Steve Cook is here with the five things that bring a smile to his face today–and we can all use that.
I’m going to level with you guys.
There are plenty of things I could write about. Thing is, they’re all pretty serious in nature and I’m kind of tired of writing about serious stuff right now. I just want to write one thing right now that isn’t about death or despair or the general nonsense that has consumed 2020 thus far.
I wanna do a Fave Five!
You might remember the Fave Five from back in the day when Booker T used to commentate on SmackDown. He would put people over as being part of his Fave Five. Sometimes he’d have more than five people on the list, and the list was constantly changing. I think most of us are like that, to be honest. We have our favorites, and they’re constantly changing.
So, in an attempt to be positive and temporarily forget about everything going on in the world right now, here are my Fave 5 of June 2020. This list will probably change by the time it gets posted, but it’s how I’m feeling right at this very moment.
5. Timothy Thatcher
I remember Larry Csonka endlessly praising Thatcher in EVOLVE during some podcasts we did back in the day, and since I never watched EVOLVE I just kinda let Larry go on while I was filling a beverage. Now that Thatcher’s finally on a show that I can watch, I get the hype. He’s a bad motor scooter that can take a licking & keep on ticking. You had a feeling he wouldn’t put up with Matt Riddle’s silliness for too long, and their battle in the Fight Pit on last week’s episode was pretty good. Thatcher lost a couple of teeth, didn’t care. That’s a bad man right there, and I feel for anybody that wants to get in his way.
4. The SuperBad Death Squad
— Jimmy Havoc (@JimmyHavoc) May 27, 2020
Individually, Kip Sabian & Jimmy Havoc were still looking to find their place in AEW. Sabian & his girl Penelope Ford were getting spots on Dynamite from time to time & were pretty good at being annoying, but hadn’t really broken through & become regulars. Havoc was mostly confined to AEW Dark, and nobody was really sure how to take him. Apparently he was a good guy, but he also seemed pretty creepy & dangerous.
Sabian & Havoc both came over to AEW from England, and have been living together since making the move to America. Penelope joined them soon after, and the three would often post things on social media with them out and about. So somebody at AEW finally figured out “Why not put them together?” during the pandemic shows, and it’s been a perfect fit. I don’t expect them to take the tag belts off of Kenny Omega & Hangman Page, but it speaks to Sabian, Havoc & Ford’s success as a group that they managed to get the spot. I like to see people figure things out and make their way up the ranks.
3. The IIconics
I wrote about Billie Kay & Peyton Royce last week, so I don’t want to belabor the point. I’ll just add on to it by gushing over Billie’s victory over Nikki Cross this week on Raw, and marveling at their EXCLUSIVE WWE Network promo after the match:
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) June 2, 2020
They’re both way too much and it’s awesome. Bayley & Sasha Banks better hope they don’t win the Tag Team Championship on Friday night. They don’t want more of that IIconic smoke.
2. Shotzi Blackheart
COOLEST entrance of the decade right here! 💚💚💚
— WWE (@WWE) January 30, 2020
Shotzi just arrived on NXT programming not too long ago, and her win-loss record isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. As you might be noticing, wins & losses don’t mean diddly poo for Fave Five consideration. It’s all about entertainment value, and Blackheart provides that more than anybody else on NXT right now for me. Her matches have been very good, she was starting to form a connection with the audience when there was an audience, and yes I have a thing for her neon green hair, tattoos & general look, what about it? Shotzi’s got a ton of potential, and hopefully she can overcome the log jam that the NXT women’s division can be and can get to a high level.
She also rides around in a little tank! Who doesn’t like that?
1. Sammy Guevara
I had a nightmare…
— sammy guevara (@sammyguevara) May 30, 2020
Sammy has to be in contention for MVP of AEW in 2020. Talk about a guy that will do anything to get something over. Dude gets killed on a weekly basis, occasionally with golf carts, more often with super kicks and other wrestling moves, and he just keeps coming back for more. He’s a solid talker, but his cue card promos during commercial breaks are even better. Guevara is learning the lessons from Chris Jericho, and stands to be one of the top stars of AEW in five years. If not sooner.
He just needs to avoid actually getting crippled.
Mitchell’s Wednesday Night War Review! The End!
The Wednesday Night War… is DONE!
Thank you, Wednesday Night War! It was fun while it lasted!
With NXT moving to Tuesdays, the wrestling war on Wednesday nights is no more! But let’s see where both sides stand now that the dust settles!
Let’s recap Year Two’s first phase.
Year Two, Phase One Final Scores: NXT – 9.13; AEW – 9.16
The margin was close as ever, but AEW inched out the win to continue their dominance from Year One! Don’t worry, NXT went past 12/9/20, it’s just that they and AEW tied those last three weeks. And you’ll notice that I left 12/30/20, the last Wednesday of the year, off because of the circumstances. Jon Huber, aka Brodie Lee aka Luke Harper, past away just days before that night, and AEW changed their plans to give us a “Celebration of Life” tribute episode. It did not feel right trying to give that show a score, because it wasn’t supposed to be about AEW but about Jon Huber. And to be fair to AEW’s score, I left off NXT’s episode for that night, even though NXT did have great action on their Year-End Award episode.
Now, for Year Two’s Phase Two, the WNW FINALE!
Year Two, Phase Two Final Scores: NXT – 9.44; AEW – 9.50
Year Two, Overall: NXT – 9.31; AEW – 9.36
Much stronger numbers from both sides this time, but these two companies started hard and kept going hard from New Year’s Evil VS New Year’s Smash all the way to TakeOver: Stand & Deliver and… Well, the AEW Dynamite put up against it. Just looking at it, that string in February for AEW made all the difference. They were just on fire right there, building towards AEW Revolution 2021, which itself was an awesome PPV (even with the pyro mishap at the end).
The margins were still close, but bigger than last phase’s, and even with TakeOver: Stand & Deliver Night One bringing NXT up to a high level, it was not enough! AEW wins again! They win two phases to zero, and are therefore the overall winner of the Wednesday Night War!
The Wednesday Night War may not have been as epic as the Monday Night War, or as long, but it was a lot of fun. NXT and AEW were giving us great wrestling every week, not just in-ring action but the promos and segments. The wrestlers on these shows are now stars because they got to be on cable network television, and literally kept me up late at night because I could not let either show wait until Thursday morning. But now, #NXTuesday is going to be how it is going forward, and we can all argue one way or another why the move happened but it doesn’t really matter, I’m still going to be watching both anyway.
Cook’s WrestleMania 37 Night One Gambling Picks
Who’s trying make money on guessing the predetermined scripts? If that’s you, Cook gots all the lines you need. This isn’t Breaking Bad; we only do betting lines!
This is one of those columns that needs no real intro or explanation. Its WrestleMania! What else do you need me to tell you? Today we’re talking Night One, tomorrow it’ll be Night Two. Easy peezy lemon breezy.
I know that some of you prefer a 12 hour WrestleMania event, but to me, two nights is definitely the way to go. Think of it this way: instead of one night to watch the biggest show of the year, you get two. What’s the downside?
Also, you can get two days to make money, if you’re into the kind of thing we’re talking about here. Though, I am contractually obligated to mention that my look at these matchups, with odds provided by BetOnline, is for entertainment purposes only.
Tag Team Turmoil
Lana & Naomi vs. Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose vs. The Riott Squad vs. Natalya & Tamina
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) April 7, 2021
We’ve got a match setting up a Night 2 match here, as Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler will face the winners for the Women’s Tag Team Championship. They’ve had some amount of issues with each team, so we can’t really use that as an indicator of who will win. We also can’t base it off of who will have the best match with Nia & Shayna, as that seems like a push.
We also don’t have odds on this match as I write this. If some do get posted, my guess would be that Natalya & Tamina will have long odds and could be a good pick as a team WWE might want to give a little reward for their service over the years.
Bad Bunny & Damian Priest (-950) vs. The Miz & John Morrison (+500)
— WWE (@WWE) April 6, 2021
We all know how this one is going, right? Bunny & Priest are the easiest pick on this two day extravaganza. I’m sure an outside celebrity lost a WrestleMania match at some point, but one isn’t immediately coming to mind. I assume some are still complaining about Bad Bunny getting a WM match, I choose to be good with it since it gets Damian Priest a match too. Hopefully this all works out well for him.
Braun Strowman (-500) vs. Shane McMahon (+300)
— Braun Strowman (@BraunStrowman) April 6, 2021
Braun is the natural pick here for obvious reasons (he’s actually a wrestler), but one can easily make an argument for Shane. The usage of a steel cage rarely keeps interested outside parties out of a match, and surely Shane will have a few allies looking to make an impact on WrestleMania. We’ll see Elias & Jaxson Ryker, and we’ll likely see somebody else. Any big stiffs in the Performance Center not otherwise occupied could be an option for Shane here.
The thing about gambling picks: we’re not always going to pick what we think will happen. I think Braun will destroy whoever gets put in his path here. But the object of this game is to make some money, and I think Shane McMahon at +300 is a good bet. Especially since I don’t think this feud will be ending at WrestleMania. Still some more heat to get on this issue.
Cesaro (-300) vs. Seth Rollins (+200)
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) April 7, 2021
Speaking of feuds that I think will extend beyond WrestleMania and will likely have the evildoer squeaking out a victory by nefarious means. I can easily talk myself into Cesaro getting a big win here, one which will lead to declarations that he’s a made man and finally on the level he deserves to be at. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with that.
I think it’s far more likely that Seth Rollins gets the win, and the issue between these two continues. Cesaro’s big win is coming, but not at WrestleMania.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match
The New Day (+250) vs. AJ Styles & Omos (-400)
AJ Styles vs. Xavier Woods – straight out of 2008 TNA. A reminder WWE is a TNA nostalgia company. pic.twitter.com/VNU9VULZ7N
— Garrett Kidney (@garrettkidney) April 6, 2021
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been burnt by picking against Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston. They have a knack for overcoming all obstacles at these major events and coming out on top. Its a good idea to keep these men featured on television, as they’re positive role models for the community and I can only think of one time that one of them did something a bit embarrassing for the company.
I mean….that Jamaican accent. What were they thinking? Never mind, we got more accent stuff to talk about for Night 2, let’s move on.
It is tempting to pick AJ & Omos, as there’s an obvious story there hopefully leading to Omos’ breakout as a singles star. That can easily be drug out though, and we don’t pick against The New Day here. Their victory will be a good way to pop the crowd early in the evening.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Sasha Banks (+250) vs. Bianca Belair (-400)
IMPOSSIBLE, THINGS ARE HAPPENING EVERY DAY. pic.twitter.com/7iXlEA4gAe
— Mercedes Varnado (@SashaBanksWWE) April 8, 2021
This is a huge moment for Bianca, and for the Women’s division in general, as the significance of two women of color fighting for a championship on the biggest show of the wrestling year can’t be overlooked. Its a big f’n deal, as politicians would say.
A win here would put Bianca Belair over the top as a star in this company, and I think that’s what happens here. Sasha doesn’t need the championship to retain her relevancy, and it’s not like any losses have hurt her standing with the people yet. She’ll do whatever she can on this evening to make Bianca a star.
WWE Championship Match
Bobby Lashley (+150) vs. Drew McIntyre (-200)
— WWE (@WWE) April 7, 2021
People seemed legit shook when it was mentioned on Raw that this would be the main event of Night 1. Like…that wasn’t obvious? As much as I like Sasha & Bianca & think they will have a fantastic match, the build of their match hasn’t exactly gotten me any more excited than I was the moment after the women’s Royal Rumble Match ended. Maybe y’all are more into TAG TEAM PARTNERS THAT SECRETLY HATE EACH OTHER than I am, but zero part of that whole thing seemed inspired to me. To be fair, it seemed even less inspired when Asuka & Rhea Ripley did it.
Meanwhile, this is the WWE Championship, dating back to the days of Bruno Sammartino & Buddy Rogers. Drew & Bobby’s issue has been building since the Royal Rumble, and now is the time for Drew McIntyre to get the WrestleMania coronation they wanted to give him last year. Will it work?
Well, the mystery is one of the reasons we’ll be paying attention.
Thanks for reading! Join me next time for Night Two!
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