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Opinion

Cook’s Top 5: Ways WWE Listened To Their Audience In 2019

Many thought it was only lip service but, Steve Cook gives us the Top 5 ways WWE actually listened in 2019!

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You may recall the end of 2018. WWE was in something of a lull creatively. They were largely presenting things their audience didn’t particularly care about. Sure, they had their defenders who were all about Baron Corbin’s never-ending push as Raw Constable/General Manager/whatever the hell title he had at the moment, and there were plenty of folks popping for Universal Champion Brock Lesnar whenever he showed up, but the majority of the audience wasn’t smelling what WWE was cooking.

The McMahon family response? Hit the ring, claim they were listening, and promise to give the people what they wanted.

12 months later, WWE Raw is largely in the same position they were at this time last year. The 8PM hour of Raw was fourth for the night in the 18-49 demo on December 17, 2018 & December 16, 2019. The numbers are down across the board, but the same could be said for other shows on the list each year as people continue to shift the ways they consume programming. (The biggest gainer? Fox News. That audience doesn’t shift the way they consume anything, and the outrage in their circles is high these days, so you would expect viewership to be up.)

The main question is this: Has WWE lived up to their word & listened to the fans? Most people I saw online discussing this scoff at the idea, but I was able to find five ways in which WWE has listened to their audience since December 2018.

5. WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Sasha Banks Bayley WWE NXT

This was a very, very hot topic right around this time last year. Bayley & Sasha Banks had been publicly campaigning for the new championship for months, the fans were feeling the idea, and WWE finally made it official on the episode filmed the same night as the McMahon segment. Bayley & Sasha were the first champions, followed by the IIconics, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross, and Asuka & Kairi Sane.

To be honest, things got off to a bit of a rough start. Bayley & Sasha’s run as champs was shorter than expected & may or may not have led to some hurt feelings. That would have been fine if the IIconics’ four-month reign led to anything of note other than hilarious Billie Kay GIFs & memes. It didn’t, but things look to be on the right track now with the championship having main evented the most recent WWE Network Event.

4. Kofi Kingston as WWE Champion

Kofi Kingston WWE WrestleMania 35

I don’t think people realized how much they wanted Kofi to be WWE Champion until he was put into the Elimination Chamber Match and the entire Houston crowd got behind him like he was Hulk Hogan in 1985. The fans made their request, and WWE listened. Kofi was inserted into the spot that reportedly was originally intended for Mustafa Ali and wound up defeating Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35.

WWE is often criticized for being slow to react to things like a sudden burst in Kofi Kingston’s approval rating, but they weren’t hesitant to jump on it here.

3. NXT being elevated to Raw & SmackDown’s level

WWE NXT Survivor Series Women's Team

One of the points of emphasis of Vince’s speech was the idea of new stars & new matchups. Those who don’t feel WWE has lived up to the promises of last December point out that Baron Corbin has gone from being heavily featured as an authority figure on Raw to being heavily featured as a king on SmackDown. They point out that Brock Lesnar has gone from being the rarely seen Universal Champion on Raw to the rarely seen WWE Champion on Raw. Some key roles have not seen a new infusion of talent, or new matchups that people are really interested in seeing.

However, we have seen the elevation of NXT. It’s largely happened as a response to TNT picking up All Elite Wrestling, but few would claim that the NXT talent doesn’t deserve to be featured on USA weekly. Casual viewers that either don’t have WWE Network or don’t regularly watch NXT on the Network are now being exposed to the Undisputed Era, Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Rhea Ripley & many others on a weekly basis. Maybe that wasn’t what Vince originally meant, but WWE has presented fans with the new stars they clamored for. You just kinda feel bad for the NXT people that got called up the main roster to do nothing before the brand got elevated.

2. Roman Reigns not pushed as strong as previously

Roman Reigns WWE Leukemia

The level of push for the Big Dog is something that’s been a point of contention for WWE fans for many, many years. Once the Shield split up, Reigns was immediately inserted into the main event picture and always featured as one of the top guys. Reigns was featured in four straight WrestleMania main events, getting booed in each one while being portrayed as a babyface. Ironically enough, one would have expected Reigns’ return from leukemia to result in an even bigger push. It didn’t.

Reigns was kept on the upper mid-card level pretty much all year. One could say that WWE didn’t do the most it could to capitalize off of fans won over by Roman defeating cancer. After getting drafted to SmackDown, Reigns spent his time feuding with Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan, Erick Rowan & King Corbin, nowhere near the WWE Championship that many assumed he would win to be the undisputed top guy on SmackDown. Didn’t happen. The fans that didn’t want Roman Reigns shoved down their throats won the day.

1. Seth Rollins as the top guy, brother!

seth rollins wrestlemania universal championship

Around this time last year, I wrote an article about how Seth Rollins had delivered stinkers in several PPV matches. Boy, were people outraged! They couldn’t imagine somebody having the temerity & the unmitigated gall to claim that Rollins was anything other than a Crossfit Jesus inside the squared circle. At that point in time, Seth Rollins could do no wrong and everybody wanted him to defeat Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship and become the top man in WWE.

So that’s exactly what happened. Rollins whooped Lesnar at WrestleMania, became Universal Champion, and was the focal point of WWE programming for most of the year. The WWE Universe asked for it, and WWE gave it to them. What happened afterwards with the fans turning against Rollins after the man turned out to be bad on Twitter can’t really be held against WWE.


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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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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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