Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and after eight years it feels like now is as good a time as any to get back to what I do best: ramble on about wrestling news.
For those of you that weren’t reading my stuff eight years ago, let me explain.
Back in the olden days, the Internet wrestling writing space was largely populated by things called “news reports”. There was rarely news broken in these columns, they were driven by the personality of the writer. Guys like Chris Hyatte, Rick Scaia and too many others to name became the Internet equivalent of your more knowledgeable friend down the street you talked the rasslin with. Whether they actually knew more than the average reader or not was debatable, but they were good with words. They presented things in an entertaining way that kept people coming back for more.
News From Cook’s Corner was my version of that. 411 had a ton of them in the mid 2000s from the likes of Larry Csonka, Stephen Randle and too many others to mention here. Greg DeMarco joined us along the way. Good times were had by all.
Until they weren’t.
During one of my 411 sabbaticals, it was decided that the “news report” was a thing of the past. People no longer wanted to read 3,000 words of wrestling talk. They wanted newsbites or a hot take. Maybe a list. Something short & sweet. The people didn’t want anything more.
Which was fine with me. Lists are fun, and the idea of doing some less than 100 people long was appealing. And fortunately I had developed into enough of a writer that I could get more than 1 paragraph out of a given topic. I’m pretty happy with most of what I’ve produced since 2017 here and elsewhere. The idea of going back to the old way? I wasn’t really interested. Until I started keeping up with the Wednesday night cable ratings, and noticed what the heck people were watching on a week to week basis.
Some would call it “the news”. I would not.
In fact, it’s pretty darn comparable to what we were doing back in the day. People not qualified to talk about news talking about news and passing off their terrible opinions as news. It seems to work for them, why can’t it work for us again?
Let’s find out…
Everybody knows that there’s a number of banned terms that you can’t say on WWE programming. I’m sure there’s more than seven, or I’d rip off the old George Carlin bit. Of course, a bunch of new terms like “coronavirus”, “covid-19” & “ramen noodle moonsault” have recently made the list, but there’s one that might surprise you a little bit: “Roman Reigns”. This was mentioned in the Wrestling Observer according to the web sites, and I can confirm that I have not heard the Big Dog’s name spoken on recent WWE programming. I haven’t seen it all, maybe Roman was mentioned on Main Event or NXT UK. However, I can tell you that Roman Reigns was not mentioned on Raw, SmackDown, NXT or The Big Show Show in the last couple of weeks.
I understand why. We have no idea when Reigns will be able to return to television. He pulled himself off WrestleMania due to concerns over the virus, and nobody in their right mind blames him for that. He’s had previous issues with his immune system, and his wife has just given birth to two kids. That guy doesn’t need to be traveling to Orlando right now. It’s impossible to say when things will be normal enough for Reigns to make that trip, or to somewhere else where WWE may end up hosting shows.
Hence, there’s no real reason to mention Roman Reigns on television right now. He won’t be feuding with Braun Strowman over the Universal Championship any time soon, or doing anything else on WWE programming. If Roman’s not there, why bring him up? There’s a lot of reasons to get mad at WWE right now, but this is one case where they can actually be defended. No reason to build up somebody or something that they have no idea when they can present it.
Here’s WWE’s upcoming taping schedule after this week, where they’re still doing things live:
- Saturday, April 25; two episodes of SmackDown will be taped (airing May 1 and May 8)
- Monday, April 27; two episodes of Raw will be taped (one for that night and the other will air the following week on May 4)
- Wednesday, April 29; two episodes of NXT will be taped (one is for that night, the other will air on May 6)
- Monday, May 11; one episode of Raw will be taped for that night and one episode of SmackDown will be taped for May 15
- Tuesday, May 12; one episode of Raw will be taped for May 18 and one episode of SmackDown will be taped for May 22
- Wednesday, May 13; two episodes of NXT will be taped (one is for that night, the other will air on May 20)
- Monday, May 25; two episodes of Raw will be taped (one for that night, the other will air on June 1)
- Tuesday, May 26; two episodes of SmackDown will be taped (one will air on May 29, the other will air on June 5)
- Wednesday, May 27; two episodes of NXT will be taped (one is for that night, the other will air on June 3)
- Monday, June 8; one episode of Raw taped for that evening and another episode of SmackDown taped for June 12
- Tuesday, June 9; one episode of NXT will be taped for June 10
- Monday, June 15; one episode of Raw taped for that evening and another episode of SmackDown taped for June 19
- Tuesday, June 16; one episode of Raw taped for June 22 and another episode of SmackDown taped for June 26
- Wednesday, June 17; two episodes of NXT will be taped (one is that night, the other will air on June 24)
- Monday, June 29; two episodes of Raw will be taped (one for that night and the other will air on July 6)
- Tuesday, June 30; two episodes of SmackDown will be taped (one for July 3 and one for July 10)
- Wednesday, July 1; two episodes of NXT will be taped (one is for that night, the other will air on July 8)
List courtesy of a lot of places, namely Pro Wrestling Sheet.
This whole situation with whether WWE’s taping their shows or doing them live or whatever has been a bit of a mess. People like to make fun of ol’ Dave Meltzer when he goes to the “plans change” explanation for why something didn’t play out on TV exactly the way he said it would. Here’s the reason why I’ve never been one of those people: Plans change all the time in WWE. This taping/live deal is a perfect example. One day, Vince is like “we gotta bring everybody in to tape a bunch of stuff”. The next day it’s “WE GOTTA DO EVERYTHING LIVE, PAL! GET ME DESANTIS ON THE PHONE!”. That’s why I’m 99.9% sure this taping schedule won’t play out the way it’s currently being reported. Vince will change his mind, in fact, he probably already has twice by the time this gets posted.
I do like this idea of holding Money in the Bank matches at Titan Tower. It seems like The Office on meth. If nothing else it should make things a bit different. The only thing that makes me a bit uneasy is the “climb the corporate ladder” tag line. If I was WWE I wouldn’t be leaning into the “heartless corporation” thing, but maybe that’s just me.
To be honest, AEW flew a bit under the radar last week with all the WWE stuff going on. Their biggest news was the announcement that Double or Nothing will still take place on May 23rd, just not in Las Vegas. All I can say is good luck getting people to spend $49.99 on an empty-arena show. I know AEW has their diehard fans that will purchase every show no matter what, and the company could certainly use the revenue boost, but I don’t see this going very well. They’re going to have to lower that price or stick it on B/R Live for free or something.
Also, is it just me, or does AEW need to do a better job of promoting their other stuff? Dark barely gets mentioned on Dynamite, and I just learned this past weekend that Being the Elite has had some matches featuring AEW’s California crew. Maybe I’m just an old fart and the kids are all over this stuff already, but I don’t think advertising this stuff on TNT would hurt anybody.
My favorite Netflix show recently, like everybody else in the world, is Tiger King. (The Big Show Show runs a close second.) It turns out that Cody Rhodes has a bit of a loose connection to the show, as he had heard about Carole Baskin killing her husband and feeding him to tigers years ago. Not that we’re sayin-oh hell, yeah, we’re saying Carole Baskin killed her husband and fed him to tigers. Everybody else is saying it, why not us too? And who knew that Chris Jericho was onto something deeper when he started talking about “Cody Exotic” a couple of weeks ago?
The above was an example of a completely useless news item, but it gives me an excuse to mention Tiger King. Hey, sometimes you have to entertain yourself.
Dustin Rhodes’ match with Kip Sabian this week on Dynamite has huge implications. Not only is it part of the TNT Championship Tournament, but the Natural has gone on record saying that he’ll retire if Sabian can beat him.
Shocking clip from the next episode of “Road To”:
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) April 18, 2020
Guys, I hate to say it, but we might not be seeing much more of Dustin Rhodes in an AEW ring. Even if he manages to beat Kip on Wednesday, that just means he’ll be facing Lance Archer in the semifinals of the tournament. There wouldn’t be a better message for Archer & Jake Roberts to send Cody, the man they’ve targeted for destruction, than his brother’s head on a silver platter.
I haven’t seen anybody report that Dustin’s wrapping up his in-ring career, but why else would this become a story point? If Dustin’s still wrestling full-time through the next few months, I’ll be wrong, and that’s great because I love watching Dustin Rhodes matches in 2020. It just feels like an AEW without Dustin active in-ring is where we’re heading.
Other Wrestling News
I’ve been critical of ROH’s parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting, in the past. I’ve certainly not been the only one to criticize their business practices. At the same time, I’ve always believed in giving credit when it’s due, and Sinclair has been doing ROH employees right during this time where they’re not able to work a bunch of previously scheduled shows. They’ve been doing non-employees right as well. Katie Lea reported on Twitter that she had been paid for a ROH show she was scheduled to work that was cancelled. Reportedly, wrestlers & staff have been paid for all ROH shows scheduled in April & May.
New Japan Pro Wrestling is paying their wrestlers their regular salary & benefits. Other promotions are doing their best to take care of their wrestlers as well. I don’t know if they insist on branding their wrestlers as “family” or not, but they at least haven’t thrown their employees under the bus. That in itself qualifies as “news” these days, does it not?
Finally, Dr. Wagner Jr. made his triumphant return to AAA this past Saturday night at their Lucha Fighter empty arena event. He had been away for three months and was rumored to be going independent. Nobody else being able to run shows probably put a dent in those plans. The highlight: he has a new theme song!
Yeah, I don’t know where they found the WCW Slam Jam musicians, but I am here for it.
Expect me to pop up four times a week here at The Chairshot until I run out of things to talk about. It’s not like wrestling news has slowed down, so that probably won’t be a problem…
I talked about how WWE Superstars are having an easy time at the airport.
I hyped up Zelina Vega’s Boys..
In podcasting news, I appear on the 411 on Wrestling every Thursday morning talking NXT, AEW & whatever else happened that day. Also doing some retro stuff with them…on Sunday I talked WrestleMania XX & Backlash 2004 with Larry Csonka & special guest @VPenguin!
Oh, and follow me on Twitter @stevecook84. I’d rate myself a perfectly average tweeter.
Thanks for reading! I want to close by giving a special thank you to Greg DeMarco for suggesting this. Hopefully it won’t get him in too much trouble.
BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Godzilla vs Kong (2021)
Big boy monster throw down of the year! The Nerds return with a current movie review, and this one should be interesting. Is Dave too forgiving? Is Patrick taking his role as the German judge too seriously? Find out where the overall ratings lands between these two!
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different movie from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick review the fourth installment of kaiju cinematic universe Godzilla vs. Kong!
The Flick: Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
What’s it About: A researcher believes a hollow world beneath the Earth’s surface is the birthplace of the mighty Kaiju. He convinces and old friend to help him take the mighty Kong to find his birthplace even if it means incurring the wrath of the King of Kaiju Godzilla. The battle between the two alpha Kaiju could result in the end of all mankind.
Metacritic Score: 59
The Nerds’ Take on Godzilla vs Kong (2021):
Dave It is time for the Main Event of Legendary’s MosterVerse, the showdown we have been waiting for: Godzilla v. Kong. If you have been following along with our Nerd Reviews, then you knew this was coming. What you don’t know is whether we feel the climax to the series is worth your time or not. Well allow me to give you my take on that topic.
Plot wise, it has been some five years since Godzilla defeated Ghidorah and things have been relatively quiet and peaceful. Meanwhile, on Skull Island, Monarch has created a dome like structure to observe and try and control Kong. Kong has developed a relationship with a little girl, Jia, who seems to be the last surviving member of her clan. Jia has, for lack of a better term, been adopted by Dr. Ilene Andrews. Jia is deaf and she seems able to communicate with Kong through sign language.
Halfway across the globe, Apex Cybernetics is engaged in some sort of experimentation that attracts the attention of Godzilla, who shows up and annihilates their facility in Florida. Godzilla’s attack shatters humanity’s notion that he is their friend. Bernie Hayes is an employee of Apex, but he also hosts a Podcast focusing on conspiracy theories involving the Titans. He is soon joined by Madison Russell (from Godzilla: King of the Monsters) who is a fan of the Podcast, and her friend Josh as they start poking around the remains of the Apex site in Florida. We soon discover that Apex is looking for a massive power source that they believe is located in Hollow Earth. Hollow Earth is really more of an Earth within the Earth (Middle Earth, perhaps?) and the quandary is how to survive the trip to Hollow Earth. Nathan Lind is a Hollow Earth expert whose brother perished in a prior expedition to Hollow Earth due to a reverse gravitational effect. But Apex has developed vehicles that can survive the voyage. They just need Kong to lead them there.
In the process of transporting Kong to Antarctica, which has an entry point to Hollow Earth, Godzilla senses his old rival and attacks. Godzilla definitely gets the better of this battle, forcing the expeditionary force to transport Kong by air to Antarctica to avoid detection by Godzilla. Kong gets the group to Hollow Earth and it becomes clear there has been an ancient rivalry between Kong’s ancestors and Godzilla’s. Kong discovers an axe made out of portions of Godzilla’s ancestor’s skins. Back on the surface, Bernie, Madison, and Josh have been whisked away to Hong Kong and they discover what Apex is really up to….Mechagodzilla. Mechagodzilla can be telepathically controlled and it is Dr. Serizawa’s son who is pulling the strings, using the severed head of Ghidorah to do so. The problem is that to utilize Mechagodzilla to its full potential, they require more power, much more power to be exact. This is where the search for the Hollow Earth power source comes into play.
Mechagodzilla is activated and this attracts Godzilla. Godzilla also senses what Kong is doing in Hollow Earth and he sends a blast of atomic breath from Hong Kong to, in essence, the center of the Earth. Kong and the Hollow Earth expeditionary force follow the hole made by Godzilla to the surface. Everyone emerges in Hong Kong for a massive fight between Kong and Godzilla. Kong fares better this time around but is ultimately rendered near death by Godzilla. At about this time, Mechagodzilla is imbued with the power source from Hollow Earth and he also achieves sentience. This leads to the big brawl between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla and it is a mismatch in favor of Mechagodzilla…. until Kong is revived, evening the odds in an enormously predictable moment. Godzilla supercharges Kong’s ax with his atomic breath and the two Titans take down Mechagodzilla. Godzilla and Kong show each other a sign of respect and go their separate ways. Apparently, there can be two alpha Titans after all.
Let’s talk about the good stuff first: the monster fights. They are all fantastic. The battles between Kong and Godzilla feel as big as you would expect. They are titanic clashes in every sense of the word. Godzilla fans will have bragging rights after watching this movie because it is clear that Godzilla whups Kong’s ass on more than one occasion. Kong fans save face though by noting that without Kong, Mechagodzilla would surely have triumphed. As for Mechagodzilla, his appearance in the movie was not a secret and he did not disappoint. The clash between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla was done very well to show just how much more powerful Mechagodzilla was and why it took the combined might of Godzilla and Kong to turn the tide. If massive Kaiju action is your thing, then Godzilla vs Kong is definitely your movie.
Now for the bad: The people. Now, I know what Patrick is going to say. That the movie shifts the focus to the people too much and detracts attention from the monsters. I know he thinks the concept of humans using a defibrillator on Kong is absurd. I am OK with those points in a movie like this. The problem I have with the people is this: They don’t matter. Not at all! They are white noise in the purest sense of the word. 90% of the characters are wholly uninteresting and meaningless. They add little to the plot and just get in the way. So, to be real, Patrick and I are, to a certain extent, talking about different sides of the same coin. The exceptions to this involve Jia, who is quite important to the whole notion of establishing Kong as the “good guy”, and Bernie, who is a fun character and kind of represents a microcosm of conspiracy theorists that are quite common in the real world today. Bernie epitomizes the notion that just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t watching you. But, beyond those two, the characters are quite dull and just felt very pointless.
As far as this being the series finale, I greatly enjoyed the movie. The dynamic between Kong and Godzilla is interesting and keeps you engaged, regardless of whether you are rooting for one, the other, or both. There are some interesting concepts in the movie, specifically how Hollow Earth is different than you might expect and much more interesting, no matter how far-fetched the idea might be. Interestingly, this movie really showcases just how bad ass Godzilla is. I am not sure why it took three movies to get it right, but I digress. Then there is Kong, who ends up being a multi-layered creature that is shown even more heroically than he was in Kong: Skull Island. As for me, I always favored Kong over Godzilla and I left the movie feeling fine with the outcome of everything. If there is a downside it’s that it appears the MonsterVerse has come to an end, just when it was getting really good. That’s too bad. As for Godzilla vs Kong, the awesome action sequences and special effects vastly outweigh the issues involving the people. This is a very good final installment (we think) in this franchise. It is the best of the movies involving Godzilla. I still liked Kong: Skull Island more, but this was a close second.
Dave’s Rating: 4/5
Patrick: Here we are again covering the fourth film in the Warner Brothers/Legendary produced Kaiju Monster universe. And once again this film somehow finds a way to mess up a simple concept. If you recall, in my review of Godzilla King of the Monsters I said good kaiju movies minimize the involvement of human beings in the film and let the monsters take center stage. Unfortunately, the folks at Warner Brothers still have not quite grasped the concept here in its fourth Kaiju film. The result is an uneven film that shines when the monsters are on screen and leaves me tuning out when the focus shifts to the little primates.
In this fourth installment, we learn that Monster research organization Monarch I closely monitoring Kong. Going so far as to create an enclosure around Skull Island so that he is safe from Godzilla. This of course will not last because, well, humans. One human in particular, a man named Nathan Lind comes with the backing of a mysterious tech corporation called Apex to search for “Hollow Earth.” Hollow Earth is a world beneath the surface of our Earth that is believed to be the birthplace of all Kaiju. Lind visits his friend and Monarch researcher Ilene on Skull Island. Lind believes Kong is the key to finding this hidden world. Despite knowing, Godzilla will attempt to kill Kong, Ilene agrees to embark on the expedition. Of course, Godzilla attacks and we get the first of three rounds of monster battling that we paid for.
Unfortunately, to get to round two and three, the audience has to sit through overwrought dialogue and subplots all in an attempt to help the audience connect to the experience. It’s all really boring. You know why? PEOPLE DON’T WATCH KAIJU MOVIES FOR THE HUMANS. But, I digress. Naturally the tech corporation Apex is not on the up and up with Lind. Color me stunned, but Apex turns out to be the real enemy to both Kong and Godzilla. I haven’t even covered the conspiracy theory guy and his gang of teenagers trying to expose Apex from the inside. Again, no one cares because, read it aloud…NOBODY WATCHES KAIJU MOVIES FOR THE HUMANS.
But this isn’t the end of the dumb. The audience is treated to an ancient history between Kong’s ancestor and the other Kaiju where we see Kong find the ancient axe of his ancestors. Because a monkey wielding an axe is cool looking. Did I mention Kong can charge the thing up with Godzilla’s radioactive breath? AWESOME? How about the humans using a high tech battery as defibrillator to revive a dying Kong? Just dumb on top of dumb followed by more dumb. And humans. All of the humans.
The cast for Godzilla vs. Kong is quite the list of names. Alexander Skarsgard essentially fills the role of human protagonist Nathan Lind. Honestly, he is the only human character given anything to work with. Kyle Chandler is back in his role as researcher Mark Russell, but if you blink you miss him. Millie Bobby Brown is also back as Madison Russell, but horribly wasted in a sidekick sort of role to the previously mentioned conspiracy theorist. She is limited to trying to discover why Godzilla has started attacking human cities. Someone of her talent could have and should have been used better. There are tons of other folks in this movie, and yet I struggle to understand why we needed them all. All they do is distract from what the audience wants to see which is GODZILLA and KONG FIGHT.
Ok. So what’s good about this film? Well, the Kaiju. The special effects team outdid themselves crafting these battles. Kong and Godzilla’s bouts all feel epic. I was also impressed with how much more well lit some of the night scenes were. As Kong and Godzilla battle at night in a Chinese city, everything is well lit without appearing phony. The choreography of the battles are terrific, albeit a little silly at times. Again, radioactive monkey axe. But the joy of Godzilla vs Kong is in these epic clashes. I watched the movie on HBO Max, I can only imagine how amazing it would have appeared on an IMAX movie screen with Dolby sound shaking my eardrums.
I came into Godzilla vs. Kong with pretty low expectations. I want to stress that I loved, loved, loved the action sequences involving the Kaiju. Unfortunately, you have to sit through an inordinate amount of human exposition to get to those epic moments. That’s not to say the humans and their stories need to be gone entirely. The audience does need a guide and some context. But Godzilla v. Kong would have been so much stronger with a pared down human side of things and a focus on the monsters. It seems Warner Brothers and Legendary pictures still haven’t learned the key to Kaiju: it’ all about the monsters.
Patrick’s Rating: 2.24/5.0
Overall Nerds’ Rating on Godzilla vs Kong (2021): 3.12/5.0
NXT Minus 6: Stand and Deliver…After
Brad breaks down the NXT Takeovers and his favorite matches! Do you agree?
These are the six best matches from Takeover week, plus a new bonus feature!
6. Jordan Devin versus Santos Escobar, 4.3 stars Devlin turned in a star making performance. His moonsault off the ladder was absolutely perfect and batshit crazy. Escobar is technically so sound, everything he hits looks great, and he’s top notch on the mic. But he’s not a cruiserweight, and I will never forget that fact. Still, an exciting match that surpassed my expectations.
5. Tyler Bate versus Noam Dar, 4.3 stars This match was a blast. Both guys have such a wide array of moves, you’ll never see the same match twice from either of them. The only thing holding this back was the Heritage Cup format. I like it, but it’s hard to have the sustained exchanges necessary to elevate a match to greatness. The breaks slow things down right as they are speeding up. Give these two a straight 20 minutes for the NXT UK championship #1 contender, and you’re look at a MOTY.
4. Gauntlet Match, 4.4 stars Another match that was just pure fun. Leon Ruff continues to prove he’s not a fluke champion. Cameron Grimes is 100% working the rich hillbilly gimmick. They made the right call by getting L.A. Knight and Dexter Lumis out quickly. And in another star making performance, Swerve Scott started the match against flyweight Ruff and ended it against Bronson Reed. That kind of versatility is enough to earn my #3 Star of the Night.
3. Io Shirai versus Raquel Gonzalez, 4.5 stars
This was the intense, inspired Shirai I don’t think I’ve seen since her match with Dakota Kai at Takeover 30. If this was her last match, as some are speculating, then she’s leaving on a high note worthy of her greatness. As good as Gonzalez was in ring, her performance after the match was even better. You could tell she kept flipping from “Holy crap, this is real and I couldn’t be happier” to “Yes, I’m a bad ass and I’ll power bomb every one of you chumps.”
2. MSK versus Legado Del Fantasma versus Grizzled Young Veterans, 4.5 stars
Some other federation might be on their level, but nobody does tag teams better than NXT. All three teams got considerable time to shine. In a match stuffed with terrific action & individual performances, Wes Lee shined the brightest. His hot tag was Cesaro-level awesome, and his athletic ability rivals Ricochet. He is a star in the making, and his performance earned him my #2 Star of the Night.
1. WALTER versus Tommaso Ciampa 4.7 stars
I gave Ciampa about a 1% chance of winning. Despite the lack of necessary drama, these two told a masterful story with near flawless execution. Something about WALTER brings out the best in whoever he faces. He did it with Tyler Bate and Ilja Dragunov. He did it with Ciampa. This was easily his best performance since his return from neck surgery. People say he’s a brawler, while guys like Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong are known for their gas tank. Ciampa showed that he can run with the best. His effort against WALTER earned him the respect of Imperium and my #1 Star of the Night.
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