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Opinion

News From Cook’s Corner 7.20.20: They Will Come Back

With some interesting topics and free agent signings, Cook’s got a bunch of news this week! What stood out to you this week?

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! Last night saw a Horror Show at Extreme Rules. I didn’t watch it because I got home late from work and had to try and write this. I also didn’t watch it because I just didn’t care. Let’s be honest. I’m sure some of you probably cared and would love to hear my take on whatever Rey Mysterio was holding up near his eyeball. I got nothing.

I got plenty of other things to talk about though! So sit back, relax & enjoy the ride.

It’s been over 90 days since WWE fired a ton of people.

You know what that means…people are popping up in other places now. Impact Wrestling had been hyping some new/old names appearing at Slammiversary. We had heard that Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson would be among them, and just after midnight on Saturday morning, the Good Brothers made the official announcement. Also released a podcast, which we may discuss something from a bit later. I think Gallows & Anderson are a better fit in Impact than AEW, mostly because AEW has like 25 tag teams already. It’s closer to Anderson’s home too as long as they’re running in Nashville.

Heath Slater made an appearance on Slammiversary as the hottest free agent in wrestling. Storywise, he remains a free agent, as Scott D’Amore told him to leave after catching up with his buddy Rhino. He’ll be back on Tuesday though. Heath seems like a guy that could really benefit from the change in scenery. He was stuck at a certain level at WWE, and no matter what he did there he was going to stay in that spot. No such restrictions in Impact. Can he take advantage?

Eric Young re-emerged as part of what ended up being a five-way main event for the Impact World Championship. He’s being billed as the World Class Maniac, and showed a dark side during & after his time in the match. Young found a lot of success during his first stint with Impact, and showed potential of doing the same in WWE during the early days of the Sanity group. Honestly, Eric Young & TNA/Impact Wrestling go together like peanut butter & jelly. I don’t blame him at all for trying something else for awhile, but now he’s home.

Slammiversary ended with the revelation that trouble is coming back to Impact Wrestling in the form of EC3. EC3’s second WWE stint, which came after his first Impact stint, was somehow worse than his first WWE stint. It remains to be seen whether the pattern will continue and EC3’s second Impact stint will be better than his first. Did I say that right? I don’t know, I’m writing this way too late at night.

Slammiversary also saw the return of other folks that had been absent from Impact for some time. Rich Swann was also part of the main event, and his previously injured knee was targeted by Eric Young. We’ll see if that leads to anything. In news that I wasn’t expecting but am pretty hyped about, the Motor City Machine Guns returned and are already set up for a title match this Tuesday. Chris Sabin had been out since January with a torn ACL, but is back & ready to go. Alex Shelley would never miss a chance to reunite with an old tag team partner, so that’s that.

Mike Bennett & Maria Kanellis appeared on the ROH Strong podcast over the weekend. This doesn’t mean they’re signed, but a return to the company would certainly make sense. From a storyline perspective, Matt Taven could use some help against VINCENT and his new group of misfits. They only got cheered in Japan before, now they could get cheered here too.

There are still plenty of names out there, and there are still wrestling shows taking place this week. Stay tuned!

Naomi Does Deserve Better

SmackDown was on Friday night, as it typically is these days. The main thing that garnered attention on the show was a match between Lacey Evans & Naomi.

Now, Lacey is somebody that WWE obviously cares about and wants to be a star. They haven’t figured it out with her yet. She’s been a heel that didn’t mind showing a little skin to try & get Seth Rollins away from Becky Lynch, even though she was supposedly the classiest woman in WWE. Then she was a babyface mom that we were supposed to get behind & support because the mean girls made fun of her. Now, she’s a mean girl that’s annoying everybody again. There hasn’t been any consistency to her character, which is one of the main reasons she hasn’t gotten over.

Naomi, on the other hand, has been a consistent character for most of the time since her arrival in 2012. With the exception of her run with Team B.A.D. during the early stages of the Women’s Revolution, Naomi’s been a honest, well-meaning character that likes to dance. People like her. Even when she disappears in catering for months because WWE doesn’t have any ideas for her, people are always happy when Naomi comes back for a brief period of time. She does a feud, gets good reactions, then goes away. I think this pattern has happened enough times that fans are no longer willing to give it a chance and assume that it’ll lead to bigger things to Naomi.

So, when Lacey got the win on SmackDown by playing with Naomi’s hair, fans finally had enough. The subject was trending on Twitter through Saturday, with many chiming in that indeed, Naomi deserves better. She absolutely does, there’s no questioning that unless you’re Vince McMahon apparently. I wouldn’t expect this online backlash to lead to anything substantial, heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if WWE brass took it to mean that Lacey’s really getting over as a heel.

There are certain people WWE just isn’t interested in pushing. Apparently Naomi is one of them. I can’t tell you why. I can make wild ass guesses, but all I can say for sure is that WWE has under-utilized Naomi for approximately eight of her nine years on the main roster.

Paul E is not a Good Brother

As I mentioned earlier, Good Brothers Gallows & Anderson released a podcast shortly after their non-compete expired. One of the topics of discussion was an issue that came up some weeks ago, the speculation over Paul Heyman being behind Gallows & Anderson’s release, which led to heat between Heyman & AJ Styles. According to the men themselves, it’s all true. Some have brought up the obvious question: how could Paul Heyman be behind people getting released when he got demoted not long afterwards? It’s a fair question. I’m not going to act like I’d be surprised if Heyman was offered up as the scapegoat by Vince McMahon to AJ, because that sort of thing happens all the time in WWE.

I got a question for all these folks falling all over themselves to defend Paul E & brand Gallows & Anderson as not being the sharpest tools in the shed: Would you be saying the same thing if the name in the story was “Bruce Prichard” instead of “Paul Heyman”? Something tells me a lot of y’all wouldn’t be. Paul’s very popular with the Internet and we don’t like the idea that he might have gotten people fired. If it was Bruce, it’d be a different story.

Listen, I don’t know what went on leading to any of these firings. I only know what people tell me, and at this point in my life I know better than to cut free passes just because somebody’s entertaining on television.

Just because you spoke out doesn’t mean they’ll go away

It was only a matter of time.

I don’t think anybody really expected all of the folks outed by the Speaking Out movement to slink off into the darkness forever. They were going to bide their time, wait for the moment when it felt like the heat was off them a little bit, then make their case. Two of the more high profile folks that were accused by multiple individuals began their attempts to reclaim their former status in the past couple of days.

Mike Quackenbush did via the newspaper. Very on brand for him & Randy Orton to take it to the papers. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story on CHIKARA shutting down this past Saturday, with quotes from Quackenbush that indicate he’s going to try to run again as soon as possible. He took on that familiar talking point about how anybody speaking against oppression must be a mob, and how the group is not clearly good, not clearly bad. This is how people are trying to discredit Black Lives Matter, and this is how people will try to discredit Speaking Out.

Joey Ryan’s doing the same thing. He released a nearly hour-long video that was intended to discredit anybody that dared accuse him of sexual misconduct. I didn’t watch it because I have never had the urge to click on an hour-long video of Joey Ryan talking. From what the people that have watched it say, he pretty much ran down every single accuser and tried to paint everything in a positive light regarding his actions over the years.

This is an important thing to remember while taking stock of Quackenbush & Ryan’s recent actions and their respective attempts to clear their names: They don’t believe they did anything wrong.

Quackenbush released a heartfelt apology video where he was on the verge of tears on a couple of occasions, but after taking some time to think about it, he’s realized that he did nothing wrong. He may have created an environment that fostered bad behavior, but that wasn’t his fault. I call it the Rick Pitino Defense. Pitino created a culture in the Louisville men’s basketball program that led to bad behavior on multiple fronts. According to him, none of it was his fault and he shouldn’t have been punished for it. Same deal with Quack & CHIKARA. Maybe some bad things happened, but, in his eyes, the past is the past and he should be allowed to continue doing what he does.

Ryan’s case is more of a typical male thing. A lot of men have the ability to frame every interaction they have with the opposite sex in a way that makes them look like nice guys. From what I surmise, Joey has put a lot of thought into each of these situations. He has managed to spin each one into a way where he thinks he comes off as the good guy. Even if he doesn’t come off as a good guy to anybody that’s listening, in his mind, he’s a decent fella.

I think most men have this problem. I know I have in the past. It was only later on after some reflection where I’d realize “ok, that’s why she probably thinks I’m a creep.” Humans make mistakes. Some of us learn from them. Some of us never even realize we make them.

Another important thing to remember: Quackenbush is 44 years old. Ryan is 40.

These guys have spent their entire adult lives in the pro wrestling business. Quackenbush was able to make his own playground. Ryan was able to make his own schedule. They made themselves successful without having to work for WWE, which up until the past year or two wasn’t an easy thing to do during the twenty-first century. Very few people were able to accomplish what these men did. In a previous time, we would have admired them for it. Now that we know some of the people they stepped on along the way, it’s not as admirable.

Here’s the thing: These two men have dedicated their lives to pro wrestling. They haven’t pursued any other means of making a living in a very long time. I imagine if somebody was doing what they loved and it was taken away from them, they’d feel pretty desperate to get it back. Especially, as we established earlier, if they believe they did nothing wrong. Sure, people will tell you that 40 is the new 30, but surely Quackenbush & Ryan see the sand flowing through the hour glass.

You can understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Also, you can probably see the next step coming. As long as Quack & Ryan aren’t in jail or otherwise occupied, they’re going to continue to pursue a career in wrestling. They may run shows. Somebody might book them to wrestle. Some indy promoter will see some money in that.

When that happens, it’s up to the fans to decide how to take it. It’s capitalism at it’s finest. We can’t stop Mike Quackenbush from running a show if he can get talent and a venue. We also don’t have to support it. The same goes for Joey Ryan. And if promoters want to book them, that doesn’t mean we have to watch their shows.

These guys aren’t going away. And I’d wager that some of those other names that got outed will be popping up on the scene once things get more active. If you really want to support the people that spoke out, you’ll not support the people they accused. It’s really that simple.

Change really happens when the money stops coming in. If you’ve been paying attention to sports news lately, or just the news in general, you know that’s true.

That’s all I got for this week! Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice.


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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