Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’ll tell you what, it feels like things are starting to get back to normal around here. After weeks of virus & death & speaking out, the past few days have seen wrestling fans return to what they love talking about more than anything else…
It’s the only metric that doesn’t involve star ratings that we can judge pro wrestling by here in 2020. Not that it’s a great way to judge pro wrestling. It’s awful. We all know the various weaknesses in TV ratings released a day after the show. People watch these shows at different times, especially people of my generation and younger. People watch them on devices other than a television. I’ve taken to watching NXT on the WWE Network when it becomes available there. All these wrestling shows are available on demand, in different timeslots, or via DVR.
The amount of attention given to the Thursday cable ratings chart is somewhat absurd. We can say the same about Raw & SmackDown’s ratings results, but it goes into overdrive on Thursday because NXT & AEW are the two shows that try to appeal to the Internet crowd the most. People have chosen their hills to die on, and it’s really for the best if we all stay off social media from late-afternoon Thursday until Friday. Or maybe forever, but I got some wrestling columns to try & get people to read.
Everybody has takes. Here are three takes I have on NXT’s recent “viewership” victories over AEW.
1. Sasha & Bayley are draws
NXT ratings have seen increases when main roster talent shows up. Makes sense, as WWE does well in the older demographic (much better than AEW at any rate), and the older folks are more likely to tune in when people they’ve heard of are going to be on a show. So NXT did pretty well during the Survivor Series build when all kinds of main roster talent was coming over, and the last couple of weeks have seen a big boost in that demographic thanks to Sasha & Bayley.
I’m not surprised, I’m a fan of what Sasha & Bayley have been doing lately character-wise and they’re always entertaining in the ring. It’s just interesting to point out how their appearances have boosted NXT while Charlotte Flair’s various appearances in the weeks prior pretty much kept things level. Vince McMahon has to be scratching his head over this one, but us real ones know what’s up.
Sasha 3 Shows & Bayley 3 Brands are what’s working for WWE right now. Keep it going.
2. AEW is shook
Remember how I explained a few paragraphs ago how the ratings metrics are flawed, and how people smarter than I probably explained it better ages ago? Well, somebody needs to tell Tony Khan and his boys about it, because NXT’s “viewership” victories are in their heads right now. We got Chris Jericho on Twitter explaining how AEW is kicking ass in the demos that matter, which true or not isn’t the best look for Le Champion. MJF mentioned the “Ratings War” in his promo. Taz mentioned how WWE runs a sloppy shop. Cody had his classic Great American Bash logo ripoff t-shirt.
It’s getting to them. Which was WWE’s intention all along when they got NXT that slot on Wednesday nights opposite of Dynamite. They didn’t care if they won! If they really cared, they would have moved Raw or SmackDown there or have some dual brand supershow or something. Instead, they let HHH’s passion project have the slot. Why not? If it fails, it takes Hunter down a notch, which I’m sure some people there wouldn’t mind. If it works, they kill off some potential competition. It was win-win all along for WWE.
All it took was a couple of weeks of partial victories, and they got AEW all unsure of themselves. Regardless of how all the other views of the shows shake out, that’s a victory for WWE.
3. There are way too many people with Fox News on their TV all day
Which is why no matter what polling looks like right now, I wouldn’t get too sure of myself if I was in Joe Biden’s campaign. Sorry, I know this has nothing to do with WWE or AEW, it’s just my main takeaway every time I look at the Thursday cable ratings charts. Fox News dominates viewership & the main demos I’m told to care about. I’m just saying. They snuck up on you in 2016, and they’re fixing to do it again in 2020. Especially if Kayne takes a good chunk of that African-American vote with whatever he’s doing. I’m more convinced than ever that we’ll get four more years of this, whatever it is. Not good from where I sit, maybe good for you if you’re rich, in which case I’d like you to let your wealth trickle down to me.
So, those are my takes. I don’t get wrapped up in decimal points like many wrestling fans do. All I really care about at the end of the day: DID I ENJOY THE SHOW? I enjoyed watching AEW live and conversing with my friends that also watch it live. One of the highlights of my week is talking to the AEW otters, as I love them like brothers and sisters. I also enjoyed watching NXT on the WWE Network. Both were good shows in my book! It’s like everybody said about the Monday Night War back in the day, the winners were the fans. If NXT winning “viewership” a couple of weeks makes AEW raise their game, the winners, again, are the fans.
WWE buys EVOLVE
I think we all saw this coming. Maybe not, as some sites pitched it as “big news”, but the second that an EVOLVE show aired on WWE Network, everybody should have known the endgame. The only question was when. and now seems like a perfect time since there’s a pandemic and it’s not like EVOLVE can run a bunch of shows anyway.
WWN will still be a thing, apparently. Sal Hamoui will still run some feds, it’s just that EVOLVE & Gabe Sapolsky are being taken in by the WWE machine. I’m selfishly hoping this means all EVOLVE shows end up on WWE Network pretty soon for selfish reasons. For one thing, so I can see more early Reby Sky wrestling appearances. Honestly, that’s pretty much it, though Larry would tell me I should watch all of the GRAPPLEFUCK period with Tim Thatcher & Catchpoint & all that jazz. I think Mox had some appearances too? At any rate, they should dump all those shows on the Network so I can figure it out.
I mean, if these guys are going to sell out to Vince, they should at least do me the courtesy of having their material available on the award-winning WWE Network. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
You can wear masks at WWE events now
Our friends at Fightful Select have informed us that WWE has done a 180 on their policy regarding their employees wearing masks. Now, everybody not performing on camera must wear a mask at all times. The penalty is a stiff one too. $500 fine if you violate the policy one time, and $1000 for the second time. Apparently, a star that recently returned to Raw took his concerns over how the company was handling things at their tapings to Vince McMahon, and that led to Vince instituting the rule. Now we see plenty of the NXT students wearing masks in the audience, which is a good thing. Took WWE way too long to figure it out, but at least they got there eventually.
I will say from a personal perspective that I’ve seen a much higher percentage of people wearing masks lately, and I don’t live or work in an area where they’re 100% required. Some of you are starting to get it. There’s still a lot of you that don’t, and as long as you stay amongst yourselves it’s ok with me. Austin Aries was the most recent wrestler to espouse anti-mask views on social media, which surprised absolutely nobody familiar with him. See, the thing with guys like Aries & Low Ki is that fans can’t “cancel” them. Reputable promoters stopped booking their annoying asses years ago because they weren’t worth the headaches.
The Observer reports that Rey Mysterio is currently working for WWE while not being under contract. Some would question the wisdom of featuring somebody on your TV that isn’t under contract, but I’d say Rey’s earned the benefit of the doubt. WWE doesn’t have to worry about him flying the coop & leaving them in the lurch. Especially when he has a son he’s trying to get in to the business. Rey’s not burning that bridge.
PWInsider gave us some more details on Bully Ray’s departure from ROH, which quite honestly was news to me because I haven’t been keeping up to date with his developments. His contract expired at the beginning of April, there wasn’t any hard feelings, both sides just didn’t see anything else for Ray to do in ROH. In news that I’m assuming is related, D’Lo Brown has been teasing an Aces & Eights reunion during recent broadcasts of Impact Wrestling. I’d expect that to be Bully’s next appearance.
Though, when I look at the Aces & Eights roster, I’m not sure who all they can bring back to be part of that. Former member Luke Gallows & his tag team partner Karl Anderson signed with Impact last week, so them being part of it would make sense. Taz is in AEW, Devon is working for WWE. Mr. Anderson was working for the NWA, but everything regarding that promotion is up in the air after David Lagana’s resignation. Has anybody seen Garrett Bischoff or Knux lately? Wes Brisco? Brooke Tessmacher? I’m sure they’ll figure something out.
Speaking of the NWA, Zicky Dice & others are in the process of getting their release from the company. After seeing Ricky Starks get a chance in AEW so soon after getting his release, it’s easy to see why NWA wrestlers would be looking toward greener pastures.
NXT UK Update
A big announcement was teased regarding NXT UK last week. I found more tweets wondering if the announcement had been made than tweets about the announcement itself, which involved Joe Coffey being suspended and two referees getting released. It wasn’t so much an “announcement” as it was Triple H telling these crazy Brits to get their stuff in order. The promotion will return to taping shows at an unknown time.
I wouldn’t have been shocked if they closed the doors on NXT UK, but that would go against WWE’s desire to own the whole world. Even a world decimated by virus is something they’d like to have.
Necro Butcher vs. Hodgkin’s
Necro Butcher announced that he’s been diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He’ll undergo several rounds of chemotherapy to treat the disease. The good news is that people diagnosed have a very good survival rate. The bad news is that chemotherapy is the worst. Necro was my favorite deathmatch wrestler back in the 2000s. The guy really knew how to work the style and make his stuff seem like it mattered. And if you’ve never seen that match with Necro taking on Samoa Joe…well, I assume anybody reading this column has. If not, here ya go.
Kick Hodgkin’s ass, Necro!
I think that’s going to be enough from me at this time. Please continue reading all of the awesome writers & listening to all the great podcasters here at The Chairshot, and keep your stick on the ice.
AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21
AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?
As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.
Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!
#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time
There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…
THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!
I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.
#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic
Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.
People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.
I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.
#3- Overuse of Certain Moves
This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…
Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.
If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.
How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.
That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!
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?
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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