I’ve been impressed with most of what All Elite Wrestling has accomplished since its founding. Programming on a major cable network. PPVs that from all reports are exceeding expectations from a viewership level. From a personal standpoint, I’ve been entertained by most episodes of Dynamite. After all, as the Alpha Male Monty Brown taught us, the first question to ask of any wrestling viewer is pretty simple:
ARE YOU NOT…ENTERTAINED?
I was entertained by Monty Brown’s squash matches on early episodes of TNA Impact, much like I’m entertained by most of what AEW presents. A perfect wrestling show does not exist, but I find that more Dynamite segments hit with me than miss. It’s a perfectly good show for folks like me, but there’s a minor flaw in the system.
AEW has won over the wrestling fan. Those of us that are addicted to this stuff, and aren’t as old as Jim Cornette and can’t remember the territory days…we’re ok with what AEW gives us on a weekly basis. Apparently the people that are as old as Jim Cornette prefer NXT, and I’m not going to knock them for it. I’m not going to knock a show with Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, Shotzi Blackheart & Pat McAfee. They got some good talent there.
Not the point. The AEW/NXT ratings war is pretty much non-existent at this point. NXT gets a bump when they build to shows with WCW brand names. We’ve accepted this for what it is, and AEW kind of brought it on themselves by getting the rights to Bash at the Beach and getting a bump off of that. People like WCW names.
It’s also not relevant to AEW’s ultimate goal. Sure, they can beat NXT in viewership most of the time barring rare occasions. They’re killing NXT in THE DEMO. That’s not the goal. The goal is to become the pre-eminent brand in pro wrestling. Tony Khan would probably admit this after a drink or two. He wants to run the number one promotion in all of professional wrestling. Why wouldn’t he? If you’re a man with access to money that loves pro wrestling, why wouldn’t you want to beat Vince McMahon’s WWE? It’s an admirable goal. I give Tony Khan all the respect in the world for that, as he has the same goal that I would try to attain if my father was a billionaire. Man, if I was born into money, I’d be booking some fed somewhere. Tony Khan is living my dream.
That’s why he gets a lot of scrutiny. I don’t blame people for it. We all want a viable competitor for WWE. Back in the 2000s, a lot of us sunk our hopes into TNA. That didn’t work out, even though Impact Wrestling has become an entertaining product in 2020. They were never going to compete with WWE. Ring of Honor never was either. Those groups are on that Triple-A level. The rung you overcome before making it to the big leagues. For too long, WWE has been that one big league. We’ve been hoping for somebody else to come along and make things interesting. To their credit, AEW has done that more than any other fed in the 21st century.
There’s still a missing part to all of this. While AEW has cemented their own audience, and made those folks happy for sticking around, there’s little to no evidence that they’ve won over new viewers. I know Cody likes to quote lapsed wrestling fans on Twitter from time to time, and that’s an audience they’ve tried to win over by featuring Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone, but there’s little evidence that’s a large portion of their fanbase. Largely, it’s people that already liked the Elite (Cody, Kenny Omega, Young Bucks, Hangman Page) due to their antics on social media, and people that got drawn in by the likes of Chris Jericho & Jon Moxley, who did pretty well for themselves in WWE.
There hasn’t been that mainstream moment.
The folks out there still think that WWE = pro wrestling. Heck, I remember Chris Jericho making an appearance at a hockey game and getting identified as a WWE Superstar. He wasn’t at that point, but people still thought he was. Maybe that could come in handy for AEW if people want to say that WWE Superstar Chris Jericho held a concert at Sturgis and spread the coronavirus, but I think they would prefer that the average guy knew there was another brand.
AEW has tried some things. We thought that Mike Tyson’s AEW appearance might be that moment. Honestly, I was skeptical at first. I thought people might be over Mike Tyson in 2020. Even if he was one of the greatest boxers of all time, and had one of the most interesting careers of all time, I thought people might be over it. I changed my mind when I listened to some ESPN Radio with people marking out for the guy, and when I saw his standoff with Jericho on Dynamite. I don’t know what it is about Mike Tyson, but there’s something there that will always make people care. He’s got that it factor, even at this later stage of his active career.
Unfortunately for AEW, he changed his focus to an “exhibition” against Roy Jones Jr. at the end of this month. I feel like a worked wrestling match against Chris Jericho could have done better business, but boxers are gonna box. Maybe Iron Mike will come back to AEW after winning this thing, but there’s no reason for them to count on that. You just never know.
AEW didn’t get their mainstream moment with Mike Tyson.
They looked to other folks TNT had under contract, and there’s Shaquille O’Neal. We’ve heard the Shaq teases forever. WWE really wanted to book Shaq vs. Big Show. Nobody ever really understood why, as we’ve already seen Big Show put celebrities and outsiders over. Maybe I’m speaking for myself here, but I never wanted to see Shaq vs. Show.
WWE teased it off and on, and eventually we gave up on it. Well, some of us didn’t. It’s still being talked about now that Shaq might be doing something with AEW. Probably the closest call came at WrestleMania 33, where there were talks about Shaq coming in to build off that WrestleMania 32 appearance in the battle royal. It didn’t get done, with the reasons depending on who you choose to believe. Shaq said that WWE kept changing their story on what exactly he’d be doing. WWE folks say that Shaq didn’t want to get in shape. Honestly, the truth is probably a bit of both. WWE changes stuff a lot, and Shaq was notorious during his basketball career for not wanting to get in shape.
So that never happened. Shaq still likes him some wrestling though, and TNT certainly doesn’t mind their shows crossing over to create some buzz. So, we ended up with this:
I appreciate the idea of making a new star out of Jade Cargill. The execution left a little bit to be desired, and the announcement of Shaq’s name seemed a bit anti-climatic. You know what didn’t seem anti-climatic? Brandi’s response!
The only downside is that this continues the trend of Brandi wanting to play a different character every week. I like this one though, so we’ll let it slide. We also got random appearances from Jerry Lynn, Team Taz, Darby Allin & Will Hobbs, as seemingly everybody wanted in on this mainstream buzz.
The big question…will this lead to any buzz?
Can celebrity appearances still lead to buzz in 2020? Who moves the needle? I’m skeptical anybody does at this point. Sure, WrestleMania I showed that celebrities can make people care about wrestling…but that was over thirty-six years ago. Times have changed, right?
I’m not sure that adding Shaq to the mix suddenly makes everybody in the world know what an AEW is.
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!
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!
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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