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.
According to AEW, this is the ring being "blown up".
— Wrestle Critic (@WrestleCritic) March 8, 2021
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.
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.
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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