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Mitchell’s WWE Backstage Report! (6/2/20)

Daniel Bryan goes Backstage!

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WWE Backstage 2020

Backstage hears Flight of the Valkyries!

After reliving the great moments from WrestleMania 31, both Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins will join the panel in discussing their many great WWE memories!

Renee Young welcomes us Backstage!

The world has only gotten more difficult and intense these days, but it is a time of growth and understanding, as well. As such, it means so much to the WWE that you are tuning in tonight. With that said, Renee, Booker T, Christian and CM Punk assemble once again. Christian boats about his $7 at-home haircut while Punk says he doesn’t have time for that. Renee suggests letting the Mrs. do one for him but he refuses. AJ Lee did it once, and let’s just say it wasn’t the best. But after watching FoxSports 1’s special feature of WrestleMania 31, does the panel agree that it had the BEST ending to a Mania EVER?

Booker says it was GOODT. Seth Rollins cashing his Mr. Money in the Bank contract on Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, for the WWE World Championship, in the main event, that is a moment where careers change. It was truly a great moment, that is for sure. As for Punk, that moment broke into the Top 10 but it is not the greatest moment. WrestleMania 10, for instance, was better. Renee doesn’t understand, the WWE can’t just label something as the greatest ever when it isn’t? #Sarcasm. But Punk doesn’t like the hyperbole, saying this is the worst thing ever or this is the greatest thing ever. That disrespects moments like Bret Hart beating Yokozuna in WM10, after losing to his brother Owen Hart. Then the story told, Hart taking on someone the size of Yokozuna and winning, that is how you end WrestleMania.

Booker agrees, it is hard to be a GOAT, hard to put yourself on a pedestal. WWE already claims Backlash will have “the greatest wrestling match ever” with Randy Orton and Edge, but that’s yet to be seen. Booker apologizes for cutting Christian off, but Christian says it’s fine because he needed time to google “hyperbole.” Christian’s favorite ending is WrestleMania 30 with Daniel Bryan’s incredible double header. He beats Triple H to then make the main event a triple threat, and then he wins that to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. For Christian, it symbolized the triumph of Bryan organically “getting over” with the fans. It wasn’t in the plans but it became the plan because the fans said Bryan was their guy that they wanted in that spot. Bryan made people fans, and the fans made Bryan champion. Renee agrees, that’s a great moment.

But Booker says Christian is lying! Christian says the right things to appease viewers. Booker knows Christian has been watching wrestling for a long time, and yet that’s the best one? Christian defends that it’s about what it symbolized. Booker concedes that, but Renee asks what Booker’s issues are with WM30. Booker doesn’t have issues, it’s just that with so many Mania moments, Christian’s seen many of them, there have to be others. Christian says it’s subjective. The answer could change in a year. But right now, Christian goes with everything WM30’s ending symbolized. Christian had a similar path as Bryan, and wonders if he’d wrestled a few years later, would Christian have gotten that same kind of movement behind him. Seeing Bryan break through and get the moment he deserved, that was huge. Well Daniel Bryan will join the show in a moment, but we’re just getting started!

In the WWE, we always have an interesting mix of high level athletic competition and high drama soap operas. This week had the best of both worlds, but for now, here’s…

Just the Highlights!

On Raw: The Irresistible Force costs The Empress against the Queen with her undeniable mockery. Will Nia Jax suffer some backlash at Backlash? Meanwhile, Gronk got got and R-Truth has his baby back! Will the WWE 24/7, 48-7, 7/11, I-95 South, Tampa Bay, European Television Champion move on now that he sacked Tom Brady? Rey Mysterio and his son Dominik had a message for Seth Rollins: Damn him! They will never forgive Rollins, and it will be eye for an eye.

On SmackDown: Jeff Hardy was framed and Elias was the victim! Both men were automatically OUT of the WWE Intercontinental Championship tournament, and AJ Styles takes a free ride to the finals! However, Daniel Bryan refused to be so selfish, and a battle royal was held! Sheamus would win, only for The Charismatic Enigma to shockingly return! Bryan wins, Hardy goes after the Celtic Warrior, but what does this all mean?

The panel discusses.

Using some real life situations in Hardy’s story is rather shocking, but Hardy is fully behind doing this. Do they think the WWE pulled it off? Punk speaking from experience, having worked extensively with Hardy in a similar story, Hardy was not in a great spot in his life then. We all know his past and his problems. Punk’s thing about this is that sobriety is fragile. Discussing when and if they should do such a story with Hardy and how Hardy is okay with it, giving the green light, thumbs up, what have you, it is now the responsibility of the writers, promoters, etc. to get in front of some things and say, “No, we’re not doing this with Jeff again. We don’t need him to be in this position.” Cleaning your life up is something to be proud of, and we can champion that in different ways. This is not one of those ways to Punk. You don’t put someone in front of a moving car.

Christian feels very similar to Punk, but also thinks that if Hardy is okay with this, or even dead set on it, that’s another thing. This was clearly done as more of a set-up, so the heat is going to go on someone else, but maybe this isn’t the best way for that. Booker says that watching it, he felt a certain way about it. It rips at you, and you have to understand the era Booker is from. He saw a lot of guys who had their own problems with substance abuse. Many were friends and many aren’t here anymore. So seeing this, he wasn’t sure. But again, Hardy has been reformed for quite some time, but has gone through his share of anguish, too. So hopefully things turn out right in the end.

But Punk knows Booker feels this doesn’t work. Booker was in WCW, and Scott Hall’s dark days being put out there. Booker agrees, it never really works out for anyone. To see Hardy make a triumphant return, he needs to be put in a certain light, and this isn’t something to play with.

Moving to Raw, a certain story has become a family affair. Mysterio vows he will never forgive Rollins for what he put the family through. And Dominik vows to seek retribution on behalf of his father. Dominik has been part of his father’s story for many years now, and perhaps we’re about to see him step up even further. Where does everyone feel this story should go now, assuming Dominik steps in the ring with Rollins? Christian says he has deja vu, with Dominik stepping in when Mysterio wanted to retire the first time, and with Brock Lesnar, so maybe there’s a thread here. At the same time, it is a wait-and-see game. Is Dominik going to finally wrestle on his own? The thing is, Mysterio is one of the very best ever, so it’d be a challenge for Dominik to live up to that. Maybe Rollins starts to influence Dominik in some way.

Renee agrees, that’s a lot of pressure for Dominik to step out of Rey’s shadow. Similarly, Charlotte Flair having to step out of Ric’s shadow. Of course, Charlotte is a great athlete, but we’ll see with Dominik. Has he trained with Booker? No, he hasn’t come down to this “small” operation known as Reality of Wrestling just yet. But Booker hopes Dominik will come down, get some training before making a run. Dominik still has that baby fat and is wet behind the ears. But of course Mysterio is preparing to pass the torch, it’s why Booker wants to help out. Let’s get him in the gym, get some real meat on the bones. But Booker likes how Dominik is joining in, he’ll be off and running as soon as he hits the ground.

As for Punk, he thinks this is a good use of a real-life situation. A real-life father and son duo is a good dynamic. Dominik was stiff with the delivery but he’ll come out of his shell. There’s nothing more despicable than a bad guy getting involved with a family’s business. For example, saying happy birthday to Mysterio’s daughter a few years ago. That’s still one of those things people stop Punk on the street about. So Dominik getting involved, maybe he turns into a disciple of Rollins, that’d be an intriguing twist and Punk would watch. And when Rollins was on Backstage, he said he was scouting for yet another addition to the stable. Maybe Dominik ends up the chosen one?

 

Daniel Bryan goes Backstage!

The Goat reunites with the Best in the World, and Renee! But not on Tout? Darn. It sure feels like it, though. This is Bryan’s first use of Zoom! So far so good. And looking at the WWE Intercontinental Championship Tournament, what a great finals match! How excited is Bryan to be having another match with AJ Styles given all the classics in the past? Bryan says his career feels so surreal. He has met so many great people, Punk included, and then 20 years later, he meets them again. They were these young, hungry wrestlers, and now they’re old, grizzled wrestlers. But for Bryan and Styles, it is still a competitive inspirational thing wanting to be at the highest levels possible, and that’s a lot of fun.

Renee brings up Bryan’s sordid past with AJ Lee, given their onscreen romance. Of course, AJ Lee has since become Mrs. CM Punk, but let’s take a trip down memory lane all the way. Specifically, we start with Monday Night Raw, 7/23/2012, the wedding of AJ Lee and Daniel Bryan. But AJ Lee wasn’t saying yes to Bryan. She said yes… to CM PUNK! Punk, who was WWE Spinner Belt Champion at the time, didn’t want to rub it in, but Bryan did just get stood up at the altar. What a great suit Bryan was in, by the way. But any fun stories from those times? Punk just remembers that night and how ridiculous it was that April (AJ Lee) had to wear that wedding dress for a long time, what with rehearsals and all. She looked amazing, but also the dress was so opposite to who she was as a person, Punk couldn’t help but take a picture with her in the hall. It was all so silly and weird and then that episode blossomed into them actually getting married.

But working with Bryan and April, and KANE of all people, too, was so wild. Bryan also doesn’t remember specifics, but he remembers that he and Punk were in a program for the title. Yet, they also weren’t the main event. Bryan doesn’t get rubbed the wrong way very often, but that was one of them. The main event story was John Cena and Bryan’s now father-in-law, John Laurinitis. It is so weird to look back to that. But Bryan and Punk did three title matches for PPV’s, yet none were the main event. And then Kane joins in, and wow. Bryan and Punk decided to go out and show “them.” At the time, they didn’t really know Kane but Bryan and Kane became friends. Kane is intimidating because he’s a veteran, and because he’s smart AND gigantic! He’ll sit there with glasses on and a leg up, reading something very intellectual, and yet with Bryan being quirky like he is, it all worked out!

Overall, it was a really fun time, especially at house shows. It would either be Bryan VS Punk in filler title matches, or Punk, Bryan and Glenn Jacobs (Kane) in Triple Threats. Because again, this was after WrestleMania where Bryan lost the Big Gold Belt in under 18 seconds, and so the crowd was starting to get behind him. It only lasts for so long, so Bryan had to get involved in something to get momentum, or he’d fall off the cliff. So being in programs with Punk, AJ Lee and Kane helped a lot. The whole thing was neat, bizarre and cool. Bryan remembers talking recently about first meeting Punk, and Punk had just fractured his skull in a 16-man, one night tournament in the middle of the Northeast somewhere. Punk remembers it being Garfield, New Jersey. You don’t forget where you fracture your skull.

So from there, Bryan is doing one thing, Punk has to leave because of that injury, and that was 2002. So it’s just so neat and surreal that the story goes that far back. Punk had become a legit top guy in WWE and Bryan was on his way there. Renee wants to continue down memory lane, they’ve known each other for so long and crossing paths in the indies, did they think they’d have the WWE careers they had? If you asked the Punk and Bryan back then, they wouldn’t have cared, and not in a negative way. Punk always looked at Bryan the way Bryan currently looks at NJPW’s Zack Sabre Jr. Punk remembers not being conceited about how good he thought he was. Promoters fly you places so you can meet others.

Punk remembers hearing about “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson and “Spanky” Brian Kendrick from the Northwest, and then Lo-Ki and Homicide from New York. Punk was a “Midwest guy,” and then they all mingle together. There became this nucleus of guys that wanted to be wrestlers, did it, and then realized they could make a living out of it, and then doing that. They would go to Japan, to Europe, to Puerto Rico, and support themselves as bachelor wrestlers. But then you challenge yourself, looking to what’s next. “What’s beyond ROH? What’s beyond all this other stuff?” The WWE was always there, of course, and both Punk and Bryan always knew they were good enough, but there was just a lot of different hurdles.

When you’re on TV for the WWE, being successful means something very different than the independents. There’s politics, moving parts, promos, travel, being the best even on your worst day and no excuses. Back then, that Punk and Bryan would’ve said yes to being this good in the WWE, but also knowing that if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. They’re pretty stoked with where they are and what they’re doing. It is more than art for wrestlers like them. Bryan agrees, but admits that he actively didn’t want to go to the WWE because of the DIY aesthetic on the indies. Controlling your schedule, your style, your projects, it was all great. Bryan remembers when Punk signed, he thought, “Man, if they give him a shot, he’s gonna blow them away.” But Bryan didn’t think about that for himself, because the WWE gets really promo and interview heavy.

At that point, Bryan wasn’t good in promos. He was bad, even. He could do a sports promo, talking about what he’d do, but when it came to being entertaining, that’s not what he would do. His interest is the love of wrestling, and he didn’t want to be “famous,” he just wanted enough for himself. But when Bryan started getting hurt and thought, “Okay, either I’m gonna have to sign with the WWE, or I can save up enough money to be taken care of for the rest of my life, or I’m gonna need to start looking at another path.” Bryan considered going back to college. 2009 was make or break for Bryan. He spent all year training in MMA, because he had a small interest to get into that, but also went for the WWE. If none of that works out, he’d go to college and have a normal life. But turns out things ended up how it did, but Bryan saw Punk how he carried himself, carried himself as a star, Bryan knew it’d be awesome.

Bryan still has a weird time right now because there’s no fans, but even with fans, he has a hard time walking to the ring. From when he is on stage to when he is in the ring, it’s weird. What do you do with yourself? The Yes was how he got away with that energy. And yet, it’s even more awkward without fans because he has to still do it. That is awkward, but then if he doesn’t do it, what does he do with his hands?! The problems you cook up in your own head. But that’s all the time we have for Backstage, so make sure to catch the FULL interview on the @WWEonFox YouTube this Wednesday!

 

Seth Rollins relives his most historic night yet!

Few moments in WWE History are as iconic as The Architect swinging the WWE World Championship overhead to end WrestleMania 31. The wildest part is that he lost to Randy Orton in a match near the start of the show. Rollins speaks on how that felt way too far away from the main event. It was nerve wracking just waiting all the rest of the night for the moment. “It’s one of those things that you plan, but it almost seems too special, too good to be true.” Rollins couldn’t think about anything else but executing that plan. Firstly, he didn’t want to trip that 50 yard dash. He told himself to hurry to get in that ring. The element of surprise in a hotly contested title match made things even more special. The time crunch on the show, he didn’t want the moment to be missed because it went off the air.

Lesnar almost stopped the moment, but Roman SPEARS Lesnar down, only for Rollins to CURB STOMP Roman! And it was all just so surreal. A moment you dream about your entire life, yet Rollins didn’t expect it to happen this way even in his wildest dreams. But holding that title overhead, that was the dream since he was 4 years old.

The panel discusses the importance of the Money in the Bank Cash-In.

While the Royal Rumble was the way for someone to punch their ticket to a world title match in the main event of WrestleMania for decades, has becoming Mr./Ms. MITB surpassed that as the best way to reach that next level? Christian thinks so. For him being in the original MITB match ever, it was a really cool concept. Then realizing, after Edge used his to cash-in on John Cena, this really can propel someone’s career to another level. For Christian, the WWE Intercontinental Championship was proof of being the guy next in line. But then it lost its luster, and the MITB briefcase moved into that spot.

Punk, being a two-time Mr. MITB and a two-time successful one at that, what are some moments that stick out? Punk always thanks Edge for the opportunity, because he was the Heel making fun of Jim Ross in Oklahoma. Batista came out to defend JR and beat up Edge, and then Punk got to be the ultimate opportunist and swoop in. What Punk loves about MITB, you can put different people in different situations. Everyone loved seeing Punk give Edge the GTS and win. But then, the second cash-in on Jeff Hardy, Punk was the villain. When you have two fan favorites, it was still hard for fans to turn, but the seeds were planted. The MITB briefcase helps superstars find that kind of thing in them.

 

The panel discusses Matt Riddle.

Though the Original Bro had a short but memorable run in MMA before coming to the WWE via NXT, and is now the newest addition to SmackDown on Fox. What does everyone think of the NXT Fight Pit? Should it become a regular tradition? Punk liked it but also hated it. Shocking, right? If you hear “Fight Pit,” Punk doesn’t think a pro-wrestling cage match. In MMA, you fight in a cage, and Punk gets that. He didn’t need the platform on the top, but the WWE will many times do something differently just to be different. Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher could’ve instead just taken the ropes off the ring and still have a worked shoot fight. Not everyone’s cup of tea because it is a very hard style to work. Punk liked a lot of elements, but it is difficult to do some things in sports entertainment. He appreciates Riddle giving Thatcher that rub as they part ways and are on different brands now. Punk likes the match-up potential for Riddle on SmackDown.

Christian says that after talking MITB, Christian does like something new and fresh. The Fight Pit was that, but as they’ve said for other things, this match type needs to be treated as something special. They had the right two to give us the first match of its kind because Riddle and Thatcher are well-versed in submissions and grapples and even no ropes. It has to be the right competitors to get in the Fight Pit. Booker watched it, agrees with Punk a bit, it blurs the lines of the sport. But even before that, Booker has four words for Riddle: “A pair of boots.” Riddle is going to get his feet hurt out there. But that’s Booker not being all for the MMA world coming into the pro-wrestling world, unless done right. Of course, there will be holds and maneuvers that wrestling can and has been using for years, but to change the name of the game into something that it’s not, Booker doesn’t think we’re there yet.

Riddle has more to prove to Booker, but he is on SmackDown. Booker wants to see Riddle go from having good matches to having great matches, like those of Punk, Christian and Booker himself. Riddle needs ring psychology, a game plan, all that. To be continued, if you will. Renee agrees with all of that, and is very excited about that.

 

WWE Backstage addresses the national turmoil.

There is obviously a lot of tension and unrest that has led to protests and more, and the WWE Universe was not silent about it. Mark Henry was in Austin, Texas this Sunday, marching in solidarity with protesters. Henry joins the panel now to speak to this. Renee lets the wrestlers start this off, and Henry shares his emotions. Henry isn’t into complaining, he is into solutions. Hopefully what comes out of this, the regular person can walk up to the police and ask them, “Can I help you?” and the officer says, “Yes. Please record this for me, help me if you can.” No more of this, “Get out of here! Turn that camera off!” Henry’s family went down, protested peacefully, and had signs and even shirts, #ALLLivesMatter. Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, a melting pot of people who just want things to be right. Henry was proud and happy.

Punk knows people talk about having a conversation about this. Punk as a White guy, he can’t pretend to understand how Black people feel or tell them how to react. This country has a problem, that much is clear. Punk wants to tell other White people that they need to listen to Black brothers and sisters and understand where they’re coming from. It is hard to walk in someone else’s shoes. There’s almost two Americas today. The differences in how one person gets pulled over compared to another, one only getting a ticket, the other getting murdered. Punk just wants White people to talk less and listen more. The paradox here is that the only way to fight intolerance is with intolerance. If you are White, you are more than likely privileged, but you should use that privilege to support others. We need that now, because we live in the time where hatred is stoked at the highest levels. Punk doesn’t like what he sees, and does what he can to stop it, and hopes he’s using his voice for good.

Fascism, racism, they cannot win. If you struggle with finding a way to help, the easiest one is to combat intolerance with intolerance. How Punk relates that to himself, even though this isn’t about him, the first tattoo he saw in his life was a number on his grandfather’s arm. His grandfather rode horseback towards Nazi Panzer tanks! Now it’s 2020 and the President says things that amount to Nazis being fine people. You can’t walk that back, you can’t say that he meant something different. White people, use your voice, help your Black brothers and sisters, and protect those who this country was not built for. “They” might say it was, but everyone has a different experience.

Booker’s reaction is that seeing something and feeling something are two different things. You can see someone die and feel bad. But then if that person was family, you feel it much stronger. The tragedy of George Floyd has sparked so many people around the nation, and all due to leadership. One cop with three others around, simply following. We as humans must stand up and not just be followers. We need those who will stand up and say something when they see something. Booker has been in this position before. He has been in positions where he was the 1% in the room. Don’t think things haven’t been said around him, and that he was compelled to say something, because if he didn’t, he’d be the one in the wrong. Booker says to everyone watching, if you see something, say something. Don’t be a follower, be a leader.

Renee thanks everyone for sharing their opinions and experiences, and knows it is important to use their voices and their platforms for this. A bit thank you to Fox and FS1, especially, for allowing this time. But stick around, there’s still more to come.

 

Flashback to Raw, 6/9/2003!

A week shy of 17 years ago, Christian did a pop, lock and drop it into a Spinarooni, right in front of Booker T, Jerry Lawler, and the world. Seeing this moment again, Booker says, “That sucked.” Renee goes on record saying she’d wear that snakeskin top, that is amazing. But Christian has some news! Christian will be on Raw this Monday, because no one knows Edge as well as he does. Christian is going to check in with Edge on a special edition of The Peep Show, to send things off to Backlash and what could be the Greatest Wrestling Match EVER. Everyone looks forward to that. Renee thanks the WWE Universe for tuning in, and hopes everyone will be safe out there.


My Thoughts:

A surprisingly yet perhaps not so surprisingly powerful episode tonight. We got to have our fun with reliving WM31, hearing just a bit of how Seth Rollins felt that night five years ago and how MITB truly has moved up to become a very powerful part of pro-wrestling. Hearing even just this much of Punk and Bryan talking about those early days is great, and that full interview is going to be amazing. Then, because the real world circumstances cannot be ignored, it was very meaningful for Mark Henry, CM Punk and Booker T to speak. I being half White, half Filipino, I still to this day have no way of really understanding where the world puts me. I’ve been told by non-Asians that Filipino doesn’t count as Asian, and yet I’ve had Asians say I’m too “White washed” as if my White half reflects badly on the other half.

All I’ve ever done is try to see things on a human level, and the human level thinking is that so much of this is horrifying and infuriating. Race continues to be an issue, and I swear it’s been the conversation ever since I was a child growing up in the ’90s, but it still hasn’t sunk in and I can’t figure out why. It drives me to be ashamed of even being human in the first place.


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Mitchell’s Raw Talk Report! (3/1/21)

Who wants to Talk With Elias?!

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WWE Raw Talk

Ladies and gentlemen: Raw Talk.

After a wild Monday Night Raw, things are only speeding up towards Fastlane! What will Drew McIntyre have to say about his triumphant return?

 

Charly- Wait, Kayla Braxton welcomes us back!

Charly Caruso has taken time off this week but Talking Smack’s usual hostess is here! And she’ll leave it up to the WWE Universe to figure out a good nickname for her and R-Truth. Truth tries to figure out some for himself, though. Kay-Truth? R-Braxton? Maybe their names just don’t go together. But either way, Kayla is happy to be here with Truth and wants to talk the highlight of Monday Night Raw: The NEW WWE World Champion a long time coming, it is Bobby Lashley! Truth was a lumberjack and he was lost in the moment. There has been tension between Truth and Lashley but Truth was definitely proud of Lashley in that moment.

Truth confirms, because Lashley has clawed and scratched and finally got his due. Of course Truth got lost in the moment. Lashley did what he had to do and got it done! Miz kept us wondering all night, faking this and that, not that anyone bought it. But Miz tried to okie-doke, only to get got. Then Kayla wants to talk about that moment with Randy Orton and Alexa Bliss’ strange message. Orton choked and had more black gunk coming out of his mouth! Alexa is being creepy. Truth is creeped out, yes. Truth knows Alexa is weirder than him, that is some left field, over the fence, in the street stuff. Just look at it! What was it Orton spitting up!? And how often is Orton “shook” like that? Truth’s also known Orton a long time, and Orton doesn’t get shook, but he was here.

But moving on, their first guests are a duo that had mixed luck tonight on their way to a title defense, it’s the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions!

Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler join Raw Talk!

Truth is happy but the champs aren’t. And Shayna doesn’t even know who Kayla is! Nia asks if Kayla even goes here. Truth says they should be nice. They’ve been on The Bump, they know who she is! They’ll even be on The Bump again. Not by choice. Kayla says Nia should be in a good mood, she won tonight! Truth says that’s a compliment! But Kayla admits Shayna lost. But that all aside, they have their title defense on NXT against Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai! The momentum must make Nia confident but Shayna might have doubt. Shayna asks if Kayla remembers the TWO YEAR reign Shayna had! Or what she did to Dakota! But a different day, a different Dakota. Not really!

Kayla admits Shayna’s one of the best in NXT, her name is synonymous with the brand. Does that make this match even more important? Is there any concerns? Nia says this isn’t comedy hour. Kayla is more the guest than they are! Nia doesn’t even really know her. But are they excited to dominate and wreck shop? Yes! They’re going to stomp respect into two girls who don’t have any! Nia and Shayna are the top of this division! Not just as tag champions, but they’re the TOP champions! They’ve spent enough time showing everyone, even on SmackDown, so they’ll do it again to the “NXT Universe.” Being dominant in NXT is like being Freshman JV. They’re VARSITY!

Kayla hopes so because they’re going to be embarrassed if things get turned around on them. Nia asks if they can get a replacement for the replacement host. Shayna feels like this must be Kayla’s “tryout.” And she’s failing! Truth is saying they need to show respect! Kayla is just pointing out that they went 50-50 on Raw tonight. Nia says the ones that should be respected are THEM, because THEY are the champions! Where is Truth’s title, huh!? Mr. Bugs Bunny has it! Shayna says there are 40 days left before they are the longest reigning Women’s Tag Champions ever! Did Kayla do the research to get her job here?

Kayla says that yes, they are the best champions of this division, but they might not be come WrestleMania. There is another title they’re both after and that is Asuka’s Raw Women’s Championship. Oh the same Asuka Shayna kicked to the curb? These two and Charlotte want a shot at the Raw Women’s Championship. So between these two, who deserves that opportunity more? Don’t try to drive a wedge in! Truth says Kayla’s not doing anything. Nia tells Truth to shut up! If anyone is getting the shot, it’s Nia. Shayna gets upset but Nia says Nia is on a streak. Shayna says she’s been doing so much more for the team! She’s why they have the titles! Nia is letting Kayla win here!

Truth says these two are making good points as pointiologists. That’s not a real word! Kayla says it is, Truth says it’s just obscure. Fist bump! Seriously? Shayna asks why they keep being forced to do this. Kayla wishes Nia and Shayna luck for NXT. Shayna and Nia don’t like Truth no more. They leave, but Truth says it was time for them to go anyway! So disrespectful. Truth will cheer Dakota & Raquel on now. But now, it’s time to #DriftAway!

Elias & Jaxson Ryker join Raw Talk!

Elias is happy that his chair isn’t sinking on him this time. Ryker is happy to have a chair at all this time. Truth wants an autograph because he follows Elias. Truth bought the album, too! From a friend, though. But Universal Truth is legit, because it’s about Truth! Well, sure it is. Hidden lyrics, maybe. Kayla wants to bring up the “outlandish” proposal from Elias to Bad Bunny for a musical collaboration. What’s so outlandish about it? Universal Truth was at the top of the charts on iTunes! But Bad Bunny is multi-platinum. So is she saying Bunny is above Elias? No, the numbers are! Universal Truth is up there, but Bunny is way, WAY up there! And the fact Truth is willing to say that even though Bunny still has the 24/7 Championship, that’s some truth. Wait, does that ruin Kayla’s argument?

Elias says he’ll get Truth his autograph real quick. Truth asks which is Elias’ favorite song on the album. Elias’ favorite song of his own album? Yes. Well it has to be Amen, which is now his entrance song. Ryker’s favorite is Changes, because that’s what Elias is about. Elias tried to offer something to Bugs- No, wait, Bad Bunny. Sorry. But Elias says a real music star in the WWE, and then Bad Bunny comes in and shoves Elias aside! Elisa is a generous man, but Bunny goes and rejects “the offer of a lifetime.” Wouldn’t Truth take that offer? Elias says he would. But Priest is speaking for Bunny, there’s the match, it’s all aggravating for Elias.

Kayla says Elias and Ryker were trying to cheat. Ryker wasn’t cheating, he was just keeping Priest from using the ropebreak for too long. Anything else is coincidence. But while Ryker admires and is inspired by Elias, why is he inspired? Elias gives Ryker a different way of seeing life! It just speaks to something. it electrifies Ryker and shows that there are better things in this world. IS there a better way to say that? The Universal Truth touches souls. Truth says he wanted a carrot after for some reason. Carrots are good, though. And Kayla admits Elias is a good musician.

But what is the ultimate goal? Change more lives with more music! Elias has Ryker now, they are unstoppable with their track record. They run track? Sometimes. But Bad Bunny saw Elias beat up Priest, was probably impressed, and if he still wants to take Elias up on the offer, Elias is fine with that. Bunny has Truth’s title, but Elias will take that, too, if he has to. Kayla keeps Truth calm from hearing that. And on that note, no pun intended, nice to see them. Elias and Ryker head out, and now the final guest of the night is here! It’s the Scottish Warrior!

Drew McIntyre joins Raw Talk!

Truth is pumped to see McIntyre but was hoping to see the sword. Kayla says she’s interviewed McIntyre many times, and it pains her to say that for the first time in awhile, he’s not champion. Is it weird to not hear that title in front of his name? Yes, and while it might be odd for him, a man who wears only a kilt and no shirt most of the time, he feels naked without the world title. Note to cameramen, don’t shoot below the waist. There’s some skin showing. But being without the title is weird. McIntyre spent a year as champion. He was hoping to return to WrestleMania as champion, Miz and Lashley messed that up, but McIntyre vows to make is his way back.

Kayla brings up tonight’s match with Sheamus, but also the fact Lashley is the NEW world champion. McIntyre says he would’ve bet on Lashley, of course. Lashley has worked hard, is an animal in the gym and in the ring. They’ve faced off, so McIntyre knows Lashley has earned this moment. And now, the match of Lashley VS McIntyre is going to be big for Raw, especially if it’s at WrestleMania. It is a lot of pressure to be a champion. Miz must’ve felt it every night this week. You surround yourself with friends, those friends might get jealous and want what you want. Sheamus did it to McIntyre, the Hurt Business might do it to Lashley. Consider that free advice.

Kayla wants Truth to see if he has any advice for McIntyre. Truth had a title that is very near and dear and he doesn’t hold it right now. McIntyre had the WWE World Championship in the same regard. What can McIntyre do to get through these times without it? “It’s your baby, man. You gotta remember the good times, but you also got to get your baby back.” McIntyre knows that. Having the baby by your heart is what you want. But Truth getting the title from Bugsy means getting past Priest. McIntyre needs to get past Lashley. But McIntyre is a fighter! Look what he and Shamus did tonight!

McIntyre admits, they beat the hell out of each other. He has a bruise, it looks like the Scottish flag! McIntyre knows he went to war with Sheamus, but that is what this is about! You go to war, put it all on the line, and the best man wins. McIntyre was the better tonight, but he knows this is how Lashley fights. Maybe Sheamus will let his grudge go. They hadn’t faced each other in a significant singles match since FCW. It didn’t have to go this way but it did. Sheamus turned on McIntyre but the match was awesome and hopefully the fans loved it. Now it’s on to Lashley. Maybe we’ll again call McIntyre the WWE Champion.

Kayla wishes him all the luck. McIntyre says things just got real interesting on the Road to WrestleMania! McIntyre heads out, Kayla thanks Truth for letting her cohost, and it’s onward to Fastlane! See you again next week!


My Thoughts:

A pretty good episode here, with the surprise substitute of Kayla adding just a little different touch to the show. Shayna and Nia being hard on her for being the substitute was a good touch, and Kayla trying to bring up their 50-50 math was good stuff. The Raw Women’s Championship story will definitely bring back that dysfunction from when Nia and Shayna first started teaming together, and though it surely won’t cost them the titles on NXT, it could be what costs them against Naomi and Lana. Elias and Ryker had a good segment, though only so much was really said. McIntyre had a good segment, and it does seem he’s moving on from Sheamus to go right at Lashley, but I’m thinking someone steps up to get the title shot instead.


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News From Cook’s Corner 3.1.21: No Big Show

Steve Cook brings the birthday shout outs and a nice variety of different wrestling topics! Check it out!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! My name is Steve Cook, and I’m somewhat decent at remembering birthdays of people close to me thanks to social media notifications, but ages are another matter. A day ago, I would have wished Larry Csonka a happy 67th birthday. Not that he would have been 67 years old, it’s just a gimmick I do with people that are older than me. Assign them an age much older than they actually are. Greg DeMarco has been on the receiving end of this before.

It’s good times, loved by all. (Actually, Larry hated it and I’m pretty sure Greg does too.)

With the way things have been in the world over the past year, there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you’ve lost somebody you cared about over the past year. Wrestling has seen a nearly non-stop parade of death, including the loss of the man who played Jocephus & The Question Mark last week. His passing touched a number of his brothers & sisters in the wrestling business, who posted about how great he was as a person.

All we can do is hang together and help each other through our periods of grief. We all go through it, and it’s definitely been way too much of a thing over the past year.

You can still donate to help out Larry’s family!

It’s tempting to wonder what Larry would think about the things going on now. I won’t pretend to know how he’d react to most of 2021, but I can safely assume that he would be excited as I am about Tully Blanchard having a match on television this week, and also wondering why a bigger deal isn’t being made of it. He probably would have written the best column about Tully Blanchard since 1999.

The best way I can think of to celebrate Larry’s birthday? Ramble through some wrestling news a day after it! Makes sense, right?

AEW Signs Paul Wight

This one came as quite the surprise when it broke on Wednesday. Paul Wight, the wrestler formerly known as The Big Show (or The Giant if you’re more of a WCW fan), has decided to take his wrestling and announcing talents to All Elite Wrestling. Wight had worked for WWE for most of the past twenty-two years, with the exception of February 2007-08. He hadn’t done much with the company over the past several years, appearing for brief periods of time in the ring. WWE did help produce The Big Show Show, a sitcom that lasted one season on Netflix.

It seems like this comes down to Wight wanting to do more, and WWE not really having anything for him to do. Since his sitcom was ended, he only made a handful of appearances on WWE television, with his last appearance consisting of Randy Orton berating him for not being able to wrestle anymore. Wight will apparently be doing some wrestling in AEW, which will be interesting on a number of levels since there isn’t a bevy of talent there that’s anywhere near his size. I mean, there is Shaq, and that’s been a dream match for some for years, but there’s no telling whether or not Shaq will be back after his tag match this week. He’ll also be announcing alongside Tony Schiavone on AEW’s new YouTube show titled AEW Dark: Elevation.

AEW has made it a priority to keep increasing their online presence, as we saw on Sunday night when they aired some of their Women’s Championship Eliminator matches on Bleacher Report’s website. Including Riho vs. Thunder Rosa, which made some pretty angry when it was announced as they would have preferred to see the match on Dynamite. While I get that they need matches like that to draw eyeballs to new platforms, it will raise some eyebrows from those that see things like this as demotions. They aren’t meant as demotions, as having Wight on this new show further indicates.

I don’t see this changing the momentum of the wrestling wars, but I think its nice for older talent to have viable options other than a WWE Legends contract.

WWE: Still Big In India

Jinder Mahal WWE Bold Prediction

People like to make a big deal of how many viewers these wrestling shows have. One thing we often forget: Americans aren’t the only people that watch television! Sure, on average we probably watch more programming via various devices than anybody else. However, there’s a great big world out there of people watching wrestling that we often don’t keep track of!

Fortunately, we have people like Lucha Libre Online to keep track of places like India for us. Here’s what they told us!

4 million people watch Raw every week, while 3 million watch SmackDown and 1 million watch NXT. Which makes me wonder if Raw viewers are forced to choose between SmackDown & NXT. Are they in the same time slot?

People are making a big deal about how this means more people in India are watching WWE than in the US. I mean…India has a few more people, right? I’m guessing their share of the overall audience is lower than it is here.

All I know for sure is that all this proves that India doesn’t need Jinder Mahal pushed on top to remain interested in WWE.

NWA Pulls Videos From YouTube

NWA Power

I have to admit that I was concerned when WrestlingInc & other websites drew my attention to the fact that the NWA had pulled their videos from YouTube. Not really the best timing on that either, as I’m sure there were fans of Jocephus & Question Mark looking for something to watch after his tragic death last week. It’s easy to see why people thought the worst.

As we know, the NWA has virtually ceased production since the pandemic started. A good amount of their wrestling talent has moved on to other opportunities. If David Lagana has been replaced behind the scenes, we haven’t heard who it is. Heck, the women’s division has pretty much become part of AEW. We’ve been waiting to hear some kind of NWA news for awhile now, either good or bad.

We’ve finally got something new coming from the NWA. Dave Meltzer reported that they’ll be holding TV tapings from March 21-24. No word on where the tapings will be taking place, if fans will be allowed, or who will be involved. As we’ve noticed, a good number of NWA wrestlers have moved on to other places. Hopefully the NWA will be able to fill those slots with new, compelling characters that can give fans the same level of enjoyment they got out of Powerrr.

I’m always in favor of more wrestling produced for the people.

Marty Scrull Returns to New Japan

Marty Scurll

Our friends at Fightful got the inside scoop from the NJPW Strong tapings back in January and found out that Marty Scrull appeared on the show. He did an angle with Rocky Romero that will presumably air at some point. Scrull has not been seen or heard from in any major way since parting ways with Ring of Honor.

I remember reading before that New Japan might be the most likely landing spot for Scrull, since apparently sleeping or doing other things with underage females is less frowned upon over there. And there is a bit of a difference between having someone work for you as a wrestler or in a management position. Scrull was management in ROH, and keeping him around would have been unneeded publicity.

That’s what all of these Speaking Out defendants are going to be dealing with in their attempts to return to pro wrestling. The ones that haven’t yet will try eventually, it’s just a matter of timing and business. Companies will bring in these people if they find them valuable. New Japan finds value in Marty Scrull, who has enough friends there to help him out.

The question, as I’ve stated before, is if fans feel strongly enough about Scrull and his failings to hold it against the people that employ him. If they do, and they don’t watch NJPW Strong, Scrull won’t be around for too long. If fans don’t care, then promotions don’t need to, and Scrull will be twirling his umbrella back into the wrestling world.

As for my opinion? I’m really the wrong person to ask, as Marty Scrull wasn’t a draw for me before all his business came out. I’m not inclined to watch his stuff, but I already wasn’t. What matters is how the people that did fawn over Scrull in the past take to him now.

Klein vs. ROH

Kelly Klein

Its been a minute or two since we’ve talked much about the former Women of Honor Champion. It wasn’t too long before the pandemic when all of this drama went public with Kelly’s allegations about her treatment in Ring of Honor, Kelly getting divorced after her former husband (BJ Whitmer) accused her of being unfaithful with the man assisting her in making allegations (Joey Mercury), and ROH eventually stripping her of their championship and not renewing her contract.

Things died down on this front over the past year, largely due to the global pandemic thing. Klein isn’t going away though, as she filed a lawsuit against Ring of Honor & Sinclair Broadcasting, naming Greg Gilliland, Delirious & Jay Lethal as defendants. Klein’s issues with ROH came to a head when she suffered a concussion during a match and there was no protocol or staff on hand to address her problem. There were other issues, including pay, which apparently ROH’s female roster members get considerably less of than the males.

ROH has never really had much interest in pushing women’s wrestling. That’s just a fact. The Women of Honor re-boot in 2018 seemed to be a step in that direction, but the company quickly lost interest in featuring the competitors. Since the debut of the ROH bubble, the only woman regularly appearing on television has been the studio host, Quinn McKay. McKay has an angle going with Mandy Leon & Angelina Love, but that hasn’t been touched on at all on television and has been confined to an Internet show where they did one confrontation and that was it. Leon & Love appear in the opening video, but that’s the only place they’ve appeared on television in months. Vita Von Starr appears with The Righteous on occasion & Maria Kanellis-Bennett recently made her on-screen return to commentate on a match.

So, no, it doesn’t surprise me that ROH had/has no interest in paying women equally to men.

There’s a lot going on within the lawsuit, including harassment claims directed towards Lethal. The main thing to keep an eye on here for wrestling purposes? Klein is claiming that she was an employee, not an independent contractor, and the State of Maryland has a strong policy to ensure that workers are not misclassified. So we’re saying there’s a chance this issue might actually be addressed in a court of law after how many years. Stay tuned.

That’s all we have time for this week! Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice.


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