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Opinion

Cook’s Top 5: WWE Raw Announce Teams

With all of the combinations of announce teams, Cook goes over his Top 5!

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With all of the combinations of announce teams, Cook goes over his Top 5!

With all the changes coming to WWE’s US show-carrying situation, it’s not surprising that there would be some changes to the announce teams of the main shows. Fox is apparently a major network, so they have demanded to have the A-team of Michael Cole & Corey Graves call SmackDown, with Renee Young along for the ride as a Special Contributor. So USA got the leftovers for Raw, and they decided they wanted Vic Joseph, Jerry Lawler & Dio Maddin to call the show.

If you’re like me and not up to date on 205 Live, you’re wondering who the heck Dio Maddin is. You may also be wondering why the heck Jerry Lawler is still doing commentary in 2019, and there’s an easy answer for that: Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone are under contract with AEW. I’m not saying Lawler would add a lot to that situation, but WWE probably doesn’t want every announcer from the 1990s under contract to the opposition.

I have no idea what to expect from this team. Vic has been fine from what I’ve heard from him. I have not heard Dio because I haven’t seen 205 Live in awhile. All I know is that it seems like the perfect time to look back at the Top 5 Raw announce teams.

5. Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & CM Punk

It doesn’t surprise me that the Fox relationship with WWE could lead to CM Punk being re-introduced to WWE fans through commentary. Apparently he’s tried out for the WWE Backstage show on FS1, and if they’re smart he’ll be on it. The man has always been a talented communicator, dating back to his days in the independent wrestling scene. As skilled as he was in the ring, the microphone was always his strong suit. It was showcased during his month on commentary on Raw, and also on Superstars with Scott Stanford. He also did an episode of NXT with Cole & Josh Mathews that was incredible TV.

Punk was also smart enough to get out early in the Michael Cole heel run.

4. Vince McMahon, Bobby Heenan & Randy Savage

The real shame of the thing is we missed out on Vince, Bobby & Randy calling a couple of months of Raw because of the Rob Bartlett experiment and the chance to have Heenan wear women’s clothing to try to get into the first Raw episode. We’re talking about the perfect milquetoast play by play announcer alongside the greatest manager of all time & one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, all three being incredible talkers. It was great while it lasted, but it could have lasted longer.

3. Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler

Commentator Vince always worked best as the straight man with funny heels. We all fondly remember his days calling Superstars with Jesse Ventura, and he had a very similar chemistry with The King during 1995-96. I watched a bunch of the early Raws a couple of years ago because they were up on the Network, and one of the things I noticed was Vince wanting people to comment on current events. He tried it a few times with Randy Savage and it was very awkward. Lawler was able to give some kind of commentary…whether it was great or not is certainly debatable, but at least it was content.

Vince loved working with Jerry. If you’re one of those people wondering how Jerry Lawler is still on WWE’s payroll after all of these years, that’s why. Vince saw Jerry’s quick wit in action back in the day, fell in love and that was that. Lawler’s never done anything to piss him off either…even when the King left the company when his wife (at the time) was released, I’m sure Vince respected him for doing it.

2. Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

JR & The King are among the most listened-to announce teams in the history of pro wrestling. They called Raw & PPV during the Attitude Era & for years afterward were the company’s top announce team. There isn’t a team that I can imagine doing a better job on Raw in the late-90s & early 2000s. Everything about the product played to Ross & Lawler’s strong points, and they had great chemistry together in the classic play-by-play face/heel color commentator pairing. Would you want to hear anybody else calling the Austin vs. McMahon feud? Absolutely not.

The only issue: It wasn’t the same after Jerry left the company. Lawler had already turned face & he & JR were established as friends, but the lack of fire from the booth became more & more noticeable through the years. As good as the JR/King pairing was in those Attitude years, it became a drain on the show in their later years. It didn’t help that WWE brought in the likes of Jonathan Coachman as a third man to freshen things up.

Honorable Mention: Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan & Rob “Vince McMahon” Bartlett

So Vince McMahon & Randy Savage did a charity event. This led to a very interesting episode of Raw that aired on March 15, 1993. It’s well known to people that know me that my favorite announce team of all time is the pairing of Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan. Nobody’s topped them in my book, and I can’t imagine it ever happening at this point. They had not appeared at the Raw table at this point, but they were there this week, alongside Rob Bartlett, who had been there since the beginning of the show.

For some reason, Rob decided to impersonate Vince McMahon on this evening. It was both the best & worst thing of all time. He somehow managed to get Gorilla & Bobby on the same page, which they realized meant that they were in trouble. If you haven’t seen this episode of Raw, I highly recommend it, simply for the trainwreck factor of Gorilla & Bobby trying to deal with this nonsense. Just hilarious stuff.

1. Jim Ross & Paul Heyman

The Invasion rightly gets a lot of guff from online wrestling pundits. It wasn’t all bad though, especially on the announcing side of things. While the McMahons were wrapping themselves in the WWF, WCW & ECW banners and trading wrestlers back & forth like baseball cards, Jim Ross was sitting at the Raw announce booth alongside a man that nobody ever expected to see behind an announce table again, much less a WWF announce table. Paul Heyman’s ECW dreams were over, but he landed in The King’s vacated chair next to Good Ol’ JR and spent most of the next several months irritating the hell out of his old colleague from the WCW days.

Insiders were convinced there was some kind of heat between Ross & Heyman based off their interactions at the announce table, which goes to show what a great job they did. They spent about nine months together, which in hindsight was just about the right amount of time for them. Ross & Heyman didn’t get the chance to wear out their welcome with the audience. It was brief, and it was awesome.

Well, the stuff they were calling wasn’t all that awesome. But Ross & Heyman weren’t booking at the time, so we can’t blame them for that.


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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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