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Mitchell’s WWE Backstage Report! (3/10/20)

WWE Backstage is Phenomenal!

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WWE Backstage 2020

They don’t want none! Nope, they don’t want none!

WWE Backstage gets Phenomenal as AJ Styles joins the panel! What will he have to say about his increasingly intense feud with The Undertaker?

 

Renee Young arrives to Fox Studios.

But she parks in a no parking zone and almost runs over a stage hand! Wait, she can, because she is running late after her flight got cancelled and the drive was 16 hours. Please park that for her, though. And then she enters through the “PLEASE KEEP DOOR SHUT” door for loading and unloading only. Hopefully no big wigs see this…

 

Renee makes her own entrance onto WWE Backstage!

Just in time! Booker helps Renee in as she explains why she was running late. She hugs Booker and welcomes back Ember Moon and Xavier Woods to the show! Ember’s rocking a sunset gradient for her hair and Woods has a very golden jacket. But with not even a month left until WrestleMania, Backstage gives us…

Just the Highlights!

For Elimination Chamber: Obviously the Chamber matches themselves are highlight reels! The Golden Lynx learned how to fly (or at least fall with style) while Otis crashes through a pod and OUT of the Chamber! But in the end, STILL SmackDown Tag Team Champions: The Miz & John Morrison! AJ Styles was shocked to see Undertaker show up again, and after a Choke Slam and a Black Mass, the Phenomenal One would Fade to Black. Kevin Owens showed up more as a fan than a competitor, and Seth Rollins’ rage kept him and Murphy from winning. STILL your Raw Tag Team Champions: The Street Profits!

And last but certainly not least, the Queen of Spades tore through everyone in the Women’s Chamber match. Natalya, Sarah Logan, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and even Asuka would pass out, leaving Shayna Baszler standing tall towards WrestleMania!

For Raw: The Phenomenal One was furious! And he called out Taker in the biggest way possible: using his shoot name, “Mark Calaway!” Styles wants to make the “broken down old man” rest in peace! And the Rated R Superstar returned again! MVP talked too much trash and got a SPEAR for it! The Viper tried to strike but Edge would steal the RKO! And then give MVP not one but two Conchairtos! Is Edge saving the third chair shot for Orton?

The panel discusses the WWE’s past few days.

First and foremost, the dominant performance by Shayna Baszler in the Elimination Chamber and how she is now poised to take on The Man. Booker knows Shayna is highly touted from NXT, but there’s still quite a gap between being big in Full Sail and shining in the spotlight. Shayna ran the gauntlet and took the spotlight. Booker has been in such positions, and he is giving Shayna a benefit of the doubt. There is a lot left unknown, but after we get Becky VS Baszler 1v1, it will be the people that determine what works.

Renee feels this isn’t a question of Shayna’s star power, it’s just the timing. To be catapulted to the spot, how does this affect Shayna? Woods says that Shayna was so dominant for the first time in that Chamber, and hasn’t been part of Raw for very long, that she better be ready to be thrust into this position. Ember knows Shayna from NXT, and there is something different in Shayna compared to everyone else. Shayna is trying to take that dominant position and leave no doubts. Shayna dominating the Chamber wasn’t that different from how she dominated NXT. It’s not asking if Shayna is ready but if Becky is ready. Shayna’s already very accomplished, especially in MMA and catch wrestling, and people might be underestimating her.

Renee then poses it like this: Shayna is not a kid, not a rookie, not a stranger to this position. If she wasn’t as exposed to things as she is, maybe that changes things. Ember agrees, and Booker says it’s even more than that. Booker says the WWE is looking for a female star to strap a rocket to. Shayna deserves this shot. It will be hard to hold onto the spotlight, so there’s still that question mark. Renee adds that Shayna may not have Ronda Rousey star power, but just looking at her, is her legitimacy just a layer of “coolness” added on?

Ember notes that people forget that Shayna was wrestling on the indies before WWE and NXT. That experience is a very important detail. Shayna has had to figure out how to make it in wrestling, she has those tools now, and she knows what she wants. Becky is in serious trouble because of how unique Shayna is with her catch wrestling style. But Shayna isn’t even trying to be more than what she is, and that is “an extreme badass.” Booker still wants to know if that translates to “behinds in seats.” Ember feels it will. Fantasy booking right now, Ember predicts Shayna winning and putting Raw on notice! Ember may have lost her mind but it’s the truth! Will this Prophecy of Flame pan out?

Shifting gears, Renee brings up Styles tearing into Taker with his promo! No more “mythical monster,” just a “broken down old man.” Style was shooting hard on Taker and real-life wife Michelle McCool! Styles vows to run Taker into the ground! What does everyone think about those harsh words?

Ember says Styles can do no wrong. Woods is hurting because Styles is attacking the nostalgia! Those words cut deep into Woods’ soul! Taker is “the last one we have left!” The last sacred thing in wrestling! Ember says we need new sacred things, and that starts with Styles. Ember is a huge fan of both men, and this is a money-making dream match! It doesn’t matter what is said, Ember wants to be front row to shout at them both, “Hit him!”

Renee asks if “humanizing the Undertaker” might be a step too far. Booker says that Styles taking his moment is what this business is about. Styles took a long time to get to the WWE, and then he dominated! Now, to step to the Undertaker is a stamp on Styles’ legacy. To go and mock Taker was something you’re supposed to do! But we still have three weeks until Mania! Woods says there is going to be three more weeks of this, and Styles surely understands Taker isn’t around much. Everyone in the locker room wants this moment, and Styles found his way to get Taker to come to him. Booker says that’s because Styles is talented. Booker even feels Styles is the most talented guy in the WWE today! And he’s not just saying that because Styles is Backstage.

Renee agrees that everyone wants after Taker, but everyone also wants after Styles. This is a dream match, for sure. Ember speaks to idolizing Styles and you can see it in her moveset. Thanks, AJ! What about Booker? Oh yeah, she uses his moves, too, but makes them better. OH~! But at the same time, Styles has been around a long time. If you don’t think he has something up his sleeve for Taker, especially with the attacks Taker’s been doing, think again. Styles will join Backstage later on, what will he say about all this talk?

But now, to the even more intense story on Raw: Edge and Orton! The Rated R Superstar’s newest return was thirsty for revenge! Poor MVP. MVP just wants to get his money, get a stable together, but he did mess up talking bad about Beth Phoenix. You can’t put stank on words like “wife” and get away with it. Renee is also very curious about the MVP faction. Ember thinks it was a ploy to get back that inflatable entrance tunnel. We all know MVP had to give that up because of bankruptcy. Booker says that MVP was the perfect person for the job. But MVP does have a lot of knowledge, and what he did in that segment might be small, but it works so well in the big picture. The locker room needs to understand that.

Renee moves to specifically Edge and Orton. Did this get everyone even more pumped for the inevitable Mania match? Ember says yes. She wishes this segment opened Raw, because Ember was waiting to see what Edge was going to do. She also wishes they didn’t just give away his return. Yes, ratings, but MVP starting off with his open call, and then Edge just shows up, gets out, calls out Orton, and we get the same things as we did last night. Ember loves the angle and they can do no wrong, but still. Booker adds that Edge is like John Wayne. Hopefully you younger folk know who he means. Of course Woods and Ember know about John Wayne! Booker is old, but they’re not that young.

But Booker’s point is that Edge should be limping into Mania, like it’s the 13th hour. Everyone wonders if Edge can even show up, and he does and performs. Edge is a high commodity, he has star power, he needs no build up. The music alone makes you go nuts. If Mania had it where no one knew if he’d show, and then he does, “Oh mah GAWD.” Imagine the roar! Road Warriors ’86 levels!

 

AJ Styles speaks.

“You mother lovers are in for a treat!” Because when WWE Backstage returns, he’s going to make it Phenomenal! He’s more than ready to talk about his Road to Mania, and a showdown with Taker. So stay tuned. Especially you, Michelle McCool.

 

WWE Backstage returns with AJ Styles!

He joins Renee and Woods in the ring, and even does some quick sparring with Renee. Surprisingly, Styles and Woods don’t have something like that despite knowing each other longer. Renee says her New Year’s Resolution was getting Styles on the show. Woods’ is to not fall asleep on the toilet. Too much mobile gaming in the bathroom.

But Renee brings up that fired up promo from Raw. So many people are talking about it. Styles feels he didn’t say anything the fans wouldn’t have said. But that’s the shock factor of it! The “retirement” after losing to Roman, and then he came back? Styles does have respect for Taker and what he has done for the industry, so hopefully this match happens. Woods says the biggest thing was that no one has talked like this to Taker ever. What was the impetus behind that? It was Styles just wondering, who is he talking to? The Undertaker or Mark Calaway? The American Badass and Limp Bizkit? Or the Dead Man? Styles is going after every single one of them! He’s after the guy who thinks he can choke slam Styles in his ring! Taker’s gonna pay the price! Styles is on a roll, now he’s going to rock!

Renee likes the fire Styles is showing right here. But the match with Taker, Styles has already done just about everything else there is to do in the industry. Was Taker on his bucket list? Of course! It has to be on everyone’s bucket list, really. It’s the Undertaker! This is huge! Styles wants to learn from this man. Styles studied Taker, watched all the matches, and wants to get in the ring with him.

Renee says it is interesting to hear that. Everyone else says Styles is perhaps the best person to lace up a pair of boots, so what is it that Styles feels he can still learn from Taker? Styles knows the old saying, that once you stop learning, it’s time to hang it up. Styles isn’t done learning. He wants to learn as much as he can. The older you get, you can’t do the same things you used to, but you do learn how and when to do what has the most impact. He can’t wait to sit down and figure it out with Taker.

Woods notes Styles made his WWE debut at the Royal Rumble in the Royal Rumble match. The object of that match is to be the last one in the ring. What was that like for Styles? Even after traveling the world outside of the WWE, it still terrified him. He met Road Dogg and these other guys, he was star struck. Styles felt like a guest in the WWE, but he was so excited. Woods jokes that he was mad Styles didn’t warn him. Styles didn’t know, either, until days before! But it was a huge moment, it was pretty intimidating. Styles was 38 back then, joining the WWE for the first time, it was intimidating.

Renee asks why that was the right time to joint he WWE. Styles says it was because they offered him the deal. Very true. But also, he was ready to “come home.” It couldn’t have happened in a more perfect way. Styles hoped to talk with Triple H first, didn’t happen. Styles talked with Terry Taylor, then HHH, and they had a great 30 minute conversation. He comes home without actually going home, because he flew to get his medical done, and boom, two weeks later was the Royal Rumble. It happened so quick.

Renee notes Styles has already done so much in the WWE, but one thing she sees a lot is talking to the younger, newer talent. What advice does he pass along? And who does he see as being the next big star? Styles doesn’t think he talks to “green” wrestlers, because they’ve already earned their way into the WWE. But this is a roller coaster. The ups, the downs, the internet saying whatever, but most of that talk isn’t true. Styles talks to those people who need to be reassured. Just keep doing what you’re doing, keep learning and improving, and you’ll get where you need to be. Other than that, he asks how things are personally, at home, and helps the others see the positives in their lives. As much as we love this business, it’s still just a job.

As to the other question, Styles sees the future being Ricochet, who is unbelievable. Cedric Alexander and Shayna Baszler, too. The opportunities are coming. Ricochet and Alexander are still amazing talents, as Styles knows from his quick rivalries with them. They’ll get there one day. They’re on the down swing now (as Alexander VS Tozawa on WWE Main Event) plays, but things will turn around. Even Styles had that, where it was someone else’s turn. Just wait, do your best, and be ready.

Woods says that he wants to move on from wrestling to talk video games! Renee knew it would come to this, and Styles is very excited! This is why Woods is here. UpUpDownDown plug. Woods has seen Styles’ gaming collection, and Styles has a still in box Mike Tyson’s Punch Out! Is that his most prized gaming possession? YES. It is in a box, in a box, in another box, wrapped in a bag. No one touches this thing. Footage shows he even has a GOLD CARTRIDGE Punch Out! Woods asks if the kids ever try to get in there. No, because they no better. Dad will give them the angry face and finger point! Renee wants to see Dad Mode Styles. #DadGrab!

This all sounds like an incident has happened before. Oh yes, it did. Styles’ original Game Boy with a huge magnifying glass for the screen, and his third son was messing with it. Styles had a mini panic attack because the set-up needed to be set up just right. Styles will stick around for much more, and Booker and Ember serves up the in-depth Elimination Chamber analysis!

 

WWE Backstage flashbacks to a historic main event!

Raw, 12/6/2004! Trish Stratus with a face guard took on Lita in Raw’s first main event of solely women wrestlers! The grudge was intense, the match was incredible, and Lita survived scorpion-ing herself on a suicide dive! In the end, the extreme Lita won and was WWE Women’s Champion!

The panel gets a Hot Tag!

Remember: 30 seconds to talk the topic! Ember starts and talks the A+ performance from Daniel Bryan VS Drew Gulak! She of course wants more of this because it was pure wrestling. One of the best matches for Gulak and Bryan in the WWE. She loves it, wants more, and is excited for Gulak who is well deserving because of everything! The character work, the PowerPoint presentations, how he is a former NXT Cruiserweight Champion, Gulak is finally making moves in the right direction! And with time to spare! Booker did his best to keep track of it on his own watch.

The SmackDown Tag Team Championship Chamber match of course goes to Woods as a 7-time champion with ya bois, the New Day. Miz & Morrison retain, but was this the absolute BEST Chamber match ever? Woods says second best, because the one he was involved in was great. But this was definitely an incredible match. It was great for Woods to watch his best friends, but much love to all the teams in that match. SmackDown’s Tag Team Division is still on fire, and Lince’s ceiling shooting star was INSANE. He stays locked in! Most incredible spot, for sure. Heavy Machinery, Otis going through the pod, and time. Oh well.

Lastly, Booker is being timed by Ember now as he discusses the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Sami Zayn has been a great manager to Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura, so it was a big surprise for Sami to get the title. Is this Sami’s time to get that push? Booker loves what Sami is doing on SmackDown! He’s champion now, and he will be bragging forever how he beat Braun Strowman! It doesn’t matter if it was 3v1, Sami gets the credit. Sami is a role player. You give him the ball, he’ll score. Booker thought Shinsuke was going to get the title back, Public Enemy, Flavor Flav~! But Sami will- TIME! What happened to that internal clock? But there’s still plenty of time left in the show, such as a look back at “The End of an Era.”

 

WWE Backstage returns with a Triple H highlight reel!

The Game has always wanted to put on amazing entrances, and he has some favorites. Him smashing the glass with a sledge, him rising from the stage with Motorhead, and his throne for WrestleMania 30 was wild because little did anyone know, that was Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss as the Valkyries. WrestleMania 31 was great, too, with HHH as a terminator. Arnold Schwarzenegger doing the voice over alone made it awesome.

But speaking of HHH and Mania, it seems that the Road is without The Game. This will be the first time in 13 years! And while he’s had many amazing moments, as we just saw, there is one that stands chief among them: The End of an Era, WrestleMania 28!

It was April 1, 2012. HHH VS Taker, Hell in a Cell with HBK as special guest ref. “When they started putting the End of an Era tag on it, we took that very seriously.” It wasn’t about retirement, but (at the time) it was the last moment these three icons were going to be in the ring together. The gong hits, the lights go out, the energy goes through the roof and you can’t help but get goosebumps. HHH had faced everyone from his generation and the ones before him, but there’s nothing like standing toe to toe with Taker. They both felt that match was clicking. It was so physical in the Cell, ultra aggressive and real. HBK couldn’t help but be in the moment, and even told HHH at one point, “Jeez, you guys are killing each other!”

There were many moments that they knew even before that fans would go nuts over. Tombstone, Sweet Chin Music, Pedigree, “capturing those moments and knowing that they’re coming, it’s just hard to describe. It’s why we all do this.” HHH doesn’t care what you do, that feeling is the juice of this business. Everything they’d all gone through, starting in the 90’s and then reaching that moment 20 years later, “there’s nobody in the business that I respect more than those two.” Those were the realest moments HHH has ever had or will have.

 

WWE Backstage has the Satin Sheet!

Ryan and his sexy music are back with some big news! To make up not having anything for the show these last few weeks, Ryan returns with HUGE news! Multiple sources say the three-time Super Bowl winner and current Fox Sports analyst, ROB GRONKOWSKI is “deep in talks” with the WWE and close to finalizing a deal! The details of that deal are still top secret, but Gronk could show up as early as 3/20/20, aka Friday Night SmackDown in New Orleans! This won’t be the first time, because WrestleMania 33 saw Gronk help Mojo Rawley win the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. Gronk has talked about doing more since then, and he was most recently hanging out with Mojo, HHH and Stephanie McMahon for Super Bowl Weekend. “Let the speculation begin.”

The panel discusses the big news.

Styles wants to talk about that pic. Mojo was hyped but Gronk seemed kinda nervous. But Gronk in the WWE, what does everyone want to see out of him? We fantasy booking? Woods wants Gronk to team with the Kabuki Warriors to be their heater and body guard. He can understand Japanese but he can’t speak it. Then he runs and gets them coffee. Renee likes that. He can be Kairi’s umbrella boy. Styles says if Gronk messes up the coffee, like no sugar, they slap it out of his hand and it goes into his face.

Booker says that Gronk is a marquee name. He needs to come in, turn on Mojo, and become a big name. Sorry, Mojo. Well it IS fantasy booking. Ember says that what we need to see at some point is the return of Jinder Mahal for Mania revenge. But first, someone who was there from the very beginning: Lisa the security guard! Lisa totally did not realize it was a work and shoot tried to put him back in his seat. A Mania moment indeed! Booker likes that idea, too. Ember learned from the best.

 

WWE Backstage looks back to Christian talking about Stone Cold.

“Steve hasn’t been in the ring for awhile, y’know? You know he’s got that mean streak, that’s never going away, but I’d love to see him in the ring, what? I said I’d love to see him in the ring with a guy like AJ Styles.” Everyone loves that dream match! Styles has never had a bad match so why not?

Renee of course asks Styles about this in the present. With one legend in the Undertaker more than likely for Mania, when and where would Styles want to take on Stone Cold? Styles perfected the Austin impersonation, but he’d love to show him that in person. Stone Cold gave Styles a Stunner last year when it was Styles VS Rollins for the Universal Championship, so that’s a bit of motivation, too. Booker got a Stunner, too! Booker says he took the best one.

WWE Backstage talks theme songs!

Iconic ones are easy to recognized. Hulk Hogan’s Real American. The Macho Man’s Pomp and Circumstance. The Hitman’s Hart Attack. HBK’s Sexy Boy. John Cena’s The Time is Now. But who in the WWE today has the best theme song and entrance?

Mustafa Ali, Drew McIntyre and many more are very conflicted on who and what to say. Ali goes with the Usos current one, Done With That, aka Down Since Day One. Elias says Baron Corbin’s current, I Bring the Darkness, is fantastic. Braun Strowman agrees, because for being paired with such a jerk, that song rocks. The IIconics like Randy Orton’s Voices. Ember has to go with Shinsuke Nakamura’s, both forms of Shadows of a Setting Sun. Finn Balor’s Catch Your Breath, especially the Demon mixes, are Samoa Joe’s choice. Rey Mysterio also likes that, especially the fans getting into it. But Fire & Desire feel it is still The Undertaker’s Rest in Peace. The gong alone. Carmella agrees, it is gloomy and dark.

McIntyre finally makes a decision, and it is Stone Cold Steve Austin’s I Don’t Do What You Tell Me, aka Glass Shatters. The glass makes everyone get up.

The panel discusses the same subject.

Renee can’t possibly choose! Booker goes with Stone Cold, too. The glass, Stone Cold comes out, it makes Booker want to be just like him. Styles goes with Samoa Joe’s. The bass and how mean Joe looks. Ember admits she also likes Styles’ theme. “The anteater” is an inside joke they’ll explain later. We think we all know Woods’ favorite, but there is footage of him jamming out to I Walk Alone, Dave Batista’s theme! Saliva is just an awesome band. But Woods surprises us that his all-time favorite is Reverend D-Von’s. Booker’s got great music, sure, but c’mon. “Please call mah name!”

Styles wants to bring out the elephant in the room: Run DMC’s take on the Degeneration X theme, The Kings. Renee says she’s also seen Woods jam out Trish Stratus’ theme. That will be for another episode.

 

Next week, the Nightmare comes to WWE Backstage!

NXT Women’s Champion, Rhea Ripley, joins the show as the special guest, and CM Punk is back again! What will they both have to say about Rhea’s coming title defense against Charlotte Flair and the rise of NXT as WWE’s third brand?

The WWE Universe comes to the rescue!

Mick Foley needed some help getting their car to a gas station, and it was some very excited fans that helped push the Foley Mobile the rest of the way! Tommy Palica has video of his friends taking selfie video with Foley.

Booker teases Foley for running out of gas in the first place. But does he have any odd or appreciated fan moments? Being on the road, one time he got pulled over, and the officer realized who Booker was and totally let him go. Styles remembers that moment, because he was behind Booker and also got pulled over. Officer didn’t let Styles go! Well Styles was still working on becoming a Hall of Fame WWE champion. Woods can’t remember one so he lets Ember go next. Hers is from PAX when fans made her a Dungeons & Dragons character, as Ember Moon. She plays D&D with that character all the time, she loves it. Woods had the same thing, sorta.

Curtis Axel tweets the show!

In reference to how Styles and Renee greeted each other tonight: “Wow! I have the same handshake with my boys at home!” Thumbs up and surprised face emoji. Is he teasing them? They do it again to show how good they are at it. Renee actually left a mark. She apologizes while also saying bye on behalf of the panel.

 


 

My Thoughts:

Another really fun episode of Backstage! Styles is such a great guy in real-life, and him showing some of his real personality was great. It’s obviously becoming more well-known knowledge that Styles is as much of a gamer as he is an athlete, and seeing glimpses of his collection was incredible. Gold cartridge Punch Out!! It also means a lot for Styles to say that, despite what we’re seeing and thinking and talking about in regards to Cedric Alexander and Ricochet, he has confidence those guys and others are going to be back on top as WWE moves forward. Because honestly, they should.

In a roundabout way, Ember’s line about making new sacred things puts a great headline on the argument many have had about WWE making new stars. That way, the WWE can still be around for us to have the same nostalgia we have for Taker, but for people like Styles, Alexander, Ricochet, etc. At the same time, we fans need to slow down and realize that a few weeks or even a few months of “Oh no! Vince isn’t pushing them! They’re buried!!” won’t even be remembered once they and superstars in similar positions (and there’s a lot of them) have had their moments. One day, we’ll look back on Ricochet, Shayna, and who knows who else like we do HHH, HBK and Taker in that End of an Era match. Just hopefully without the baggage of them coming back again and somewhat tarnishing their legacies.


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(NOAH) NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.157 ~ 19TH JANUARY 2022

Kicking off 2022 with well received matches and determination, covid mixes things up but doesn’t detract from the main title match! Hisame gives us all the adjustments and how NOAH decided to pivot up the stairs!

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Kicking off 2022 with well received matches and determination, covid mixes things up but doesn’t detract from the main title match! Hisame gives us all the adjustments and how NOAH decided to pivot up the stairs!

NEWS

Major COVID outbreaks hits NOAH

A major COVID outbreak hit NOAH on the 14th January causing ten wrestlers (Kaito Kiyomiya, Yoshiki Inamura, Yasutaka Yano, Yoshinari Ogawa, Tadasuke, Daiki Inaba, Junta Miyawaki, Super Crazy, Kinya Okada and Masato Tanaka) to be absent. In Tanaka’s case he tested negative for the virus, but was generally unwell. Yoshinari Ogawa was positive, and aside from a high temperature and a feeling of discomfort in his throat had generally mild symptoms. Ogawa credits getting the jabs for this. Added to the absent wrestlers were the trainees and one of the referees. The outbreak seems to be prevalent among those who habitually use the NOAH dojo. Due to the large amount of absences, the card for BUMPER CROP 2022 in Sendai was massively changed. The roster all pulled together with Daisuke Harada (“the backstage MVP” according to Mohammed Yone) organizing everything that the trainees normally would do i.e. bus duties, hotel duties and cleaning up the locker room and arena before leaving. Perros del Mal De Japon also did their part. Fans thought they were coming down to the ring to announce something before the title matches began, but to applause, they had come to clean the ring and surrounding area.

The outbreak and the missing roster wasn’t the only thing on NOAH’s mind in Sendai. The eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano and subsequent tsunami had caused an alert to be triggered for Japan’s east pacific coast, with Miyagi prefecture, where NOAH were that night, on full alert. Both Manabu Soya and Keiji Mutoh hinted that the roster probably didn’t get much sleep as everyone’s phones were pinging with alerts, plus people had family in coastal areas to worry about. Fortunately, the danger was over by 2pm, (although Japan did see some sea swell in some areas and small waves in Kanagawa), and the show went off much changed, but without a hitch. NOAH had asked that people stay at home and watch on WrestleUniverse and not put themselves in danger by coming out, and in the event of things they did an attendance of 633.

Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA vacate the tag belts, but not by choice

Despite Yoshinari Ogawa giving an interview on his condition, and saying that he felt better and was ready to wrestle as soon as possible, the issue does not seem as clear as that and on the 19th January NOAH announced they were stripping STINGER of the tag belts. Fans are upset as it makes Ogawa look like he’s done something wrong and that it is punishing HAYATA for no reason.

The tag title match was due to take place on the 22nd January in Osaka, but as Yoshinari Ogawa cannot compete, NOAH have made it a fight for the vacant titles between STINGER (Seiki Yoshioka and Yuya Susumu) and The NOAH Junior Regulars (Atsushi Kotoge and Hajime Ohara). Atsushi Kotoge had defeated Yuya Susumu for the right to challenge in Sendai. The defeat had led Susumu to mutter that they would be challenging the winners, but the new title match has led him to say that regardless of whether the belts were taken from STINGER, this was a championship match and he would be going for it. Like Ogawa, Susumu wants a “STINGER vs STINGER showdown”.

With the tag belts now taken from them, fans are wondering if Ogawa will seize this opportunity to challenge for the GHC Heavyweight tag belts with HAYATA. The belts are currently being held by Keiji Mutoh and Naomichi Marufuji (M’s alliance), and Ogawa has been saying for a while that he wants to challenge one day. The M’s alliance are also without challengers having retained the belts in Sendai against Kongoh’s Kenoh and Manabu Soya.

Haoh defects to The NOAH Junior Regulars

Haoh’s New Year statement was “to have my own words”, which everyone (including Kenoh no doubt) thought was another example of Kongoh’s stance against authority. It turned out there was a different meaning. In Sendai after a catalogue of errors in a tag match, the usual missed spots and accidental strikes on tag partner, Haoh shoved Nioh away rudely and left the ring. Fans thought it was only a build to a defection at a later date, but the NOAH Juniors can move quickly. After Daisuke Harada had defeated Seiki Yoshioka, Haoh came to the ring. It was thought he had come to challenge for the title to redeem himself after the issues in his own match, but no, Haoh came to announce he was quitting Kongoh and asked Harada if he could fight with him in the NOAH Junior Army. To show his resolve he removed his Kongoh t-shirt, and dropped it on the floor. Haoh said he wanted to rise and change his environment. Harada seeing his resolved welcomed him.

Nioh wasn’t going to be so accommodating and he asked Haoh if he had gone mad? Was he really going to leave Kongoh and join Harada? It’s true others had left Kongoh and not had reprisals, Masa Kitamiya, Yoshiki Inamura (who joined up with Kaito Kiyomiya right in front of Kenoh of all people) and Atsushi Kotoge had all left and not suffered for it. But Haoh is a NOAH Junior. They do things differently there. Usually involving fights. After a scuffle had broken out (and kept breaking out) an impromptu tag match was formed between Harada and Haoh and Nioh and Aleja which Harada won. Nioh cannot believe that Haoh would do this, and bitterly assessed him as having no belief in Kongoh. He also says he will never forgive him.

Nakajima’s next challenger

Katsuhiko Nakajima retained the belt against Masa Kitamiya in a title match that was built around things only Nakajima and Kitamiya knew as Naomichi Marufuji put it, and was challenged by none other than Kazuyuki Fujita. Since the epic stare off with Go Shiozaki at Korakuen Hall during the height of the pandemic, Fujita has used this for both comedy purposes and as a threat. In Sendai it was a threat as he came to the ring after the main event, and stared down Nakajima who was holding up the belt. Title match has been set for February 23rd at “GAIN CONTROL 2022 in NAGOYA”.

Go Shiozaki photobook

To celebrate the man who carried NOAH at great personal cost through the pandemic, NOAH are releasing a photobook to celebrate his achievement covering the period from winning the title (2020) to his being absent for surgery in March 2021. It will also contain some pictures of his rehabilitation and return at the Nippon Budokan on the 1st January 2022. You can pre order the book at the official NOAH site. It will cost ¥ 4,400 including tax. Please note that NOAH sadly cannot deliver internationally, and so you will need to order through a carrier like White Rabbit. Please see my guide to ordering here. The book will be on sale until midnight JST 24th January. (23:59 pm). Shipping time is estimated to be mid March 2022.

EVENT RECAPS AND POST MATCH INTERVIEWS

BUMPER CROP 2022 IN SENDAI – Sunday January 16th, Sendai Sunplaza Hall

Event recap Post match interviews

ELSEWHERE IN NOAH

– In Sendai Kendo Kashin provoked that wild rage in King Tany by carrying the weapon of Maybach Taniguchi (the violent monster and King Tany’s alter-ego) the Sasumata* to the ring. Tany went wild as The Sugiura Army all joined in trapping him and the poor ref in the corner, driving them back and then chasing Kashin around the arena.

– YO-HEY joked that Perros came to Sendai to clean. The sight of Perros rushing around with disinfectant spray and cloths has given rise to a lot of fan art on the subject.

– Takashi Sugiura posted a picture of a suggestive looking sushi piece, and then told everyone at 5.30am the next morning what it was. Sugi normally posts these kind of things if he’s had to behave at some point during the day, so this means that he was in one long meeting…

– Go Shiozaki had to purse his lips to try to not laugh at King Tany and Mohammed Yone when he teamed with them in Sendai. They asked if he wanted to be funky. He refused.

– Nothing has been said yet as to whether Haoh will change his name back to Yuki Sato, but it seems likely that he probably will.

– KENTA has been trolled by Takashi Sugiura. Who he has been ignoring.

– YO-HEY probably gave Nioh flashbacks to Osaka Mixture. I dare you to look that up on YouTube at 2.15/2.25.

*The Sasumata is a prong that was used by the Edo era Samurai police force to apprehend criminals.

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

  • GHC Heavyweight Champion: Katsuhiko Nakajima
    Challenger: Kazuyuki Fujita- “GAIN CONTROL 2022 in NAGOYA”, February 23rd
  • GHC Junior Champion: Daisuke Harada
    Challenger: No challenger as of yet
  • GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions: The M’s alliance (Naomichi Marufuji and Keiji Mutoh)
    Challengers: No challengers as of yet
  • GHC Junior Tag Champions: Vacated
    Challengers: Either The NOAH Junior Regular Army (Atsushi Kotoge & Hajime Ohara) or STINGER (Seiki Yoshioka and Yuya Susumu). The title match will take place on Saturday January 22nd at the EDION Arena 2nd Stadium in Osaka.
  • GHC National Champion: Kenoh
    Challenger: Masakatsu Funaki- “HIGHER GROUND 2022”, EDION Arena Osaka 2nd Stadium, Saturday 22nd January

THIS WEEK IN NOAH

(Full January schedule)

Friday, January 21st: Go Shiozaki (40)

Saturday, January 22nd: HIGHER GROUND 2022

Start time: 17:30 JST

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse 

LINKS

Kaito Kiyomiya is defeated by direct attack, Okada & Tanahashi on the 8th January…thoughts on tears from the bottom of the heart

Even with Corona, Ogawa’s ironic “healthy” sarcastic barrage; “Not Qualified” for Kotoge, “Carbon Copy” for Harada

“Beast” Kazuyuki Fujita challenges for the GHC on the 23rd February, ally Kashin gives urgent warning “NOAH will collapse”

Costume research: Katsuhiko Nakajima

GIF taken from WrestleUniverse

Picture credit: NOAH GHC


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News From Cook’s Corner 1.17.22: Gory Self-Mutilation

AEW tried to catch lightning in a bottle for the second time. Did it work? What other news struck last week?

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! We’ve got a short column for you this week, which most of you were probably expecting when the Cincinnati Bengals actually on a playoff game. Nah, I didn’t party too much, just had an allergic reaction with my eye again. We’ve done this before. This time I’m pretty sure it had something to do with cleaning my bookshelf and rearranging my books. Hadn’t done that in awhile, so there was a ton of duct. Sitting down and looking at a computer screen sucks, so we have to limit it as much as possible.

There’s still a couple things that warrant discussion though, so let’s get to it.

WWE On The Offensive

Looks like this week’s top stories are about WWE trying to do things to undermine wrestling promotions. We start with Major League Wrestling, who has filed a federal anti-trust lawsuit against WWE claiming that WWE has interfered with their ability to make various media rights deals.

Some of the highlights:

-Former WWE executive Susan Levison allegedly warned an executive from VICE that Vince McMahon was “pissed” they were airing MLW programming. MLW claims that WWE had leverage over VICE due to the Dark Side of the Ring series often being focused on WWE subject matter.

-MLW alleges that when WWE found out about their agreement with Tubi, WWE threatened to stop doing business with Fox. The fallout from the Tubi agreement falling through led to a drop in ticket sales & event cancellations & delays.

-As an example of WWE’s anticompetitive behavior, MLW cited AEW being held out of two arenas in the Cincinnati market due to pressure from WWE. Jon Moxley wrote in his book that the Heritage Bank Center on Cincy’s riverfront refused to book AEW due to WWE influence. I don’t know the other, could be the BB&T Arena across the river on the campus of Northern Kentucky University where WWE has held house shows. AEW wound up running the Fifth Third Arena on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, and outdrew the Raw taping held at the HBC just prior.

-Apparently starting in early 2020, WWE started trying to poach MLW wrestlers that were under contract, and aired footage of an MLW wrestler without MLW’s consent. (Somebody would have to fill me in on this one, I haven’t the slightest idea who this would be.) MLW also claims that WWE sought to prevent wrestlers from working with MLW by refusing to hire wrestlers that had worked there, and that one MLW wrestler demanded to be released early from his contract so he could join WWE.

Do I think that at least some of these allegations are true? Having followed pro wrestling for over thirty years and having read up on the history of WWE…you betcha!

I don’t think there’s a question that WWE has resorted to any means necessary to drive potential competitors out of their market. They’ve been doing this since taking most of the territories’ top stars back in the mid-1980s. It’s been a monopoly for nearly two decades for a reason. The main question I have: Will a judge actually care, or will they throw it out of court because it’s silly pro wrestling?

How do you think WWE slips under the radar on things that other media companies & sports leagues actually have to deal with? People have been trained to not take WWE seriously. As much as people like us obsess over the rasslin’ business, people that don’t “get it” are happy to ignore it. Vince McMahon can do any darn thing he wants, and the reaction from folks outside the wrestling bubble will be non-existent. It’s wrestling! To outsiders, the whole damn thing is an outlaw mudshow.

AEW = Gory Self-Mutilation

The Toronto Sun did an article on All Elite Wrestling over the weekend, talking about their status as a competitor to WWE. They asked WWE for comment & got one:

“If you look at the gory self-mutilation that bloodied several women in the December 31 event on TNT, it quickly becomes clear that these are very different businesses. We had an edgier product in the `Attitude’ era and in a 2022 world, we don’t believe that type of dangerous and brutal display is appealing to network partners, sponsors, venues, children, or the general public as a whole.”

A few notes here:

1. I’ve been doing this stuff longer than I care to admit, and I never thought of asking WWE for comment on something. Should I start asking people for comments on topics I’m writing about? I doubt I’d get any answers, but it might be worth a shot.

2. This has been WWE’s strategy when asked about AEW for some time now. We remember Vince McMahon using the phrase “Blood & Guts” to describe the promotion on a conference call. They know that people get squeamish about blood, especially when it comes to blood coming from women. The Fabulous Moolah never busted anybody open on television, and she trained most of the women for years. People aren’t used to seeing it, and they often get uncomfortable with things they aren’t used to seeing.

3. Most people find other people bleeding pretty gross. There’s a reason why deathmatch wrestling is a niche produxct. People that love it really, really love it, but it’s a very small percentage of the marketplace.

4. WWE’s belief is that advertisers & media companies aren’t big on blood, so they make sure to mention AEW’s apparent lust for the red stuff whenever the subject comes up. Their hope is that advertisers will shy away from advertising with AEW, and media companies won’t give AEW big money when their current deal with WarnerMedia is up.

5. Thus far, whenever Tony Khan is criticized on something, he doubles down on it. So there’s a pretty good chance that we’re going to see even more matches with female bleeding. AEW’s female workers seem happy to do it.

6. WWE could be called out as being hypocritical on this front, but there aren’t many people that will hold them accountable.

It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. All I know for sure is that the smack talk between these two promotions and their fans is just beginning. Think it’s tocic now? Wait a couple of years.

Welp, that’s all for this week. Thanks for reading! Join me later in the week for some Divisional Round picks. Until then, keep your stick on the ice.

In Memoriam: Pete was a longtime reader from back in the day. From my dealings with him he was a kind person that knew how to use his head. When you’ve written things on the Internet as long as I have, you learn that’s a rare thing. From what I’ve read from people that knew him in real life, he was the same way off the computer. Sadly he passed away from cancer on Friday night. Pete was always about serving others, as he was a U.S. Air Force veteran & a regular blood donor. He will be missed.


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