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Cook: Can AEW Avoid The TNA Trap?

Steve Cook takes a look at potential major flaw in AEW, the company that doesn’t want to overexpose ex-WWE talent: overexposing ex-WWE talent.



Jon Moxley AEW Champion Chairshot Edit

Steve Cook takes a look at potential major flaw in AEW, the company that doesn’t want to overexpose ex-WWE talent: overexposing ex-WWE talent.

I’ve seen people out there trying to float the idea that Jon Moxley’s AEW Championship reign has been a failure. Unless you want to be completely facetious and claim that he’s the reason that AEW isn’t selling any tickets right now, I don’t see how one can make that argument. TV ratings are down, but he hasn’t been on every episode and it seems pretty clear that no-crowd wrestling isn’t drawing eyeballs no matter what company is putting it on. Moxley’s drawing power as champion can’t be judged by anything going on right now. He’s not on the hook for it.

With that being said, it’s fair to look at certain booking patterns.

Any promotion that wants wrestling fans to take them seriously needs to have a solid heavyweight championship scene. They need to be able to present compelling contenders that look like they could be a viable champion at any given time. If you don’t have that, you have a gigantic hole at the top of your card. That’s not a hole that’s easy to cover up.

Fortunately, AEW had the perfect person to be their very first champion. Le Champion, in fact. Chris Jericho is more than worthy of holding any title pro wrestling has to offer. He’s already held most of them. He adds value to any belt that he holds. If you’re looking to launch a championship with a big name, Chris Jericho is a damn good one to go with. As much as we all love “Hangman” Adam Page these days and wouldn’t mind him winning every championship, Jericho was the obvious choice to get the strap back in August 2019.

Who did he defend the championship against after beating the Hangman to win it? Well, that’s easy enough to look up, so let’s take a look.

  • Darby Allin
  • Cody
  • Scorpio Sky
  • Jon Moxley

That’s an interesting mixture of wrestlers with different styles & backgrounds. Allin’s biggest exposure prior to AEW was EVOLVE, while Sky made it to ROH eventually after having a nice little WSX stint eons ago. Cody & Moxley were proven commodities, but Allin & Sky were guys that AEW built up to get a title shot, and both provided entertaining matches & mini-feuds with Jericho.

Moxley winning the title was the right move at the right time. Unfortunately the world changed right afterwards. However, we can assume that the general booking plan wouldn’t have been too different had things proceeded as planned. Maybe a Jericho title shot would have been mixed in, Instead, we’ve seen one Moxley title defense and a build for the next one at Double or Nothing. Who were they against?

  • Jake Hager
  • Brodie Lee

Two guys that we know mostly from their time in WWE. Sure, Hager has some MMA cred, and Brodie wrestled all over the indies back in the day, but most people watching AEW shows know them as Jack Swagger & Luke Harper. It looks like AEW bringing in guys that WWE mis-used and claiming they can use them better. I think they have used Hager better as Jericho’s heavy in the Inner Circle faction. The jury’s still out on Brodie’s Vince McMahon impression.

We’ve seen this before.

We’ve complained about it before when it came from a #2 promotion. Remember TNA? They’re still in business actually as Impact Wrestling. They’re not #2 anymore, but might be #3 depending on how much you love Sinclair Broadcasting’s Ring of Honor. I have no time for such debates. What I do have time for is pointing out one of the major criticisms we all had about TNA for uears and years. TNA had this nasty habit of signing everybody that left WWE and pushing them right into their world title picture.

Their NWA Champions:

  • Ken Shamrock
  • Ron “The Truth” Killings
  • Jeff Jarrett
  • AJ Styles
  • Raven
  • Rhino
  • Christian Cage
  • Sting
  • Abyss

Styles & Abyss were the only two that didn’t get their first major exposure in WWE or WCW. I only include WCW because of Sting. Kurt Angle was the first man to win the TNA Championship once the NWA pulled out of the company.

Listen, I know WWE puts pretty much every wrestler in captivity under contract at some point. Featuring their former wrestlers in title matches isn’t a terrible idea…as long as you plan on building some other people up that weren’t in WWE at some point.

AEW hasn’t reached that point yet. That doesn’t mean they’re a failure by any means. But it’s worth pointing out. If we’re still talking about this type of thing years down the road, it’s a big problem. AEW has some names on their way to this level. MJF could be there pretty soon. Sammy Guevara, Jungle Boy, the aforementioned Allin are all guys that stand to be top contenders in the future.

Hopefully that future comes sooner rather than later. If not, AEW risks becoming the latest fed to live off of WWE’s leftovers. That’s probably the last thing they want, but they need to take action now to keep it from happening.

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Greg DeMarco’s Good, Bad, & Ugly: WWE Smackdown On FOX (November 3, 2023)

It’s the go-home show for WWE Crown Jewel, and Smackdown is in full force! As is Greg’s Good, Bad, & Ugly review!



WWE Smackdown John Cean Solo Sikoa

It’s the go-home show for WWE Crown Jewel, and Smackdown is in full force! As is Greg’s Good, Bad, & Ugly review!

WWE Smackdown On FOX sends us home for the Crown Jewel premium live event, so it has to be strong. But is it? Maybe it’s Good. Possibly it’s Bad? I sure hope it isn’t Ugly.

Let’s find out!

If you haven’t checked out Mitchell’s Results & Review for this episode of Smackdown, go and check it out now!


  • Roman Reigns & LA Knight In Ring Promo – Last week LA Knight got the better of Roman, so it made sense for Roman to get it all back this week. And he did just that. “Redneck Cosplay of my cousin” was a fantastic line from Roman Reigns, but “I ain’t here to finish something” from LA Knight got a bigger reaction from me. Roman calling himself the megastar was also a phenomenal line. Good stuff all around.
  • Kevin Owens vs. Austin Theory – Kevin Patrick keeping “The 150 million hit man” schtick going for Austin Theory is so great. Milk that for all it’s worth! “What is your issue with Kevin Owens’ face?” “LOOK AT IT, MAN!” Absolutely brilliant shit. “How’s that feel, idiot?” Grayson Waller should be on commentary every week, for every match. And this match, by the way, was really good. Austin Theory has settled into his current role, showing he understands the WWE cycle. And Owens is Owens.
  • Backstage Series Of Events – We had the Bianca Belair interview where she was attacked by Damage Ctrl, followed by The Street Profits & Bobby Lashley running into Logan Paul and then B-Fab. Flowed well, no issues for me.
  • Chelsea Green & Piper Niven vs. Shotzi Blackheart & Charlotte Flair – No surprise that Charlotte Flair was the partner, and no surprise that Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn made an appearance. This was a perfectly fine TV match–didn’t set the world on fire, but also wasn’t Bad or Ugly. This was a step in this story, and an effective one.
  • The Brawling Brutes vs. Pretty Deadly in a Good Ol’ Fashioned Donnybrook! – Shout out to Sheamus, whose return I look forward to seeing. With Ridge really coming into his own, we’re to the point where all four of these guys range from good to great to fantastic on any given night. Putting Pretty Deadly into any “manly fight” is always guaranteed entertainment. Really, Pretty Deadly in anything is typically guaranteed entertainment. Pretty Deadly picking up the win was not a shock, although I’d have loved to see Butch and Ridge Holland pick up a win here. Given the rules (or lack thereof) of this match, Pretty Deadly basically won clean here.
  • Rey Mysterio vs. Logan Paul Crown Jewel Weigh-In – A very effective way to pretape something, which saves time as part of a double taping. It was essentially a go home promo, but done in a different way. I liked it. It also smoothly transitions into the rundown of the card by the commentary team, which I always appreciate.
  • Bianca Belair vs. Bayley – If you know me, you know that Bianca can be hit or miss for me. She can’t “work with anyone,” but she can definitely work with Bayley. Bayley, of course, is money with anything she does. Both women delivered a main event quality match, and no one should complain that Bianca Belair won. She’s challenging for the Women’s Championship in less than 24 canon hours, so she needs to win. Bayley is a made woman, losing here doesn’t hurt her one bit.
  • “Just Enough Nick” Nick Aldis Usage – Triple H has done an amazing job of establishing Nick Aldis. Three weeks in and he already “belongs.” Much of that is attributed to how Aldis carries himself. But they are also using him to the right degree. It’s not too much, but it’s also not too little. Adam Pearce could miss two weeks of Raw and when he shows back up, it all makes sense. For Aldis, he needs to be very present, but not overbearing or “shoved down our throats.” They have the right balance.


  • Solo Sikoa & John Cena In Ring Promo – John Cena, lost voice and all, completely buries Solo Sikoa. He “cooks” Solo, as promised. And, as Cena does, he makes Solo look like crap. Bargain Basement Tazz Rip Off? C’mon man, you’re better than that. But here’s the real problem: what happens if Solo loses? Cena made him look like a loser, and then proves that he is? Solo has to win this match. If he doesn’t, and Cena is gone, then Solo is left out in the cold. And you don’t want to do that to Solo Sikoa at this point of his career.


  • Misstep for Theory – Referencing Halloween as if it hadn’t already happened. You can edit this episode–c’mon, man!
  • Kevin Owens’ Crotch Chop – C’mon, man! We’re better than crotch chops in 2023.

The Verdict

  • Good – 8
  • Bad – 1
  • Ugly – 2

In all honesty this was a damn good show. Milwaukee showed out considering they’d already seen 2 hours of Smackdown before this was taped. Good on them, and good on WWE for a great go home show for Crown Jewel.

Interesting of note – the pictures for this show that are posted to the WWE website are uploaded in the order the matches and segments were recorded, not the order in which they aired. Just a little tidbit that I found interesting.

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Greg DeMarco’s Wrestling Ratings Report: Monday Night Raw (10/30/2023) & WWE NXT (10/31/2023)

Greg DeMarco takes a look at your Monday and Tuesday night TV ratings. What do they mean? Do they matter?



WWE NXT Halloween Havoc Night 2 Carmelo Hayes Ilja Dragunov

Greg DeMarco takes a look at your Monday and Tuesday night TV ratings. What do they mean? Do they matter?

Settle in for a look at this week’s ratings for WWE Monday Night Raw and WWE NXT Halloween Havoc Night 2! Both were up against some stiff competition–let’s see how they fared!

WWE Monday Night Raw (October 30, 2023)

  • Hour #1 – 1.466 million viewers, .44 demo rating, #6 for the night on cable
  • Hour #2 – 1.450 million viewers, .46 demo rating #5 for the night on cable
  • Hour #3 – 1.256 million viewers, .39 demo rating, #8 for the night on cable

WWE Monday Night Raw for October 30, 2023 faced some stiff competition on Monday night. You had Monday Night Football as normal–which aired on both ESPN and ABC–along with the usual peripheral shows (Monday Night Football Postgame, Monday Night Football Kickoff, SportsCenter, and the Monday Night Countdown, which factored into the Top 10). 6.851 million people watched Monday Night Football on ESPN, a number that more than doubles when you factor in ABC.

What does it all mean? It means that outside of Monday Night Football–on cable–WWE Monday Night Raw was the top rated show. If you take away all things NFL, Raw finishes #1, #2, and #3 for the night. Viewership did drop off for our 3, but that’s the 10 PM hour that sees kids go to bed and people checking on the Monday Night Football and World Series games.

Speaking of which, that’s another factor to consider–the World Series! 8.126 million people watched the World Series on FOX (not really that good), with another 8.356 million watching Monday Night Football on ABC (yes, more than the World Series) for a decent-at-best Lions vs Raiders match-up.

In summary, it was another successful night for WWE Monday Night Raw, which was the go-home edition of the program. You can check out my Good Bad & Ugly look at Monday’s Raw, where I gave the show an overall “Good” rating. Haven’t watched yet? Give Mitchell’s live coverage a read.

Listen to this week’s edition of Bandwagon Nerds!

WWE NXT Halloween Havoc Night 2 (October 31, 2023)

  • Entire Broadcast – 674 thousand viewers, .20 demo rating, #6 for the night on cable

WWE NXT (Halloween Havoc Night 2) for October 31, 2023, had to deal with a myriad of external factors this week. First is the most obvious–it was Halloween! Many people had plans, Trick-Or-Treat escapades and more. That right there will be a detriment to any ratings results. Add in two live NBA games, each drawing over a million viewers for TNT. Combine it all together and WWE NXT was the top rated program that wasn’t sports programming on TNT or ESPN. Hell, the entire Top 12 consisted of ESPN and TNT sports programming, plus NXT.

It’s easy to call this a failure since viewership was lost week over week. But that’s very shortsighted. The fact remains that NXT was among the most watched programming for the night, holding its own against live sports and sports-peripheral programming.  If you’re WWE and USA Network, you’re nothing but happy with these results.

NXT, of course, featured the second week of Halloween Havoc, headlined by Ilja Dragunov defending the NXT Championship against Carmelo Hayes in the third match of their trilogy. Along with that you had The Creed Brothers in a Tables, Ladders, and Scares (Chairs) match with Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo, Lola Vice vs. Kelani Jordan in the finals of the Women’s Breakout Tournament, and much more.

I’d call the Tuesday program a ratings success. My Good, Bad, & Ugly review of NXT Halloween Havoc Night 2 is available here, where I called it “Good” overall. If you haven’t seen the show yet, check out Mitchell’s play-by-play.

As the weeks roll on, I will compile some historical data and look more about week-over-week (and beyond) patterns in all of my ratings reports.

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