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Does NXT Need A Clean Sweep At Survivor Series??

Gou Oussema makes his Chairshot debut with a special look at NXT and Survivor Series. Does the black and gold express need a clean sweep?

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WWE NXT Survivor Series

Gou Oussema makes his Chairshot debut with a special look at NXT and Survivor Series. Does the black and gold express need a clean sweep?

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Probably this image above doesn’t highlight NXT as this article is supposed to, but that is what WWE pushed themselves to through a combination of indifference and mild booking for what is UNDISPUTEDLY (see what i did there?) the hottest brand in the company. The “Invasion” angle has been a hit and miss so far, with the first shot during the post-Crown Jewel episode of Smackdown being a perfect example. Adam Cole defeated Daniel Bryan clean on that show for god’ sake, yet two weeks later NXT feels like HHH’s pet house from which he can choose which ones to be in his convoy.

This mediocrity in booking such story, combined with the usual “Bullocks” (to quote Becky Lynch) of “Brand Supremacy”, does not make for enticing viewing for neither RAW or Smackdown. This storyline is quickly approaching the original ECW/WCW invasion levels, which is to say that NXT does not feel like a menacing force calling the shots, but more like another brand caught in this “Brand Warfare”. With that said, can a clean sweep for the “Golden standard” of sports entertainment be beneficial for their momentum in their head-to-head war against AEW?

Let’s call it like it is, NXT would not have been here if AEW wasn’t founded. This is the matter of the fact, as it would certainly remained a one-hour sprint on the network instead of its current status on USA. The TV move for that brand perhaps put a lot of weight on its roster, and certainly on its higher-ups including HHH and Shawn Michaels to deliver not only a great show, but one that can draw good numbers too. For the best part, they were successful at first, pulling more than a million viewer on their first one hour broadcast on USA network.

Then, Dynamite came around, and nothing was the same. For 8 weeks running as of this time, they have been outdrawn by AEW, though not necessarily in the show quality. Now that we are closely reaching Survivor Series, NXT needs as much momentum going in as they can build, particularly with a TakeOver the night before. For sure, the addition of the NXT guys to the November extravaganza is going to inject some needed prowess between the ropes, but it should be supported by the right booking from WWE.

In my opinion at least, this right booking is a clean sweep, a takeover (see what i did?). Yes, this might not happen, but i’m standing firm to my stance here. WWE can not treat this like the 2001 invasion and completely suck the air out of it, neither do their classic 50/50 booking and give NXT some insignificant wins or worse, ones with horrid finishes. The best and most efficient solution is to give them the lottery, let them run roughshod through the main roster and score the ultimate victory. This decision, if happening, will be successful on so many levels; give NXT the boost they need to increase its importance as a true brand, turn viewers in to watch and invest in the product, and of course, put over the roster of incredible talent that NXT has.

The matches are guaranteed to be awesome anyway (I mean there is Strong vs Nakamura vs AJ Styles on the card!!), but NXT being victorious in all of those matches will cement them and the PPV in the annals of pro wrestling greatness. For that to work though, the booking should be all in (yes it’s what you think it is) on them, which means no screwy finishes or too much shenanigans, WWE should just let them be the best brand on the night. We don’t need to see the full line-up of Undisputed Era getting involved in each match where there is a member of them, which is stupid booking aside from being an overkill.

Team NXT (both men and women) shouldn’t be represented as underdogs or inexperienced guys against the main-roster veterans, but rather as a menacing force that the main-roster underestimated. In addition, three of the NXT championships will be involved in this cross-brand war, and they should be treated as royalty. Let Shayna Bazsler choke the life out of Bayley, or even Becky, have Roderick Strong outsmart AJ and Nakamura in the ring instead of relying of his faction’s numbers game. It is necessary to consider that NXT has a show the night before when doing this, with most of the wrestlers involved on Sunday lacing the boots on Saturday, and for some even being in a War Games match, which means that the booking should not cause the double duty pulled by some to have a major effect on them as it could lead to injuries which are the biggest worry for HHH and co.

However, we are asking too much perhaps for WWE, who have an impressive (for the wrong reasons) record of being too stubborn to book the up and comers over the established stars. Though, we will keep our fingers crossed that NXT might walk out from Chicago being the victorious brand which will certainly get them some needed eyes on their show on Wednesday night.

In the end, this might get into the “Fantasy booking” territory as it might be unrealistic for some people, but the odd thing can be the righteous thing sometimes. Still, WWE might surprise us with a well-booked show that reminds us why we can’t book wrestling in their place. Before I conclude, I have one thing to say: WWE, PLEASE KEEP TRIPLE H, SHANE MCMAHON, AND CM PUNK AWAY FROM THE SHOW! because I heard these bits of rumor mill work a lot these days.

This is only one man’s opinion in the end, tell me yours in the comments below or reach out on Twitter @OGouesmiHellRaiser.


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Opinion

Steve Cook’s Fave Five: April 2021

It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means…

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It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means.

It’s time to talk about my current five favorite wrestlers like I’m Booker T. Let’s break down the Fave Five!

5. Samoa Joe

I figure what happened between Samoa Joe & WWE was the following: WWE offered Joe an announcing contract since either they didn’t want to use him in the ring or their doctors wouldn’t clear him to wrestle. Joe looked at the contract, noticed the financial discrepancy, realized he could probably get NJPW to let him train young boys in California for that kind of money and said “thanks but no thanks”. Nothing else really makes sense to me.

Unfortunately, those who thought that WWE wouldn’t utilize Joe to their fullest potential were right. It wasn’t all WWE’s fault though. Joe had a lot of miles on his tires when he got there. Injuries are always more of a concern with larger wrestlers the older they get. And when Joe was healthy, he did get to do some good stuff and show people a glimpse of the Samoa Joe that people like me raved about back in the mid to late 2000s.

In any event, Joe got his WWE run. It was a thing that happened. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t wind up in AEW because he seems like the kind of guy Tony Khan would throw all the money at. Should be fun!

4. Kris Statlander

AEW does have a pretty insane number of factions right now. It risks the possibility of all of the groups blending together, with none of them really capturing the attention of fans. However, there are positive things about AEW’s faction warfare that shouldn’t be overlooked. It makes booking fresh matches to fill cards pretty easy. You can have groups facing off each week, but in different combinations that keep it fresh.

Another good thing: It can help us decide how we feel about characters that we might be on the fence about. Kris Statlander’s character was a topic of discussion from the moment she entered AEW. A lot of people weren’t sure how to take her. Wrestling aliens, or wrestlers who think they’re aliens, aren’t exactly common. Its the kind of thing that gets over in the indies, because those feds attract fans that are more willing to buy into unique concepts. Mainstream is a tougher sell.

Aligning Kris with the Best Friends makes sense to those in the know, since she came up working shows with them. It also helps people that don’t know about her figure out more. The Best Friends are a happy go lucky group that are the whitest of white meat babyfaces you’ll find in AEW, and that’s a good thing. They’re welcoming to people with unique personalities, as Orange Cassidy’s presence establishes. A friendly alien couldn’t ask for a better group to surround herself with, and from their appearances so far she seems like a perfect fit.

Add in the fact that the time on the shelf helped her get into better shape and refine her look & presence, and the sky’s the limit for Statlander. As long as she can stay in the ring, I’m expecting big things from her in 2021.

3. Tay Conti

Sometimes, all one needs is a change of scenery to approach their true potential. Tay spent a few years at the WWE Performance Center learning how to be a professional wrestler. During her time there, Tay never showed much in the way of potential. Even though she had a combat sports background and had the type of physical appearance that gets attention, Conti’s TV time was very limited and uneventful. She seemed like one of those wrestlers that was bound to stay in developmental until WWE gave up on them, then drop off the face of the earth without most wrestling fans noticing.

Tay’s story took a different route. She ended up being one of the cuts that AEW took an interest in, and was brought in for the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament. Her teaming with Anna Jay worked well on & off-camera, and she pretty much fit right in with the group immediately. She started training with Dustin Rhodes, and pretty much immediately started looking better in the ring & figuring out what worked for her. Now, she’s one of the people helping AEW’s women’s division go to a higher level.

This isn’t meant to denigrate WWE’s Performance Center or its methods. There just isn’t a wrestling training center out there that’s going to work for everybody. Tay had to find what worked for her. The people that recently got cut will have to do the same. Hopefully, the people that recently got signed by WWE will thrive in that environment.

2. Bianca Belair

We’ve recently seen three new Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella, all of whom are great in their own way. I’ve talked about Rhea Ripley before, she’s got unlimited potential and so far she’s done very well on the main roster. Raquel Gonzalez is doing very well on NXT and her push to the championship made perfect sense & got over. I do think the best of the title changes was Bianca’s defeat of Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania Saturday. It was a special moment for Bianca, a very fun match to watch, and a great performance from both Bianca & Sasha Banks, who did everything she could to make Bianca in that match.

You see the video of the NXT segment up above, with the three current Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella celebrating together. Apparently there was a picture taken in 2019, and there were pictures taken after this week’s NXT, with Triple H making sure to get in there as he likes to do with all new champions. I’ve never really been a fan of that sort of thing, even the “Horsewomen” celebrations on previous NXT shows didn’t do much for me.

Besides the usual complaints people have about things like that, the thing that I didn’t like was how Rhea & Raquel came off. They were all smiling & happy like they were Big Daddy Cool Diesel after beating Mr. Bob Backlund in 1994. Completely against what Raquel has been up to this point, and what Rhea has been when she’s been at her best. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing for Rhea for the portion of the NXT audience that likes their lady wrestlers crying & happy after their performances, and hopefully it’s leading to Raquel getting dismembered by Dakota Kai, who can’t be happy about her heater winning the championship and then turning into Smilin’ Diesel.

Fortunately for Bianca, it does nothing to affect her character or our opinion of her. That’s why I think her title run will go best. I’m also putting her here because I’m pretty well convinced there isn’t a wrestling move or spot she can’t do well. Insanely talented, and the more experience she gets the better she’ll be.

1. Darby Allin

Sometimes you just want to watch something that’s stupid fun. Something that doesn’t need too much thought in order to enjoy it. Just people doing crazy things to entertain an audience. Darby Allin matches are just what you need when you’re looking for something like this. There isn’t anybody crazier in pro wrestling today than Darby, which is probably for the best. I’m convinced this kid has a death wish.

The one thing that kinda gets me about Darby sometimes is how he kicks out of everything. Poor Matt Hardy wasn’t going to beat that kid unless he shot him with a gun, and apparently there’s a metal detector at Daily’s Place. (Shoutout to Matt by the way, hell of an effort in that match.) But then I remember that Darby Allin is a daredevil and constantly posting videos online where he’s jumping off high places and doing crazy things. Obviously, it’s going to take a little more to beat a daredevil than your average pro wrestler.

What’s it going to take to beat Darby Allin? That’s a good reason to keep watching.


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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: About that Cole-O’Reilly match…

It was the Takeover match that held the most promise. Where did it go wrong? 

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It was the Takeover match that held the most promise. Where did it go wrong? 

Exclusive: Kyle O'Reilly is ready to renew his career-long rivalry with Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver

6. I was jacked to 11 for Adam Cole versus Kyle O’Reilly. I was ready to give it a Tokyo Dome 6 stars. MOTY before the bell rang. A masterwork of storytelling. I correctly predicted it would be an unsanctioned match. Then the action started, and it quickly became “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”

NXT TakeOver: New Orleans | WWE

5. After the first few acts of violence, it was apparent that the problem with the match would be the stipulation. The last NXT unsanctioned match was Johnny Gargano versus Tommaso Ciampa in 2018. That was 3 short years ago, but things move quickly in today’s world. There is very little chance an unsanctioned match can deliver the level of violence it promises as long as NXT is on the PG-13 Peacock.

The Most Brutal Spots from Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly's Insane Unsanctioned Match at NXT Takeover - EssentiallySports

4. Fans are losing their minds over all the content Peacock is leaving on the cutting floor. A lot of it was offensive and would never work today, but that’s not the point. The fact is there’s only so much violence Peacock’s parent company NBC will tolerate from wrestling. Take the chain, for example. Other than the clothesline, it was practically useless. O’Reilly tried to make it work, but it fell flat. In an unsanctioned match, 20 feet of heavy duty chain should be all you need to decimate another human being.

The B Word: Did Pro Wrestling's Blood Dry Up? | Ring the Damn Bell

3. Maybe I’m a victim of my own wrestling memory. An unsanctioned match in Memphis in the 80’s would have been a bloodbath. Someone would have been hung over the top rope with the chain around his neck. Whipped across the back. Hog tied. Someone would have wrapped it around their fist for a few stiff shots to their opponent’s forehead. But that goes back to my original point. None of that would fly today even if NXT was only on the WWE network.

5 Hilarious moments from this week's WWE programming

2. I’ll go so far as to say the only violent-promising stipulation that interests me is Falls Count Anywhere. There is zero drama in wrestlers pulling chairs from under the ring. The chance to use the naturally occurring environment as a weapon still holds a world of suspense. Someone is going through windows, walls, off the stage, over the guardrail, stuffed in a locker. Honestly, I’m tired of people getting hit in the stomach with folding chairs. Of all the ways to hit someone with a folding chair, that’s the least practical. 

WWE Announces Multiple Injuries At NXT New Year's Evil - WrestlingRumors.net

1. I’m sorry to say Kyle O’Reilly versus Adam Cole didn’t deliver what I expected. Maybe I’m in the minority. Maybe I don’t need over-the-top violence to entertain me. Maybe I don’t need wrestling to keep pushing the envelope. Five of my top 6 matches of 2021 are straight up wrestling matches. Maybe all I need is two (or three or four) strong characters and a good story. Damn, I sound old. 


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