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Bodeen’s Top 5 Moments: WWE NXT 7/20/21

Even if the verdict is out on what Kross’ venture to Raw will have in store for the future; NXT still did a good job keeping the bus moving forward! Check out Bodeen’s Top 5 Moments from the Black and Gold brand!

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With last week’s episode of NXT ending with NXT Champion, Karrion Kross choking out enforcer, Samoa Joe after Kross’s match with Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship, it was finally time to see the aftermath and result of Kross’s actions this week on NXT. We would also see former Undisputed ERA members Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish battle in tag team action and more on another great episode of the black and yellow brand.

So, without further ado, I am Bodeen Green and I am here once again to look at the good and do my best to ignore the bad and the ugly as I bring you my top 5 moments from this week’s edition of NXT.

5. NXT General Manager William Regal tries to calm down a furious Samoa Joe to open the show 

After NXT Champion, Karrion Kross choked out special guest referee Samoa Joe next week, revenge would be on the mind of the Samoan Submission Machine as he opened the show to call out Karrion Kross. Unfortunately for Joe, William Regal would come out and tell Joe to calm down and told him that he wanted things to be settled peacefully as Samoa Joe was actually a referee last week and not an enforcer, thus meaning his rule about being allowed to attack someone after he has been provoked didn’t mean anything.

A furious Samoa Joe told William Regal that Regal could not control Kross, referencing Kross’ appearance on Monday Night Raw the night before. Joe told things that we would end things tonight out of respect for the NXT General Manager but Joe could not promise that things would end peacefully between the two men.

This was an amazing segment as Samoa Joe proved once again why he is one of the best of the mic. The fact WWE released Samoa Joe feels so weird considering how good Joe is at everything he does. While he may have more matches behind him than in front of him, Joe still is amazing on the commentary table and has also proven he is great on the mic as an authority figure.

4. Former Undisputed ERA members collide as Bobby Fish teams up with Kushida to take on Diamond Mine  

Former Undisputed ERA members, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong would get a chance to face off against each other as Fish teamed with the NXT Cruiserweight Champion, Kushida to take on  Roderick Strong and Tyler Rust of The Diamond Mine with all 4 men putting on a strong match (pun intended). Before the match could start Fish and Kushida attacked The Diamond Mine, getting into the head of Strong and Rust which proved to be effective as Kushida and Fish were able to control Strong and Rust until Strong hit a backbreaker on Kushida to turn the tides.

After a great showing of technical wrestling between all 4 men involved Kushida and Fish would be victorious after Kushida managed to lock the hoverboard lock in on Tyler Rust with Roderick Strong being nowhere to be found after Strong and Fish brawled outside the ring, forcing Rust to tap out.

This was a great example of hitting 2 birds with one stone, not only were NXT able to advance the storyline between Strong and Fish, but they were also able to push Rust and make him a potential future threat for Kushida somewhere down the line.

3. A huge upset win is ruined as LA Knight forces Cameron Grimes to attack Drake Maverick  

Last week on NXT, Cameron Grimes would be forced to become LA Knight’s personal butler. Despite being in a weak position, Grimes managed to make LA Knight regret his decision to make Grimes his personal butler has Grimes smiled and laughed every insult off as he managed to humiliate The Million Dollar Champion by sending him into his own pool. Unfortunately, for Grimes, LA Knight would have payback on his mind this week. Early in the night, LA Knight forced Grimes to carry multiple bags for him. Drake Maverick tried to help Grimes but LA Knight told off Drake prompting a match between the two men later in the night.

During his entrance Knight told Cameron Grimes to stop interacting with the crowd, giving more orders to his butler as he told Grimes to hold the Million Dollar Championship up to the crowd at the start of the match. Maverick used this opportunity to attack Knight but Knight managed to turn it around. Knight tried telling Grimes to hold the belt again, allowing Maverick to get back into the match yet again and hit a crossbody on LA Knight for a close nearfall. Late in the match, Knight told Grimes to hold the Million Dollar Championship up yet again, but the third time would prove to be the charm for Drake Maverick as he managed to hit dropkick Knight headfirst into the belt, following it up with a roll-up for a shock upset victory. Grimes warned Maverick to leave the ring after the match but Knight managed to intercept Maverick before he could leave the ring as Knight beat down Maverick, telling Grimes this was his fault as Grimes began to feel guilty for putting Maverick into this position.

A beat down wasn’t enough for The Millian Dollar Champion, as he then instructed Grimes to punch Maverick with Grimes having no choice to punch Maverick as Grimes felt more guilty. This was an amazing segment and continued to help Grimes look like such a sympathetic babyface that fans can get behind. This, without a doubt, is one of my favourite storylines in wrestling right now as LA Knight and Cameron Grimes have great charisma and chemistry together and it has been entertaining to see both men try to get into the head of the other man.

2. Kyle O’Reilly finds his killer instinct against Austin Theory as the way starts to drift apart  

During the night Johnny Gargano and Austin Theory were interviewed about Gargano’s loss to the NXT Champion, Karrion Kross last week on NXT. After telling interviewer, McKenzie Mitchell that the loss was tough but Gargano was ok, Kyle O’Reilly walked in and addressed Austin Theory’s comments on Twitter about Kyle O’Reilly as he challenged Theory to a match which Theory accepted. Gargano told Theory that he would be on his own tonight as Papa John left Theory to take on Kyle O’Reilly alone.

Both men would go back and forth in an amazing match. While Theory may not have the best win record, just like Johnny Gargano he manages to look strong in defeat and somehow looks better after every single match. During the match, Wade Barrett talked about his interview with Kyle O’Reilly last week and how Kyle O’Reilly wanted to find his killer instinct. Late in the match, Theory looked to have the match won hitting a TKO in the ring for a close nearfall, frustrating Theory. A furious Theory sent O’Reilly outside the ring. Theory tried using the steps against Kyle but decided not to, however, this would prove to be a mistake for Theory as Kyle found energy out of nowhere and unloaded multiple strikes out his opponent outside the ring as the steel steps made Kyle remember the moment Adam Cole hit a brainbuster on him on the steps. After bringing Theory back into the ring, Kyle hit the flying knee drop on Theory and followed it up with a heel lock with Kyle not letting go of the submission even after the bell was rung.

This was an amazing match between Theory and O’Reilly that made both men look strong. The story of O’Reilly finding the killer instinct he had at NXT TakeOver: Stand And Deliver were great to watch and it is fun to see Kyle go from being a cool, charismatic character to a brutal submission machine. Later in the night, things went downhill for The WAY as the group argued back and forth with Indi Hartwell accidentally mentioning Dexter Lumis’s name. As the group continued to argue. A sad Theory walked away from the group, teasing a potential split between the group as Johnny Gargano continues to look more like a babyface while Candice LeRae continues to be a heel, not allowing Indi to have interactions with Dexter Lumis.

1. Karrion Kross sends a message to Samoa Joe and takes out William Regal to close the show

After Joe called out the NXT Champion earlier in the night, Karrion Kross would get the last laugh, sending a sadistic message to Joe. After the match for the NXT Women’s Championship match between Xia Li and Raquel Gonzalez, Samoa Joe came out and called out the NXT Champion once again but Joe would regret his words as the NXT Champion appeared on the Titantron screen, Kross told Joe that NXT has now different and that Kross now runs NXT, saying that he can do whatever he wants to anyone he wants as he then moved the camera he was holding to reveal NXT General Manager, William Regal knocked out on the floor as the show finished with Karrion Kross driving away as a furious Samoa Joe ran outside to chase Kross.

This was a great series of segments between the two men as well as William Regal. It is very rare for William Regal to be involved inside storylines in NXT, apart from segments where he is announcing a match, so Kross attacking Regal in such a devastating way has some great storyline potential, especially when with William Regal who will be conflicted with the choice of staying professional or sending Joe out to attack Karrion Kross for revenge. Kross also looked good in this segment as he managed to find a little bit of redemption after his terrible debut on Monday Night RAW against Jeff Hardy.

In a Youtube segment, tensions would also continue with Samoa Joe and Pete Dunne, after both men stared at each other after Samoa Joe checked on William Regal in the medical room. While this could be teasing a match somewhere down the line between the two men I would not be surprised with Dunne sides with Joe to taking on Kross due to Kross’ actions against William Regal.

These were my top 5 moments from this week’s edition of the black and yellow brand. What were your top 5 moments from NXT this week and how excited are you to see a match between Samoa Joe and Karrion Kross for the NXT Championship? Let us know in the comment section down below.


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News From Cook’s Corner 9.20.21: The Column From Hell

Plane rides aren’t the only thing on the docket! Cook’s News corner is definitely unique this week!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and it’s been a rather eventful week in the world of wrestling. Big E became WWE Champion on Monday night. The new NXT debuted Tuesday night & had a pretty eventful outing that got their best rating in quite some time. About 85 million things happened on Dynamite, as is typically the case. There are no shortage of current wrestling events to talk about here.

So of course we’re talking about the Plane Ride From Hell instead of all that stuff.

This might be a first. I don’t think previous Dark Side of the Ring episodes led to people getting punished at their workplace. We’ve had some people come off poorly on that show, but nothing led to anybody getting any sort of punishment other than being yelled at on the Internet. Which, as somebody that’s been yelled at on the Internet pretty often, I can say isn’t the biggest deal. Annoying, sure, but you move on.

One had a feeling that a re-visit of the Plane Ride From Hell could lead to issues for some people. You know how it is…we tend to forget things. Those of us around back then heard most of the steamy details. Since it was the early to mid-2000s, most of us didn’t think too much about it. We laughed at Michael Hayes getting his ponytail cut off. Curt Hennig & Brock Lesnar getting into a fight seemed amusing. Nobody was surprised to read about Scott Hall falling off the wagon. We laughed at Dustin Rhodes singing to his ex-wife…and yep, we laughed at Ric Flair doing his signature robe spot. As detailed in the documentary, Ric had done the “naked under the robe” thing on numerous occasions. It was part of what made Ric Flair Ric Flair. Wrestlers & wrestling writers told us this, so we believed them.

Now, this is the part where I have to plead ignorance, which annoys those wishing to excuse Ric’s behavior by telling us that everybody already knew this stuff, and we’re just getting hot & bothered now because it’s 2021. I didn’t really follow up on the story when the lawsuit went down, didn’t look at the legal documents or anything like that. I was just a 411 wrestling writer with a weekly “news report” where I took the piss out of everything. So, I had no idea that Ric Flair did anything on that flight other than the robe stuff, which is pretty gross in its own right because who needs to see that?

As for the the point that peoples’ reactions to this type of stuff have changed in the nearly two decades since this all happened…well, duh? Some people do evolve. When the Plane Ride From Hell happened on May 5, 2002, I was a senior in high school. I was no different from most high school boys, a sex-crazed idiot that didn’t know anything about anything when it came to sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. As most of my 411 columns from the 2000s will show, that phase lasted awhile. As I got older & learned things I should have learned a long time ago but didn’t for a myriad of reasons, my viewpoints have changed. Some people don’t understand how it’s possible to change your mind on something over the course of twenty years, as we see in politics. They keep their head in the sand & believe the same things they believed before they had any type of life experience, which must be nice.

Just because I say Ric Flair is the greatest wrestler of all time doesn’t mean he was the greatest person to ever lace the boots. Two different things.

For those of you that didn’t see the broadcast, I recommend you do so since I won’t be able to paint the full picture here. We’ll run down some of the major points here.

-Tommy Dreamer has been suspended from his position with Impact Wrestling, where he serves on the creative team & wrestles fairly often on television. Dude got a title match on his 50th birthday not that long ago, which was made a big deal of because everybody in the business loves Tommy Dreamer. At least they did until he went on this program and made an ass of himself. Dreamer somehow managed to make himself come off worse than the actual subjects of the show, which is fairly impressive.

I’ve seen some people upset over Dreamer being punished because it’s not like he was one of the people forcing themselves on the flight attendants or anything like that. Thing is, when you’re in a position of authority, as Dreamer is with his role on creative and as a veteran leader of the locker room wherever he goes, people have higher expectations for you. When you go on national television blaming sexual assault victims for what happened & bemoan the fact your ugly hairstyle probably offends people since everybody gets offended these days, your reputation is going to take a hit. Some people in Tommy Dreamer’s locker rooms aren’t going to look at him the same way now. That lessens his value as a “locker room leader” greatly.

Dreamer did the social media apology thing that everybody does now. I figure he’ll be back in Impact eventually & will say the right things to rehab his image with most of his wrestling peers. It’ll take some time though. It’s interesting that Dreamer will probably get the biggest punishment out of anybody involved here…but at the same time, at least the people that actually did the acts can claim that they’re different people now. Scott Hall & Dustin Runnels have talked openly about their past and the fact they’ve changed for the better without substances controlling them. As far as we know, they have. They also got punished at the time, Hall being fired & Runnels getting fined.

Dreamer doesn’t have that as an excuse. He’s just an idiot who wishes he could go back to the ECW Holiday Inn.

-Ric Flair’s future could be a little murky. CarShield has “paused” their national commercials featuring him for the time being. More importantly, one has to wonder how this affects his future plans within pro wrestling. Everybody figured he would end up in AEW pretty soon, as he’s friends with Tony Khan, his son in law needs a manager, and a good percentage of his old friends already work there.

The question will be if Tony thinks it’s worth the potential backlash that could happen if Flair makes an appearance. It was already kind of debatable if a Ric Flair in his early 70s would add a ton to AEW’s presentation. Add in the current heat on his name, and AEW’s probably best served to wait until this thing dies down. One has to think that WWE isn’t too sad to have Ric off the payroll at the moment.

Also of note: Flair recently said on Renee Paquette’s podcast that if this program tries to paint him in a bad light, he’s going to take everybody down with him. So be on the lookout for that. Could be an interesting week.

-Brock Lesnar showed Terri Runnels his penis. Jim Ross apparently heard of multiple incidents involving Brock Lesnar’s penis appearing at inappropriate times. This one’s flying under the radar mostly because…well, do you want to get Brock mad at you? I wouldn’t mention it myself if I had a larger audience.

-Scott Hall has no recollection of any of this. Not surprising.

-One possible issue for Dark Side: Was Vince McMahon on this flight? Multiple people on the show say he was, but reporting from the time period suggests that Vince did not make the Europe trip. Vince not being there would explain why certain members of the talent roster felt more emboldened to do dumb things. Or at least dumber than usual, since Vince was on a number of other flights where things got hairy. One untruth on a documentary is enough for many to cast aspersions on everything else on the program. The producer stated on Jim Cornette’s podcast that everybody they talked to said Vince was on the plane.

-Another possible issue for Dark Side: Getting people to go on their show in the future! Jeez, if I was a wrestler and saw how poorly most of these people on this show came off, the last thing I’d want to do is go on it myself.

Definitely one of the most interesting Dark Sides yet, with the most fallout from a given episode. Next week’s will feature the story of Chris Kanyon, and there’s a good chance that some people will look bad there too. I think most of them are retired, but there may be somebody I’m forgetting!

NXT Contract Update

Contract updates have become a weekly feature of Internet reporting, as it seems like our favorite Internet reporters have a better idea of when these things come up than WWE does. Wild, isn’t it? All I can say about it is that Fightful must have quite the mole in that front office.

Pete Dunne re-signed with WWE for three years. It’s fair to wonder what Dunne’s ceiling is in WWE. He’s a talented wrestler, but is much smaller than the athletes WWE tends to feature, and doesn’t seem to have the charisma to make up for it. It’s still the right move for Dunne, as when you’re a foreign talent wrestling in America, it makes sense to stick with your current company as long as possible. Otherwise, you’ll get sent home. If Dunne wants to stay in America, staying with WWE is the easiest way to do that.

Johnny Gargano’s contract is set to expire in early December. I could see keeping him around as a veteran to work with the young guys that WWE sees potential in, but don’t be surprised if Dexter Lumis carrying an axe around with him leads to something. Not that WWE does murder.

Yang Time?

Remember Andrew Yang? Yeah, the guy that ran for President in 2020, then later promised to go after WWE for their third party policy that kept their “independent contractors” from using certain sites for profit. He went off to do other things for a minute, including a run for Mayor of New York City that went nowhere. Now he’s talking about wrestling again, which is good because there were a ton of people that got fired during this pandemic that might have used some help. Fortunately, Andrew Yang is with us now!

Yang says that early returns are positive. He also used the phrase “bolieve”, so we can only hope that Bo Dallas becomes the star witness in whatever happens here. I don’t think we’ll get much, especially since it involves a politician.

Welp, that’s all we have time for tonight. We’ve got a big week coming up though, with the Week 3 NFL Picks (actually done on time this week!) and some Extreme Rules Gambling Picks! Yep, that show’s next Sunday! Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep your stick on the ice.


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Opinion

Rob: End the Brand Split?

Rob was inspired by some of the current IWC clamoring for an end to the brand split. How does he feel about that rhetoric?

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Some weird stuff happened on Twitter after SmackDown went off the air this past Friday.  A match was announced for Monday Night RAW this week featuring the Bloodline vs The New Day, and with it came two bizarre groups of tweets.  One was accusing WWE of hotshotting a pay per view worthy match out ratings fears (which is so dumb that I’m not going to even bother discussing it) and the other was a bunch of calls to end the brand split, which I find to be equally dumb but more of a worthy discussion topic.

Now before I go any further let me just say this:  the brand split is not ending.

As long as WWE is getting a billion dollars from both Fox and NBC they are going to book two shows with two separate rosters.  The only way the brand split ends is if one of the two shows gets cancelled and can’t find a new home.  But as long as they are getting paid big money for each show then there are going to be two shows.  And those shows are going to have separate rosters, separate creative, etc.  But just for the sake of playing along, what exactly would it look like if they ended the brand split?  Here are some possibilities:

Double Duty

I looked at four weeks of Raw and SmackDown from  January of 2016, before the brand split happened, and what I found was that on average nine people would work both shows in one week.  But in addition to that, on average two people worked four shows over a two week period, eight would work three out of four shows over two weeks, and twelve would work two shows over a two week period. And finally one person worked seven out eight possible shows over the four weeks while four more did six out of seven over that time.  And that’s not counting people who were at ringside for a tag team partner or stablemate.  There’s no reason to think that would be different this time around which means that your top men and women would be working two shows lots of weeks while the rest of the roster filled in the gaps.  And since the roster usage would revert to how it was that would mean………

More releases

Please understand that were the brand split to end there would be no need for the roster to remain at it’s current size.  The usage rate of talent that existed before just does not require as many people to make it work.  And remember a no brand split world is one where they are getting less TV money, which means less to pay people, which means some people will have to go.  And don’t make the mistake of thinking that the only people who will get released are the ones you think aren’t good enough to keep.  There will be another Braun Strowman or Aleister Black in that group.  And unlike today’s landscape there will likely be fewer places for them to work because a world in which the WWE has to downsize for financial reasons is one where some of the existing companies have already gone under or have already downsized.

More wear and tear

Going back to my first point; a no brand split world is one where people are working more dates.  The top third of the roster would be working anywhere from four to seven times a month on TV; by contrast this year only Matt Riddle is working at that kind of pace.  A full brand split schedule is around 150 to 160 matches a years counting TV, pay per views and house shows.  By contrast pre-brand split Roman Reigns had 204 matches in 2013 and 213 matches in 2015.  Those 50 extra matches along with the travel that accompanies them make for a shorter career for everyone who has to do them.  They also lead to more injuries – remember WrestleMania 32 where John Cena, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, and Cesaro were all out with injuries and the entire main event angle had to be rebooked?  Anybody want a redo of that?  I didn’t think so.

A harder glass ceiling

If you think it’s hard to move up now, then a no brand split world would be worse.  The last full year with no brand split, 2015, saw the pay per view main event slots split among nine people and the World title matches split among ten people.  By contrast in 2021 to date the main events have been split between 13 men and the World/Universal Title matches have been split between 16 men, with a 17th on the way in Finn Balor. In the post unification, pre brand split world 13 guys by my count were in World title matches across just over two years.

And then there’s the women’s side.  In 2015 the Diva’s title matches were split between four women.  In 2021 the Raw and SmackDown’s women’s title matches were split amongst nine soon to be ten with Alexa Bliss challenging at Extreme Rules.  Ending the brand split likely would mean unifying the top men’s and women’s singles titles, which would in turn would mean less room in the title picture afterwards and ultimately fewer roster spots.  Why?  Because you wouldn’t need as many.  Look at the current match distribution across Raw and SmackDown; that’s not likely to change with no brand split so that begs the question of whether you need 10 plus women for each show (short answer: you don’t).  Which means more releases, and again you can’t assume that it will just be people you’re not interested in seeing.

The same logic goes for tag teams, by the way.  One title means fewer title matches which means fewer teams needed which means more releases.

What’s it all mean?

To be honest when I hear ‘End the Brand Split’, I can’t think of anything that would solve.  Do you want bigger matchups more often?  A look back at the past would shoot that down real fast.  You would still get the same kind of stalling moves in the booking so as not to burn big matches out too fast.  Fewer rematches?  Not going to happen with the smaller roster that would result.  More opportunities?  Again, with a smaller roster how exactly would that happen?  A smaller roster is more likely to mean a double down on the people in the top tier not a more open door to reach it.  If the problem you have is that you only want to watch the bigger guns go at it and not be bothered with what you consider to be filler matches then I suggest you watch Main Event to get a quick recap or watch the Hulu versions of the shows on fast forward or just watch the pay per views.  But wishing to end the brand split is some short sighted thinking because for all intents and purposes you’re asking for some bad times to come through to necessitate it.  There is no scenario in which business is going well AND they end brand split just because.  So think about what you really want and then try to adjust your viewing habits accordingly.

I’ll end with this.  The brand split exists because the WWE is being paid to provide enough live TV content to warrant it.  Until that is no longer the case then it’s going to stay, and a world where that’s no longer case is one that is not as good for anyone actually working there.  So be careful what you wish for.  And that’s all I got on that.  Until next time….


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