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Mitchell’s WWE Talking Smack Report! (7/24/21)

It’s Toni Time on Talking Smack!

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WWE Talking Smack

Talking Smack is ready to think big time!

SmackDown may’ve been from two locations but Talking Smack is all right here! Big E, Baron Corbin and Toni Storm are all in The Land!

 

Matt Camp and Peter Rosenberg welcome us back to the show.

A new cohosting combination is here, and again Peter insists being acknowledged as both former and future WWE 24/7 Champion.  That aside, time to unpack everything from Friday Night SmackDown! And to start, a mainstay of SmackDown, the Rated R Superstar, EDGE, got retribution on Seth Rollins, but was it enough? Peter says no it was not enough, because Edge surely wanted to tear into Rollins. Edge isn’t Universal Champion because of Rollins, more on that in a moment. But the man who is Universal Champion, Roman Reigns, heard John Cena challenge him to a match at SummerSlam, and Roman said NO! Is Roman scared of Cena?

Peter says, “First of all, how dare you.” Roman is Head of the Table, the reason Peter and Matt can enjoy a cool, refreshing beverage right now, show him some respect. But Roman is not scared of Cena. But Peter feels he needs to be pinched, this is a dream come true even talking about Cena and Roman. But Roman isn’t scared, he’s smart. SmackDown is Roman’s show, Cena can’t just show up after Fast & Furious 9, in between whatever other films he’s working on, and just do what he wants. This is Roman’s house and Roman showed that. Roman said no to Cena, but Matt’s been watching a long time. He thinks back to No Mercy 2017, and Roman has a point, Cena said a lot of the same things back then. Is that the right tactic?

Peter says the problem here is that this isn’t the same situation. The WWE Universe, the landscape, has all changed since Cena went to Hollywood. Roman is a different Roman! This isn’t The Shield Roman, this is the Head of the Table, who learned under the great Paul Heyman. That requires different strategy from Cena. But then someone Roman said yes to was the Prince! The original Universal Champion, Finn Balor, who just defeated Sami Zayn earlier that night, challenged Roman, and Roman accepted! What’re Peter’s thoughts? First, Balor has unfinished business with this title. He wants that back badly, and Peter respects him going right up to Roman. Roman maybe playing head games with Cena accepts Balor’s challenge.

So Balor going after Roman, what will Cena do in response? Balor only just came back, wouldn’t that upset others? Peter is sure that’s possible, but WWE always says “reach for the brass ring.” And Balor is the inaugural Universal Champion, and highly decorated on top of that, props for him showing up and making that challenge, as well as to Roman for how he handled that. Well one man who has his eyes on all things world titles is Mr. Money in the Bank, Big E! Mr. Mon-E in the Bank can just sit back and watch. And Matt sees this as a great situation for Big E because he can watch everyone else fight it out while he has that golden ticket.

Peter agrees, Big E can totally watch and wait as this melee plays out. Then he has his opportunity whenever he wants. Big E could let Balor beat Roman and then Big E gets an even better match-up. Big E earned that right winning MITB, but here and now, Kayla Braxton is with Big E to get his thoughts directly!

Kayla thanks Matt & Peter and she is so excited to be here with Mr. MITB! Yes, it is THE Big E. This was the first SmackDown with him as Mr. MITB, has he had time to process this great accomplishment? Yes, Big E says he likes some fun and shenanigans. But he is going to take a little break from that to be serious. He felt a deep, profound emotional fulfillment, especially with the fans’ energy there. He couldn’t sleep that night, he maybe got 90 minutes of rest because he just sat there in his room, reflecting. That is the essence of what they do, that is the beauty of this industry. It is the moments you get to share with others, so it has been just a moment of letting it all sink in. That moment of, “You like me? You really like me?” and giggling like a little schoolgirl.

Kayla says it was really cool to see Big E post that photo with his New Day brothers after winning. What was that moment like? It was beautiful. He knows Kofi & Woods were busy but of course they were there for him. They’ve always supported each other, and they’re not afraid to tell each other they love each other. When all is said and done in their careers, they’ll still be spending time together because they’ve become brothers. Big E is beyond grateful for them. Kayla says it is very deserved. But can Big E tell us anything about his plans? He has his shot at any title he wants, what one is he aiming for?

What is Big E supposed to say? Stand up and say, “On August 21st, Roman Reigns-” No! That ruins the fun, Kayla. Like explaining a magic trick! Big E isn’t going to give away things. Just watch and be amazed! But Big E’s watching everyone. There are so many natural rivalries out there. The big meaty men match he’s been talking about as Goldberg takes on Bobby Lashley, there’s Big Dawg, Top Dawg Roman, or even John Cena. No shame in beating arguably the greatest of all time. So everyone, watch out! Big E’s coming! Big E tells them to work on the glutes. Get tight and strong. Back to the studio!

Peter says that was a lot of talk about man meat and glutes, but he likes the confidence Big E has with the briefcase. Big E is one of the best people and best athletes, and he is poised to do some damage. Stay tuned because there’s still Corbin and Storm to come!

 

Talking Smack returns to talk Edge and Rollins.

Rollins was laughing but Edge soon punched the smile off his face! It was a Rated R brawl, and Rollins got a quick #EdgeOCution! But no Spear, that would’ve been the cherry on top. Matt and Peter know this is far from done. Peter is excited about this. A year or more ago, when Edge returned, Peter had him on his podcast. Edge listed who he was excited to face, and one of those was Rollins. Now it isn’t about the dream match, it is about getting his hands on the man who cost him the Universal Championship! Edge came back to soak up the love of the fans, which he has done. Houston was nonstop love from the fans. But now, he wants to hurt Rollins.

Matt understands how personal this got. Just look at Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal on Raw. McIntyre’s goal was the WWE World Championship, Mahal took that opportunity away from him, now all of McIntyre’s focus is on Mahal. That is Edge with Rollins. Is Edge going to be blinded by rage? Rollins always has a game plan. Maybe Rollins is a little ahead now. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Peter can’t believe Matt is being offensive to yet another iconic wrestler! Well this would be a match-up of two icons, so who does he mean? Edge invented mind games! He’s tortured so many, from The Undertaker to John Cena to Randy Orton! As great as Rollins is, Edge is not in over his head.

Well there are many chapters to come, and they know where they’re going. But one man who is rather lost in life lately is Baron Corbin. And things didn’t go well again this week. There was some kindness from Kevin Owens with giving him a little money, a handful of $20 bills, maybe up to $100. But Peter is so sad, because he gave to the Corbin Fund, only to find that didn’t work out. And then Nerf into the nuts… The Dirty Dawgs take the money, all but kicking Corbin while he’s down! This is rough. But do you really feel bad for Corbin? In a way, how do you not? Corbin was on top of the world just a couple years ago! Obnoxious, yes, but happy!

What stain was that, anyway? Spaghetti sauce. And he’s taking the bus! It’s all really rough, but Kayla is with Corbin now to talk to him again. Kayla thanks the guys again and brings up Corbin being rather open about his recent financial woes. She has to ask, he’s been at this for quite some time, did he not have anything saved somewhere? How did he fall so fast? If Corbin really needs to explain it… When he was a king, his paycheck was $20,000 a week. And getting those monster paychecks, you start to think, “Okay, now I can get a million dollar house! Now I can get the truck I wanted, and the car I wanted, and the jewelry.” You buy and buy because it’s every week, 20 grand!

Now, at the end of the month, you have $60,000 in bills, and then the taxes. He tried investing, got some Bitcoin when it was $62,000 but it dropped to around $30,000, and he borrowed money to make up for that. So just suddenly, everything catches up. And then he loses the crown, and he’s no longer king. With the crown came that money. He can’t even say with pride what his new paycheck is. It certainly doesn’t cover his vehicles. He’s lost three or four, his wife is so disappointed and he’s embarrassed. He has to go home and he just doesn’t have the income coming in, or the luck to turn it around. When you fall hard, you fall fast.

Kayla tries to cheer Corbin up with, “When you hit rock bottom, all you can do is go up.” She wishes him luck but he feels this is worse than rock bottom. Things keep piling on. Who decides what “the bottom” is? Today’s Friday in Cleveland, so he figures, “How much worse can it get?” And then he wakes up, has breakfast and can’t even afford things. His shirt is still a mess. The reason he has this sauce stain is because he lost his can opener and so he just bashed the can on the cement. He had some, spilled the rest. Does Kayla know how to get the stain out? Kayla says she’ll help him with that. She thanks him again for his time, and sends it back to the studio. Wow, after brining up all that painful stuff, they’re just done? Well, yeah she has to send it back to the guys…

Matt thanks Kayla for that, and Peter doesn’t want to laugh because it is rough for Corbin. But maybe Corbin really should sell his extra vehicles. The Bitcoin stuff, getting in at 62,000, maybe not the best move. The hair, the beard, none of it is good right now. But what will be good is #ToniTime!

 

Talking Smack returns to talk the SmackDown Women’s Division.

Bianca Belair was the strongEST at Rolling Loud as she retained the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Carmella. The world’s largest hip hop music festival got to see the EST Era continue, as well as the return of the Street Profits in which Angelo Dawkins defeated Chad Gable. An amazing night for them, and especially a great couple of weeks for Bianca, let alone this entire year. Bianca wins the Women’s Royal Rumble, challenges and defeats Sasha Bank for the title in the WrestleMania 37 Night One main event, then winning an ESPY for that very performance. Now she gets to be part of the first time WWE goes to Rolling Loud and she retains her title there.

And Rolling Loud is a massive, multiple day event also done in multiple cities. It kicked off in Miami, huge crowd, just a great time for Bianca. She is taking on any and all challengers, having defeated Sasha, Bayley, Mella, just some of the greatest the WWE has to offer in a division that continues to get deeper. It happened on Friday, because Toni Storm made her successful SmackDown debut defeating Zelina Vega. Of course, we’ve seen Toni be successful in NXT UK as their champion and then stay strong in NXT. Now here on SmackDown, she made a big impact. Matt’s seen her entire career, sky’s the limit for Storm.

Peter agrees, Toni is incredibly exciting, and she has a lot in common with Rhea Ripley, having come overseas from Australia and making her mark in the WWE. Winning the Mae Young Classic, the NXT UK Championship, she shows it over and over, and wins in her SmackDown debut. Everyone should keep a close eye on Toni Storm, and it is indeed #ToniTime as Kayla is with her in Cleveland.

Kayla says this is quite the treat for Talking Smack as Toni Storm is here. Toni says hi and Kayla welcomes her to the brand. Storm debuted, won, how does it feel to do that in front of fans? She isn’t sure how to put into words the feeling of this. She’s dreamt of this since she was 10 and it was cool! Speaking of cool, Toni’s pretty cool. One of the coolest looks in the WWE, and there’s a story behind this, right? Wild child of the ’80s? Well, it all starts with Toni’s mom always being in the 1980’s. All her stories were about the wild stuff she did back then, from the music to the culture. It really inspired Toni growing up, so when she got into wrestling, she embraced the 80’s glam rock. You can probably smell the hairspray, she’s probably highly flammable right now.

Well she looks so cool. But even though this is just her first night on SmackDown, what goals does Storm have for herself? Well she’ll be champion, of course. Why else is she here? She won’t waste time. She’ll be new champ one day! Shooting for the stars! Kayla welcomes and congratulates Toni and sends it back to the studio.

Matt likes Toni shooting high for the title, as she should. She’s absolutely ready, right? Peter says as he was watching, and how he brought up Rhea, now he thinks about Bianca, and all these new talents that are showing up. They come from NXT with that hard to describe It Factor. No one had seen someone quite like Bianca, or quite like Toni. Toni has a certain energy. Just listening to her there, she was so loose and comfortable. She has a charisma, and she’s dangerous in the ring, too. Yes, Vega felt that the hard way.

But going back to this, the close of SmackDown, Roman Reigns accepting Finn Balor’s challenge, when is this happening? Balor mentioned on The Bump last Wednesday, he does have unfinished business with the Universal Championship. He only held it for 24 hours. Matt wonders, is Roman overconfident with someone that hungry to get the title? Peter knows that Roman right now knows he’s at the top of his game. There are some things you could worry about, such as overlooking a guy like Balor. Maybe the physical stature makes Roman think Balor couldn’t possibly match up with him. But as we’ve talked about, Balor is very decorated.

The real question is: Where does this put Cena? We’ve already seen the #SummerOfCena schedule revealed, he’s here for the Summer, what happens here? Is Balor kinda messing things up? Matt isn’t sure if Balor is messing things up. Maybe Cena decides to take a step back and say, “I’ll take on the winner.” Or maybe Cena is that dead set on facing Roman? We’ll have to see next week! Matt wishes Peter luck in the 24/7 Championship Division, thanks us for watching, and hopes we have a great weekend.


My Thoughts:

This was another good Talking Smack, but I’m starting to feel like this format isn’t going to be nearly as fun as the original. We still got good promos out of Big E, Corbin and Toni, with Corbin’s being an oddly hilarious one. Why would he not have a can opener and then default to bashing the can on the ground? But my main thing is, we won’t be getting that great energy from interactions like Pat McAfee and just about anyone, and the same with Raw Talk not having R-Truth interact with guests, or even just R-Truth talking with “K-Peezy” Kevin Patrick.

I suppose some of this is because much of the US is still worried about COVID and they can’t be sending everyone everywhere just yet. But they could also be going for a more ESPN SportsCenter vibe where a correspondent interviews the athletes and there are in-studio analysts. Which no offense, but I don’t watch those shows a lot and I don’t want that in my pro-wrestling anyway. The chemistry of R-Truth, Kevin Patrick and Matt Riddle was proof enough that that is how you do this kind of WWE post show.


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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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