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Mitchell’s Talking Smack Report! (1/30/21)

Talking Smack is COMIIIIN~!



WWE Talking Smack

Talking Smack is ready to rumble!

This might be the biggEST episode of Talking Smack yet! Bianca Belair, Daniel Bryan and the Alpha Academy’s Chad Gable and Otis are COMIIIN~!


Kayla Braxton welcomes us to the show!

Just a day away from Royal Rumble 2021, and SmackDown had all the buzz! Paul Heyman is also getting touched up but it’s showtime. Heyman says just because Kayla doesn’t finish her make-up before they go on doesn’t mean he can’t. But that aside, Kayla keeps things moving and brings up what we saw on Friday. Not just the “face to face” of Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens, we saw Bianca Belair defeat the longest reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion ever, the first-ever Women’s Grand Slam Champion, and a favorite in the Women’s Rumble, Bayley!

Then AJ Styles returned to SmackDown and clashed with Daniel Bryan, and it all turned into mayhem, with BRAUN STROWMAN capping it off by laying waste to everyone! Is he in the Rumble? We’ll see on Sunday, but what are Heyman’s thoughts? “And I don’t care.” Heyman says it’s about time people understood his position. Heyman isn’t in the business of SmackDown or Raw or NXT, or even in the WWE. He is in the Roman Reigns business. He serves as Special Counsel to the sun in which the WWE Universe orbits around! Roman IS our solar heat that warms this entire product, and his heat permeates and generates PPV buys, Network subscriptions, this very show and all television licenses that drive the WWE’s stock up.

“WWE revolves around Roman Reigns, and I am honored and privileged to serve as his Special Counsel.” Even Kayla and everyone she mentioned are supported by The Head of the Table. Anything that involves Roman, Heyman is involved in. Heyman only cares about how things affect Roman Reigns, our Reigning, Defending, Undisputed, Universal Heavyweight Champion, who will be THE Last Man Standing against Kevin Owens! Heyman likes Kevin, respects and admires him, and he will miss Kevin here on SmackDown.

Because after Roman is done with Kevin, we will watch the Men’s Rumble match. And Heyman says the winner of that will surely not choose the WWE World Champion, whether it is Drew McIntyre or Goldberg. “If you want to main event WrestleMania, you will step into the ring against the Universal Champion, Roman… Reigns…!” Interesting how he said that, because their first guest tonight vows to win the Rumble and main event Mania!

Daniel Bryan joins Talking Smack!

Bryan has a new shirt, a tree shaped like the Yes finger. Bryan is not a shill as far as his merchandise, but this particular shirt is all reused material and all proceeds goes to planting trees. Now he doesn’t usually condone buying shirts you don’t need, but if it plants a tree, why not? Speaking of nature, Bryan loved Heyman’s solar system metaphor. Bryan loves science and space. What’s Heyman’s favorite planet? If Roman is the Sun, then Heyman is Uranus! Fist bump with Kayla! But obviously Bryan heard what Heyman said and Heyman assumes the winner will and should want Roman Reigns at Mania. Bryan has wanted to win the Rumble, so what is his response?

Bryan says Heyman can have his own opinion, and Bryan has always been interested in those opinions. Heyman is a genius when it comes to pro-wrestling. But the hard part is finding Heyman’s true opinion. Heyman says things, but Bryan wants to ask man to man that Heyman be truthful. Bryan is on the tail-end of a full-time career. Was there ever a point in Bryan’s career where Heyman thought Bryan was THE best? Heyman hesitates to answer. Bryan will sit here and wait in silence. They will make Heyman answer this. “Yes and no.” Heyman worried that Bryan was the best, meaning that their interests would conflict.

Heyman will bet, on any given night, that Bryan can be the best. Just because Bryan sees his career as winding down doesn’t mean Heyman does. Heyman thinks if Bryan gets a taste of glory again, if he tastes the Mania main event again, Bryan would be intoxicated. Bryan will want it over and over again, “Yes, yes, yes.” On the night Bryan steps into the ring with Roman, if Bryan is the best that evening, “we’re screwed.” Is Bryan the best right now? No, Roman is the VERY best of the best. Does Heyman worry that he’s wrong and that Bryan can prove on any given night HE is the best? Yes. Bryan appreciates that, but there are some things he got wrong, and it has to do with motivation.

Bryan is not interested in the glory. He is not interested in the adulation of the fans, despite loving the yes chants. Bryan loved when they were at the Performance Center, in front of zero fans, with zero noise, and just wrestling. Do you know what made Bryan love him? If Heyman remembers the 2015 Royal Rumble, it was in Philadelphia, Bryan lost but Roman won. Bryan was in the match maybe five minutes. When Roman won, the fans booed. The Rock congratulated Roman and put him over as the man, and got booed. Bryan has a theory as to why.

“I think you’re right, Roman Reigns might be the best right now. He’s performing at a whole different level than everybody else. But he doesn’t wrestle with his heart. It’s a façade, it always has been. He came out there, when he debuted in this company, wearing a bulletproof vest, so you couldn’t see his heart.” Bryan’s theory is that the fans connect with Bryan because he puts his heart out there. That happened on SmackDown. Bryan’s been wrestling for 21 years. You go out there for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, a lot of guys in this business as long as he has would be on the apron. Bryan gets in there to go after The Miz, who he absolutely hates, because there’s no place he’d rather be. The difference is not who is the best or who wants it more, it’s about who fights with heart.

Bryan doesn’t know if you can tell how passionate he is about this. There’s a simple joy to it. The fact Bryan is willing to NOT do it shows you how much he loves his family. But before moving on, Bryan will give it his best. Now, Roman insolates himself with his family but that’s not Bryan! Bryan likes to have fun and experience new things! Life is about new experiences, and that’s why Bryan has been training with the ALPHA ACADEMY!

Chad Gable and Otis join Talking Smack! Though, not necessarily as official guests. Bryan explains Gable has been showing Bryan and Otis how to use their hips! Really get in there! DRIVE INSIDE! Can Otis show Heyman how they use their hips? Otis waistlocks and pumps! What will that do? That’ll toss so many men over the top rope! That’ll toss off so many men at the Rumble! And Gable is a great trainer! He has been having Bryan do 15 sets of dead lifts every other day! Bryan’s hips and glutes are so strong! The only person Bryan is worried about with stronger hips is big bad Otis. Otis has explosive hips! Kayla says their time total has come to an end, but Bryan gets the guys to show off their Three Amigos hip dance! HUWAH!

Bianca Belair joins Talking Smack!

Not much of a segue but Heyman is happy to see Bianca. He’s happy to see anyone else after what just happened. Heyman asks if Kayla notices that every time Bryan shows up, Heyman leaves the show all black ‘n’ blue. And this time, with an HR complaint. Well Kayla hopes talking about Bianca showing up and showing out will help him. Bianca has had a week! The WWE Chronicle special debuted, and the response has been so great. Bianca is so grateful to have a platform to tell her story and not be bragging or feeding her ego. Fans can connect and there is a purpose. They’ve shared their stories and it is great. Bianca has had time to reflect and be so happy and grateful she is where she is.

Kayla says Bianca is on top of the world, has she had time to process it? She beat the longest reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion! Bianca realizes what that means, but she’s just so happy with everything. Being on SmackDown, new kid on the block, and telling she is The EST, and now she’s showing and proving it! Who else would you want to do that against but Bayley? After everything with that obstacle course, Bayley being so rude, Bayley deserved it. Bianca is excited to use this momentum going forward. She will need that in her return to the Women’s Rumble after a great debut last year, eliminating 8 women and setting a record!

Is her rivalry with Bayley put on the backburner to handle the task at hand? Or will it continue in the Rumble? Bianca says the match is unpredictable, but Bayley being one of those 29 other women, she’ll come back with a vengeance and Bianca will be watching out for her. But that’s what’s great about the Rumble match. Bayley will try to one-up Bianca, but there’s also Shayna Baszler, who also eliminated 8, so Bianca’s going for 9! Bianca wants the record all to herself. Kayla says Bianca is writing history and is excited to see the next page. Good luck! Bianca is thankful and heads out.

AJ Styles and Omos join Talking Smack!

The Brand to Brand Invitation seems to continue even to Talking Smack! The Phenomenal One is back and compliments Kayla on looking good. She didn’t have as much confidence back then but hopefully she won’t let anyone down. But what was it like for him to return to SmackDown? Styles tells Heyman he doesn’t need to stare at Omos, this is one guy you don’t want to upset. Heyman shakes Styles’ hand and says Roman isn’t here, and he is no threat to Styles. If Kayla gets jumpy, Heyman has Styles’ back. Omos is intimidating enough. Oh, would Heyman feel better if Omos left or- No, no, Heyman welcomes him. “My GOD are you huge!” Well where Styles goes, Omos goes. Rightfully so.

People say things like Omos is a bodyguard. No no, Omos is more like a bouncer if things get out of control. Omos hasn’t done anything wrong, he’s just Styles’ good friend. Then by all means, continue. Styles and Omos will share their story one day, but the focus is the Rumble. Styles has a plan, and a good one. Styles has never won the Rumble but he’s only been in two. Third time’s the charm. Styles will go after a championship. It could be the WWE World, or the WWE Universal Championship. Styles has not yet decided. But when he does, he’ll let Heyman know. Heyman is interested in that. A vested interest.

Because all due respect, cards on the table, Styles has faced Roman before, and Roman won. In fact, the impossible mountain to climb has been Roman. Admittedly, never has Styles had “these resources” at his disposal, and Styles has been on a tear on Raw. The way Heyman would view things, as Special Counsel, is that if or when Styles wins, Styles could announce it on Monday who he goes after. It could be McIntyre or Goldberg, whoever wins, because that doesn’t matter. Or Styles could wait until Friday, because the Rumble winner main events Mania. Not a prediction but a spoiler, the main event will feature Roman Reigns. To challenge Roman is to main event Mania.

Heyman wants that to happen for some selfish reasons. Styles is rightfully recognized around the world as THE best in-ring performer of this generation. The words, “Best, greatest, number one,” should all be copyrighted and trademarked for Roman, but Roman can’t lay claim to that until he steps into the ring with AJ Styles and defeats AJ Styles. To Heyman, if Styles, when Styles, wins the Rumble match, Styles VS Roman for the Universal Championship in the main event of WrestleMania is not just box office gold, that’s box office PLATINUM. Styles agrees. It sounds good to him and Omos. But it is Styles’ decision, and he will make that decision, either Monday or Friday.

Let’s just say he chooses the Universal Championship, and then Styles beats Roman at Mania, and Roman is no longer the Head of the Table, no longer the alpha. What that means ultimately is Heyman will be out of a job. And nothing would make Styles happier than seeing Heyman out of a job. What’s Omos think? Sounds good to him, too. Styles wishes Kayla and Heyman a happy weekend, then he heads out. Omos steps up a little closer to Heyman and Heyman leans away. Heyman says Kayla isn’t moving because she likes Omos scaring Heyman. But that’s it for Talking Smack this week!

My Thoughts:

A very good Talking Smack, with some good surprise guests. Of course, all the guests were a surprise to me, there was no advertisement for Talking Smack during SmackDown. Heyman was again very good in each of his promos, and the interaction with Bryan and Styles was good stuff to tease the various match-ups. I said for the SmackDown article that it feels like the Men’s Rumble winner will be from SmackDown, and they keep making it seem like it’ll be Bryan. Bryan’s promo makes for great story between him and Roman, about wrestling with heart versus wrestling for pride. Bryan made a great foil against Kofi Kingston, he’ll be just as good against Roman.

Styles teasing he could choose either is a good move, too, because there needs to be something up in the air to make the road to WrestleMania more fun. And Bianca had a good though a bit short segment, but she was mostly repeating what she did her best to say on SmackDown. I really feel there can be a good bit between her and Bayley during the Rumble, and I think the main thing that’d keep Bianca from winning will be Bayley, even if Bayley has to cheat to do it. Then Bayley, Bianca, and any four other women on SmackDown can get in on the Elimination Chamber, and maybe Bianca eliminates the majority of opponents in that, paralleling when Shayna Baszler ran the table.

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Mitchell’s Raw Talk Report! (4/12/21)

Raw Talk faces the Nightmare!



WWE Raw Talk

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!

My Thoughts:

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.

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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?

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 Returns

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?

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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