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Cook’s Top 5: WWE Stories of 2021

Cook’s annual prognostication about the biggest WWE stories of 2021! Let’s see how he’s feeling the news trends will flow this year!

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It’s become a tradition unlike any other here at The Chairshot. Around the beginning of every year, I put on my prognosticator hat and guess what the biggest stories in pro wrestling will be. Today, I’ll tell you what the top five stories will be in WWE. Soon, I’ll tell you the top five stories outside of WWE. You’ll love it, I promise!

5. Will The Man Come Around?

WWE WrestleMania 36 Becky Lynch

There were a lot of things missing from WWE in 2020. One that probably doesn’t get enough talk is Becky Lynch, who left in May on maternity leave. Lynch had become one of the top stars in WWE and was a focal point of the women’s division. Things didn’t fall off much there, as Bayley & Sasha Banks took advantage of Lynch & Charlotte Flair’s time off to shine as the division’s brightest stars. WWE could definitely use Becky, though. There’s been rumors that she’ll return early in the year, and there’s been rumors that Ronda Rousey will return early in the year.

Just rumors for now. Could be something big.

4. Contracts!

Around this time last year, it was looking like the best time to make a living as a pro wrestler since the early 2000s. WWE was offering big contracts to mid-carders to keep them around. AEW was looking to fill their roster. New Japan was looking for more talent to appeal to an American audience. Once the coronavirus hit, that all changed. WWE started releasing talent that had signed big contracts to stick around. AEW’s spots for ex-WWE talent started filling up, and they were more interested in finding younger talent to fill lower positions on the card. New Japan’s expansion slowed down a bit. Ring of Honor wasn’t taking in new people until just recently. Impact Wrestling had some space for a few folks.

There’s been rumor & innuendo recently about WWE making lower contract offers & talent holding off on signing. What happens when it gets closer to the time where contracts expire? Will things get better, or worse? Will talent stick around? I think they will, for the most part, but it’ll be interesting to see if there’s more turnover on the roster than usual.

3. Will The Rock Come Back?

The Rock Legends

We’ve been talking about a potential match between Rock & Roman Reigns for a few years now. Story wise, 2021 would be a great time for it to happen. Roman claiming to be the Head of the Table and the leader of the Anoa’i family seems like the perfect reason for Rock to come back and claim that he’s the true leader & Roman needs to check himself. There’s little doubt that Rock’s return would generate more mainstream buzz than anything else WWE could probably come up with.

Is it likely? Depends who you ask on which day of the week. It’s something Rock wants to do, but we know he has quite the packed schedule. Also, that’s the kind of thing you really need live fans for.

2. Can NXT Overtake AEW?

WWE NXT Halloween Havoc

Some might be wondering if NXT stays on Wednesdays. I don’t, NXT does a perfectly fine number for USA and does its job of taking a dent out of AEW’s viewership. The question is if NXT can generate enough buzz to get more people watching and start challenging AEW in the key demos on a regular basis.

The talent’s there. Guys like Finn Balor, Kyle O’Reilly, Pete Dunne have been delivering big time in the ring. We know the women’s division is stacked. Can they present the talent in a way that the younger audience will find more interesting than AEW? There’s a certain coolness factor that NXT used to have that seems to be lacking right now. They need to get that back.

1. Will WWE Go Back On Tour?

Wrestling Fans

We’d like to think so. Hopefully, we’ll reach a point where enough people have been vaccinated & the coronavirus has died off enough that we can go back to having regular shows & TV tapings in places other than Florida. That isn’t a 100% certainty as I write this. One also wonders if WWE might consider keeping their TV show in-house in the future. The Thunderdome gets good reviews from critics, and the reaction of the crowd can be manipulated to what Vince McMahon wants.

Will there be the same number of house shows? What will the touring schedule look like? Same as before, or smaller? Hopefully WWE will get the chance to answer these questions in 2021.


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Opinion

NXT UK Chuffed and Buzzin’

Brad hits us with some NXT UK highlights!

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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 https://t.co/UbWuNohd8q" / 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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Opinion

Steve Cook’s Fave Five: November 2021

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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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