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Mitchell’s WWE Talking Smack Report! (7/17/21)

Talking Smack gets a makeover!

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WWE Talking Smack

The newEST episode of Talking Smack brings in some changes!

SmackDown is back on the road, and Talking Smack is along for the ride! Bianca Belair, Finn Balor, the Usos, and some new hosts, all at once!

 

Talking Smack looks back at the night!

What an exciting SmackDown, especially because the fans were finally back in the arena! And so was Vince McMahon! The Chairman came, jokingly asked, “Where the hell have you been?” and then promptly bowed and exited.

 

Kevin Patrick welcomes us back to the show!

Kevin introduces himself and his new cohost, The Bump’s Matt Camp, as they are in charge of Talking Smack now as it broadcasts from the WWE Control Center! Kevin saw Matt earlier, in attendance, and he saw some tears. Well, yeah, given the moment. But then Roman Reigns’ music hit, the Head of the Table, the Universal Champion, opened the show, and SmackDown got down to business. That’s right, Roman had his family, the Usos, and Jey would pin Rey Mysterio in their Six Man Tag involving the Bloodline, the Mysterios, and Edge! More on that in a bit, but they’ve got the Usos on this week’s episode as Kayla Braxton will be on location.

Then, the return of Finn Balor sent shockwaves through the WWE! Matt says it also sent a bit of shock into Sami Zayn. That look on Sami’s face was just like Matt’s. This return was great because Finn shuts Sami up! The WWE Universe, if you’re a Balor fan, and who isn’t? You’re definitely happy to see him back on SmackDown with that 10 pack. Plus, Bianca Belair retained her SmackDown Women’s Championship against Carmella, and she’ll also be a guest. Bianca won an Espy last weekend, she was supposed to face Bayley for the title but Bayley got hurt. Best wishes to her, but what happens? Bianca pivots against Mella and takes care of business in an impressive match. A lot of adversity in adjusting, we’ll hear from Bianca… Right now!

Kayla and Bianca are backstage at the Toyota Center!

Houston, Texas, finally back in front of fans, and the EST is still champion! Girl, what was it like being back out there with fans? It hasn’t been like that since WrestleMania 37, and Kayla could feel the energy from the fans reacting to her. Bianca says it was amazing being back out there, hearing the chants, and knowing the fans have been with her, even when they could only see her through their screens. It was like homecoming and the biggest party ever. She really wanted to celebrate with the fans, because they deserve to be a part of this. They’re the reason she does what she does, and they were with her in this party. Especially since she successfully defended the title against Carmella.

Speaking of Carmella, after the match, she went right on Twitter, which some people do when they’re angry, and she started making excuses. She said she only had a week to prepare, she thinks Bianca cheated, on and on. Mella claims this isn’t over, but what is Bianca’s response? Well, Mella really did only have six days to prepare. People go on Twitter and act like they’re not bothered when they are. Which is also fine. Mella got in the ring, and all Bianca can say is that she’s a fighting champion. If Mella wants a rematch, then why not next week? Bianca’s all good.

So she’s granting a rematch already, on next Friday Night SmackDown? Bianca is merely saying “Be careful what you ask for,” because Bianca is gonna bringing it to Carmella next week. Well breaking news on Talking Smack! Belair VS Mella 2 is happening! Good luck next week, Bianca, and back to the studio.

Kevin and Matt love this! Great stuff from Kayla and Bianca, and we’re getting it one more time! Bianca VS Mella, SmackDown Women’s Championship, they run it back on a very special SmackDown next week! Sometimes going to Twitter to complain works out! But Mella is still going to have a tall task since she lost once already. The biggest thing from that was that the biggest cheer of the night was the fans reacting to Bianca. That speaks volumes to what Bianca’s done this past year. Matt says we’ve just gotten “part of the ride,” seeing how it was at WrestleMania 37. Now with fans back all the time, Bianca will be one of the superstars getting the biggEST boost from those reactions.

Speaking of pops, Balor’s return on SmackDown was big! And we’ll hear from him after the break!

 

Talking Smack is back, with the Prince!

Matt says WWE is all about the moments, and Finn Balor’s return to SmackDown was a moment! Sami wasn’t happy about it but he made the mistake of trying to attack Balor. Balor’s actions did the talking as he got Sami back. What an impact, and Kayla is with Balor backstage.

Kayla welcomes Finn back and asks him what it is like to be back in front of the fans. “It’s good to be back. It’s SmackDown, the fans are back, and Finn is back. And I tell ya, that was a hell of a pop. The energy is still moving through my body. But yeah, glad to be back.” Kayla says Finn is always a man with a plan, so what can he tell us about his return to SmackDown? There’s always a plan. Balor went to NXT, became NXT Champion. He was on Raw, he became the FIRST Universal Champion and a two-time Intercontinental Champion. He went back to NXT, became NXT Champion again, so the reason he’s on SmackDown is to win championships.

Kayla says the cool thing about that is that the fans have been with him the entire time. Does he have something he wants to say to them? Maybe share his appreciation? Well he’s eternally grateful for fans sticking with him through the pandemic. But his message is, “Buckle your seatbelts. We’re going for a ride.” Back to the studio.

Kevin is pumped to see Balor back. Balor just listed his accomplishments, but there’s clearly a lot of hunger left. Matt says that someone with that kind of motivation will continue to fight for more. Balor has a plan, a plan to win titles. If Matt is anyone with a title right now on SmackDown, be worried about Balor. Look at what Balor’s already done. Just ask everyone in NXT. That man held the NXT title for more total days than anyone! And yes, he was the original Universal Champion and a two-time IC Champion, but there’s one thing Matt noticed. The plan is there, but Balor kept it vague. That’s smart, because he is just teasing that. How far can Balor go?

Balor can win the Universal Championship again, honestly! Or even get the IC title a third time! Maybe Balor finds a friend and gets the tag team titles for the first time. But that plan can take on many forms. Balor has faced adversity, injuries, but he is physically at his peak! Pat McAfee says it is a TEN pack! Kevin can barely get two! But the way Balor returned, Matt had it right, Balor means business. Matt says the fans are behind Balor, that is always a big boost. The fans will make a difference. The fans were so excited when Balor came out, but maybe Sami will try to stop Balor. Sami is surely not happy with how Balor interrupted his latest rally against “the conspiracy.”

Kevin says we’ve heard from three very popular people, and that includes Kayla herself. Bianca, Balor, but maybe not the Usos? Jimmy & Jey are standing by, after the break.

 

Talking Smack returns and talk about the Usos.

Money in the Bank’s Kickoff show has gold, too! Rey & Dominik Mysterio will defend their SmackDown Tag Team Championships against Jimmy & Jey, and Matt says that is a tough spot for both teams. Here’s why: If you’re the Usos, you want to be SEVEN-TIME tag team champions; if you’re Rey & Dom, this is more about retribution than victory. But Matt does wonder, is this a must-win for the Usos? How so? Well Roman Reigns says he’ll be leaving MITB with the Universal Championship, and he expects the Bloodline to have all the championships. The Usos MUST be champions at the end of tonight. Because if not, they’ve let Roman down!

The Usos do not want to let Roman down, and that is the most important thing. Kevin agrees 100%. If we’ve seen anything lately, you don’t cross Roman, and after Roman putting it upon himself to “go to town” on both Rey & Dom, there is major pressure on the Usos. If Matt is Rey & Dom, they feel pretty good because they’re coming in as champs, that alone makes you feel good. But then there’s also the controversial loss on SmackDown, so you want that one back. Rey got pinned before the title match, so there’s a lot of emotions. But is this more thinking with heads or hearts? Will the Mysterios be blinded by what happened?

Kevin says Rey is an absolute legend, and Dom is a son of a legend coming up and getting his first taste of fans. Is that a flaw or weakness? Matt says we’ve seen this a lot, where there are certain stars who get that boost. In Fort Worth, the Usos probably don’t get a lot of fans. But Rey & Dom absolutely will! That is great motivation, but the motivation to keep The Head of the Table happy is just as strong. Kevin throws things over to Kayla.

Kayla sits with Jimmy & Jey in the “Uso Lounge,” and as both Kevin and Matt said, it was a big night tonight, and a bigger night this Sunday. Roman has said the Usos have to win to be in his good graces. Do they feel that pressure? Jimmy says they won tonight. So at MITB, Usos VS Mysterios, the first-ever father-and-son tag team champions. But the Usos know what they’re doing. This Sunday, they’re stepping with the best luchador to ever do this! Jey says the difference is that Rey & Dom are stepping in the ring with the best tag team to ever do this! The Right Hand Man and #NobodysBitch!

On Sunday, the Usos make the family proud! On Sunday, the Usos make the Bloodline dripping with gold! On Sunday, SEVEN-time champs! It’s coming soon. Kayla thanks them for their time and wishes them luck this Sunday, before throwing things back to the studio.

Kevin says that was rather interesting, but Matt says the Usos are locked in. Is it both or just Jey? Jimmy seemed to be talking up Rey, but Matt says the Usos have taken some lessons from Roman Reigns. Maybe they’re playing mind games. Matt doesn’t think that’s ever been a part of the Usos’ game, they get things done in the ring. But the mind games might be coming into play. Matt isn’t going to try and get in the Usos’ minds, they know what they’re doing, but it just didn’t seem like the Usos were worried. They were ready to win. Jey has certainly had enough of being the middleman, he took charge and talked up the family and their plans. That is the MITB Kickoff show, Usos VS Mysterios, cannot wait!

Matt does point out that while the Usos could walk out of MITB with titles, what about Roman? Yes, we all saw what happened to end the Six Man match: a win for Roman and the Usos. But then after, the lasting image is Edge putting Roman in “The Deal.” Edge wants the title he’s never held, and he said as much on The Bump this past Wednesday, this is the one title that wasn’t around when Edge was in the ring 10 years ago. Now, the Universal Championship is within Edge’s grasp. Edge held the belt but will he win it Sunday? That’s what makes this the marquee match-up. Edge is the only one who got Roman’s eyes to bug out. And  yes, that was a great interview on The Bump.

Again, this Sunday, MITB, Forth Worth, Texas, and back with fans! Kevin and Matt will leave us with a highlight reel of the sights and sounds from Houston! It was a historic night in more ways than one, and it’s surely the first of many now that the WWE is back on the road!


My Thoughts:

A very good episode for this new era of Talking Smack, but I’m confused by how they weren’t correcting themselves with “last night” versus “tonight.” I mean obviously Talking Smack was always being recorded right after SmackDown on Friday and then just put up on Saturday as if it were live on Saturday. But did I miss this being uploaded late last night on Friday? Or did they upload it today, not realizing the changes were made to how it was done? I feel like they could’ve tried doing this episode on location, honestly, getting some fans to react, but maybe they didn’t want fans hijacking things on such a fired up night.

That said, Matt Camp and Kevin Patrick were good hosts here with Kayla on location for the interviews. This was a short episode, too, at just under 20 minutes. All the guests had great segments, and I am surprised that Bianca VS Carmella II is happening so soon. But as I said for the SmackDown article, it just exposes how bare the RawDown Women’s Division has ended up after the releases. And as I also said for that article, I hope this doesn’t make one crowd upset that they aren’t getting the title match, since SmackDown will be both in Cleveland and in Miami on the same night.

Balor of course wants titles, who doesn’t want titles? But while it is given to us as “oh he’s being vague so that he could be going after anyone,” it’s really more because they have no idea where he’d fit in just yet. MITB will shake a lot of things out, Balor probably goes to where the gaps are. Balor VS Apollo Crews for the Intercontinental Championship would be a pretty good program, with “The Prince” taking on “The Prince of Nigeria” for a title that Finn already held twice and last held at Extreme Rules 2019, losing to Nakamura which then ushered in the redesign.

But at the same time, if Edge doesn’t win the Universal Championship, Balor VS Roman would be great stuff for SummerSlam. Balor was the first Universal Champion and won it at a SummerSlam, winning it back at a SummerSlam would be a great full circle situation on Balor’s RawDown career. Then the Usos had a good segment to close, and I suppose yes, Jimmy was more willing to respect what Rey has done while Jey was the one ready to slam them down. I am pretty confident the Usos lose between the math from SmackDown and how there needs to be some kind of consequence for Jimmy’s DUI, I just hope there isn’t this new dysfunction brought up. The Bloodline just got united, let it be that the Usos succeed and fail together, not against each other.


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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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News From Cook’s Corner 9.13.21: We’re Outta Time!

Cook’s News is filled with some odd, awkward and unexpected criticisms. Let’s see what we got on tap this week!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and it’s been a pretty wild weekend. There’s a pretty good chance that this will be the only weekend where both of my football teams won games. Expectations aren’t too high for the University of Louisville or the Cincinnati Bengals. U of L won handily, but didn’t do much to inspire confidence when they play real teams, like this Friday when they get UCF.

Those Bengals though…well, their division’s still pretty stacked. But Ja’Marr Chase can catch passes! That can only be a good thing. Let’s get to the wrestling news now so I still have something to write about for Thursday.

We’re Outta Time!

Time has always been one of the biggest enemies of pro wrestling and its fans. How many times did Mid-South Wrestling run out of time in the middle of a main event or a major happening? Of course, Bill Watts’ shows were designed with that flaw in mind. If you run out of time at the right time, fans want to see more. They might even pay to see what you deprived them of.

Of course, here in the twenty-first century when wrestling shows run short on time, it’s almost never by design. Unlike back in the old days when regional promotions taped or filmed their programming before sending it to their TV stations for airing at their convenience, these national promotions are airing their shows live on major TV networks or cable outlets. Unlike back in the not quite as old days when WCW & the WWF were allowed to run super late with their live shows, the networks have hard outs. Fox isn’t going to let WWE run into its local news timeslots. TNT wants their movies to start at 10:00 sharp.

This means that formatting shows and making sure everything has its proper amount of time is super important. If people early on the show go long, that extra time they took has to go out of something else. We saw that happen twice on prime time television this week, and the companies involved took different approaches to solving the problem. Both managed to anger the fans. We’re easily angered though, so let’s take a closer look and see just what happened here.

Wednesday night’s AEW Dynamite card was set to be highlighted by a clash between local Cincinnati maniac Jon Moxley & his rival from New Japan, Minoru Suzuki. I admit to being skeptical of the booking because of previous experiences I’ve had with Southwest Ohio wrestling crowds. Let’s just say they didn’t exactly have their finger on the pulse of Japanese wrestling. I wasn’t convinced they would recognize Suzuki, and I knew that online wrestling fans were going to clown Cincinnati because they didn’t sing along with Suzuki’s music like Chicago did.

As it turned out, neither of these things were problems. Cincinnati recognized Suzuki, even mustering up a “Holy Shit” chant for The King. They didn’t sing along, but they didn’t get the chance to, as the music cut off before Suzuki could enter the ring to “KAZE NI NARE”. The Internet complained about that until the match ended seven minutes later, then they complained about the match being too short.

Honestly, the match length didn’t bother me. Suzuki got busted open, they threw some heavy lumber, you got pretty much everything you could expect out of a match with those two. Mox’s finisher hasn’t been looking great lately, and he messed Suzuki up on the first one, but you take the good with the bad. You could have trimmed a couple of minutes off of Moxley’s celebration, though it’s understandable that AEW would want to show Jon Moxley celebrating with his hometown fans. Feel-good moments are a good thing, right? I mean, I like feeling good. It happens so rarely!

But yeah, cutting off Suzuki’s entrance was pretty egregious, and was pretty fixable. You can’t tell me you can’t cut thirty seconds from that show somewhere. The celebration seems the obvious part, but there were some other choices. Dustin Rhodes & Malaki Black had a good match, but Malaki could have killed Dustin sooner. MJF probably went long with his promo, but it was good stuff. Some were saying they could have cut Dan Lambert, but the guy made the trip to Cincy so that wouldn’t have been nice. Maybe could have lived without the Dark Order match…but wasn’t it nice to see FTR on Dynamite?

See, all this is trickier than we think. When you have a big roster with a lot of mouths to feed, it’s tough to tell them to eat less. Just ask WWE. They ran into a similar problem on the SmackDown broadcast this Friday. Some early things went long, so WWE had to make some cuts to later things on the show. They opted to cut a tag team match pitting Zelina Vega & Carmella against Liv Morgan & Toni Storm, instead of taking time away from anything else on the show.

Ordinarily, I don’t think most people would see this as a big deal. Zelina, Carmella, Liv & Toni don’t really seem to be a WWE priority at the moment, and it’s one of those things you can put off until next week. However, as Eric Bischoff likes to say: context is king, When you realize that WWE spent most of that Friday hyping their 9/11 documentary and patting themselves on the back for how they were the first major live entertainment event after the attacks, you’d think they’d be happy to put somebody who lost their father in the attacks on their television show. Apparently not!

The whole Zelina/WWE thing has been weird for awhile anyway. First she leaves because she got hot over WWE’s policy towards third-party platforms. Then she comes back. Then, before she even appears on television again, her husband gets fired. Now she’s cut from a show that was undeniably important to her & her family given it was the day before the 9/11 anniversary in her hometown.

I know there are plenty of excuses to be made here, and it’s just the nature of live television. But man…it’s such a bad look. Somebody should have thought for a minute and came up with “huh, maybe we want Zelina on our television given that we’re celebrating the 9/11 anniversary and tooting our own horn over how we treated it”. I mean, did Roman Reigns really need eight minutes for his entrance? Couldn’t we have carved a little out of Usos/Street Profits?

These are tough choices, I don’t deny that at all. I just happen to think that WWE made the worst possible choice there, and one that could have been avoided. That’s all.

Not everybody in AEW is happy

One thing people have noticed about all these new arrivals in AEW is how happy everybody seems to be. I don’t think I’ve ever seen CM Punk this pleased with life. Ruby Soho has never been so smiley. Adam Cole is pretty glad when Tony Schiavone isn’t around trying to steal his girl. Even before these new folks showed up, people have noted that you don’t hear about a lot of discontent on AEW’s roster. Certainly not compared to the top wrestling promotion in the world, where nobody seems happy unless they’re looking at their bank accounts.

However, it would be foolish to assume that all the workers at any company feel exactly the same. No matter how rosy things look on the surface, there’s always going to be somebody that you could classify as disgruntled. You gotta have a big ego to succeed in wrestling, and if you’re working for a major company and not doing enough, you’re going to wonder why you’re not doing more.

Or maybe your spouse will wonder why you’re not doing more. That’s the situation Brian Cage finds himself in. Cage is one of those guys with a million dollar body that stands out in an airport. He’s appeared in AAA, Lucha Underground, Impact Wrestling & other shows before, and got some major matches early in his stint with the company. Lately, Cage has been used to put Ricky Stars & Powerhouse Hobbs over after getting bounced from Team Taz. Cage had been the featured player of the group, but is now feuding with the younger members in order to increase their standing. It makes sense to me, but Cage’s wife, Melissa Santos, isn’t a big fan:

I’ll admit it up front: when it comes to Melissa Santos, I am a big fan. Loved her work in Lucha Underground, where she was the most effective ring announcer since Howard Finkel’s heyday. Great voice, great performance, great look, loved the whole presentation. Liked seeing her in Impact by Cage’s side, and I wouldn’t have minded her showing up in AEW at some point. Barring this story being part of an angle where Melissa comes in as Brian’s taskmaster, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Which is a shame, but what can ya do.

It’ll be interesting to see if anything comes from this. Maybe it’s Cage leaving when his contract expires, or maybe it’s Cage getting more of a push. I mean, if Melissa was making suggestions to me I’d be willing to listen. Dunno if Tony Khan is as easily persuaded as I am, I’m guessing probably not.

Samoa Joe Drops The NXT Championship

For the third time in its history, the NXT Championship has been vacated by a wrestler due to injury. Samoa Joe made the announcement Sunday night on social media, releasing a video where he stated that WWE doctors ordered him to take some time off to recover from an unstated injury. This comes just days before the long-awaited NXT relaunch, and it’ll be interesting to see which direction WWE goes with the decision. Do they go with an established veteran to carry the top spot, or will they choose somebody that exemplifies the new direction they want to go in. I have the feeling most online fans would prefer the former. I’d go for the latter, though of course it would have been better had they defeated Samoa Joe.

As for Joe himself, we wish him a speedy recovery, and a steady direction once he returns.

Death Before Dishonor Results

Since I have to write about ROH every week, it’s only right that we include the major results of their big event here. Death Before Dishonor took place on Sunday night at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. Looked like a healthy crowd from what I saw, hopefully they leave healthy too.

Alex Zayne won an Honor Rumble to earn a future world title shot: Zayne had most recently been seen on WWE’s 205 Live program as Ari Sterling. He made two ROH appearances in early 2020, including a victory over Bandido at the Honor Reigns Supreme show. So this is an interesting way to bring him back. I’m not sure I’ve seen him wrestle, since it’s not like I was watching 205 Live at any point this year.

Taylor Rust beat Jake Atlas: Apparently this match got cut short due to an injury for Atlas, which would be disappointing. Atlas got a ton of hype coming into WWE but had some ups & downs while there that led to him not meeting that potential. Hopefully he’ll get a chance someday.

Josh Woods won the Pure Championship from Jonathan Gresham: Bit of an upset here. Woods hadn’t really featured as strong on television recently even though he’d been established as a contender previously. It’s Gresham’s first loss in the division and leaves the Foundation without any championships.

Shane Taylor Promotions retained the Six-Man Tag Team Championship against LFI: Taylor missed most of the match after Kenny King took him out prior with a steel chair. He returned to aid his group at the end, delivering a chair shot to King’s skull. I have a feeling this will get some discussion for ROH, and not in a good way. People aren’t big on the chairs to the head in 2021.

Rok-C pinned Miranda Alize to win the ROH Women’s Championship: This was the right choice, Rok-C had been one of the most impressive competitors in the tournament throughout. As for what’s next, a feud with Angelina Love seems likely, as Love can claim her arm injury was the reason she lost in the tournament. Max The Impaler also recently extended their contract, so one could see that as a match as well. Neither will get five snowflakes, but both should further establish Rok-C as a likeable competitor.

Bandido retained the ROH World Championship in a 4-way: Makes sense, Bandido hasn’t really been properly established yet on top & ROH likes to have long title reigns. The longer the better.

There were a couple other matches, but those are the main results you’ll need to know to keep up during work conversations. After all, it’s not like FITE aired anything else of note this weekend. ROH currently has nothing outside of TV tapings scheduled.

Thanks for reading! Hope you have a great week, and keep your stick on the ice.


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