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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”.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Opinion

Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 5/9/2021

Now that April matches have been decided, we get two votes this article! April MOTY Pool and the Match of the Week! Did your favorite match make the list?

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Now that April matches have been decided, we get two votes this article! April MOTY Pool and the Match of the Week! Did your favorite match make the list?

We’ve all seen the articles about Meltzer going crazy for one match from this week, so let’s see if it wins or if anything else can hold a candle to it!

But first – Match of April Pool!

April MOTY Pool:

  • AEW Dynamite: Christian Cage vs Frankie Kazarian
  • NXT Stand & Deliver: NXT UK Championship: Walter (c) vs Tommaso Ciampa
  • WrestleMania: SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair vs Sasha Banks (c)
  • NXT: Cruiserweight Championship: Kushida vs Santos Escobar (c)
  • Impact Wrestling Rebellion: X Division Championship: Ace Austin (c) vs TJP vs Josh Alexander
  • WWE SmackDown: Universal Championship: Daniel Bryan vs Roman Reigns (c)

Out of the MOTY Pool, I’m going to vote for, Tommaso Ciampa vs Walter; but this is the most extensive list we’ve had for a monthly pool. Should be interesting to see if anything can surpass the WrestleMania week matches.

Now let’s kick off May!

Quick Top 5:

  1. NJPW Wrestling Dontaku: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay (c) vs Shingo Takagi
    Rating: *****
  2. AJPW Champion Carnival Finals: Kento Miyahara vs Jake Lee
    Rating: **** ½
  3. NJPW Wrestling Dontaku: NEVER Openweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Jay White
    Rating: **** ¼
  4. AJPW Champion Carnival: Shuji Ishikawa vs Suwama
    Rating: ****
  5. AEW Blood & Guts: The Pinnacle vs The Inner Circle
    Rating: *** ¾

Honorable Mentions:

  • NXT: NXT Women’s Tag Titles: Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart (c)
    Rating: *** ½
  • IMPACT: Moose vs James Storm
    Rating: *** ½
  • NJPW Wrestling Dontaku: Iron Fingers from Hell Ladder Match: Tama Tonga vs Taichi
    Rating: *** ½
  • AEW Blood and Guts: Cody Rhodes vs QT Marshall
    Rating: *** ¼
  • AJPW Champion Carnival: Koji Doi vs Shotaro Ashino
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Wrestling Dontaku: Tanga Loa vs ZSJ
    Rating: *** ¼
  • WWE SmackDown: Cesaro vs Seth Rollins
    Rating: ***
  • NXT: Timothy Thatcher & Tommaso Ciampa vs Grizzled Young Veterans
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW Wrestling Dontaku: Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, SHO & YOH)
    Rating: ***
  • AJPW Champion Carnival: Yuma Aoyagi vs Kohei Sato
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW Wrestling Dontaku: LIJ (BUSHI, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) vs United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, Aaron Henare & Will Ospreay)
    Rating: ****
  • IMPACT: Trey Miguel vs Rohit Raju
    Rating: ***
  • WWE Raw: Lashley vs Braun Strowman
    Rating: ***

5. AEW Blood & Guts: The Pinnacle vs The Inner Circle

From Mitchell’s Coverage:
MJF pulls as far back as he can, but Jericho still refuses! MJF lets go to STOMP the hand, SLAM it on the steel, and SLAM it again! MJF gets Jericho’s arm and BITES it!! Then, SALT OF THE EARTH! Jericho continues to endure, their teams still brawl inside the ring, but MJF lets go to STOMP Jericho’s arm again! MJF brings out the Dynamite Diamond Ring! DYNAMITE DIAMOND PUNCH!! Fans boo but Jericho being knocked out won’t win this! Hager makes Wardlow endure an Ankle Lock, but MJF gets an idea. MJF sees there’s no guard rails up there, and he grins. MJF stalks Jericho, fans freak out as he drags Jericho over and aims for the edge!

MJF tells Inner Circle to give up or he’s throwing Jericho off!! Hager tries to get at them from below, PNP go from the outside, Sammy says MJF has to stop! Sammy is saying they give up!?!? The Pinnacle wins?!?

Winner: The Pinnacle

 

4. AJPW Champion Carnival: Shuji Ishikawa vs Suwama

From Mathew’s Coverage:
Shuji would stomp Suwama down once he rolled back into the ring, but Suwama tries to fight back as Shuji catches him in an Anaconda Vice style while slamming him down onto the mat. Shuji turned it into a Cobra Clutch as Suwama is fighting to stay alive and eventually gets his foot on the rope. Shuji ran the ropes to try and Lariat the champ but Suwama would catch him to hit a Flatlinner, saving himself some time to get back some momentum, applying the Sleeper once again. Shuji was struggling in the hold as Suwama turned him around to try and hit the Last Ride but fails to do so when Shuji flips him over. The two slowly get up and start hitting each other back and forth but Shuji would hit multiple forearms as Suwama collapses onto the mat. Shuji tried to lift Suwama but Suwama reverses it into a Suplex! Suwama is making a comeback, delivering double-handed chops to Shuji before tossing him into the ropes to hit a Lariat and covers him but Shuji kicked out. Suwama lifts Shuji for the German Suplex and charges at him for another Lariat, covering him again but Shuji kicked out again! Suwama hits the Backdrop as Shuji kicked out again but Suwama turns in into a Sleeper Hold once more as Shuji looks to be in trouble but he lets go to pin him as Shuji barely kicked out! Suwama is getting annoyed and picks Shuji up, leading to the two exchanging blows again, both men being stiff towards one another until Suwama attempts the Discus Lariat, Shuji ducks it to hit the Dragon Suplex and tops it off with a Tsunami! Shuji delivers multiple knees to Suwama while he was on his knees, struggling to get up until Shuji picked him up for the Fire Thunder and Suwama kicked out at two! Shuji hits a Kamigoye and then a Tsunami, only for Suwama to kick out at two again! Suwama was struggling but Shuji would hit the Giant Slam onto Suwama, pinning him for the victory, and eliminating the Triple Crown Champion!

Rating: Shuji Ishikawa via Giant Slam

 

3. NJPW Wrestling Dontaku: NEVER Openweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Jay White

From My Results:
Tana and Jay start off with their pose down as Jay continues to insult the aging Ace’s physique. The entire story of this match, was both men breaking each other down and playing with the fact they’ve gotten one another to tap out in the past. The Reverse Figure Four of Jay’s that he calls the TTO (Tana Tapped Out) and the Cloverleaf of Tanahashi’s that he referred to as the JTO (Jay Tapped Out).

Both men went after the legs, which is always amusing to watch Tanahashi go after someone else’s knees. Jay locks in his submissions early, but Tana fights out, Tana hits two High Fly Flows on Jay’s legs causing him to audibly scream. Tana locks in the JTO, but Jay fights off. Sling Blades, Dragon Suplexes, Shutdown Suplexes, Blade Busters and Dragon Screws, all helped to tell the story of how they tried to break one another down.

Gedo feigns getting inside, but Tana cuts him off with a Dragon Screw, Jay scoops the Ace in a Roll-Up but only for 2. Tana gets out of it and tries to get position on Jay for a Dragon Suplex, but Jay keeps struggling to the ropes, stops, pivots and hits a Blade Runner out of nowhere! Jay White is the new champion!

Winner: Jay White via Blade Runner

 

2. AJPW Champion Carnival Finals: Kento Miyahara vs Jake Lee

From Mathew’s Coverage:
The two are now in the ring as Kento hits the Blackout on the back of his head, Jake flopping down on the mat, Kento tossing him into the ropes as Jake catches him with a beautiful Leg Lariat as they both go down. Jake delivers another knee to Kento’s gut as he tries to fight through the pain but Jake kicks him in the gut to pin him as Kento kicked out at two. The two exchange blows once Kento has a burst of energy as Kento kicked him in the face before running the ropes, getting caught with a Giant Killing as Kento goes down but kicked out again! Jake goes for the D4C as Kento reverses it into a German Suplex, hitting another Blackout. Kento tries to hit the Shutdown German Suplex Hold but Jake reverses to knee his gut again. Jake hits Kento repeatedly in the face and chest with knee strikes until Kento was knocked out, Jake waiting for him to get up as he went for the D4C but Kento reversed it into a Small Package as Jake barely kicked out! Kento finally hits the Shutdown German Suplex Hold onto Jake but Jake would kick out! Kento couldn’t believe it as he tries again, he has it locked in but Jake is struggling till he reaches the ropes with his teeth. Kento quickly pulled him in the center, still having it locked but breaks free, only to get hit with another Blackout! Kento goes for one more as Jake roundhouse kicks him in the head twice, and catches him to hit the D4C as he pins Kento in the ring to win the Champion Carnival!

Winner: Jake via D4C

1. NJPW Wrestling Dontaku: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay (c) vs Shingo Takagi

From My Results:
Shingo breaks the assault, they trade a little and he finally gets more space after he grabs Ospreay’s foot and just flips him twice in the air, which he did in a previous match of theirs. Takagi and Ospreay have an amusing Table fight, where Shingo’s Sabu style approach of throwing it, wins the tussle. Chekhov’s Gun is established with both tables being set up but not used right away.

Shingo uses them about 8 minutes later as he drives Ospreay through both with Made in Japan/Last Falconry which almost results in a countout victory. As soon as Ospreay slides back in, Made in Japan again, and this time a near fall. The callbacks come back in spades in the match, notably, Shingo learned from the flipping through the Pumping Bomber spot. As Ospreay flips and goes for the Oscutter, Shingo waits and catches him in his own Cutter. Super Oscutter countered with TTR. Shingo even pulls out the Poison Rana again to stop Will from trying another Oscutter.

This becomes a real test of willpower when we get to the point where they just absorb the shot and fire back. Lariats, kicks, Headbutts, great stuff as Shingo slips Stormbreaker, hits the Yukon Lariat, but Ospreay responds with the flying Blackout style Knee Strike. More back and forth, but Chelsea Grin dazes Shingo enough, Ospreay hits a Rainmaker, to set up for the Hidden Blade and then Stormbreaker!

Winner: Ospreay via Stormbreaker

Thoughts:

Now even Meltzer added to the hype of the fourth installment of Shingo versus Ospreay; and I can’t argue that. As much as I really enjoyed seeing Jake HOPEFULLY take his final step towards being crowned champion and Jay White continuing to embarrass Tanahashi and call out the NJPW heroes…I can’t get passed how good Shingo and Will was.

Plus let’s also assess, Blood & Guts was a spectacle, but also a comedy of errors. So many trips, dumb spots, stall spots and the finish was lame. I don’t just mean the cardboard, I mean the entire climb up the cage thing. It wasn’t built well, it was corny and Jericho stalling the climb until they came out of commercial was obvious and laughable. While it was entertaining from a spectacle perspective, it wasn’t anything special and towards the bottom of the many versions of WarGames.

Remember to vote for the match of April and the week!


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News From Cook’s Corner 5.10.21: Setting Wrestling Back Thirty Years

Opinions, contracts and free ideas! Steve Cook puts in the good work this week to bring all the wrestling news!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! There’s a lot going on in the world of wrestling, but this is the time of year when my thoughts start to turn to other things. The best postseason in sports is about to start up, and the Nashville Predators are going to be part of it! Maybe not a significant part of it, as they play the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round, and that bunch of jerks has had the Preds’ number this season. Doesn’t matter though, once the postseason starts the series record is 0-0 and anything can happen.

Hockey’s one of my more recent fandoms. I watched a little bit as a kid, but didn’t really delve into it until early last decade. The Voodoo Penguin & I were doing a sports podcast on offtheteam.com during one of my hiatuses from wrestling writing, and the otters wanted to hear us talk about hockey. Good percentage of Canadians on the website. At first I let Pengu handle that portion of the show, but then I decided I needed to have opinions as well. So I decided to follow the Nashville Predators, whose games I could watch on Fox Sports South, and who Jeremy Lambert told me was a good pick. Still not sure if he was trying to help or hinder me on that one, but it’s worked out well for the most part.

Eventually, I started writing about the Preds’ big matchups on the dearly departed Ultimate Sports Blog, and I used that as a springboard to start writing for Predlines. That’s right, your boy wrote about hockey pretty regularly for a couple of years there. That kind of tailed off when my wrestling work picked back up. The Predators’ Stanley Cup window closing gave me less to be excited about…and to be quite honest, I’m not enough of a hockey expert to intelligently write about it for a site with any kind of a wide reach. It was fun to talk to people from Finland about the Preds, though.

Also, I did just win my third straight OTT Fantasy Hockey Championship. Fourth in five years. So maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit.

Sometimes I think about getting back into the hockey writing thing. It would take a lot of study for me to feel as comfortable about my hockey expert takes as I do about my wrestling expert takes, or even my opinions on baseball & football, all of which are picked up from over thirty years of observation. We’ll see if things slow down for me on the wrestling front. I’ll stop there before I get too cryptic referencing current issues & my future here & elsewhere.

Here’s some wrestling news & stuff!

Blood & Guts Set Wrestling Back Thirty Years

AEW had their big Blood & Guts match last Wednesday. Everybody saw it, everybody had their opinions about it. Including WWE management. PWInsider heard from a member of management saying that the match set the business back thirty years. They also heard from a wrestler that loved it and wished they could do something like that. Ringside News heard from somebody on WWE Creative saying it set a bad image for the industry.

None of these things surprise me. From what we know about the thoughts & opinions of certain members of WWE management, we know that they’re going to hate a bloodbath. That’s just not Vince McMahon’s bag these days, or Bruce Prichard’s. Obviously blading right on camera in front of God & everybody isn’t a good look even if you like blood with your rasslin. I’m not even sure they would care about the finish looking fake as all hell, but that probably didn’t help things.

It also doesn’t surprise me that wrestlers would love it and want to take part in something like that. People of my age & slightly younger that grew up watching this stuff saw Steve Austin bleeding buckets every month on PPV. We saw ECW. Understandably, a good percentage of people that get into the business wanting to be a pro wrestler want to do all the things that their childhood heroes did. Including bleeding buckets and taking bumps off of high places.

It’s all good soundbites that make for good clicks, but nothing that should surprise anybody. Or really affect your opinion on the match, which is what matters. Not Vince’s, not Bruce’s, not Jericho’s or Cornette’s. Yours.

Oh, and I can no longer keep track of whether setting things back thirty years is a good or a bad thing. Thirty years ago, the Reds were coming off of a World Series win. I wouldn’t mind going through that again!

Where is Bryan going?

This one came as a bit of a surprise. Largely because we’ve been conditioned to not care about match stipulations where a WWE Superstar has to leave a TV show if they lose. They just pop up on the other show! When Daniel Bryan had to beat Roman Reigns or leave SmackDown, most of us figured he would pop up on Raw soon enough, or maybe even NXT. No big deal.

Turns out that it might actually be something of a deal. Fightful reported last week that Bryan’s WWE contract actually expired, and he’s currently a free agent. If I was a younger man, I’d be getting all excited about this. I’d be doing Top 5 columns on who I’d like Bryan to wrestle in a prospective future that didn’t involve WWE. Unfortunately, I’m an old man that has a pretty good idea where all this is going.

Bryan will take some time off, which he deserves to do. He’s a father of two little girls that’s put in more than enough time wrestling for our pleasure. Then, he will return to WWE because…well, why wouldn’t he? Say what you will about WWE and how they utilize certain performers, but I can’t really argue that they’ve done Bryan wrong since his return to in-ring action. Sure, things could always be better, and they could have let him be the WWE & Universal Champion for the past several years uninterrupted. And sure, there are likely plenty of people out there that Bryan would love to wrestle, and places that either he hasn’t been to or hasn’t been to in awhile.

Will he scratch that itch? I know a lot of you would like to see it. Heck, I would too because it’d ne something interesting to talk about. But at the end of the day, WWE will be his home. Don’t let yourself get all hot & bothered by the idea of something else happening. Think about the great things that are actually happening in life, not the ones you make up in your mind.

OK, so here’s one that I’m making up in my mind…

Free Idea for Ring of Honor

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about for a little while now, and Bryan theoretically being available to do things just increases my thought that this should happen. Samoa Joe recently got released by WWE. CM Punk doesn’t seem to be doing anything. And now we have Bryan.

Originally, I thought that there wouldn’t be a more fitting trio for a first Ring of Honor Hall of Fame class than Joe, Punk & Homicide, who recently came back to the company. Add Bryan to that group, and it’s a perfect foursome.

Book it, Lizardman! It’s going to be the twentieth anniversary next year. Time y’all did something to honor your past. We might have scoffed when TNA started doing theirs, but that was like a decade ago. Now is the time.

Japan has COVID

The attention of the world will turn to Japan as we reach the summer months. As we know, the Summer Olympics are set to take place in Tokyo. Delayed last year due to the pandemic, athletes across the world are excited to finally compete for a gold medal while fans across the world are excited to cheer their countries on in a bit of national pride & escapism.

Unfortunately for the athletes and the fans, the pandemic that caused the event’s postponement in 2020 still has quite the foothold across the world, including Japan. For evidence, look no further than New Japan Pro Wrestling. NJPW’s Wresting Dontaku events were marred by nine wrestlers testing positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, the wrestlers involved are only experiencing mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

The company had already postponed a pair of stadium shows in Yokohama & Tokyo due to the Japanese government’s state of emergency being extended through the end of May. Shows scheduled at Korakuen Hall this week have been cancelled, and the next show on New Japan’s schedule that hasn’t been cancelled or postponed yet is set for May 22 in Aichi. Three Korakuen Hall shows follow in the days after.

It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on New Japan and other wrestling feds over there over the next several weeks, and not just because every match that takes place in Japan is automatically two stars higher than equivalent matches anywhere else. Hey, I don’t make the rules on that.

AEW Going Full Capacity

While shows in Japan are getting cancelled, American promotions are going full speed ahead. All Elite Wrestling announced that their Double or Nothing show happening on May 30th will have tickets available for the full capacity of Daily’s Place, which is just over 5,000. Will they have that many? It’s a great question. The Blood & Guts show drew 1,600 fans to Daily’s Place, which was a bit below the 2,500 that AEW was hoping for. Double or Nothing does have the advantage of being on a holiday weekend, and AEW will be holding another TV taping on Friday & a fanfest on Saturday to try & draw people in for the whole weekend.

Will it work? I mean, maybe. If there are enough people in the surrounding area that love them some Orange Cassidy, maybe a match between him & Kenny Omega draws people that might be on the fence? It’d be something different. Dr. Britt Baker’s coronation as AEW Women’s Champion could draw a pretty good house. I get the feelling the house won’t quite be full, but it’ll look & sound good enough on PPV.

I do wonder how interested wrestling fans are in going back to shows. Me, I had dose one of the vaccine this past Tuesday, and am getting dose two on the 25th. Once that’s all done, Chairshot management can fly me out for live coverage whereever. I’m ready for it. Give me the blood, the sweat & the beer of live rasslin!

Tessa & Daga Aren’t Heading to AEW, We Swear

After reports came out last week that Daga & Tessa Blanchard were in talks to come to AEW, Dave Meltzer poured some water on the fire & reported that they’re not close to being signed right now. AEW has apparently taken heed of the online heat and opted to keep Tessa off their radar. Which had to be a tough thing for Dave to report, as he’s a pretty big fan and has probably talked Tony Khan’s ear off about it.

I’m still expecting them to pop up somewhere in 2021. It’s gonna happen, people will be mad for a few minutes, then they’ll move on to something else. I just wish we’d fast-forward this deal so we can move on already.

The Return of the Greatest Authority Figure in the History of our Great Sport

No, not Mr. McMahon. Not Eric Bischoff. Not even Teddy Long, though it was nice to see him on this week’s SmackDown. Nah, we’re talking about the ringleader of Lucha Underground, who’s apparently now the ringleader of Azteca Underground.

Dario Freaking Cueto is back in pro wrestling, via MLW. They’re going full steam ahead with this Azteca Underground business, and you can’t really do something like it without having Dario involved. It’s a good reason to be interested in MLW & what they’re doing, and I for one like having multiple wrestling promotions to be interested in.

The only downside is that Dario being here means that Salina De La Renta is gone, which is a shame because I haven’t gotten to know her too well. From what I’ve seen she seems like somebody I’d like to get to know too well.

So hopefully she’ll pop up somewhere else. We can only hope!

OVW’s New Championship Grinds My Gears

Our friends down at Ohio Valley Wrestling have been making some waves lately. They’re expanding their TV footprint across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Their live weekly show on FITE is expanding to two hours. Lots of stuff going on down at Davis Arena in Louisville.

When you’re growing and expanding your wrestling company, you need more reasons for your wrestlers to fight. New championships! They debuted one last week on TV, and it got rave reviews from the wrestling media.

A Kentucky Championship. Now that’s pretty cool. I don’t think the Commonwealth has ever had its own wrestling championship. There have been plenty of Southern Championships, and Tri-State Championships, but never a Kentucky Championship. Kudos to OVW for establishing this.

However, there is one thing about this new title that just doesn’t sit right with me. I’ll be honest with you guys…I’m past caring too much about belt designs. I know it’s a hot topic among 75% of pro wrestling fans, who all go crazy every time a new belt is introduced and either talk about how great or how terrible it looks. At this point in my life, I really don’t care too much about all that. I’ve accepted the fact that the Winged Eagle & the Big Gold Belts are part of my childhood, and nothing these companies produce today will ever match them in my mind’s eye. It is what it is, and I’m not going to waste my time worrying about it.

Except when it comes to this new Kentucky Championship. Since it’s representing the state I’ve called home for almost thirty-seven glorious years, it means a little more to me. I also have a good amount of loyalty to the city of Louisville, where OVW is based and where I spent four of the best years of my life. So this title needs to look like something that represents me, the state & the city.

Instead, it represents the University of Kentucky. We know why it’s this way. Matt Jones, one of the fellas owning OVW these days, is mostly known as the creator of Kentucky Sports Radio. For those of you outside the state that aren’t familiar, it’s basically the sports equivalent of Fox News, with UK sports teams & fans playing the role of the Republicans. Jones made a nice chunk of change off of these delusional bluenecks, which I’d resent if he wasn’t using for something useful like keeping OVW going.

But man, when I lived down there and was a younger man that was even more territiorial about these things than I am now, I really disliked people that insisted on rooting for UK and wearing their stuff all the time while living in Louisville. Some of them would even go to Louisville games wearing UK gear, which I never understood. Why not spend your money on going to UK games instead? Nah, you gotta wear your blue & white to the Louisville game, and put your blue & white on a Louisville promotion’s championship.

A damn shame is what it is. The only thing we can do now is have a U of L fan win it and slap a big ol’ Cardinal sticker on it.

Thanks for reading! Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.


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