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Opinion

Rob: WWE Women’s De-Evolution?

Rob Bonnette digs into the shift how WWE is presenting the women’s division over the past 12 months. Spoiler: it ain’t pretty.

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Ember Moon WWE

Rob Bonnette digs into the shift how WWE is presenting the women’s division over the past 12 months. Spoiler: it ain’t pretty.

(Editor’s note: Ember Moon, pictured above, to illustrate a female talent not being utilized by WWE since her call-up to the main roster.)

Women’s wrestling was all the rage in WWE last year, but in 2019 it’s really taken a step back and that isn’t cool.  It started after the Royal Rumble, when  then-Smackdown Women’s Champion Asuka totally vanished off of TV for several weeks after beating Becky Lynch on the first pay per view of the year.  Then the rest of the Smackdown division got mostly pushed aside while Becky and Charlotte started working both shows to hype up their match at WrestleMania with Ronda Rousey.

There was a bit of a bump at Elimination Chamber when they did the Chamber match for the Women’s Tag Team Titles, and Asuka showed back up on TV to gear up for a match at Fastlane with Mandy Rose.  But that program fizzled out pretty quickly as Mandy didn’t do so great in the Fastlane title match (I’m being generous here; I don’t think she sucks but she clearly wasn’t ready for prime time at that moment).  And then came Black Tuesday, two weeks before WrestleMania.  That’s when Vince made the decision for Asuka to lose the Smackdown Title to Charlotte and essentially cancel the whole division’s WrestleMania spot just to put both Women’s singles titles up for grabs in the main event, which was in my opinion a lousy decision.

That was just the tip of the iceberg.  Since WrestleMania it’s been pretty common to have only one women’s match on both Raw and Smackdown, and some weeks there aren’t even that.  The Women’s Tag Team Titles haven’t been defended on pay per view since WrestleMania and as of this writing may not be defended at SummerSlam either (it’s presumed to be added but hasn’t been announced yet).  And there are several women who have been either relegated to WWE Main Event like Dana Brooke and Sarah Logan or just left off TV entirely like Liv Morgan.

For the year as of this writing there are 26 WWE wrestlers that have 20 or more televised matches (h/t to @ChrisMNovak for some kick ass statistics work), and only three of them are women – Becky, Bayley, and Nikki Cross.  Now to be fair Carmella has 19 while Peyton Royce and Rose have 18; had Asuka kept the Smackdown Title through WrestleMania there’s a good chance Mella and Mandy would be over 20 and had things not gone awry with the post Mania plans for the Women’s Tag Titles Peyton would probably be over 20 as well, but still that’s 6 women at or around 20 televised matches.  That’s not enough, ok?

There are way too many talented women on the roster, even with Ronda and Sasha Banks gone after Mania, several people out with injuries for stretches (Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, Ruby Riott, and Ember Moon), and Charlotte off of TV for almost two months, to have that little representation in televised matches.  Why is Naomi kept on ice so much?  Or Sonya Deville?  Or Asuka or Kairi Sane or Morgan or the Iconics?  Now I know you can’t get everyone onto TV every week, but surely we could have done without Shane McMahon segments on both shows just like we didn’t need Charlotte and Becky on Raw and Smackdown every week heading into WrestleMania.  When there’s a redundancy in one week something can be cut to give more women more space, be it on Raw or Smackdown.

But Rob, weren’t people complaining about all those six woman matches before?

Yes.  In 2017, six woman tags on Smackdown happened so much they became a cliche, and the same took place on Raw in 2018.  And while it was a joke having the same combinations of women in often meaningless tag matches against each other it at least got them on TV every week.  Now with larger women’s rosters on both shows you can do the tag or 6 woman tags and actually swap people in and out.  Or you can have….wait for it….a non title feud, something that was done on Smackdown right after the 2016 brand split.  There’s some stuff that can be cut back, especially on a three hour Raw broadcast every week, to make room.  So do it already!

Now you know I can’t end without tasking us fans with something.  Namely, you gotta support the stuff that we do get.  The default position of every wrestling company from WWE to AEW to ROH is that there just isn’t any big money in women’s wrestling on it’s own, that it’s a supplement to the men’s side or a component of the show but not the main piece.  Impact has been the exception and has put women’s wrestling in a much more prominent and respectful position for a long time, but unfortunately they’ve never been rewarded by fans for it.  So if you want the other wrestling companies to get a different message, then you have to send that message.

You gotta watch the matches that are made available be they on Raw, Smackdown, or Main Event.  If you watch the YouTube clips of stuff later in the week in addition to TV then make sure you watch the clips of the women’s matches.  If you buy any merchandise buy some of the women’s stuff, too.  In reality there’s no reason that you can’t have cards with more women’s matches than men’s matches if that side of the roster is stronger, which was definitely the case late last year.  But in order for that to happen we need to put some actual money and attention behind our words.

There is a brief sign of hope, at least for the coming week.  We’re getting three women’s matches at SummerSlam, and two women’s matches at Takeover Toronto for the first time in what feels like forever.  The women had a really long showcase on Raw. That’s worthy of talking up and we need to make sure they hear us this time.  Talk this stuff up, support it, and show support for the women involved.  And don’t let them fall back into old habits afterwards, because the ladies deserve better.


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Opinion

AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21

AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?

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As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.

Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!

#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time

There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…

THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!

I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.


#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic

Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.

People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.

I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.

#3- Overuse of Certain Moves

This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…

Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.

If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.

How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.


That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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