WWE Backstage is Limitless!
Because tonight’s episode features the Limitless NXT North American Champion, Keith Lee! What will he have to say about his amazing run from Survivor Series to the Royal Rumble to NXT TakeOver: Portland?
Renee Young introduces the panel!
We have the two-time WWE Hall of Famer, Booker T, and the Glampire, Paige! But joining them for the first time on the show, another WWE Hall of Fame inductee, the World’s Strongest Man, MARK HENRY! But where’s the salmon jacket? Sky blue and the HoF ring will have to do as Henry struts to the ring and joins the others. Handshakes and hugs all around, “Never too much love.” Henry says what the world needs now is love, sweet love. But the Road to WrestleMania is only picking up speed, and the journey to WrestleMania 36 is not at all smooth sailing. But the Marco’s Pizza Weekly Wrap gives us…
Just the Highlights!
For SmackDown: Bayley retains the SmackDown Women’s Champion, by using the ropes! But between Naomi wanting hers and Carmella wanting another, a contender’s match sends one woman to challenge Bayley at WWE Super Showdown! Roman Reigns got help from Daniel Bryan in beating The Miz & John Morrison, but the Lone Wolf King defies authority by showing up to attack The Big Dog anyway! The WWE Universal Champion doesn’t need luck when he has The Fiend to take on Goldberg. Otis was about to give his heart to Mandy Rose, but Dolph Ziggler went and heart-blocked him.
For Raw: Matt Hardy still wanted to know “What the Hell is wrong” with The Viper, only to get struck down again! Yet Orton says he’s sorry? Becky Lynch pays a fine in advance because she wants after Shayna Baszler that badly. But Baszler promises Becky back: “I will tear the living sh*t out of you.” The Queen looks to humble Rhea Ripley while The Monday Night Messiah’s plans go up in smoke!
The panel discusses this week in WWE.
New soldiers join the resistance, what does Booker think of the Street Profits reinforcing Kevin Owens? Booker likes Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins, and them getting a part of the action is something a long time coming. Booker considered managing these two, but he needs to see these two get down ‘n’ dirty. What you need to do inside the ring is strictly business. Let’s not close the door on Booker managing them, though. Henry agrees with Book in that the Profits need to get gritty in the ring. The Profits can still have fun, but they also gotta really lay into their opponents. Paige feels Dawkins nearly “beat the shizz” out of Buddy Murphy. Also, the hang time on that frog splash!
The Profits are truly great athletes, but they definitely need more time in the ring. Booker knows the Profits can do anything they want in the ring, but to get to that next level, they need to get fans to feel it, not just see it. Henry agrees with that. When you enjoy wrestling, you can feel it. You can close your eyes, listen to what’s happening, and feel it. The Profits are too worried about the success of moves, but that won’t get you titles. You need to make yourself more valuable than those in the ring with you.
Friday being Valentine’s Day, there was a heartbreaking first date that wasn’t for Otis and Mandy. The “beautiful peach” encountered a Show-Off, and the Dozer felt like his heart was what got demolished. Speaking of feeling it… Sexual Chocolate Mark Henry feels the pain. “For every big guy around the world that considers themselves ‘fluffy, husky, stout, portly,'” and so on, this was a heart-wrencher. Ziggler comes off like such trash there! Booker says that was a situation that became a “moment.” Otis can either take advantage of it or he’ll miss it. Some women like seeing men fight for them. Paige agrees, but Mandy is not handling this right. Renee says Mandy didn’t really do anything wrong, either. Booker says his point is that Otis needs to man up and fight Ziggler! Renee likes that this is the story that gets the most heated discussion ever.
Renee turns to Mark Henry and his “Sexual Chocolate” moment. Those are some classic moments for fans. Henry admits he enjoyed that stuff. Many thought it was going to fail, but Henry gave it his all! There is not a day that goes by without someone telling him that Sexual Chocolate made their life. This is about the moments that you make. If Otis can take this and run with it, telling Dolph he won’t ruin his love life, the world of wrestling will explode! Renee is also confident that this will truly win the heart of Mandy Rose. Everyone is rooting Otis on, but will it be a happy ending for all?
WWE Backstage, welcome the Limitless Keith Lee!
An entrance worthy of the NXT North American Champion. Everyone loves the hoody with the silhouette on it, as they should. “Greetings and salutations, friends!” Lee takes his seat and appreciates being invited to WWE Backstage. Everyone puts in their orders for the hoodies, and Renee talks about Lee’s “very busy six months.” WWE Survivor Series, obviously, but being in the Men’s Royal Rumble and against Brock Lesnar! How did that feel? Lee says it was intense being in the ring with a specimen like Lesnar. Competition excites Lee, and jokingly denies reading Lesnar’s lips. But that particular match was special for everyone, but especially Lee for having his father, step-mother and youngest brother present in the crowd. “It was a special day.” Opportunity came and Lee made the most of it.
Paige knows Lee has had great moments, and asks about WWE Survivor Series. That was an equally intense day, and Lee ended up being among the last three. Roman spears Lee out of his boots, and then gives him a fist bump of great respect. Roman even told Lee later that he’s hoping for a 1v1 match one day. Renee speaks to Lee becoming Mr. Moment Maker, such as being on TakeOver events, being at Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble. CM Punk said Lee is a big fish in a little pond, Lee needs to get going. How does it feel to have all those support? It’s hard to process still. CM Punk wishes he was here and Lee wishes it, too.
But hearing such praise from those he knows yet hasn’t met, when you meet them and learning about that respect, “it’s such a touching experience to know that what you do is something that’s respected by people that you’ve studied and admired for your career. It’s awesome.” Booker says Lee is changing the game for super heavyweights. Lee has been on this journey a long time, now he’s arrived in the WWE. How does he feel in the NXT locker room? There are times when Lee feels like a leader, but he also tries to be someone that’s understanding. He sets an example and is a leader in that way, as opposed to ordering people around. There are those that Lee specifically looks out for, those that are truly just getting started in wrestling.
Henry says he was comfortable with not knowing about opportunities. Lee said he didn’t know about how far he’d go in the Survivor Series and the Rumble matches, but is he comfortable with that? Or is that something Lee just deals with? Lee says it is something he uses. He prides himself on mental toughness. His father and grandfather taught him that, and it is something Lee works to apply to everything he does. Not knowing is something he accepts. When he finds out, then it is switch on to game mode. Renee says relying on instincts is a big part of it. Lee was in football at Texas A&M but then got into wrestling, how did that come about? Lee was a prospect, and the family wasn’t fond of his sudden decision. “Kids, listen to your parents.”
But Lee says that it was just something tugging at his heart. It was something his grandmother instilled in him and has stuck with him for life. He had great friends and a clear path in football, wrestling just called to him and he answered. Lee found his way, trained with Killer Brooks, a man Booker T knows well. And in the end, Lee was just hooked. Paige is happy he is here in the WWE, and asks of all the rosters right now, of all the superstars right now, who would Lee love to face most of all? Henry and Booker say they’re out already. Renee says Lee has had amazing matches already, but Lee says obvious answers would be those he’s only just encountered. Lesnar, Roman, but Lee was hoping for Kurt Angle. That’s gone now, because of Baron Corbin.
But right now, Lee’s #1 dream match: Cesaro. Cesaro is a machine, and that is something Lee relates to. Everyone loves the sound of that combination. Footage plays of Cesaro hitting Mark Henry with the Neutralizer! Henry says the one great thing about himself is that he took everybody’s finisher. Lee will still have more to share, but we’ll first look at where the NXT North American Championship got it start.
WWE Backstage relives a WrestleMania moment!
It was WrestleMania X (10) and it was the first ever ladder match! Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon Scott Hall fought to become the undisputed Intercontinental Champion and changed wrestling forever!
Renee notes that 25 years later, ladder matches are still one of the pillars of this business. It is rare to see just two men involved, and it was the night before WrestleMania 34 that six men competed for a brand new championship. It was NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, and the inaugural NXT North American Champion was crowned!
Ricochet, Velveteen Dream, EC3, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dain and Adam Cole BAYBAY were all part of this incredible and historic match. Cole says “This was a really big WrestleMania weekend.” A ladder match with six men and a brand new title. Ricochet says he was super excited to make both a TakeOver and NXT in-ring debut, so he wanted to make a big impression. “Going into a match like that,” Ricochet didn’t have fear, he’s feeding off adrenaline. Cole admits there was nerves and pressure to live up to the expectations of that match. But the energy from the fans is unlike anything else.
All six men nearly wrecked themselves throughout that match, but Ricochet recalls the spot near the end, where all six were outside with ladder bridges. Cole knows they’d already gone through 30 minutes of “devastating” action, but then Dain scoops Cole to bring him along as he crashes down through Ricochet and a ladder! New Orleans was thunderous, and there was another point where all six men were up top on the ladders with the title dangling. Ricochet wipes out Dream but Cole wipes out Ricochet, and the first champion was Undisputed. The emotions of pride, relief “that it went well and I survived,” it was a night where stars aligned and memories will live forever. That is how the belt began, and Lee is taking it to new heights, where will the NXT North American Championship go next?
WWE’s own Sheamus was at the Daytona 500!
The Celtic Warrior got to talk with NASCAR stars, drove in the pace car, and surely got to see President (and WWE Hall of Famer) Donald Trump and First Lady Melania. The race was eventually won by Denny Hamlin, but the big story was the frightening crash involving Ryan Newman at the end. WWE Backstage hopes for Newman’s speedy recovery and return to the track.
WWE Backstage goes to Promo School!
Tonight’s student is Shawne Merriman! The 3-time NFL Pro Bowl Linebacker and co-founder of Lights Out Extreme Fighting is here! Shawne is no stranger to the WWE as a big fan, but what got him into wrestling? He is a 20 year fan and was part of the WrestleMania 34 Pre-Show. But Merriman’s first real part of WWE action was WWE ECW One Night Stand back in 2008. Chavo Guerraro’s kendo stick got Merriman, so Merriman got to SMACK Chavo back! “That was a little Lights Out dance for good measure.”
But here’s how Promo School works: Merriman will cut the strongest, meanest promo he can, and the panel of judges will give him a grade. Does anyone have advice? Henry wants to know if “E” counts as a grade. Could be today. But as for advice, Henry wants Merriman to speak from the heart, and relax. “Enjoy the moment.” Lee says unbutton the suit. Paige introduces the opponent, Booker T! #BigDaddyLatty! Booker gives big ups to the judges. Booker, calm down, this is Merriman’s turn. Merriman is fired up already as he steps to Booker.
“This should be light work. Booker T, I didn’t want to come out here and be disrespectful. Because I know you was gonna treat me like a rookie. But as long as you don’t say nothing crazy, because I ain’t no soft ass cookie. Now I know you are known for being one of the best athletes in your sport. I can dig it. But that’s only because the WWE never had me in it! Now you good on your words. Supposed to be a five, time, champ. But the stage never seen me come out like this. When I walk on the stage, I hear all the people scream and shout. But Booker T, if you keep runnin’ your mouth, it’s gon’ be lights out!” Good rhymes!
What are the grades? Renee gives a B+ and Booker is shocked! The catchphrase is in there, that can be on merch! And he has a point, we haven’t seen Merriman in the ring. Keith Lee says that he has awarded Merriman a B-. There was strong confidence in the delivery, but Lee’s advice is not to be so close to a legend like #BigDaddyLatty, looking jacked with the dreads down the back! You might get bit. Henry says it is a C+! Merriman knew there’d be bias! Henry says that Merriman is a great athlete and entertainer, but there was no “comfortability.” Merriman wasn’t becoming part of the environment. Paige gave a straight B. Merriman was thinking hard on the rhymes, but the punch line hit hard.
But Booker, do you want to toss something back at him? Yeah, sure. “Lights out? That’s going to be the name of this promo.” Let’s hear that from the judges. “Lights out!” One more time! “Lights out!” Time to go to school!
Booker says that when he came to work today, they told him he’d go up against one of the greatest San Diego Chargers of all time. LT the running back? Nope, Shawne Merriman. What? The Pro Bowler did great things in his career, but after 7 years, “they wrapped his ass up and said…” “Lights out!” And then someone put a rocket on him and sent him to the WWE! He has a future! He goes to NXT and they say, “Let me see you in the ring. Uh-uh. Let me see you cut a promo. Uh-uh.” And it was lights out! Merriman goes to Fox, Fox says, “Oh no, we like this kid.” But Booker tells Merriman that if he ever steps to the six-time world champ, the two-time Hall of Famer, and the most decorated champ in the history of wrestling… “Lights out!” Now can you dig that?
Renee says Booker was going to go 30 seconds. Booker says that was just 35. And he went easy on Merriman, because he likes him. Merriman felt that was two minutes but Booker says that’s the flow, the shine and the beard gloss. “I can dig it.”
It’s the WWE Backstage Main Event!
Giants, monsters, behemoths and more. “Be afraid. Be very afraid!” For Mark Henry and Keith Lee, to amazing “big men” in their own right, look back on the evolution of this staple of pro-wrestling. Henry has spoke the name of Keith Lee from the highest mountain tops. Every podcast, every radio show, Henry sings the praises of a man who is changing the game for “big men.” How does it feel to bring back the “Big Guy match” with leap-frogging, arm-drags, planchas, off-the-top and all that? Lee says that before even all of that, it is an enormous thing for someone as big as Henry to speak Lee’s name with such praise. The fact Henry feels this way about Lee, hearing that, it is not something he could’ve fathomed before this moment.
Henry says Lee should own that. This is a moment Lee earned because he put the work in. Henry isn’t saying any of this to butter Lee up, or because Lee is champion now. He says this because it’s true. Henry has opinions, and sometimes his opinions are jaded. But the fact is, his Royal Rumble performance, outstanding. Lee VS Dijakovic in Portland did things not many matches have done even in the last 5 years. The last big man to have that kind of athleticism is The Undertaker in his prime. “To say one guy, I might be a little bit opinion-struck.” But there is no one we’ve seen that can do what Lee can do. What does Lee owe that to? A combination of experiences, studies and working with others.
Mixing styles is a specialty, and while Lee can do “big guy things,” he’s studied men like Shelton Benjamin or Kurt Angle or even Brock Lesnar through the years, and Lee mixes those together. Lee feels that in the ring, he is “the most versatile specimen that this industry has ever seen.” That is not arrogance, that is his belief, and what he feels he can bring. Henry says it can’t be arrogance if it’s true. And talking about mixing, Henry will tell Lee who he sees in him. An old school mash-em-up of Yokozuna and Bam Bam Bigelow. Yokozuna could be dominant in his presence, and yet he could move, doing leap frogs and splashing. Bam Bam could handspring and back flip, the first big man to do a moonsault. Lee doing the same things so effortless, “God rest his soul,” Bam Bam would also be singing Lee’s praises.
Henry knows he mentioned this earlier, but he feels that the future of “The Big Guy Match” will be something of a crown placed on Lee’s head as we move along in pro-wrestling history. That is because it is a lost art. Henry is so happy to see the WWE let Lee be Lee and do that. Lee is a true athlete who does everything well. Does Lee feel he is arrogant about his abilities? Lee says his personal way, his personality, is to be humble. But then in the ring, you must display otherwise. Lee wants to be confident as possible, because he isn’t like everyone else. Lee isn’t the typical WWE superstar, so he wants fans to see his confidence and say, “If this guy can do it, and if I work just as hard…”
In fact, Lee wants someone growing up today to work even harder and become even greater than Lee is today. “But right now, my duty, in my opinion, is to carry that confidence and that ability in the ring in a way that inspires everyone.” It doesn’t matter size and shape. If you can be what you think you can be, push yourself to that goal, reach for the stars and even further, you can do that. Henry is so glad to be here talking with Lee. And after the break, we’ll see where else the ultimate gif giver has ended up.
WWE Backstage plugs Wilder VS Fury II!
The epic rematch for the boxing world heavyweight championship, Saturday at 9 PM Eastern, only on PPV! Booker knows the first one was awesome, this one is going to be even better. He feels this is going to end somewhere in 7 or 8, “shot heard ’round the world,” WILDER!
WWE Backstage welcomes Paige’s dog, Lobster!
He made it! And he wants his cheese. And speaking of dogs, Keith Lee’s lady, Mia Yim, shows off their adorable bulldog watching Daddy Lee on TV! WWE Dog Show when?
Keith Lee unofficially wins Gif of the Year!
That’s right, it’s Keith Lee POUNCING Adam Cole into the crowd on an episode of NXT! If you haven’t seen it, just google it. But to have some fun, WWE Backstage photoshops Lee’s equally meme worthy reaction faces into iconic moments. First, Lee’s reaction to Dominik Dijakovic VS Damien Priest is part of Mark Henry’s retirement swerve and World’s Strongest Slam on John Cena! Lee getting groovy is part of the once lost PCB dance off. And Lee’s Dijakovic-Priest face is part of Booker T getting whooped by Steve Austin in a supermarket! There’s even in incredibly well-done fist bump photoshop of Lee and Renee! Best one of the bunch! Backstage is Limitless, thanks for basking in the glory!
A really fun episode of WWE Backstage yet again, and it’s great to see Mark Henry join the rotating cast of panelists. Promo School with Merriman was great, and I appreciated him working on a mostly rhyming promo. Not many pro-wrestlers do that and so for him as a non-wrestler to try was definitely a bold choice, so I feel the B’s were justified. It was great to hear from Lee how that stretch of Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and TakeOver: Portland felt, and Henry’s praise was definitely well-deserved. I remember seeing Keith Lee showing up in ROH with Shane Taylor as an amazing duo, and boy did ROH let Lee slip away. It is great to see him here now, at the level he’s reached, he is only going up from here.
Mitchell’s Raw Talk Resport! (4/5/21)
Raw Talk, GET THESE HANDS!!
It’s a WrestleMania Week edition of Raw Talk!
Before everything that happens at WrestleMania, Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman and the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions sit down for some Raw Talk!
Kevin Patrick welcomes us back to the show!
He and Xavier Woods are excited to be discussing the last Monday Night Raw before WrestleMania, and Woods starts with good news: he got another win over the PHENOMENAL AJ Styles! And now, all that’s left is for Woods and Kofi Kingston to defeat Styles & Omos at WrestleMania to retain the W, W, E, World, Tag, Team, CHAMPIONSHIPS~! Kevin says he’s making it sound too easy. Well no fight is ever easy, but if you don’t go with confidence, you’re bound to lose. A life lesson right there.
Kevin asks if Woods saw Bad Bunny and Damian Priest in the ring. That was wild. Footage replays and Woods says that he’s gotten two “sneaky pins” on Styles in a month. Woods is certain that is how and why he and Kofi will win. Then they got into the “crowd” of the ThunderDome screens to feel that energy. We’ll get that again this year, since fans are back. Kevin asks if he and Kofi are being a bit too certain accepting the match, but Woods says no one does tag team better than them as the eleven time tag team champions! They accepted because who haven’t they beat? The New Day beats you, you break up or get drafted elsewhere. So Woods & Kofi were chomping at the bit for fresh competition. Omos & Styles better have registered so we can have this match. And Woods likes to show that you don’t need to have everything to be a great sports entertainer.
Woods says if you’re not nervous before you compete in the ring, especially on a stage like WrestleMania, and especially now that fans are back, then you’re not trying. Of course there are butterflies, but the New Day have been here before. Omos hasn’t. Then what is having fans back going to be like? Clearly Woods is buzzing. He can’t wait. Wrestling is built upon the energy of the fans. You pace your breathing off the breathing of the crowd, the energy flows through everyone and you become one in a philosophical way. It was weird to not have fans. The ThunderDome is great, the closest thing to having fans. But having fans there, that will be the sweetest feeling.
Kevin brings it back to Bad Bunny. Woods talks with such great amount of respect. The respect of Bunny, Priest, Miz and Morrison, it’s nasty. A $3.6 MILLION Bugatti got defaced! WHAT?! Woods can’t believe it! That’s so bad. For Woods, if he had a $3.6 MILLION anything, and you mess it up, you’re done! Woods would end you. But Bunny says he has respect, so now he is going to knock someone’s teeth out. And as a tag match, Priest is there with Bunny, this could go either way. The Archer of Infamy long-shotting Miz & Morrison to Bunny’s music is going to be awesome.
And then, all we saw with Lashley and McIntyre tonight, talk about whetting the appetite for Saturday. Those two standing tall, Lashley’s challenge to take out McIntyre didn’t go well. Kevin called MVP out a bit on it but MVP said it wasn’t cowardly, it was business. Corbin tried to cash in but no go. Woods says that’s how it is with McIntyre, he overcomes insurmountable odds. But Lashley, this new immovable force, but now he has to put up or shut up. No Hurt Business, no one put a dent in McIntyre, this is final boss stuff. Can McIntyre overcome a man as dominant as Lashley?
We’ve seen this power from Lashley, but not on this level. Lashley is in a different zone as champion, and will be in that zone at Mania. Woods can’t be sure McIntyre can handle it. But Lashley is just spot on! Well we can ask McIntyre as one of tonight’s guests! The Scottish Warrior, the Monster Among Men and the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, all after a quick break!
BRAAAUN~ Strowman joins Raw Talk!
The Monster Among Men is here, Kevin says he disposed of Elias and Ryker, and the steel cage awaits. This has played out just as Braun has wanted, right? Absolutely. Shane’s thrown speedbumps at Braun, even back in November. Shane was the reason Braun got suspended for headbutting Adam Pearce, and then has dangled false opportunities over his head. Shane is just a bully. Braun’s dealt with that, he talked about that earlier. When Braun locks the cage and is in there with Shane, it’s not just Braun he’s in there with. Shane’s in there with the millions upon millions who get verbally abused for no reason. Braun didn’t deserve anything Shane’s done.
Maybe it’s because Braun’s a hard worker and deep down, Shane knows he’s lived a “posh” life and has a chip on his shoulder. Maybe Shane’s hollow inside. IT could be why he’s targeted Braun over this stuff. But Braun will do as he said, slam Shane down in the middle of the ring, and not just for his satisfaction but for everyone out there that knows you can overcome your limitations. It’s okay to be different. Braun’s been different his whole life, wanting to be normal, until he realized he never will be normal and shouldn’t have to be. He embraced what he was given, and after that, well we’ve seen what he’s done. “When you believe in yourself, other people believe in you, as well.”
Millions of fans support Braun and live, breathe and feel with Braun. The pain, the heartache. Braun is doing this for them, the ones told they’re not good enough. Braun will show the world that you can overcome the bullies and the fears in your life, and wake up that they’re on this Earth for a reason. This world wants you here, so leave your footprint on it. Woods says he noticed this transformation. He saw Braun when he debuted, he’s fought for different things over his career. So now, he’s fighting for people and their hardships, that is a different Braun.
Woods remembers destruction for the sake of destruction Braun, or for a title. But now Braun is focused on fighting for a group of people. Does Braun feel that change? How important is this to him? Is this new motivation the secret? Braun says it is. It is the outreach from his fans around the world, as well as his friends and family who have seen what he’s gone through. Braun is so big he’s breaking his chair. But Braun “isn’t supposed to be here.” In 2015, Braun ruptured discs, those cut his nerves, and he couldn’t fee his left leg. He needed emergency surgery, but the amazing medical staff here in the WWE, better than any other group anywhere, they got him to the NUMBER ONE neurosurgeon.
An hour after the surgery, Braun got up and he was walking around just fine. There was a 45% chance it wasn’t going to work, and he still only has about 80% usage of his left leg, but knowing what he’s gone through, knowing that his family has had similar situations. His aunt is a paraplegic but got the high school team to their first state championships, and these last 35 years, in a wheelchair, has taught students to be that much better. Braun’s own mother was almost killed in a car accident. Braun’s seen hard times people go through just to live their lives, and that is what has made Braun the man he is today. Braun’s own mind made him think he wasn’t going to amount to anything, but he had those pillars to lean on.
When his family could’ve given up in the harsher times they’re going through, he had to keep going. He got into the best shape in his entire life, and is inspiring more people to change their eating habits, get in shape. Braun has so many messages from people’s personal transformations. All of you give him the energy to go out there and break his body, miss moments in life, from weddings to funerals to birthdays, for YOU! If he can do it, anyone can do it!
Kevin wants to talk tactics real quick. This is still a steel cage, and Shane is brave and experience. Why a steel cage? For weeks and weeks, Braun’s tried to #GetTheseHands on Shane, but he was always out of reach. Braun is sick of chasing him down, so now the door closes and there’s nowhere to run or hide. Shane is stuck inside one of the most devastating structures in the WWE, and with the Monster Among Men. Woods is pumped up! “Two men enters! One man SURVIVES!!” Woods wants Braun to tear Shane up! Kevin wishes Braun luck, and Braun hopes Shane sleeps well because he’ll see him soon. Kevin isn’t sure he’ll sleep well, but that steel cage match happens this Saturday.
Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler & Reginald join Raw Talk!
The WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions and Nia’s “boo” are here, and Kevin is sure they’re all buzzing for WrestleMania. Nia says they are, because they handled Asuka & Rhea Ripley. Well, with a little help from the self-destruction of that team. Well, debatable, because they were probably going to win anyway. Nia is offended by “the new guy” Patrick. DO you know how long they’ve been champions? Probably the longest reigning Women’s Tag Team Champions ever, across all brands! Respect to New Day, of course. But respect from Kevin, please!
Woods brings up that there will be a Tag Team Turmoil, with a lot of teams in it, but the champs are fully confident they’ll rip the heads off of whoever. Is there a certain pair they’d rather face over the others? Or is it all equal? Well what does Shayna do best? She breaks people and brings their limbs home. Everyone in that Turmoil has the same limbs that work the same way. As far as Shayna’s concerned, it doesn’t matter. Nia is on the same page. There is a team that they have their eyes on from SmackDown. Natty & Tamina might’ve jumped Shayna while Nia wasn’t looking, but- Shayna says Nia was actually- No, shush.
Natty & Tamina have looked strong and fierce, when no one’s looking, but Tamina is also blood. Nia will not forget that Tamina is fierce, just like Natty, and is one of the veterans. Isn’t she like the #BOAT? Shayna doesn’t pay attention so she has no idea. Well out of all those teams… The Riott Squad? The longest partnered team there, and they gave Nia & Shayna good matches. Naomi & Lana? How many times will they keep getting up? Team TikTok right there, that’s all they do now. Triple T, TTT. Kevin doesn’t know what TikTok is. That might be a good thing, but shush, Patrick. And then Mandy & Dana. All teams have their little slice of whatever it is, but in the end, Nia & Shayna will walk in and walk out champs. Maybe flip out, a la Reggie. He’s not Nia’s tag partner, Shayna is!
Woods asks if Reggie will be there. Shayna doesn’t want to talk about him. He has nothing to do with this. Does he at least have wine picked out? Nia is intrigued. Just for Nia, yes. Oh, in French, even. Woods only knows omelette du fromage. Kevin asks Shayna in a singles capacity, Rhea walks in and just asks Asuka for a match for the title. What about Shayna? Yeah, Shayna’s been asking that, too! Everyone saw that Shayna can just easily kick Asuka’s teeth out. She feels disrespected? Absolutely! But to be fair, if it had been Shayna who stepped up to Asuka, Asuka would NOT have accepted because she knows what’ll happen. Rhea’s the unknown here, it’s fine. It’s the safer bet for Asuka. Shayna put Asuka out for how long? A bit. But Asuka beat Shayna back. Shayna says that doesn’t count.
Nia says that whenever THE Shayna Baszler is ready to go for the Raw Women’s Championship, she’ll go right to the source and challenge them, whoever it is, and then beat them. Shayna hopes Kevin has better questions than this. Woods asks one. When these two first became a team, it was like butting heads. Now there’s this chemistry. Why do they think this has happened? Are they getting used to each other? Or are they agreeing that no one can stop them in the tag division? What is this friendship built on?
Nia agrees they did clash before, but they’re similar that they know how dangerous they can be, and that they want gold. Once they realized that being together benefitted them more than being against each other, that brought them together as a team. And then Reggie is helping. Shayna says Reginald has nothing to do it. But it was quid pro quo. They may not like each other, but they decided to get the titles, and they have, so it worked out. Do they like each other then? They get along. Reggie confirms. They’ll surely get along on Sunday, right? Nia still wasn’t there when Shayna got jumped.
Ugh, get over it! They’re gonna walk in as champs, walk out as champs, and that’s the end of this because Kevin has crap questions! Nia storms off, Reggie follows, and Shayna says Kevin needs to work on his questions. Woods wishes them good luck at Mania as one tag team champ to another. And after the break, the Scottish Warrior will be here!
Drew McIntyre joins Raw Talk!
Kevin and Woods are excited to have McIntyre here, and Woods wants to say first, he isn’t sure if he’s ever seen McIntyre with a shirt on. What is this? It looks great! McIntyre says it does feel odd to be fully clothed. But he enjoys this shirt so much, thanks WWE Shop, and he models it. It is a soccer, or rather football, jersey style shirt, with “McIntyre 321” on the back. Y’know, football? As in you hit the ball with your feet. Not “egg chase” or whatever America does. Well what about Rugby?
Kevin is pleased to see McIntyre in good spirits after Raw. Corbin stepped up, tried to take up Lashley on his offer by taking McIntyre out, but McIntyre took care of him. The path is clear and McIntyre can win back the world title. Starting with Corbin, McIntyre says if he’s checking his jaw, that’s because an elbow from Corbin really messed up the inside of his mouth. Maybe people have forgotten, but not too long ago, McIntyre, Corbin and Lashley were rolling together and took out all sorts, like Braun. McIntyre knows Corbin well, and he’s not the kind to be messed with. You can make jokes, and there are a lot, but Corbin is big, bad and does whatever it takes. That was a physical match this close to Mania. McIntyre had to be on his game, and the Claymore always wins.
Woods adds to that by saying one of the biggest matches in McIntyre’s career, he again goes into Mania to fight for that title. Last year was Brock Lesnar, that must’ve felt incredible to climb that mountain. Now he has another mountain to climb in Lashley, a man who had three extra people at his disposal to help him in this endeavor but got rid of two because he’s that bad. Tried to get the rest of the locker room to get McIntyre but that didn’t work, either. McIntyre is at the final boss, and Woods asks if he has what it takes to win. McIntyre thinks, and says, “Yes, 100%.” Mania last year, that was the ultimate test in Brock Lesnar, “an absolute animal.” McIntyre took that opportunity to show he could beat absolutely anyone and be the top star. That was validation.
This entire year, main-eventing PPV after PPV, big matches, WWE Championship matches from Extreme Rules to Hell in a Cell, growing his confidence. McIntyre kept his eye on everything else. While McIntyre did all that, Lashley was doing the same, rising up. Lashley thought he was being clever, going under the radar, but McIntyre knew it was only a matter of time. Lashley attacked after the Elimination Chamber match, set Miz up to take the title from McIntyre, all so Lashley could take the title from Miz. McIntyre knew the logic behind that, Lashley knows he’s badass but can take Miz. Work smarter, not harder.
Lashley could get hurt facing McIntyre, so he let someone else try to take him out for him. If someone had taken McIntyre out, at least get him to 20% and injured, then Lashley could take McIntyre down that much faster and get paid the same. Didn’t work out, and now McIntyre is going into Mania at 100% against a 100% Lashley. This is a throwback match as two “elite heavyweights” go around, not just holding onto each other but throwing down and moving around. This will be entertaining and physical as hell. But it’ll be the same as tonight, BOOM! Claymore to the face, McIntyre again WWE Champion.
Kevin wants to pretend no one is watching and asks if McIntyre has any potential advantages. McIntyre says that has to be a joke, everyone’s watching Raw Talk! True. But talking about laying into each other, what does McIntyre see in Lashley that he’ll go after? MVP is in Lashley’ sear. Every time McIntyre taunts Lashley, MVP is there to keep Lashley calm. Lashley is a fighter, a warrior, has the experience. Last week, McIntyre dared Lashley to go after him, offered a free shot, and Lashley wanted to. There are few people, if any, with the combination Lashley has except for McIntyre. And this isn’t new, this isn’t the first-time-ever. They’ve fought before, they’ve paralleled each other, in and out of the company in other big matches.
But now, in this time, they’re both firing on all cylinders, they’ve both reached the top, and they’re both in the main event for the WWE Championship. It’ll be one hell of a match, but again, McIntyre got his moment last year and it wasn’t what he expected with no fans around. But 25 thousand will sound like 400 thousand at Raymond James. Woods asks about those travels, fighting in and out of the WWE and now he’s here. What does it mean for McIntyre to go through that journey and see someone across the way with that parallel? And then to meet that person on the Grandest Stage of Them All, for the greatest prize of them all, what does that feel like? “It’s indescribable.”
McIntyre’s talked a lot about Lashley and everything else, the cheap tactics and all that. But McIntyre’s seen that journey, has supported Lashley for a long time, and just wishes Lashley didn’t take the route he take to the finish line, but nonetheless, this is really cool. Two guys who have put in the work, inside and out of the ring, seeing each other in the gym, working on the mic, they know who they are now, it’s cool. To see where Lashley is, to know where McIntyre is, it’s time to show the world that they are the top of the game. Kevin is ready to see this on Saturday! Save your money on Godzilla VS King Kong, you’re getting that right here at WrestleMania!
Kevin thanks McIntyre for his time, Woods wishes him luck, and McIntyre hopes to see everyone at Mania! And with that, Raw Talk ends and hopes to see you on the episode after Mania!
A very good episode, a bit longer than normal because this is the WrestleMania go-home edition of Raw Talk, so it clocked in at 34 minutes. Braun had good passion but he also got a bit fumbly like he did on tonight’s Raw. I do like that the banner he is waving going into Mania is about persevering through hard times, especially physically. Braun continues to be this rare breed that Vince should be all in for making anything and everything to get fans onboard, but Vince just keeps missing the mark every time. But this promo here should be all the more reason Braun wins over Shane at Mania.
Nia & Shayna had good stuff, and I do like that they’re both reluctant to admit they’ve got good chemistry and banter and all this other stuff that’s very “buddy movie,” where at first they clash but they learn to respect the other and work together. Who knows if they stop being that with WrestleMania, but I do like that Nia praised Natty & Tamina for stepping up. Maybe we get Nia & Shayna VS Natty & Tamina, maybe we get the Riott Squad again, but I feel like one of the SmackDown teams really need to get these titles to freshen things up.
McIntyre also had a great segment, naturally, and it was great for him to reference continuity where yes, he, Corbin and Lashley were these three giants who for whatever reason were teaming together over and over. That never went anywhere, but it shows the familiarity of McIntyre with both those guys and why he respects them enough not to take them lightly. McIntyre VS Lashley is perhaps an example of a lot of great story they could’ve been using, but Vince just again missed the mark because he doesn’t get it or thinks fans won’t get it or something. This could’ve been a build that fit the history and the hype but has so far not. The match will still deliver, though, I’m sure of that.
News From Cook’s Corner 4.5.21: After War, Before Mania
NJPW has a shaken things up, and Mania week is about to kick off! Cook sets us up for the biggest week in professional wrestling!
Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and I hope you all had a Happy Easter. Or just a Happy Weekend if you’re not into bunnies, eggs or Jesus. We don’t judge here at the Corner.
It’s been a very exciting weekend. Baseball is back! My Reds actually won two games and put up a bunch of runs against the St. Louis baseball team in the opening series. It’s always exciting when the Reds manage to take that series because it’s just an honor that St. Louis allows Cincinnati to play against them so often. Just incredible for the Reds to share the field with one of the greatest teams in the history of Western civilization, the franchise that sets all the rules & standards for how the game should be played.
Don’t believe me? Just ask them!
College basketball also had itself a weekend with with the Gonzaga & UCLA men putting on a show Saturday night, while the Arizona women sent UConn packing the night before. They had an exciting championship game with Stanford too. I don’t know when the West Coast became the epicenter of college basketball, but I’m here for it. We can do with more of them & less of these southern & eastern teams we’re usually subjected to this time of year. Variety is the spice of life, am I right?
So there’s a lot of good stuff going on these days. Since this is a wrestling news column, I should probably also mention that this is the biggest week of WWE’s year. Got a little thing called WrestleMania coming up on Saturday & Sunday. NXT TakeOver on Wednesday & Thursday. Hall of Fame airing on Tuesday. Raw, SmackDown on usual days, and various media appearances from your favorite WWE Superstars.
We might get to that. Lots of news to talk about first…
Wednesday Night War Ends, Both Sides Win/Lose
NXT’s big move was finally made official last week. After this week’s episode featuring the first night of TakeOver, NXT will be airing on Tuesday nights on USA going forward. This is great news for wrestling fans that like having something to watch on cable/satellite television every single night, as Impact Wrestling’s move to Thursday ensures that there will be weekly wrestling shows every weeknight. It’s also great news for Internet wrestling reviewers, who no longer have to pick one show to review live.
Honestly, it’s only bad news for people that love to tweet about the ratings every Thursday. Not sure what those people are going to do with their time now, but I’m sure they’ll find something. They always do!
As for AEW & WWE’s NXT brand? Well, this whole thing has resulted in good & bad news for both sides.
Good News For AEW!
Dynamite dominated NXT in the ratings for most of the time period. The past 52 weeks saw NXT beat AEW four times in overall viewership, and zero times in the 18-49 demo the people love to talk about. Hard to argue with that type of success against your main sports entertainment competitor.
TNT is happy. They extended Dynamite pretty early in their relationship with AEW, and have given Cody & Brandi Rhodes’ reality show the greenlight. Cody also got a slot on the Go Big Show on TBS. Shaquille O’Neal & Snoop Dogg appeared to help cross-promote other Warner Media properties.
Bad News For AEW!
AEW had 1.4 million viewers for their first episode of Dynamite. A good chunk of that audience never came back, at least not for a live airing of the show. While they were drawing more viewers than NXT was, they weren’t growing their audience.
Recent numbers haven’t been great. The episode featuring Shaq did a pretty big number, but things have been trending downward since. The Revolution show-closing fiasco seems to have had a negative effect on AEW business, though it’s far too soon to tell whether that will be a long-term hindrance.
Good News For NXT!
NXT even being on USA in the first place was a good sign for WWE’s relationship with the network, and that’s only grown during this time period. Peacock’s on board with WWE Network now, NXT is factored into USA’s plans no matter what night it is, and things are good.
There’s a very good chance that NXT will win the ratings war this week. TakeOver always generates interest, and the AEW card didn’t look like its strongest of all time. NXT could go out on a good note!
I also think they’ll gain more from being on a separate night than AEW will being by itself on Wednesday night. AEW fans are diehard, but more of them seem willing to flip over to NXT during commercials or other times. People watching NXT are going to stick with NXT.
Bad News For NXT!
Now, this is going to be a bad week for me to say this since the brand always delivers on TakeOver events. But overall, NXT’s quality has gone down since the move to two hour weekly shows. More does not always equal better, and I think more NXT has served to make it less special. Which you wouldn’t have thought considering how many people are under contract and chilling at the Performance Center. Theoretically, more time would mean that more people would get a chance to shine. This hasn’t necessarily been the case.
The “cool factor” that NXT once had seems to be largely gone. There was a time period where people told me that they didn’t even consider NXT part of WWE. Even though it was, it didn’t bother these people. Nobody’s saying anything like that now. They all know NXT is part of the WWE machine, for better or worse.
And this is just idle speculation on my part, but it sure seems like the Wednesday Night War didn’t help Paul Levesque’s influence within the company. The recent upheaval at Talent Relations tells me that Vince McMahon wants other people making hiring decisions than who’s been making them. NXT isn’t producing stars at the rate that WWE wants them, and we can blame whoever we want for that, but at the end of the day the blame’s going to go a certain direction that won’t be the top.
Competition supposedly creates better content. I think at this point, the best thing that can happen is for AEW & NXT to be on separate nights. This way, they can focus on themselves and trying to make a better show instead of trying to pop a rating to beat the other guy.
Peacock Is Jericho
WrestleMania hasn’t been the most talked about upcoming WWE Network/Peacock show in recent days. Nor has it been TakeOver or the Hall of Fame show. It’s what will be streaming after Night 2 of WrestleMania ends, the newest Broken Skull Sessions show. Steve Austin’s interviews are usually pretty fun, but this one seems especially newsworthy since it involves somebody not currently employed by WWE…Chris Jericho.
As first revealed on @WWENetwork social media, @IAmJericho will join @steveaustinBSR on #BrokenSkullSessions, streaming Sunday, April 11, exclusively on @peacockTV in the U.S. and on @WWENetwork everywhere else!
— WWE (@WWE) April 2, 2021
Some say it’s a shot by WWE at AEW, wanting us to know that they don’t see them as competition. I don’t know how much that plays into it, but I can tell you why WWE, Peacock, Vince McMahon & anybody else with a say is ok with Steve Austin having Chris Jericho, a former WWE Superstar currently under contract with AEW, on his show.
They think people will watch.
It’s that simple, folks. WWE, AEW & any other wrestling company worth its salt bases the lion’s share of their programming ideas off the idea of drawing viewers. Not doing “alpha moves” or trying to bury people or whatever excuse we try to come up with in attempts to create drama. It’s about getting people to watch the programming. Getting Chris Jericho to do the Austin show? That’s interesting. People will tune in for that. That’s why WWE was cool with the idea.
Whether you love AEW & hate WWE, or hate AEW & love WWE, or you love both or hate both, we should all be able to agree on basic facts. Even if Dynamite draws more eyeballs on TV sets than NXT, or any other WWE show one of these days maybe if they get hot, AEW would still not really be “competition” for WWE as a business. We’re talking about a company that’s been around a little over two years that could have gone out of business during this pandemic if TNT didn’t extend their contract.
Say what you want about what WWE puts on television. I’m as critical of it as anybody. Say what you want about their business ethics. I’ve been critical of that too. What you can’t deny is the fact that WWE is a tremendously successful business that excels at making money off of what they own. Could they do better? Sure. Can somebody else match their creative efforts? Depends on who you ask! Is anybody going to overtake them as America’s biggest wrestling company anytime soon? Not unless we see another scenario like the early to mid 1990s, where WWE makes it possible by falling into a period of scandal and complete mainstream irrelevance. (Frankly, it’s tough to think of anything that could cause that, considering some of the business decisions they’ve made over the past few years that haven’t even really drawn a second glance.) Even then, somebody would really have to catch fire to get on WWE’s level.
Can AEW? We don’t know, and there’s a pretty good chance we’ll never know.
A lot of you are super excited about Andrade leaving WWE because it will surely lead to spectacular matches wherever he goes. You all tell me that he’s one of the best workers in the world and can have great matches with anybody. That’s cool, but that’s not the reason I was excited he left.
The real reason to be excited he left WWE? He’s going to talk!
The fact of the matter is that most of today’s American wrestling stars are reticent to say anything of great interest that isn’t blowing smoke up somebody’s backside, whether it’s their employer, their fellow wrestlers, or themselves. Sure, there are notable exceptions, but if media talks to most of these people, they’re getting gaga intended to be as non-controversial as possible. I can’t single wrestlers out for this, it’s prevalent in every form of sport or entertainment. Saying something interesting can make people mad, and most athletes/entertainers would prefer to avoid the backlash that typically ensues.
Those who have followed lucha libre over the years know that luchadores are far less shy. They don’t worry as much about “burning bridges”, probably because Mexican promotions will work with them as long as they draw some money. Wrestlers are still a part of what draws fans there, whereas in the US it’s more about the brand. Andrade has watched the luchadores that came before him. They have no problem with sharing their truth, and he has no problem sharing his.
So it wasn’t surprising that some breaking news came out of an interview Andrade did with Hugo Savinovich. Apparently, the reason Charlotte Flair was recently taken off of TV was due to a medical test that led WWE medical to believe that she was pregnant. Turns out that she wasn’t. However, she tested positive for the coronavirus soon after, which led to her continuing to be off of TV. Charlotte’s “camp” released a statement clarifying the whole matter, making sure to take the rough edges off.
Because that’s what American wrestling stars do. They have camps to take care of these things.
I, for one, can’t wait for more Andrade interviews, as they’re one of the few hopes we have of people saying something interesting.
Let’s talk about this AEW house show thing.
As we all know, there are quite the number of wrestling shows going on in the Tampa area this weekend. Which is another matter in itself, as we’ve got wrestlers on social media whining & moaning about people not buying tickets to their shows, which are taking place in the middle of a pandemic. The lack of awareness that some of these people have is somewhat mind-bottling, as the kids say. Anyway, there are a variety of wrestling shows taking place in the Tampa area this weekend, hoping to take advantage of a large number of wrestling fans being in town.
Then we have All Elite Wrestling, who are running shows in Jacksonville at their usual venue. Kind of out of nowhere, they decided they were going to run their first ever house show this Friday. Running these types of shows isn’t a terrible idea for AEW, especially when they have so many people on their roster. Gotta keep them busy somehow, right?
Of course, the fact it’s on WrestleMania Weekend has people talking. People remember back when Cody Rhodes told people that AEW would never try to compete with WWE on WrestleMania Weekend. To be fair, Cody’s said a number of things in interviews while talking about AEW’s future plans that ended up being fals later on. As the old saying goes, plans change.
I’m not as worked up about this as a lot of people are. Maybe people aren’t aware of this, but the fastest trip from Tampa to Jacksonville takes about three hours. It’s right around two hundred miles via I-75. How many people in town for WrestleMania already are going to make a three hour drive to Jacksonville & another three hour drive back to Tampa? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
Then again, I hate driving pretty much anywhere at this point in my life. So maybe I’m the wrong person to pontificate on this topic.
New Japan Championship Change
Some big news came out of NJPW’s Sakura Genesis show that took place over the weekend. Will Ospreay, who had won the New Japan Cup to earn a shot at Kota Ibushi’s IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, defeated Ibushi to win that title. He is the first British wrestler to hold New Japan’s top heavyweight championship.
Best In The World. pic.twitter.com/lktU9SZb1l
— ᵂⁱˡˡ ᴼˢᵖʳᵉᵃʸ • ウィル・オスプレイ (@WillOspreay) April 4, 2021
It’s the second straight year that New Japan has seen a popular wrestler win the top championship at Wrestle Kingdom, only to have a much shorter reign than people expected, losing to a heel wrestler. Ospreay is very talented at what he does, if you’re into matches with lots of flipping, flopping & flying. He’s got a new faction behind him, and speaking English will help if NJPW plans on continuing their international expansion, which I assume they are.
As for Ibushi, it seems like he’s already been shunted behind Shingo Takagi & Kazuchika Okada in championship contention. So I can only assume he’s counting the days when he can get back together with Kenny Omega. Michael Nakazawa’s days might be numbered.
Thanks for reading! We’ve got a big week of content coming up here at The Chairshot, including my gambling picks for Night One & Night Two of WrestleMania! Not to mention all the great show coverage, podcasts & everything else we’ll have cooked up for you. Stay tuned, and until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
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