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Has Shayna Baszler Finally Met Her Match With Rhea Ripley in NXT?

Rhea Ripley recently came face-to-face with NXT Women’s champion Shayna Baszler. The Australian Superstar and first-ever NXT UK Women’s champion interrupted Baszler and her fellow Horsewomen in the middle of the ring, as the live audience voiced its approval. 

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Rhea Ripley

Rhea Ripley recently came face-to-face with NXT Women’s champion Shayna Baszler. The Australian Superstar and first-ever NXT UK Women’s champion interrupted Baszler and her fellow Horsewomen in the middle of the ring, as the live audience voiced its approval. 

That confrontation did not get physical, but it was immediately obvious that WWE was onto something. For the first time since Baszler’s reign over the women’s division began, she had truly run into a roadblock. So is Rhea Ripley the one who will finally take Shayna Baszler down?

The reaction from the Full Sail crowd during this segment is proof positive of just how effective WWE booking can be when done correctly. Baszler has run roughshod over every woman put in her path and she’s done so with the arrogant brutality that only she can deliver. Fans respect her toughness and they recognize her confidence, but they also want to see her fall.

The desire to see her lose is directly tied to how she’s been presented, as well as her work to get over. Shayna has no redeeming qualities as a character and she’s been nearly unbeatable as champion. When both of those facts are combined with her penchant for using Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke as backup, Shayna automatically becomes public enemy No.1.

She’s done an excellent job of playing her role and making fans hate her in the process. The worse she is, the more they want to see her put in her place. Baszler has drawn comparisons to Brock Lesnar in the past and with very good reason. As good as she is, the WWE faithful can’t wait for the moment when she meets her match. Is that what’s happening now?

Indeed, Rhea Ripley is unlike anyone Baszler has worked to this point. Ripley is not the typical babyface challenger and she’s not exactly a fan favorite. She’s known as a punishing heel in her own right and she’s decimated her fair share of opponents in NXT UK. But Ripley and Baszler simply cannot coexist without going to war.

Rhea is the Alpha Female every time she’s in the room. Much like Baszler, Ripley must be on top and she takes pride in being the toughest woman on the roster. But Rhea’s self-confidence is tested by Baszler, simply by virtue of the fact that the two share the same space. Ripley doesn’t like another woman taking the spotlight and she made that abundantly clear.

By contrast, Baszler feels that no one is a threat to her and that includes Rhea Ripley. Shayna has every reason to believe that Ripley will crumble like all the rest and why wouldn’t she? No one has been able to withstand Baszler in the long run, especially with Shafir and Duke waiting in the wings. The trio is fully capable of destroying everyone in their way and they do it all the time.

The fact is that Rhea Ripley is the one with something to prove. She is walking into Baszler’s territory, which means she’s the outsider. Shayna is the one calling the shots and she is in full control of the situation. But unlike Ripley, Baszler has everything to lose. If she goes down to Rhea, she loses her championship. But will WWE go this route?

Just as many fans want to see Brock Lesnar lose in the end, they also know that it rarely ever happens. The only man that has decisively beaten Lesnar besides Roman Reigns and lived to talk about it, is Seth Rollins. The current Universal champion took the title from Brock on two separate occasions and Seth’s most recent win over The Beast Incarnate was the most decisive. WWE seems to have finally exposed Brock Lesnar as being human after all.

So is Rhea Ripley Shayna Baszler’s Seth Rollins? Is Ripley the one who will meet Baszler on her own terms and raise her game to that of the champ’s? Or is Ripley the Samoa Joe to Baszler’s Brock Lesnar? 

Like Samoa Joe, Ripley is tougher than leather and has a massive chip on her shoulder. Neither Superstar backs down and that makes them popular with fans as a result. But in the end, none of that made a difference for Joe. The Samoan Submission Machine lost to Brock Lesnar and The Beast rampaged on to his next opponent. Will Rhea Ripley share that same fate?

WWE has a very intriguing feud in the works with Shayna Baszler versus Rhea Ripley. It’s the kind of rivalry that can wrap up the run of a dominant heel champion, while making a new star in the process. Both women could benefit from this and if it happens, fans may see the crowning of a new NXT Women’s champion. 


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Opinion

Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 4/18/2021

Definitely a quieter week compared to Mania week. While there were some interesting things that happened, what really stuck out? Find out!

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Definitely a quieter week compared to Mania week. While there were some interesting things that happened, what really stuck out? Find out!

Speaking of Mania week, this is a first, so I’m gonna go with it. Just like nothing is for certain in pro wrestling, sometimes votes don’t break clean. So I’m allowing the first tie in the 4 years we’ve done these votes. Last week; Walter vs Tommaso Ciampa & Bianca Belair vs Sasha Banks, tied at the top of the voting.

Now that we’ve done something different and that will make the April pool interesting…but let’s get to this week!

Quick Top 5:

  • Champion Carnival: Zeus vs Yuma Aoyagi
    Rating: *** ½
  • NXT: Cruiserweight Championship: Kushida vs Santos Escobar
    Rating: *** ½
  • IMPACT!: Josh Alexander vs TJP
    Rating: *** ¼
  • MLW: MLW Openweight Championship: Alexander Hammerstone (c) vs Mil Muertes
    Rating: *** ¼
  • AEW Dynamite: AEW Tag Team Titles: Young Bucks vs Fenix & Pac
    Rating: *** ¼

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Champion Carnival: Shinjiro Otani vs Jake Lee
    Rating: ***
  • WWE SmackDown: Jey Uso vs Cesaro
    Rating: ***
  • NXT UK: Amir Jordan vs Kenny Williams
    Rating: ***
  • NXT: Tag Team Titles: Killian Dain & Drake Maverick vs MSK (c)
    Rating: ***
  • AEW Dynamite: Dax Hardwood vs Chris Jericho
    Rating: ***
  • NXT: The Way vs Dexter Lumis, Bronson Reed, Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon
    Rating: ***
  • Champion Carnival: Shotaro Ashino vs Kohei Sato
    Rating: ***

 

3t. AEW Dynamite: AEW Tag Team Titles: Young Bucks vs Fenix & Pac

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Fans hope these four “Fight Forever!” but there is a time limit. And now there’s a ring count. Fenix gets Matt up and into the ring at 5 of 10, then Pac follows. Pac and Matt stand, Pac RAMS Matt into the corner! Pac hoists Matt up top, tags Fenix, and Pac goes up to get Matt in a SUPERPLEX! Fenix goes right up for a FROG SPLASH!! Cover, TWO!?! Fenix doesn’t stop, he puts Matt back in the drop zone and Pac tags back in. BLACK ARROW! Pac covers, but Nick returns to barrel through Fenix and BREAK it! Fenix storms right at Nick and throws him, but Nick spins around to CLOBBER Fenix! Nick drags Matt to their corner, tags in, and Nick runs at Pac, but gets a BOOT!

Pac and Nick stagger, Nick runs in but Pac dodges, but Nick holds ropes to deny the German Suplex! LOW BLOW where the ref couldn’t see!! Fenix tags in, springboards, into a SUPERKICK!! Nick DEMASKS Fenix!! Insult, meet injury! DOUBLE SUPERKICKS!!! Cover, the Bucks win!!

Winner: Bucks via Double Superkicks

 

3t. MLW: MLW Openweight Championship: Alexander Hammerstone (c) vs Mil Muertes

Salina de la Renta has expanded Promociones Dorado to be working with Azteca Underground. So Mil Muertes is trying to be used as the ringer to finally bust up Hammer’s nearly 2 year reign as Openweight Champion. Mil put a bit of a beating on Hammerstone previously and walked off with the title. So the champion is hot, and the fight has potential.

The match started off quickly where Hammerstone leads with a Pump Kick and goes after Mil to get the anger over, but Mil eventually puts the brakes on Hammer a little and takes things to the outside. Mil really starts to dominate some of the outside game before coming back in.

After returning to the ring, it turns into a counter punch match. Hammerstone hits a Pumphandle Fall Away Slam, but Mil isn’t to be overshadowed and lifts Hammerstone up with relative ease later on. As the counter punch aspect continues, Mil heads to the ropes possibly looking for the Reaper’s Trident, but Hammerstone catches him, hits Nightmare Pendulum out of nowhere and retains by the skin of his teeth.

Solid power match, with some fun elements and showing the wear and tear on Hammerstone might finally be catching up with him.

Winner: Hammerstone via Nightmare Pendulum

 

3t. IMPACT!: Josh Alexander vs TJP

From AJ’s Review:

Both men showing more of the technical side of them instead of the X Division we are used to seeing throughout the years but the two are using a good amount of speed against each other, picking up in the later part of the match up. They go to different styles rapidly from technical, to agility, strength and striking too around the end.

Every time TJP goes for an Armbreaker or his signature Octopus, Josh scouts it and gets into an Ankle Lock. TJP also has the move caught and transitions into an STS. TJP goes for a Mamba Splash but it keeps getting countered into the Ankle Lock again. TJP yet again reverses it into an Arm Bar and Josh Alexander realizes that he has to win with something else and breaks the Armbreaker with a Powerbomb and hits a Double Underhook Piledriver to finish off TJP this matchup.

Winner: Alexander via Divine Intervention

 

1t. NXT: Cruiserweight Championship: Kushida vs Santos Escobar

From Mitchell’s Coverage:
Escobar gets Kushida up, fireman’s carries, but Kushida elbows free! Kushida shoves and atomic drops! Kushida whips, hip tosses, cartwheels and dropkicks! FAST BALL! PENALTY KICK to the arm! Kushida underhooks, but Escobar fights to wrench free. The bad arm lets go, Kushida runs in to SHOTEI! Another shout out to Liger! Kushida puts Escobar up top, climbs up, but Escobar CHOPS! Kushida hops down to GAMANGIRI the arm! Kushida climbs back up, hammerlocks for a SUPERPLEX!! Then ANOTHER! Bridging cover, ROPEBREAK!!! Kushida can’t believe how close that was but fans are thunderous for “NXT! NXT!”

Kushida aims, runs and leaps, to get the arm! Escobar fights the Hoverboard, the go around, Escobar wrenches out to ENZIGURI! Kushida PELES!! Both men are down, Kushida crawls over to Escobar as fans rally up. They both sit up, Kushida fires a forearm but Escobar gives it back. They brawl to their feet, Kushida and Escobar KICK and KICK and KICK! Escobar reverse the whip, Kushida handsprings, into a BACKSTABBER!! Escobar drags Kushida up, reels him into the fireman’s carry, but Kushida sunset flips!! TWO!! Escobar has a sunset, TWO! Kushida sits on the prawn hold, and WINS!!!

Winner: Kushida via Cradle

 

1t. Champion Carnival: Zeus vs Yuma Aoyagi

From Mathew’s Review:

Yuma got back into it when hitting a Crossbody onto Zeus but would kick out at one. Yuma tossed Zeus into the ropes but Zeus would hit a Flying Clothesline instead as the two are down but Zeus is getting up first, lifting him up for a Bearhug and tossed him over. Zeus calls for the Chokeslam but Yuma fights him off, delivering an below to the face and as he ran the ropes, he ducked under Zeus to hit a German Suplex. Yuma climbed to the top rope but Zeus chops him before coming up to hit a Superplex as the two men go down. Zeus hits the Chokeslam this time and climbs to the top rope to hit a Frog Splash but Yuma kicked out at two! Zeus quickly went for the Facelock and looks like he could tap but Yuma had his foot on the rope. Zeus called for the Jackhammer but Yuma reversed it into a German Suplex but Zeus quickly got up to attempt a Lariat, however, Yuma ducked again to hit another German. Yuma has the End Game locked in but Zeus was close enough to grab the rope, and break the hold. Zeus went for a Lariat but Yuma ducked as they ran the ropes, making Zeus hit the Lariat this time as Yuma was turned inside out. Zeus went for one more Lariat as Yuma reversed it into a Crucifix Pin and gets the surprising victory over Zeus! Big win for Yuma and Zeus is no longer undefeated.

Winner: Yuma via Crucifix Pin

 

Thoughts:

Welp, kinda glad we had a tie last week. Not exactly the most jaw dropping stuff, but solid for a normal week. Kushida’s shock was fun, Yuma’s shock helps him if AJPW doesn’t do their usual weird storytelling, Alexander builds momentum for Rebellion, and Hammerstone vs Muertes was pretty solid. That leaves the Bucks match, which apparently became a sticking point as people are trying to prove a non-existent point. Being overt and making it so easy to follow that 1st graders understand and then overreacting like an imbecile is not effective psychology for an adult.

So anyone that wants to say “Look the Young Bucks can tell stories”. Normally the Young Bucks need weeks of promo, BTE, and obvious bread crumbs; which isn’t clever. So no, they really do lack the ability to be convincing and enthralling without making everything they do blatantly obvious and over the top. It was fine for a spectacle, but as a match, everything lacked.

That given, I’m gonna give my vote to Kushida vs Santos Escobar. It was fun, well done and left a lot to build off of.


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News From Cook’s Corner 4.19.21: Spring Cleaning 2021

Spring cleaning happens everywhere, and Steve Cook points out his highlights of the recent news!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! Tomorrow will mark one year since this column has made its glorious return. All in all, I think I’d give this year of News From Cook’s Corner a solid “C”. Not my best, but not my worst either. Considering the year that’s taken place for all of us, I’d be willing to bump it up to a “C+” based off of degree of difficulty. A rough year for wrestling, a pretty full plate at work…not really the best time to produce your best writing.

Thing is, I know I can do better. I’m glad my work draws whatever interest it does, and I appreciate everybody that reads & likes my stuff, but I’m a greedy son of a gun. I want more. Gonna try and make that happen by the time the second anniversary of the third News From Cook’s Corner run rolls around. How am I going to do that?

Well, hopefully I’ll figure it out by then.

For now, let’s run through some rasslin news!

Spring Cleaning

That’s what we used to call it back in the day. Every year in the time following WrestleMania, WWE would release a number of wrestlers from their contracts & wish them well in future endeavors. The practice stopped during the 2010s largely for two reasons…

1. WWE wanted to have every professional wrestler in captivity under contract.
2. Linda McMahon was trying to get elected to political office, and her family’s company firing a bunch of people didn’t make her claim of being a job creator look very good.

Sure, people would leave or get released from time to time, but we went years without that day where the axe fell and it seemed like people would never stop getting fired. Not a great time to be a wrestler without much going on in WWE,

We talked about Samoa Joe in the Fave Five column and nothing else has been reported on that front. Except that everybody is talking about how much they would love to finally see a rematch between Joe & CM Punk, and Punk seems like he’d be up for it. I kind of wonder if they could put that together themselves and make some money off of it, or get one of these other feds to book it. FITE re-tweeting a Bleacher Report article about it tells me they’re seeing if they can get involved in something with these guys. I mean, their new owners are promoting boxing shows built around Jake Paul, and it seems to be working, so why the hell not?

Billie Kay & Peyton Royce

Back when the Iiconics split up, everybody told me that Peyton was in store for big things because Vince McMahon liked her and was going to give her a singles push. Nothing that happened after the split indicated that anybody associated with Vince or Creative had any interest in Peyton Royce. She went to a tag team with Lacey Evans that didn’t make anybody forget about Peyton’s old tag team, then once Lacey went out of action there was nothing for Peyton to do. She gave an emotionally-charged promo on Raw Talk that got some people talking, but it didn’t lead to anything.

Billie was supposed to be left behind after the team split, but got a bit more run on SmackDown with a gimmick where she would distribute her resume to everybody. Dunno if they were trying to send her a message or not, but she got the darn thing over. Fightful reported that Kevin Dunn didn’t understand Billie’s appeal, which is one of those things that isn’t surprising at all because it’s Kevin Dunn & the only thing he understands is bad television.

It’s kind of a theme with these releases. A good percentage of these people were in tag teams that split up for reasons that ended up being irrelevant. Singles pushes that never went anywhere because somebody lost interest.

Mickie James

Mickie was one of those girls back in the day that history tries to overlook now in a desire to emphasize how today’s women’s wrestling is the best ever. It seemed like her in-ring career was just about done anyway, and WWE probably has enough people to train and whatnot, so the release doesn’t come as a huge surprise. A shame to many, as we all like Mickie.

Like a good number of people released by WWE lately, Mickie has a significant other employed elsewhere. Does she follow Nick Aldis to the NWA? Billy Corgan’s company sure could use a boost, as not many of their other recent additions have generated a ton of interest. Not saying Mickie turns the tide for them, but she’s damn sure a bigger draw than Tyrus. Mickie vs. Serena Deeb sounds good to me, as does Mickie vs. Thunder Rosa, and I’m sure Kamille could learn something from her. Book it, William!

Chelsea Green

Chelsea finally made her main roster debut back in November and was set to be part of Team SmackDown at the Survivor Series until a wrist injury during the match changed those plans. She had a couple of start-stops like that just when it seemed like her time.

Could still be her time somewhere else though! She’s already taking outside bookings and I’d guarantee that we’ll see her on one of the other TV wrestling promotions before 2021 ends. She’s got history with Impact and friends there too, so that seems like the best fit. That said, I think she’ll have her choice of where to go.

Tucker

I never heard anybody say one word about this cat until he popped up on Twitter day of his firing smoking joints and ripping Vince. Now he’s everybody’s favorite! Not hating on the guy though, I thought he was solid enough in Heavy Machinery, and it was obvious they had nothing for him after that split. What wasn’t as obvious was they had nothing for Otis either.

Anyway, Tucker’s better off somewhere that somebody might at least book a match for him.

Wesley Blake

Remember that big hullabaloo over Jaxon Ryker’s tweet last summer? It got the Forgotten Sons taken off of TV and everybody wanted Ryker to get the hook. I never saw it happening, simply because Ryker’s tweet wasn’t anything that the WWE front office would have disagreed with in private. Sure enough, Ryker still has a job while the rest of the Forgotten Sons have been released.
Blake was in a well-regarded tag team with Buddy Murphy that got Alexa Bliss over as a star before moving on to the Forgotten Sons. He’ll be teaming with somebody somewhere.

Bo Dallas

Bo was already making plans for life after wrestling. Maybe he’ll do some well paying indies or something, but I doubt we see him on a large stage again. Besides, all his family’s stroke is with WWE.

Kalisto

Kalisto was one of those guys that showed a lot of talent before arriving in WWE, and he had a solid run early on too. Not so much in the past couple of years, and I read something from thecubsfan that made a lot of sense. Expectations for Kalisto will be high now, but there’s no guarantee he’ll live up to them. Dude’s spent the last several years un-learning the stuff that fans outside of WWE liked about him. He won’t magically become Octagon Jr. or Samuray del Sol again, like people might expect.

So if people lower those expectations, I think they’ll be happy with what they see from him in AAA or wherever else he ends up. A US indy tour seems inevitable since that’s where he made his name to begin with.

In closing, it should be noted that getting fired by WWE isn’t the end of the world. Everybody here has feasible options they can move on to, and the door’s always open for a comeback. Heck, Drew McIntyre was let go by WWE some years ago, and he improved himself to the point where he eventually became WWE Champion.

I don’t even mind WWE trimming their roster, just don’t give me the “budget cuts” excuse. WWE can afford anybody they want at a price that doesn’t hamper the almighty profit margin too much. If fans, or WWE tries to justify firing people with “budget cuts”, don’t buy it.

Just say you don’t want these people around anymore. You have no use for them. Be honest!
I’m also not going to make any suggestions on who should be fired, as WWE will just keep them around forever. People tell me they still see money in Velveteen Dream…I’m not sure what kind of money they’d see in him at unless the FBI puts out a reward for his capture.

Announcing News!

Last week I sat here and explained to you how it doesn’t matter who commentates on shows, what actually matters is the content of the shows. Sometimes, it feels like people in the business read my columns, then set out to prove me wrong. This is a ridiculous, self-serving belief since it assumes that people in the business read this shit, but it’s just a feeling I get on some occasions, such as this one.

WWE completed their current announcing picture not long after last week’s column, putting Pat McAfee next to Michael Cole on SmackDown. It makes sense, McAfee is quite the talker and has football commentary experience, and also has a fanbase that he can implore to watch SmackDown. I feel like an opportunity has been missed considering his in-ring performance against Adam Cole, but McAfee doesn’t seem into doing that full-time, and seems quite happy talking for a living. Wouldn’t we all?

Then we have Impact Wrestling making a big announcement. Mauro Ranallo will be calling the main event of their Rebellion show, which pits Impact Champion Rich Swann against AEW Champion Kenny Omega in an apparent unification match. You always have to add “apparent” in front of “unification match” given the past hundred years of pro wrestling history. It’s nice to see Mauro return to pro wrestling, and it’s not like he’s had a problem getting work since leaving WWE.

Is Mauro going to make anybody buy Rebellion? Will Pat get more people to watch SmackDown? I’m leaning towards “probably not” on both. Yet it seems like that’s what these promotions think will fix things. Maybe I’m wrong. They’ll do their best to prove it.

AEW did a little bit of cleaning too

I feel that I need to go ahead and mention this as well, since we already covered WWE firing a bunch of people, and WWE fans will get mad if I don’t mention other companies letting people go. More importantly than all that, I just find this particular story fascinating for some reason.

Ivelisse hasn’t been seen in AEW since February. There had been some speculation that she had gotten into trouble backstage due to some issues with Thunder Rosa. Some tried to say there were no issues, but people that watched their match on Dynamite knew better.

She didn’t appear too often on Dynamite after that, but got a solid push on Dark. Ivelisse won fifteen straight matches on Dark, whether as a single or teaming with Diamante. Lost her last one, and hasn’t been seen since. What’s up with that?

According to Ivelisse on social media & during an interview with Lucha Libre Online, it’s due to heat with a coach & with Thunder Rosa. Rosa & Ivelisse have had bad blood since their days in Lucha Underground, and apparently Rosa ran her down to anybody in AEW who would listen. See, I don’t completely doubt that. I don’t know if Thunder Rosa was giving everybody her unsolicited opinions, but if somebody asked her what she thought of Ivelisse, she probably gave an answer.

I imagine that’d be the nice thing about being under NWA contract instead of AEW contract. One can be a little more truthful.

You feel bad for anybody getting fired, and Ivelisse has the potential to be a star somewhere. Unfortunately, it seems like she keeps getting in her own way, and it also seems like she doesn’t realize that she’s part of the issue. Not saying she hasn’t been wronged in some of these situations, it’s the wrestling business and not many of these people are wearing halos.

It’s a lesson a lot of us could stand to learn. If the same bad things keep happening to us, maybe there’s something we can do to make things better.

That’s all I got time for right now. Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep your stick on the ice.


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