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Cook’s Top 5: Reasons People Joined RETRIBUTION

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RETRIBUTION WWE RAW

SPOILER ALERT: This column is going to contain discussion of people rumored to be part of RETRIBUTION, the group trying to disrupt Monday Night Raw on a weekly basis. If this is something you don’t wish to hear, go ahead and click that “Back” button now. If you’re interested, keep reading…

So the word’s out on some of these Retribution members. Some are pretty obvious based off their speaking patterns & look. We don’t know when or if they’ll actually be revealed, and many people wonder if WWE knows the answers to those questions either. They might never be revealed, or maybe they will next week. That’s part of the fun of the thing.

Something I keep seeing pop up online is folks questioning why these rumored names would have a beef with WWE. I think this is a by-product of people being conditioned to support the large corporations in 2020. See, back in my day, fans were likely to root for people raging against the machine. They loved seeing Stone Cold give Vinnie Mac a Stunner and make his boss’s life a living hell. Here in 2020, we root for the company against the oppressed workers, and deny any notion that the workers could possibly have reasons to complain about their employer. They’re employed, right? Isn’t that all that matters?

Nope.

All five of the rumored names have reason to take up arms against WWE. Let’s break them down one by one.

5. Shane Thorne

Thorne became known as a tag team wrestler in his pre-WWE days. Successful tag team stints in Japan & Australia. He had a knack for forming mighty tag teams, and could surely do the same in WWE. One problem: WWE kept getting rid of his tag team partners. Nick Miller wanted to go back to his family in Australia rather than deal with life in WWE. Then Thorne started teaming up with another of his old Aussie friends, Brendan Vink. They got some run on Raw, looking like they were going to be associates with MVP’s Hurt Business. Instead, they randomly got sent back to NXT, and haven’t done a darn thing since.

How can Thorne get any momentum going if WWE keeps shooting it in the foot? Is it any wonder why he would want to bring WWE to its knees?

4. Mercedes Martinez

Mercedes Martinez WWE NXT Chairshot Edit

17 years. Mercedes Martinez spent 17 years in the indies, scratching & clawing her way to WWE. She’s been on knowledgeable fans radars for a long time, but 17 years is how long it took WWE to use her in the Mae Young Classic. It took them a couple of years after that to actually sign her. If you’re Mercedes, you’re wondering why WWE didn’t sign her when she was young.

Then, you’re wondering why WWE sent you to NXT. As long as you’ve been in the ring, they’re sending you to training camp? Then their big spot for you is with that goofball Robert Stone? It’s no wonder why Martinez hooked up with this anti-WWE faction. Just complete and utter disrespect towards one of wrestling’s most accomplished women of this century.

3. Dio Maddin

Dio started out as a wrestler at the PC. Then WWE wanted him to announce. Gave him a big spot on Raw. Where did that get Dio? On the business end of a Brock Leaner beat down, then booted off TV and sent back to the PC.

I know if WWE set me up to get my ass kicked by Brock Lesnar, I’d be looking to tear down the company. Not to mention completely mess up my preparation for being a pro wrestler by shoehorning me into this announcing business. That’s rough on the mind. I’d be mad too if I was him.

2. Mia Yim

WWE NXT Mia Yim BIanca Belair

Mia could have been NXT Women’s Champion by now based off her skill level. The problem? Friends of her opponents kept getting in her way. When she fought Shayna Baszler, she also had to deal with Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir. When she took on Dakota Ki, she had Raquel Gonzalez sticking her nose in her business. Hell, when she fought Candice LeRae she had to worry about Johnny Gargano.

All these outside forces interfering in her matches, and did NXT management ever do anything about it? Of course not. William Regal turned a blind eye along with the rest of management. If WWE/NXT is going to condone that type of behavior, why wouldn’t Mia join up with a group that outnumbers every other one?

1. Dominik Dijakovic

WWE NXT Takeover Portland Keith Lee Dominik Dijakovic

One of Keith Lee’s first acts upon entering WWE was starting a feud with Dijakovic. They’d tussled before on the Indy circuit and had some pretty memorable matches, so one figured that doing the same on NXT would propel both men up the ranks.

It only worked for Keith Lee, who won the feud. After disposing of Dijakovic, Lee went on to win the NXT North American & NXT Championships before making his way to Raw. Dijakovic surely looks at Lee right now and thinks he should be getting a spot in Raw’s main event picture. If only he had won that series of matches with Keith Lee.

So why wouldn’t Dijakovic be part of a bitter group of people that interfered in Lee’s match with Drew McIntyre on Monday night?


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NXT Minus 6: A Tale of Two Champions

Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

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Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

Our two new champions could not be more different…

Karrion Kross return vignette airs during NXT TakeOver: WarGames

6. Doomsday Saito comes to the ring and gives a painful, cliched promo. Any wrestler in the back could have said those exact words. Train harder and beat people up. He’s angry. We get it. The only thing Saito could do that would interest me is move to RawDown. On the other hand…

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Not gonna lie, that promo was wasn’t even hot garbage. It was cold garbage.]

Raquel Gonzalez & Rhea Ripley And Bianca Belair Celebrate | Franky Monet Debut | WWE NXT Highlights - YouTube

5. Raquel Gonzalez delivers a genuine, heartfelt promo that only she could give. Tears of joy. It told her story, and it’s exactly why she got the pop and the chant she deserved. The addition of Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair, complete with throwback pic, was icing on the cake. I’m excited for whatever Gonzalez does next. Speaking of…

WWE: Dakota Kai on what she misses about New Zealand and her quest to be NXT champion | Newshub

4. Fantasy booking alert!!! Two weeks ago, Raquel Gonzelez told the world I was the one who believed in her. I was the one who made her a champion. Then Rhea Ripley shows up, and Bianca Belair shows up, and I’m the one sent to the back. How quickly you forget who your real friends are. I was the one who took you to the top, and chicka, I am the one who is going to drag you to the bottom. I used you to get to the top and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am Dakota Kai.

Santos Escobar loses the Cruise Championship to Kushida | Superfights

3. No more Santa Claus Ice Cream Bar. Santos Escobar has earned his name back. His match with KUSHIDA is everything great about NXT. Say it with me. Good things happen when you let wrestlers wrestle! Fast paced. Great action. Surprise ending. I’m going 4.5 stars. Give me a match that good every Tuesday and I’m a happy camper. 

WWE NXT results – 13/04/2021 (Raw and Smackdown Champions appear, Franky Monet debuts) » FirstSportz2. Right now, I don’t know if any two wrestlers have better chemistry than Swerve Scott and Leon Ruff. Every time they get together, it’s electric, and this week was no different. This is quickly climbing into Rivalry of the Year territory. I thought I was happy to see Swerve pick up the victory and move on. Then Ruff goes insane in the membrane and now I’m excited to watch them fight forever.

WWE News: Roderick Strong 'Resigns' From NXT, Video of Karrion Kross' NXT Promo | 411MANIA

1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…Roderick Strong. Kayfabe. Work. Shoot. I don’t care. Strong deserved a better goodbye than what he got. He is the Perfection of Performance (shout out to the Hitman). He and Kyle O’Reilly were the best version of the Undisputed Era tag team champions. I always got excited for a Strong match because I knew he’d deliver. Roderick Strong is exactly the kind of wrestler that makes me love wrestling. Until he returns, he will be sorely missed.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: April 2021

It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means…

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It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means.

It’s time to talk about my current five favorite wrestlers like I’m Booker T. Let’s break down the Fave Five!

5. Samoa Joe

I figure what happened between Samoa Joe & WWE was the following: WWE offered Joe an announcing contract since either they didn’t want to use him in the ring or their doctors wouldn’t clear him to wrestle. Joe looked at the contract, noticed the financial discrepancy, realized he could probably get NJPW to let him train young boys in California for that kind of money and said “thanks but no thanks”. Nothing else really makes sense to me.

Unfortunately, those who thought that WWE wouldn’t utilize Joe to their fullest potential were right. It wasn’t all WWE’s fault though. Joe had a lot of miles on his tires when he got there. Injuries are always more of a concern with larger wrestlers the older they get. And when Joe was healthy, he did get to do some good stuff and show people a glimpse of the Samoa Joe that people like me raved about back in the mid to late 2000s.

In any event, Joe got his WWE run. It was a thing that happened. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t wind up in AEW because he seems like the kind of guy Tony Khan would throw all the money at. Should be fun!

4. Kris Statlander

AEW does have a pretty insane number of factions right now. It risks the possibility of all of the groups blending together, with none of them really capturing the attention of fans. However, there are positive things about AEW’s faction warfare that shouldn’t be overlooked. It makes booking fresh matches to fill cards pretty easy. You can have groups facing off each week, but in different combinations that keep it fresh.

Another good thing: It can help us decide how we feel about characters that we might be on the fence about. Kris Statlander’s character was a topic of discussion from the moment she entered AEW. A lot of people weren’t sure how to take her. Wrestling aliens, or wrestlers who think they’re aliens, aren’t exactly common. Its the kind of thing that gets over in the indies, because those feds attract fans that are more willing to buy into unique concepts. Mainstream is a tougher sell.

Aligning Kris with the Best Friends makes sense to those in the know, since she came up working shows with them. It also helps people that don’t know about her figure out more. The Best Friends are a happy go lucky group that are the whitest of white meat babyfaces you’ll find in AEW, and that’s a good thing. They’re welcoming to people with unique personalities, as Orange Cassidy’s presence establishes. A friendly alien couldn’t ask for a better group to surround herself with, and from their appearances so far she seems like a perfect fit.

Add in the fact that the time on the shelf helped her get into better shape and refine her look & presence, and the sky’s the limit for Statlander. As long as she can stay in the ring, I’m expecting big things from her in 2021.

3. Tay Conti

Sometimes, all one needs is a change of scenery to approach their true potential. Tay spent a few years at the WWE Performance Center learning how to be a professional wrestler. During her time there, Tay never showed much in the way of potential. Even though she had a combat sports background and had the type of physical appearance that gets attention, Conti’s TV time was very limited and uneventful. She seemed like one of those wrestlers that was bound to stay in developmental until WWE gave up on them, then drop off the face of the earth without most wrestling fans noticing.

Tay’s story took a different route. She ended up being one of the cuts that AEW took an interest in, and was brought in for the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament. Her teaming with Anna Jay worked well on & off-camera, and she pretty much fit right in with the group immediately. She started training with Dustin Rhodes, and pretty much immediately started looking better in the ring & figuring out what worked for her. Now, she’s one of the people helping AEW’s women’s division go to a higher level.

This isn’t meant to denigrate WWE’s Performance Center or its methods. There just isn’t a wrestling training center out there that’s going to work for everybody. Tay had to find what worked for her. The people that recently got cut will have to do the same. Hopefully, the people that recently got signed by WWE will thrive in that environment.

2. Bianca Belair

We’ve recently seen three new Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella, all of whom are great in their own way. I’ve talked about Rhea Ripley before, she’s got unlimited potential and so far she’s done very well on the main roster. Raquel Gonzalez is doing very well on NXT and her push to the championship made perfect sense & got over. I do think the best of the title changes was Bianca’s defeat of Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania Saturday. It was a special moment for Bianca, a very fun match to watch, and a great performance from both Bianca & Sasha Banks, who did everything she could to make Bianca in that match.

You see the video of the NXT segment up above, with the three current Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella celebrating together. Apparently there was a picture taken in 2019, and there were pictures taken after this week’s NXT, with Triple H making sure to get in there as he likes to do with all new champions. I’ve never really been a fan of that sort of thing, even the “Horsewomen” celebrations on previous NXT shows didn’t do much for me.

Besides the usual complaints people have about things like that, the thing that I didn’t like was how Rhea & Raquel came off. They were all smiling & happy like they were Big Daddy Cool Diesel after beating Mr. Bob Backlund in 1994. Completely against what Raquel has been up to this point, and what Rhea has been when she’s been at her best. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing for Rhea for the portion of the NXT audience that likes their lady wrestlers crying & happy after their performances, and hopefully it’s leading to Raquel getting dismembered by Dakota Kai, who can’t be happy about her heater winning the championship and then turning into Smilin’ Diesel.

Fortunately for Bianca, it does nothing to affect her character or our opinion of her. That’s why I think her title run will go best. I’m also putting her here because I’m pretty well convinced there isn’t a wrestling move or spot she can’t do well. Insanely talented, and the more experience she gets the better she’ll be.

1. Darby Allin

Sometimes you just want to watch something that’s stupid fun. Something that doesn’t need too much thought in order to enjoy it. Just people doing crazy things to entertain an audience. Darby Allin matches are just what you need when you’re looking for something like this. There isn’t anybody crazier in pro wrestling today than Darby, which is probably for the best. I’m convinced this kid has a death wish.

The one thing that kinda gets me about Darby sometimes is how he kicks out of everything. Poor Matt Hardy wasn’t going to beat that kid unless he shot him with a gun, and apparently there’s a metal detector at Daily’s Place. (Shoutout to Matt by the way, hell of an effort in that match.) But then I remember that Darby Allin is a daredevil and constantly posting videos online where he’s jumping off high places and doing crazy things. Obviously, it’s going to take a little more to beat a daredevil than your average pro wrestler.

What’s it going to take to beat Darby Allin? That’s a good reason to keep watching.


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