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Cook’s WWE Extreme Rules 2021 Gambling Picks

Did you forget Extreme Rules was Sunday? Cook didn’t! And he brought Gambling Picks!

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Extreme Rules takes place this Sunday! With everything happening in WWE right now, it’s easy to forget which Peacock special is next on the agenda.

When WWE has ratings to keep at a certain level, they feel the need to blow through things at a rapid pace. Just last week I was reading about how New Day vs. The Bloodline would be great to do on Survivor Series. The next day, it was announced for Raw. Then, people thought about how great a match between Big E, Roman Reigns & Bobby Lashley would be. It happened on the same episode of Raw.

This is an important time for WWE. A Draft is on the horizon. Football is taking a chunk out of their viewership, though not as much as usual since much of the regular viewership either moved on to other things or are viewing the show through other means. Then there’s AEW getting neck & neck with Raw in the demo, which people say shouldn’t matter that much but you know drives Vince McMahon insane. What happens at Extreme Rules and events surrounding the no-longer Horror Show could impact things for years to come. Or at least days. Maybe even weeks!

So what’s happening on this show? Let’s find out! As usual, odds are provided by BetOnline, and are purely for the purposes of entertainment.

Becky Lynch (-400) vs. Bianca Belair (+250)

Don’t you want to go shopping with Becky & Seth Rollins? I bet that’d be nothing but a great time. Going to all the big stores and finding the drippiest clothes one could find! I’ll bet that kid of theirs has some really rockin’ onesies too. I was a bit skeptical of turning Lynch so soon after her return, but it’s worked out well enough. A new spin on Becky’s character that still embraces being The Man and all that it entails.

I kinda feel bad for Bianca because of the way her title reign ended and the fact she isn’t winning here. No reason for Becky Lynch to drop the SmackDown Women’s Championship unless they plan on moving her & Seth to Raw, and I don’t really see any reason to do that. I’d keep Bianca & Becky on the same brand and keep things going until Survivor Series, or an important SmackDown episode. Whichever.

Charlotte Flair (-200) vs. Alexa Bliss (+150)

Above we see Charlotte & Alexa addressing the problems that most of us have with their personas. They also play with dolls. Some people really, really loved this segment. Some people really hated it. As the Gemini I am, I see both sides of the argument. Even though I’m not big on Alexa’s character, I see it has value for a portion of WWE’s audience. And if you’re into shooty promos with wrestlers addressing things that annoy us about other wrestlers, I can see this scratching that itch.

One thing I don’t get is the complaint that Charlotte’s character is nothing without a championship. Shouldn’t all wrestlers be trying to win championships? Why else would they be there? To play with dolls? You can do that at home if you like, it’s a lot harder to win championships at home unless fantasy sports is your bag.

The most likely finish here? Spooky nonsense. I don’t see this thing having a proper winner or loser. Alexa will do something silly and we’ll be asked to act like it’s groundbreaking television. I think Charlotte Flair retains the Raw Women’s Championship, so if you need to bet on this for some reason that’s what I’d go with.

Damian Preist (-275) vs. Sheamus (+230) vs. Jeff Hardy (+500)

The simplest booking is the best booking. The result that makes the most sense is Priest going over at the expense of Sheamus & Hardy, both of who have been around for ages and will remain at the same level no matter what happens. Neither Sheamus or Hardy will get more over if they win. They are what they are after their decades with WWE. Damian Priest still has room for growth.

Granted, Sheamus has an outside shot at winning, and maybe they throw Hardy a bone to make Twitter happy. I wouldn’t bet on it though, and isn’t that why we’re here?

Liv Morgan (-400) vs. Carmella (+250)

Liv is one of those people that we want to see do well. She’s very easy to root for, and frankly WWE could use more challengers for their Women’s Championships. You could see her doing well as an underdog against somebody like Charlotte or Becky. Nothing against Carmella, it’s just that we’ve already seen her get chances. Now, hopefully, will be Liv Morgan‘s time.

Roman Reigns (-1000) vs. Finn Balor (+500)

The Demon King returns at Extreme Rules! I suppose that’s what’s supposed to make the match extreme, right? Typically, the Demon emerges after a lengthy feud between Finn Balor and another wrestler. Once Finn has taken all he can stands and can’t stands no more, the Demon shows up to even the score. This time, the Demon has appeared because Balor lost a championship match against Roman Reigns.

Usually it takes more than that, but Balor surely realizes that he has no chance of beating Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship unless he becomes the Demon. I’d hate to think what the odds here would be if it was regular ol’ Finn Balor! BetOnline would probably take this thing off the board. Even by Roman match standards, Demon Finn is being given no chance in hell.

There’s an argument for Brock Lesnar costing Roman the match to set up their match in Saudi Arabia. I just don’t see it happening. Even if that match doesn’t need a title, it’s getting one. The Demon’s gonna lose to Roman Reigns. It is acknowledged.

(Remember when wrestlers demanded to be worshipped? Now they just want to be acknowledged. Expectations get lower by the year.)

The Usos (-250) vs. The Street Profits (+170)

For one thing, we need to pick an underdog here. Gotta make things interesting. For another thing, the story being told here is that the Usos can’t beat the Street Profits without help from Roman Reigns. Roman will still be in the building, but he’s got an Extreme Rules match with a Demon to prepare for. He doesn’t have time to take care of his cousins’ business for them. Too bad for their SmackDown Tag Team Championship reign.

The Street Profits deserve a big win, and we deserve to make a profit from this show.


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Opinion

The Paradox of the Wrestling War in 2021

The IWC has been talking about a certain Friday Night and what numbers matter. Tommy Starr chimes in with his perspective on this “war”.

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“War is peace… freedom is slavery… ignorance is strength.”  These are among George Orwell’s key three slogans in his novel 1984, which exemplify the ideology that when one has the power to lull individuals into false senses of security, they will blissfully ignore truth and reality to serve a perpetual agenda.

Since the inception of AEW, wrestling media has insisted on this idealistic narrative of a born-again “Monday Night Wars” comparative to that of a bygone era of professional wrestling that has not been seen since and will never be seen again.  For one reason or another, modern wrestling fans have bought into this impractical religious doctrine hook, line, and sinker, despite statistical evidence that contradict this ideology.

To put this in perspective, if there is a genuine wrestling “war” in the wrestling market today, it is not merely a war of the companies of AEW vs. WWE, rather it is a frivolous war between the oppositional fans of AEW and WWE.  The center of authority that continues to drive this animosity amongst the opposing fan bases rests at the helm of the wrestling media and the individuals within the business itself.  The manipulative narrative of the wrestling media and wrestlers in the business have managed to perpetrate a falsified creed that AEW and WWE are “at war.”  It is interesting to note that this blanket statement hedges the particular element of what both companies are at war with. The common implication is the war of competition, particularly competition for viewership.  And while this narrative carries some validity, it misses the key detail of what this abstractive war revolves around.  It is a waging fight among AEW and WWE fans to try and claim superiority over the other, despite the apparent truth that both sides are failing to expand beyond their niche audiences.  Hence, neither party can credibly claim any form of superiority.  In essence, this religious irrationality to suggest that one company is directly “winning” over the other continues to miss the essential endgame of what winning a war truly looks like.

In the business world, “smart companies” understand and invest in long-term strategies of acknowledging that when they lose small battles, they allow their opposition to enjoy those smaller victories; meanwhile, they do not allow those battle losses to obstruct their long-standing progress.  So contextually, AEW would be wiser to accept that their Friday night edition of Rampage show running head to head with SmackDown lost in overall viewership numbers by approximately 288,000 viewers, despite the fact that not only was SmackDown running on a different network due to Fox coverage of the 2021 American League Championship Series, but that AEW Rampage had actually gained viewership from the previous week by about 15.14%.  Instead, wrestling media continues to propagate that overall viewership is subordinate to what truly matters in this equation, that being the key male 18-49 demographic.  What this discounts is that when one analyzes actual numbers, both shows essentially tied in the target 18-49 demographic at a 0.24.

A strategic business owner obsessed with “winning wars” understands his opposition’s leader and avoids engaging in projecting irrational and petty beliefs in order to stir up his or her army.  Rather, it would be wiser to quietly and cautiously observe the opposition’s decision-making to effectively counter-program and capture the attention of potential consumers.  This does not bode well for Tony Khan when he engages in social media warfare with the opposition to try and stoke a fire that merely exists in a metaphorical fantasy.  All the while, the rival niche audiences partake in nonsensical arguments over which organization “won” a war that has not, does not, and will not exist, despite a genuine hope that professional wrestling will ever reach that level of popularity again worth necessitating a war.

A true and authentic wrestling war in today’s culture should be the fight to reassemble a lost and/or new audience. Per discussion of a lost audience, that insinuates both parties fight for the admiration and trust of disgruntled audiences that have since tuned the product off from their habitual consumption.  Arguably, this can be seen as a lost cause, considering most of these wrestling fans have long since distanced themselves from professional wrestling. However, a business that can successfully earn back that trust of disassociated consumers is a fruitful investment. Catering to loyal and clinging fan bases may be short-term goals, but they are not expansive business strategies.  And based on the weekly viewership numbers, ratings, and key demos for both parties, AEW and WWE continue to cater short-term appeal to their niche audiences instead of investing in long-term strategic outreach to new audiences.  The art of mastery on this level is a war worth fighting for.

Sources:

  • Casey, C. (2021, October 18). Who won Friday night’s ratings battle between WWE smackdown and AEW Rampage? WWE. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://comicbook.com/wwe/news/wwe-smackdown-aew-rampage-oct-15-ratings-war-who-win-tied-demographic-smackdown-wins-audience/.
  • Feloni, R. (2014, August 14). 33 war strategies that will help you win in business. Business Insider. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.businessinsider.com/war-strategies-to-win-in-business-2014-8.
  • Thurston, B. (2021, January 15). Key demo and total audience: What are they and how much do they matter? Wrestlenomics. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://wrestlenomics.com/2020/07/14/key-demo-and-total-audience-what-are-they-and-how-much-do-they-matter/#:~:text=With%20a%20new%20head%2Dto,advertisers%20to%20the%20programs’%20networks.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: October 2021

From the Head Of The Table to the Future Head Of The Table, and more, Steve Cook has his Fave Five for October!

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Bron Breakker

From the Head Of The Table to the Future Head Of The Table, and more, Steve Cook has his Fave Five for October!

We’re more than halfway through October, and you know what that means! It’s time to make a list of my five favorite wrestlers! It’s either do this or write about the latest wrestling news, and as fun as it is to talk about television ratings, this seems more productive at the moment.

5. Mercedes Martinez

It’s considered impolite to discuss age. At least it used to be. I’m not sure anything’s considered impolite anymore based off of what I read on the Internet & see on television. People have pitched manners out the window as they’ve become accustomed to not worrying about getting punched in the face. There’s a point I’m trying to get to here, and that point is that it’s nice that women’s wrestling has arrived at a place where I can write about somebody that’s been wrestling about as long as I’ve been an online wrestling journalist, and they’re kicking ass & taking names. Makes me feel a bit less creepy.

Martinez’s return to the indies & emergence in Impact Wrestling has gone well. What Impact is doing with her isn’t exactly rocket science: have Mercedes Martinez destroy everybody in her path to a title shot, and make people believe that whoever the champion will be between Mickie James & Deonna Purrazzo will have a difficult test on their hands. Simple, right? Throw in the incoming debut of the IInspiration, and it’s pretty easy to get excited about the Knockouts Division & where it’s headed.

4. Bron Breakker

Yes, the name is pretty awful. Yes, NXT 2.0 isn’t exactly setting the world on fire after a few weeks. But it’s tough to deny the talent of the son of Rick Steiner. Dude has the physicality & the speaking tone of his father & uncle. Not quite the size of Rick or Scott in later years, but if genetics are any indication he’ll get there. It won’t be long before he’s NXT Champion, heck, I’m kind of surprised he didn’t get drafted to Raw or SmackDown already. He’s got money written all over him.

As for that pesky name issue…names aren’t as big of an issue as we like to think they are. Dolph Ziggler would have been future endeavored years ago if bad names held talent back. You also have to keep in mind that WWE will probably change his name before he gets to the main roster. No need to sweat the small stuff here. This guy will be a star somewhere under some name. Probably for the best the longer he holds off using the Steiner name, given how the wrestling business works.

3. Junior Dos Santos

If you’ve followed mixed martial arts for any length of time, you know that most fighters’ careers don’t end in a blaze of glory. Fighters want to keep fighting, and even if the losses keep stacking up they still think they’re one win away from getting back to the top. Young fighters are looking to make their names, and beating the brakes off of fighters with track records is a good way to do that. At age 37, JDS has entered that phase of his MMA career. He’s lost four straight fights, all via TKO, all to younger fighters looking to make a name. He could keep doing that, or he could move on to something else while his name still has value.

Why not pro wrestling? Granted, I seem to be one of the few people writing words on wrestling websites that actually like AEW’s angle with American Top Team & Dan Lambert, but JDS is the perfect fit for something like this. He’s a large human being, wrestling fans by & large know who he is, and he has the type of athletic ability that should transition well to pro wrestling. He’s lost a few fights, but the people he lost to are doing pretty well in UFC’s heavyweight division. I’m willing to give it a chance. Also, when the inevitable AEW vs. WWE shootfight rumble happens, AEW’s going to need him around.

2. Roman Reigns

It’s like we said years & years ago: Turn Roman Reigns heel and people will start to like him. I don’t know why the idea took so long to enact, but WWE finally turned Roman Reigns heel and people have started liking him. How about that? Amazing how these things happen. Roman’s charisma has become much more apparent in his role as the Tribal Chief, Head of the Table, Big Dog, Island of Relevancy or whatever else they’re calling him this week. The interactions between Roman & Brock Lesnar have made for good television, so good that I think even Patrick O’Dowd is on the Paul Heyman bandwagon these days.

That all being said, I think I’m enjoying his off-screen character more than his on-screen character these days. Reigns has taken the baton from Seth Rollins & become Mr. WWE Defender, and does it in a way that’s less whiny than what Seth used to do. Perhaps a bit delusional, but much more convincing. Who would win in a shootfight between Roman & CM Punk is completely irrelevant, as last I checked none of these people were shooting in WWE or AEW rings, but he managed to make people care about it somehow. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

1. Bryan Danielson

I know we’re supposed to care first & foremost about what company somebody works for these days. So I’m sure there are some of you out there that have decided that the man formerly known as Daniel Bryan has to be washed up and no longer one of the best wrestlers in the world. Or he’s unfairly putting his life on the line outside of the welcoming bosom of WWE. Nah, it’s probably just the easy “B+ player” talking point that most of the same folks went with when Bryan was still with WWE.

Me, I just care about what’s going on in the ring. Whether other people like it or not has never been one of my main problems. As I’ve pointed out before: I don’t get paid by any of these companies, and I don’t get paid by other people to shill for them. All I know is that it’s a joy to have Bryan Danielson back on my television, and his matches have been as good as expected. It really doesn’t take all that much to make me happy, just good wrestlers doing good things.


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