Tonight’s NXT we will witness Damian Priest vs. Pete Dunne but will superstars from Raw or Friday Night SmackDown TakeOver Full Sail Arena? Let’s find out!
The OC. Invades Full Sail Arena
We go live as we see video footage of The OC, laying waste to The Undisputed Era outside the arena. Moments later, AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson match down to the ring. Styles says for years he’s heard all about NXT well after UE attempted to invade Raw last night, they’ve decided to return the favor.
"Welcome to the main roster."
You heard him, O.C.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) November 7, 2019
Wait just a minute boys… Daddy’s home as “The Greatest Sports Entertainer Of All Time” Tommaso Ciampa interrupted. The former NXT Champion traded barbs with the leader welcoming them to the “real” main roster. Styles says “Are we supposed to be afraid of you?” Nope, but Matt Riddle and Keith Lee and Ciampa are ready to kick their asses in the main event tonight!!!
Opinion: Words cannot describe how awesome this was! For years, it’s only been a fantasy from both the WWE and the NXT Universe for AJ Styles and The Good Brothers to come down to Full Sail well tonight it became a reality. Styles is one of the best talkers on the mic and for him and Tommaso Ciampa to trade barbs that was incredible.
A HUGE main event will take place now and I am going to love every minute of it! There is one question though, did The OC., come alone or did some other superstars from Raw come too?
Damian Priest vs. Pete Dunne
Will “The Archer of Infamy” continue to play games with “The Bruiserweight” or will Priest leave with his fingers dislocated?
The match started red-hot as both competitors attempted their finishers but we’re unsuccessful. After their first encounter Priest and Dunne have done their homework. The match continued with the young up-and-comer punishing the inaugural NXT UK Champion with a Falcon Arrow for a near-fall. Dunne missed a moonsault on the outside and Priest chokeslammed him on the apron.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) November 7, 2019
The Bruiserweight caught his opponent off the top rope with a stiff right hand. Priest flew to the skies with a stunning Senton wiping out Dunne. Both competitors made their way back into the ring and engaged in a slugfest that knocked both men out. Priest went for another Chokeslam but Dunne countered into a high kick. Priest delivered a thunderous Crucifix Bomb for another near-fall. The Archer of Infamy had no choice but to tap-out when The Bruiserweight pulled his fingers back.
After the match, Killian Dain blindsided Dune blasting him in the corner. Priest appeared to make the save but just pummeled Dunne. “The Beast of Belfast” obliterated anyone in his path and delivered a Cannonball to The Archer of Infamy!
— WWE (@WWE) November 7, 2019
Opinion: This was a hard-hitting match with some explosive offense from both competitors. Dunne made Priest look like an absolute monster here. The Archer of Infamy is nobody to sleep on and continues to showcase his raw aggression more and more each week. The Bruiserweight finally getting the tap-out victory was the right move here as he didn’t get pinned clean so he didn’t lose any momentum in my book. Dunne will now have his work cut out for him against The Beast of Belfast. Where Priest goes from here is uncertain but make no mistake his name will go down in the history books.
Backstage Dakota Kai is warming up for her match against the NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler tonight when Cathy Kelly arrived. Kai said that she was afraid of Baszler but she’s not now and she’ll prove it tonight!
Taynara vs. Santana Garrett
This was Garrett’s NXT tv debut and wow did she make an impact. She took the fight to the Brazilian specialist with a huge arsenal of submissions and near-falls. Taynara answered back with a nasty-looking overhead belly-to-belly suplex.
Garrett who was dressed as a superhero mounted a comeback as you would see in a movie delivering high-octane offense. She missed a springboard moonsault and Taynara answered back with a vicious Brazilian kick to the head for the victory.
Opinion: I’m shocked that Taynara picked up the win here especially in Garrett’s debut match. The WWE Universe was on fire for Garrett as she beat Taynara in her own game of submissions. She definitely impressed me and I am hoping she can showcase more offense in her future contests. The Brazilian specialist hasn’t had much momentum in her run in NXT perhaps, this win will help her ascend to the top of the women’s division.
TONIGHT on #WWENXT!
— WWE (@WWE) November 7, 2019
A small vignette aired hyping “The Premier Athlete” Tony Nese to the NXT Universe ahead of his Cruiserweight match tonight.
Backstage we saw “The Queen of Spades” warming up with Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke for her match up next. Another vignette aired this time it was for the Lucha Libre superstar Angel Garza.
Dakota Kai vs. Shayna Baszler
The match started with the always-overconfident NXT Women’s Champion bullying Kai into the corner but things are different since their last encounter as “The Captain of Team Kick” is no longer afraid of Baszler. Kai even faked-out the champ with her signature running kick but stopped, playing mind games with The Queen of Spades. Baszler finally went on the offense after she slammed Kai into the ring post.
Instead of targeting the arm as the Women’s Champion did in their past, The Queen of Spades viciously stomped her rival’s right knee as we headed to commercial. Baszler continued the onslaught until The Captain of Team Kick delivered a series of clotheslines and kicks to her rival.
— Steve Cutler (@SteveCutlerWWE) November 7, 2019
The Women’s Champion executed a thunderous gutwrench suplex from the top-rope as both women fell to a heap. After a fantastic slugfest and more hard-hitting offense, The Submission Magician locked in the Kirafuda Clutch for the tap-out victory.
After the match, Shafir and Duke engaged in a two-on-one beatdown to Kai. It appeared that Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, and Tegan Nox were making the save until they were ambushed by Io Shirai and Bianca Belair. The HBIC Mia Yim with a kendo stick in hand came out blasting anyone in her path.
— WWE (@WWE) November 7, 2019
Opinion: Kai even in defeat looked completely unstoppable contrary to any other time she’s come face-to-face with Baszler. She brought the fight to the NXT Women’s Champion tonight in a hard-hitting affair and I don’t think Baszler was prepared for that.
The Submission Magician has truly grown as an in-ring performer, she was incredible in selling for her long-time rival and she deserves serious props for that. The brawl between all the women was great to see. The question remains though, who will be the final members of both teams heading into the first-ever Women’s WarGames Match?
Backstage Ciampa is being interviewed by Cathy Kelly ahead of their colossal six-man tag match. The Greatest Sports Entertainer Of All Time said that they left the door wide open for The OC! This main event might be the biggest in NXT history!
A vignette aired about Isaiah “Swerve” Scott declaring that Swerve is confidence.
Tony Nese vs. Angel Garza: Winner gets a Cruiserweight Championship Title Shot Next Week
Can The Premier Athlete bounce back to the top with a big victory tonight?
Both competitors started off in a battle of oneupsmanship over some fantastic counters and mat skills. The match continued as both amazing high-flyers delivered high-octane action that wowed the NXT Universe. Nese did his signature arm flex pose and Garza attempted to do his pose stripping down but was shut down. A slap fest ensued that looked very nasty with both competitors risking it all for a title shot.
Garza sent Nese to the outside but remained on the apron but the Lucha Libre superstar hit a wrecking ball dropkick to knock him down. Garza then delivered a picture-perfect moonsault wiping out his opponent on the outside.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) November 7, 2019
The Premier Athlete went back on offense with his unique arsenal of maneuvers including a tornado DDT on the floor. Nese took the young up-and-comer down with a stiff right hand and delivered a stunning 450 Splash for a near-fall. The Premier Athlete may have six abs but the Lucha Libre superstar clipped his wings with The WingClipper for the 1.2.3!
After the match, the NXT Cruiserweight Champion Lio Rush came out to shake his number-one contender’s hand but all he received was a HUGE slap to the face!
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) November 7, 2019
Opinion: What a match! From start to finish this one was crazy with both high-flyers giving it their all for a Cruiserweight Championship title shot next week. Nese went toe-to-toe with one of the hottest rising stars in NXT today but came up short again. How can The Premier Athlete get back on a winning streak after consecutive losses?
Garza delivered a terrific performance tonight hitting the former Cruiserweight Champion with everything in his arsenal. The Lucha Libre superstar is a sight to behold and he’s only twenty-seven years old. The right man won this match since Nese has already had his time with the title but it was a flop so it was short-lived.
Backstage Cathy Kelly caught up with Rhea Ripley and the rest of her team. She inquired on who will be the final member of her team? The Australian picked Mia Yim and told Kai that she was sorry she just didn’t make the cut.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Dominic Dijakovic
The match started with both competitors jockeying for position as Swerve targeted the big man’s arm and utilized a unique dancing counter followed by copying Dijakovic ‘s “Feast Your Eyes” taunt. The big man responded throwing Swerve around like a rag toy.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) November 7, 2019
Dijakovic slowed the pace down methodical dissecting the young up-and-comer. Swerve avoided some hard-hitting offense with a German suplex. He followed it up with a hard stuff knee in the corner and a stunning tornado DDT for a long near-fall.
Dijakovic went for Feast Your Eyes but Swerve magnificently countered it for a 2.9 count. Towards the end of the match, the big man grabbed his opponent by the chin pulling him up but Swerve got the best of him sending him to the outside. The amazing young up-and-comer delivered a thunderous double-stomp on the apron. After a series of vicious lariats from Dijokovac and terrific kicks from Swerve, the big man finished his opponent off with Feast Your Eyes for the hard-fought victory!
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) November 7, 2019
Opinion: Swerve delivered one hell of a performance tonight going toe-to-toe with Dijakovic . He may young but damn he can mix it with the biggest and brightest superstars. His counters and reversals were insane, his execution of maneuvers was crisp and spot on. He continues to prove why he’s one of the hottest rising stars on the black and gold brand. I thought for a second he was going to get the victory when he countered Feast Your Eyes!
Dijakovic the former NCAA football All-American is fascinating to watch as well. His brute strength is scary and the way he hurls his opponents around like a sack of potatoes makes you cringe. His lariats look brutal and he flies around the ring like a Cruiserweight. Dijakovic is making his way to the top of the food chain one impressive victory at a time.
A HUGE match announced for next week…Shut up and take my money!!!
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) November 7, 2019
Main Event: The OC., vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, and Matt Riddle
The OC. is out first followed by Riddle, Lee, and Ciampa. A huge brawl ensued with everyone fighting all over the ring until the official gains control. The match started with Styles and Ciampa beating the hell out of each other.
— WWE (@WWE) November 7, 2019
Ciampa countered but the United States Champion caught him with a stunning dropkick. Back in the ring, Ciampa delivered Willow’s Bell for a long near-fall. Ciampa makes the tag to Lee and in comes Gallows. The two behemoths charged towards each other with shoulder tackles but no one went down. Lee utilized his quick speed to counter and deliver a thunderous pounce that sent Gallows on the outside.
All three members of the OC., isolated Ciampa with quick tags and even cutting off an attempt to get to Riddle or Lee. Finally, after a stiff knee Ciampa tags in Riddle who explodes like a missile blasting anyone that moves with wicked kicks and Brotons.
Full-on chaos erupts as all three members of both teams brawl outside the ring. Lee inadvertently struck the official when he delivered a ferocious pounce to Styles. Ciampa came back in and set up for the Fairytale Ending but Finn Balor’s music distracted him. “The Prince” shocked the NXT Universe as he executed a vicious DDT on the ramp to “The Original Bro.”
Styles threw up the two-sweet gesture and Balor threw up the guns gesture.
— WWE (@WWE) November 7, 2019
The NXT Champion emerged out of nowhere to deliver a massive Superkick to Styles and The Last Shot to Ciampa. The show ended with Balor and the leader of UE smiling at each other.
Opinion: There is a ton to unpack here. In my opinion, this was one of the greatest main events in NXT history and it absolutely lived up to the hype. The OC. and Ciampa, Lee, and Riddle went to war for brand supremacy. It was a perfect mixture of high-octane action and methodical dissection from the Raw superstars. Riddle continues to showcase why he’s in the same main event level as Cole, Ciampa, and Johnny Gargano. The next step in the rise of The Original Bro should be winning the tag team titles with his buddy Lee.
Lee is a freak he should not be able to execute the insane maneuvers that he continues to. He has the agility of a Cruiserweight that allows him to fly all over the ring and his massive pounces are a sight to behold. Styles and company felt completely at home inside Full Sail. I’m waiting to hear their response to the amazing NXT Universe. It’s a different atmosphere than the WWE Universe.
The ending was spectacular as we’ve seen in the past, NXT leaves you anxiously waiting to tune into the next week. It’s something that the WWE creative writing team should take note of. Balor wait I’m sorry…Prince Devitt continues to shock everyone with his slow-paced heel turn. Nobody knows what to expect next from the former Raw superstar. Is he aligning with The UE? Or is he in cahoots with The OC? It’s the small little things that speak volumes and NXT always does it best!
Summary: Another terrific episode with some great hard-hitting matches while adding layers to the developments heading into Survivor Series. Two of my favorites were Swerve vs. Dijakovic and Kai vs. Baszler I felt like those superstars told an incredible story between the ropes.
Right now, the best way to end all of WWE programming is chaotic and pandemonium leaving the audience craving more. Something that makes NXT special is how they set everything up for you to tune in next week to see what happens next. AEW definitely has its hands full this week, and that’s putting it lightly!
The New Labor Market
Rob goes over some points about the new labor landscape in wrestling. How things could change and where things could be headed!
Waves of WWE releases, AEW contract expirations coming, ROH releasing everyone, three big developments that have shaken up the entire wrestling business in 2021 and 2022. What’s going to be left is a brave new world where comings and goings in every corner of the world are going to have an entirely different structure. Which has us asking a big question:
How’s it all gonna work?
With WWE, it looks like the strategy is:
- Keep the veterans they want
- Let go of the ones they don’t
- Sign cheap recruits/indie wrestlers
While there were some head scratchers (Braun Strowman, Aleister Black, Hit Row) for the most part the wrestlers that WWE released were people who had not been on TV in a while for various reasons and weren’t really needed much. That sounds cold but remember that just two years ago they had 0ver 300 wrestlers under contract which was a number they never needed. Meanwhile Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, and Sami Zayn have all re-signed recently and they continue to bring people in for NXT tryouts, most notably former ROH women’s champion Rok C. There’s enough evidence and practice here to see what they’re doing here. Things may change of course, but that’s how it looks right now.
AEW on the other hand is another story. It’s been reported that over the next 30 to 60 days that a lot of the original signees are not going to be re-signed when their contracts expire, and more recent signee Lio Rush is also not coming back when his deal is up. Tony Khan has mentioned a ‘dream signing to come’, and over the last year has brought in veterans like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole, and Jay Lethal. The big question is how are they going to handle the crop of WWE releases that are about to be available? I’m talking about Keith Lee, Mia Yim, Tegan Nox, Ember Moon, Killer Kross, Scarlett Bordeaux, and in a few months Toni Storm.
All of those names would be good additions, and the ladies would do wonders for the much maligned women’s division, but is there enough space to fit them all in? They still only have three hours of TV time, and are already deploying Cole, Lethal and most of the women’s division to work their YouTube shows and are having trouble finding consistent TV time for everyone on the roster as it is. With virtually two women’s matches on TV per week and faced with the choice of signing and putting all those ladies on TV or sticking with the ones they’ve been using there’s a real question of quality vs loyalty, and the answer is going to leave somebody mad.
That is THE big question for AEW going forward. Over the past year they’ve added several people who are flat out better than lots of their original roster members, and have bumped the latter down to the YouTube shows and their likely non renewals this year. Bringing in more in 2022 is going to compound that situation and put a further squeeze on the limited time they have. Which means that you should not be surprised if they don’t sign as many people as there are available. The TV time is not there even with a purge of current roster members when their contracts expire. In a nutshell roster management may be the number one issue of 2022 for AEW.
Ring of Honor has announced Supercard of Honor for WrestleMania weekend as it’s official return date. Now there’s the question of how the roster will be filled when that happens. I imagine that everyone who was there for Final Battle will not be back; some will have moved on already and others are going to want better terms than the restarted ROH will be offering. Which begs the question of how to replace those people and what kind of contracts will be offered. If they’re going to a more pay per performance structure as rumored then that will allow for more players but with less frequency.
Impact doesn’t look to be changing anything. They sign a few castoffs, some for longer deals than others, and keep it moving. Not a whole lot to speculate there.
Then there’s the indies. The WWE releases from 2021 already flooded the market. Now there’s another wave coming from the people ROH released and whoever will not be re-signed from AEW. Unlike the companies they don’t have to worry about doling out TV time so having a bigger talent pool to work with is actually a good thing. The bad thing is that for the wrestlers there will be a lot more competition to get booked everywhere.
There is one conclusion to reach from all of this pending activity, and it is a major bummer.
This new situation is going to be decidedly pro management and anti-labor. The WWE veterans who stay on for the duration of their careers will be fine, as will the AEW veterans who are signed full time. But new WWE signees will mostly be of the young and cheap variety. Meanwhile it’s hard to imagine AEW spending on all those released WWE wrestlers like they did last year, especially with some ROH castoffs on the market for less. And the indie market is going to be even more saturated than it is now. This all eventually adds up to lower pay for anyone who can’t land or keep a good deal from WWE or AEW. And some people are going to be shut out of the business entirely from the domino effect.
WWE, by going on a multiyear signing binge from 2014 through 2019 and not releasing many people from 2016 until 2020, created a labor friendly environment, a demand bubble of sorts by taking so many high level talents off the board, throughout the business but that’s over now. For the foreseeable future that ship has sailed and their new stance is going to fundamentally alter the way the rest of the industry works now. Don’t be the least bit surprised AEW and ROH started planning whatever their new roster management strategy is going to be once those releases started coming last year, and if they both don’t sign everyone we think they will. The game has changed now.
News From Cook’s Corner 1.24.22: Gunther Changer Wrestling
A few renames, faces moving to new places and a GCW event in New York! Cook brings the News!
Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and somehow this Cincinnati Bengals season is still ongoing. You’ll have to bear with me, as I’m not used to needing to care about who wins these football games this late in the season. Makes paying attention to the pro wrestling a little more difficult than usual, know what I mean?
Fortunately, there are a couple of intriguing stories for me to dive into this week. We’re not going to be like certain NFL quarterbacks and completely ignore the business at hand so we can shoot off at the mouth about whatever dumb thought enters our head. Nope, we can multi-task here at the Corner. All the rasslin news you need to read about right now.
A wrestler changes their name in WWE? Stop the presses!
— GUNTHER (@Gunther_AUT) January 20, 2022
We all knew it was coming eventually. I admit that I’m not as attached to the wrestler previously known as Big Van Walter, then Big Daddy Walter, then WALTER as many of you are. I wasn’t the most regular viewer of wXw or PROGRESS or even NXT UK. Saw the guy here and there, thought he was good. Not surprised WWE signed him up.
Also not surprised that WWE would eventually change his name. Honestly, he was lucky to keep his old indy name as long as he did. I guess as long as WALTER was in the UK, with an occasional appearance stateside, it didn’t particularly matter what his name was. Once he moved over here, things had to change. Nothing personal, it’s just the way WWE operates. They like owning the names of their talent, just makes things more convenient. It also works out fine for wrestlers like WALTER that established something of a name prior to signing.
In and of itself, WALTER undergoing a name change doesn’t mean much to me.
What bugs me about the whole thing? The ham-fisted way WWE went about it. Warning: I’m a longtime wrestling fan that’s been accused of being stuck in the past on certain aspects of the genre. Many of the things that bug me about the way WWE presents things don’t matter to their target audience, or the people online that tell me everything WWE does is awesome because they make tons of money. And maybe they’re right and this won’t matter in the long run.
No, I’m not even talking about the part where they tried to give him the same name as a Nazi U-boat commander. Yes, it’s dumb that they either didn’t use Google or didn’t think that other people would use Google. Yes, there’s a good chance that the wrestler in question came up with the name himself, and he certainly approved it, and we’ll probably see an interview soon where he says that WWE is awesome and he came up with everything himself. Because that’s the way things go there.
The part that bothers me is the sloppiness. The laziness of the process of giving this guy a new name. See, if I was entrusted with re-branding a wrestler, I’d try to do it before debuting them as a regular character on worldwide television. Regardless of how many people are watching NXT 2.0 these days, it’s nice to keep things coherent. They had plenty of time to do this. After WALTER lost the NXT UK Championship to Ilya Dragunov, he was off of television for over four months. It would have made perfect sense for WALTER to eventually come back with a new outlook, a new attitude, even a new name for a new setting. Why not shake things up a little bit?
It would have been fine…except they brought him over for the big New Years’ Evil show and had him work as WALTER. No changes, just the WALTER we’d seen here & there before. Then a promo video, which had some irony to it since it was making fun of sloppy male physiques when that was one of the knocks on WALTER for much of his career. Amazing how the second a former fatty gets fit, they turn their backs on the tribe. Just shameful.
Anywho, the most recent edition of NXT 2.0 built up this main event between WALTER & Roderick Strong. WALTER came down, announced as WALTER, had his match and won. Then, after the match, WALTER decides to take the mike and cut off the ring announcer and tell us that his name was Gunther. Then the rest of Imperium ran down, and then the rest of Diamond Mine ran down, and before we could really think anything about anything the show was over.
I can’t help but think the whole thing could have been more effective if ol’ Gunther made his big re-debut to NXT 2.0 as Gunther in the first place. I suppose that would have involved having somebody decide Gunther needed a name change sometime during the four months he wasn’t on WWE programming, which is apparently too much to ask these days. And hey, maybe if more time had been taken to develop this, they could have found a name not easily associated with Nazis via Google? Just a thought.
See, we can get wrapped up in the optics of Nazi names, or we can just point out how poorly executed the whole thing was. Or we can stick our heads in the sand and praise Vince & Bruce to the high heavens. I’m a pro-choice kind of guy.
WWE Non-Release News
I told you guys there were going to be a lot of WWE releases this year. There’s one thing that slipped my mind at that point in time…there will be people wanting their release that won’t get it. It’s tough to keep track of who wants a job & who doesn’t, so it’s tough to blame WWE for getting confused on these matters.
In fairness, it would be somewhat surprising to some that Mustafa Ali no longer wants a job. It was around this time last year that Ali’s contract was reportedly set to expire according to the rasslin websites. Now that his contract is reportedly good for several more years according to reports coming out these days, I can only assume that he signed something after February 2021.
People have accused me of being skeptical towards WWE, especially when it comes to the likelihood of WWE pushing certain people after a certain period of time. Sometimes they prove me wrong, like when they pushed Jinder Mahal to the WWE Championship years after I dismissed him as just a job guy for them. I gave up on Mustafa Ali having any role of great significance with WWE not long after Ali & the Retribution guys were cast off into obscurity. Ali obviously felt differently, and to WWE’s credit, they do a great job during these contract negotiations of convincing their Superstars that things will be better for them in the future.
Apparently Ali wants out now, largely due to creative differences. We know that Ali has been outspoken about being a positive role model for people like him. This doesn’t rule out the idea of being a heel, just the idea of being the typical terrorist foreigner heel that wrestling likes to have people that look like Ali portray. Ali came up with an idea for himself, with some similarity to the Muhammad Hassan character/storyline from the mid-2000s.
a few weeks ago, i made a statement that some deemed controversial. my intentions were to bring a beautiful vision to life. unfortunately, for reasons beyond my control, i won't be able to make that vision a reality. but i can share with you what could have been. pic.twitter.com/V2bKzYJUrw
— Mustafa Ali / Adeel Alam (@AliWWE) November 13, 2021
Ali is a well-spoken man, and I have no doubt he would have done well with this character. I also have no doubt that WWE would have bungled the thing the first chance they got. Muhammad Hassan was an interesting, complicated character for a minute, then WWE had him and a bunch of goons act like they were assassinating the Undertaker like one of those videos you’d see from Al Qaeda. UPN rightly said that was over the top and the gimmick was dead. This would have gone the same way. Ali would have been compelling for a few weeks, then WWE would have done something silly and/or controversial and killed the thing off.
What we don’t know here: Did WWE have an idea for Ali afterward? Is Ali wanting a release because of an idea WWE had for him that he didn’t like, or because WWE ghosted him? I’d like to have more information before deciding whether to jump on the #FreeAli bandwagon or not.
AEW Leaving News
Ali might be stuck in WWE, but Lio Rush won’t be stuck in AEW. Rush announced on social media that his AEW contract would expire on February 14 and he’ll become a free agent.
I’m a free agent. pic.twitter.com/aZwy8F8O6O
— Lio Rush (@IamLioRush) January 22, 2022
Lio had quite the up & down stint with AEW. He debuted back at the Double or Nothing event, suffered an injury soon afterward and retired from wrestling for a few months. He came back as some crypto money guy, did a storyline with Dante Martin & Team Taz that was an odd piece of business, then got mad on New Year’s Eve when Tony Khan went in on Big Swole’s wrestling ability on Twitter. Shortly afterward Lio posted a statement where he’d talked to Tony & company about it and was looking forward to effecting positive change and then we never saw him again on AEW television.
Regardless of where you came down on that whole situation, you can’t be too surprised that AEW didn’t exactly fall over themselves to keep Lio Rush around afterwards. Even without the drama, there’s way too many other people ahead of Rush on the list of people that can’t get on AEW television regularly and should. They seem to be trying to decide whether they want Jay Lethal or Lee Moriarty in the slot Lio left open in the previously mentioned angle, and either would seem like a good choice. If they were to choose one.
Apparently Lio still has a deal with New Japan and wants to float around different promotions anyway, so he’ll still be plenty busy. In fact, he was on a show this weekend that we’re about to talk about…right now!
The Cook on GCW
I decided to take the plunge this weekend. My bosses at the number website have given me permission to review pretty much anything I want, a privilege which I plan on utilizing when events warrant. This weekend’s GCW event at Hammerstein Ballroom seemed like the perfect time for me to find out what the buzz surrounding that promotion is all about. The card was full of names I recognized, the build seemed interesting, and it was a notable building with a big crowd. A big chance for GCW to step up to the next level and draw in new fans looking for something a little bit different from everything else. GCW has had shows in the past where they did just that. Unfortunately for the larger audience this show got, I can’t say they did.
They really sold out the Hammy pic.twitter.com/TiX5SS4e8Q
— TIGER DRIVER (@TigerDriver9X) January 24, 2022
A lot of people have a lot of negative things to say about GCW. Some call it Garbage Championship Wrestling. It’s the type of fed people equate with outlaw mud shows. They do some stuff that you won’t see anywhere else. On Sunday night, the only thing they did that you won’t see anywhere else was have their wrestlers & announcers use the word “fuck” more than once or twice.
I don’t know if it was something to do with where the show was presented, a nod to being on traditional PPV or a concerted effort on the promotion’s part to present something a little more “normal” than they’re known for. But my main criticism of their event on Sunday night was that it wasn’t enough like the GCW that I’d heard about. For a show that had the opportunity to present something different from the norm, it featured a lot of stuff that wouldn’t have been out of place on your regularly televised wrestling events.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this. Perhaps moving closer to the norm is the way for GCW to get more fans than just their base of fans that love the blood & guts. I just think a fed needs to be unique in order to get attention and stand out from the pack. GCW had a chance to turn things on their head Sunday night in front of a larger audience than usual, and from where I sit, they didn’t get it done.
Not saying it was a terrible show or anything like that. It just wasn’t the show they needed to step up to the next level and really establish themselves as the #3 promotion in the United States. The good news is that there’s still plenty of wrestling fans that GCW hasn’t made a first impression on, and they can easily go back to the drawing board and come up with another mode of attack.
Hey, I’m rooting for them. I root for anybody trying to make a go of it in this crazy business. As I’ve said before, the whole wrestling business is an outlaw mud show. The wider variety of combatants we have in the mud, the blood & the beer, the better. Here’s hoping GCW hits me a little better next time.
Thanks for reading! Join me later in the week when we break down the NFL conference championship games, featuring the CINCINNATI BENGALS and three other teams. Until then, keep your stick on the ice.
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