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.