Following Extreme Rules, The New Day hold all the gold on the Blue brand but for how long? Who will face Kofi Kingston at SummerSlam for the WWE Championship, The Viper perhaps? Could we witness the reigniting of a ten-year rivalry?
Chris’s Grades For WWE SmackDown Live:
- Aleister Black vs. Cesaro Winner: Aleister Black–B+
- Liv Morgan vs. Charlotte Flair
- Ember Moon & Bayley vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya DeVille Winners: Moon & Bayley–B+, The B+ was for the announcement of Bayley vs. Ember Moon at SummerSlam
- The New Day vs. Randy Orton, Samoa Joe & Elias Winners: Orton, Joe & Elias–B+
- WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match The IIconics © vs. The Kabuki Warriors Winners: Kabuki Warriors by countout–C
- Apollo Crews vs. Andrade w/ Zelina Vega
Winner: Crews by surprise roll-up–B
- Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler
Winner: No Contest
The shows opened up with a recap of KO’s Pipebomb promo and Stunner, on the self-proclaimed Best in the World last week. We see footage from earlier today with Shane is seen instructing security guards to detain Kevin Owens if things get out of hand.
The egocentric boss tells Owens that tonight there will be an open forum for many mistreated superstars to air their grievances and Shane “is going to listen”… excuse me while I hurl. Owens says he doesn’t work for him, his contract is with WWE. Shane gives him a lesson that the McMahon Family controls the company, so “Yes, you do work for me”. Owens is given the night off. Two things I see all said superstars with issues are going to get Claymore Kicked straight into next week, and Owens will strike again!
We go to ringside as the entire SmackDown Live roster is on the ramp I guess we’re getting the first-ever ‘Town Hall’ but first a recap of The Undertaker and Roman Reigns’ destruction from Extreme Rules! Of course, as long as they are respectful. The Big Dog speaks up first and says “Shane I don’t think you get it, nobody respects you…Oh and you can kiss my ass!” Shane’s rebuttal is Roman getting fined. I’ll be frank I just deleted two paragraphs worth of superstars who aired their grievances, and Shane cut them all off…Liv Morgan and Charlotte Flair bickered and maybe we’ll see a match soon.
Buddy Murphy is still a heel and sided with Shane, Apollo Crews got challenged to a match with Andrade, The New Day shut down Elias, and Kofi Kingston got his mic cut off while inquiring why Shane is not giving opportunities to deserving superstars.
Shane closes the thing… Cesaro wants another piece of Aleister Black tonight and gets it! Hell yeah! Owens is standing behind Shane, who botches and falls down… Stunner, this was a complete bore-fest. WWE needs to drastically change things with the upcoming move to Fox if they do long and boring segments to start the show there won’t be a SmackDown Live… commercial.
We return and Thank God we get some action as Aleister Black is making his entrance for his Extreme Rules rematch against Cesaro. I don’t expect a decisive winner tonight, I think these two will have another exhilarating match though!
We find out several things are happening tonight. First The New Daniel Bryan will give a Career-Altering Announcement, The IIconics will defend the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships against The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane). The bell rings and Black and Cesaro trade bombs…Black off the ropes and lands a kick. Cesaro slides outside and Black is gonna fly…Nope, sit-down cross-legged pose…commercial.
We return with Cesaro with a headlock on Black. The action is fast-paced with devastating strikes by both competitors. Black lands his signature springboard moonsault off the ropes for a close two-count. Black knocks Cesaro’s mouthpiece out of his mouth with a MASSIVE BLACK MASS 1-2-3!
Backstage we see Shane’s newest suck up Dolph Ziggler and he wants Owens tonight, he claims if it’s the main event he can get Owens back here.
We see a recap of a hallucinated Daniel Bryan in his Extreme Rules Post-Match Interview with Sarah Schrieber. Talking about saving the planet, he needs to go somewhere he’s never gone before. He knows exactly what he needs to do, yeah go see a shrink lol. Do you remember when I told you we would see Flair vs. Morgan soon? Well, it’s coming up next.
This will be Morgan’s first match on SmackDown Live since the Superstar Shakeup, and her first as a babyface. She played one before she debuted on the main roster as a member of The Riot Squad. The bell rings and Flair just shoves her down…Wild punches from Morgan.followed by a stunning hurricanrana and a side dropkick! Wow, I’m shocked! Flair just stares as Morgan just smiles and waves at her in his laying down pose. Flair gets the upper hand hits a Powerbomb and locks in the Figure-eight and Morgan taps. Morgan lumps to the announce table and grabs Corey Graves’s headset and says “Charlotte was right, and when I come back I’m going to be real”!
I wish this was longer so Morgan can show off more of her in-ring skills, but for what it’s worth she did alright in her first match back. The Queen has been MIA for some time, and she needed to get a dominant victory here.
Outside the arena we see Ziggler trying to get Owens’s phone number from senior NXT official Drake Wuertz. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s been the official for a plethora of TakeOver matches, here recently he’s been receiving much more exposure on the main roster.
Ember Moon is walking for her tag match against Mandy Rose and Sonya DeVille, I wonder her partner will be? Rose and DeVille are out first, The Shenom is here and…The SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley. Before the bell rings Rose and DeVille attack both opponents.
The match is now underway, Rose hits a high knee and DeVille hits a shining knee… two-count. Moon gets the tag and is firing on all cylinders, bringing the fight to Rose. DeVille comes in and eats a Bayley-2-Belly and Moon hit The Eclipse for the 1-2-3! Post-Match Interview with Kayla Braxton as Bayley is asked who will be her next challenger now that she’s done with Alexa Bliss? She thinks for a minute and turns to Moon and she ecstatically accepts by saying HELL YEAH!
The match was fine. I’m seeing a pattern here, because of the extremely long opening segment to start the show, most of the performers are paying the price with shortened matches. This is ridiculous!
Backstage Interview with The New Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura who says “I am a storm, and now he’s free to rain down his chaos on the entire roster”. He’s then congratulated by one of SmackDown Live’s greatest assets The Heart and Soul of 205 Live Ali. Holy Shit, What A Match That Will Be!
Daniel Bryan and Rowan are coming up next, where do you think he’s going? I think maybe NXT. He technically was in NXT before it boomed as a rookie, but many are speculating its to 205 Live either way is Awesome!
We return live as Tom Phillips announces that Owens has been contacted and he’s on his way back to the arena. Something smells fishy to me, either he’s getting arrested or he’s getting a brutal attack from The Corporation 2.0.
It’s A New Day, Yes It Is… They’ve put the SmackDown WWE Championship and Tag Team Championships on Lockdown (Sorry Uce)! After some dancing and celebrating Kofi grabs the mic and tests it. Nope, we’re good compared to earlier, Woods gives props to Kofi for beating The Samoan Submission Machine Samoa Joe. Kofi congratulates E and Woods on their victory to become Six-time Champs! E offers Bryan and Rowan their Tag Team Championship rematch.
A distraught looking Bryan and Rowan walk off the stage, but it quickly turns to furious after “New Day” chants break out. Bryan throws the mic down and leaves.
The Samoan Submission Machine wants another title shot but of all people, Elias tells him he’s had his chance. The Viper is ready to take back the WWE Championship. Elias says we should all three make a statement to The New Day tonight, New Day pays homage to former Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long back in the day! Orton says Six-man Tag Team Match…Nah he’s good. Kofi provokes him to come back by saying maybe he’s gone limp! Orton storms down the ramp along with Joe and Elias… commercial.
We’re back as the bell rings and Kofi and Elias start it off, tie-up and headlock and a shoulder tackle by Elias. Kofi hits a flying-spinning elbow for the first pinfall of the match. Joe gets the tag and throws hard rights to the WWE champ in the corner, Kofi launches himself into a Lou Thesz Press maneuver. Woods in and Joe eats a highlight reel of splashes and attacks from Woods and Kofi. Tag to E and hits the splash two-count.
Back from a commercial, Woods lands a jaw-dropping missile dropkick all the way ¾ across the ring. Here comes Kofi, flying clothesline…Five Moves of Boom! Cross-body chops, followed by another flying clothesline and the Boom Drop to The Viper.
Kofi Sets up Trouble in Paradise… nope…RKO…nope Kofi hits a beautiful cross-body onto Orton, pin broken up by Elias. Woods and E back in and hit some good offense…Joe drills E with a ferocious lariat, Woods sends him to the outside…Huge Splash, Joe locks in the Coquina Clutch and Woods is out. E makes the save but Elias hits the Knee. Elias back in the ring, Kofi hits Trouble in Paradise… RKO 1-2-3! Yes, sir, my prediction of Kofi vs Orton at SummerSlam is all but confirmed now!
Paige and The Kabuki Warriors are making their way to the arena. Backstage Carmella is searching for R-Truth. HE’S FREAKING GOLD! Truth is hiding in a Washing machine! He’s stuck and Mella helps him out. She says she’s got a better hiding spot but he’ll need a wear a costume z Truth says “good because being the 48/7 European 7/11 24/7 I-75 277 Champion Ain’t No Joke!” Truth falls down while exiting the machine…and off they go.
We return live as The IIconics are making their entrance to the ring, their opponents are already in the ring. Greg Hamilton gives the championship introductions, and the match is underway. Sane and Royce start…Slap to Sane. Not wise…Whip tag to Asuka… Headscissors into a Code Breaker and a stunning Blockbuster…Asuka in and nails a shining wizard for almost the victory! They are on fire tonight!
Asuka wants the hip attack…nope tag to Kay and a big boot. Kay starts trash-talking…Huge Roundhouse Kick that sends her outside. Royce check on Kay outside as the official starts the ten-count, Royce grabs Kay off the ropes to ensure the countout victory… Genius! The challengers are not done as the women’s champions try to flee with the gold. Royce gets driven into the steps, and Sane and Asuka drives Kay into the barricade. Back in the ring and another vicious kick by The Empress of Tomorrow, followed by The Insane Elbow Drop!
While I know that the charades must end at some point, The IIconics are brilliant cowardly heel champions. I predict a few more weeks of cat and mouse games and then we’ll get the title change at SummerSlam. Andrade and Crews are up next.. commercial.
Andrade blasts Crews before the bell rings, now the match is underway. Hard knee in the corner to Crews, stiff strikes from Andrade. Crews answers back with rights of his own Enzugiri…nope stomps to Crews on the mat. Crews gets back up and tries to dodge Andrade but, he gets blasted with a nasty back elbow…Running knees in the corner. Andrade goes for the pin, Crews reverses into his own and gets the 1-2-3! Andrade and Vega are shocked.
Recap of The Fiend’s Spectacular debut and attack on Finn Balor!
Owens and Ziggler are up next… commercial.
We return as Ziggler is out first, followed by Owens, I sense a trap…Let’s find out!
The bell rings as Owens out of the gate Stunner… nope. Ziggler escapes outside but Owens flies into him! Owens up top, Senton…nope… Fameasser… two-count. Ziggler slows the pace down with a crossface submission and rakes Owens’s eyes in the process. Ziggler gets in some good offense now…Ziggler hits a splash in the corner, followed by his signature satellite DDT for a two-count. Owens blasts him with a Superkick, Senton connects two-count. Here comes Shane with a flood of superstars behind him, they surround the ring… Zig-Zag… two-count!
Owens gets drilled shoulder-first into the ring post. Owens slaps him, Ziggler unloads on him in the corner. Owens gets sent to the ring post again, Ziggler with the Superkick…nope… Stunner… pin…nope Shane pulls Owens outside, and eats the second Stunner kt of the night and Owens sprints outta there! Kayla Braxton tries to get a word from Shane he says “He’s gonna pay, Kevin Owens you are gonna pay my friend!”
That’s the show folks
Chris’s Grade Of The Show–B-
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?
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.
— The Bunny 🐇 (@AllieWrestling) January 15, 2022
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.
NXT 2021 Year in Review: NXT UK!!!
With the OG NXT rebranding and losing a lot of credibility, at least NXT UK has been consistent! Brad brings his NXT UK awards!
Let’s give out some special awards to the very best hour on the entire WWE Network.
Honorable Mention Most Improved: Mark Coffey
Most Improved is one of my favorite awards. I love watching wrestlers get better. This year, Mark wasn’t just decaf Joe. He showed his personality. Playful little bugger seems like the kind of guy you’d want to have a pint with. Even got a short run as a singles guy. Mark’s growth was definitely one of the highlights of the best overall year in the history of NXT UK.
Most Improved Male Wrestler: Oliver Carter
When Carter first showed up, it was obvious why he was in a tag team, eating all the pins. I don’t know who the trainers are in NXT UK, but someone put in overtime with Carter. Every week, he’s hitting new and exciting moves in the ring. He’s showing more fire on the mic. It’s only a matter of time before Ashton Smith gets jealous and turns on him.
Most improved Female Wrestler: Stevie Turner
Her first few matches made me wonder what anyone saw in her. Now I see it. She’s a real loony character, a female Dean Ambrose. She gets rambling about the Fourth Dimension and I’m not sure even she knows where that boat is sailing to. Add to that a significantly increased move set and Turner has legit championship aspirations.
Most Underrated: Kenny Williams
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. If Williams was built like Drew Mcintyre, he would be on RawDown yesterday. I appreciate a smaller guy who doesn’t rely entirely on the flippy dip and acrobatics. Williams is a big bully in a small man’s body. The Scum of the Earth is ready to infect 2022.
Best talker: Sam Thunderstorm Gradwell
Gradwell might be the best promo guy in all of NXT. He’s solid gold on the mic AND Twitter. He tweeted that WALTER versus Dragunov II is “Unruly Baboon versus Deadly Panda.” I still don’t know which is which, but it sounds fabulous. Now get on that, you bunch of yogurts!
Best Character: Isla Dawn
I prefer personality over character. I don’t want SNL skit rejects. I want to believe there is no separation between who they are in the ring and outside of it. Isla Dawn is the exception. She goes into a trance. She’s collecting trophies from her opponents and doesn’t even care about wins and losses. I’m inclined to believe she’s not a witch in real life, but you never know.
Best Sidekick: Sha Samuels
With just a dry erase board & marker, the East End Bookie adds so much depth to Noam Dar, an already amazing personality. Unlike the terribly awkward pairing of La Familia, I get the feeling Dar and Samuels really are best buds. They seem to bring out the best in each other. I can’t wait for them to go after the tag team titles.
Best Announcer: Andy Shepherd
He’s not just the best in NXT UK, he’s the best in NXT. Period. He takes everything Nigel McGuinness throws at him and he throws it right back, but he does it with an understated eloquence not typically found in rasslin. Shepherd earns the highest praise I can give an announcer: he sounds like a fan watching the show, shooting the shit with his buddies.
Most Improved Division: The Women’s Division
NXT still has the best women’s division. It’s now a little further east. In the past, it was Kay Lee Ray. That’s it. Not anymore. The addition of Meiko Satomura and Blair Davenport. The growth of Amale, Stevie Turner and Aoife Valkryie. The Nina Samuels Show. The steady veteran presence of Jinny and Isla Dawn. The division is not deep, but every week they continue to grow and put on quality matches. It started as obligatory, because you have to have a women’s division. They have since earned their spot. Much respect to the women of NXT UK.
Up next, saving the best for last: 2021 NXT Matches of the Year
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