The first Talking Smack of 2021 is GLORIOUS!
After wrecking the Street Profits’ New Year Smoketacular, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode want to talk some smack! What will they say about their 2021 plans?
Kayla Braxton welcomes us back to the show!
A Happy New Year to us all, and SmackDown had a great start to 2021! Paul Heyman’s handkerchief- Um, no, this is a pocket square. Sorry, the pocket square matches Kayla’s lipstick so this show is already off to a great start, too. Kayla doesn’t understand male fashion sometimes. Women’s suits don’t have things like pockets. Did she get hers from the Freddie Blassie estate? Does she not like Blassie? Does she know who he is? Kayla moves on to the show, and talks New Year’s Resolutions. Has Heyman made any?
What an interesting question. Heyman is oddly surprised, but says he has made resolutions. “More ambitious opponents for the Universal Champion, Roman Reigns, unlike Kevin Owens, because Kevin Owens is handcuffed, pun intended, to mediocrity.” That will be Kevin’s legacy: mediocrity. And he has no one to blame but himself! Kevin could’ve been great, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and a legend in the business, but he messed with the wrong Big Dog and got bit. “Kevin Owens just doesn’t learn.”
Heyman uses an old saying that’s pretty much everywhere, and one of the best lines not written by Heyman. To paraphrase, “If you come at your Tribal Chief, you best not miss. Kevin Owens missed. Whiffed. Struck out.” And now Kevin will learn his legacy is not as a great, not as a legend, though it should’ve been. Kevin’s legacy will be as someone who came up against Roman Reigns and learned the most painful lesson of all: The Island of Relevancy belongs to Roman Reigns, and Kevin Owens is just not welcomed. Powerful words, and another powerful ending to SmackDown. Kayla is hoping Kevin makes a speedy recovery. Kayla knows Jey Uso is a guest tonight and she has some hard-hitting questions. Is she saying Jey’s not man enough to answer them? We’ll have to wait and see.
Now, Carmella pinned Sasha Banks on SmackDown and could get another title shot, while Daniel Bryan and Otis beat Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura. Bryan is planning to win the Royal Rumble, is a fan favorite at this point, but perhaps he could take it all. Heyman says everyone wants to win and take on Roman Reigns. The Rock, Daniel Bryan, whoever. In or out of WWE, you are paying attention to the single biggest star in this industry. If you’re not zeroing in on Roman during WrestleMania season, then you’re not ambitious enough. But use Kevin Owens as an example of what could happen if you try to take from the Tribal Chief. Time will tell, but now it’s time for our first guests!
Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode join Talking Smack!
The Dirty Dawgs are back on Talking Smack, and Heyman accuses Kayla of using Ziggler’s ringtone joke. But Kayla says that while there was a brutal attack to end SmackDown, Roode & Ziggler also brutally attacked the Street Profits. They said that they’re going after the tag team titles one way or another. Kayla is breaking the news right here, the Profits have accepted the challenger, and the title match is happening next Friday! Ziggler says this is very deserved. And Ziggler apologizes for how intense he and Roode were in that backstage interview because they were angry with the Profits.
The Profits have been skating by. They’re well liked and entertaining. But say you were at some other job, like a regional manager at some company, and you were being told you were the best, you want to move up, but they can’t lose you at the position you’re in. So that means you need to do something on your own, out of the box, what you’re “destined” to do. That is what they did to the Profits tonight. Roode says that what happened tonight was deserved. How many times do the Dirty Dawgs have to be the butt of the joke? It’s all about fun and putting smiles on faces. The Profits are one of the best teams at that.
But that’s not what Roode and Ziggler are about. They’re about being the best, being the top of the card. The attack was well-deserved. Kayla apologizes for her wording of saying it was “unprovoked.” She is a fan of the Profits, but she can understand the jokes they were making at Ziggler’s expense would be upsetting. Of course. Shawn Michaels has been compared to Ziggler a lot in their careers, and ever since Ziggler invented the Superkick, that doesn’t just mean the character they live their lives upon any less. “If you’re awesome at something, you get compared.” Maybe one day when Ziggler is retired and feeble, working behind the scenes, people will compare others to Ziggler.
But that’s not now. Right now, Ziggler and Roode do what they want when they want. And this wasn’t unprovoked. They’re sick of being the butts of jokes, they’re here to show everyone how damn good they are. Kayla brings up how Heyman admires and respects the Profits, but with Ziggler & Roode going after the titles, what predictions will he make? Heyman does not make predictions, he gives spoilers, but there are no spoilers here because he has no inside word.
But Heyman is a fan of the Profits, and with respect to Roode & Ziggler, the attack was neither provoked or deserved, but it was successful. It got the Profits to give Ziggler & Roode the championship match, which is what they wanted. If you want to complain about it, don’t blame them, blame Adam Pearce or whoever makes matches around here for rewarding the ruthlessness of the challengers. And now the Profits are going to be on the downside of another beating because they only have six days to prepare for a very capable tag team.
Kayla asks what the New Year’s Resolution is for Ziggler & Roode, but it’s obvious that it’s to be tag team champions. Ziggler says Kayla steals milk, jokes, resolutions, maybe she’ll be taking the titles instead. Maybe Heyman will be her tag partner. Ziggler says it’s always a treat being on this show, and they head out.
Billie Kay joins Talking Smack!
The Femme Fatale has her resume and headshot as she scoots in next to Mr. Paul Heyman. They shake hands, she wishes everyone Happy New Year’s, and then hands her resume over. How many of those has she printed out? Careful having that on camera, people might see that. Billie has a pen from Corey Graves that she’ll use to update some things, too. Kayla asks about the confusion on SmackDown. Billie couldn’t/didn’t find a tag team partner for her match but Tamina and Natalya teamed up instead. Somehow this was part of her plan? But then she switches sides to be with the winners, the Riott Squad. What is the plan?
First off, great recap. Then, Billie says she has experience as both a tag team partner and a manager, so she wanted to offer help wherever she can. Whether that’s Riott Squad, Natty & Tamina, or someone else entirely, that’s what she’ll do. Does she know what “hopping on the bandwagon” means? That’s what that felt like. Oh, right, okay. But NO, and Billie doesn’t appreciate what Kayla is implying, as well as the tone of how she’s saying it. So sassy in 2021! New year, new Kayla, apparently. But Billie shows off her new shirt, Shades of Kay. Zoom in, get this on WWE Shop. Numerous quantities to Heyman. Kayla says Billie is great and is excited to see what 2021 holds, so what is her resolution?
Billie has a few in the works. But first, she wants to be a two-time Women’s Tag Team Champion and that would solidify her. She wants to work towards that, and she just signed up for gymnastics lessons to learn how to do the splits. She might be even more agile and flexible now. Well that’s great! Wasn’t another resolution being on WWE’s The Bump? That’s happening, not that Kayla knew, but Matt Camp made it happen. Billie will thank Camp, not Kayla. But they can talk about this more on The Bump. Billie is in high demand, and has to get going.
Jey Uso joins Talking Smack!
Heyman and Jey shake hands and bring it in, and Heyman tells Jey how proud he is of him. Jey takes his seat and Kayla asks if it’s alright, she wants to dive into the pretty serious questions she has, and she is sure the fans have. This is a warning that some questions might not be to their liking, but she hopes they answer the best that they can. Did she write these herself? Yes. Jey says fire away. Kayla starts with, “Every time Roman Reigns has successfully defended his Universal title, it’s because you’ve interfered.” The question is, does the credit of this reign go to Roman or to Jey? Jey says that that’s a very simple question to answer.
But Heyman wants to say his part as just the cohost, not as the Special Counsel to Roman Reigns, he is an associate and friend with the entire family since he was 15 years old. He’s known the family longer than Roman and Jey were born. So though Heyman isn’t Special Counsel, but if he was, he would advise Jey that with that question, respectfully plead the fifth. The fifth? Wow, yeah, that’s smart. Fifth Amendment! Heyman apologizes to Kayla and promises to sit the rest of these out. He also apologizes to the rest of the Talking Smack crew, this is Kayla’s moment and we have 51 more weeks to do. Heyman will stay quiet.
Kayla asks Jey answer this next one then. “On SmackDown, Kevin Owens clearly got the upper-hand over you until Roman came out. Do you truly believe that your individual success is because of your talent? Or by the power yielded by your cousin, Roman Reigns?” Jey says “coming up from the sandbox,” this is real. Heyman breaks his promise and speaks up, praising how great of a question that was from Kayla. Heyman pokes fun but damn it, Kayla, Charly, the other lady who isn’t here anymore, all of them together, Kayla is the best! How Kayla isn’t District Attorney somewhere…! Oh, and plead the fifth.
Kayla says this should probably just stop if this is going to continue. Jey apologizes, and promises Paul won’t speak this time. Jey puts it on his family, he is here to answer questions. But Kayla is going to address them both. She respects them both, and wishes they would do the same. Heyman apologizes and takes his earpiece out. Kayla just wants to do her job with the best questions she can come up with and hopes for answers. She is a professional, so maybe they’ll just cut this short. Jey says everyone needs to chill. Heyman turns around and Kayla asks her third question. But we’re running short on time…
Jey says that was excellent! Why do they call Jey “Main Event Uso?” Call McIntyre, because Jey got him! Call Bryan, because Jey got him! Call Kevin, because if you watched SmackDown, “GOTEEEEM!”
A pretty fast moving Talking Smack with a very good ending. Ziggler and Roode showing up seemed like a formality, there wasn’t much more that needed to be said, but it was great to have breaking news in that segment. I feel like if there’s any time for the Dirty Dawgs to take those titles, it’s this next attempt, or else they don’t look like a strong tag team at all. You can only come close to winning so many times, so they need to win to help bring things further along into the year and towards the Royal Rumble. Billie’s segment was fun, but not much was said other than Billie has some strange master plan that she probably hasn’t even fully created.
Jey’s segment was probably the best, because nothing much was said. Heyman was of course going to keep Jey from answering those prying questions Kayla had, not that Jey would speak ill against Roman at this point anyway. This segment did a lot to add to Jey’s character given his interaction with Heyman, and how fired up he was listing off who he went after on behalf of Roman. I feel like they should have Jey Uso enter the Rumble just so he can make sure someone from SmackDown doesn’t win. And he can just shout “GOTEEE!” with every elimination he pulls off, until whoever it is that will win throws him out. It could even be Jey and Bryan as the last two to tease it being between Finger Poke of Doom 2021 or a real match of Roman VS Bryan.
Mitchell’s Raw Talk Report! (4/12/21)
Raw Talk faces the Nightmare!
It’s Raw Talk, Fella!
After a massive Monday Night After Mania, the NEW Raw Women’s Champion and NEW WWE US Champion are here for some Raw Talk!
Kevin Patrick welcomes us back to the show!
A Monday full of surprises capped off WrestleMania’s two nights in Tampa! Kevin welcomes us into the NEW ThunderDome, and is honored to have us here watching. What a great weekend! But Kevin is without his wonderful cohost, Xavier Woods, who had a bad weekend but a good Raw, so let’s recap everything real quick. Drew McIntyre came back strong in a Triple Threat with Randy Orton and Braun Strowman! Orton hit his RKO but McIntyre hit his Claymore, BOOM! McIntyre, the Scottish Warrior, wins and is headed to #WrestleManiaBacklash, May 16th, for a chance at Bobby Lashley! But then Mace and T-Bar had their say with their double slam! This leaves so many questions for us as Raw has a shocking end!
Then, of course, the return of Bray Wyatt. But what’s going on? It’s all very creepy. Then Charlotte Flair returned a bit like a “petulant child,” complaining about missing WrestleMania, and then when the Raw Women’s Championship was on the line in a Mania rematch, Charlotte goes and spoils it all. Charlotte throws Asuka around, beats her down, then boots Rhea down! The Raw Women’s Champion hits the deck as Charlotte has a big impact. Rhea will be here to talk all about that, as well as the returning Viking Raiders, but first, the NEW WWE United States Champion!
Sheamus joins Raw Talk!
The Celtic Warrior is doing good, and he’s here “saving the day.” Hopefully Kevin understands that this is eating into Sheamus’ celebratory drinking time. Gotta make the most of it. Kevin congratulates Sheamus, and he’s US Champion again. The belt is a bit stubborn but they got it on camera. Kevin touches it, and the Irishmen are very proud for Sheamus. A hat-trick for Sheamy, he got this title back a third time. Kevin met Riddle in the elevator, and Riddle showed the busted lip. Both men were battered and bruised but the Bro complimented Sheamus. Sheamus takes us back to that Brogue Heard ‘Round the World, or even ‘Round the Universe!
Sheamus says Riddle should just stop talking all that nonsense. That was executed with perfection. McIntyre is #1 contender to the WWE World Champion with his knock-off, that Claymore, but there’s nothing like the original Brogue! Kevin says Sheamus is in such a great mood. And Sheamus wonders how Kevin Patrick ended up a man with two first names. Is that his real name? Yeah, it’s real. Wow, two first names. Kevin asks if Sheamus was starting to doubt himself, given it’s been five years without a title. Well there are times when you ask yourself, “Where’s this going?”
Sheamus hasn’t gotten an opportunity in awhile, at least not the world title, and he wondered when the next win would come. But you watch the Premier, y’know, football/soccer, NBC Sports, all that. When’s the next win? When’s the next meal? And then when that happens, it’s just plain sailing. Sky’s the limit for Sheamus, he’ll keep going and going. Nice Peacock plug, huh? But what was it like, to be honest, walking out to Raymond James Stadium, with fans finally in attendance? One year, one month and one day since the WWE Universe had been there for the shows.
Sheamus says it just goes to show that we missed them, they’re such a huge part of it. The fans are just a pivotal part and always have been. The superstars feed off the energy and excitement, the chants and all that. Sometimes they dictate how the match goes, but honestly, 25 thousand felt like 80 thousand. They were just as excited as everyone else was, and now after getting a test, maybe we get more as the world gets back to normal. Raw, SmackDown, etc. And they can watch the NEW United States Champion tear it up, knock people’s heads off, slapping them around the gaff.
Where’s Kevin from, again? Sheamus is from the hardest part of Dublin, better than the Southside where McGregor’s from. Kevin’s from the Northside. Maybe talk this over a pint. Sheamus would be if he didn’t have to do this. But who does he want next? Anyone! He’s been having banger after banger match, so anyone else who wants to have one, bring it on! Sheamus doesn’t care about pecking orders, just someone step up! He’ll make ya a bleeding legend! If you can last more than five minutes, you’re on his way. Is that an open challenge? Even the cameraman can try if he wants! Sheamus won’t pay the medical bills, though. The cameraman shakes the camera to signal, “No, thanks.” Sheamus says they don’t make them like they used to. But he and Kevin fist bump and Sheamus says they can catch up again later over a Guinness.
Xavier Woods joins Raw Talk!
The cohost is here! He had to shower off from the match he had! His back got beat up with backbreakers, but he and Kofi still won and so Woods had to rest up and get ready for Raw Talk! Kevin appreciates Woods, and Woods shows off his hair. But he wasn’t sure if he was cohosting because no one told him! But that happens sometimes, because anything can happen in the WWE! Kevin wants to say something first. It didn’t go New Day’s way against Styles & Omos, but can’t they talk about being at Mania with fans? The Power of Positivity! Woods has been wrestling for 17 years now, and has been part of the WWE and part of many WrestleManias. Being able to be at the event where fans were back for the first time in a year felt incredible!
When they all went out on stage for the National Anthem, just seeing people, hearing them, there is nothing like it. Woods is trying to learn bass guitar to get that back, but that energy is unmatched, and Woods cannot wait until things are back to jam-packed stadiums! Hugs, high-fives, and talking to friends! Speaking of, two friends of Woods’ are here. It’s THE VIKING RAIDERS!
Erik & Ivar join Raw Talk!
Woods says we needed their theme back so badly. How are they feeling? How’s the body? Ivar’s neck is good, if that’s what you mean. But he is feeling really good. They had a great return match, so how does it feel to be back after months apart? Seven months is a long time, and an eternity when you’re hurt. Erik says it was really crazy. They spent seven YEARS as a team. Some might not know, 2014, Erik’s motorcycle accident should’ve killed him but somehow he survived. His arm was repaired, he had pins and screws, but he came back after six months and they took over the world and now WWE. Then they run hard, Ivar got hurt, out for another seven months.
They’ve done this before, they know how to do this, but it just feels so good to be back! And given it’s Raw After Mania, it is a reset and they can step up. What can we expect from the Vikings now? Well, they showed and reminded some people. Woods, Ivar is pretty sure the tag division was reminded. Woods is excited for them. Seven months was a long time, so now the Vikings have something to prove. Woods says being in the tag division, we have a division that can be splintered, but the Vikings are a real team. The New Day talks about it a lot. They weren’t just thrown together to get some nice wins. They are a real team, brothers in arms! They love and care about each other, just like the Vikings.
That feeling of being out there with your partner, winning and having momentum, what do they want now that they’re back? Before going there, Erik wants to take a step back. Erik tells his wife, Sarah Logan, that they joke about Ivar being his work-wife because he’s the one he sees more than anyone else second to her. Ivar is also very handsome. But without Ivar, and New Day knows what it was like when they were separated, they expect to see that person, and then they remember they’re not here. It’s like you’re in a familiar setting but without the familiar people. It’s the deep end of the pool and not knowing how to swim out. But now that they’re reunited, they have a huge chip on their shoulder.
They were watching what was happening. This is the second WrestleMania they were just watching. Erik doesn’t want to be on the sidelines. He wants to have the ball and score with it! He wants to be in the action! Winning, losing, doesn’t matter, he’s never lost the fight. That’s a T-shirt right there. Erik would rather be out there fighting and losing than sitting in catering, watching others in front of 40 thousand. They were on stage for America the Beautiful, not the National Anthem, but they didn’t want to correct Woods. But they were all out there. New Day ran past them full of energy, and the Vikings felt that. Goosebumps just thinking about it. But they didn’t get to do what they do.
So what threat are Styles & Omos in for? Well they’re like any other team. The Vikings don’t do anything special. They have the winning formula by being who they are, and they will run right through everyone! No offense to New Day, but it’s what they do. They don’t change. Ivar wants to throw back to Woods bringing up them being a team. There are great similarities between New Day and Vikings, same story but told a little different. The New Day came together as a unit and fought to get what they got. The Vikings did it, too, just outside of WWE. In Mexico, in Japan, in Europe, and make a name for themselves to be noticed, then go through NXT to get to Raw.
It is exciting to be a team. They’re not here without each other, same as the New Day. It is exciting to be here with another true team, and to know that New Day’s team and the Vikings’ team might meet. Woods can’t wait. Gentlemanly handshake, and Kevin says it’s great to have them back. A round of applause as the Vikings head out!
Rhea Ripley joins Raw Talk!
The NEW Raw Women’s Champion has made history already, and Woods rocks out to her theme song. A big congratulations for her WrestleMania win against Asuka! Woods says he was losing his mind from excitement. They had her on Raw Talk before, she was very focused and intense. Seeing her on that stage, against Asuka, winning against 25 thousand, any insight into how that felt? It was incredible. Being on stage, on night one to hear the performances, it brought a tear to her eye. It was a special moment. And then fighting on night two, being with the band that sings her theme song, that’s a dream come true. It was electrifying to say the least.
Rhea’s still buzzing. She hasn’t been able to talk to her family yet but she hopes to get their thoughts and feelings because it’ll pump her back up. Woods can only imagine they’re just as fired up. The entrance, that was awesome. Rhea battled her way through NXT to get to Raw, and now only does she have a shot at the title, she has the band that does her music! Does it feel different? Definitely! The song sounded different but New Year’s Day is a band she’s listened to for years. They were so humble and being there with them is a highlight of her life. Super rad, super cool, and winning the title was amazing.
Rhea took her opportunity, challenged Asuka and Asuka accepted. They went to Mania, Rhea took the fight to Asuka and now the title is hers. It won’t go anywhere any time soon, either. Kevin asks Woods what the most impressive thing was. It was how Rhea kept focus and kept cool. There wasn’t a time where Rhea was shook, and everyone’s first Mania, the nerves can get to you. She was cool as ice. Rhea says she was lucky, she got her emotions out on night one and was ready for night two. She could compose herself and keep it together. Now, let’s talk Raw tonight. Charlotte was a bit of a brat, but we’ll talk her going after Rhea after the break.
Raw Talk returns and Kevin reintroduces Rhea. There was a WrestleMania rematch with Asuka, but Charlotte had to return and attack her. Was that disrespectful? Of course it was. Charlotte wants to come out and run her mouth? Really? And then act like Rhea won’t do anything about it? Then you go and ruin the rematch? Really, Charlotte? Charlotte’s so mad that Rhea took her opportunity, planned her strategy, and did just what Charlotte would’ve done! Charlotte wants to put Rhea down in all these different ways. But the thing is, she’s just jealous. She’s jealous of Rhea Ripley because Rhea Ripley is the up-and-comer, which Charlotte doesn’t like. Charlotte doesn’t want to be second to someone, and is scared that she’s getting old and will be replaced. That’s why she went and ruined the match.
Rhea is sick and tired of Charlotte. Charlotte can run her mouth, attack from behind, but in the end, Rhea is the Raw Women’s Champion and is here to stay! She might be new, she might not be as experienced, but she loves this business! She has trained for this moment her entire life! Charlotte doesn’t get to put Rhea down. Not anymore! Rhea is sick and tired of Charlotte, and is done with Raw Talk now. She’s sick and tired of talking about Charlotte, and storms off set. Well, thank you for your time, Rhea…
Rhea does have a point about Charlotte, though, calling Rhea the snake but attacking out of nowhere. Woods breaks it down: we’ve seen Charlotte jump into situations to make people respect her. Charlotte must feel disrespected, because she loves the spotlight and believes it should be all on her. Seeing how Charlotte has been since NXT, this all makes sense to Charlotte. But then we have Rhea, who has been doing so much to get where she is, that makes her a target for Charlotte. Rhea is the one that Charlotte sees a lot of herself in and that might be terrifying. That leads to one thing: Charlotte going after Rhea. This is the smart game, really. And saying Charlotte’s too old? Whoa.
But truly a big week for the Women’s (R)Evolution! New champions from Raquel Gonzalez in NXT to Bianca Belair SmackDown to Rhea on Raw, all great stuff! And on behalf of the legend that is Woods, Kevin signs off for Raw Talk!
A very fun Raw Talk After Mania, and I like that it was recorded live enough that Woods wasn’t even there for the first segment because he wasn’t done refreshing after his match. Sheamus and Kevin had a good segment together as one Irishman to another, and I do hope that Sheamus brings back the Open Challenge like John Cena. That would get ratings up as they are desperately in need of, and can be a great way to perhaps get Keith Lee back on TV. The Viking Raiders had a really good segment, relating their story to the fans who may not have known it. War Machine to War Raiders to Viking Experience to Viking Raiders, this team being back is great for Raw and its tag division, and I would love to see these guys face New Day and Styles-Omos.
Rhea Ripley was a great double segment, technically speaking. The first part relating the joy of WrestleMania and how awesome that moment was for her, and then the sudden shift when they brought up Charlotte, it was a bit sudden, but Rhea shows she can have range. She can be someone we relate to because she’s still a normal person, but then she can have the fire and the anger to match a veteran like Charlotte. There’s a reason Rhea was inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion, then got to dethrone Shayna Baszler to be prime NXT Women’s Champion, and has dethroned Asuka now to also get into a feud with her and Charlotte.
News From Cook’s Corner 4.12.21: The E-S-T of the I-W-C
Cook taking the long week/weekend and assessing some fun aspects that came to the forefront! Check out the news!
Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! It’s been a bit of a weird week for me. While the rest of you are celebrating WrestleMania or the cornucopia of WM Weekend shows, I’m stuck working very long shifts at a job I’ve given notice at. So I’m a lame duck while wrestlers in Tampa are swimming in the rain like ducks. Kind of ironic, I suppose.
What that means for this column: Haven’t finished the show. Watched Night One through parts of Sunday, watched the Broken Skull Sessions with Chris Jericho since I didn’t get home in time to watch Night Two from the beginning. Kind of awkward since this is a news column getting posted the day after WrestleMania, but hell, I’ve written about stuff I haven’t been watching for decades now. Gotten really good at faking it, though my exes would disagree with that notion.
(What can I say? When you’re single for most of your life and getting older, sometimes you try to act like things are working in a relationship when they really aren’t. Fortunately I’m over all this now and am quite happy with life as a spiritual eunuch. I’m not really sure how any of this is relevant to the column, just riffing here to fill space and give you a little update on how things are going. Those who were around back in the day remember I was quite emo about the lack of female attention. Now I’ve kinda had my fill and am good with it, though my friends try to make me think I’m not. I think we’ve riffed enough now and can start with some wrestling news.)
Anywho, here’s the news!
New Announcers For Raw?
WWE likes to shake things up on multiple levels after WrestleMania most years. Sometimes that involves a change in the announce booth, and that seems to be on tap this year. WrestlingInc reported that former ESPN host Adnan Virk will be joining Raw’s announce team starting this Monday, replacing Tom Phillips on play by play. Andrew Zarian added that Corey Graves will also be moving over to Raw, replacing Samoa Joe. No word yet on if this means Graves will be working both shows, or if Joe will be moving to SmackDown, or if Joe will be moving back into the ring, or if Phillips will be moving to NXT UK, NXT India & whatever other NXT pops up in the next couple of years.
Many folks I know like to make a big deal of these things, as they feel announcers are crucial to the overall enjoyment of a show. I used to as well, but the more I watch these things the less I think that they’re that critically important to the sports or sports entertainment presentation. Sure, it’s nice to have a legend of the business, or a dynamic presence in their prime, on the microphone talking about the action. It can get the die-hards through some rough seasons, or some less than compelling in-ring action. Does it really affect viewership? I don’t think so. It’s not like Los Angeles Dodgers fans stopped following their team after Vin Scully retired. On the flip side, it’s not like the 50+ wrestling fan demographic has flocked to AEW Dynamite to listen to Jim Ross or Tony Schiavone.
It’s what the people are talking about that matters, not the people talking about it. Which a lot of us in the talking & the writing business could stand to remember from time to time.
Why did the Hurt Business break up?
It’s the question that was on everybody’s minds right after Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander were sent packing by Bobby Lashley & MVP. Why split them up? It was a stable that was working pretty well together, seemingly getting over with the public in the right way, and added a lot of options to Bobby Lashley’s act as WWE Champion.
The answer seems to be the same answer behind every other decision WWE makes. Cause Vince McMahon said so. He decided that Alexander & Benjamin didn’t deserve a push, which is pretty consistent with how their runs with WWE have gone, and that was that. Really not that surprising when you think about it. Somebody talked Vince into giving them a chance, Vince didn’t see it working the way he wanted it to, and then you had King Corbin backing up Lashley for an episode of Raw.
It’s a shame for Alexander & Benjamin, but it’s not in the least bit surprising. We’ll see if somebody else can talk Vince into giving them a chance down the road. Until then, the checks will clear.
Damian Priest Barely Made It To WrestleMania
I remember finding it kind of odd when Miz vs. Bad Bunny was announced for WrestleMania. It’d been reported for months that Miz & Bad Bunny would compete in a tag team match at the show, with John Morrison & Damian Priest as their respective tag team partners. It eventually got made into that, but what was with the pause?
Turns out that Priest had a back injury and wasn’t cleared until the days leading into WrestleMania. Which is really lucky for him, as one of the points of this whole thing was to get him over. At least I think it was. Now we got everybody talking about how Bad Bunny was the best debut wrestler since Pat McAfee, which really wasn’t that long ago but now feels like it happened multiple years ago.
Don’t know what the odds are on Bunny & McAfee main eventing a future WrestleMania, but I rule nothing out these days.
Becky Lynch & Ronda Rousey Back Soon?
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) April 9, 2021
That’s the word according to WWE President Nick Khan, who told Colin Cowherd as such on his radio show last week. Quite the scoop for Cowherd, who was once detested by fans for making fun of Eddie Guerrero after he died & calling wrestling fans “booger-eaters”. Now, he’s got WWE executives appearing on his show. Makes me feel better about getting WWE executives on my non-existent show one of these days.
Becky teased a WrestleMania Night One return on her Twitter account, but as usual with her social media teases, nothing came of it. Dave Meltzer mentioned in the Observer that at one point there were plans to have her show up in a truck during a Bayley talk show segment, but obviously the plans for a big truck were shifted to Bad Bunny. Gotta say that it feels like a misfire not having Becky return at WrestleMania in front of the live crowd if she’s coming back anytime soon. If she’s not, no big deal, but if she’s a Night After WrestleMania surprise in the ThunderDome, it’s not the same as bringing her out in front of 25,000 people.
As for Ronda, she was rumored to be coming back for this year’s WrestleMania when it was taking place in Los Angeles. Dunno if that means she’ll be back for WrestleMania two years from now or not.
DABBA KATO IS BACK!!!!!
— ❦ ꫝꪗ᥇𝘳𝓲ᦔ ❦ (@TheHybridEnigma) April 12, 2021
Surely you remember Dabba-Kato from his time on Raw Underground. The big fella hadn’t been seen after the end of those segments until Sunday night, where he re-debuted as Commander Azeez & helped Apollo Crews win the Intercontinental Championship. I would say this pretty much guarantees that he’ll be in line for a big push at the expense of Crews, but it’s not like the rest of Retribution has done anything since they dropped Mustafa Ali like a bad habit.
Here’s my question: The guy’s first name is Babatunde. Why don’t they just go with that? It just rolls off the tongue. No need to give him stuff like Dabba-Kato & Azeez when “Babatunde” is right there.
Mox vs. Gage?
— Tripping Balls (@IsThisWrestling) April 10, 2021
The biggest news to develop from GCW’s Collective weekend involved Jon Moxley making a surprise appearance to confront Nick Gage after Gage re-gained GCW’s championship. Moxley had wrestled against Josh Barnett on another GCW show during the weekend, but this was the first time Moxley & Gage had crossed paths since their glory days in CZW. I don’t know if they consider their CZW days “glory days”, but it seemed like a good phrase to use there.
One expects that it’ll lead to a match between Mox & Gage for GCW, which would be a pretty big deal for them given Mox’s drawing power and the fact that Gage will be the subject of a Dark Side of the Ring episode this season, which starts next month. I also wouldn’t rule out a Nick Gage appearance in AEW, as Tony Khan is a huge fan of people from that era of CZW & AEW has seen nearly everybody else in the business not contracted by WWE make an appearance at some point this year.
That’s all I’ve got for you right now. Later this week we’ll do a Fave Five for April, maybe pick up the Top 5 Quarterbacks by Franchise gimmick where we left off, and whatever else I can think of for wherever else I can think of. Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice.
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