntyre has been on a tear and strongly gaining favor for his tremendous presence.  Roman Reigns is now a solid fan favorite and hero for his courageous fight for his life.  He now can focus on gaining his spot at the top again.  Either way this will be big and physical.  We will see pure power and brutality.  WWE spared no expense on pyro welcoming back Roman to his ring.  Classic big guys match no surprises but everything coming out right.  It looked sharp, control going back and forth.  McIntyre got the edge and went with it for a while wearing down the already tired Reigns.  Again though both men jocked for position.  After a huge slap to the face, Reigns went off going on a tear on McIntrye hitting move after move ending the series with a huge Spear for the Victory! 

ELIAS

Elias had a wonderful set up doing some really cool things going crazy on his guitar.  That is when magic happened.  A sick Babe Ruth video overshadowed the event followed by a GOAT in his own right, as “Basic Thuganomics” blasted over the speakers and John Cena “Ruthless Aggression” took center stage and overtook the entire show!  This was awesome, period!  Cena just announced that Elias rap style that he is about to turn heel and dis-tracked Elias completely burying him.  Cena hit a 5-Knuckle Shuffle into an AA (FU) before heading out.  Cena stole it with some “Ruthless Aggression” it was a great WrestleMania moment! 

No Holds Bar (HHH’s Career Match)- HHH vs. Batista

Batista looked right at home like he never left, which is hard to do, especially on a stage like WrestleMania.  It was Good to see him prowling like an animal.  HHH showed up like only he knows how too.  He is The Game, the King of Kings, the Boss, he demands respect and will beat the ever loving hell out of you if he has too.  This got crazy violent.  HHH went bat shit crazy on Batista straight torturing him at times.  This was old school Game, HHH absolutely savage, even ripping Batista’s nose ring out with pliers.  Batista is an Animal though and had some bad intentions of his own.  Batista had HHH beat but still HHH kept going, fighting for his career.  HHH got under Batista and Powerbombed him onto the steps in the ring, followed it up with a Pedigree, but Batista kicked out at two!  Ric Flair made a special delivery to HHH with a sledge hammer then taunted Batista before HHH hit him with a the SledgeHammer and a Pedigree for the extremely hard fought victory!         

Kurt Angle’s Final Match- The Olympic Champion Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin

This is it, the end of an era.  My wife is from his hometown and has met him many times.  Kurt Angle the class act from Pittsburgh is bidding farewell on the grandest stage.  Corbin beat Angle down, the crowd was silent at times.  Corbin managed to come back every time Angle got some momentum.  Corbin even hit a Deep 6 but only for a two count.  Corbin countered by kicking out of the Olympic Slam.  Angle then locked in the Ankle Lock but escaped before mocking John Cena and getting Germans again by Angle.  The crowd on their feet Angle climbed to the top but missed the Moonsault.  Corbin hit an End of Days and finished The Olympic Champion clean, ending his career with a loss.  Good Match, thank you Angle! 

Intercontinental Championship- Bobby Lashley (C) w/ Lio Rush vs. Demon Balor

Running low on time and the Demon in tow coming up for this, it is expected to be a short match.  Lashley has been so impressive since Lio Rush has been his hype man.  Lashley wasn’t a mic man and it seems to have alleviated a ton of pressure letting him focus on dominating opponents.  However this isn’t an opponent, it’s a curse, The Demon has come for the Gold.  Lashley fought like a man possessed and didn’t let the Demon control him.  The Demon however overpowered Lashley with a huge PowerBomb followed by a Coupe De Grace for the Victory!  The Demon Finn Balor is your 2 time Intercontinental Champion! 

“Winner Take All” WWE Women’s SmackDown and Raw Championship- Ronda Rousey (C) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair (C)

Here we go!  When the Man comes around you better be ready.  You bet the ladies brought the pain clubbing and slamming each other around.  Rousey took a sick bump to the outside from a slide by Becky Lynch.  Constant back and forth everyone trying to end the match quickly.  All three did everything they could do to win.  This was Rousey’s best match by far.  She was focused and on point with her strikes and moves.  Charlotte and Becky teaming on here was a great touch.  Everyone was exhausted, out of breath, and beaten.  It didn’t stop Charlotte from hitting a Spanish Fly on Becky Lynch for a two count.  Flair got the figure 8 on Rousey until Lynch missiled in breaking it up.  So many near falls here on out, Flair getting the most attempts and close calls.  They left it all out there.  With Charlotte knocked out of the ring, it was finally Lynch vs. Rousey.  Rousey destroyed Lynch but hurt and stumbled, Lynch rolled Rousey out of a Piper’s Pit for the Win!  Becky Lynch is the Champion!  It is over!  What a WrestleMania, what an ending!  Great Show!    

BAD- No, almost flawless.  Clean, Good Show!  WrestleMania Worthy!

UGLY

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

This is a treat usually in a way because you see so much talent.  This time around however it was a mess.  Weak strikes, over the top literally, and a bit corny.  SNL Fame didn’t help and in fact having them finally face off with Braun at the end was unforgiving.  This was just horribly ugly.  It’s a shame.  It’s not that Strowman won but some of the missed opportunities and rush job that this mess was overall.  A little early for the Ugly column already, the show hasn’t even started yet. 

FINAL

Good- 17

Bad- 0

Ugly-1

OVERALL

WrestleMania was Good as hell!  This show delivered largely in part of the tremendous talent and momentum heading into the Biggest Night in Sports Entertainment.  The crowd was so hot and appreciated the tremendous spectacle that their favorite Superstars put on for them.  This was a spectacle and was tremendously successful.  What a WrestleMania.  This is such a special night and of course for all fans will always be a part of our lives and memories forever.  This was a Good WrestleMania and a Good night to be a Wrestling Fan!

There we have it and the World will move forward.  This was an historic night during an historic event.  So many big things and changes ahead.  Let the Good times roll!  Catch you on the next PPV for more Good, Bad and Ugly only on thechairshot.com. 


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NXT Minus 6: A Tale of Two Champions

Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

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Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

Our two new champions could not be more different…

Karrion Kross return vignette airs during NXT TakeOver: WarGames

6. Doomsday Saito comes to the ring and gives a painful, cliched promo. Any wrestler in the back could have said those exact words. Train harder and beat people up. He’s angry. We get it. The only thing Saito could do that would interest me is move to RawDown. On the other hand…

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Not gonna lie, that promo was wasn’t even hot garbage. It was cold garbage.]

Raquel Gonzalez & Rhea Ripley And Bianca Belair Celebrate | Franky Monet Debut | WWE NXT Highlights - YouTube

5. Raquel Gonzalez delivers a genuine, heartfelt promo that only she could give. Tears of joy. It told her story, and it’s exactly why she got the pop and the chant she deserved. The addition of Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair, complete with throwback pic, was icing on the cake. I’m excited for whatever Gonzalez does next. Speaking of…

WWE: Dakota Kai on what she misses about New Zealand and her quest to be NXT champion | Newshub

4. Fantasy booking alert!!! Two weeks ago, Raquel Gonzelez told the world I was the one who believed in her. I was the one who made her a champion. Then Rhea Ripley shows up, and Bianca Belair shows up, and I’m the one sent to the back. How quickly you forget who your real friends are. I was the one who took you to the top, and chicka, I am the one who is going to drag you to the bottom. I used you to get to the top and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am Dakota Kai.

Santos Escobar loses the Cruise Championship to Kushida | Superfights

3. No more Santa Claus Ice Cream Bar. Santos Escobar has earned his name back. His match with KUSHIDA is everything great about NXT. Say it with me. Good things happen when you let wrestlers wrestle! Fast paced. Great action. Surprise ending. I’m going 4.5 stars. Give me a match that good every Tuesday and I’m a happy camper. 

WWE NXT results – 13/04/2021 (Raw and Smackdown Champions appear, Franky Monet debuts) » FirstSportz2. Right now, I don’t know if any two wrestlers have better chemistry than Swerve Scott and Leon Ruff. Every time they get together, it’s electric, and this week was no different. This is quickly climbing into Rivalry of the Year territory. I thought I was happy to see Swerve pick up the victory and move on. Then Ruff goes insane in the membrane and now I’m excited to watch them fight forever.

WWE News: Roderick Strong 'Resigns' From NXT, Video of Karrion Kross' NXT Promo | 411MANIA

1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…Roderick Strong. Kayfabe. Work. Shoot. I don’t care. Strong deserved a better goodbye than what he got. He is the Perfection of Performance (shout out to the Hitman). He and Kyle O’Reilly were the best version of the Undisputed Era tag team champions. I always got excited for a Strong match because I knew he’d deliver. Roderick Strong is exactly the kind of wrestler that makes me love wrestling. Until he returns, he will be sorely missed.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: April 2021

It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means…

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It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means.

It’s time to talk about my current five favorite wrestlers like I’m Booker T. Let’s break down the Fave Five!

5. Samoa Joe

I figure what happened between Samoa Joe & WWE was the following: WWE offered Joe an announcing contract since either they didn’t want to use him in the ring or their doctors wouldn’t clear him to wrestle. Joe looked at the contract, noticed the financial discrepancy, realized he could probably get NJPW to let him train young boys in California for that kind of money and said “thanks but no thanks”. Nothing else really makes sense to me.

Unfortunately, those who thought that WWE wouldn’t utilize Joe to their fullest potential were right. It wasn’t all WWE’s fault though. Joe had a lot of miles on his tires when he got there. Injuries are always more of a concern with larger wrestlers the older they get. And when Joe was healthy, he did get to do some good stuff and show people a glimpse of the Samoa Joe that people like me raved about back in the mid to late 2000s.

In any event, Joe got his WWE run. It was a thing that happened. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t wind up in AEW because he seems like the kind of guy Tony Khan would throw all the money at. Should be fun!

4. Kris Statlander

AEW does have a pretty insane number of factions right now. It risks the possibility of all of the groups blending together, with none of them really capturing the attention of fans. However, there are positive things about AEW’s faction warfare that shouldn’t be overlooked. It makes booking fresh matches to fill cards pretty easy. You can have groups facing off each week, but in different combinations that keep it fresh.

Another good thing: It can help us decide how we feel about characters that we might be on the fence about. Kris Statlander’s character was a topic of discussion from the moment she entered AEW. A lot of people weren’t sure how to take her. Wrestling aliens, or wrestlers who think they’re aliens, aren’t exactly common. Its the kind of thing that gets over in the indies, because those feds attract fans that are more willing to buy into unique concepts. Mainstream is a tougher sell.

Aligning Kris with the Best Friends makes sense to those in the know, since she came up working shows with them. It also helps people that don’t know about her figure out more. The Best Friends are a happy go lucky group that are the whitest of white meat babyfaces you’ll find in AEW, and that’s a good thing. They’re welcoming to people with unique personalities, as Orange Cassidy’s presence establishes. A friendly alien couldn’t ask for a better group to surround herself with, and from their appearances so far she seems like a perfect fit.

Add in the fact that the time on the shelf helped her get into better shape and refine her look & presence, and the sky’s the limit for Statlander. As long as she can stay in the ring, I’m expecting big things from her in 2021.

3. Tay Conti

Sometimes, all one needs is a change of scenery to approach their true potential. Tay spent a few years at the WWE Performance Center learning how to be a professional wrestler. During her time there, Tay never showed much in the way of potential. Even though she had a combat sports background and had the type of physical appearance that gets attention, Conti’s TV time was very limited and uneventful. She seemed like one of those wrestlers that was bound to stay in developmental until WWE gave up on them, then drop off the face of the earth without most wrestling fans noticing.

Tay’s story took a different route. She ended up being one of the cuts that AEW took an interest in, and was brought in for the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament. Her teaming with Anna Jay worked well on & off-camera, and she pretty much fit right in with the group immediately. She started training with Dustin Rhodes, and pretty much immediately started looking better in the ring & figuring out what worked for her. Now, she’s one of the people helping AEW’s women’s division go to a higher level.

This isn’t meant to denigrate WWE’s Performance Center or its methods. There just isn’t a wrestling training center out there that’s going to work for everybody. Tay had to find what worked for her. The people that recently got cut will have to do the same. Hopefully, the people that recently got signed by WWE will thrive in that environment.

2. Bianca Belair

We’ve recently seen three new Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella, all of whom are great in their own way. I’ve talked about Rhea Ripley before, she’s got unlimited potential and so far she’s done very well on the main roster. Raquel Gonzalez is doing very well on NXT and her push to the championship made perfect sense & got over. I do think the best of the title changes was Bianca’s defeat of Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania Saturday. It was a special moment for Bianca, a very fun match to watch, and a great performance from both Bianca & Sasha Banks, who did everything she could to make Bianca in that match.

You see the video of the NXT segment up above, with the three current Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella celebrating together. Apparently there was a picture taken in 2019, and there were pictures taken after this week’s NXT, with Triple H making sure to get in there as he likes to do with all new champions. I’ve never really been a fan of that sort of thing, even the “Horsewomen” celebrations on previous NXT shows didn’t do much for me.

Besides the usual complaints people have about things like that, the thing that I didn’t like was how Rhea & Raquel came off. They were all smiling & happy like they were Big Daddy Cool Diesel after beating Mr. Bob Backlund in 1994. Completely against what Raquel has been up to this point, and what Rhea has been when she’s been at her best. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing for Rhea for the portion of the NXT audience that likes their lady wrestlers crying & happy after their performances, and hopefully it’s leading to Raquel getting dismembered by Dakota Kai, who can’t be happy about her heater winning the championship and then turning into Smilin’ Diesel.

Fortunately for Bianca, it does nothing to affect her character or our opinion of her. That’s why I think her title run will go best. I’m also putting her here because I’m pretty well convinced there isn’t a wrestling move or spot she can’t do well. Insanely talented, and the more experience she gets the better she’ll be.

1. Darby Allin

Sometimes you just want to watch something that’s stupid fun. Something that doesn’t need too much thought in order to enjoy it. Just people doing crazy things to entertain an audience. Darby Allin matches are just what you need when you’re looking for something like this. There isn’t anybody crazier in pro wrestling today than Darby, which is probably for the best. I’m convinced this kid has a death wish.

The one thing that kinda gets me about Darby sometimes is how he kicks out of everything. Poor Matt Hardy wasn’t going to beat that kid unless he shot him with a gun, and apparently there’s a metal detector at Daily’s Place. (Shoutout to Matt by the way, hell of an effort in that match.) But then I remember that Darby Allin is a daredevil and constantly posting videos online where he’s jumping off high places and doing crazy things. Obviously, it’s going to take a little more to beat a daredevil than your average pro wrestler.

What’s it going to take to beat Darby Allin? That’s a good reason to keep watching.


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