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News From Cook’s Corner 4.5.21: After War, Before Mania

NJPW has a shaken things up, and Mania week is about to kick off! Cook sets us up for the biggest week in professional wrestling!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and I hope you all had a Happy Easter. Or just a Happy Weekend if you’re not into bunnies, eggs or Jesus. We don’t judge here at the Corner.

It’s been a very exciting weekend. Baseball is back! My Reds actually won two games and put up a bunch of runs against the St. Louis baseball team in the opening series. It’s always exciting when the Reds manage to take that series because it’s just an honor that St. Louis allows Cincinnati to play against them so often. Just incredible for the Reds to share the field with one of the greatest teams in the history of Western civilization, the franchise that sets all the rules & standards for how the game should be played.

Don’t believe me? Just ask them!

College basketball also had itself a weekend with with the Gonzaga & UCLA men putting on a show Saturday night, while the Arizona women sent UConn packing the night before. They had an exciting championship game with Stanford too. I don’t know when the West Coast became the epicenter of college basketball, but I’m here for it. We can do with more of them & less of these southern & eastern teams we’re usually subjected to this time of year. Variety is the spice of life, am I right?

So there’s a lot of good stuff going on these days. Since this is a wrestling news column, I should probably also mention that this is the biggest week of WWE’s year. Got a little thing called WrestleMania coming up on Saturday & Sunday. NXT TakeOver on Wednesday & Thursday. Hall of Fame airing on Tuesday. Raw, SmackDown on usual days, and various media appearances from your favorite WWE Superstars.

We might get to that. Lots of news to talk about first…

Wednesday Night War Ends, Both Sides Win/Lose

NXT’s big move was finally made official last week. After this week’s episode featuring the first night of TakeOver, NXT will be airing on Tuesday nights on USA going forward. This is great news for wrestling fans that like having something to watch on cable/satellite television every single night, as Impact Wrestling’s move to Thursday ensures that there will be weekly wrestling shows every weeknight. It’s also great news for Internet wrestling reviewers, who no longer have to pick one show to review live.

Honestly, it’s only bad news for people that love to tweet about the ratings every Thursday. Not sure what those people are going to do with their time now, but I’m sure they’ll find something. They always do!

As for AEW & WWE’s NXT brand? Well, this whole thing has resulted in good & bad news for both sides.

Good News For AEW!

Dynamite dominated NXT in the ratings for most of the time period. The past 52 weeks saw NXT beat AEW four times in overall viewership, and zero times in the 18-49 demo the people love to talk about. Hard to argue with that type of success against your main sports entertainment competitor.

TNT is happy. They extended Dynamite pretty early in their relationship with AEW, and have given Cody & Brandi Rhodes’ reality show the greenlight. Cody also got a slot on the Go Big Show on TBS. Shaquille O’Neal & Snoop Dogg appeared to help cross-promote other Warner Media properties.

Bad News For AEW!

AEW had 1.4 million viewers for their first episode of Dynamite. A good chunk of that audience never came back, at least not for a live airing of the show. While they were drawing more viewers than NXT was, they weren’t growing their audience.

Recent numbers haven’t been great. The episode featuring Shaq did a pretty big number, but things have been trending downward since. The Revolution show-closing fiasco seems to have had a negative effect on AEW business, though it’s far too soon to tell whether that will be a long-term hindrance.

Good News For NXT!

NXT even being on USA in the first place was a good sign for WWE’s relationship with the network, and that’s only grown during this time period. Peacock’s on board with WWE Network now, NXT is factored into USA’s plans no matter what night it is, and things are good.

There’s a very good chance that NXT will win the ratings war this week. TakeOver always generates interest, and the AEW card didn’t look like its strongest of all time. NXT could go out on a good note!

I also think they’ll gain more from being on a separate night than AEW will being by itself on Wednesday night. AEW fans are diehard, but more of them seem willing to flip over to NXT during commercials or other times. People watching NXT are going to stick with NXT.

Bad News For NXT!

Now, this is going to be a bad week for me to say this since the brand always delivers on TakeOver events. But overall, NXT’s quality has gone down since the move to two hour weekly shows. More does not always equal better, and I think more NXT has served to make it less special. Which you wouldn’t have thought considering how many people are under contract and chilling at the Performance Center. Theoretically, more time would mean that more people would get a chance to shine. This hasn’t necessarily been the case.

The “cool factor” that NXT once had seems to be largely gone. There was a time period where people told me that they didn’t even consider NXT part of WWE. Even though it was, it didn’t bother these people. Nobody’s saying anything like that now. They all know NXT is part of the WWE machine, for better or worse.

And this is just idle speculation on my part, but it sure seems like the Wednesday Night War didn’t help Paul Levesque’s influence within the company. The recent upheaval at Talent Relations tells me that Vince McMahon wants other people making hiring decisions than who’s been making them. NXT isn’t producing stars at the rate that WWE wants them, and we can blame whoever we want for that, but at the end of the day the blame’s going to go a certain direction that won’t be the top.

Competition supposedly creates better content. I think at this point, the best thing that can happen is for AEW & NXT to be on separate nights. This way, they can focus on themselves and trying to make a better show instead of trying to pop a rating to beat the other guy.

Peacock Is Jericho

WrestleMania hasn’t been the most talked about upcoming WWE Network/Peacock show in recent days. Nor has it been TakeOver or the Hall of Fame show. It’s what will be streaming after Night 2 of WrestleMania ends, the newest Broken Skull Sessions show. Steve Austin’s interviews are usually pretty fun, but this one seems especially newsworthy since it involves somebody not currently employed by WWE…Chris Jericho.

Some say it’s a shot by WWE at AEW, wanting us to know that they don’t see them as competition. I don’t know how much that plays into it, but I can tell you why WWE, Peacock, Vince McMahon & anybody else with a say is ok with Steve Austin having Chris Jericho, a former WWE Superstar currently under contract with AEW, on his show.

They think people will watch.

It’s that simple, folks. WWE, AEW & any other wrestling company worth its salt bases the lion’s share of their programming ideas off the idea of drawing viewers. Not doing “alpha moves” or trying to bury people or whatever excuse we try to come up with in attempts to create drama. It’s about getting people to watch the programming. Getting Chris Jericho to do the Austin show? That’s interesting. People will tune in for that. That’s why WWE was cool with the idea.

Whether you love AEW & hate WWE, or hate AEW & love WWE, or you love both or hate both, we should all be able to agree on basic facts. Even if Dynamite draws more eyeballs on TV sets than NXT, or any other WWE show one of these days maybe if they get hot, AEW would still not really be “competition” for WWE as a business. We’re talking about a company that’s been around a little over two years that could have gone out of business during this pandemic if TNT didn’t extend their contract.

Say what you want about what WWE puts on television. I’m as critical of it as anybody. Say what you want about their business ethics. I’ve been critical of that too. What you can’t deny is the fact that WWE is a tremendously successful business that excels at making money off of what they own. Could they do better? Sure. Can somebody else match their creative efforts? Depends on who you ask! Is anybody going to overtake them as America’s biggest wrestling company anytime soon? Not unless we see another scenario like the early to mid 1990s, where WWE makes it possible by falling into a period of scandal and complete mainstream irrelevance. (Frankly, it’s tough to think of anything that could cause that, considering some of the business decisions they’ve made over the past few years that haven’t even really drawn a second glance.) Even then, somebody would really have to catch fire to get on WWE’s level.

Can AEW? We don’t know, and there’s a pretty good chance we’ll never know.

Andrade Speaks!

A lot of you are super excited about Andrade leaving WWE because it will surely lead to spectacular matches wherever he goes. You all tell me that he’s one of the best workers in the world and can have great matches with anybody. That’s cool, but that’s not the reason I was excited he left.

The real reason to be excited he left WWE? He’s going to talk!

The fact of the matter is that most of today’s American wrestling stars are reticent to say anything of great interest that isn’t blowing smoke up somebody’s backside, whether it’s their employer, their fellow wrestlers, or themselves. Sure, there are notable exceptions, but if media talks to most of these people, they’re getting gaga intended to be as non-controversial as possible. I can’t single wrestlers out for this, it’s prevalent in every form of sport or entertainment. Saying something interesting can make people mad, and most athletes/entertainers would prefer to avoid the backlash that typically ensues.

Those who have followed lucha libre over the years know that luchadores are far less shy. They don’t worry as much about “burning bridges”, probably because Mexican promotions will work with them as long as they draw some money. Wrestlers are still a part of what draws fans there, whereas in the US it’s more about the brand. Andrade has watched the luchadores that came before him. They have no problem with sharing their truth, and he has no problem sharing his.

So it wasn’t surprising that some breaking news came out of an interview Andrade did with Hugo Savinovich. Apparently, the reason Charlotte Flair was recently taken off of TV was due to a medical test that led WWE medical to believe that she was pregnant. Turns out that she wasn’t. However, she tested positive for the coronavirus soon after, which led to her continuing to be off of TV. Charlotte’s “camp” released a statement clarifying the whole matter, making sure to take the rough edges off.

Because that’s what American wrestling stars do. They have camps to take care of these things.

I, for one, can’t wait for more Andrade interviews, as they’re one of the few hopes we have of people saying something interesting.

Let’s talk about this AEW house show thing.

As we all know, there are quite the number of wrestling shows going on in the Tampa area this weekend. Which is another matter in itself, as we’ve got wrestlers on social media whining & moaning about people not buying tickets to their shows, which are taking place in the middle of a pandemic. The lack of awareness that some of these people have is somewhat mind-bottling, as the kids say. Anyway, there are a variety of wrestling shows taking place in the Tampa area this weekend, hoping to take advantage of a large number of wrestling fans being in town.

Then we have All Elite Wrestling, who are running shows in Jacksonville at their usual venue. Kind of out of nowhere, they decided they were going to run their first ever house show this Friday. Running these types of shows isn’t a terrible idea for AEW, especially when they have so many people on their roster. Gotta keep them busy somehow, right?

Of course, the fact it’s on WrestleMania Weekend has people talking. People remember back when Cody Rhodes told people that AEW would never try to compete with WWE on WrestleMania Weekend. To be fair, Cody’s said a number of things in interviews while talking about AEW’s future plans that ended up being fals later on. As the old saying goes, plans change.

I’m not as worked up about this as a lot of people are. Maybe people aren’t aware of this, but the fastest trip from Tampa to Jacksonville takes about three hours. It’s right around two hundred miles via I-75. How many people in town for WrestleMania already are going to make a three hour drive to Jacksonville & another three hour drive back to Tampa? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Then again, I hate driving pretty much anywhere at this point in my life. So maybe I’m the wrong person to pontificate on this topic.

New Japan Championship Change

Some big news came out of NJPW’s Sakura Genesis show that took place over the weekend. Will Ospreay, who had won the New Japan Cup to earn a shot at Kota Ibushi’s IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, defeated Ibushi to win that title. He is the first British wrestler to hold New Japan’s top heavyweight championship.

It’s the second straight year that New Japan has seen a popular wrestler win the top championship at Wrestle Kingdom, only to have a much shorter reign than people expected, losing to a heel wrestler. Ospreay is very talented at what he does, if you’re into matches with lots of flipping, flopping & flying. He’s got a new faction behind him, and speaking English will help if NJPW plans on continuing their international expansion, which I assume they are.

As for Ibushi, it seems like he’s already been shunted behind Shingo Takagi & Kazuchika Okada in championship contention. So I can only assume he’s counting the days when he can get back together with Kenny Omega. Michael Nakazawa’s days might be numbered.

Thanks for reading! We’ve got a big week of content coming up here at The Chairshot, including my gambling picks for Night One & Night Two of WrestleMania! Not to mention all the great show coverage, podcasts & everything else we’ll have cooked up for you. Stay tuned, and until next time, keep your stick on the ice.


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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!

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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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Mitchell’s Talking Smack Report! (4/10/21)

A WrestleMania edition Talking Smack!

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WWE Talking Smack

The Grandest Talking Smack of Them All!

Just hours before WrestleMania 37 starts its two night adventure, we have one last round of Talking Smack, and it’s RATED R with EDGE!

 

Kayla Braxton welcomes us back to the show!

It is the morning of WrestleMania 37, night one! Kayla’s so excited, and before we talk about tomorrow night’s Universal Championship Triple Threat, what are Paul Heyman’s thoughts about Jey Uso winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal? Heyman is extremely proud of #MainEventJeyUso, “the rightful winner.” Jey is a giant of talent and he proved it by winning the most prestigious annual battle royal that happens on WrestleMania Weekend. True, and yes, it is Mania Weekend. Kayla knows the real focus is on night two and the Triple Threat match, Roman Reigns VS Edge VS Daniel Bryan.

And after last night, where is Roman’s head at? Is he at his most confident? Is he worried after hearing from Edge and Bryan? Heyman seems confused by her line of questioning. He will say this, little disrespect as possible. Heyman is ready for Edge, but let’s get to it! The Rated R Superstar is tonight’s guest! Kayla says the cohost doesn’t get to do that, only she, the main host, gets to do that. Plus, Edge isn’t the first guest, he’ll be here later on. For now, we go to commercial.

 

Talking Smack returns, and Heyman speaks to us.

“It’s WrestleMania Weekend. I get a little carried away sometimes. My apologies.” Kayla makes a snide remark about the “sometimes.” But Heyman tries again. “Ladies and gentlemen, the Rated R Superstar, EDGE!” No! He’s not here yet! Maybe they should mute Heyman just in case. Kayla wants Heyman to relax, we’ve got a weekend of action to get to. Let’s talk tonight, WrestleMania Night One’s Women’s Tag Team Turmoil! Friday was extremely heated, but what does Heyman think? The Riott Squad, Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke, Tamina & Natalya, Billie Kay & Carmella, Naomi & Lana.

Heyman says you could choose anyone from this match, where they all want to be Women’s Tag Team Champions. Do any of THEM think Daniel Bryan legitimately tapped out Roman Reigns? Can we please talk about their match, not Roman’s? Heyman rants on, but Kayla says people are very excited for Tag Team Turmoil. Look at the chaos from last night! The winners of tonight’s match face Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler tomorrow night for the titles! Heyman says Kayla made a great point! Thank you, Kayla, he is now HOOKED. But with that out of the way, the RATED R SUPERSTAR-

NO. Kayla will make a deal with him. She’ll bring out Edge if he talks about one other match. They shake hands, and she brings up Cesaro VS Seth Rollins! Rollins’ return brought up issues and Cesaro was the one that voiced it. How would Heyman handle someone like Cesaro? Someone who, in Rollins’ opinion, disrespected him and his “positive” message. What would Heyman do if he were in Rollins’ shoes?

Heyman isn’t in Rollins’ shoes. He’s in Heyman shoes, as the Special Counsel to the Reigns-ing, Defending, Undisputed, Uncontroverted WWE Universal Heavyweight Champion, THE main event of WrestleMania, Roman Reigns, who will defend his title in a Triple Threat against both Edge and Daniel Bryan, where Roman has to beat either Edge or Bryan, but doesn’t have to lose to lose the title. And Heyman is supposed to talk about the King of Swing, Cesaro, and the Visionary, Rollins? They shook on it. Who will win? Can he at least say that?

The winner will be the winner. And that winner might be in line for a match with the Universal Heavyweight Champion, the winner of THE main event of WrestleMania, Roman Reigns. Kayla says it is up to her when Edge shows up. If Heyman won’t cooperate, they can drag this out all episode. Aw, is Heyman being a bad boy? Will Kayla spank him for misbehaving? Kayla wonders what else there is to talk about. Kayla is going to move things along, and Heyman is sarcastic about putting viewers first for once. They WILL have the Rated R Superstar on Talking Smack, after the break.

 

Talking Smack returns and this is the moment we’ve been waiting for.

Kayla welcomes to Talking Smack, the Rated R Superstar, one third of the main event of WrestleMania, EDGE! Edge walks right up and takes his seat, and he says hi to Kayla. Edge looks at Heyman, Heyman sits up and looks at Edge. Heyman smirks, and congratulates Edge. He offers a handshake, Edge takes it, and Heyman says he means it. This is Edge’s dream. THE main event of WrestleMania. Of course, Edge had this dream in 2020 when he shocked everyone and returned in the Royal Rumble. But who took him out of that dream? Roman Reigns. Roman eliminated Edge from the Rumble, stopped his dream dead in its track.

But to Edge’s massive credit, he spent another year working towards the dream again. And this year, with all the odds against him, Edge started the Royal Rumble, outlasted 29 other hungry participants, and his dream prevailed. Here he is, when no one ever thought he would be. WrestleMania Weekend, THE main event. Heyman offers his respect and admiration to a degree that no words can convey. Edge smiles and says “Paul E,” living dangerously out here. For weeks, Heyman has talked such an immense pile of crap about Edge, but Edge gets it. Edge is here, so it’s a different story. Edge appreciates that. Roman cuts Heyman’s checks as his hype man. Heyman’s gotta feed his kids, and Roman is the meal ticket as “Head of the Table.”

But does Heyman know what Edge does to tables? Edge is the godfather of the TLC match. He puts people through tables and obliterates them. Heyman is talking about Christians but Heyman is Jewish and Edge is Agnostic so what the hell was that about? And then he said Edge would crap his pants out of fear? But Edge can look past all of that because oddly, these two have a lot in common and a lot of people wouldn’t realize that. Edge and Heyman didn’t have a path carved for them, open to them into the industry. No, Edge and Heyman are of the same cloth. They fought to get into this industry.

Heyman faked his credentials! He snuck into Madison Square Garden so he could pick the brains “of the grand wizard, Captain Lou Albano,” and took some of the best wrestling photos in the history of this industry! Edge went to Maple Leaf Gardens, stood at the back door and waited for Demolition, Tito Santana, George “The Animal” Steele, just so he could brush up against their greatness and understand what it took to get this, his dream! Then Edge would sneak in and ask to set up chairs, just to get that close to the ring and touch the canvas and feel it! So he could feel the ropes! Any indie show that came to town, Edge set the ring up and the chairs, just to give himself two minutes in there. Just so he could feel what it was like. Edge knows Heyman understands that!

And Heyman of all people knows what Edge is about. Heyman was one of the first to give Edge a chance. Heyman knows what Edge can do “when the governor has taken off.” The SmackDown Six happened because Heyman had faith in Edge! Heyman knew Edge could have a match with Eddie Guerrero that lives on today in people’s minds! That Edge could team with Rey Mysterio and set the world on fire with possibly the greatest tag team match of all time! Heyman agrees, that is true. Edge then asks Heyman, that knowing all of this, and having such an understanding, does Heyman truly feel like Edge should have fear in him? That Roman tells Heyman the truth?

Roman came out and talked about holding it down for 30 weeks. Edge has been holding it down for 30 YEARS! Those were taken away from him for nine, and he fought with every ounce of his being, of his soul, to get back here! Edge cools off to say he appreciates Heyman, and he understands what Heyman is doing. But Edge is never, ever going to agree with him. Heyman deep down doesn’t, either. Edge sets his mic down to let that sink in, and we go to break.

 

Talking Smack returns, and Edge is still at the table.

Heyman pats Edge on the shoulder, and says Edge’s theme song has this line, “You think you know me?” Heyman does know Edge. Heyman knows he knows Edge. Heyman knows nothing is going to stop Edge, and that is what scares Heyman. That’s why now that we’re here at WrestleMania Weekend, Heyman might crap his pants. Heyman’s father taught him the story of the carrot and the stick. You dangle the carrot in front of the horse because that’s what it wants. That is the lure. Nine years, 364 days ago, Edge was forced into retirement. “My GOD, no one can write this story!” Ten years to the DAY, Edge main events WrestleMania in a Universal Championship match, the spiritual successor to the title he never lost.

And if Edge wanted to go public and show the world all the messages he received that very night, how many of his contemporaries wrote to him, “I’m so sorry. Oh my God, this is a tragedy! How awful this is! How terrible this is! I’m sorry, I wish this wasn’t happening to you.” How many? Not Heyman. Heyman can’t help but chuckle when he thinks back, because he wrote, “Great promo, kid. First day of your miraculous comeback to live out your dreams.” And Heyman didn’t hear from Edge for about two days and thought he upset Edge. Edge finally wrote back, “Paul, my dream is to main event WrestleMania. And I will live out my dream, I promise you.”

Heyman does know Edge. Heyman knew nothing would ever stop Edge from living that dream. Not a fused neck, not a number of surgeries, not the advice of doctors, not even his wife’s pleas to stay out of the ring. Heyman knew nothing could stop Edge from living out his dream. “You know what happens tomorrow night? You live out your dream. You do. And the best part of it is, everyone gets to share that moment with you. Because in front of a LIVE crowd, you will stand in the ring, in the main event of WrestleMania, and the ring announcer will say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, one of the contenders. In this corner, the winner of the 2021 Royal Rumble, Edge!'”

And what happens next? Ding ding ding, because Edge has lived his dream. He made it to the main event, but reality will BITCH SLAP him across the face, because in another of those corners, it isn’t the carrot. That is when the horse realizes the carrot is soured. Across the ring is the stick, ROMAN REIGNS. Roman is the reality that Edge will witness when he wakes up from his dream. Here’s the problem: Heyman does know Edge. And Heyman knows that if there is a breath left in Edge’s body, nothing will stop him from becoming Universal Champion tomorrow night.

But Heyman also knows Roman Reigns, and what being Tribal Chief means to him, and what being Head of the Table means to him, and what being the End All Be All means to him, and what being WWE Universal Champion means to him. Heyman knows that if Roman has to take that last breath from Edge’s body, that’s what he’ll do. Heyman knows it’ll be a massacre. It’ll be a beating so bad, Edge needs to understand what Roman is capable of. Roman’s in his prime, at his best, and that he is merciless! It’s to the point to where when Edge gets home and tells his children what it means to go for their dreams, and then hugs them tight, he won’t be able to feel it! Roman will take that from Edge! That is how bad it’ll be.

Heyman does know Edge, and likes him, respects him, admires him, and wishes his children aspired to be like him and live out their dreams at all costs. But the price Edge is going to pay to live a dream, Heyman says that is not worth it. Heyman gives Edge a hug, and says, “I am so sorry for what Roman Reigns will do to you tomorrow night. I’m sorry.” Heyman pats Edge on the back and says he is sorry it has to end this way for Edge. Heyman wishes he could stop this, but he can’t. There’s no counsel Heyman can offer Roman that will stop him from doing what he has to do to stop Edge. Heyman takes a deep breath and sits down, but Edge gets his mic back.

Edge pats Heyman on the back and head, and is forehead to forehead as he says, “Paul. I once crawled over to make the cover in a match while my arm was turning gray and smoking and bubbling from second degree burns, with barbed wire punctures in my stomach, and thumbtacks lodged into every part of my body, AFTER diving face first into a flaming table, just to mark my territory and to show that I belong in the main event of WrestleMania. I did all of that just to show that I deserve to be in the main event of WrestleMania. So what do you think I will do, and what depths do you think I will find, when I am in the main event of WrestleMania?”

Thanks for the warning, Edge appreciates it, but Heyman knows what Edge is capable of because he sees it in Heyman’s eyes and smells it coming off of him. Edge is not normal, Heyman, and you know that. See you tomorrow, see your Tribal Chief and Bryan, and Edge will take back what is HIS. Edge backs away to storm off the set. Heyman is stunned silent, and Kayla has no idea what to say. Will there be no words come THE main event of WrestleMania Weekend?


My Thoughts:

WOW, this was an awesome episode. Only one guest in Edge, but both he and Heyman just put on a masterclass of promos. It does help that there’s a lot of history here but the passion was great, too. Heyman was great with how impatient he was, and how he kept trying to redirect to the Triple Threat, and then both he and Edge had even great emotional looks as they went through their interaction. I just knew Heyman was going to turn things from putting Edge over to burying him as he put Roman over.

They did forget Bryan is in the mix, but something makes me think that’s the point. This was “meant” to be Roman VS Edge, they still see it as such, Bryan could still be the fall guy so there’s a winner without weakening Roman or Edge. Bryan can respond just by firing off first and tearing into both guys early in the match. But Edge bringing up that insane Hardcore match with Mick Foley, and a Triple Threat being No Disqualifications by default, I almost hope things escalate to where tables, chairs, and whatever else shows up and adds to this match, as it is the biggest match and it’d fit how big they’ve been hyping it up.


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