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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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(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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