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Opinion

Cook’s Top 5: Non-WWE Stories of 2022

With free agents available this year and borders ideally opening up, the landscape has changed. Let’s see where Cook thinks 2022 is headed!

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With free agents available this year and borders ideally opening up, the landscape has changed. Let’s see where Cook thinks 2022 is headed!

It’s 2022, you know what that means! It’s time for your humble correspondent to predict the major stories of the upcoming year & just what’s going to happen in this crazy thing called the wrestling business. Today, we look at non-WWE business. We’re keeping AEW in this grouping for now, but perhaps that’ll change by the time 2023 rolls around. Let’s let it play out and see how it goes.

5. Does Ring of Honor come back?

ROH Logo

We all know ROH is on a hiatus. As I write this, the official plan is for the company to return on WrestleMania weekend in Dallas with free agent talent. We’ll find out before WrestleMania weekend whether or not this will actually happen. Should it happen, it’d be a great opportunity for free agent talent. Say what you will about ROH under Sinclair Broadcasting, but the show airs on stations across the country & is a good chance for people to get exposure. WWE & AEW’s rosters both have plenty of names with ROH experience to their credit. It could be a great opportunity for new names to emerge and eventually move up to one of the top two North American promotions.

Or, maybe it doesn’t happen & those ROH tv slots either get filled with WOW or paid programming. I’m leaning towards ROH maybe having one or two shows before the plug gets pulled, but maybe the shows generate enough interest to keep things running. Final Battle seems to have done pretty well, maybe some momentum builds off that.

4. Will non-US promotions get back on the radar?

NJPW New Japan Logo

The pandemic pretty much derailed opportunities for foreign promotions to break into the US market. New Japan Pro Wrestling’s attempt to generate more business in America has certainly taken a hit. Its NJPW Strong show has met with critical acclaim but hasn’t generated a lot of interest outside the hardcore fanbase. Some of New Japan’s best did appear on American television regularly in 2021. Unfortunately for New Japan, some of the American names they had previously used to generate interest weren’t able to go to Japan. They hope that’ll change soon.

Then there’s the strange situation with AAA. They can get their titles on television via AEW & Impact Wrestling, but they haven’t been able to air their shows here. A lawsuit with their former partners in Lucha Underground has limited any gains AAA could get off of Penta, Rey Fenix and the rest of their talent making waves in the U.S.. They did manage to air TripleMania Regia on FITE TV, so maybe that’s a sign of things to come in 2022.

3. Will new feds emerge to take ROH’s spot?

Jonathan Gresham

ROH’s hiatus has already led to one new promotion. Jonathan Gresham’s Terminus Pro Wrestling will be running its first show in January, featuring many of Gresham’s like-minded pure wrestlers. Oh, and Bandido, who we assume will face Gresham in an ROH title match somewhere since they both have belts now. They’re even bringing in Dave Prazak & Lenny Leonard, ROH’s announce team during what most people consider its creative apex. Terminus certainly seems to be positioning itself to be ROH’s spiritual successor.

Game Changer Wrestling isn’t a new fed, but it’s certainly seen a rise in prominence over the past couple of years. They’ve got a hold of the ultraviolent market, and now look to be expanding their horizons by bringing in non-hardcore ROH talent. They’ll be one of many promotions looking towards that talent pool to fill up their own.

2. Is Tony Khan doing too much?

There’s a lot of different angles you could take the business with Tony & Big Swole that exploded on Friday. Most people are pushing the racism aspect because it gets clicks, but as a white boy from Kentucky I’m not even going to act like I have any knowledge or expertise that can be added to the situation. I think there’s something going on here that people are overlooking.

Think about it: Tony Khan is a pretty busy guy. He’s taken the AEW booking for himself with a little assistance. He’s also heavily involved with his soccer club in England & his American football team in Jacksonville. All three of these gigs involve more wheeling & dealing than most of us have to deal with on a daily basis. Tony’s still a young guy, which has positives and negatives. The good thing is that he has a ton of energy. The bad thing? He’s not the most emotionally mature person in the world. People that follow him on social media have seen that over & over again. Khan’s been known to go off on randos on Twitter that criticize his teams or his decision making. All it took was one clickbait headline for him to go off on how racially diverse AEW is and throw in a shot at an ex-employee for good measure.

Which leads to the following question: Is Tony Khan doing too much? Is he too wound up over everything going on? Aren’t there people in AEW that can take a few things off of his plate? Isn’t there somebody that could oversee his social media accounts? One of the things that could derail AEW’s momentum is for the company’s public image to take a gigantic hit, or a series of hits that all add up to people not wanting to support a company they hoped would be different.

Also, if he’s being stretched too thin, it’ll show in the quality of AEW’s television.

1. Which ex-WWE employees will shine?

WWE NXT Keith Lee Santa Hat Christmas

It’s no secret that WWE released a ton of talent in 2021. Unless they all retire, there’s a pretty good chance that some of these people will have a big effect on 2022. So who are the names most likely to do so? We know Jeff Hardy’s heading to AEW to team with his brother against some of their top tag teams at some point. That’ll happen. As for people that haven’t been wrestling megastars for 20 years?

Keith Lee could be a big deal somewhere if his health holds up.
Mia Yim would fit in any women’s division.
Swerve Scott’s a pretty talented cat.
Toni Storm seems like a gigantic missed opportunity.

I haven’t even mentioned all the people that already got jobs somewhere. Bottom line: there’s a lot of experienced talent for people to utilize in 2022.


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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