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Cook’s Top 5 Revisited: (Potential) Non-WWE Stories of 2020

See what stories Steve Cook predicted wouldn’t be stories at all for 2020. Was Steve a fortune teller for what wouldn’t be a big deal in 2020?

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AEW Cody Rhodes Speech

See what stories Steve Cook predicted wouldn’t be stories at all for 2020. Was Steve a fortune teller for what wouldn’t be a big deal in 2020?

The end of 2019 feels like it happened several years ago. Back in those times, I was trying to guess what the top non-WWE stories of 2020 would be. I didn’t know that most wrestling companies other than WWE, AEW & Impact Wrestling would be out of commission for most of the year.

Let’s take a look back at what I thought would be the Top 5 Non-WWE Stories of 2020

5. Will ROH Make It Through 2020?

“Listen, I have nothing to base this feeling on. Maybe ROH’s ratings on Sinclair-owned stations are good enough to justify keeping the promotion running. I’m sure the ROH office is doing all they can to keep the execs happy. But man. There is just no buzz behind this fed right now. Like nothing. It’s like the past few years of Impact, where you wondered why they were even bothering.

The only time you even hear about ROH anymore is when somebody’s complaining about managment or concussion policies. They’ve lost their spot as the smark darling. They aren’t the #2 or #3 fed by default. They’re not even New Japan’s little sister fed. It’s a random fed with random stuff going on airing in syndication in random time slots on random stations.

Can ROH get their buzz back? Things aren’t looking good from where I sit.”

What Happened: You’re going to notice a trend as we move through each story. The coronavirus put a big dent in most of non-WWE wrestling, as promotions weren’t able to run shows on a regular basis due to social distancing guidelines and government orders. Ring of Honor spent most of 2020 airing spotlight shows highlighting their top performers. As somebody that hadn’t watched much ROH over the past couple of years and had picked up review duties for 411, I appreciated getting to know the competitors.

Then they came back with stricter COVID guidelines than any other wrestling company, while bringing back the Pure Championship. I don’t know how the show is doing viewership-wise, but I’m liking what I’m seeing.

4. NJPW of America: Will it stick?

“So there’s been all this talk of the new company New Japan has formed in America. It’s been a slow process that culminated with an announcement in October. There have been phases, which I will quote here:

Phase one: discovering new wrestlers in markets outside Japan and developing talent through the LA Dojo.
Phase two: run events in the US, including at Madison Square Garden and Dallas this year, both independently, and with the assistance of other promotions.
Phase three: establish a company within the US, and be ingrained in the everyday fabric when it comes to fans’ wrestling consciousness.

There’s going to be a more active touring schedule. Cool. But how are these shows going to look & compare with a standard NJPW show? And how are they going to be ingrained in the everyday fabric of fans’ wrestling consciousness when their TV deal with AXS TV looks to be done & their streaming website isn’t easily accessible for North American-based viewers? I think something announced this past week, where Chris Jericho agreed to give Hiroshi Tanahashi an AEW title shot if Tanahashi could beat him at Wrestle Kingdom, might be something to keep an eye on. Is the AEW/NJPW relationship better than we’ve been led to believe, or is Jericho/someone else trying to work an angle to help get the companies on the same page? I, for one, am intrigued.”

What Happened: As it turns out, this isn’t a great time to try & expand your footprint into America. Plans to run shows in front of fans in America were shelved. NJPW did produce a series called NJPW Strong focused towards the American market, airing on NJPW World & Fite TV. They’ve been doing that since August, with an eye towards building off of it once things return to “normal”. As for an AEW/NJPW relationship, nothing has really developed on that front.

3. The Powerrr of the NWA

“Probably the biggest surprise of 2019 was the return to the forefront of the National Wrestling Alliance. Billy Corgan’s fed had gotten the ball rolling with the 10 Pounds of Gold webseries, but things got kicked up a notch with the debut of NWA Powerrr. A studio wrestling show that looked like 1983 Georgia Championship Wrestling with a similar format & some modern performers was able to find a sizeable audience on YouTube. There was a slight bump in the road with one of the announcers, but that issue has been addressed & the commentary has been upgraded with the addition of Stu “Good News” Bennett.

So what happens in 2020? They seem to be testing a monthly PPV model with Powerrr on YouTube every week. Should that work out, we may see a move to bigger venues. What I know for sure is that Corgan had a 20 year plan when he bought the promotion, so he’s not in any rush. And he’s in a good spot to not be in that rush right now. It might behoove him to stay in that spot.”

What Happened: The previously mentioned pandemic led to Powerr being shelved at least for the time being, along with the cancellation of 2020’s Crockett Cup event that would have featured a match with Nick Aldis & Marty Scrull. The NWA started producing other weekly content on YouTube, but that got derailed when David Lagana left the company after allegations of sexual impropriety. NWA went dark for sometime before popping up recently with “Shockwave”, a PPV & eventually YouTube series in association with the United Wrestling Network. Some of the NWA’s stars have moved on to other places during the pandemic.

Their women’s championship has been featured on AEW Dynamite, with Thunder Rosa & Serena Deeb defending the title on multiple occasions. It’s one way to keep the NWA brand out there while they still try to figure out their future.

2. Will Impact’s improved TV lead to a resurgence?

2019 was a good year for Impact Wrestling. The Don Callis/Scott D’Amore regime produced a show that got good critical reviews & managed to keep at a certain level in spite of a talent roster constantly in flux. Their parent company bought AXS TV and gave the show a better night, time slot & network. For the first time I can remember, there’s something of a positive buzz around the company.

Impact will have a constant television presence at the same time all year, unless they decide to change it themselves. They have fresh talent like Sami Callihan, Tessa Blanchard, Brian Cage & others. There’s also some established talent like Rob Van Dam. Can they get the right mixture going & produce a show that appeals to an even wider audience? It could come down to Callis, D’Amore and other Impact staff being able to scout talent. They won’t be able to keep people that WWE want, and it’s likely that AEW could take people they want. If Impact keeps a deep bench & plans ahead, they should be able to keep making waves in 2020.”

What Happened: Impact definitely had its ups & downs during 2020. They managed to keep running regular television in Nashville without fans in attendance. They put their world championship on Tessa Blanchard, who was unable to return to work before her contract expired and wasn’t terribly interested in coming back once she was able to return. They could have handled that better, along with the Kylie Rae situation.

Other than a few bumps in the road, it was a pretty solid year for Impact. Their TV continued to be pretty solid for most of the year. Some nice quality wrestling mixed with some silliness that works in the Impact environment. While they’re obviously not the #2 US-based fed anymore, they’ve held off other feds to keep the #3 spot, and are getting some newfound attention by working with #2. They’ve lost some talent, but have picked up enough talent to keep things interesting.

1. The progress & patience of All Elite Wrestling

“AEW was the biggest non-WWE story of 2019, and I can guarantee it will be the biggest non-WWE story of 2020 in some form or fashion. There are two key points to keep an eye on:

The progress: People will be looking at TV ratings for Dynamite because that’s what they’ve been obsessed with since the late 90s. As important as those are, we also need to keep an eye on YouTube views for Dark, Being the Elite, clips from Dynamite and all their other programming. Attendance is also an important metric for AEW. Dynamite has been up & down, but the big events are still selling out in short amounts of time. Should that stop happening, we’ll know there’s really a reason to worry.

The patience: Will AEW management panic over things like falling ratings? So far, they’ve been content to play the long game with their story telling. They’re trying to build stars, and haven’t given up on people who haven’t started out well. (Dark Order) If the ratings keep falling, and other metrics take a turn for the worse, will they push the panic button? If they do, what will it look like?

I hope I’m wrong because I want everybody to be successful, but I get the feeling we’ll find out in 2020.”

What Happened: Well, forget about that attendance part. Ratings have been the story for AEW in 2020, and they’ve been fairly steady most of the year. Overall viewership between Dynamite & NXT has been closer than those prime demo numbers, where Dynamite regularly cleans NXT’s clock. NXT does better among older viewers, which is one nut AEW has yet to crack in spite of their involving various wrestling legends on their program on a regular basis. A contract extension with TNT gave AEW a boost heading into an uncertain time.

Personally, I haven’t noticed any sustained period where it looked like AEW was scrambling or in reaction mode to anything that WWE was doing. Not everything has been a hit. There have been some clunkers. It still seems like they have a direction they’re trying to go in more often than not.

Even with 2020 being 2020, AEW did ok for themselves.


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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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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

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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