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Cook’s Top 5: 2013 Wrestling Memories

Steve Cook travels to 2013, looking at happenings including Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Adam Cole, and so much more!



WWE Raw Dolph Ziggler Cashes In Money In The Bank

Steve Cook travels to 2013, looking at happenings including Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Adam Cole, and so much more!

My 30th Anniversary Celebration has led to 2013, which was a complicated year for me. My employment status changed in the middle of the year, and it changed a couple of times after that. All of this drama in my work life led to me taking less work in the wrestling writing field, along with my lack of interest in much except a few things that grabbed my attention.

Here are my Top 5 Wrestling Memories from 2013!

5. Paul Bearer’s death leads to Undertaker/CM Punk feud

The best manager of all time will always be Bobby Heenan. Paul Heyman has worked his way into the conversation, and Jim Cornette isn’t going to let us forget about him anytime soon. As great as those men are at their craft, I can’t think of a better wrestler & manager combination than The Undertaker & Paul Bearer. Paul’s promos & urn were a key part of making Undertaker in his early years. Behind the scenes, Paul was pretty much a shoot manager for Undertaker, making all of the travel arrangements and taking care of things on the road that the Undertaker shouldn’t be seen doing. They would eventually split up, get back together, split up, and so on. Paul’s status as Kane’s father led to all sorts of drama that one needed a scorecard to keep track of. Bearer still made occasional appearances with Undertaker or Kane years after his regular work with WWE ended, and his death on March 5, 2013 was a sad day for wrestling fans.

Sometimes, wrestling promotions work the death of a wrestler or a wrestling personality into the show and it seems crass. However, in the case of Paul Bearer’s death being used in the storyline between CM Punk & Undertaker heading into WrestleMania, it felt right. Paul Bearer was a mortician in real life, and his two passions in life were the funeral business & the wrestling business. He also loved being the center of attention, so there’s no doubt in my mind that everything Punk did in the feud that some saw as disrespectful would have been more than all right with him. And at the end of the day, Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak continued and he avenged the honor of Paul Bearer. What wasn’t to love?

4. Adam Cole wins his first ROH World Championship

Greg DeMarco would have been pissed off if I didn’t include ADAM COLE BAY BAY in this thing at some point, so here’s one of the biggest moments of his career! Ring of Honor had been having some issues with their internet pay per view service, so as a make-good, they offered Death Before Dishonor XI for free! You all know my life mantra: “If it’s free, it’s for me!”. So I watched the show, and there were only a few technical glitches, nothing worth getting too worked up about. Especially since it was free.99.

The main draw of the event was the conclusion of a tournament to determine a new Ring of Honor Champion, which was necessary due to Jay Briscoe being injured. Adam Cole overcame Tommaso Ciampa in the semi-finals and Michael Elgin in the finals to become the new ROH World Champion. Everybody was happy at first, as Adam Cole seemed like a good guy. Then he attacked the injured Jay Briscoe after winning, and showed a side of himself that we’ve seen on display pretty much ever since.

Cole went on to great success as ROH World Champion, and is the only man to have three reigns as champion. That Ciampa guy went on to big things too, as did Kevin Steen, who was also in that tournament. Michael Elgin…well…he’s not around right now.

3. Dolph cashes in

I could be wrong. I have been on occasion in the past. But I don’t think a Money in the Bank cash-in ever got more over with a live audience than this one was. Dolph Ziggler was a man that the hardcore fans got behind a couple of years prior to this point due to his insane ability to sell moves. His offensive work was always something that kept me from fully getting behind him, but he was one of those chosen few by the IWC during this time period.

April 8, 2013 was a big day for me. According to the NCAA, that day no longer exists, since it’s when the Louisville Cardinals won the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship. Later got vacated since some of the players got some hookers from an assistant coach, and obviously schools can’t pay players or pay people giving services to players. I was trying to keep an eye on the Raw After Mania, but it was tough to do with my college team going for a championship. Two things drew my attention: Dolph cashing in, and the fans Fandangoing. I even let that Fandango song play during the later parts of the basketball game to get that mojo going.

Unfortunately, Dolph’s title run got derailed by a concussion. WWE never went back to him in a main role after that, though they’ll gladly keep him under contract and he’ll gladly take their money.

2. Paige becomes the first NXT Women’s Champion

WWE taking women’s wrestling seriously was a little difficult to believe. They hadn’t done that for the twenty-three years we’ve covered previously, unless you consider Sable serious business, or Stephanie McMahon’s reign, or Finlay randomly training people, or the transition from the Women’s Championship to the Divas Championship taking women’s wrestling seriously. WWE never did…up until NXT in 2013!

WWE’s previous developmental territory, FCW, had a Divas Championship and the Queen of FCW crown. When you have people fighting for a “Divas Championship” and/or a crown, that pretty much tells you what the talent scouts were looking for at the time. Once that changed, they needed something more serious. Once Paige got over in a positive way as the Anti-Diva and certain people got what that meant, NXT’s women’s division became more serious business.

After FCW bit the dust, NXT crowned a Women’s Champion after an eight-woman tournament featuring 4 NXT talents & 4 main roster talents. It led to Paige & Emma in the finals, and they had a great match as one would expect from those two. NXT’s women’s division kept raising the bar for WWE’s main roster, which led to everything that has happened since then.

1. HBK shows a little of the old HBK

2013 was a big year for Daniel Bryan. It was when he graduated from being a good hand, or a B+ player as The Authority kept calling him, to an A+ player, a guy that the majority of fans were willing to pay to see. The Team Hell No thing with Kane helped out, as did John Cena booking himself against Bryan at SummerSlam, while the fans were telling him to do it. The fans made their choice. WWE got there eventually. Part of that road included a series of matches with Bryan & Randy Orton, which culminated with Shawn Michaels, one of Bryan’s trainers, screwing him over at Hell in a Cell as the special guest referee.

Shawn called Bryan out the night after and tried to apologize. The fans weren’t hearing it, and neither was Bryan. This was pretty amazing, as Shawn had tried to turn heel in the past against Hulk Hogan, retired Ric Flair, and worked a tweener role against Undertaker, and people wouldn’t boo him during any of that. Once he screwed Daniel Bryan over, WWE fans finally saw fit to boo that man. We finally see a little glimpse of that true heel Shawn Michaels from back in the day, Bryan makes him tap, and everybody celebrates.

This segment led to a lot of us hoping that HBK would come out of retirement to face Daniel Bryan. Maybe at WrestleMania XXX. What ended up happening there worked out better for Bryan. Sadly, Shawn wasted his return from retirement match many years later against other washed up people in Saudi Arabia. I’m sure the payday was nice, but the fans that watched it wished he’d done the Bryan thing instead. Or anything else at all.

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NXT UK Chuffed and Buzzin’

Brad hits us with some NXT UK highlights!



Brad hits us with some NXT UK highlights!

6. It is time for Johnny Saint to retire and officially promote Sid Scala to General Manager. Saint is a beloved figure in British wrestling (and a technical in-ring wizard), so I understand why they brought him in. Truth be told, he’s never done much and when he is around he isn’t a strong presence. Scala is there every week and has earned the job. Give Sid the job!

Johnny Saint | WWE

5. It is only right to send Mr. Saint out with a proper farewell. This is a gem from at least 1985, the last year for the original World of Sport Wrestling. It’s easy to see his influence on British wrestling and safe to say Tyler Bate studied and stole every one of Saint’s moves. Added bonus: some youngster named Dave Finlay has a mullet that would make Eddie Guerrero jealous.
TAELER: Isla Dawn Unleashed In NXT UK | Fightful News

4. Isla Dawn’s character keeps getting better. For months, she hasn’t cared about winning and losing, only taking trophies from her opponents. This week, she beat Aleah James then returned the hair scrunchie she stole from her. That is a seriously cool twist & one I hope they continue until Dawn returns all her stolen goodies. It’s like she took everything she needed from her opponents in order to build herself up to challenge Meiko Satomura. I don’t know if she’s championship material, but I’d love to see her and Satomura try and top their first encounter.

WWE NXT UK notes: Ilja Dragunov vs. Rampage Brown, Charlie Dempsey

3. I like the idea of Teoman’s family, but the execution is lacking. There is no reason for Rohan Raja or Charlie Dempsey to be with him. There’s nothing that ties them together. NXT UK has been running blazing hot this year, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it works. Maybe it won’t. Either way, Charlie Dempsey is a star. When the time is right, he and Tyler Bate can have the 5 star Heritage Cup match we’ve been waiting for.

WWE on Twitter: "The legendary #NXTUK tag team Moustache Mountain want those @NXTUK Tag Team Titles held by Pretty Deadly! @SamStokerPD @LewisHowleyPD" / Twitter

2. Pretty Deadly versus Mustache Mountain feels like a MOTY in the making. Can the Dandy Highwaymen defeat the forefathers of British Strong Style again and officially claim to be the best tag team in the brand’s history? Can Mustache Mountain finally capture the titles that surprisingly have evaded them since the brand’s inception? If they keep it clean with no outside interference, there is about a 1% chance this match won’t live up to the hype.

WWE NXT UK: April 29, 2021 | WWE

1. Gallus’ theme music is bad ass. That is all.

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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: November 2021



The Inspiration The Iconics WWE Impact Wrestling

It’s Thanksgiving week, and you know what that means!

This is the time we give thanks for our favorite professional wrestlers. And other things, I’m sure. Many of you reading this have other things to be thankful for. I don’t know what those are, but I do know which wrestlers I’m thankful for here at this moment. Let’s dive into the Fave Five!

5. Eddie Kingston

As somebody that was into the independent wrestling scene back in the mid-2000s, I’ve been aware of Eddie Kingston’s existence for a long time. I’ve known that the man was a better talker than almost anybody in the wrestling business. I’ve also known that the man was his own worst enemy, much like Buddy Landell was his own worst enemy back in the 1980s & 90s. If Eddie could somehow find the right place and right time, nothing could hold him back.

This seems like Eddie Kingston’s right place & time. He got a spot with AEW, and he kept getting over. His piece with The Player’s Tribune got him even more sympathy than he already had. The feud with CM Punk heading into Full Gear was perfect. It got Punk into the state people wanted him in. The match at Full Gear was great, even if Punk ended up winning. The only issue? The feud isn’t continuing. But that’s AEW. Feuds don’t last long unless they’re on BTE. Punk & King have already moved onto other things, and we can only hope they get back to each other in a year or two.

4. Bryan Danielson

I know that Bryan’s biggest run came when he was the underdog going against The Authority, and many folks took to him as that underdog. I was one of those guys that followed Bryan during his indy career, and his best run came when he was a total dickhead heel in Ring of Honor. Yeah, he was still short or whatever mainstream fans complained about at the time, but he could out-wrestle anybody put in the ring with him, and he was supremely confident about that fact. Not over-confident, supremely confident. He’d tell the referees the rules, because he was the Best in the World.

AEW fans are now getting that side of Bryan Danielson, and fortunately he has the right opponent to do it against. Hangman Adam Page has been accepted as a folk hero by hardcore AEW fans. They won’t turn against the Hangman for anybody, even when it’s really tempting since Bryan Danielson is a pretty amazing professional wrestler. One of the best I’ve seen! He’s getting to be a total dickhead again while he runs through Page’s Dark Order friends, and it’s amazing.

He’s not lying either. He wrestled the day after he won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania! Bryan Danielson has never lied. Maybe you don’t like what he says, but he’s always been honest. And the second he mentioned WrestleMania, those hardcore AEW fans were ready to jump on him. Bryan didn’t bury WWE like other folks that previously worked for them did. He had his reasons, and this was one of them.

3. The IInspiration

I was asked to be part of 411’s Fact or Fiction this week, since this week was decided to be the blowoff for a tournament from way too long ago where Len Archibald & myself made it to the finals. Bad news for me, as Len is much better with the written word than I am. 411 readers will sacrifice me at the temple of the Tribal Chief that is Len Archibald. I can’t blame them. One of the questions of this particular Fact or Fiction column asks us if underutilized people are better off getting released. Two of the most underutilized people in the history of WWE were Cassie Lee & Jessie McKay. WWE never knew what they had with them. Not the slightest idea. The only time they ever put them over was to spite Bayley & Sasha Banks for reasons. They never followed up on that because they didn’t care.

Cassie was supposed to be the breakout single star, except they never followed through with it. Jessie had the personality, and she had the look too but WWE did the best they could to take the look away from her. It was so weird. That’s why I’m so happy they found a place to let them be them. Impact Wrestling is a strange place. Certain people find their place there. The IInspiration seem to fit like a glove.

2. Dalton Castle

The Party Peacock was somebody that original Ring of Honor fans would have rejected in an instant. Some will try to tell me I’m wrong about that, but they in fact are wrong. The very first segment on “The Era of Honor Begins” featured the Christopher Street Connection getting squashed by Da Hit Squad because their sort of flamboyance wasn’t what ROH was going to be all about. It was 2002, a different time. I remember it well, as I graduated from high school. Way too many things have happened since then and I feel way too damn old.

Dalton Castle would not have been a favorite to original ROH fans in 2002. By the time he came around, he was just what the promotion needed. He had a personality the likes of which hadn’t been seen in pro wrestling for quite some time, which was great because the main knock against ROH was that their wrestlers didn’t have personality. Dalton Castle was ROH’s answer to that criticism. Unfortunately, Dalton’s body broke down at the same time he won the company’s World Championship. He fought through a broken back to have a reign worthy of the championship, but nearly killed himself in the process.

Castle wasn’t the same for a long time afterward. Only recently, we started to see shades of the old Dalton Castle. The man was revitalized by the promise of Television. He wanted to make Ring of Honor the best show on TV, even though he was a very busy man. Very busy. We’re lucky to see him when we do. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with him now that Ring of Honor is letting their people go. If he’s back to being the Dalton Castle we remember from a few years ago, the sky’s the limit. Any company would be lucky to have his talent & personality.

1. Cora Jade

I realize that I am in the minority of people around here when it comes to NXT 2.0. I can’t really say it’s a good wrestling show, but I do find it interesting. You have to know a little bit about my rasslin fan background. I ended up in Louisville during the time when Ohio Valley Wrestling was WWE’s developmental territory. While I never got the chance to attend a show at Davis Arena until years afterward, I enjoyed getting to watch the future stars of WWE on television learning their craft before they made it to Raw or SmackDown. Some were really good in the ring. Some were not. But it was all interesting to me.

Here in 2021, I have more interest in seeing the people that WWE thinks is going to be their future than seeing people I saw in Ring of Honor more than ten years ago having great matches just like they did in Ring of Honor more than ten years ago and having no chance of making it any bigger than “NXT TakeOver main eventer”. Which is fine if you’re into that kind of thing. Me…not so much.

I’m looking for the next big thing. Always have been, always will be. So when I take a look at Cora Jade, the youngest person under WWE contract, I see the potential. I see her work against Mandy Rose, who WWE wants to be the next big thing. I see Cora Jade get over, and I see the future, which is Cora Jade. People will try to tell me I’m wrong. They’ll be proven wrong eventually, but since they’re a lot louder, followers will act like the fools were right all along, even though they had the wrong opinions back in the day. That’s America for ya.

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