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Cook: Why Are We Mad At Brandi Rhodes?

Steve Cook asks the hard hitting questions! Is what Brandi said really THAT bad?

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Brandi Rhodes

Steve Cook asks the hard hitting questions! Is what Brandi said really THAT bad?

Here’s something that might come as a bit of a surprise to you…

People in the wrestling business often overstate the importance and/or quality of their upcoming shows. I know this is hard to believe. I have examples just in case you don’t believe me.

Tony Schiavone told us every episode of Monday Nitro & every WCW pay-per-view was the greatest night in the history of the sport. This wasn’t true. There were, in fact, greater nights in the history of the sport.

WWE is currently telling us that their upcoming event in an undisclosed location, Jam in the Sand III, will be equal to or better than WrestleMania. Last year, they claimed their first event in said undisclosed location would be the Greatest Royal Rumble Ever. From what I understand, it was not.

My buddy Jay Leadfoot reminded me of one of my favorite hyperbolic statements the other day. Many years ago, a promotion here in the Greater Cincinnati area would end their commercials with the tagline “We’ll sell you the whole seat, BUT YOU’LL ONLY NEED THE EDGE!”. Well, I went to some of their shows, and I used my entire seat each time.

Lying liars!

Actually, I wouldn’t call any of these people liars. Tony Schiavone was merely trying to drum up excitement for the next few hours of WCW programming. WWE is trying to get you to watch their next blood money-funded production. The indy fed was trying to draw enough of a house that they could keep running shows. They still are, last I checked.

There is only one reason to get mad about pre-show hype that I can think of. If a local indy fed advertises John Cena vs Roman Reigns, WWE should be mad because those are their independent contractors. Other than that, I see no reason anybody should be offended by people talking up their wrestling show.

But people get offended.

Here’s something else you may find surprising: People get offended pretty easily. On the surface, I don’t blame them. I myself get offended by things like racism, sexism, genocide, human rights violations, corporate greed, stupidity, etc. on a pretty regular basis!

The problem with people getting offended way too easily in 2019 is that it’s usually about stuff that just doesn’t matter. They turn a blind eye to the things that do matter, and work themselves into a lather over things that nobody in their right mind should care about.

Here’s an example from somebody who everybody knows I have a great deal of respect for:

Greg’s my homie and I love him like I love my weird uncle. I don’t get this take at all.

Is Brandi’s statement truthful? No. There will be wrestling fans that don’t like Double or Nothing. I, for one, don’t like the price tag. What she’s trying to do here is convince fans they will like the show so much and be so happy when it’s over that they should spend the money. Joe Sixpack hears something like this and says “Well dang, I better order me that show because I like me some rasslin!”.

Could she have done it better? Sure. You can always do everything better. Brandi could have phrased her confidence in the product they’re going to present in a way that wouldn’t have made some wrestling fans feel self-conscious about their level of fandom, or insulted that their fandom would be questioned.

I can see that this statement has gravely offended some of you. The temerity and the unmitigated gall of Brandi Rhodes to put someone’s wrestling fandom in question has people outraged. How dare she!

I don’t get it.

Are we really so insecure about our status as “wrestling fans” that we can’t handle Brandi Rhodes saying things to promote a show? This sounds completely ridiculous to me. And why are we letting Brandi, or anybody’s, opinion of our fandom affect our day? Is this a thing people are actually doing, and why are they doing it?

I know part of it is the fact that we need to point out AEW weaknesses. Heck, I did a whole column of concerns I have with what I’ve seen. With the company getting almost nothing but positive press from establishment wrestling media since its inception, people like us need to make sure the full picture is presented.

I also know that some need to make sure WWE is defended. Some feel that WWE is unfairly criticized for the things they do, and intend on holding AEW to the same type of standard. That’s fair, as long as both companies are held to the same standard. (They usually aren’t.)

Then there are others whose motives are, shall we say, iffy. They might not even mean to come off this way, and would reject the notion that they do. But there’s a certain subtext to this whole situation that makes me wonder the following:

Are we mad at the message, or are we mad at the messenger?

I remember a funny thing that happened years ago. I want to say it was 2002. Chris Jericho had a match with Rob Van Dam in the King of the Ring tournament. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t either guy’s best showing. It got fair to middling reviews. Jericho, a man with a bit of an ego, was outraged that the match didn’t get five stars from everybody as he felt it deserved to, and posted a tirade online. He suggested if you didn’t like that match, you weren’t really a fan anyway.

People laughed it off. That silly Jericho! Nobody really thought anything of it, other than the guy had some pretty thin skin.

Brandi Rhodes questions fandom over an event that hasn’t happened yet, and I see people telling her to get out of the business and stick to modeling. I see people suggesting that she doesn’t know what context means, and she should take notes from experienced men who know such things.

Because why would a woman understand words, am I right fellas?

Now, I can see people getting the argument ready. Yes, Rhodes is in the AEW front office while Jericho was strictly talent. Different expectations for different positions. I get that.

I just wonder what the reaction would have been if Nick or Matt Jackson would have said it. Or if Kenny Omega said it, or even Brandi’s husband Cody. I don’t think people would imply that they don’t know what words mean. Something tells me people wouldn’t be telling them to stick to modeling, or claiming that your humble correspondent is defending them because they’re attractive.

Even though it’s a matter of public record that I happen to find Cody very dashing. Look at my 411 archives and you’ll see a lot more discussion of Cody’s looks than the looks of Eden Stiles.

What about?

This is the part where the whatabout crowd says “Well what about Stephanie McMahon? She gets all kinds of crap from you people because she’s a girl too so nyah!”. See, here’s the thing on that: Vince gets so much more crap than she does that it’s not comparable to Brandi vs the Elite guys. Sure, back in the day Stephanie got a lot of heat for creative being garbage, and still gets some when she deserves it, but not nearly as much as Vince.

Seriously, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve called Vince old or senile or crazy. Or all of the above at the same time, along with some expletives.

Brandi will learn from this.

Rhodes is still new to her position. She’ll get better. She’ll learn to be very vanilla and speak only in corporate buzzwords. Brandi will learn not to say anything interesting. After all, in many people’s eyes she’s the wrong gender to be allowed to say anything about wrestling fans, or anything else to do with the business or life in general.

Oh, and her matches don’t get enough stars from the experts. Can’t forget that part, it’s the most important.


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Cook’s Top 5: Royal Rumble Diesel Pushes

The Royal Rumble is right around the corner, and someone’s Diesel Push might be on the way! Steve Cook looks back at the Top 5, including Diesel himself!

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Shayna Baszler WWE Royal Rumble 2020

The Royal Rumble is right around the corner, and someone’s Diesel Push might be on the way! Steve Cook looks back at the Top 5 such pushes, including the man himself, Diesel!

You guys might have heard about this. The Royal Rumble is coming up on January 31! Thirty men & thirty women will compete in battle royals to determine who will get a title shot at WrestleMania. The winners will certainly receive a boost in attention and esteem, but there are other ways to stand out in a Rumble match.

One way: Eliminate a bunch of people!

It’s known by us geeks as the Diesel push. One individual, typically a large one, runs over the competition in a short amount of time and helps get rid of some of the deadwood in the ring. An important part of any Royal Rumble.

Here are the top 5 recipients of the Diesel Push! (There are six listed)

5. Great Khali (2007)

Khali always got things done in short order. This is why it doesn’t surprise me that 7 eliminations in 3:45 is the craziest stat in Royal Rumble history. The man knew what his job was, and he didn’t waste any time. He was also self-aware enough to know that his stamina wasn’t the best, he had a good number at 28, so if he threw everybody out as quickly as possible, he had a pretty good chance.

The downfall in Khali’s strategy? Undertaker was number 30. Tough break, kid. It probably looked really good to Khali when Miz pre-teaming with John Morrison came out at 29, and hopefully 30 would be somebody in that same category, but nah, it was Undertaker.

4. CM Punk (2011)

We all know that CM Punk’s push in WWE became bigger during 2011. We don’t know if that was originally intended or not, but things seemed to be picking up for him at the Rumble. At the time, Punk had taken control of The Nexus from Wade Barrett, so he had plenty of backup to support him during matches like thus one. Which he needed, since he drew #1. Fortunately, many of his Nexus minions also drew low numbers, so he was able to last thirty-five minutes and eliminate seven people.

The difference between this & most Diesel pushes: Punk was already a bit of a star at this point. He became a bigger one later in the year. The Rumble probably didn’t have much to do with it, but it didn’t hurt either.

3. Shayna Baszler & Bianca Belair (2020)

The 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble saw a pair of dominant women. Shayna Baszler was rewarded a little earlier. She got a Raw Women’s Championship match against Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. The less said other than that sentence, the better.

Bianca Belair eliminated the same number of women that Baszler did, which was eight if you’re scoring at home, or even if you’re alone. It took some time, but as I write this here & now, Belair is finally getting to show her skills on main roster TV. Completely outclassed Bayley on an obstacle course, proving to be a superior athlete. Doesn’t always translate to pro wrestling, but I won’t deny Bianca’s athletic ability.

Two Diesel pushes in one match is a bit much, but I see what they were going for here.

2. Roman Reigns (2014)

The Shield had been picking up momentum throughout 2013, and it seemed like they were on the verge of big things. Maybe a face turn, maybe the group splitting up, probably both because that’s usually what happens when members of a group start getting over. The 2014 Royal Rumble provided a good opportunity to make the Shield members into stars on their own. Seth Rollins entered second & lasted over forty-eight minutes. Dean Ambrose had a solid showing at over thirty-three minutes.

However, it was the Big Dog that stood out from the pack. Roman Reigns entered fifteenth and was the last person eliminated by the winner, Batista. Prior to that, he set a Royal Rumble record, eliminating twelve people. Including Rollins & Ambrose! The record lasted until the Greatest Royal Rumble match, where Braun Strowman eliminated thirteen people. There were fifty people in that match though, so it wasn’t quite as dominant.

Reigns’ performance was somewhat overshadowed by the lack of Daniel Bryan and the match ending up being CM Punk’s last, but it was still an important part of his push to the main event.

1. Diesel (1994)

It’s a tough call between the original recipient of the Diesel Push and the Big Dog. Why do we go with Diesel? For me, it’s where both men started from. Reigns was already seen as a viable future star in the eyes of many fans. We tend to forget it now since the fans turned on Reigns once he got the push, but the man got over pretty well with the smart fans as a Shield member, even with the other two members having more indy cred. You could tell Roman was going places.

Diesel? Well, he was tall and had good hair. He was barely even a wrestler though! Diesel came into the WWF as Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard, and spent most of his time prior to the 1994 Rumble backing up the Boy Toy. To be honest, most of us that had seen Diesel’s run in WCW as Vinnie Vegas were happier to see him in the bodyguard role than as a wrestler. He wasn’t seen as a future main eventer or world champion or anything like that, until the Rumble match.

After the Diesel push, Kevin Nash was ready to shine.


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Rob: Has Pro Wrestling Become Too Soft?

The Undertaker took the online wrestling community by storm with his comments on the current product, and Rob offers some perspective!

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The Undertaker WWE WrestleMania Boneyard Match

The Undertaker took the online wrestling community by storm with his comments on the current product, and Rob offers some perspective!

So……the Undertaker had some things to say about how the kids today just aren’t doing it the way they did back in his day, and that it’s hurting the product.  In short he said it was harder to watch now because it was soft, and the guys weren’t real enough men – they spend too much time trying to look good and do things like play video games instead of packing heat.  Uhh………yeah………ok, Mr Callaway.

Now look, we can talk about the ring work – I for one think that there are way too many matches that look more like a gymnastics floor routine than what’s supposed to be a fight, from the indies all the way up to the WWE.  If he wants to stick to that than I think he’s worth listening to.  But that’s not what he focused on.  No, he spoke about how guys used to carry guns and knives in their bags, and that guys ‘handled stuff’ back in the day, and weren’t so occupied with grooming or playing video games with each other.  And that the changed behavior over the last few years has made the overall wrestling product harder to enjoy.  Help me out here but I don’t see how playing video games with each other and paying more attention to how you look, smell, etc makes for a worse wrestling product.  The ring action, sure.  The promos, which I didn’t see mentioned in the quotes I saw, sure.  Whether or not you do your hair…..really?  Does he not remember the many male wrestlers of days gone by who were sold to women fans as good looking men they’d want to go home with?  The Von Erich boys, the Rock on Roll Express, Ravishing Rick Rude, the Fantastics, Magnum TA?  Does he not remember commentary damn near yelling out loud ‘HEY LADIES, AREN”T THESE DUDES HOT?’ when those guys and many others were in the ring?  Does he not remember guys like ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin, who was a proverbial man’s man but also had his valet (his real life wife Precious) spraying his hair while he was cutting promos?

But I got another question:

What kind of locker room does he think should exist? 

One where guys are dropping dead before the age of 50 or are concussed into oblivion?  Or one where they can work longer and not look pathetic if they so chose, or move on early if they want?

One where guys like Darren Young and Jake Atlas have to stay in the closet or where they can be out and accepted, where a guy like Randy Orton with his own checkered history will come up to them and say ‘if anyone gives you any crap, let me know?’

One where guys mostly keep each other out of trouble by doing things like……playing video games together or one where they’re out closing down the bar every night, getting into it with the police, etc.?

One where the men engage in all kinds of trifling behavior towards the women on the roster or one where they get along well enough for there to be genuine friendships where people look out for each other and even form some lasting romantic relationships?

And lastly in regards to guys carrying knives and guns instead of video games, do you want a locker room where guys work things out in a more civilized manner or one like where Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death?

Now he’s not the only one who says this kind of stuff.  A lot of guys from his generation have offered similar sentiments and there are a lot of podcasters who pine for the days when things felt more real and what not.  Well if we’re gonna keep it 100 a lot of those gave off more gravitas and sounded more real because they were legit living hard, messed up lives.  Drug problems.  Alcoholism.  Multiple marriages and divorces.  Bad relationships with their children.  Broken homes and childhoods that they were still traumatized over.  Failed careers in other professions.  I don’t know about you but I think it’s a plus that more of the guys seem to be living and working in such a way that they’re able to avoid those things.  I’ll take hearing Kofi and Xavier talk about their kids on the New Day Pod than a bunch of stories about how they were out boozing and cheating on their spouses in between shows.  The latter can be romanticized by guys who tell good stories and all, but the reality is a lot more grim (for good reference take a look at the ESPN documentary on Ric Flair).

And this goes beyond pro wrestling.  A lot of those old guys in our lives who say the same kind of things have suffered the same fates as their counterparts in the wrestling business.  It’s not healthy, full stop.  Just because you can’t relate with the guys who aren’t living and playing like you did 10, 20 years ago doesn’t mean that they’re doing it wrong.  As for the guys being ‘too pretty’ now…..it’s a lot easier to get opportunities to do things outside of wrestling if you look good, are well groomed, etc.  Acting gigs, TV gigs, magazine covers….you think Xavier Woods would have gotten a hosting job on the relaunched G4 network if he looked and groomed himself like Abdullah the Butcher?  Do you honestly think New Day would be more popular if they looked and acted more like what you consider to be real men?  I don’t see it.  And in an entertainment industry where women have to look damn near perfect just to get an interview I don’t think that men choosing to look as good as they possibly can is a negative.  And let’s not pretend that any of New Day can’t put their ring work alongside any guys from any era.  The video games, the gear colors and everything else don’t mean a damn thing as far as their abilities go.

Look man, time stops for no one.  Things change, and in this case I think they’ve changed for the better.  That he can’t see a trail several miles long of broken families, broken bodies, and premature death behind the ‘right way’ that he speaks of is kinda sad.


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