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Opinion

Cook’s Top 5: Contract Signings

With the contract signing being a big part of wrestling, Steve Cook explores the Top 5!

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With the contract signing being a big part of wrestling, Steve Cook explores the Top 5!

All Elite Wrestling’s very first public contract signing is taking place this week on Dynamite. Le Champion Chris Jericho & American Nightmare Cody will put their names on the likely non-dotted line to meet at the Full Gear event in Baltimore. I’ve been pretty pro-AEW & very pro-anything involving Jericho and/or Cody lately, but here’s the thing:

I hate contract signings.

I could go the rest of my life without seeing another one pretty easily. WWE’s really done the gimmick to death over the years, as it seems like they have one every couple of months for matches of all levels of importance. It’s one thing to have it for a PPV World Championship match. It’s another to drag it out for an Intercontinental Championship match or tag team match or something.

They’re all very predictable too. You know it’s going to involve a number of sick burns and somebody’s going to get beat up.

I need to try & get over this irrational hatred. WWE’s going to have another one in a couple of weeks anyway. So let’s jump in the time machine and look back at the Top 5 Contract Signings to remind ourselves why wrestling promotions hold them incessantly.

5. Bret Hart & Yokozuna sign to meet at WrestleMania IX

Mean Gene Okerlund was on point as the host here. He implored both men for decorum and ran the show. President Jack Tunney was out there and Okerlund seemed more like an authority figure to me. Except when he stumbled over the ropes while getting out of the ring.

The Hitman’s assertion he would be 100% for the match took a hit when Yokozuna attacked him. Bret impressed us all by eventually standing up after taking the Banzai Drop. That hadn’t been done up until that point.

4. Hollywood Hogan exposes Rowdy Roddy Piper prior to Starrcade ’96

The New World Order engaged in more than its fair share of beatdowns during its existence, but this was definitely one that stood out from the pack. Hogan & Piper’s Starrcade match was so big that the contract signing had to be on PPV as well, as World War 3 played host to it. Piper had changed a little bit since the last time he had wrestled, and Hogan & the NWO showed us how.

People were going to find out about the hip anyway, so it made sense to include it as part of the storyline. Hogan attacking it & spray painting Piper’s leg made him that much more despicable & made you want to see the Rowdy Scot take his head off.

3. Vince McMahon signs the contract for the End of an Era match with Steve Austin’s blood

There weren’t many more bitter feuds than the one between Stone Cold Steve Austin & his boss, Vince McMahon. It propelled the WWF to the the top of the Monday Night War and to bigger business than it had ever seen. But all good things have to come to an end, and Austin vs. McMahon had to end or else one of them was going to end up killing the other. So Austin’s match with the Undertaker was to have three stipulations:

-First Blood
-If Austin wins, Vince never appears on television again
-If Undertaker wins, Austin never gets another title shot

So, of course we needed a contract signing to make sure everybody agreed. And of course, there needed to be blood involved in the signing.

Vince liked doing this so much that he did a variation of it with Hulk Hogan prior to WrestleMania XIX. Shame he didn’t think to do it before WrestleMania 23.

2. Batista signs the World Championship Match contract for WrestleMania 21

When Batista won the 2005 Royal Rumble, he received the opportunity to face the top champion of his choosing: SmackDown’s WWE Champion JBL, or Raw’s World Champion Triple H. Evolution was still running strong with H, Batista & Ric Flair at this point, but Triple H was a bit afraid that the big man wanted his title. He first tried to convince Batista not to enter the Rumble, but that was a non-starter. Then, Hunter devised a plan to have Batista nearly hit by a white limo with horns on it that resembled one that JBL would ride around in. It almost worked, until Batista overheard H & Flair talking about how well the plan worked in the locker room. Womp womp.

Batista switching the thumbs up to the thumbs down was one of those amazing moments you love to see as a wrestling fan. Finally, the Animal was going to snap on his mentor. It’s easy to see why people thought he was going to be the #1 guy in WWE through the rest of the 2000s.

1. Hulk Hogan finally gives Andre the Giant a title shot at WrestleMania III

It’s extremely rare to see one of these televised contract signings end without fists being thrown, but that’s exactly what happened at the Hogan/Andre contract signing prior to WrestleMania III. Hogan’s crucifix had already been torn off, so Andre didn’t need to engage in any more physicality. The Hulkster was beside himself with rage. Bobby Heenan was in classic Bobby Heenan form.

It didn’t need violence. The way Andre brushed Hogan off did more to convince people that the Giant was going to win the title in the Silverdome than anything else he could have done. Hogan’s behavior told a better story of his mindset going in than an attack on Andre would have. Maybe it could have used a better set, but other than that it was perfect.


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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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