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Let’s Talk Naomi

Rob discusses one wrestler that set Twitter ablaze with her performance!

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Rob discusses one wrestler that set Twitter ablaze with her performance!

The 2020 Royal Rumble is in the books, and on the women’s side the most talked about thing is Naomi’s return to the ring after taking a few months off.  Between the 30 seconds after she hit the ring and the spot where she used to lid for the announce table as a ramp to get back in the ring the work she put in electrified the crowd and went viral, reaching beyond the wrestling bubble that we all get trapped in way too much.  And as I write this she just made her return to SmackDown to confront Bayley and stake her claim to the SmackDown Women’s title that she last held in 2017.  Naomi is a breath of fresh air and should do wonders on SmackDown; her ring gear, moveset, and just her overall persona fit in perfect for the more family friendly SmackDown and should be a big hit with the kids.

And from the looks of things on this week’s post-Rumble episode of SmackDown she has a big showdown coming with SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley.  I’m here to proclaim that: she should be in the title match at WrestleMania one way or another, be it as defending champion if she wins it earlier or as the challenger.  I know a lot of y’all still want Bayley vs Sasha to happen but you can’t stick Naomi back in the battle royal after all the buzz she’s getting right now.  You can always make it a three way, or a four way or whatever.  But come hell or high water she should get to perform on the biggest stage of the year and she should walk out as champion.  Yes I know she won it at WrestleMania 33 already but the reign she had afterwards was not booked well at all (only two title defenses on pay per views when there were four chances to do so) and a still inexplicable loss at SummerSlam that year.  Time to make up for that.

But that’s not the only thing that needs to made up for.  For years black women have been a loyal section of the pro wrestling fanbase that has gone tragically undeserved, and it’s long past time to fix that.  Look, I’m not saying give all the belts to black people (not complaining if it ever happens, don’t get me wrong) but more of a presence in bigger matches and yeah some more wins in said matches.  But also some better positioning so that when it’s time for say, Money in the Bank, that the likes of not just Naomi but Sasha Banks or Ember Moon will actually be a favorite to win and not just be there to do cool stuff while someone else gets the briefcase and the almost certain title win that comes with it.  Can one of them be in a storyline that puts them in place to get and use it for once?  Wining the big match is cool and all but being in the mix on a regular basis so that your name is the one that gets pulled sometimes is even more important.

And then there’s the merchandise deficit.  Back in 2017 when Naomi was champion and was wearing her customized glow title belt, it was conspicuously absent from the sales catalog.  Come on people we got every other custom title that’s ever been made but that was a bridge too far?  Nobody’s saying you had to make a tricked out LED laden version but a glow in the dark replica was more than doable.  Yeah, the ball has been dropped in a major way here and literal money has been left on the table.  So it’s high time to get your heads out of your asses, make up for some lost time, and right the shape before you make the same mistake with Bianca Belair.  It would be a damn shame to miss out on some real opportunities here while you keep chasing the same crowd that literally finds things to complain about no matter what and is obsessed with guys whose best and only trait is that they can do a lot of moves in the ring.

Now me being me, I can’t end this without taking some gratuitous shots at some of my fellow wrestling fans.  Those of you who have already been trying to throw cold water on this moment can go find a lake full of cold water and jump in it for real.  Or better yet, go play in traffic.  Now I’m not talking about people who just aren’t fans of hers.  Hey, that happens with everyone.  But those of you who go above and beyond and get loud and proud about just how much you think she shouldn’t get any bigger opportunities, well I am talking to you.  Because as much as y’all like to talk about earning this and deserving that, it sure only seems to apply to certain people and not anyone who doesn’t meet your criteria.  And that looks real funny to me.

Are you calling me racist, Rob?  

I don’t know, are you?  I’m not saying that everyone opposed to what I’m saying here is, but if that’s the first thing that came to your mind, well………..hit dogs holler and all.

But anyhow, now’s the time to capitalize on this thing.  No it doesn’t make past missteps and mistakes go away but it’s a great step in the right direction.  So do it you cowards!!


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News

News From Cook’s Corner 3.1.21: No Big Show

Steve Cook brings the birthday shout outs and a nice variety of different wrestling topics! Check it out!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! My name is Steve Cook, and I’m somewhat decent at remembering birthdays of people close to me thanks to social media notifications, but ages are another matter. A day ago, I would have wished Larry Csonka a happy 67th birthday. Not that he would have been 67 years old, it’s just a gimmick I do with people that are older than me. Assign them an age much older than they actually are. Greg DeMarco has been on the receiving end of this before.

It’s good times, loved by all. (Actually, Larry hated it and I’m pretty sure Greg does too.)

With the way things have been in the world over the past year, there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you’ve lost somebody you cared about over the past year. Wrestling has seen a nearly non-stop parade of death, including the loss of the man who played Jocephus & The Question Mark last week. His passing touched a number of his brothers & sisters in the wrestling business, who posted about how great he was as a person.

All we can do is hang together and help each other through our periods of grief. We all go through it, and it’s definitely been way too much of a thing over the past year.

You can still donate to help out Larry’s family!

It’s tempting to wonder what Larry would think about the things going on now. I won’t pretend to know how he’d react to most of 2021, but I can safely assume that he would be excited as I am about Tully Blanchard having a match on television this week, and also wondering why a bigger deal isn’t being made of it. He probably would have written the best column about Tully Blanchard since 1999.

The best way I can think of to celebrate Larry’s birthday? Ramble through some wrestling news a day after it! Makes sense, right?

AEW Signs Paul Wight

This one came as quite the surprise when it broke on Wednesday. Paul Wight, the wrestler formerly known as The Big Show (or The Giant if you’re more of a WCW fan), has decided to take his wrestling and announcing talents to All Elite Wrestling. Wight had worked for WWE for most of the past twenty-two years, with the exception of February 2007-08. He hadn’t done much with the company over the past several years, appearing for brief periods of time in the ring. WWE did help produce The Big Show Show, a sitcom that lasted one season on Netflix.

It seems like this comes down to Wight wanting to do more, and WWE not really having anything for him to do. Since his sitcom was ended, he only made a handful of appearances on WWE television, with his last appearance consisting of Randy Orton berating him for not being able to wrestle anymore. Wight will apparently be doing some wrestling in AEW, which will be interesting on a number of levels since there isn’t a bevy of talent there that’s anywhere near his size. I mean, there is Shaq, and that’s been a dream match for some for years, but there’s no telling whether or not Shaq will be back after his tag match this week. He’ll also be announcing alongside Tony Schiavone on AEW’s new YouTube show titled AEW Dark: Elevation.

AEW has made it a priority to keep increasing their online presence, as we saw on Sunday night when they aired some of their Women’s Championship Eliminator matches on Bleacher Report’s website. Including Riho vs. Thunder Rosa, which made some pretty angry when it was announced as they would have preferred to see the match on Dynamite. While I get that they need matches like that to draw eyeballs to new platforms, it will raise some eyebrows from those that see things like this as demotions. They aren’t meant as demotions, as having Wight on this new show further indicates.

I don’t see this changing the momentum of the wrestling wars, but I think its nice for older talent to have viable options other than a WWE Legends contract.

WWE: Still Big In India

Jinder Mahal WWE Bold Prediction

People like to make a big deal of how many viewers these wrestling shows have. One thing we often forget: Americans aren’t the only people that watch television! Sure, on average we probably watch more programming via various devices than anybody else. However, there’s a great big world out there of people watching wrestling that we often don’t keep track of!

Fortunately, we have people like Lucha Libre Online to keep track of places like India for us. Here’s what they told us!

4 million people watch Raw every week, while 3 million watch SmackDown and 1 million watch NXT. Which makes me wonder if Raw viewers are forced to choose between SmackDown & NXT. Are they in the same time slot?

People are making a big deal about how this means more people in India are watching WWE than in the US. I mean…India has a few more people, right? I’m guessing their share of the overall audience is lower than it is here.

All I know for sure is that all this proves that India doesn’t need Jinder Mahal pushed on top to remain interested in WWE.

NWA Pulls Videos From YouTube

NWA Power

I have to admit that I was concerned when WrestlingInc & other websites drew my attention to the fact that the NWA had pulled their videos from YouTube. Not really the best timing on that either, as I’m sure there were fans of Jocephus & Question Mark looking for something to watch after his tragic death last week. It’s easy to see why people thought the worst.

As we know, the NWA has virtually ceased production since the pandemic started. A good amount of their wrestling talent has moved on to other opportunities. If David Lagana has been replaced behind the scenes, we haven’t heard who it is. Heck, the women’s division has pretty much become part of AEW. We’ve been waiting to hear some kind of NWA news for awhile now, either good or bad.

We’ve finally got something new coming from the NWA. Dave Meltzer reported that they’ll be holding TV tapings from March 21-24. No word on where the tapings will be taking place, if fans will be allowed, or who will be involved. As we’ve noticed, a good number of NWA wrestlers have moved on to other places. Hopefully the NWA will be able to fill those slots with new, compelling characters that can give fans the same level of enjoyment they got out of Powerrr.

I’m always in favor of more wrestling produced for the people.

Marty Scrull Returns to New Japan

Marty Scurll

Our friends at Fightful got the inside scoop from the NJPW Strong tapings back in January and found out that Marty Scrull appeared on the show. He did an angle with Rocky Romero that will presumably air at some point. Scrull has not been seen or heard from in any major way since parting ways with Ring of Honor.

I remember reading before that New Japan might be the most likely landing spot for Scrull, since apparently sleeping or doing other things with underage females is less frowned upon over there. And there is a bit of a difference between having someone work for you as a wrestler or in a management position. Scrull was management in ROH, and keeping him around would have been unneeded publicity.

That’s what all of these Speaking Out defendants are going to be dealing with in their attempts to return to pro wrestling. The ones that haven’t yet will try eventually, it’s just a matter of timing and business. Companies will bring in these people if they find them valuable. New Japan finds value in Marty Scrull, who has enough friends there to help him out.

The question, as I’ve stated before, is if fans feel strongly enough about Scrull and his failings to hold it against the people that employ him. If they do, and they don’t watch NJPW Strong, Scrull won’t be around for too long. If fans don’t care, then promotions don’t need to, and Scrull will be twirling his umbrella back into the wrestling world.

As for my opinion? I’m really the wrong person to ask, as Marty Scrull wasn’t a draw for me before all his business came out. I’m not inclined to watch his stuff, but I already wasn’t. What matters is how the people that did fawn over Scrull in the past take to him now.

Klein vs. ROH

Kelly Klein

Its been a minute or two since we’ve talked much about the former Women of Honor Champion. It wasn’t too long before the pandemic when all of this drama went public with Kelly’s allegations about her treatment in Ring of Honor, Kelly getting divorced after her former husband (BJ Whitmer) accused her of being unfaithful with the man assisting her in making allegations (Joey Mercury), and ROH eventually stripping her of their championship and not renewing her contract.

Things died down on this front over the past year, largely due to the global pandemic thing. Klein isn’t going away though, as she filed a lawsuit against Ring of Honor & Sinclair Broadcasting, naming Greg Gilliland, Delirious & Jay Lethal as defendants. Klein’s issues with ROH came to a head when she suffered a concussion during a match and there was no protocol or staff on hand to address her problem. There were other issues, including pay, which apparently ROH’s female roster members get considerably less of than the males.

ROH has never really had much interest in pushing women’s wrestling. That’s just a fact. The Women of Honor re-boot in 2018 seemed to be a step in that direction, but the company quickly lost interest in featuring the competitors. Since the debut of the ROH bubble, the only woman regularly appearing on television has been the studio host, Quinn McKay. McKay has an angle going with Mandy Leon & Angelina Love, but that hasn’t been touched on at all on television and has been confined to an Internet show where they did one confrontation and that was it. Leon & Love appear in the opening video, but that’s the only place they’ve appeared on television in months. Vita Von Starr appears with The Righteous on occasion & Maria Kanellis-Bennett recently made her on-screen return to commentate on a match.

So, no, it doesn’t surprise me that ROH had/has no interest in paying women equally to men.

There’s a lot going on within the lawsuit, including harassment claims directed towards Lethal. The main thing to keep an eye on here for wrestling purposes? Klein is claiming that she was an employee, not an independent contractor, and the State of Maryland has a strong policy to ensure that workers are not misclassified. So we’re saying there’s a chance this issue might actually be addressed in a court of law after how many years. Stay tuned.

That’s all we have time for this week! Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice.


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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: The Most Pointless Match Ever

There are some things Brad really enjoyed, and others that made no sense. Do you agree with his assessments?

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Not just pointless. It was Charles Barkley turrible. 

Dexter Lumis - NXT Entrance (15-04-20) - YouTube

6. Dexter Lumis is in dire need of a makeover. Since his debut two years ago, the only thing that’s changed is the possible addition of new arm tattoos. Great athlete. Deceptively agile. No depth to his character. He is the worst thing you can be in wrestling. Boring. 

POLLOCK'S REVIEW: NXT UK 10/24 feat. Fans revolting on Zack Gibson

5. Zack Gibson strikes again. Drake Maverick & Killian Dain are Shrek and Donkey. Savage! Gibson is on the mic what Wade Barrett needs to be. I like watching him wrestle. I love listening to him talk. 

NXT Next Week: WWE Women's Tag Team Titles Will Be On The Line 4. How good was it to hear Shayna Baszler’s music again in NXT? I am cranked to 11 for the women’s tag team title match. So many stories. Baszler and Dakota Kai have a long history. Raquel Gonzalez and Nia Jax, the two biggest, baddest bitches in WWE are out to prove who is the alpha bitch. Titles on the line. Baszler’s homecoming. Kai’s shot at validation. I’m smelling MOTY contender.

Xia Li reacts after gruesome double attack on this week's WWE NXT

3. I am fully and deeply committed to the notion that Xia Li is the baddest person in the entire NXT locker room, male or female. Madame Li, I will never get on your bad side. If I accidentally cross that line, I will change my name and flee the unidentified state in which I currently reside. Un-Lished.  

2. That thing between Santa Claus Ice Cream Bar and Doomsday Saito was possibly the most pointless match ever. The feud was based on nothing. Why is a heavyweight going after a cruiserweight? Why do they continue to pretend Ice Cream Bar is a cruiser when he clearly isn’t? How does Saito survive a 3-on-1 beat down to pop up fresh as a daisy and get the victory? It dragged on and on and on and on and on and on and on, clocking in at just under 92 hours. Let us never speak of this match again. No, it doesn’t get a pic. 

WWE NXT results – 24/02/2021 (No DQ match, NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai in action) » FirstSportz

1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…unidentified camera man! I’m on my couch, digging Leon Ruff’s entrance. BTW, his music kicks all kinds of ass. Ruff is hanging on the ropes, loving life, when BAM! Kick to the head from Swerve Scott. I was genuinely surprised, never saw it coming, because the camera man was fully focused on Ruff, and so was I. Nice work, unidentified camera man.  


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