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

Jeff Hardy goes Backstage!



WWE Backstage 2020

Standing on the rooftops! Everybody scream your heart~ out~!

WWE Backstage has the onscreen return of Jeff Hardy! What will the Charismatic Enigma have to say about what Randy Orton did to his brother?

Renee Young introduces the panel!

She, Booker T and Mark Henry are once again joined by Paige in Fox Sports Studios. Happy birthday to Booker! Big Daddy Latty is the big 55 and he’s still GOODT. But what a whirlwind week for WWE as we approach WrestleMania 36! Just five days away from Elimination Chamber and tensions are running high. In case you missed it, here’s…

Just the Highlights!

For Super Showdown: The Phenomenal One thought he’d be the Tuwaiq Mountain Champion, but the PHENOM made sure he wasn’t! Ricochet went to Suplex City and was quickly conquered by the reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Heavyweight Champion of the World, BRRROCK, LESNARRR! But your NEW WWE Universal Champion is GOLD~BERG after he gave The Fiend FOUR Spears and a Jackhammer!

For SmackDown: Naomi may not be SmackDown Women’s Champion but she did get the pin on Bayley in a tag team payback match! And while Bray Wyatt was last, Roman Reigns says he’s NEXT! The Monster Among Men won’t just face one man but THREE in his defense of the WWE Intercontinental Championship on Sunday! And while John Cena wanted to take a step back from WrestleMania, The Fiend forces his hand. Who walks out of Tamba still intact?

For Raw: The Street Profits are up and they’re the NEW Raw Tag Team Champions! Paul Heyman talked big talk for Brock Lesnar, but Drew McIntyre made Lesnar eat those words, and his boot! The Queen of Spades made the Pirate Princess take a nap, but The Man boldly proclaims the title isn’t going anywhere. The Viper explained #WhyOrtonWhy and it didn’t sit well with Beth Phoenix. She slapped Randy but he gave her an RKO!

The panel discusses this week in WWE.

Two major WrestleMania matches have been put in place thanks to SmackDown. Goldberg VS Roman and Cena VS The Fiend, what does Booker T think? Booker says that the internet was ablaze! Just like Stone Cold, The Rock and HHH, Goldberg is one of those guys that promoters want to use for as long as possible because they print money! Booker says Goldberg was the perfect person to take the title off Bray Wyatt, so he’s all for it. And Renee says this gives us somewhere to go in Goldberg VS Roman. Boston’s reaction was perfect. Mark Henry says Cena going out there was the most exciting thing the past 12 months. Booker talks over and Henry jokes that this birthday might be his last.

But as Henry was saying, he would love to see more things like this. The fans were fired up for a good three minutes when he got out there. Paige says that the best thing about Cena is his ring psychology. Fans duel and chant but then they all end up on Cena’s side by the end. Booker adds that Cena is also money. Fans get to a point where they miss a guy like Cena so his return is huge. Renee says they weren’t sure if Cena was actually saying he’s done. He didn’t come out in a salmon pink blazer, nod to Henry, but now we’ve got a Mania match. “Nothing says a lie like a pink jacket.”

Bringing things around to Super Showdown and the internet outrage, The Undertaker taking out AJ Styles with one Choke Slam really riled some fans up. What does the panel think about the Dead Man’s dominant return?

Paige says Styles was the one who turned his back on Taker and left himself open. Henry, Booker and Renee agree, Styles has been around too long to fall for that one. But at the same time, that’s getting caught up in the moment, going back to being a fan. Styles gets to regroup, though, and goes into Mania against Taker. This will be the biggest moment for Styles. And the story already is great, with Styles feeling tough beating up on a beat-up Aleister Black and sending a message to Taker. Styles is getting a big rub going into Mania against Taker. Henry notes that Aleister isn’t a nobody, he’s a former NXT Champion and a rising star in the business.

And of course, the panel must discuss Beth Phoenix returning to Raw and Orton confronting her. What a moment! Just getting right to it, Paige is so emotional. She hasn’t been that into it in a long time. She wants to see Orton VS Edge or whoever as the main event so badly! Paige could relate to all those stories, from Edge’s neck to Orton’s struggles. Beth sells the RKO masterfully and it sells Paige on the story. Renee says it isn’t often Orton is vulnerable on camera like that. It adds so much to the story, it really is the main event. If Henry had the pen, he’d make it the main event, too. Henry never tweeted during a show until this, complimenting it as Shakespearean. That was not scripted, it was real and passionate.

Booker adds that Orton was being Orton. That was something new even from Orton. You never put your hands on a woman, but Booker’s mama always said, “if you big enough to pass a lick, you big enough to take one.” Paige’s parents and Henry’s parents must’ve read from the same book. That’s just old school. Who needs enemies when you have friends like Orton?


WWE Backstage welcomes Jeff Hardy!

The Charismatic Enigma is finally back on TV! Jeff is happy to bring back his juke dance! Renee says it’s one of the best entrances ever. Jeff joins Renee in the ring and takes a seat. He’s been gone nine months, what is his health status? Jeff’s officially cleared, and has been waiting backstage on SmackDown for the right creative spot. What is that anticipation like? Jeff has so many ideas of new, fresh ideas. This will be the 2020 Jeff, but waiting is definitely stressful. Jeff’s ring rust is still rusty but you gotta get conditioned and get back to that ring shape. It’s like a bicycle, he’s ready to feel it again.

Nine months is a lot. What has the time off done for him? Jeff’s knee surgery was a blessing in disguise because his father was in bad shape of his own. Jeff walked with his dad, and long story short, Papa Hardy has been home with them since September, so the last 5 months of Jeff’s recovery. But on October 3rd, Jeff got in trouble, and on the 4th, he want to inpatient rehab for the first time in his life. Jeff has worked to better himself, and he’ll feel so good to be back in front of the WWE Universe. There is something left for him to do, but he isn’t sure what it is yet.

Renee agrees, there is always more you can do in the WWE. But she also loves that he had that time off for his family and himself. Jeff’s daughters are 9 and 4, growing up so fast, and one big project was the motocross track. Jeff fixed it up and can watch everyone else ride around.

More news with the Hardys is that Matt’s WWE contract has expired. Does Jeff know anything about that? Jeff admits he hasn’t talked to Matt so he has no idea what Matt’s plans are. But the Hardy Boys have been wrestling for a long time, so even if they end up in different worlds, it is still great to know the Hardys can each do their own thing.

How does that feel, to be gone for so long and now Matt (probably) won’t be there? It’s also been awhile since there was such a huge spotlight on Jeff alone. Jeff notes that growing up, he was the “invincible” one while Matt was needing surgery, but now things have flipped a bit. Matt’s been great in his health but it will still be amazing. They are blessed to still be going in 2020 after the careers they’ve had.

The style they worked and the level they were at, people joke about “rubber bones” and all that, but how important is it to adapt? Jeff seeing the face paint again makes him go “Wow.” He doesn’t always have time to paint on a canvas so he just uses his own face. String’s face paint was a big inspiration, of course. There’s a lot left in Jeff and he looks forward to it.

Has he been keeping his eyes on the WWE product? What does he like about it? Jeff admits that the Street Profits winning made him “mark out” because of how Seth Rollins sold it and just the moment of it all. Brock Lesnar is still intimidating and intense, and so Jeff is just excited to get back out there.

What’s it like for Jeff to see superstars follow in his path of the high-flying daredevil style? Jeff hasn’t had people come to him about it, but seeing Ricochet, Mustafa Ali and others being influenced by him is surreal. Jeff takes it one day at a time, and he doesn’t worry about the past. Wait he’s drifting from the question. But the influence is clear, and even Bayley was a big Hardy Boys fan. Has Jeff been able to talk with some of the younger stars? Yeah, but Matt’s been better at advice and ring psychology. Jeff compliments those who do great work, but feels he doesn’t need to butter people up when they know they’re good.

Lastly, who is the one person Jeff wants that one more match with? Probably him and Roman Reigns. That would be a big moment for both of them. It’d be cool, important and exciting for a Mania moment with him. Jeff will stick around, is he going to get that dream match?

Paige and Booker joke that Big Daddy Latty wants to take Jeff on one last time. But also, the two WWE Hall of Famers right here want to know: who’s joining them next? We find out, after the break!


WWE Backstage presents the next 2020 HOF Inductee!

A hard road to the top but when the WWE needed a top bad guy, he answered the call. JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD is entering the Hall of Fame! He debuted for the WWF as Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw, then eventually became a world tag team champion as just “Bradshaw,” alongside Ron “Farooq” Simmons in the Acolytes. They then shifted the team name to the Acolytes Protection Agency, or APA.

In 2003, JBL published “Have More Money Now,” a book on financial management. The book’s success brought JBL to major channels like Fox News and Fox Business Network. In the ring, JBL’s financial success was parlayed into perhaps one of the most successful Heel runs of all time as “JBL” became the wealthy and arrogant Heel we all know and love to hate. He would become WWE Champion and hold it for 280 days, “the longest reigning champion in SmackDown Television history!” JBL would become a Grand Slam Champion and claim many times he was a “Wrestling God.”

But even after retiring from in-ring competition, JBL would continue on as a hit color commentator and Network special host. And now, to add to that list of accolades, JBL is going into the HOF.

JBL is also Backstage!

John Bradshaw Layfield struts and shows off the Texas two-step. He’s still got it! JBL goes over the top rope and shakes hands with the panel before sitting down. Henry notes we now have a King, a queen, and a Wrestling God. This is a triple Texas panel right here. There is a lot of history between the three here. Renee asks how that HOF call went. JBL says it was a private matter between him and Mr. Vince McMahon who have become good friends. But it is definitely a dream come true. JBL remembers watching wrestling growing up, and he watched the Von Erichs. The life JBL has led, reality is greater than the dreams!

Renee says it is so great for JBL to be in the HOF, but what is the moment JBL feels defines JBL? For his career, that would have to be the feud of JBL VS Eddie Guerrero. For his life, that would have to be meeting Ron Simmons and become friends with him. Best man at JBL’s wedding and Ron gave a great toast, “Til death do us part.” Teaming with Farooq was a great time, but so was having that rivalry with the late, great Eddie. The Staples Center, the bull-rope match, the world title, the JBL character was fading and everyone was wondering what to do. But Eddie had the idea that, while back home in El Paso to honor the passing of father Gory Guerrero, for JBL to cause Eddie’s mother to have a heart attack.

The crowd was so quiet, state troopers had to keep JBL safe because of angry fans, and when people saw it on TV, that heat was off the charts. They sold out the Staples Center, and Eddie kept feeding JBL lines to turn up the heat! He was the one that told JBL to say, “My ancestors came to America on a boat, not an inner tube!” JBL said Eddie was going to get him killed, but Eddie said it would be fine. That heat was unreal! All thanks to Eddie Guerrero. If it wasn’t for Eddie, JBL would not be in the Hall of Fame.

Henry notes that JBL was “unapologetically a Heel.” JBL says it’s even worse online. But does he ever regret not showing the fans some love? “Absolutely not.” Because when people go to Broadway, people don’t want to know “The Phantom of the Opera is actually a waiter at Del Frisco.” They want to believe that the villain is that awful. JBL wouldn’t allow WWE to sell merchandise because he didn’t want fans cheering for him. If a Heel has a fan section, they have failed. When a Heel gets over like a Face, that’s actually a Heel failing at being a Heel. JBL remembers Curt Hennig VS Hillbilly Jim, a fan shouts, “Hillbilly, you suck! Curt Hennig, you’re the best!” Mr. Perfect’s response was in fact perfect: He spits his gum out and flicks it at said fan. The fan then shouted, “Curt, you suck!”

“The art of being a Heel is being something that is unredeemable, because if there’s not a bad guy, then there’s not a good guy.” The worse bad guy you can be, the better you make the good guy look. Renee says there’s actually a message from one of JBL’s other great rivals.

“Hey, John, it’s John.” Cena that is. Remember the young whippersnapper he put over for the strap? Cena thanks JBL for everything he has ever done for Cena. Cena has great respect for all those who did, and there is no Cena without JBL. It is so great that JBL is in the HOF, and maybe they can relive those memories together. Cena is so very thankful, and JBL has absolutely earned this moment. JBL hearing that from Cena, he remembers Vader on his way out. Vader told JBL that he asked for JBL as his last PPV opponent. Vader wanted JBL to get that rub by beating “the old Vader.” That was the most respectful thing someone in this business can do for another, and so JBL passed that on by doing that for Cena.

JBL says that when Cena first showed up, he fit in right away because he’s a good guy. No one can actually say anything bad about Cena. Haters hate but Cena’s a great guy. Cena deserved to beat someone, and that is why he and JBL had such an amazing match. JBL won’t take any credit for the rest of what Cena did, but Booker and Henry joke about taking credit for their parts. But we all know that there’s a huge difference in an 8 minute match and a 25 minute one. The psychology alone needs to be different, it needs to be an emotional roller coaster. JBL was one of the first opponents Cena did that with. No one could’ve guessed Cena would get to where he is now, but JBL still knew Cena was going to carry the WWE forward.

Renee notes JBL being one of the best bad guys ever, but he is also a good guy in real life. JBL’s charity work for at-risk children has been a great passion for the last decade or so. He works with Memphis City Rugby as well as Washington DC Youth Rugby. 100% graduation rate in a city with 50% drop-out rates. These kids are going to trade schools, college or the military. JBL goes around the world to help kids who didn’t get the same opportunities as others just because of the randomness of life. JBL puts it on Twitter not as self-promotion but to get the message out there. Once again, a congratulations to a classic villain and a real-life hero.


WWE Backstage looks back on John Cena VS Kevin Owens!

It all started with John Cena’s WWE United States Open Challenge streak, and Monday Night Raw on May 18, 2015. Another open challenge was issued, and the Prizefighter came out. The then NXT Champion took it to the WWE United States Champion with a Pop-Up Powerbomb, a stomp on the US title belt, and KO saying “You Can’t See Me.”

Kevin speaks on that moment himself, saying it was “so striking” in how sudden it was. He’d just started in NXT and then he shows up on Raw to go toe-to-toe with Cena. This would lead us to a match at that year’s Elimination Chamber PPV on May 31. Kevin was still NXT Champion and as Cena’s music came on and the fans fired up, Kevin was ready to prove why he deserves to be in the WWE. Kevin pulled out move after move, and even stole some of Cena’s moves. Fans who didn’t know KO before this started to get on his side, and then Kevin WINS! Cena fans were shocked to say the least, but Kevin was vindicated.

“I’m the man who started a fight with John Cena, and I’m also the man who finished a fight with John Cena.” That moment is still huge, but it was the perfect way for Kevin to start his WWE career.

Renee and Paige discuss Kevin Owens.

The Glampire has a similar path to the WWE, with being a champion in NXT then making a main roster debut. Paige getting the nod to take on AJ Lee, everyone knows that story, especially if you watched Fighting with My Family. But Paige teases JBL for being the NXT General Manger who insisted she be stripped of her NXT Women’s Championship after she won the WWE Diva’s title. But that big win was even bigger given how NXT wasn’t nearly as powerful as it is now. She and Kevin were each flag bearers for that little brand and wanted to show what NXT was about. Winning was just the cherry on top.


WWE Backstage looks back on John Cena VS Kevin Owens!

It all started with John Cena’s WWE United States Open Challenge streak, and Monday Night Raw on May 18, 2015. Another open challenge was issued, and the Prizefighter came out. The then NXT Champion took it to the WWE United States Champion with a Pop-Up Powerbomb, a stomp on the US title belt, and KO saying “You Can’t See Me.”

Kevin speaks on that moment himself, saying it was “so striking” in how sudden it was. He’d just started in NXT and then he shows up on Raw to go toe-to-toe with Cena. This would lead us to a match at that year’s Elimination Chamber PPV on May 31. Kevin was still NXT Champion and as Cena’s music came on and the fans fired up, Kevin was ready to prove why he deserves to be in the WWE. Kevin pulled out move after move, and even stole some of Cena’s moves. Fans who didn’t know KO before this started to get on his side, and then Kevin WINS! Cena fans were shocked to say the least, but Kevin was vindicated.

“I’m the man who started a fight with John Cena, and I’m also the man who finished a fight with John Cena.” That moment is still huge, but it was the perfect way for Kevin to start his WWE career.

Renee and Paige discuss Kevin Owens.

The Glampire has a similar path to the WWE, with being a champion in NXT then making a main roster debut. Paige getting the nod to take on AJ Lee, everyone knows that story, especially if you watched Fighting with My Family. But Paige teases JBL for being the NXT General Manger who insisted she be stripped of her NXT Women’s Championship after she won the WWE Diva’s title. But that big win was even bigger given how NXT wasn’t nearly as powerful as it is now. She and Kevin were each flag bearers for that little brand and wanted to show what NXT was about. Winning was just the cherry on top.

Booker and the boys discuss Elimination Chamber.

With the PPV coming back around this Sunday, four men who have been in their own Chamber matches discuss that grueling match. Booker coming from WCW, he wasn’t used to big, big gimmick matches. But he was in the original Elimination Chamber match, it was a big experiment, and he felt like a crash test dummy. The chains, the grates, “miles” of steel, falling down on the steel was painful. Booker got claustrophobic being in the pod, too! Henry, too! Finally, something in common.

Henry says he still feels his first Chamber match. That double suplex to the outside, his back was just hurting like never before. They’re not lying about how the Chamber is unforgiving. You come out different than going in. JBL prayed his pod gets stuck so he wouldn’t have to compete. He remembers a fan trolling, “JBL, you fatass! What’re you doing in Elimination Chamber?” “I don’t know! I don’t want to be here.” Booker says the Chamber is better for smaller guys like Jeff. JBL says big guys like him, Booker and Henry, “We’re like the Hindenburg.”

Jeff loved it, though. He was hoping his particular Chamber experience would’ve been DELETED but oh well. His one big idea was to go up the center of that ceiling. He didn’t risk it, though. JBL figures if Jeff says it’s impossible, then it really is impossible. Booker says Chamber matches are truly rough. Jeff is a special type of guy to be alright after that match, but Booker says he does not like it at all. Many have made careers but also left pieces of themselves in that match. Henry says there is nothing like the Chamber. We’ve all seen Steel Cage matches, and even WarGames or Hell in a Cell. But the Elimination Chamber, everyone who goes through that, when you talk to them after, they never want another one of those. First timers only.

JBL remembers in his Chamber match, watching the late, great Umaga crawling on the grate while JBL was still in the pod. Umaga’s feet were hurting, since of course he wrestled barefoot. If a guy as tough as Umaga is hurting, JBL didn’t want out of the pod. Jeff himself was tentative, so that told JBL even more so not to leave his pod. Booker says expect the unexpected. What can we expect from the 2020 edition of both the PPV and the Elimination Chamber match?


WWE Backstage relives a WrestleMania Moment.

WrestleMania 18, aka WrestleMania X8, Icon VS Icon! The Rock VS Hollywood Hulk Hogan! A generational battle that fans could not hate no matter how hard they tried! The Rock came out on top but Hogan showed him great respect. Will we see another immortal and electrifying moment this year?

Backstage relives some of Jeff Hardy’s greatest Mania Moments!

“Jeff Hardy getting extreme as extreme can be!” WrestleMania 2000, aka WrestleMania 16, Jeff Hardy’s SUPER SWANTON BOMB off the ladder through a table! The year after at Mania 17, a SUPER SWANTON BOMB off ANOTHER ladder, through another table! Of course, he also did get SPEARED out of the air by Edge in THE TLC match that defined the match. WrestleMania 23, Money in the Bank, the SUPER SEATED SENTON that crashed him and Edge through a ladder! WrestleMania 33 practically recreated that in the Raw Tag Team Championship Ladder Match as Jeff SUPER SWANTON BOMBED The Bar, Sheamus & Cesaro, through ladders! “Only at WrestleMania!”

Renee and Jeff discuss that highlight reel.

Jeff has plenty of other moments to choose from, but what sticks out the most? The return in 2017, he and Matt take the New Day’s place in the Raw Tag Team Ladder Match. Winning those titles was just the cherry on top of a hectic weekend. The night before, the Hardy Boys had another big tag team title ladder match at a big event against another great tag team (ROH World Tag Team Championship Ladder War with the Young Bucks at Supercard of Honor). Jeff alone went through three tables and took 20 Superkicks or something, but he and Matt were still good to go for Mania. A wild March with a lot of lies and secrets, for good reason. They did a lot of hiding and sneaking around until it was finally go time.

Renee talks that night itself and that massive reaction. Jeff says that getting to gorilla, seeing guys he hadn’t seen in so long and getting to embrace, it was all amazing. Jeff wants another Mania Moment or two, but what does he picture one being? He has to figure that out, but he knows there are moments for sure. Jeff remembers letting his girls in on the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships just before it was announced, and his girls are ready to be the Hardy Girls! Jeff is ready to train those two when the time comes.


JBL takes part in Social Media SmackDown!

“It’s the first time anybody’s ever talked trash about me on the internet. Ever!” Shocking, we know. But tonight’s trash talk comes from Nick Dzioba who says “JBL SUCKS. Hope he never announces anything again.” That’s the best he has? His mama must be one of JBL’s old “rizzats.” JBL is gonna call Mama Dzioba to go down to the basement to turn Nick’s wifi off, because if that’s the best he’s got, JBL will explain this to him: “The lion doesn’t care what the sheep thinks.” JBL will unblock Nick just to block Nick again! There’s your 15 seconds of fame! That was hot like lava! “Say hi to mama!” He’s still got it!



My Thoughts:

What a great episode! JBL is great and I am so happy for him that he’s in the HOF this year. JBL was definitely a perfect Heel, because as much as I appreciate his work in retrospect, I was definitely against him growing up and watching him work. It was also great for Cena to give that video message to him, and to hear that story about Vader VS JBL and then JBL VS Cena. The stories of Eddie Guerrero were great, too. I so clearly remember that line about the boat and the inner tube, and it is so amazing that Eddie fed him that line. Nick Dzioba got deservedly served because JBL does not suck, Nick’s just a mark.

Also having Jeff for his stories and updates was great for the episode. Jeff’s return is going to be great, wherever it is and whoever it is against. The conversation on the Chamber match was fun, and it really puts that match in perspective. And thinking about it, there are definitely only a few repeat competitors even in recent years. Maybe that’s half the reason we’re not getting a SmackDown Women’s Chamber, since Bayley and Sasha Banks were in one last year for the inaugural Women’s Tag Team Championships. Speaking of, I am also very hopeful we get the Hardy Girls in like 15 years and they can have those titles to follow in their dad’s and uncle’s footsteps.

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Mitchell’s Raw Talk Resport! (4/5/21)




WWE Raw Talk

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!

My Thoughts:

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.

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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.

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.

Andrade Speaks!

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.

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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