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News From Cook’s Corner 8.23.21: Happy Returns

Big shows, big returns, big fun for wrestling! Cook’s News Corner covers all of the fun!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! The last couple of days have been all about the returns. Folks that wrestling fans have been waiting to see for a long time returned to their profession on Friday & Saturday night. As you’d expect, the results varied. Today, we break them down.

We’ll take a look at the TakeOver results with some thoughts on them. I only saw the last two SummerSlam matches, and after hearing the results don’t have much motivation to check out the rest of the card. I mean, Edge coming out to Gangrel’s music with the ring of fire but no Gangrel? Pretty weak, in my opinion. You gotta bring the fanged guy back if you’re going to take his gimmick. Last I heard he was based in Vegas, so I don’t know what happened there. Vampires gotta be immune to Covid, right?

Lord, I apologize for that joke. I also apologize for using a Larry the Cable Guy line. Guessing that act hasn’t aged well. Let’s talk about these wrestling returns, shall we?

Return of the Punker

I don’t think that CM Punk fans can ask for more than what they got Friday night. They got exactly what everybody hoped for. An extended entrance with Punk soaking in the adulation of a rabid United Center audience. A promo covering where Punk had been and where he’s going next. Some, but not too much, and plenty to follow. A challenge to Darby Allin, who looked pretty cool up there in the rafters with Sting. Some ice cream bars for the fans in attendance.

One of my criticisms of AEW is they often try to do too much in too little time. We saw that at the end of the first Rampage show with Jamie Hayter joining Britt Baker in a heel beatdown in a location it wouldn’t have gotten heat unless they set the American flag on fire or something. That wasn’t the case on Friday night. They didn’t have Punk run down at the end of the show to attack Allin while he was celebrating with his buddies. We will hear from Punk again on Wednesday. For now, that’s all we need.

The response was pretty much everything AEW could have hoped for. Positive fan reaction, sports media coverage, Google news searches making people looking for WWE see CM Punk & AEW instead of SummerSlam. They hit a home run on Friday night. Now they have to follow up.

Punk, for his part, looks motivated. He talked to the media about wanting to follow in the footsteps of guys like Terry Funk, Harley Race & Tracy Smothers that taught him the way. He’s willing to teach anybody willing to listen. AEW has a lot of kids working their YouTube shows, and a lot of kids on their TV shows too. Hopefully they’re willing to listen.

So you knew something big would happen on SummerSlam. Even before Friday night happened, people in WWE saw it coming. They knew they were going to need something to change the subject from CM Punk & AEW. They had two tricks up their sleeve, and used them both on Saturday night.

Becky Lynch’s return from maternity leave was something people were excited about. We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know when. SummerSlam seemed like a good time for it. Biggest live audience of the year, biggest event of the summer, sounds like a good time for the Man to come back around. Sure enough, that’s what happened.

The one downside?

It came at the expense of any credibility Bianca Belair had built up over the past several months. Becky beat her in under 30 seconds to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship, which in itself isn’t a surprise because SD is where Becky’s husband works, and is also the show that matters these days.

I can already hear the explanations. It was a SummerSlam Moment! Wins & losses don’t matter! They’re building Bianca like they built Daniel Bryan! Let it play out & see where it goes! Yeah, well try telling that to Kofi Kingston fans. He got squashed back down the card by a real star in eight seconds and hasn’t been the same since. I’d like to think things will be different for Bianca, but has WWE given people reason to think it won’t be? Maybe if she gets a good acting role, or does something to distinguish herself outside the company.

As for why Sasha missed the show, all I’ve read from the various Internet soothsayers is that she wasn’t cleared to compete, and WWE knew she wouldn’t be able to at least a week before the show. A shame because she was to be involved in one of the most anticipated parts of the SummerSlam event, but something that couldn’t be helped. PWInsider reports that the match wasn’t an indication of Belair being taken down a notch, it was just “how WWE opted to react”. OK.

Nothing wrong with Becky (assuming she isn’t the writer), and her addition to SD is a good thing overall given the depth of their women’s division. Well, the depth of the women’s division that makes TV anyway. Remember when Toni Storm was coming in? What happened there? PWInsider reports that the plan is to turn Becky heel and have her go against Bianca…to which I say, good luck with that one. Nothing like having your new top heel squash your top face clean to start a feud…but it makes sense when you remember that WWE loves pushing people like they’re Barry Horowitz.

The difference between our two returns thus far? Punk’s return didn’t squash anybody that people care about yet. And if he does beat Darby Allin at All Out, it’ll take over thirty seconds. Hopefully. If it doesn’t, we’ll talk!

Then we had Brock Lesnar’s return. He came down after the main event to establish himself as Roman Reigns’ next challenger, almost certainly for the next Sweet Saudi Blood Money event. Which apparently that’s a thing again since the pandemic is over. Pretty cool, no issue with that except, well…

That hair. Yowie wowie, as the kids say.

Listen, I won’t lie to you and say I’ve had much use for Brock Lesnar since his match with Daniel Bryan. I do respect the hold he has over Vince McMahon, and the ability he has to make Vince give him millions of dollars for very limited work. That’s the American Dream right there. So whenever Brock comes back, I will applaud his business savvy.

Oh, and after SummerSlam went off the air, Brock beat up John Cena to pop the crowd. Cena has commented on how the company needs to build younger stars, and the fact he & others keep coming back to pop the business isn’t a great long-term statement for the company. So it’s nice that Cena did his part to help the next generation of WWE talent here. That young kid Brock needs the rub.

Not really related to the whole “returns” topic, but how long do you think Roman Reigns spends rehearsing his monologues during matches? More or less time than is spent planning out the matches? Its an interesting question.

NXT Changes Update

Nick Khan did an interview with Ariel Helwani where he confirmed a lot of what people were saying the new direction of NXT was going to be. There will be a whole new look & feel, with different logos & color schemes & things of that nature. We also know that new wrestlers are being brought in. WWE signed over a dozen people after their try outs in Las Vegas last week. They’re looking for wrestlers they can mold into their system, and wrestlers that can be top stars for their brands.

As I said before, not all of this is bad. The idea of looking places other than the indy wrestling circuit for WWE Superstars is a good one. And let’s be honest: there are now plenty of viable options for your favorite independent wrestler. It’s not WWE or Bust anymore, if you aren’t what Vince McMahon wants in a wrestler, you can still make some good money.

The main downside of all this is simple, and it makes one wonder about NXT’s future as a two hour program on the USA Network. The TV show won’t be as good. TakeOver won’t be what it used to be. If what Nick Khan & people that aren’t Triple H or the Internet want NXT to be comes to pass, there will be a steep downgrade in the in-ring product. As it is, NXT isn’t drawing in most of Raw & SmackDown’s audience. What happens if the more dedicated fans tune the show out?

I will say it was at least nice to see & hear Nick Khan. It’s good to know what these people look & sound like. That way maybe we can figure out what appeal they have with Vince that he keeps them around. (Still don’t know what it is with Kevin Dunn, though.)

Dave Meltzer updated us on why NXT is holding tapings this week. They’re upgrading the Performance Center, likely involving all those logo & production changes. So we’ll be getting live NXT episodes again in about a month or so, though as I said last week, I’m not sure it matters that much. In fact, if you’re going to have greener wrestlers on the show, you might want to tape the thing. Unless you want to give me material for the Botched! column, which I would appreciate.

NXT TakeOver Thoughts

I had been waiting for NXT TakeOver odds to come out to do a Gambling Picks column on it. Looked like an interesting card, and I figured with NXT’s final show before the event being on Tuesday, the odds might have been released earlier than they ended up being. By the time they finally dropped, I had moved on to a project for an upcoming 411 column, I was also super busy at work & the show didn’t feel worth carving out time to write about.

Not an original take since I saw it all over Twitter, but it’s like writing about WCW in early 2001. Some good stuff going on, but zero reason to get invested. Times are changing, and shows like the one put on Sunday night are going to be a thing of the past pretty soon. Not entirely, as it’s not like WWE is going to release every single person on the card. At least, I don’t think they will.

They’re still putting on TakeOver cards, and for some reason this one was on a Sunday night. Probably because they wanted me to write about it in this column, right? OK, probably not. Let’s break it down anyway.

Cameron Grimes beat LA Knight to win the Million Dollar Championship: So where does this championship rate on the NXT totem pole? Below the North American Championship? Above? It got a defense on TakeOver, the NA title didn’t. Right now the NA title feud involves people feuding over teeth like they’re Danhausen or something. It’s kinda weird. Here, we have a perfectly logical feud with people serving as butlers. Though if Grimes had lost here, I bet Ted DiBiase would have hired Virgil to help him out with Knight’s chores.

Raquel Gonzalez defeated Dakota Kai to retain the NXT Women’s Championship: This wasn’t bad, but the highlight for me was Kay Lee Ray appearing afterward. Haven’t seen much of her work, but the lady looks like she has potential. Gonzalez does as well, but this whole feud seemed rushed to me. Probably because they had to call people up to the main roster and do nothing with them.

Ilja Dragunov beat WALTER for the NXT United Kingdom Championship: I see everybody online hailing this as the match of the year and one of the best in WWE history. Maybe it’s just me being weird, but my main takeaway from this had nothing to do with match ratings or where it rates alongside other matches this year.

It’s a work, guys! Y’all don’t need to kill each other, even if the Internet will give you a ton of stars for it. The men brought a ton of effort, no doubt, but I can pretty much guarantee you it solidified WWE upper management’s opinions towards NXT & its future. They don’t want that kind of stuff on Raw or SmackDown.

Kyle O’Reilly defeated Adam Cole: The match wasn’t bad, the response suffered from following the previous match and the finish felt a bit flat. What we’ve been told is that this will be Cole’s final NXT match. Now, whether that means he’s going to the main roster or elsewhere…we don’t know yet. Stay tuned.

Samoa Joe won the NXT Championship from Karrion Kross: Some good news for those worried about NXT’s future, as at least Joe will be there working with all this new talent. It’s not like all of your favorite wrestlers will go away. Some will, but they’ll need people that can put on competent wrestling matches with people Vince actually sees something in. At one point that was Karrion Kross, we’ll see if Kross becomes that again now that he’s got that NXT title off of him. It won’t go down as one of your classic TakeOver main events, but it did what it needed to do.

So there’s your last TakeOver of the Super Indy Era. Good times, bad times, you know we had our share. Fun show, but tough to kinda shake the feeling that a goodbye gives you. That’s why I don’t say goodbye.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this column half as much as I enjoyed writing it, and at least a quarter as much as you’ve enjoyed the recent returns. Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.


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(NOAH) NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.145 ~ 17TH OCTOBER 2021

N-1 Victory winner Katsuhiko Nakajima had his Heavyweight Championship match against Marufuji. Who won? What other challengers stepped up to the champions? Hisame has all the answers!

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N-1 Victory winner Katsuhiko Nakajima had his Heavyweight Championship match against Marufuji. Who won? What other challengers stepped up to the champions? Hisame has all the answers!

NEWS

“I am NOAH!” Katsuhiko Nakajima is the new GHC Heavyweight Champion

The mid generation in NOAH are starting to make waves over their seniors in a manner that before they had never made any progress in; Go Shiozaki finally overcame Naomichi Marufuji in a singles match, and next it was Katsuhiko Nakajima’s turn. Nakajima beat Naomichi Marufuji for the GHC Heavyweight title on the 10th October in Osaka. Nakajima, who had won the N-1 and won the championship, barely had time to pause as his next challenger appeared, Masato Tanaka. Nakajima had been speaking of his appetite, “devouring, devouring and devouring” but still being hungry.

Tanaka told him that Nakajima had not “devoured me” yet and challenged him for the belt. The title match has been set for the 30th October in Fukuoka, which is Nakajima’s hometown. After Tanaka had gone, Nakajima told the crowd, “The era is moving. I have finally taken the GHC Heavyweight! I AM NOAH”*

The first pre-match between Tanaka and Nakajima was a tag which saw Masaaki Mochizuki team with Nakajima against Tanaka and Takashi Sugiura on the 17th October in Kawasaki. Mochizuki of course had challenged Takashi Sugiura for the GHC National. Tanaka scored the first round in the pre title battles by pinning Nakajima with the Sliding D. Tanaka closed out the show, addressing Nakajima with “I am going to devour you deliciously, and tear the belt from your waist!””

*This phrase is more attributed to Go Shiozaki, but it was Katsuhiko Nakajima who said it first. Nakajima used it against Minoru Suzuki during the Suzuki Army invasion.

 Eita & NOSAWA Rongai become the new GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Champions

The GHC Junior Tag Belts (which are just as chaotic as the division that holds them), changed hands in a short match on the 10th October in Osaka when Perros De Mal Del Japon’s Eita & NOSAWA Rongai defeated Hajime Ohara and Atsushi Kotoge in only four minutes and four seconds. Kotoge and Ohara were completely overwhelmed by the underhand tricks of their opponents, which included double teaming, face stamping and NOSAWA using apron interference. Afterwards, Eita spoke on the microphone;

“We are the new champions! You are below trash, we don’t need your applause! Kotoge, Ohara, they were boring today”

Backstage, NOSAWA said they weren’t interested in defending the belts against any of NOAH, and told Eita to bring someone from Dragon Gate.

HAYATA retains against Daisuke Harada, NOSAWA Rongai challenges and builds a house of cards

HAYATA retained the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship against Daisuke Harada in Osaka on the 10th October. He did the unthinkable and made Harada do something that HAYATA would never have done in the past, and that Harada has probably never done since he was a rookie, and that was to tap out. After the match, HAYATA was surrounded by Perros Del Mal De Japon like they were a pack of jackals, who made him choose a challenger. NOSAWA was at the forefront, and is probably the person that STINGER hate the most, and so HAYATA nominated him and breaking his record of not speaking for about ten months to say, “Next…NOSAWA Rongai”. NOSAWA’s face fell as everyone in the juniors knew that HAYATA was rapidly being seen as the ultimate champion, and no one was going to let him back out of it. The title match was arranged for the 30th October in Fukuoka.

NOSAWA said he would accept HAYATA’S nomination on one condition; he chose the pre-match, he chose where it was going to be and he chose the people. So what did he choose on the 17th October? A match between himself, Yoshinari Ogawa & Naomichi Marufuji at Club Citta who would take on HAYATA, YO-HEY and Kaito Kiyomiya. It must have seemed a good way to wind Ogawa and HAYATA up, but in reality it turned around to bite NOSAWA hard and fell around him like a house of cards when Ogawa defected practically to STINGER, YO-HEY tried to somehow stay true to the team he was in (although he and HAYATA were ignoring each other practically) and NOSAWA used him to take HAYATA’S springing elbow, and Kaito Kiyomiya joined the fray as he is allied with HAYATA and Ogawa in their hatred of NOSAWA. After HAYATA got the win by kicking NOSAWA in the crotch, the three of them beat up on NOSAWA, Kiyomiya smiling as sadistically as his teammates. You can be sure that unconscious and with his tongue lolling out of his mouth as he was, NOSAWA is going to be out for revenge against all three of them.

Masaaki Mochizuki challenges for the GHC National

While Kendo Kashin attempted to throw Masakatsu Funaki off of the balcony in Osaka on the 10th October, Masaaki Mochizuki who had defeated Takashi Sugiura with the True & Strong High Kick, challenged him for the GHC National title. Mochizuki had always wanted to have a singles match with Sugiura, took the chance as under NOAH rules if you beat the champion then you can challenge the champion. Sugiura accepted the challenge, and it has been set for the 28th October in Kumamoto. Their first pre match took place on the 17th October at Club Citta, Kawasaki. Unfortunately neither Sugiura nor Mochizuki won the match, and neither got the pin over the other, as it was won by Masato Tanaka over Katsuhiko Nakajima.

Kenoh & Haoh go to Dragon Gate

Kenoh and Haoh invaded Dragon Gate who were holding a show in Kyoto to challenge the tag champions (Susumu Yokosuka and KING Shimizu). Haoh said “It seems that the next challenger is not decided, that is why we came all the way to Kyoto. What are you going to do? Do it or not?” Haoh took off his t-shirt and charged, he was taken out and he and Kenoh were told that the champions were not going to run from them and to come dressed to fight in Osaka on the 3rd November.

EVENT RECAPS & POST MATCH PROMOS

“Grand Square in Osaka” – 10th October 2021

Event recap Post match interviews

“Go to the Demolition Stage” – 15th October 2021

Event recap Post match interviews

“NOAH Sanctuary” – 17th October 2021

Event recap

ELSEWHERE IN NOAH

– Kinya Okada debuted new ring wear in Osaka on the 10th October. True to Okada’s Showa era style, his ringwear reflected this in a simple pattern of black and grey.

– Keiji Mutoh said to Kazushi Sakuraba that they should do “Double Impact” during their tag match against Kenoh and Kaito Kiyomiya on the 10th October. Sakuraba thought he meant the Van Dam film, but no Mutoh was referring to the “Doomsday Device” (which is known in Japan as “Double Impact”). During the match, Sakuraba did the lifting while Mutoh went to jump off of the top turnbuckle. Kenoh fortunately saved Mutoh a scolding from his doctor by knocking him down.

– Tadasuke has sworn that the Kongoh Juniors will make a comeback. This was said after wading into a mass brawl between STINGER and Perros De Mal Del Japon on the 15th October.

– Manabu Soya is showing a growing frustration with his lack of wins and apparently Kongoh. Snatching his arm away from the ref recently, and walking off when his team got the win.

– Unsurprisingly, after wrestling the equivalent of four matches in one day in a short space of time, YO-HEY ended up with a black eye.

– Kenoh and Kaito Kiyomiya found that they had a lot in common after their tag together in Osaka on the 10th. Teaming together against Keiji Mutoh and Kazushi Sakuraba, Kenoh said “Kiyomiya and I defeated those guys…” and then after a moment of silence, glared at Kiyomiya and walked off.

– YO-HEY made a cryptic comment following a brief moment of almost doing a tandem move with HAYATA and then doing one with NOSAWA, which NOSAWA ruined by shoving YO-HEY in the way of HAYATA’S handspring elbow, “I wanted to work together.” Was he referring to NOSAWA or to HAYATA?

– Junta Miyawaki scored a huge win in the elimination match of the 15th October when he pinned Ikuto Hidaka. Miyawaki’s second win came on 17th October when he pinned Kinya Okada.

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

  • GHC Heavyweight Champion: Katsuhiko Nakajima
    Challenger: Masato Tanaka, (“LEC Cleanup! presents DEMOLITION STAGE 2021 in FUKUOKA”, Fukuoka International Centre, October 30th.)
  • GHC Junior Champion: HAYATA
    Challenger: NOSAWA Rongai, (“LEC Cleanup! presents DEMOLITION STAGE 2021 in FUKUOKA”, Fukuoka International Centre, October 30th.)
  • GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions: Masa Kitamiya & Kaito Kiyomiya
    Challengers: TBA
  • GHC Junior Tag Champions: Perros De Mal Del Japon (NOSAWA Rongai & Eita)
    Challengers: TBA
  • GHC National Champion: Takashi Sugiura
    Challenger: Masaaki Mochizuki, (“Go on to the DEMOLITION STAGE 2021”, Kumamoto Castle Hall Civic Hall, Thursday October 28th)

THIS WEEK IN NOAH

(Full October schedule)

Monday, October 18th: Atsushi Kotoge (36)

Monday, October 18th: Shuhei Taniguchi (45)

Friday, October 22nd: Haoh debut anniversary (16 years)

Sunday, October 24th: Go on to the DEMOLITION STAGE 2021

Aore Nagaoka

Start time: 17:00 JST

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse

LINKS

“Come at me you bastards!” Kenoh’s Weekly Pro Column

“I want to hide a secret word that only Wrestling fans can understand” – Funky Kato creates a theme song for NOAH’s “New Year at The Budokan”

GIFs taken from WrestleUniverse.


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News From Cook’s Corner 10.11.21: Are You IInspired?

Cook has some IInspired thoughts about the news of this week! Check it out!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and it’s good to be back in the mud, the blood & the beer. It was nice to take a breather from all this wrestling drama, but now we’re here to sift out the stuff that we actually found interesting.

No, I don’t know who “we” is there, but hopefully you’re part of the “we” that finds this stuff interesting. Otherwise the next few minutes will be a pretty big waste of your time. Almost as big a waste of time as watching my college & pro football teams this past weekend, but let’s not get into that! Let’s get into that news.

SmackDown & Rampage Going Head To Head

As much as I hate to go on about television ratings in an age where more & more people are finding other ways to consume media, I know that there are few things that online wrestling fans love talking about more. They’re going to have a pretty big chance to talk about them this week, given what WWE’s doing this coming Friday night. We knew that SmackDown would be getting bounced to FS1 due to FOX airing baseball’s American League Championship Series. What we found out is that SmackDown would be SUPERSIZED, airing for an extra thirty minutes.

Once people did the math and figured out that the last thirty minutes would be going head to head with AEW’s Rampage show, the trash talk started. Even Tony Khan got in on the fun, since he’s Tony Khan and that’s what he does. Not gonna knock him for it. WWE vs. AEW is what the people are into these days, and many of my writing colleagues have found gold mines on social media milking the banter for all it’s worth. I have a hard time doing that because the result seems so obvious to me. If SmackDown doesn’t get more viewers than Rampage for thirty random minutes on a Friday night, it’s a pretty huge failure on the part of WWE. I don’t care what channel SmackDown is on, it’s WWE’s A-show vs. AEW’s B-show, which has been leaking viewers at a pretty good rate since the one episode where CM Punk debuted. Hate to admit I’m part of the problem, but people keep booking me to do things on Friday nights.

(Related tangent: Am I the only one who finds it strange how quickly most AEW fans have dismissed Rampage to B-show status? They’ve just tuned the darn thing out. Can’t we wait a few months before doing such a thing, or have we just been watching this stuff for too long and feel it’s safe to assume that Rampage will meet the same fate as Thunder, Wrestling Challenge, Saturday Night & other shows like them? Alternate question: Why can’t any wrestling promotion present two different weekly shows that are seen on the same level? Why is there always an A show & a B show?)

So next week we’ll be seeing all the WWE fans crowing about SmackDown beating Rampage in TV ratings whose importance vary depending on who does better in them. Just letting y’all know right now so you can prepare for whichever side you want to take up for.

WOW Returns! We got good news & bad news…

Women Of Wrestling has been an on-again off-again wrestling company since the year 2000. David McLane, founder of the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling TV show, was looking to capitalize off the pro wrestling boom taking place during the time period, and was able to build a syndication network covering most of the United States. Jeanie Buss became involved during this time and eventually became the owner. The audience grew pretty well during its 24-episode run, but the advertising market wasn’t really there for the product and the WWF buying their competitors pretty much killed the overall wrestling boom. The promotion made a brief return in 2013, then another in 2016. 2019 saw WOW air new episodes on AXS TV, an arrangement which ended when Impact Wrestling’s parent company purchased the network.

WOW was back in the news last week with some major announcements. WOW will be returning to syndication, airing on CBS owned & operated stations along with those of Sinclair Broadcasting Group. That combination will cover 70% of the United States television viewing audience. They also announced that AJ Mendez, known as AJ Lee during her wrestling career, would be joining the operation as an executive producer and a commentator.

This all sounds good to me, as someone that’s enjoyed WOW’s presentation in the past. McLane’s various TV productions are typically entertaining, if not always featuring the highest workrate of all time. The characters usually stand out, and should even more with AJ’s involvement. Plus, it’s always nice to have more pro wrestling on television. I think most of you will at least agree with me on that.

There was one part of all the announcements that left some wrestling fans a little perturbed: the involvement of Tessa Blanchard. Blanchard had been one of WOW’s featured wrestlers during the promotion’s time on AXS TV, and will be for their new era. She’ll also be working as the Casting Director, helping find the women that will be featured on future WOW episodes.

Now, if you only know Tessa from her work on television, where she’s a perfectly competent pro wrestler with years of experience, or if you know her as Tully Blanchard’s daughter & Magnum TA’s step-daughter, you probably don’t see an issue with any of it. Unfortunately, there have been a number of incidents involving Tessa that have many of her peers & many wrestling fans unhappy with the idea of her involvement in any wrestling promotion. Allegations of racism & bullying came to the surface in January 2020, with a number of female wrestlers speaking out on social media against Blanchard.  Tessa has denied any & all allegations, but that hasn’t stopped people from making them, and it hasn’t stopped many wrestling fans from believing the accusers.

Blanchard’s career was initially unaffected, as Impact Wrestling still put their heavyweight championship on her shortly after the controversy became public. To be honest, Impact has often been a home for wrestlers with less than stellar reputations outside the ring. They could have punished her, but then they would have had a tough time finding somebody on their roster at the time with a pristine reputation to take her spot. Of course, they would end up firing her & stripping her of their championship in June, after she refused to appear at Impact TV tapings due to the global pandemic. It was a confusing situation, as her contract was set to expire, and Impact wanted her to lose the championship on a date after her contract would have allegedly expired. To me, I could understand Impact being upset, yet I could also understand Tessa not wanting to travel during the pandemic, considering she lived in Mexico with her husband. My conclusion was that Impact shouldn’t have put the title on her in the first place, and could have avoided a bunch of issues & negative press that way.

Now WOW stands to face some negative press given that they’re doing business with Blanchard. Naturally, they must hope that AJ Mendez’s involvement takes some of the attention away. They also have to hope that the percentage of people that know about Blanchard’s previous issues is a small portion of their potential audience. Also, they have to hope that Blanchard has enough fans that either don’t believe the allegations or don’t think allegations of racism are a big deal even if they are true. A brief look at social media shows there are fans of Tessa’s that fall into both of those categories.

At the end of the day, I’m not opposed to Tessa Blanchard being given a second chance by a company that’s done business with her and is confident in what she brings to the table. However, I would assume that Jeanie Buss, David McLane and other people overseeing Tessa’s work will be keeping a close eye on things & making sure that new issues don’t arise. Hopefully Tessa’s alleged previous behavior doesn’t re-surface in her role as a casting director, or as a senior voice in the locker room.

The whole thing isn’t a disqualifier to me giving WOW a chance when it returns to television, but I’m more drawn to women’s wrestling shows than most of my fellow fans & writers. I get more excited when asked to review Knockouts Knockdown than if somebody asks me to review a WWE PPV. Most writers want the WWE show for more hits & more attention, I want the show I’m going to enjoy watching & writing about more. For most of them that’s probably the WWE show too. I’m different like that.

If people feel differently and think that Tessa’s involvement is a non-starter for them, I’m not going to blame them. WOW does seem to be leaning into it in ways that don’t seem intelligent, like selling t-shirts with bombs on them in an attempt to capitalize off of Tessa’s “nuclear” status. They’ll hope people don’t notice. At the end of the day, the audience size is what will determine if WOW’s gamble works or not.

Impact Getting Some IInspiration

Speaking of that Knockouts Knockdown, it did provide us with some big news concerning the newest additions to the Impact roster. Cassie Lee & Jessie McKay, now known as The IInspiration, will be making their debut at Bound For Glory on October 23. It’ll be their first wrestling appearance since WWE released them back in April. They had to deal with some work visa issues, but now things are good to go.

Everybody knew at the time that breaking up the IIconics was a mistake, especially the two women that made up the team. They were going to be a package deal wherever they went afterward, and Impact Wrestling is the best place for them right now that I can think of. Impact has always had a knack for using most of their female talent better than they can be used anywhere else. Tenille Dashwood is already there, currently as part of The Influence tag team with Madison Rayne. That could either result in a tag team feud or a four-woman supergroup. Either would be entertaining.

All I know for sure is I’ve missed having these two on my TV. Glad to have them back.

Big Weekend For Big E

Don’t look now, but our WWE Champion is getting some big opportunities in venues other than pro wrestling. It started on Fox’s college football pregame show this past Saturday morning, where Big E got to represent for his alma mater, the University of Iowa.

Later that evening, Big E was on an even bigger stage, the boxing heavyweight championship showdown between Tyson Fury & Deyontay Wilder. Had I seen it prior, I might have bought the fight!

He was also hobnobbing with the celebrities at ringside. A pretty big weekend for Big E, one that showed him off as somebody that WWE should be proud to have represent them on the biggest stages. Almost makes you wonder if Big E could become too popular, doesn’t it?

Stephanie McMahon = Hall of Famer

I was looking for stuff to write about on Sunday afternoon and happened upon this breaking news:

Stephanie McMahon in a hall of fame. Well, you know she’ll be in the WWE one eventually. Not sure she makes Dave’s. Maybe offtheteam.com’s if Voodoo Penguin pushes hard enough for her. Doesn’t matter, she has been enshrined in the International Sports Hall of Fame. Sounds very prestigious, right?

Well, I’d never heard of the International Sports Hall of Fame, and I consider myself quite the sports expert. (Nobody else does, but I do, and I’m the one writing the column so neener neener, haters) So I looked it up on Wikipedia and here’s what I found out.

“The International Sports Hall of Fame (ISHOF) is a section 501(c)(3) Nonprofit organization established in 2012 by Dr. Robert M. Goldman to honor the world’s greatest athlete legends in all categories of sports.

The ISHOF’s mission is to inspire future generations of athletes by honoring the sports heroes of today.”

Sounds good. There are several wrestling-related inductees, including the likes of Mark Henry, Bruno Sammartino, Dan Gable, Triple H & Kurt Angle. In fact, Henry sits on the Global Advisory Board, who I assume have a say over who gets inducted. Other names on the list include Arnold Schwarzenegger & Dr. Joseph Maroon, who happens to be WWE’s medical director. And now we know why Stephanie is a Hall of Famer. You gotta know somebody!

To be fair, it’s not like Stephanie is the only Hall of Famer that got in because she knew somebody. I mean, what other explanation do we have for half the WWE Hall of Fame inductees?

Welp, that’s all we have time for this week. Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep your stick on the ice.


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