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News From Cook’s Corner 6.29.20: Whatever You’ve Heard, It’s Worse

Cook brings us the highlights from the “slow news week”.

Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! This column has had two previous runs, one lasting from until 2005 until 2007 and the second from 2009 until 2012. There was a phenomenon that would pop up from time to time during each of those time periods that we haven’t seen here in months.

It was called the “slow news week”.

Sometimes things just wouldn’t happen. Or stuff would happen that would be a re-run of something that happened before and I wouldn’t have much interest in writing about it. I would sit in front of my computer for hours at a time (I had nothing better to do, and if it wasn’t for streaming services I’d be saying “some things never change”.) wondering what in the blue hell I was going to write about this week. Writer’s block can be a mother.

That isn’t the problem anymore. Now, it’s trying to decide what I’m going to feature in this column and what’ll have to wait for another time. There’s also the fact that between the time I finish writing and the time the column gets posted here on The Chairshot, another fifteen major events end up happening. Things happen faster than ever now, and if you miss a day to try & do something else, you miss everything.

Much of it is worth missing, to be honest. But it’s my duty to be here yapping about it, which I’ll continue to do as long as the Chairshot brass wants me around. I assume they do. The point I’m getting at here is that now instead of wondering “What should I write about?” because there’s nothing going on, I wonder “What should I write about?” because everything is going on. And these aren’t the old days where five thousand words was a short news column. Or where I only had one column to write a week, for that matter.

So. Let’s start with something I wrote about in last Monday’s column that exploded days later.

Told ya there was a pandemic.

OK, I know that I wasn’t sounding alarm bells to anybody last week that didn’t already know the deal. I’ve always had a very intelligent audience during my time as a wrestling writer. People that read me regularly know what’s going on. I’m preaching to the choir when I tell people that THERE’S STILL A PANDEMIC GOING ON AND PEOPLE ARE DYING MAYBE YOU SHOULD WEAR A MASK OR STAY INSIDE OR AT LEAST NOT BREATHE ON ME. I know you all get it.

WWE does not get it. We’ve known this since the McMahon family bribed the Governor of Florida to hold events there. WWE cares about holding events for their networks and satisfying those contracts. The health of their independent contractors…well, that’s somewhere on the list of priorities, but it’s pretty low.

You wanna tell me it’s not? Ask Renee Young. She got one of those covid tests from WWE, was good, went home, felt ill and needed another one. Once she tested positive & let her husband & everybody else know, WWE couldn’t get farther away from it. Maybe they’ve contacted her by now, but it was at least three days when the news was broke. At least three days too many. Who do these people think they are? I read news bites about how WWE is mad at Renee for making her test public. Who in the hell are they to get mad about that? My blood pressure rises with my rage at these people.

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Kayla Braxton let us know she’s got the virus twice. Adam Pearce has it now. WWE shut everybody down after that. Now we just have to guess based off of who isn’t currently on TV. AJ Styles vs. Drew Gulak didn’t happen on SmackDown? Well Drew must have the virus because AJ doesn’t think it exists. Daniel Bryan wasn’t on SmackDown? Well hopefully he flew the coop before getting it and doesn’t have it, since he has a baby on the way.

These are scary times. WWE isn’t making them any less scary by re-testing the Raw roster because they didn’t like the results the first time. Like…what? We’re just going to keep going until we get results we like is some right-wing nonsense. Listen, I don’t know how many people tested positive once WWE finally bothered to test people. I do know that WWE had its head in the sand for a long time, passed some money to the corrupt Florida Governor to keep that going, and now are trying to hide test results. Is there anyway somebody can spin this as good? Probably, but I’m not somebody capable of it.

Apparently “fans” were allowed to wear masks on Friday. Goody! After however many tapings they weren’t allowed to. Awesome.

WWE’s blame in this is undeniable. They followed their President, and they’re reaping what they sowed. It’s been a shambolic series of events. They deserve every ounce of blame they get. However, I do feel the need to pass blame on to other quarters, since there’s plenty to go around. For example, AEW felt pretty good about hosting parties with their talent posing with Mike Tyson, and they even let a WWE-contracted talent attend, even though WWE testing is much less stringent than AEW’s. AEW at least has a COVID testing site at their football stadium, so it’s easy to get their wrestlers & fans tested. I can’t deny that I feel a little worried when they have lumberjack matches and have everybody in the ring at the same time. Also, I feel like Britt Baker should be in a Popemobile until further notice.

However, it should also be noted that many wrestlers seem unconcerned. Perhaps it’s based off what Big Daddy Vince tells them. But we’ve all seen wrestlers violate social distancing guidelines. We saw Billie Kay’s big Vegas birthday, along with other social events. That’s the tricky thing when trying to pin everything on the company. You can lead the horse to water but you can’t make them drink. Wrestlers are bound to break the rules, its their nature.

Then there’s the fans. I’ve been doing ROH reviews for the past several weeks for 411mania. A common trend in their comments: when will ROH do shows again? As a lapsed ROH fan I’ve enjoyed the best ofs because it’s stuff I haven’t seen before. But the diehard ROH fans are asking for more. Understandable, especially since ROH avoided doing a Best of Dalton Castle show during Pride Month. Seems like an easy show to do, but somehow they missed it. Honestly, that’s the one reason Sinclair should be asking me to get on board, I would have seen that as an idea when apparently nobody else there did. Delirious & Marty had their minds on other things, obviously. They need somebody on staff concerned with entertaining the people.

Now I see & hear people wondering why this isn’t a bigger story. Certainly, we’ve reached the point where this whole WWE pandemic is bigger than wrestling media, right? Heck, throw in AEW if you want, and maybe some tabloid reporter can blow up the IWA Mid-South show and equate it with how the whole business works. That’s what they did all the time back in the late 1990s. 20/20 equated backyard wrestling with pro wrestling to make the business look bad. Why aren’t we seeing this sort of thing right now?

For one thing, most of the mainstream media doesn’t care. Let’s be honest, most of your TV news & newspaper folks have spent most of their lives looking down on pro wrestling. They don’t care if Vince is doing some other stupid thing, it’s just one of many stupid things that’s not their problem. It’s not even worth tearing down to them. A bunch of people get sick or die? Eh, they’re just wrestlers. Fortunately for these folks, wrestling is low enough on the totem pole and has such a poor reputation that they can get away with this malfeasance.

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As for the mainstream media folks that are outspoken wrestling fans? Well, they’re not going to bring Vince down either. Either they’re fanboys for the product and wouldn’t dare say anything to cross the man that’s given them so much entertainment over the years, or they’re going to keep their heads in the sand because they don’t wanna hear about it. They’ve gotten enough crap from their peers over the years, right? Better just to ignore it and hope nobody notices. I hold these people in lower regard than their colleagues that just don’t care, because all they really care about is being entertained, and they won’t do anything to put that selfish need of theirs in jeopardy.

I’d like to be surprised, but it’s going to take even more than what’s transpired so far for the media to give a hoot. Or for the people in the media that care to use their platform & say something.

Impact Wrestling had an eventful week.

Tessa Blanchard’s contract was terminated and she was stripped of the Impact World Championship. Reasons that leaked out included her refusal to send in a pre-taped interview, or to travel across the border from Mexico to work for the company. While Tessa’s been the subject of multiple complaints from fellow workers & wrestling companies, there is one gaping hole in this whole narrative from Impact Wrestling: Tessa’s contract was set to expire on June 30. Impact was advertising her for a match on July 18 when they had to know that Blanchard had no intention of re-signing with their company. Whoops.

Perhaps they thought that she would go along with the flow & show up & drop the title anyway…but am I going to blame her for not wanting to travel from Mexico to Nashville and risk the possibility of being stuck in the country afterwards, far away from her fiance? Nope. She could have done an interview, sure. Impact could have also booked a match with her prior to her contract expiring. Plans go awry sometimes.

Personally, I like my idea of having everybody act like Moose’s TNA World Championship was the main title all along. It’s more likely they’ll just put the title up for grabs at Slammiversary in the King of the Mountain match.

As for Tessa, I was unsure where she would go at first, but after a day or two to think about it I know somebody will sign her. I know we hear all of these things about attitude problems, and there’s been some allegations of racism & bullying towards her, but she’s got talent and she’s young. She’s got plenty of time to figure it all out. I’m not surprised Uncle Dave is telling us that WWE has already reached out. Heck, if those allegations are true, that just might help her win WWE management over.

Michael Elgin also got released from the company and everybody thought it might have been due to some allegations that resurfaced last week. Nah, it had more to do with him & Sami Callihan getting into a fight backstage over a match they were planning. Joey Ryan’s dismissal, however, does seem to be due to the mounting allegations against him. As far as I know, he didn’t get in a backstage fight with Sami or his pals. I can see Elgin working in Japan for the rest of his career, and maybe Ryan’s best strategy would be to hope that nobody over there knows about his problems either.

Once you burn your Impact Wrestling bridge, there aren’t many places to go.

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Speaking Out Fallout So Far

As I wrote about on Thursday, allegations against Mike Quackenbush & some of his trainers/wrestlers led to CHIKARA being shut down. Quackenbush promised to address the allegations, and boy did he ever. Quack posted a thirteen minute video on YouTube where he spoke out about each allegation, taking responsibility for some and denying others. He definitely put a lot of thought & work into it, you gotta give him credit for that.

If we’re ranking sincerity of apologies, I would rank Quack below Sammy Guevara, who I think has done the best job of expressing his remorse so far. He’d be ahead of Marty Scrull, who ripped off Kobe Bryant’s statement after Colorado for his apology. And everybody in the world would be ahead of Joey Ryan. Some compared Quack’s statement to the in-character diatribe that Kevin Spacey posted after his allegations, but I have to disagree because at least Quack admitted to some wrong-doing. We’ll see where it goes. I can’t see Quackenbush fronting an indy fed again. Can I see him training wrestlers again? Maybe.

Speaking of Marty, Ring of Honor announced on Thursday that they have launched an investigation into the allegations concerning their contracted talent. Some on social media have pointed out that ROH has launched a number of investigations in recent years that never led to anything. I mean…well…we’ll see what happens.

Matt Riddle continues to be featured on WWE television, and is being built up for a feud with King Corb-wait a minute, we’re supposed to believe feuding with Corbin is a good thing? Well, that’s news to me. While we’re on the topic, there’s no chance in hell that this news floating around with Corbin being mad at this Riddle feud is true. Somebody is getting worked, and frankly I’m here for that. While still hoping that the Riddle allegations aren’t true because if they are it’s completely ridiculous to push him the way they are.

David Starr hasn’t been heard from since, except possibly on Tinder? I doubt we that talk about pro wrestling will hear from him again. That boy got cancelled good enough that I doubt I’ll ever mention him again in this column. The guy didn’t even accomplish enough to be good joke material.

WWE has been acting on some of the NXT UK allegations, releasing El Ligero & Travis Banks. There’s been a lot of speculation on whether or not NXT UK will continue as a brand, and personally I’ve been wondering that since the pandemic started. I haven’t seen much evidence of NXT UK helping WWE grow their brand in the United Kingdom since it started. If anything, it’s hurt the brand. Why wouldn’t WWE just take Pete Dunne, WALTER and the rest of Imperium & call it a day? I feel like WWE always drew better in Europe on a limited basis anyway. Germany loved Bret Hart because they only saw him once every few years. Maybe Triple H sees it as a passion project and will keep it going beyond reason, but all logic tells me that we’ve already seen the last NXT UK live event. So WWE will probably book one pretty soon because that’s how they roll, amirite?

Jim Cornette did a podcast where he denied any and all allegations because that’s how he rolls. Corny’s smart enough to know he has that Donald Trump fanbase that loves him no matter what he does, and he makes enough money off of them that he doesn’t have to work for anybody else. So we’ll never know the truth there. I did see where somebody else confirmed the allegations after being silent, and I also saw a promo with that person, Synn & Jim Cornette where some of Synn’s lines felt like shoot comments. I take Jim’s commentary with 10,000 grains of salt, which is a shame because back in the day he seemed like the greatest wrestling historian I had ever heard.

David Lagana resigned from his position with the NWA, which has led to their programming on YouTube being suspended until further notice. The main thing I will miss from their YouTube content is Eddie Kingston promos. His last two at the start of Carnyland episodes on the status of the NWA, then about the #BlackLivesMatter protests made him seem like the conscience of the promotion. Very powerful stuff, as you would expect from the War King.

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We’ll see whether or not Billy Corgan finds somebody to fill Lagana’s shoes. I think he will, there are a lot of diehard fans out there. Maybe not with the same television knowledge that Lagana has, but definitely a similar love for pro wrestling. And not the same baggage.

Dream Over?

Overused subtitle, I know. But every time Velveteen Dream appears in the news these days, it’s for nothing good. In addition to his name popping up with more sexual misconduct allegations involving minors last week, Dream was involved in a car accident on Friday. Fightful reported that he was released from the hospital after receiving treatment. I don’t know all of what’s going on with this guy, but as an outside observer it looks like a case of somebody self-destructing at a fairly rapid pace. If WWE isn’t going to release him, and I’m not telling them whether they should or not, somebody there needs to be doing something to help him out. Otherwise, this story is heading towards a really bad ending.

Or his friends should be trying to step in. I know some people are beyond help, and maybe this is one of those cases.

Who is the GOAT?

Downtown Bruno/Harvey Whippleman as the GOAT is something I can get behind. Maybe we can discuss that at a later date if things calm down, Until then, keep your stick on the ice,

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