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Steve Cook: Are The New Day the Best Wrestling Trio Ever?

Steve Cook isn’t afraid to explore the tough topic and see if New Day is wrestling’s best trio ever.

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WWE The New Day

Steve Cook isn’t afraid to explore the tough topic and see if New Day is wrestling’s best trio ever.

One of my pet peeves about sports media coverage is the idea that everything happening now is the Greatest of All Time. We no longer revere history as a people. Things that happen on our viewing devices now are what matter.

Indeed, the athletes of today do some amazing things and smash through inconceivable records. But to suggest that Mike Trout is already one of the greatest baseball players of all time strikes me as a slap in the face to guys like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio & Willie Mays. Even though I wasn’t alive to watch these gentlemen in person, I read about their feats as a youngster and listened to the old heads that told me that these were the greats of the game.

Even if Trout’s WAR is on track to surpass everybody ever and his exit velocity angle blows theirs away, he’s still got some work to do before we hail him as the GOAT. Sure, Cecil Fielder hit 51 home runs when I was seven years old, but he wasn’t on Hank Aaron’s level all-time, and anybody suggesting such would have been laughed off of television and print media. Now? It’s all good.

Wrestling fans do the same thing.

People out here talk all the time about how pro wrestling is better than it’s ever been. Matches these days get two more stars from the critics than anything from thirty years ago. Most wrestlers are doing their part, with crazier movesets and kicking out of anything remotely resembling a finish. Maybe fifteen Meteoras are more aesthetically pleasing than a good old-fashioned sleeperhold.

People will tell you that the Okada/Omega series blows Flair/Steamboat out of the water. I think they’re out of their minds, but a lot of people think this is true. They’ll tell you that The Miz has been one of the greatest heels of all time, that the Young Bucks are easily the best tag team ever, and that Corey Graves is the most hilarious & informative commentator ever. OK, nobody’s saying that last one. I don’t think so, anyway.

However, I’m starting to wonder if, in fact, something from this era we’re currently living in is the greatest of all time. They’ve won six tag team championships, including a reign that ranks as the longest in WWE history. They currently hold the WWE Championships & SmackDown Tag Team Championships. If you go to the mall (I know lol who goes to the mall right) you can find their merchandise in pop culture stores, at a higher rate than anybody else in WWE right now.

It’s been five years since they got together, and they’re still going strong. The question has to be asked…

Are The New Day the greatest trio in wrestling history?

There are four obvious contenders for this title from where I sit. You have to mention the original nWo trio. Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall & Kevin Nash definitely set the world on fire and took WCW to a whole new level. I don’t rate them ahead of New Day because they had a hundred people join their group after a very short period of time.

There’s also the Shield. Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins both became top stars. Dean Ambrose was for a minute before he got tired of it. They won every championship in the company at one point or another. The only problem: they accomplished more apart. The first year & a half was amazing, but the reunions never quite captured the same magic. Mostly because Reigns went out of action right after each reunion. It wasn’t meant to be.

Then we have the Fabulous Freebirds. Michael “P.S.” Hayes. Terry “Bamm Bamm” Gordy. Buddy “Jack” Roberts. The men that feuded with the Von Erich family for years & built the World Class territory bigger than it had ever been. They got together in Bill Watts’ Mid-South territory in 1979 & bounced around there, Texas, Georgia & even brief stints in the AWA & WWF over the next seven years.

The New Day even inducted them into the WWE Hall of Fame!

If I was to come up with a weakness for the Freebirds, it’s the fact that their WWF stint was only for a cup of coffee. Wikipedia tells me its because the WWF brass wanted to split them up. Other wrestlers around at the time will tell you its because of the heat they engendered in the locker room. Regardless of which story is true, the fact of the matter is that the Freebirds didn’t become one of the top acts in the biggest promotion in the country. World Class was big, but it never got to the level of the WWF.

The Freebirds also appeared in WCW later on, but that was the version with Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin. They were fun in their own way, but not really part of this conversation.

Can New Day surpass the Freebirds?

They can. If they stay together and remain interesting for a few more years near the top of WWE, they should. There’s still some shelf-life there. People online complain sometimes and wish they’d split up, but the people attending the shows seem to love them.

I think there’s one thing missing for me to raise New Day to the top slot. When you think Freebirds, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The Von Erichs. Who are New Day’s greatest rivals? The Usos? OK. There’s been some great matches there. But are people going to talk about Usos vs. New Day in forty years the way people still talk about Freebirds vs. Von Erichs today? I don’t think so. There just isn’t the storytelling there, outside of the great matches on PPVs.

The Freebirds are still the best. But it’s getting closer by the day.

New Day needs a really hot feud to set them apart from the pack. They’ve got all the gold right now, so there should be plenty of people interested in being in that really hot feud.


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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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