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Mitchell’s WWE Backstage Report! (4/7/20)

The Backstage After Mania!

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WWE Backstage 2020

It’s the Backstage After WrestleMania Weekend!

WrestleMania brought us NEW WWE World, Universal and Women’s Tag Team Champions! Backstage will discuss those outcomes and so much more!

 

Renee Young returns with the Backstage panel!

She, Booker T, Paige and Christian are all here via video chat to discuss the wild week in the WWE! Also celebrate six years of Paige in the WWE! Today was the day she debuted and took the WWE Diva’s Championship! But from one historic moment to two others, the WWE Universe is still buzzing after seeing both the Boneyard Match and Firefly Fun House match at WrestleMania! The Undertaker left AJ Styles for dead on Night 1, and there is so much to talk about! Booker’s feelings on the concept and execution is a five star movie! That was Friday the 13th right there. Taker was awesome, Styles stepped up, and Mick Foley put it best: he wants to be in the second Boneyard Match! Booker, however, does not.

Paige says the Boneyard match was interesting. Does it suit anyone outside the Undertaker? Who knows. But it was enjoyable, theatrical, and even having the music was great. She agrees that Styles did a great job, but the question is: Is Styles alive in kayfabe? Christian says Styles is DONE, as Booker might say. But for a brand new match type that no one knew anything about, it was a blank canvas for Styles and Taker. It was cinematic and well done. This adds to the allure of Taker, and can be used when the timing and opponent are right.

Then on Night 2, it was the Firefly Fun House match that was also very cinematic in presentation. Paige has been a huge advocate for Bray Wyatt, so what was her reaction? We were on this “massive acid trip” together. Paige has known Bray since day one, and that creative masterpiece was definitely powered by him. Back in FCW’ promo class, Bray had the lots of creative ideas. This was beautiful, and John Cena was a good sport. Renee agrees, it takes two to tango. Booker’s thoughts are that, along with the Boneyard Match, it was a matter of when the “match” would start. The Firefly Fun House Match went across time and space with the Ruthless Aggression Era, the nWo, and so much more. Booker wants to rewatch it just so he can catch all the references. He’s still on the fence, but he’ll get back to us.

Christian says he had his own interpretation. He likes that they were on different nights, because they had to, but WrestleMania was the perfect platform for those matches. His interpretation of Bray taking Cena through his WWE career and saying, “Hey, look. Because of the way that you look, because of the way that you’re built physically, you had the potential to be the golden boy, the golden goose for the WWE.” Cena was the kind of guy the WWE would put on posters, in movies, in press situations. Cena got chance after chance to ensure he’d make it. But then a guy like Bray was given a chance, maybe didn’t hit it out of the park, and was just done. Bray holds that against Cena, and Christian says the match was the culmination of that feeling.

Then given these cinematic matches, what more can the WWE do to move away from being stuck in the Performance Center? World circumstances of course being what they are, Booker says that those can be “back by popular demand.” Booker says it could be like the Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich! Get one while they’re here! But what else can they do differently? Booker watched Raw last night, and he saw the new talent having moments they hadn’t had. Ricochet and Cedric Alexander as a team impresses Booker. Having new combinations and faces will spice things up.

Christian says cinematic matches can’t just be thrown out all over the place. Those need to be rare to keep them special or they lose all meaning. As for new things, try some Attitude Era moments where it interviews are just as superstars arrive. Maybe feature more areas within the WWE PC, just like the Orton VS Edge Last Man Standing match did. Maybe Becky uses her 18-wheeler to start smashing cars. Just something to mix it up.

But speaking of fresh and new… Coming up after the break, the fresh new WWE World Champion, DRRREW! MCINTYRRRE!

 

Drew McIntyre returns to WWE Backstage!

The Scottish Stud joins Renee and Christian and gives a little waves. How is he feeling after WrestleMania? He’s alright, for doing nonstop media since 1:15 AM on Sunday because of the UK. And then he just kept going and is loving it. After all, he’s talking about himself and the WWE and beating Brock Lesnar in five minutes. So how did it feel that exact moment when he was declared winner? It still doesn’t feel real. The look on his face says it all, if you watch it back. WrestleMania 36 had to be different from any other event he’d ever done. Under normal circumstances, 80 THOUSAND people would be screaming bell to bell and you get lost in that adrenaline. Christian understands how that feels. And it’s not until you’re alone in your hotel room much later that night that the real emotion comes out.

But with no crowd around, McIntyre let a glimpse of that show in those moments right after the bell. McIntyre saw the title being handed to him and it started to sink in. But then he snapped back and remembered to finish out the show. The camera came close and normally you’re not supposed to look into it, but he couldn’t help himself with that moment being so real. McIntyre says it here now, he thanks everyone that has always believed and still will believe in him. And thanks for choosing to watch and be part of WrestleMania, even with everything that’s going on in the world right now. McIntyre is sure something was edited out by now but he just wants us to know that was all real emotion that night. And he has the belt as proof!

Renee asks if he wears the belt around the house all day. McIntyre tries, but when he tries to be the boss and tell the wife to do something, she puts him back in his place. The McIntyre home hierarchy is the cats, the wife, then him. Christian asks what it means to be the first UK-born WWE Champion. It’s crazy, but it was among the goals McIntyre had when he first came to America. It’s “wild” that wrestlers like William Regal, Wade Barrett or the British Bulldog never got to have this title. As we know, McIntyre didn’t do it his first time around, either. He had to claw and scratch his way back, but now he’s on top after winning at WrestleMania against Lesnar. Add that to being the first-ever, that’s amazing and fitting of his story. Winning in front of 80 thousand would’ve actually seemed less fitting.

Renee says that given the circumstances, where was McIntyre when he watched it all? He was with his wife and cats, of course. He hates watching himself, but he loves watching WrestleMania. So they were on the couch, watching the first WrestleMania since 23, back in 2007. Then 24 was in Orlando, his first one while with FCW. He even helped take down the ring at the end of the night. He and Sheamus almost got hit by lighting equipment that fell from the ceiling, actually. But he’s been busy ever since, so it was great to just sit and watch that weekend. It definitely took his mind off of everything going on.

But again, he felt odd watching himself, except for that final pin and the win. To make it real for himself, he didn’t let himself have the belt until that night because nothing is real in the WWE until it happens on screen. He mostly wanted to make sure they didn’t change it on him. But the broadcast had it with him winning, he ran upstairs and grabbed the belt, and held onto it. Christian remembers feeling like that. The old World Heavyweight Championship sits out and you’re tempted to touch it. He never did, though, until he earned it.

Renee notes that about a decade ago, Vince McMahon had McIntyre debut as “The Chosen One.” How does it feel to actually be the top guy now? Well again, it’s wild. McMahon is like a sorcerer and he predicted the future. McMahon predicted the company public and the WWE Network becoming reality. And while McIntyre didn’t become the champion back then, he became champion now. The journey was worth it. If McIntyre became champion 10 years ago, he knows he would’ve bombed, sucked, etc. McIntyre knows now he needed the journey he went on. That journey molded McIntyre into both the man and the wrestler he is today, and there is nothing he isn’t ready for. He knows the world is going through difficult times, and he hopes to keep entertaining everyone on Raw now that he’s the flag bearer.

Christian notes on the “road less traveled” career, McIntyre was a guy that left the WWE. Christian relates how he also left and used that to find himself. McIntyre did that, came back and earned everything here. How has all that changed him? Well it changed McIntyre drastically, but especially in his life outside the ring. He has matured, in large part thanks to his wife. Inside the ring, McIntyre had to get away. There was no way he could transition from Three Man Band back to something serious, and he just needed that time to become this McIntyre. McIntyre had to apply all the lessons he learned, and is grateful that many other companies put their own faith in him. He was able to learn how to be the leader in those places, and was able to strengthen the other areas of his work.

McIntyre admits his Scottish accent can be hard for others to understand, so he perfected verbalizing and articulating. All the little things that add up to being a top guy came into place. Again, doing media, he’s been doing it nonstop since this weekend. He can’t put it into words, but he will say he is a passionate man. He’s just so excited that he’s “the bloody WWE Champion. What the hell?!” But yes, he did it! He is the very top of the mountain!

Renee notes that with the world being where it is right now, McIntyre is WWE Champion in a very unique time in history. What pressure does that put on him already? None really. It’s obviously different, such as filming on a closed set at the PC with very strict health guidelines. McIntyre had a locker room to himself, in fact. But as long as we can all push forward, stay safe and continue with original content to keep everyone entertained, he’s all for it. Everyone else wants to do that, and he is now captain of the ship. McIntyre is proud of the WWE for stepping up during this difficult time in the world.

Renee agrees with all that and is sure the WWE is in good hands with him as the new champion. Congratulations again, and everyone looks forward to McIntyre’s third time on Backstage. Hopefully it’ll be after things can return to normal. McIntyre loved having his moment, but he wants the fans to be able to return and join him in that. Christian adds that he is very proud of McIntyre. They’ve had long talks over the years, and McIntyre thanks Christian for all the help and support. And even Renee for her part interviewing 3MB. She does remember those days.

But there are many other new champions to talk about, when WWE Backstage returns!

 

WWE Backstage brings the full panel back for more!

Drew McIntyre wasn’t the only first-time world champion. Another big winner was BRAUN, who stepped up when Roman Reigns could not compete. How does the Monster Among Men make the most of this sudden opportunity? Booker says that for Strowman not originally in the match, you gotta seize the opportunity when opportunity knocks. Booker remembers that when he got his first title, it was because Rick Martel forgot his boots! The company decided to put the title on Booker and Booker was all for it. Booker was happy to be Television Champion, but he was also upset because he would’ve liked it to be for different reasons. But in the end, it doesn’t matter, because it means having “a chip in the game now.” He kept moving and dared others to take the title off him. Braun needs to do the same thing now.

Christian says Booker is right. You never know when opportunities will come along, so you take them when you can. When Edge retired, Christian had to step into his spot. You can’t overthink it, you just have to go with it. And Braun knows the WWE Universal Championship wasn’t his spot. If he had a chip on his shoulder before, now that chip’s bigger. Braun just has to prove to himself and everyone else that he was the right choice to put in there, and should have been champion from the start. Renee adds that’s probably a big chip given Braun’s a big man.

As for Paige, she says all of WrestleMania was rather nostalgic. She grew up in the WWE with a lot of these people. Braun is in fact the gentlest giant in the world. She remembers him being in promo class with Dusty Rhodes, wearing a diaper and bear ears. That proved to her that he’d be a star! Braun is fun, is brave to step out of comfort zones and put himself out there, which is what happened here. He was given his chance, took it and ran with it. Paige is very proud and happy for him, because he deserves it. Renee agrees, it is great to see that WrestleMania moment.

But moving on to another moment, it was the friendship broken apart until there was just one last man standing. That is of course, THE Last Man Standing match. “Good God.” Edge’s first match since WrestleMania 27 and it was brutal! Christian says the build was a master class in conveying emotion. Even with no crowd, the home audiences were hanging on every word of the promos. The match was what it needed to be: a kickass, hard-hitting, physical fight. Everyone at home surely cringed with every hit or drop. Oddly enough, Edge did not change his style with jumping off that platform to crash through a table. But the big takeaway is that Edge’s music hitting and him walking down the ramp was one of the greatest moments ever.

Paige says that was HER main event. She was super excited because both men are among the best storytellers in the business today. Those two together is magic. Paige really wished that there was a crowd, of course, but Edge and Orton still told such a beautiful story. It was incredible, she could never say anything bad about it. Booker says that Edge is back and put himself through hell just to get here. And again, of course we all would’ve liked different circumstances, especially Edge and Orton. But the fans still got a great taste of this feud, and there might even be a main course coming. Renee adds that the storytelling in the build was great, but the WWE 24 special about Edge was so good! Paige doesn’t want spoilers, so Renee suggests everyone go watch that. It just went so well leading into Night 2.

And now, moving from intense to eye-catching, it’s the SmackDown Tag Team Championship Ladder Match! Imagine doing a ladder match with no audience. Christian has been in a LOT of Ladder Matches, but never one with no one around. He did like to go to the arena the night before to get a feel for the ladders and the ring. When he climbed the ladder at that time, there was no one there. You feel the height, and it gets scary. That must’ve been how it was for John Morrison, Kofi Kingston and Jimmy Uso. Kudos to them for staying in the moment and creating something special.

Booker says that when he watched this, he actually turned the sound down. He watched the action alone, and the action alone had him going nuts. All three put everything on the line for the show and the fans. If there were fans live, those fans would not be able to contain themselves. That’s how good that match was. Christian is a ladder expert, especially with the high spots, so surely they’re in agreement.

Renee says it was also a friendly reminder that Morrison is a great return. Paige never had a ladder match, and certainly never one with no fans. Walking out, everyone wants to feed off the energy but there wasn’t any. So to be up top knowing you’ll fall, the adrenaline blocks out the worry because the crowd is so loud. But then it’s crickets, and you pause and think, “What now?” But those three didn’t let that get to them, it felt like there was still 80 thousand, and that made the match work.

 

George Kittle goes Backstage!

The San Francisco 49ers’ Tight End was watching WrestleMania 36 and doing a reaction stream for Night 2. Kevin’s WrestleMania Moment of jumping off the WrestleMania definitely got him to react. As did Morrison’s lucky win of the SmackDown Tag titles, and Otis dropping the Caterpillar on Ziggler. Oh, and getting the girl, too.

Kittle now talks with Renee and Booker and says it’s hard to pick a favorite match. But if he had to, it has to be the Boneyard Match. It was so unique, and The Undertaker can still wrestle for several decades if he does matches like that. Renee likes the way he thinks. Kittle’s expectations were nothing. He didn’t know what to expect from the Boneyard Match of the Firefly Fun House Match. Both were so different, but Taker throwing guys off the roof is just awesome. Renee brings it back to Kittle’s reaction stream, and asks his thoughts specifically on Rollins VS Owens. Seth Rollins is his favorite wrestler after meeting him a couple times at Rollins’ wrestling school in Iowa. The match was great, it covered a lot of ground, and KO jumping off the sign was just nuts. He would love to see more.

Booker saw Kittle is a big fan of Otis. How cool was it for Otis to get his revenge? Kittle loved it. Kittle loves seeing when a wrestler works hard and get the reward. That whole match was great, especially with Mandy Rose appearing to give Ziggler and Sonya some payback. Booker notes it is almost like Ms. Elizabeth. Yes, it was one of the best moments in Mania history. Renee agrees, it was a beautiful moment. Otis got everything he deserved and Ziggler can hit the bricks.

Renee moves things to Kittle’s NFL career. The Super Bowl didn’t go the way the 49ers wanted, but Kittle still got a great moment meeting The Rock. He only talked to The Rock for like 30 seconds, but his heart was racing. They were on stage together, The Rock gave him an introduction and then they bro-hugged. Kittle just couldn’t believe it, but he’ll always remember the slap on the bicep. Renee brings up Rob Gronkowski, a fellow TE, win the WWE 24/7 Championship. What are Kittle’s feelings on that? That was awesome, too, especially when you consider Gronk’s previous moment of helping Mojo Rawley in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. Gronk as a host was very entertaining.

Booker wants Kittle to be honest. How does he really feel? Kittle won’t let Booker stir it up. Kittle supports fellow Tight Ends, and Gronk letting his personality out on screen like that was great. Renee wants Booker to share his feelings. Are we having a Promo School pop quiz or something? Booker will go at Kittle. Kittle needs to get some dirt on him in this business. Kittle was being served up Gronk right there but he let it go. Booker wants Kittle to call out Gronk, and be like, “I cannot question your stats.” Gronk’s a three-time Super Bowl Champ, so you just can’t. BUT, Kittle is a first-team all-pro with the TE receiving record! Gronk, you step to Kittle and it’ll be just like Skittles! Break down and taste the rainbow, SUCKAAA! Kittle admits, Booker has him speechless.

Renee thanks Kittle for joining them on the show, and hopefully next time will be in person. Kittle thanks them for having him on, he loved it.

 

The panel returns to talk about the Women’s Division!

Rhea Ripley VS Charlotte Flair for the NXT Women’s Champion was an “absolute clinic.” Paige says she loved it all. Charlotte won but Rhea stepped up to the plate. No one expects NXT talent to be on the Grandest Stage of Them All like that, but Rhea killed it. But props to Charlotte for another five star instant classic. Charlotte is the Queen and Paige is happy she’s back on top. Mostly because it annoys a lot of people, but that just means Charlotte’s doing her job right. Renee says Rhea and Charlotte beat the hell out of each other.

Christian’s take is that from a wrestling perspective, it was the best wrestled match of the weekend. He liked the psychology of working the leg, it came into play. Fans are worried about Rhea, but Christian isn’t. Rhea is an NXT talent that got to be on WrestleMania! And she did amazing against Charlotte! Rhea is young, talented, and can go back and forth with Charlotte for years to come. The WWE is on the right track with Rhea.

Moving on from The Queen, the panel discusses The Man! Becky Lynch has been on a roll, but so has Shayna Baszler. Shayna had a huge part in the Survivor Series build, and got her 1v1 shot at Becky. Becky won the highly anticipated match but by the skin of her teeth. Today is the full year anniversary of Becky Lynch becoming Raw Women’s Champion! What does everyone think of that?

Booker knows the subject has been what Becky has to do, and he still says she just needs to continue living up to her nickname. She showed up and showed out again. Booker was on the fence in regards to Shayna, but she also stepped up and performed on that next level. Shayna has done big stuff and will do big stuff in the WWE, and he liked her promo after. “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Shayna will have her thrill of victory on Raw soon enough, she just has to wait. Christian agrees with Booker, he wondered if Shayna was ready. But now Christian feels that no one is ready, until they get their shot. You don’t know what to do about that situation until you’re in it.

Christian notes Shayna definitely has something different among the Women’s Division. She has a Lesnar-like intimidation factor when she walks in a room. And he also notes that Shayna lost but she wasn’t beaten. It was a roll-up victory. Much like Lesnar comes back scarier after a defeat, Shayna will do that next. Renee moves things from WrestleMania Weekend to the Raw After Mania. After the break, Backstage discusses the return of a long-time favorite of theirs.

 

Next week, CM Punk is back!

The Voice of the Voiceless joins Backstage again, and he will be more than ready to discuss anything and everything WWE!

 

Raw After Mania was for returns!

Nia Jax gets a return win over Deonna Purrazzo and with a new move. It has been a full year, but after successful knee surgeries, the Irresistible Force is on Raw again! And she even borrowed one of Paige’s old moves. Paige is so excited. Nia having two knee surgeries but she’s back in just a year? That’s quick and really great. Nia texted Paige while at the PC, and she asked permission to use the ol’ RamPaige package DDT. Paige figured why not. It was bittersweet, though, because it means Paige isn’t going to be using it anymore. But at the same time, Paige got chills from seeing Nia use it. It was Paige’s own “passing the torch” moment there. Renee says it is great to see Nia’s hard work in recovering and returning pay off.

Booker says Paige and Renee said a lot to that already. Going through rehab, putting in the work, having that mindset and the worries, it’s a lot. But seeing Nia return, doing what she does “oh so well,” he loves it. A big weekend for the WWE Women’s Division, too. Bayley retained her SmackDown Women’s Championship, yet she goes and starts talking smack! Bayley’s post-Mania interview video plays now, in which she calls out Paige. “Bring her up on the titantron, go Skype her, go FaceTime her.” That’s how Paige communicates now, right? RIGHT?! “I don’t care what match she has for me! I thought you (the interviewer) were going to be in the match with me. Where’s Renee Young?” Bayley gives them all open invitations!

Renee says Bayley don’t want none. What is her problem, anyway? What did they ever do? Paige gets her part, because she originally announced that huge match. But at the same time, Bayley deserves unfair situations because of her bad attitude. Booker wants Renee to ask him what he thinks, and she does. He thinks Sasha Banks is a hell of a worker. BURN! But with that, Backstage wraps it up. Be sure to be back next week for even more words of wisdom.

 


 

My Thoughts:

This is a really good episode to follow a really good WrestleMania Weekend. It makes so much sense having Drew McIntyre on this episode given his huge win. Obviously everyone in the WWE feels the same way we do, but they also understand the situation the world is in. I also like that McIntyre wants that same Raw After Pandemic moment I’ve been wanting. That Raw needs to be the biggest celebration for both his title win and the world being able to function again. George Kittle on the show was good, too. I appreciate Booker trying to start up an NFL WWE crossover in nudging Kittle towards the 24/7 Championship. Gronk needs to be part of Raw next week for a showdown with Mojo, Truth and even Riddick Moss.

I like how Booker frames things for Braun. Braun wins as a substitute, but he needs to stand tall and show he was champion material all along. Hopefully WWE already has that in place with this Friday Night SmackDown that has apparently been taped from their “secret location.” However, why didn’t they talk about The Big Show? Big Show was as much a part of the Raw After Mania as anyone else. Though, maybe this means Big Show’s return is a weird one-off. Maybe CM Punk gets to talk about this and other stuff for his episode next week. In fact, I hope CM Punk gets to go in-depth on that Firefly Fun House. Backstage could make an entire episode of just that analysis.


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Mitchell’s Raw Talk Resport! (4/5/21)

Raw Talk, GET THESE HANDS!!

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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!

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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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