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Andrew’s Top 10ish Matches of the Week-ish: 1.10.2022

Might as well start off 2022 clean! The first weekish is done, so let’s clump it together for the best matches!

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Now we started this year off strong, so we might as well dredge this back up. Also, since there were some New Year’s Day shows, I’ll just throw everything together to start off the year, and then we’ll go back to legit weeks.

NOAH, New Japan and IMPACT had some great work. Even WWE had a solid enough show which surprised many.

Quick Top 10:
  1. NOAH the New Year: GHC Heavyweight Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) vs Go Shiozaki
    Rating: *****
  2. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.5: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Will Ospreay
    Rating: **** ¾
  3. IMPACT Hard to Kill: Jonah vs Josh Alexander
    Rating: **** ½
  4. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.4: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada vs Shingo Takagi (c)
    Rating: **** ½
  5. NOAH the New Year: GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: HAYATA (c) vs Yoshinari Ogawa
    Rating: **** ¼
  6. IMPACT Hard to Kill: Texas Death Match: Knockouts World Title: Mickie James (c) vs Deonna Purrazzo
    Rating: **** ¼
  7. NOAH the New Year: GHC National Championship: Kenoh (c) vs Kaito Kiyomiya
    Rating: **** ¼
  8. NOAH the New Year: GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: Keiji Muto & Naomichi Marufuji vs Masato Tanaka & Masaki Mochizuki
    Rating: **** ¼
  9. WWE Day 1: SmackDown Tag Team Titles: New Day vs The Usos (c)
    Rating: ****
  10. NOAH the New Year: KENTA, Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba vs Yoshiki Inamura, Masa Kitamiya & Daiki Inaba
    Rating: ****
  11. IMPACT Hard to Kill: ROH Championship: Chris Sabin vs Jonathan Gresham (c)
    Rating: ****

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.4: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi vs El Desperado (c)
    Rating: *** ½
  • IMPACT Hard to Kill: IMPACT World Heavyweight Championship: Massive Cassidy vs Matt Cardona vs Moose (c)
    Rating: *** ½
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.5: Stardom Tag: Saya Kamitani & Tam Nakano vs Starlight Kid & Mayu Iwatani
    Rating: *** ½
  • IMPACT Hard to Kill: X Division Championship: Steve Maclin vs Trey Miguel (c)
    Rating: *** ½
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.4: IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Dangerous Tekkers (ZSJ & Taichi) w/ Miho Abe (c) vs YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto
    Rating: *** ½
  • IMPACT!: Mercedes Martinez vs Deonna Purrazzo w/Matthew Rehwoldt
    Rating: *** ¼
  • WWE Day 1: WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley vs Big E (c) vs Brock Lesnar vs Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NOAH the New Year: Atsushi Kotoge, Daisuke Harada, Hajime Ohara & Ultimo Dragon vs Los Perros del Mal de Japon (Kotaro Suzuki, YO-HEY, EITA & Nosawa Rongai)
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.5: Jeff Cobb vs Tetsuya Naito
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.4: SHO vs YOH
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT Hard to Kill: Hardcore War: Eddie Edwards, Heath, Rich Swann, Willie Mack & Rhino vs Eric Young, Joe Doering, Deaner, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.5: IWGP Junior Tag Titles: Mega Coaches (Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi) vs Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & ELP) vs Flying Tigers (Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask) (c)
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT Hard to Kill: Ace Austin vs Speedball Mike Bailey vs Laredo Kid vs Chris Bey
    Rating: ***
  • NOAH the New Year: STINGER (Seiki Yoshioka & Yuya Susumu) vs KONGOH (HAOH & Aleja)
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.5: Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, ZSJ & DOUKI) vs LIJ (Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT!: Karl Anderson vs Heath
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.5: NoDQ IWGP US Heavyweight Championship: KENTA (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
    Rating: ***

 

9t. IMPACT Hard to Kill: ROH Championship: Chris Sabin vs Jonathan Gresham (c)

From My Results:

I’m not gonna lie, this was one of those matches I was generally enjoying and forgot I had to be typing along with it. Gresham did a great job as working on the arm mostly with a little leg focus since Sabin is more strike and high flying than he is. But Sabin found his own mat based offense, and caught Gresham on many accounts with strikes.

Sabin nearly had the win with a surprise Cradle Shock, but the referee noticed after he counted 3 that Gresham’s foot was under the rope and he still had a rope break left. So it was a solid false finish. The cradle variation spam is very Japanese, and done very well by both of them. This was a really solid match, hampered mostly because there was no real story with it, but still generally a delight to watch

Winner: Gresham via Magistral Leg Clutch

9t. NOAH the New Year: KENTA, Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba vs Yoshiki Inamura, Masa Kitamiya & Daiki Inaba

From My Coverage:

WOW, Inamura charges in to break a pinfall and KENTA casually steps back and makes the younger look stupid while stepping on Inaba. This is really classic veteran match play and then Inamura blind sides KENTA. KENTA drops to a knee and stares the kid down. Kitamiya gets Suigura in the Prison Lock, KENTA walks in to break it up, but Inamura comes in and stares down KENTA. After some staring and a few words, KENTA slaps him back into 2021, and Inamura powders looks rattled. KENTA does get the hold broken, but then eats some offense by Kitamiya for his troubles.

Kitamiya and Sakuraba exchanging as things break down a little more, Inaba gets tagged in and tries to speed things up. Sakuraba blocks a Brainbuster attempt by sitting out, but Inaba continues his relentless assault. Smartly, Inamura and KENTA come in together and this was a war. KENTA does more selling for the youngster and Inamura gets some great moment in. Kitamiya might still be a little salty that about KENTA walking away from him earlier, but it paid off in a beautiful old school NOAH way. KENTA landed his offense, and punctuated the match with a Go 2 Sleep.

Winner: KENTA wins via Go 2 Sleep

 

9t. WWE Day 1: SmackDown Tag Team Titles: New Day vs The Usos (c)

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Jimmy drags Kofi away, tags Jey back in and Jey wants to do what they did to Kofi before. Jey drags Kofi up, but Woods drags Jimmy out! Woods throws Jimmy into barriers, then into the steel steps! Kofi rolls Jey up, TWO! Schoolboy with bridge! TWO!! Jey runs in, into SOS!! Cover, TWO!!! Kofi crawls, tags in Woods, Jey runs into DOUBLE GAMANGIRI! Woods goes up, Kofi brings Jey around, BACKBREAKER and DOUBLE STOMP!! Cover, TWO!?!? Jey survives and Atlanta can’t believe it! Woods drags Jey up, shoulders him and tags in Kofi. They wanna shout out Big E but Jey shoves Woods into the corner!

Kofi jumps over, Jimmy tags in! SUPERKICK! Then DOUBLE SUPERKICKS!! Jimmy tags Jey back in, and each Uso gets a corner! DOUBLE UCE!! Cover, Woods breaks it!! The King saves this for his people! All four men are down and Atlanta is thunderous! The teams regroup and stand up. The Usos stare down with the New Day, and it fires off! They brawl, Woods throws Jimmy out to PLANCHA into a SUPERKICK! Jey hauls Kofi up in a fireman’s carry, Kofi slips off but Jimmy tags in! SUPERKICK! THREE D!??! Cover, The Usos win!!

Winner: Usos via Superkick 3D

 

5t. NOAH the New Year: GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: Keiji Muto & Naomichi Marufuji vs Masato Tanaka & Masaki Mochizuki

From Hisame’s Newsletter:

Naomichi Marufuji and Keiji Mutoh retained the GHC Heavyweight Tag titles against fellow M’s alliance unit members, Masaaki Mochizuki and Masato Tanaka. The match ended when Mochizuki was made to tap out after constant attacks on his knee and a Keiji Mutoh Figure Four. Mutoh said he had been trying particularly hard as he wanted to demonstrate his own judo background to Olympic athlete and Judoka, Aaron Wolf, who was on guest commentary. Masato Tanaka, who had fought Takashi Sugiura earlier in the day for the ZERO1 World Heavyweight, had sadly come away empty handed from Korakuen Hall. Takashi Sugiura has been challenged by Takuya Sugawara.

Keiji Mutoh has also stated that he would like to be GHC National Champion for his sixtieth birthday in December 2022.

Winner: Muto via Figure Four

 

5t. NOAH the New Year: GHC National Championship: Kenoh (c) vs Kaito Kiyomiya

From My Results:

Kiyomiya locks Kenoh into the Stretch Plum, and it’s nice to see how he started off as channeling Misawa, and now he’s learning to reinvent and adapt other things to slowly become his own person. Kenoh fires as Kiyomiya taps into a bit of the Rainmaker cockiness, since he so desperately wants a match with Kazuchika Okada. We see a Snap Dragon Suplex from Kenoh, Okada-esque Dropkick from Kiyomiya and then Kenoh hits a PK for them to both have a breather spot.

The aggression turns up, Kenoh starts hitting some stiff strikes and looks to go to the ropes. Kenoh’s finisher is a Rolling Double Foot Stomp when he’s not knocking people out. Kaito blocks, Kenoh jumps to the ramp, Kaito tries to follow but Kenoh catches him with a fierce German Suplex. As Kaito is rocked, Kenoh hits a normal Double Foot Stomp, but between how long it takes to roll him in the ring, Kaito kicks out.

Kenoh tries to hit a PK and go back for another Professional Foot Stomp, but Kaito blocks him and starts putting some offense together. Big strikes, Falcon Arrow variations, but Kenoh kicks out. They trade counters on big moves until Kenoh pulls a little Minoru Suzuki, changes levels and tries to slow the Supernova with a Sleeper. Kaito is mostly out, Professional Foot Stomp, but only two. Tiger Suplex, Dragon Suplex, strike exchange. The aggression and frustration is palpable. Kenoh hits a thunderous Roundhouse as Kaito folds over and the referee stops Kenoh from covering Kaito and calls for the bell. Kaito got knocked out, Kenoh retains!

Winner: Kenoh via Knockout

 

5t. IMPACT Hard to Kill: Texas Death Match: Knockouts World Title: Mickie James (c) vs Deonna Purrazzo

From My Results:

Deonna introduces thumbtacks, as is IMPACT tradition. Mickie moves off the table, tries to hit the Mick-DT on the Deonna but Deonna slips out and then a big Pump Kick sends Mickie back first into the tacks. You can see the tacks embedded in Mickie’s shoulder blades. Deonna chokes Mickie with her own chaps, Mickie taps as fast as she can and stands right before the 10 count.

Deonna attacks her from the apron, Mickie tries fight back, goes under the ring for her Hardcore Country guitar, but Deonna stays on the attack. Deonna beats Mickie with a chair while she’s in the tacks, goes to the top rope after lacing Mickie’s ankle in the chair. She wants to break Mickie’s ankle, but Mickie Sabu’s Deonna and then sells back down to the mat but into the tacks.

Thesz Press off the apron to the outside, 3 count and now the Standing 10 starts. Rehwoldt shows up to help Deonna stand, which gets around the loophole. Mickie with the Diving Crossbody and then puts Deonna back in the ring, and Deonna is busted open now. Deonna drives Mickie through the table with Queen’s Gambit, gets the pinfall but Mickie gets up. Mickie fights through, Deonna tries to stop Mickie with a …umm…Mandible Claw between the thighs. Mickie licks her fingers and just enjoys it, Rehwoldt tries to get involved, gets hit with the guitar, and Mickie is rolling. Deonna swings the chair, misses, bounces the chairs off the ropes hits herself and Mick-DT has Mickie James retain because Deonna doesn’t get up for the 10 count!

Winner: Mickie via Mick-DT

 

5t. NOAH the New Year: GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: HAYATA (c) vs Yoshinari Ogawa

From Hisame’s Newsletter:

HAYATA retained the GHC Junior Heavyweight against his teacher Yoshinari Ogawa at the Nippon Budokan. HAYATA pinned Ogawa via a reversal of The Headache after 20 minutes and 54 seconds. Ogawa could not forgive the knowledge that HAYATA had beaten him and proved that he was not the final challenger, and neither could he bear the growing realization that he had created a monster and one that knew him so well. HAYATA attempted a handshake (rare for him) but Ogawa threw the GHC Junior Heavyweight tag belt at him, and shaking his head he left the ring. HAYATA stood for a few moments awkwardly, and left after gathering up all the belts. Kotaro Suzuki echoed fan feelings when he said he didn’t know how they were going to work together when the title match comes up on the fourth, and YO-HEY asked on social media if the “strained” tag team were okay. However, how can anyone be sure that this isn’t just an Ogawa mind game?

Winner: HAYATA via Counter Cradle

 

3t. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.4: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada vs Shingo Takagi (c)

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Takagi tops things off and he DECKS Okada! Takagi drags Okada back up, pump handles, torture racks, but Okada slips off, MONEY CLIP! But Takagi arm-drags free, and BLINDSIDE ELBOWS! Takagi goes to the corner, fireman’s carries Okada and climbs up! Okada fights free and then moves around. Takagi throws body shots back, fans fire up, but Okada again resists! Okada and Takagi are brawling up top, Takagi fights up but Okada hits a SUPER DDT!! Fans are thunderous as both men are down again! Okada roars as he stands back up! Ripcord but Takagi elbows free! So Okada GERMAN SUPLEXES! Okada holds on, ripcords, but Takagi dodges!

Okada catches Takagi, spins, but into the JAB! And a HEADBUTT! Both men wobble, POINT-BLANK PUMPING!! Takagi fires up, he drags Okada up and pump handles for the torture rack! Okada fights again, dragon sleeper to a gut wrench! Takagi fights free of that, DRAGON SUPLEX! Takagi runs, into a DROPKCIK! Takagi flounders up to his feet, but runs into a MICHINOKU DRIVER! Okada gets Takagi back up, ripcord and RAINMAKER!!! Cover, Okada wins!!

Winner: Okada via Rainmaker

 

3t. IMPACT Hard to Kill: Jonah vs Josh Alexander

From My Results:

Jonah imposes his size and power early, but Josh sees the opening once Jonah goes for the Senton, and Josh rolls away. From that point, Josh gets a chance to knock Jonah around, gets him to the outside, lands a suplex from the apron into the ring and Jonah’s leg gets caught in the ropes. Josh takes advantage, but Jonah eventually stems the tide and starts throwing Josh around again.

This really turns into a slobberknocker with Josh trying to pick his spots and use his emotion to his advantage. He absorbs Jonah’s attacks to kick his foot out from under him and starts working on the leg. They spill out into the front row, the fans get evacuated, Jonah gets seated and Josh flies from the ring onto Jonah. Action goes back into the ring and they keep throwing strikes at one another.

Jonah goes for broke, attempts the Moonsault and misses. Josh lands the Rolling Elbow, Release German into a Jacknife Powerbomb. Ankle Lock, reapplication of the Ankle Lock and Jonah is forced to tap after Josh worked him over well and barely survived that while getting busted open.

Winner: Alexander via Ankle Lock

 

2. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 1.5: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Will Ospreay

From My Results:

The story of this match was that Ospreay really did his homework. We saw Ospreay hark back to many different championship matches Okada has had. Naomichi Marufuji, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada himself, Kenny Omega, Katsuyori Shibata; just a lot of little moments that made you stop and go “OH THAT”.

Ospreay also showed a level of maturation when he avoided going for the Sasuke Special on the initial outside the ring spot, but went to it when he got cocky, and Okada countered it. Okada’s thread here was that he knew Ospreay’s playbook fairly well. So he dodged the Hidden Blade once or twice, countered the Sasuke Special and when Ospreay got cocky and went for the Rainmaker, Okada hit him with a Stormbreaker. Ospreay did manage to hit every move in his arsenal, except Stormbreaker.

Hell, Ospreay even did what no one has done in the last year or so that Okada has broken it back out; and that’s kick out of the first full contact Rainmaker. Okada had to utilize the Rolling Rainmaker, the Nakamura inspired Landslide and then one more Rainmaker to keep Ospreay down. It was a really fun much if not a little too over indulgent sometimes. Definitely ends the show on a high note, because this day needed something.

Winner: Okada via Rainmaker

 

1. NOAH the New Year: GHC Heavyweight Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) vs Go Shiozaki

From My Results:

The smartass tendencies of Nakajima continue, and Shiozaki lands a Gowan Lariat because Nakajima is leaving himself open. Machine Gun chops in the corner, and Shiozaki is really playing the hits to prove his shoulder is in good shape. Those chops hurt my chest watching on Wrestle Universe. Nakajima catches Go with a classic Enzuigiri, and that gives him the momentum. Nakajima throws Go out, Apron PK and then just a lot of use of the outside to assist his attacks. They go to the ramp, fight back and forth and then Nakajima gets an idea.

2003 Kobashi and Misawa went through his mind, but Shiozaki blocked numerous times. Shiozaki counters, and then executes a release German Suplex sending Nakajima to the floor from the elevated ramp. Shiozaki manages to get Nakajima back into the ring before 20, goes for a larger move but Nakajima buys himself time by rolling away from it and landing a swift kick to help recollect himself. Fighting Spirit Kicks/Chops trade begins when they get up. This fighting spirit spot is a little reminiscent of the Kensuke Sasaki v Kenta Kobashi chop fest. Granted it’s both of their mentors, but it’s their version of it since Nakajima is known for his kicks.

Shiozaki removes the elbow pad, close range Gowan Lariat, also for just 2. Shiozaki goes for his big match move homage to Kenta Kobashi, as he goes for the Moonsault, but Nakajima moves. Punt from Nakajima gets a very weak kick out from Go. Vertical Spike number 2, with a long delay, is – AGAIN Shiozaki kicks out! Nakajima calls Shiozaki to his feet and hits him with a Northern Lights Bomb. Nakajima retains!

Winner: Nakajima via Northern Lights Bomb

 

Final Thoughts:

So we kick off 2022 with all 2022 and only 2022 content. As you can tell from the overwhelming repeat names, NOAH the New Year and Hard to Kill were tremendous shows. Wrestle Kingdom was lacking but the main events paid off, and WWE was middle of the road, but wasn’t even close to bad. All that being said, NOAH is the Japanese company to follow since the pandemic and some things don’t change. Maybe for NJPW’s hope, they can work with NOAH more through the year and figure themselves out.

The GHC Heavyweight match is obviously my choice, but we NOAH just needs more attention. Am I going to start watching AEW? No, might I watch something hyped, sure. But those are some of the worst written cringe stories outside of a high school drama class. I’ll tolerate NJPW struggle bussing before I actively decide to watch trash from Jacksonville.


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News

News From Cook’s Corner 5.16.22: Headbutting Fools Since 2022

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! Steve Cook here with you for the first one of these in quite some time. There’s been a lot going on, most of which I don’t plan on discussing live & in public if you will. Some stuff to deal with, and enough of it is dealt with that I can get back to doing my thing. Still some more stuff to deal with, but writing helps.

Another thing that helps? There’s finally enough wrestling news going on for me to write up one of these things. Let’s get to it.

Roman Going Part-Time?

Last weekend, Roman Reigns made some comments after a WWE live event in Trenton, NJ that made ears perk up. After his match, he talked about how it might be his last time appearing in Trenton, and that he was going through a new phase in life. Then after his match teaming with the Usos at WrestleMania Backlash, Reigns hinted that it might be the last time they all team together. Naturally, this led to everybody jumping to all sorts of conclusions. Some thought he was retiring. Others thought it was a new Paul Heyman-inspired worked shoot storyline, and nothing would really change.

As usual, the truth ended up somewhere in the middle. Reigns & WWE came to a new agreement, one that involves Reigns working far fewer dates than he has been. If you’ve been watching this stuff as long as I have, you know this was the most likely scenario. It’s the natural progression of top WWE Superstars. Once they reach a certain height of stardom, they’re not going to be working as often. Reigns has made no secret of his desire to get into acting, and Nick Khan has made no secret of WWE’s desire to help Reigns in that endeavor. WWE has done right by Reigns, and Reigns has had his part in helping the company achieve record-setting profits.

Reigns will still be part of WWE’s major events. He was pulled from advertising for many house shows, but is still advertised for Money in the Bank, SummerSlam & Clash at the Castle in Wales. He was on the most recent episode of SmackDown as well, though I think we can assume he won’t be wrestling on that show anytime soon. Reigns’ last match on SmackDown was back on December 3, 2021, when he put an unconscious Sami Zayn in a choke to win in a matter of seconds. He can do his lengthy entrance, talk after Paul Heyman and call it a night. Eventually, we won’t get that quite as often.

WWE will be looking to elevate somebody into Roman’s spot sooner rather than later. As things stand, there isn’t really anybody on the roster on Roman Reigns’ level. I’m more positive than most probably are on the idea of WWE elevating somebody to Reigns’ level…if Reigns’ career has proven anything, it’s that Vince McMahon won’t give up on a guy if he 100% believes in him. How many times could Reigns have been sent down the card due to subpar fan reaction? Vince never did, he was going to make the darn thing work.

There’s also the pesky little thing of Roman being the WWE Universal Champion. He could drop it at one of those summer stadium shows, or he could hold onto it until he breaks Bruno Sammartino’s record of 2,803 days. We know they’re not going to elevate the Intercontinental & United States Championships, those things are never on Peacock and barely ever on television. I have to go along with Greg DeMarco’s idea of creating Raw & SmackDown men’s championships. The men would match the women then, and WWE could also sell new title belts. Reigns could still have the historical championship to defend once in awhile.

MJF: The story you’ll get tired of long before 2024

I don’t know if you’ve heard this or not, but MJF’s contract with AEW expires in 2024. Fightful was sure to let us know this week that he’s unhappy with his current status. I’m sure they believe their sources and are happy with themselves, but I have to wonder based off of one simple thing:

MJF is always working.

That’s the thing old heads like me love about him. This kid is always working that gimmick. He’s always the biggest asshole on the planet, except on Long Island, where he’s still an asshole but accepted by his peers. I like that about him, but at the same time I realize that nothing he puts out there is legitimate. People wonder why wrestling news sources always get things wrong, and the reason is much simpler than they think: Wrestlers lie. Especially wrestlers as good at their job as MJF.

So I hate to be the bearer of bad news to my fellow IWC folks that think they have super insider knowledge, but the man is always working an angle. As long as they’re ok with being used by him, it’ll be ok.

Maybe MJF jumps to WWE in 2024. I have a tough time believing they’ll push somebody of his body type as a top guy, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe WWE pushes MJF into acting and everybody involved lives happily ever after. Can’t rule that out. Until then, if I was MJF’s current employer and had him locked in until 2024 and he was putting stuff out there about how he wanted to jump ship, I would have Wardlow powerbomb him into the sun. Just squash the shit out of him until he got the message. If he didn’t get the message? That would be fine. I’d just feed him to everybody I could until his contract expired.

I doubt Tony Khan would be that petty. Then again, some of his social media activity indicates the opposite. Who knows?

Ric Flair Returning To The Ring?

On one hand, the idea of 73 year old Ric Flair returning to the ring seems completely insane. We’re talking about somebody that barely avoided death a few years back, who hasn’t wrestled since 2011, and that promoters started avoiding for some time after the Dark Side of the Ring episode about the Plane Ride From Hell aired.

On the other hand, it’s not like Ric Flair hasn’t gone against the grain before. He’s also stated that he never wanted to retire from wrestling, and would be happy if he died in the ring. So when you think about it, it’s not surprising at all that Flair would be pursuing a return to the ring. The question is who would go along with such a thing, and if everything could fall in line for it to happen. Dave Meltzer says the current plan is for Flair to team with FTR against the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express & “someone”. Not sure who would be hosting such a thing, though the Big Time Wrestling promotion that just booked Mick Foley to manage FTR for a match comes to mind. I could also see GCW being all over something like this.

It’s not like septuagenarians have never wrestled before. Most of your all-time legends were still kicking around years after people told them not to wrestle. Lou Thesz had his last match at the age of 74. Buddy Rogers almost had a match with Buddy Landell at 71 before the promotion that booked it closed. Jerry Lawler is 72 and still doing his thing on the indies. Terry Funk’s most recent match was at 73. Jimmy Valiant was 77 for his retirement match. Heck, Canek is on the verge of 70 and just had a passable match with Psycho Clown at TripleMania. That being said, most of them didn’t have Flair’s medical history. Lawler had a heart attack, but he kicked out of it and also had the good fortune to not have addiction issues.

I will say that it would be a good thing for Flair if he focused his energy on getting into ringshape instead of indulging some of his demons. I see the clips of him working out with Jay Lethal and think that’s a better usage of his time than what he’d be doing otherwise. So I’m all for Ric Flair training for a comeback. It’s his life, after all. Who are we to tell him what to do?

Hot Take: Fans Should Not Headbutt Wrestlers

We’ve all heard the stories about rambunctious crowds in the good ol’ days. Back when men were men, women were women & the sheep were scared, evil pro wrestlers used to be able to rile fans up to the point where they would need to fight their way backstage. We haven’t seen it as much since the territory days ended, but there’s still occasions where fans’ suspension of disbelief leads to them going after the wrestlers.

One of them happened this past weekend in Augusta, Georgia. Wrestler Joe Black pulled the ultimate heel move: knocking somebody’s hat off. The cad! The fan, whose punk card had been pulled in front of God & everybody, did what all of us would have done in that instance.

That’s right, he delivered a headbutt!

I must say, this is the first time I’ve seen a fan headbutt a wrestler. Back in the old days they had knives with them. It’s usually tougher to get weapons into a wrestling venue these days, so ol’ boy had to go a different route. Also, I’m pretty sure wrestlers didn’t knock hats off of fans’ heads back in the day, as they were trying to avoid getting knived.

Should Joe Black have knocked the hat off of Scooter’s head? Probably not. I would prefer that wrestlers not touch fans except for a high five, and even that’s questionable these days. On the other hand…dude, you’re a fan. It’s fun to get wrapped up in this stuff, but there’s never a reason you should be looking to throw hands with any wrestler.

If you’re going to attend a wrestling show soon, don’t be this guy. A simple request from your favorite from back in the day.

Thanks for reading! I won’t make any promises about when the next one of these things will be, but it should be sooner than three months. Until then, keep your stick on the ice.


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Opinion

Cook’s WrestleMania Backlash 2022 Gambling Picks

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Hey kids! I know it’s been a minute since I’ve graced the pages of The Chairshot. What can I say, it’s been a busy stretch. Work is picking up, sports are picking up, pretty much everything is picking up!

Well, not everything, if the WrestleMania Backlash card tells me anything. Not that it’s new for the Backlash shows to have a large number of WrestleMania re-matches, but it doesn’t exactly make one more excited to talk about the same things one talked about for weeks heading into WrestleMania. On the bright side, one can also be busy for weeks, drop right in to do some Backlash coverage, and feel like they haven’t missed anything. Life is too short to be bothered.

This column is being written on Thursday night/Friday morning, which means three things you need to keep in mind. One: WWE typically adds matches to their Premium Live Events in the hours leading up to the show. Two: Our odds provided by BetOnline are certainly subject to change. Three: As always, all of these picks are for entertainment purposes.

As the card stands, we’ve got four WrestleMania re-matches and two new ones. We’ll lead and close with the new ones, while covering the old ones in the middle. Makes sense to me, which is what counts since I’m the one driving the bus here.

Madcap Moss (-200) vs. Happy Corbin (+135)

You had to know this friendship wouldn’t last for ever. For one thing, it was a friendship formed on a wrestling show, and I’m pretty sure none of those ever last. For another thing, Happy was bound to get jealous of Madcap’s recent success in the ring, his good humor, his connection with the fans, and his six-pack. These are not things that Happy Corbin is familiar with, so he & Madcap Moss were never going to be able to remain on the same page too long.

If I know one thing about Happy Corbin feuds, it’s that they all last forever and a day. Moss seems to have some potential and could be headed to big things, but a Happy Corbin win via chicanery forcing the feud to continue seems like a good bet to me.

Edge (-145) vs. AJ Styles (+100)

Edge’s Triple H/Undertaker mishmash thing he has going on is kind of weird, but does serve the purpose of making him a heel. Which is great since he’s always been more interesting in that role. The idea seems to be building Damian Priest as his protege, but unfortunately for Edge, Priest is banned from ringside here due to Style defeating him on Raw.

A temporary setback though. Edge will likely win here, the question is who will help him win. Will Priest come in under a disguise? Will AJ’s clubhouse buddy Finn Balor do the dirty deed? That guy’s always seemed a bit shady. Or, will it be someone else entirely? I’m not sure of much, but I am sure that we haven’t seen the full roster of Edge’s associates.

Cody Rhodes (-300) vs. Seth Rollins (+200)

Cody is still generating goodwill during his time in WWE, which is a good thing for us all. Would we rather see a wrestler popular and doing good things in one company, or unpopular and doing meh things in the other? Seems like an easy choice to me, and Cody definitely seems on his way to being part of WWE’s main event scene for a long time to come. Granted, WWE fans could turn on the guy just like AEW fans did, but let’s worry about that when it happens.

If anybody knows about the fans turning on them, it would be Seth Rollins. The number of suits Rollins owns doesn’t equal the number of times fans have changed their minds on his abilities or lack thereof. He’s at his best as a smarmy prick, and has done his best to get under Cody’s skin of late. Will it be enough for Rollins to get a win at WrestleMania Backlash? Nah, I think they save Cody Rhodes‘s first defeat for another time.

Omos (-300) vs. Bobby Lashley (+200)

MVP decided to pull the ol’ Mr. Fuji move after WrestleMania. Even though Lashley got the win at that show, MVP believes that Omos has more upside. Not sure how smart a move that is, as I remember Fuji’s decision to back the younger Powers of Pain over the established Demolition and how poorly that went for him. Omos is a tall boy, but he hasn’t proven to have the versatility in the ring that Lashley has.

Maybe it’s Omos’ time to get the win, but if you’re giving me Bobby Lashley as an underdog I’m taking that all day.

SmackDown Women’s Championship I Quit Match
Ronda Rousey (-700) vs. Charlotte Flair (+360)

Since the start of her mixed martial-arts career, Ronda Rousey has not lost a match via submission. She’s been knocked out, but has never quit. It’s easy to see why she’s such a huge favorite against Charlotte, who has given up in multiple championship matches. Saying “I Quit” wouldn’t be a new thing for Charlotte, while one doubts the words have ever crossed Ronda’s lips.

That said, there’s always a first time for everything. One could make the argument that if anybody is capable of making Ronda Rousey submit, it would be Charlotte via her figure-eight hold. I won’t be making that argument, but one could make it if they wanted to.

Drew McIntyre & RK-Bro (-275) vs. Roman Reigns & The Usos (+185)

WrestleMania saw Roman Reigns combine the WWE & Universal Championships by defeating Brock Lesnar. Naturally, the next goal for the Bloodline would be for the Usos to combine the Raw & SmackDown Tag Team Championships. They seemed on course to do that until Roman interrupted the contract signing & helped beat Randy Orton & Riddle up. One can only assume that Reigns has no faith in his cousins to defeat RK-Bro, which might be a fair opinion for him to have.

Drew McIntyre came to the save of RK-Bro and Riddle convinced Drew & Randy to bury the hatchet, so we’re getting a trios match in Providence. It’s a means of stretching the issue out to at least the next Premium Live Event, probably longer. Should be a solid match, all the combatants are reasonably over, and I’m not a fan of combining all the titles anyway. No complaints here.

Drew & RK-Bro winning seems to make sense to keep them strong, but so does the Bloodline winning because they usually win things. I’d count on one of the Usos getting pinned.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy making money off the rasslin!


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