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WWE NXT Minus 6: The Year in Review, Part 1

Bradley Jay is here with his unique look back at WWE NXT for the year of 2020…at least part 1 of it!

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WWE NXT Johnny Gargano

Bradley Jay is here with his unique look back at WWE NXT for the year of 2020…at least part 1 of it!

Let’s start the 2020 recap with non-traditional awards you won’t find anywhere else.

Sick Burn of the Year, runner up:

Bianca Belair tells Toni Storm and Charlotte Flair, “You don’t even go here.” 

Official Women's Wrestling Fansite on Twitter: "WWE NXT Analysis (December 12th, 2018): Mia Yim and Reina Gonzalez fight to qualify for No. 1 contender's match | https://t.co/XOhD2Er0xp… https://t.co/WMSr3PTM9A"

Repackaging of the year: Raquel Gonzalez

I’ve always liked her in-ring, but let’s be honest. Cowgirl Reina certainly would not be going nose to nose every week with Rhea Ripley. Just a great makeover for a deserving talent.  

Sick Burn of the Year, runner up

Domanic Dijakovic calls Damian Priest a “Bootleg Marilyn Manson” 

Ever-Rise-Chase-Parker-Matt-Martel - eWrestlingNews.comParticipation Award: Ever-Rise

Legendary NFL coach Bill Parcels was fond of saying, “The most important ability is availability.” In a year with injuries, quarantines and travel restrictions, no wrestlers have been more available than Ever-Rise. Every week, sometimes twice a week, they were on 205 Live and NXT. They have taken advantage of their opportunity and grown into a team I enjoy watching. Most importantly, they were available. 

Triple H reveals how long WWE was planning for Ember Moon to return to NXTReturn of the year: Ember Moon

I was not a fan of Moon during her first run in NXT. I wasn’t excited when she showed up at Takeover. Her first match back didn’t dazzle me. Everything after that has blown my socks off. I’m still crazy about her character, but in ring she’s as good as anybody & I’m always excited when she’s in a match. Welcome home, Ms. Moon.

Sick Burn of the Year, runner up: 

Zack Gibson to the NXT audience, “I didn’t come here so the Full Sail hipsters could pretend to know who Alex Shelly is.” Gibson with the savage two-fer, roasting the fans AND Shelly. 

Q&A With Damian Priest: Winning North American Title, Advice from Edge and More

Loser of the Year: Damian Priest

It’s easy to shine bright when you win. You’re on another level when you steal the show in a loss. That’s exactly what Priest did when he lost to Finn Balor at Takeover: In Your House. After that match, the entire wrestling world knew Priest was a made man. 

NXT's Johnny Gargano Talks Hopes for MCU Phase 4, The Mandalorian Season 2

Sick Burn of the Year: Winner

Johnny Gargano to Finn Balor “That’s not the guy who lost to Bobby Lashley 17 weeks in a row on Monday Night Raw” Gargano destroys Balor, Lashley and WWE’s flagship program. Scorch the earth, Mr. Wednesday Knight. Scorch the earth. Speaking of…

Best Forgotten Nickname: The Wednesday Knight

I think they dropped this after one week. Damn Shame. Would have looked great on a t-shirt.

The Mama Mia recognizes the one moment I could watch over & over and never get sick of. 

Johnny Gargano reacts to slam by Candice LeRae and Bronson Reed

The Mama Mia (male): Bronson Reed, ladder match at Takeover 30

Watching the Thicc Boi jump off a ladder is impressive. Watching him jump off a ladder with Candace Lerae on his back is downright ridiculous. And bonus points to Reed for the Bam Bam Bigelow homage. I am down with the Thiccness.   

NXT Women Steal The Show At WarGames | FOX Sports

Female Mama Mia: Io Shirai, Takeover War Games

Last year, Shirai hit a moonsault off the top of the cage. What could she do for an encore? Throw herself off the top of the cage stuffed in a garbage can. A garbage can! I don’t know if jumping 15 feet in a garbage makes her a genius, but she certainly has balls of steel. She is also a 2020 double award winner…

The Most Wrestling Moment of the Year: Io Shirai, Takeover War Games

We have to be honest enough to admit that wrestling is totally cool and totally stupid. If there was one moment in 2020 that best captures the marriage of cool and stupid, it’s watching a woman fly through the air in a garbage can. I was in awe. I laughed my ass off. It was everything great and stupid about this thing we love so much. Long Live Wrestling. 


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Opinion

Cook’s AEW Revolution 2021 Gambling Picks

Time to gamble on wrestling! Steve Cook is here with your AEW Resolution gambling picks–for entertainment purposes only of course!

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AEW Revolution

Time to gamble on wrestling! Steve Cook is here with your AEW Resolution gambling picks–for entertainment purposes only of course!

All Elite Wrestling is presenting Revolution this Sunday. Sunday Sunday Sunday. Gotta keep that in mind since they usually run on Saturdays. They didn’t this time because of various boxing & UFC events, but ended up booking themselves against the NBA All-Star Game. No, I don’t know why the NBA is bothering with an All-Star Game either, but they are!

I liked AEW doing their PPVs on Saturday, as that’s a better night for most of their viewers for an exceptionally long wrestling show. This card’s pretty stacked, with an 8PM Eastern start time I can see it stretching past midnight. Which is a lot better for most people on a Saturday night. (Doesn’t affect me, my work schedule changes every week with no rhyme or reason and I never have a Sunday off. It’s a wonderful life!)

I went to BetOnline to find some odds on these matches and had mixed success. Granted, some of these matches were just booked, and others have moving parts. I’m doing the best I can here, people, I’m only one man! As usual, lines are subject to change, and this column is purely for entertainment purposes.

Buy In Match
Thunder Rosa & Riho vs. Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. & Reba

Kind of an unfair match here from a kayfabe perspective, as Reba is not officially a wrestler and has also been beat up a bit lately. Unless Dr. Baker is allowed to find another partner, you have to give Thunder Rosa & Riho the advantage here.

The one thing that could go against them: Is Thunder finishing up now that the NWA is re-starting? If she is, I could see her eating one more pin from Dr. Baker. Nah, either way it’ll probably be Riho getting the win.

Casino Tag Team Royale
Bear Country vs. Alex Reynolds & John Silver vs. Evil Uno & Stu Grayson vs. Santana & Ortiz vs. The Butcher & The Blade vs. Private Party vs. Top Flight vs. Pac & Rey Fenix vs. Varsity Blondes vs. Matt & Mike Sydal vs. SCU vs. Natural Nightmares vs. Chaos Project vs. Gunn Club vs. Dark Order’s 5 & 10 vs. Possibly More

The winners here get a Tag Team Championship match at some later date. Considering we just had a gigantic tag team battle royal to get Chris Jericho & MJF a title shot at this show, deciding the next contenders through a Casino Tag Team Royale seems a bit repetitive to me. But it’s a nice way to promote their new casino app game, so there’s that.

Picking a winner in this thing is pretty much like picking one number on a roulette wheel. There are a few teams you can write off pretty much right away, but that still leaves a bunch of possible picks. I think Pac & Rey Fenix could be a pretty fun team to get a title shot, so that’s who I’d go with here. Not going to complain if they go with one of the Dark Order teams instead, or use this to get SCU their big title shot to continue the Christopher Daniels angle that I think is still on-going. I think I’d go with Daniels & Kazarian if there were odds on this thing, simply because it’s the easiest way to tell that story.

AEW Women’s Championship Match
Hikaru Shida vs. Ryo Mizunami

I have to figure that Shida would be the huge favorite whenever odds get posted for this, and she’s going to win so it’s not going to be worth betting on. No disrespect meant to Ms. Mizunami, who is a solid in-ring competitor, but I don’t see her being the one to take the title off of Hikaru Shida.

Now, if somebody reports in the next couple of days that Ryo is staying here for the next six months, my opinion on this might change. Otherwise, it’s Shida all day.

Face of the Revolution Ladder Match
Cody Rhodes vs. Scorpio Sky vs. Penta El Zero Miedo vs. Lance Archer vs. Max Caster vs. TBA

I haven’t seen odds posted on BetOnline, but apparently some books are offering this so you can bet on Cody Rhodes or “The Field”. If that’s the case, you have to take “The Field”, don’t you? Especially when there’s a mystery guy! The winner gets a shot at the TNT Championship, and Cody can always find another way to get a title shot.

If you can’t pick “The Field” and each wrestler is an option, I’d look at Scorpio Sky as a solid choice that should get a favorable price for your wallet. He hasn’t wrestled in a couple of months due to injury, but he’s been doing a podcast and was acting pretty darn heelish on commentary this week. He’s targeted the TNT Championship in the past, and he’d probably have a pretty darn good match with Darby Allin. Of course, there’s always the mystery guy too, who they might want to have go over on his debut. I’ll stick with Sky as the best way to make money if you can’t take “The Field”.

Of course, all of this can be voided out if Cody just wants a new nickname.

Best Friends (-160) vs. Miro & Kip Sabian (+120)

Trent’s out of the picture, so Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy are the Best Friends in question here. Easy to see why Orange would be a betting favorite here, as he’s one of the most popular people in AEW and has a pretty good win-loss record. I think things go a different way here, as Miro looks ready to step up & become the monster people think he should be, and Kip Sabian deserves some revenge for Charles & Orange ruining his wedding. Go with Miro & Kip Sabian here.

Big Money Match
Adam Page (-350) vs. Matt Hardy (+225)

Having Hangman lose to Matt Hardy doesn’t make a ton of sense here in 2021. I can make an argument for Matt winning because his spending Hangman’s money could be pretty amusing, and Hangman being sad over losing his money would be a pretty typical state of affairs. There’s also the matter of all these people Matt has helping him these days.

Maybe throw a few bucks on Matt Hardy if you’re feeling froggy, could pay off for you. Personally, I’d rather see Dark Order spending all of Matt’s money on BTE. They could finally get a new table for their lair!

Street Fight
Darby Allin & Sting (-450) vs. Brian Cage & Ricky Starks (+275)

I’d like to be able to make an argument in favor of Team Taz here, but there’s really not one to be made. Sting should win every first match he has in a promotion, and he & Darby will come out on top in what will apparently be a cinematic masterpiece. Hopefully AEW does a better job on this one than the Tooth & Nail match!

AEW World Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks (-250) vs. Chris Jericho & MJF (+170)

Tony Khan said this will be the opening match, and it should be a doozy with a good amount of emotion behind it. What Jericho & MJF may lack in flashiness & in-ring appeal, they make up for with personality, cleverness & chicanery. If this was a WWE show, I’d pick them without a problem, as Jericho had a pretty crazy amount of random partners he won championships with. Here in AEW, I think the Young Bucks are going to wait to lose to an actual tag team before dropping the belts. We’ve got an eventual Bucks/Good Brothers match pitting company champions against each other to build to, I assume.

How Jericho & MJF lose the match will be the story going forward for them. Miscommunication? Involvement from somebody else? One of them just gets beat? Time will tell.

AEW World Championship Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match
Kenny Omega (-550) vs. Jon Moxley (+325)

You would think that Moxley would get more love from the bettors, as something like an Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match seems more his speed than Omega’s. That just goes to show how little people believe that Kenny Omega can lose the championship at this time. He just seems destined for one of those never-ending reigns, doesn’t he? I have to agree with the public on this one, as I don’t see Kenny Omega losing this match.

I do see Kenny Omega getting his ass kicked pretty bad during this match. He’s not losing the title though.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: March 2021

Cook gives us his quick snapshot of early storylines that might be the important things through the month of March!

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It’s March! You know what that means.

It’s time for me to channel my inner Booker T and list my Fave Five in the world of wrestling! This list could very well change tomorrow, or whenever this ends up getting posted, but I only type it out once each calendar month. Consider it a snapshot in time.

5. Cameron Grimes

People have been telling me about Grimes for years, going back to his stint with Impact Wrestling. I never really saw it. Decent enough competitor, sure, but he always seemed like Just A Guy to me. Now that he hit it rich on the stock market, he’s the most entertaining part of NXT.

Get rid of Finn Balor & Adam Cole and put the strap on Grimes! TO THE MOON!

4. Shane Taylor

One of my criticisms of ROH television over the past several months has been a lack of defined characters. As fun as Pure Wrestling is, everybody involved in the tournament & the division tend to sound the same. Then, with a lot of the main guys, it’s tough to tell whether they’re good guys, bad guys, or shades of grey. There’s a place for shades of grey, but it’s tough to be interested in a TV show where you don’t know who to root for.

Shane Taylor’s presentation suffered from this for me for awhile. I wasn’t too familiar with his work pre-pandemic, so I’ve been getting to know him along with the rest of the ROH talent. From what I can gather, he was working one of those deals where the promotion didn’t really want to promote him, which can either make one very popular or largely ignored. The promotion tended to treat him like a heel. Either way, Shane looked pretty darn good in his matches, working a physical style that appeals to fans like me. Apparently it appeals to other people as well, since Taylor was the #1 choice of the fans to get a shot at Rush. Taylor was screwed this time around, but now has a story to sink his teeth into. Nothing wrong with that.

3. Tully Blanchard

2021 is quickly becoming the year of the olds. WWE has seen Goldberg & Edge emerge as top championship contenders. Keiji Muto won the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Tommy Dreamer celebrated his birthday by challenging for the Impact Championship. Sting will be taking part in a street fight this weekend.

Age is only a number, and Tully’s number is a little higher than these other men. He also spent more time out of the ring. Nearly fourteen years since he had any kind of match, but he went into Wednesday night with all guns blazing. J.J. Dillion was in the corner. Tully was wearing his classic robe & the silver US Heavyweight Championship, while FTR donned the classic NWA World Tag Team Championships. All the old school feels were being had before the match, and after the match as well, when Arn Anderson looked on from the entrance and flashed that familiar hand signal.

Tully had plenty of talent around him to make the match work, but he hit his spots well. Marko Stunt’s good to have around so he can take a slingshot suplex. JJ got to give his shoe to somebody to use. It ended up being a fitting tribute on the night of Jim Crockett Jr.’s passing, and maybe a sign that Tully’s got a little more left in the tank. (Multi-man would probably be for the best though, I’m not as confident that he can hang with Kenny.)

2. Bobby Lashley

As expected, The Miz joined the likes of Ivan Koloff, Stan Stasiak, the Iron Sheik and other men whose world championship reigns merely existed to get the title from one person to the other without having them face off. In the case of Bobby Lashley, it’s because they didn’t want him to beat Drew McIntyre for the title, so their eventual match will be a first-time (in this particular WWE run) meeting. It makese sense, and Miz played his part well, as you’d expect.

Now is Lashley’s time, and one can wonder why it took so long. The guy looks like what’d you’d expect a WWE Champion to look like. Huge. Powerful. Dominant. He fits the prototype of what Vince McMahon would have seen as an appropriate champion back in the day. Is there anything there that Vince wouldn’t like?

Bob seems to be on a collision course with Drew at WrestleMania, and that should be a pretty solid piece of business.

1. Rey Fenix

I don’t know who the “best in the world” is, but Rey Fenix is the most exciting wrestler currently gracing televisions & other viewing devices. All he does is go out there and deliver every time he’s out there, if you see him listed on a card you know it’s going to be a good match.

AEW seemed a bit slow to capitalize on Fenix’s abilities, but since 2021 began we’ve seen the masked man getting bigger matches. His win-loss record hasn’t been the best, as he’s come up short against Kenny Omega & Lance Archer and eaten the pin in some multi-man matches. He’s still making people take notice, and I’d be surprised if Fenix doesn’t jump up to the next level sometime this year.

My favorite wrestler to watch right now, which is how one tops a list like this one.


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