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News From Cook’s Corner 1.25.21: Swinging For The Fences

Some notable deaths and a shift in the USA Network programming schedule seem to have peaked Cook’s interest. Check out what he’s got hot off the presses!

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Some notable deaths and a shift in the USA Network programming schedule seem to have peaked Cook’s interest. Check out what he’s got hot off the presses!

Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! Last week around this time, I was riding pretty high and feeling good about how things were going with the whole writing thing. Got some podcast publicity, wrote some pretty good stuff that went over well with the public, was expanding my horizons with some different work, good times were being had by all. That lasted a few days until I ran into every writer’s greatest enemy.

Writer’s Block.

It’s not that I’m lacking things to write about. There’s plenty going on in the world of pro wrestling, and now that the Chairshot is expanding its reach into sports, there’s always some NFL topic that people want to read about. One goes through times where it’s hard to find the words. It usually happens at a pretty inconvenient time, like when I actually have a lot of free time to write.

The hope for this column is that I can get some creative juices flowing thanks to some topics that interest me. There are plenty of reasons to talk about sports this week, so hopefully that will help! Let’s find out…

Will NBCSN’s Demise Lead To Changes For WWE?

Big news broke in sports television over the weekend, as NBCUniversal announced its intention to close down NBCSN by the end of 2021. This is being seen as a strategy intended to bump up the Peacock streaming service, where many of the properties currently airing on NBCSN will end up. The memo did mention that USA Network would begin carrying some of the programming, including NASCAR races & the Stanley Cup playoffs. This, naturally led to wrestling fans like us jumping to conclusions.

Oh, and fans of all those other sports too, but for the purposes of this column we talk about wrestling fans jumping to conclusions. WWE has two weekly wrestling shows currently airing on USA. Raw’s deal doesn’t end until 2024, but NXT’s ends in October of this year.

I think some are blowing this whole thing out of proportion. Maybe I’ll end up being wrong, but I don’t see the addition of the NHL & NASCAR affecting WWE too much. NASCAR will mostly air on the weekends. The NHL does have this Wednesday Night Hockey gimmick on NBCSN that people tell me is a big deal and may lead to the end of NXT on Wednesday nights. Mayyyybe that happens, as it’s pretty undeniable at this point that NXT would draw a larger audience on a different night. WWE would prefer to take a chunk out of AEW Dynamite viewership, but that’s not as big of a concern to USA.

However, as somebody that watches a good amount of hockey, I’ve never thought of Wednesday night as a destination night for the sport. Might be because my Nashville Predators are rarely featured on it (they will be this week, largely because they’re playing Chicago), but I don’t see it as this big thing that changing to Tuesday or Thursday Night Hockey would put traditional hockey fans up in arms. Certainly not like how they get worked up every time something related to Hockey Night in Canada changes.

There’s also the factor of the NHL contract with NBC expiring after this season, which could render the whole “Wednesday Night Hockey” thing as a moot point. This is all very interesting to keep an eye on, but I’m not expecting anything major to come out of it, at least when it comes to WWE business. Say what you will about Raw or NXT’s TV ratings, the NHL sure wouldn’t mind having them. We might see NXT get pre-empted if the NHL has a ton of playoff games on a Wednesday night, but other than that I wouldn’t worry about it.

Hammerin’ Hank

As a baseball fan that has loved studying the history of the sport from a young age, the last year or so has been brutal. It’s been a seemingly never-ending parade of Hall of Famers leaving us. Most of them were along for a long time, so it’s not like they were taken too soon or anything like that. It’s just kinda sad for baseball fans to see a piece of their childhood fade away.

Hank Aaron passed away at the age of eighty-six on Friday. He was the man who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record back in 1974, and had to deal with everything that that entailed. People that had a certain outlook on life were outraged to see Hank Aaron, an African-American, break the Sultan of Swat’s record. When I first read about all this and saw some of the things people sent Aaron in the mail, I was shocked. I was much younger at the time and under the impression that certain things had gotten better. Which they have, as now they send Tweets.

Aaron’s record of 755 home runs lasted over 30 years until Barry Bonds surpassed him with 762, and many folks out there still recognize Aaron as the home run king due to certain aspects of Bonds’ career. I’m not here to tell you how you should feel about that. What I will say is that 755 is much easier to remember than 762. It’s like how I was talking about the WrestleMania III attendance record being easier to remember than WM 32’s just last week. It’s just a better number.

You might wonder why I’m talking about all this in a wrestling column. Maybe you’re not, since it’s a pretty well known story. After Aaron retired from baseball, he became an executive with the Atlanta Braves & TBS. At the time, the Braves & TBS were owned by Ted Turner, who owned pretty much everything in Atlanta at that point. Including later in the 1980s, World Championship Wrestling. Aaron, like most TBS executives at the time, kept his distance from WCW, which was widely considered the red-headed stepchild of the Turner corporation.

WCW had quite the revolving door of executive VPs, bookers & assorted people in charge its first few years under the Turner umbrella. The middle of 1992 saw the arrival of Bill Watts, a man known in wrestling circles as pretty much a genius. Watts had booked for a number of successful territories during the 1970s & 1980s, and the Mid-South Wrestling promotion he led during the early 1980s produced some of the most critically acclaimed wrestling television to this day. Also did big business in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and other areas that weren’t exactly population & media centers. Watts’ reputation as a wrestling genius gave people big hopes once he arrived, and, well, things didn’t quite go as hoped.

I have re-watched some of 1992 WCW fairly recently thanks to WWE Network dumping some WCW Saturday Night just before I started watching as a kid on there. I enjoyed a lot of it, but there were definitely some warts. The TV definitely didn’t draw a lot of money, and Watts’ new rules he brought to WCW definitely didn’t make any friends backstage. Watts was also forced to cut costs, though as Arn Anderson has pointed out, he would see other people pop up on the roster after his salary was slashed. Arn admitting that he used Erik Watts beating him down at a gas station as an excuse to take four months off, sit at home & let things play out just increases my opinion of the Enforcer. Tremendous.

WCW under Watts was definitely a mixed bag. The Cowboy had some good ideas, but he also had some terrible ideas that stifled the roster. Watts has explained the top rope ban as making the moves mean more, but it was ill-timed when WCW was trying to promote a Light Heavyweight division where the top two stars were Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Flyin’ Brian. I mean, it didn’t hurt Brad Armstrong or Scotty Flamingo too much, but we would have rather watched the former than the latter in 1992. Or in most other years.

Watts had gotten behind the times. Apparently, he was even more behind the times based off of a Torch Talk interview he did in 1991 that allegedly helped him get the WCW job. That’s a myth that’s been passed on over the times by newsletter writers, but when I read that interview, I saw at least 27 red flags. I had heard Watts’ explanation of the situation prior to my reading the actual transcription of all of this. Once I saw what he actually said, well, I can see why he was trying to spin it.

Bill Watts is a complicated figure in wrestling history. He gave the Junk Yard Dog his big push in Louisiana. He made Ron Simmons the first black WCW Champion. He made Ernie Ladd his booker in Mid-South Wrestling. He rightly saw that most of the top athletes in the world were black, and that wrestling denying that was ridiculous. Regardless of his opinions of other races, he saw that there was business to be done in pro wrestling.

Which, to be honest, puts him ahead of most other promoters in his time. Watts might have been a racist, but as a capitalist he still saw the business potential. WWE has been criticized for decades for not properly pushing African-American talent. They have been putting belts on minority talent lately, but still fund political campaigns meaning to bring minorities down. I’m not telling any lies here, just ask the people that vote for Vince & Linda’s preferred candidates. That’s what they want to do. Don’t get me started on the debate over who the first black WWF/E champion was. I am sticking a ten foot pole between me and that debate.

Watts made a habit of pushing African-American talent throughout his stints as a promoter & booker. He entrusted Ernie Ladd with booking Mid-South Wrestling, which was the first time an African-American had booked a wrestling promotion. Which made the interview he did with the Pro Wrestling Torch prior to getting hired by WCW more damning when I actually read it. I had read summaries before, and had heard Watts’ take on the matter. Actually seeing what he said…pretty shocking, though there are plenty out there that might agree with his hot takes.

The story is that Mark Madden (another wonderful individual just like his fellow Torch columnist Bruce Mitchell) faxed the Pro Wrestling Torch interview to Hank Aaron, after seeing Aaron on WCW television with Watts shortly after Aaron had spoken out against Marge Schott, the owner of the Cincinnati Reds that had made some very questionable statements concerning Adolf Hitler, among other things. See, Watts was big on mainstream sports, and would have marked out to have Hank Aaron on TV with him. Probably pulled some strings to make that happen. Aaron was not pleased when he saw the Torch interview, and told Madden that there would be something done about it. Watts resigned from WCW shortly afterwards.

It should be noted that Watts has a different take on all of this, though it has to be called into question since he made his Torch comments seem much less racist in his re-calling. Part of it does seem believable, since he claimed that he was already intending to step down from WCW due to the corporate agenda he didn’t want to deal with. It seems feasible, and Jim Cornette backed him up on the timeline on the ROH Straight Shootin’ Series interview they did. (Has Jim Cornette ever commented on Bill Watts’ political beliefs? That’d be an interesting YouTube clip.)

Watts’ removal led to Ole Anderson taking control, which didn’t last long. Once Ole pissed enough people off, he got shown the door, and that’s when Eric Bischoff slid in. I don’t think Hank Aaron paid attention to WCW a second after he got a fax from Mark Madden. Could be wrong, though I think if Aaron was at some of those Nitro telecasts they would have drug him out there to get a pop.

A lot of news sites wanted to sell Aaron as changing the course of wrestling history in their news bites reporting his death. I think that’s a little overblown, as Watts would have gone away even without Aaron being forced to respond to an interview that TBS apparently didn’t look into before hiring Bill Watts. The main issue is that Watts shouldn’t have been there to begin with. Easy to say with hindsight being 20/20, and the perception being Cowboy Bill being a wrestling genus, but his WCW stint, at least as far as TV entertainment value goes, was lacking.

Maybe he saved some money, but why would we care about that? Especially when he was saving money by cutting production values and cutting Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton’s pay in half. Those were acceptable costs. And how much money do you save by not placing pretty blue mats at ringside to keep wrestlers from killing themselves on the floor? Can’t be that much.

Larry Fling Live

CNN has never really replaced Larry King. They tried to have Piers Morgan do it, which was a debacle that fortunately only British people have to deal with now. Chris Cuomo has the slot now, but that is what that is. Anderson Cooper is smart enough to stay out of that time slot because he doesn’t want the comparison. He’ll take any other slot on CNN, just not that 9:00 PM Eastern slot.

That was where Larry King interviewed people on CNN for twenty-five years. It was the signature program on cable television’s first news network. As much as we talk about cable television dying off and viewership going away, cable news is still a pretty big thing. It’s only gotten bigger since Larry King Live went off the air, and one wonders if a cable news host like King would do well now. King didn’t wear his party affiliation on his sleeve, which made him great for television back in the day. For television now? Could be an issue, since viewers tend to lean towards networks that reinforce their political views. Centerists aren’t especially popular these days, nor are people that try to hide their political opinions. You’re better off pandering to your side & checking all objectivity at the door these days.

Believe me, I’m not a fan of that idea, but that’s what the people want.

Larry King was always pretty unbiased. Which made him a great tool for pro wrestling. CNN was under that Turner umbrella we talked about earlier, but they tried to steer clear of WCW. They’d cover some WWF stuff from time to time, but pro wrestling wasn’t really under the cable news radar until the Chris Benoit murders/suicide. Many thought that could lead to the end of the business, and plenty of cable news shows were ready to jump all over it.

King’s show was open to bringing on more enlightened pro wrestlers, at least at that time. He was willing to let those wrestlers, whether it was Bret Hart or Chris Jericho or Mick Foley or whoever, speak their mind. He didn’t cut them off or shout them down. King’s fairness at that time won him favor from WWE, who had previously lampooned him with “Larry Fling Live” hosting segments between the Huckster, Nacho Man & Billionaire Ted, since they were mad when Ted Turner was competing with them.

King did find the wrestling business interesting, and appeared on Raw in 2012. By that point, King was off of CNN, and WWE was happy to let him make a guest appearance. He got to talk to menches like Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston & The Miz. Can’t hate on that. He even got out of there before Kane could say something to him.

I would like to someday think of myself as the Larry King of pro wrestling writing. Except I’ve probably already pissed off too many people to make that idea work.

Thanks for reading! Hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have enjoyed bumbling through it. Until next week, keep your stick on the ice.


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Opinion

Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 3/7/2021

Now this was a pretty packed week of wrestling action! Between the normal television products, we had four different New Japan events, AEW Revolution and Stardom’s All Star Cinderella!

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Now this was a pretty packed week of wrestling action! Between the normal television products, we had four different New Japan events, AEW Revolution and Stardom’s All Star Cinderella!

There were even more events that I just couldn’t find time for, because trying to balance consumption with any other hobby or interest is mad difficult on weeks like this. Yes – first world problems, I’m aware.

Anyway! Let’s see what match won last week to fill out February!

February Pool:

  • NXT: Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher vs The Undisputed Era
  • NXT Vengeance Day: Johnny Gargano vs Kushida
  • AEW Dynamite: Riho vs Serena Deeb
  • NJPW Castle Attack 2.27: Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii

My vote will go to Riho vs Serena Deeb. Yes Gargano and Kushida was a beautiful match, but Riho and Deeb really helped a tournament and division that is the laughing stock of an already meme worthy company. So I feel like it had a larger impact for the year.

Before we get into the Top 5, yes I saw the Sting cinematic, and it falls in line with my feelings about the Boneyard match and what not. I don’t officially rate cinematics, but I thought it was damn good, definitely comparable to Undertaker’s Boneyard match. It would’ve made the Top 5 if I rated cinematics.

Quick Top 5:

  1. New Japan Cup 3.6.2021: Kazuchika Okada vs Shingo Takagi
    Rating: **** ½
  2. New Japan Cup 3.5.2021: Taichi vs Hirooki Goto
    Rating: **** ½
  3. Stardom 10th Anniversary: Wonder of Stardom Championship: Hair vs Hair: Giulia (c) vs Tam Nakano
    Rating: **** ¼
  4. New Japan 49th Anniversary: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match: Kota Ibushi (c) vs El Desperado
    Rating: **** ¼
  5. New Japan Cup 3.7.2021: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Will Ospreay
    Rating: ****

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • New Japan 49th Anniversary: New Japan Cup: Great O-Khan vs Tetsuya Naito
    Rating: *** ¾
  • NXT UK: UK Women’s Championship: Kay Lee Ray (c) vs Meiko Satomura
    Rating: *** ¾
  • IMPACT!: Deonna Purrazzo vs Jordynne Grace vs Kiera Hogan
    Rating: *** ¾
  • AEW Revolution: AEW Women’s Championship: Hikaru Shida (c) vs Ryo Mizunami
    Rating: *** ½
  • NJC 3.7.2021: Gabriel Kidd vs Zack Sabre Jr
    Rating: *** ½
  • Stardom 10th Anniversary: Mayu Iwatani vs Yoshiko
    Rating: *** ½
  • NJC 3.6.2021: New Japan Cup: Juice Robinson vs KENTA
    Rating: *** ½
  • IMPACT!: Black Taurus vs Chris Bey vs Ace Austin
    Rating: *** ½
  • New Japan 49th Anniversary: New Japan Cup: Satoshi Kojima vs Jeff Cobb
    Rating: *** ½
  • NJC 3.7.2021: LIJ (SANADA, BUSHI, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, SHO, Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii)
    Rating: *** ¼
  • AEW Revolution: AEW World Heavyweight Championship: Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch: Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega (c)
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJC 3.6.2021: New Japan Cup: Tomoaki Honma vs Minoru Suzuki
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJC 3.5.2021: Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, DOUKI) vs Gabriel Kidd, Yuya Uemura & Tomoaki Honma
    Rating: ***
  • AEW Face of the Revolution Ladder Match: Penta El Zero M vs Cody Rhodes vs Scorpio Sky vs Ethan Page vs Max Caster vs Lance Archer
    Rating: ***
  • NJC 3.7.2021: Bullet Club (Jay White, EVIL, Dick Togo & KENTA) w/Gedo vs Ryusuke Taguchi, Toa Henare, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson
    Rating: ***
  • New Japan 49th Anniversary: LIJ (BUSHI, SANADA & Shingo Takagi) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Tomohiro Ishii)
    Rating: ***
  • NJC 3.5.2021: Bullet Club (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Taiji Ishimori) w/ Dick Togo vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tiger Mask IV, YOSHI-HASHI, David Finlay
    Rating: ***
  • AEW Dynamite: Shaq & Jade Cargill vs Cody & Red Velvet 
    Rating: ***

 

5. New Japan Cup 3.7.2021: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Will Ospreay

From My Results:
Ospreay fires up, but runs into a BIG LARIAT from Tenzan! Fans fire up as Ospreay stumbles about, into Tenzan’s scoop! T T D!! Cover, TWO!! Ospreay survives but Tenzan wants the Anaconda Vice again! Ospreay flails and reaches as Tenzan thrashes around again. Ospreay fights up, but Tenzan hits the ANACONDA BUSTER! Cover, TWO!!! Ospreay survives again but Tenzan heads up top! Ospreay anchors a leg but Tenzan clubs at him! Ospreay tucks Tenzan in! CHEEKY NANDOS! And then Ospreay gets Tenzan up for a LAST RIDE! Cover, TWO!?! Tenzan survives and fans fire up, but Ospreay calls his shot!

Ospreay springboards, OSCUTTER!! Cover, TWO?!?! Tenzan survives and no one can believe it! Ospreay gets up, reels Tenzan in, underhooks and gets Tenzan up, but Tenzan slides off to headbutt! MONGOLIAN CHOP! And again! Tenzan fires up, scoops but Ospreay resists! Ospreay elbows away on Tenzan, scoops him, and pops him up to a fireman’s carry, for a SIT OUT SLAM!! Cover, TWO!! Tenzan survives but Ospreay takes off the armband! Ospreay brings Tenzan up, around, and hits a DREAM CRUSHER ELBOW! Ospreay keeps going, underhooks and lifts, for STORMBREAKER!! Cover, Ospreay wins!!

Winner: Ospreay via Stormbreaker

 

3t. New Japan 49th Anniversary: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match: Kota Ibushi (c) vs El Desperado

From Mitchell’s Coverage:
NO! Ibushi fights out to wrench and LARIAT! Ibushi fires up and fans respond in kind! Ibushi gets Desperado up, reels him in, and lifts, for a LAST RIDE!! Cover, TWO!! Desperado lives but Ibushi vows to end it! Ibushi grits his teeth, gets Desperado’s wrists and sits him up. Desperado wrenches through to ES EL CULERO! Cover, TWO!!! ROUNDHOUSE from Ibushi hits clean! Ibushi sits Desperado up again, KAMI- NO! ROLL UP, but to the STRETCH MUFFLER!! And he puts it on tight! Then gets NUMERO DOS SUPREME! Ibushi endures but he is caught! Desperado holds on as hard as he can but Ibushi refuses to give in!

Ibushi pries an arm free, reaches, but Desperado rolls him from ropes! Ibushi make sit a cover, TWO!! KAMIGOYE!!! Cover, TWO!??!?! Ibushi can’t believe Desperado still lives! Ibushi gets the wrists again, for ANOTHER KAMIGOYE!!! Cover, Ibushi wins!!

Winner: Ibushi via Kamigoye

 

3t. Stardom 10th Anniversary: Wonder of Stardom Championship: Hair vs Hair: Giulia (c) vs Tam Nakano

Tam and Giulia has been an on going feud since Stardom returned to activity. Giulia has been seen as the new It Girl, and Tam is always popular with her cute exterior, but her drive for the white belt was for her former tag partner. Arisa Hoshiki had to retire for a second time because of neck injuries, and even though they fought and acted like oil and water for a while, Arisa and Tam became great friends. This being Tam’s fourth shot at Giulia, her only win so far being in the 5 Star Grand Prix. So when Tam demanded one more title shot, Giulia wanted the Universe’s Cutest to put her hair on the line. Tam agreed, and that brings us here.

This told a great story. Tam had moments of despair and frustration where Giulia was just toying with her and Tam couldn’t find an angle to get in offense. Giulia’s hubris was her undoing though. Giulia had Tam down in the ring for a 10 count, but she shoved the referee and went into full mount to continue the punishment.

After that point, Tam’s frustration turned into motivation, we had a great slap exchange which showed Tam’s heart and Giulia even clasped her hands behind her back, showing that much disrespect to Tam. It’s honestly hard to tell if Giulia was trying to get this side of Tam out, or if she was just cocky, but it was great heel psychology.

Tam countered the Glorious Driver variations often, landed the Shining Knee, ther Tiger Suplex Hold and really started to come alive in the second half of the match. Once Tam landed Giulia’s Glorious Driver, it was all but over. So Tam hammerlocks both of Giulia’s arms, and locks in the Twilight Dream for the win! Tam finally has the white belt!

The story of the match was great, the emotion of the struggle for the last 9 months was fantastic and Tam finally gets a chance to show how she went from a teased and lost girl who needed Io Shirai and Mayu Iwantani to protect her at different times; to now she’s leading her own faction, and a great asset to Stardom.

Winner: Tam via Twilight Dream

 

1t. New Japan Cup 3.5.2021: Taichi vs Hirooki Goto

From Mitchell’s Coverage:
Taichi paces, drags Goto but Goto is dead weight. Fans rally up and Taichi drags Goto by his hair. Taichi stands Goto up but Goto blocks the forearm into a spin and suplex, SHOUTEN KAI!! Both men are down again and fans fire back up! Goto grits his teeth and rises again! Goto gets himself to ropes while Taichi sitrs. Goto drags himself to his feet, Taichi is in a daze but Goto powers up now. Taichi sits up into the BUZZSAW! But he pops right up to BOOT?! Goto forearms, Taichi mule kicks, Goto HEADBUTTS! Taichi is down but Goto shakes his head. Fans are thunderous again as Goto fires up and drags Taichi into the dragon sleeper!

Taichi slips out, Alabama lifts, but Goto escapes to dragon sleeper! Taichi gets out to ROUNDHOUSE! Taichi hooks the arms, TAICHI STYLE GEDO CLUTCH! TWO!!! Goto narrowly escapes and the fans are thunderous yet again! Taichi and Goto slowly rise, and Taichi goes to a corner. Taichi fires himself up, builds power and takes aim, but Goto blocks the kick! Goto fireman’s carries to G T W!!! Cover, TWO!?!?! Taichi survives and the fans are now electric! Goto isn’t done, he dragon sleepers to TRUE G T R!!! Cover, GOTO WINS!!

Winner: Goto via GTR

 

1t. New Japan Cup 3.6.2021: Kazuchika Okada vs Shingo Takagi

From My Results:
Shingo added his arrogant flair to a lot of things in this match, including the Rainmaker pose that Japanese Commentary called the “Pumping Steel Maker”, which also worked well when Shingo countered the Rainmaker with his own Pumping Steel Maker. Even injured this was a great slugfest between the two. Okada still hit a good number of his classics, but he was visibly hampered as the match wore on. Shingo managed to escape the Money Clip twice, which was an important element since Shingo passed out to the Money Clip in the G1.

Superplex, Noshigami, Made in Japan and an Uranage Backbreaker were some of the bigger moves towards the end that swayed the momentum for Shingo. Shingo went for Last of the Dragon a few times, but Okada usually had an answer. At the end, Okada slips behind the Last of the Dragon, winds up the Rainmaker, but Shingo ducks it and continues the momentum to lift Okada to his shoulders and finally hit his finish to win the match!

Winner: Takagi via The Last of the Dragon

 

Thoughts:

Well now this is a very Eastern centric week, but I tried, you saw other stuff in honorable mentions. Now I’m conflicted since I’m a big fan of Tam, and really enjoyed her story the last few months. However, Shingo versus Okada II is fantastic. These two have great chemistry and it’s cool to think of the former top guy of Dragon Gate facing the current top guy of New Japan is nice dream matching.

Big match Holy Emperor showed up really well for a loss, I just personally don’t see it surpassing my Shingo/Okada fanfic of amazingness. So yeah, Tam Nakano vs Giulia is close to winning my vote, but beefy Shingo getting the Rainmaker rub is my vote this week!

There we go, Japan was great this week and I never even got around to NOAH’s show. *grumbles about time and flat circles* 


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News From Cook’s Corner 3.8.21: Explosions R Us

Cook brings us all the explosive news! Big, small, literal, figurative…an explosion is an explosion…right?

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! So much going on in the world of wrestling this week that it’s tough to keep track of it all. We do our best here, and pretty much anything I don’t cover here is covered in a column or podcast here at the Chairshot.

I would say that the rest of March might be a bit busy for me due to college basketball, but the Louisville Cardinals men’s team probably has two games left at most. One ACC Tournament game, then one game in whatever other tournament they make. Fun! At least the women should be able to make a pretty good run, and that won’t affect things too much. Especially since I’m cutting back on the drinking and also not watching games out of the house anymore.

I might actually be productive this March! That’d be nice. Let’s be productive and go through the news!

Was There A Revolution?

Yes there was! I was working during the first part of it, but we definitely need to talk about some of the major happenings of this show…

Hall of Fame Worthy Signing = Christian Cage

I’m never really a fan of hyping up surprise signings for major shows. Everybody gets their hopes up to the point where unless it’s Ric Flair somehow in his prime again it ends up being a disappointment to most people. Pretty much every WWE Hall of Fame level talent not doing anything right now tried to make us think it was them on social media. It ends up being Christian Cage, complete with TNA theme song.

Definitely two schools of thought on this one. Christian has a lot of admirers that were happy to see him return at the Royal Rumble. They then wondered where he went afterwards. It makes sense. Christian had to leave WWE in the mid-2000s to get a real chance to shine as a main event level star. Now, he has to leave WWE again to get a real chance to end his career on his terms.

Then there are those out there making the TNA comparisons. It’s a lazy talking point, but you’re not going to get people off of it once it starts. As long as Christian adds to the shows and doesn’t detract from them, I don’t see the issue. I also think he’s worthy of being in the WWE Hall of Fame, so I can’t accuse AEW of false advertising here.

It has to be asked, though. How did WWE let this happen? How did they not make sure Christian was locked up after the Royal Rumble? Booking Edge & Christian against Roman Reigns & Jey Uso, or Jey & a returning Jimmy Uso, seemed like an obvious & logical way to keep the Edge/Reigns story moving. Seems like a missed opportunity for them, but I’m guessing that Vince McMahon doesn’t see it that way.

Ethan Page Returns From The Dead

It’s happened before. Allie died in Impact’s Undead Realm, then re-appeared in AEW. Now it’s Ethan Page. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing? Page appeared in the Face of the Revolution ladder match, having a good performance but coming up short to Scorpio Sky. Page is a good talker and a solid in-ring talent, hopefully he won’t get lost in the shuffle here.

Maybe he could form a team with his brother Adam Page. I just hope John Silver doesn’t get confused now that there are two Pages. Actually, three when DDP is around.

Double or Nothing announced for Sunday, May 30

It’ll be AEW’s second straight Sunday PPV event, which Tony Khan says he’ll only try to do on three-day weekends going forward. To which I say “What in the blue hell is a three-day weekend?” Must be nice! DoN will be going head to head with the Coca Cola 600, but apparently NASCAR has fewer crossover fans with AEW than boxing or UFC.

One bad exploding ring ruins the night

It’s a shame, too. The inner blood mark in me was enjoying seeing the various clips of explosions & barbed wire & blood and all that stuff that “smart” fans are supposed to act like is garbage. What can I say, I’m a sick fuck. I don’t need to see the blood & guts every week, but there’s definitely a time & place for it. Kenny Omega & Jon Moxley’s time & place was on Sunday night, and it seemed like a pretty exciting time for all involved…up until the finish.

We all know how these things work. Opinions on wrestling matches & shows are largely based around the finish. A good finish can make us forget a match sucked. A good main event can turn a thumbs down show to a thumbs up. On the other side of the spectrum, a bad finish can turn us against a match, or against an entire show.

AEW Revolution would have been more well received had the closing explosion not been a dud. They should have just started firing off the explosives used for Cody’s entrance again, that could have covered the ring stuff up. All it takes is one bad explosion to make people forget three & a half hours.

Maybe the moral of the story is to not have your show end with an explosion, but I don’t want to entirely dissuade future pyromaniac wrestling promoters.

Is the “Wednesday Night War” Over?

Speculation is rife that NXT will be moving to Tuesdays in April, with the first Tuesday episode coming two days after WrestleMania. The idea of NXT switching nights has been talked about for the past several months now, and the rumors really picked up when it was announced that NBCSN would be closing up shop and some of their main properties would be moving to USA.

So Wednesday Night Hockey is a bigger deal than I thought it was. Who knew? That’s what I get for sticking with Fox Sports Tennessee coverage of Nashville Predators games.

Nothing has been officially announced yet, but apparently William Regal has a “landscape changing announcement” scheduled for this week’s NXT episode. Could be it. Could also be an announcement that they’re going to put security guards in the NXT parking lot so people don’t get beat up. Ya never know.

I’d like to wait until everything’s official until we start speculating on the fallout, but I do get the feeling that AEW won’t see as big an increase in viewers as you might think. I tend to think that wrestling fans that wanted to watch AEW on Wednesday night were already doing so. Maybe there’s some NXT viewers that haven’t checked out AEW yet, and maybe some of the holdouts in that older demo are swayed by AEW bringing in more people in their age group, but I’d pump the brakes on any idea of Dynamite getting those Raw ratings numbers.

NWA Update

Last week we knew that the NWA was holding tapings from March 21-21. We now know that the March 21 show will air on FITE, is called “Back For The Attack”, and will cost viewers $19.99. We also know that NWA Powerrr will be back airing regularly on Tuesdays at 6:05 starting on March 23, and will be available on FITE “via a low-cost subscription bundle”.

It’s obviously risky putting all of your content behind a paywall. You can’t even find the old episodes of Powerrr for free anymore. The idea seems to be that there are enough people that enjoyed what the NWA was doing pre-pandemic that a pretty good number will be willing to fork out whatever price it is per month to keep taking the ride. FITE has been a reliable streaming platform in my experience, so if you’re going to try something like this they’re probably the best bet. It definitely helps increase FITE’s presence to add “exclusive home of the NWA” to their portfolio.

In other NWA-related news, Serena Deeb, AEW roster member & current NWA Women’s Champion, recently had her left knee scoped. The Internet tells me that recovery from such a procedure takes approximately six weeks, so Deeb might not be available to work the coming TV tapings. They could use those tapings to build up a challenger for her, which I figure they will since taking the title off of her in the boardroom wouldn’t make too many people happy.

Then again, Serena said she’d be back “before you know it”. Theoretically she could return on an episode taped in advance and we wouldn’t know it if there were no spoilers!

Joey Ryan Almost Got Back In The Business!

It was close! There was a show scheduled to run in Knoxville, Tennessee on March 20 called “Wrestling For Women’s Charity”. Sounds innocent enough, right? They posted their info on the social media with the venue address, ticket prices, streaming details, covid protocols (which, by the way, some of you Southern promoters seem to be doing a pretty poor job with your protocols from the clips I’ve seen. Not naming any names, but pretty much any show south of Kentucky with a recognizable star looks like a virus pit.), and the usual stuff. Of course there was a show poster, and one of the wrestlers on it just happened to be one Joseph Cornelius Meehan-Ryan.

This obviously got some attention, and the Internet started doing some digging around. What they found out was that the event was being run by Bar Wrestling, which is the fed that Meehan was running in Southern California prior to #SpeakingOut. Apparently the wrestlers involved didn’t know about this, and started pulling out of the show. FITE, who was mentioned by the show as their streaming partner, said they wouldn’t be airing the show. Tony Khan said that the AEW wrestlers wouldn’t be participating, but offered to donate to the chairty. Then, Khan wondered if there was actually a charity, considering who was involved.

There was a charity! Since Joseph Meehan-Ryan claims to have found God since the fallout of #SpeakingOut (who apparently has commanded him to sue his fellow wrestlers), he was going to divert money to Project GRL, part of Joyce Meyer Minstries’ missions arm. In case you’re like me & wondering who Meyer is, she’s one of those televangelists that flies around in private jets & owns several homes funded by the people sending her money for Jesus. It seems like a pretty lucrative deal if you can make it work.

The show was cancelled, but whoever was running the Twitter account had to get in one last shot:

“We apologize for riling everyone up. It is clear that we’re in over our heads. We’ll say that everybody booked was fully aware of all details including going through AEW’s 3rd party booking system for talent. Rather than put talent in a tough situation, we’ve canceled the show.”

Throwing everybody under the bus, which is 100% on brand for Meehan. People wonder if he’ll use this as more evidence that he can’t make a living and file some more lawsuits. Me, I’d prefer that he find another way to make a living, but I know that we’ll be dealing with this guy trying to do things and suing people for years to come. Wrestlers will just have to be more careful about who they accept bookings from, which is probably a good idea anyway.

Another Week, Another Lawsuit

Last week, we talked about Kelly Klein filing a lawsuit against Ring of Honor, Sinclair Broadcasting Group & others concerning her alleged mistreatment by the wrestling promotion. This week, it’s her partner in crime (are they still partners in areas other than crime? No idea.) Joey Mercury. We mentioned how one of the interesting parts of Klein’s lawsuit involved challenging ROH’s classification of her as an independent contractor, and Mercury’s lawsuit addresses that as well.

Mercury claims that he was forced to resign, ROH refused to respond to his claims of an unsafe work environment, and that he was paid less than others with his job positions. He also says that he was misclassified as an independent contractor rather than an employee, which he figures he was since he was a producer.

I look forward to discussing another ROH lawsuit next week. Has Joseph Meehan-Ryan sued them yet? Surely he’s got some beef with how he was used there way back in the day.

No More Thigh Slaps!

Vince McMahon has had enough. He has stands all he can stand until he can’t stands no more. All these young kids slapping their thighs and legs when they kick somebody. No more! There are signs backstage now telling the wrestlers not to slap their leg when kicking.

Many people will be happy with this, as they feel that thigh/leg slapping is one of the things killing the business. It’s never really bothered me, but I might just be used to it. I will say that leg slapping got Yoshihiro Tajiri over with me way back in the day. Did anybody ever time it better?

Welp, that’s all the damage I can do here this week. Make sure to keep coming back to The Chairshot for your best show coverage, wrestling opinions and NFL quarterback top 5 lists! Thanks for reading, and keep your stick on the ice.


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