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Opinion

Cook’s Top 5: 2019 Wrestling Memories

Steve Cook looks back at 2019–which was literally just last year! It doesn’t feel that way, trust me you’ll feel it when you read this.

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Kofi Kingston WrestleMania 35

Steve Cook looks back at 2019–which was literally just last year! It doesn’t feel that way, trust me you’ll feel it when you read this.

Doesn’t 2019 feel like at least a decade ago?

So much has changed since then. The coronavirus wasn’t even a thing. People were attending wrestling shows. Multiple federations seemed on the way up. Wrestling looked to have a bright future, and while it still seems kind of bright, 2020 has definitely taken a chunk out of things.

Let’s look back one year ago, shall we?

5. ROH & New Japan Sell Out Madison Square Garden

 This was a pretty big deal for these two promotions. As we all know, MSG was the McMahon family’s home arena for most of the promotion’s existence. Almost every major event throughout the 1960s, 70s & 80s happened at MSG. The company has moved away from using the arena more than once or twice a year lately, favoring Brooklyn’s Barclays Center because it’s cheaper to run.

The Garden still means a lot to wrestling fans and to wrestling promoters. So when New Japan wanted to run a major show in America on WrestleMania Weekend, MSG was the obvious choice. ROH came along for the ride, and the show drew well enough to be the first non-WWE wrestling event to sell out MSG.

New Japan felt well enough about it to make bigger plans for their American presence going forward. Unfortunately, well, we know what happened from there…

4. Feel the Powerrr

It was easy to assume that nothing would come of Billy Corgan purchasing the National Wrestling alliance in 2017. Some folks had tried doing things with the NWA throughout the twenty-first century. TNA Wrestling used the NWA World Heavyweight & Tag Team Championships as their main titles in their early years. Adam Pearce would get the championship into Ring of Honor on an intermittent basis. New Japan did some stuff with them. Still, the NWA was still nowhere near the force it was in its prime. Will it be again? Probably not. But Corgan had some ideas, and he made a YouTube show to get them out there.

NWA Powerrr debuted in October 2019, and was a glorious throwback to old school studio wrestling. Nick Aldis was a tremendous NWA Worlds Champion and had a nice little group with him. You also had folks like James Storm, Eli Drake, Eddie Kingston, Homicide, Aron Stevens, Question Mark and a cast of thousands. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express! Just a basic, good ol’ wrestling show. The NWA seemed to be heading towards big things in 2020, but then 2020 happened.

3. KofiMania

Kofi Kingston wasn’t originally scheduled for a WrestleMania run to a WWE Championship reign. When he was inserted as an injury replacement into the Elimination Chamber, the fans bought into it. They wanted Kofi to be champion. Ironically enough, Daniel Bryan was now in the position of facing somebody that the fans powered into the main event role.

Kofi had a lengthy reign, though the list of challengers wasn’t particularly impressive. He lost the title to Brock Lesnar in mere seconds, and has been nowhere near the main event since. At least he can look back on KofiMania with fond memories.

2. The Man

If you had told me thirty years ago, or even twenty years ago, or even ten years ago, that women would main event WrestleMania, I would have said you were out of your mind. The North American landscape didn’t make it possible for most of my time as a wrestling fan. Eventually the talent got there, the fanbase demanded it, and WWE came around to the idea.

You have to give Rona Rousey a lot of credit. She brought the name value and her skills translated well to pro wrestling. Charlotte Flair deserves a lot of credit too. However, it was Becky Lynch’s morning. (That’s how long WrestleMania goes now.) Becky had the skills and presented a character interesting enough to be taken seriously at a main event level. After winning the belts at WrestleMania, Lynch continued to dominate the scene up until taking maternity leave in early 2020. As it turned out, she couldn’t have picked a better time to do that.

1. The Wednesday Night War Begins

The birth of All Elite Wrestling was undoubtedly the biggest thing to happen in 2019. Many different AEW stories could have made this list, but I decided to combine it all here up top.

AEW getting a deal with TNT was huge. Wrestling promotions have been working through TV deals ever since WWE became the only game in town in 2001. None of the networks these companies made deals with were on the level of TNT, and certainly none of them had the connection with wrestling history that TNT had. It was a big deal for AEW, and has continued to be a big deal for them. Of course, TNT also airs NBA games on Thursday nights, with the occasional Tuesday night. Wednesday is an ESPN night, so it was a good night to put AEW on.

As it turned out, NXT aired on Wednesday nights on WWE Network, and somebody thought it was a good idea to move that show to USA and give it two hours. From a competitive standpoint, it wasn’t a bad idea. NXT was the brand most likely to appeal to people looking for a WWE alternative, and had received a lot of goodwill from fans over the years.

One can argue whether it’s been the smartest move resulting in the best outcome for all involved. All I can say for sure is that it’s been fun to watch.


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Opinion

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?

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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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Opinion

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!

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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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