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Cook’s Top 5: 2006 Wrestling Memories

The journey continues! Steve Cook stops his time travel in 2006, when he graduates college and Kurt Angle…..graduates to TNA?

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Kurt Angle TNA Impact Wrestling Chairshot Edit

The journey continues! Steve Cook stops his time travel in 2006, when he graduates college and Kurt Angle…..graduates to TNA?

2006 was a busy year.

I graduated from college & entered the “real world”. However, I still had a lot of attention on what some would call the “fake world” of pro wrestling. There was a lot going on locally, and I was in the thick of a lot of it. Let’s look at my 5 most vivid memories of 2006 as we continue my celebration of 30 glorious years as a wrestling fan.

5. OVW & HWA in Cincinnati?

To be honest, Cincinnati has never really been a tip-top wrestling market. The Sheik ran shows there for awhile, Ole Anderson & Jim Crockett tried after that, and national promotions have stopped by a couple of times a year or so, but Cincinnati isn’t mentioned as a top wrestling city like a lot of Midwestern towns are. Regional promotions had a tough time breaking into the area for years. I’d read about companies like the USWA & SMW that operated right on the border, but never quite got that far north. They got their shows on a low-powered station, but never toured ECW ran a total of one show in Cincinnati. Heck, ROH got as close as Dayton, but didn’t crack that Cincinnati barrier until the Sinclair era.

So it was interesting in 2006 when Ohio Valley Wrestling finally got a TV deal in Cincinnati. Good timing for me since I’d just moved back to the area from Louisville. However, it wasn’t exactly the best timing for OVW. Jim Cornette had been forced out of the company. Paul Heyman took over creative for awhile, but by this time he was working for WWE’s ECW brand. So the booking wasn’t exactly what it was in OVW’s glory days, the talent wasn’t exactly what it was then, and overall it just wasn’t quite up to what I had seen in Louisville. There was some talent that would become something later. Some kid named Cody Runnels was teaming with Shawn Spears. Colt Cabana & Matt Sydal made their way in. Katie Lea & Beth Phoenix were doing good things in the women’s division. There were bits & pieces, but it just wasn’t like the old days when the Disnmores, Conways, Damajas & Machines were carrying the territory with Bolin Services & the Disciples of Synn at their apex of heeldom.

Another interesting part of OVW getting a TV deal: the HWA got a spot on right after them. There was some talent there too! A very young Jon Moxley, Cannonball Callihan & the Crist Brothers were starting out. However, they weren’t what they would become, and the production of the show was beyond godawful. It was a really cool idea to have pro wrestling on local television in 2006, but it was a bit ahead of its time.

4. Kurt Angle moves to TNA

One of the big backstage stories of 2006 involved the physical & mental health of Kurt Angle. Things weren’t going well for him on WWE’s full-time schedule, so he asked for his release. Shortly after, he popped up in TNA and a lot of people were worried. I remember 411 posting a column from a new writer that was convinced that Angle would die in a TNA ring. That didn’t happen.

Angle did have some ups & downs during his TNA stint, but it didn’t go nearly as poorly as people feared. The lighter schedule helped Angle stay active in wrestling well into the 2010s and produce some great matches on TNA events. All in all, I’d say things worked out for the best.

3. Backlash 2006

It was time for final exams in college. So what was I doing? Traveling to Lexington for a wrestling show, of course! Backlash 2006 was the show, and I got some results via History of WWE, who also present some other results that will appear later.

Heat – featured Joey Styles & Jerry Lawler on commentary: Goldust pinned Rob Conway with a powerslam at 3:38

My friend was hoping for a CM Punk vs. Rob Conway match, so when Conway came out we were wondering if he got it right for a second. Also, Conway’s theme at this point was tremendous:

Doesn’t age well though, with a lyric like “Unlike you, I’ve had my way with many, many girls”. Sounds a bit problematic.

Carlito Caribbean Cool pinned Chris Masters with the Back Cracker and putting both feet on the middle rope for leverage at 9:58 after Masters hit the top turnbuckle face-first; after the bout, Maria showed several comments from fans earlier in the night of who they thought would win the night’s main event triple threat match; she introduced the backstage segment by saying Masters won the opening match and ended by segment by interviewing Lita about Edge’s participation in the main event
Umaga (w/ Armando Allejandro Estrada) pinned Ric Flair with a thumb strike to the throat at 3:29 following a headbutt off the middle turnbuckle
Trish Stratus defeated WWE Women’s Champion Mickie James via disqualification at 4:05 when the champion refused to stop choking Trish; mid-way through the bout, Trish fell to the floor, dislocating her shoulder

Kind of disappointing to see a Ric Flair match (even in 2006) be a squash, though it was the right result for Umaga. Definitely disappointing for Trish vs. Mickie to get cut short due to an injury, I was looking forward to that one.

Rob Van Dam pinned WWE IC Champion Shelton Benjamin to win the title with the Five Star Frog Splash at 18:41 after using the Van Daminator to send the Money in the Bank briefcase into the champion’s face; had Benjamin won the match he would have earned RVD’s Money in the Bank world title shot (History of the Intercontinental Championship)
The Big Show fought Kane to a no contest at around the 8-minute mark when, after Kane knocked Show to the floor, red lights shone over the ring and Kane’s own voice could be heard saying “It’s happening again … May 19th … Do you remember what happened on that day?;” for several minutes, Kane appeared in pain until Show hit him over the head with a steel chair, causing the lights to come back on and the voice to disappear

RVD vs. Shelton was good. I think Big Show vs. Kane might still rank as the worst match I’ve ever seen live, which is saying something. The booking was brutal, and the action wasn’t exactly stellar. May 19th was another one of those amazing storylines for Kane, leading to the man later known as Luke Gallows appearing in a 1990s Kane outfit way before he was ready to go on TV. Bad times.

Vince & Shane McMahon defeated Shawn Michaels in a no holds barred handicap match at 19:59 when Vince scored the pin after WWE Raw Tag Team Champions the Spirit Squad interfered, with all five Squad members throwing Michaels through a table set up in the ring; the match was officially billed as a tag team match with “God” as Michaels’ partner; prior to the bout, Vince added the no holds barred stipulation after introducing “God” to the ring; Jim Ross referred to the finish on air as “bullshit;” after the match, the McMahons were hoisted on the Squad’s shoulders at the entrance stage

I’m not the most religious person, but I thought this entire storyline with Shawn teaming with “God” & Vince’s sacrilegious promos was complete garbage. Shawn tried in the match, but it was a lost cause going in. Follow this up with an in-ring promo with Eugene & Matt Striker, and it was a rough lead-in to the main event.

WWE World Champion John Cena defeated Triple H and Edge (w/ Lita) in a No DQ match at 17:34 by pinning Triple H after revering an attempt at the Pedigree into a roll over; after the bout, Triple H hit the referee, Edge, and Cena in the face with his sledgehammer before giving several crotch chops and leaving the ring as the show came to an end (Triple H: The King of Kings)

Perfectly fine PPV main event. I wouldn’t say it was enough to save the show, and some of the in-ring shenanigans led to some discontent from the Kentucky Boxing & Wrestling Authority. Kentucky wasn’t big on blood, thanks to some of Ian Rotten’s IWA Mid-South bloodfests from back in the day receiving complaints from the locals. WWE asked for permission, the state said no, and WWE did it anyway because that’s how they roll. Several fines were issued, and in related news, WWE hasn’t held a PPV in Kentucky since Backlash 2006.

2. ROH vs. CZW

I attended four Ring of Honor shows at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in 2006. Looking back now, I consider 2006 to be the peak of ROH for a number of reasons.

-Bryan Danielson was tremendous as champion for almost the entire calendar year.
-Jimmy Jacobs was in love with Lacey.
-Ring of Honor was in a bitter feud with Combat Zone Wrestling.

ROH & CZW both looked to fill the void left in the scene by their fellow Philly wrestling staple, Extreme Championship Wrestling. CZW’s idea was to make things ultraviolent. Sure, it was also the home of some fantastic non-hardcore wrestlers, many of whom would eventually work for ROH & other feds, but most of CZW’s popularity back in the day was built off of the ultraviolence. That’s what drew fans to the bingo hall & kept CZW running all those years. You can argue over how much violence a wrestling show needs, but I’ll always believe that every wrestling promotion needs to present at least a little danger to keep things interesting.

As much as ROH has always claimed to be all about “pure wrestling”, they’ve presented their fair share of violence over the years. The same fans that claim to prefer ROH due to having the best bell to bell in-ring grappling action lose their minds during brawls, or when foreign objects get introduced to matches. It’s only human.

ROH’s presentation of its feud with CZW was one of the few times that a promotion vs. promotion feud actually worked. CZW got plenty of times to shine, like at Tag Wars 2006 at Dayton in January where those hooligans Chris Hero & Necro Butcher tried to ruin the show by tearing the entrance down. Or during Weekend of Champions Night 1 in April, where Team CZW got the win in a wild brawl that led to B.J. Whitmer being stretchered out on a table. Of course, ROH got plenty of victories as well, and did win the big blowoff match at Death Before Dishonor IV in the Cage of Death. Fun times were had by all, and ROH fans were introduced to a number of wrestlers that would appear in the future.

One of which was the Necro Butcher, who had already become a favorite of mine due to watching some of his more hardcore matches and that Samoa Joe match. The ROH vs. CZW feud ended in Philadelphia, but two weeks later, Necro & Whitmer settled their personal issue in a barbed wire match in Dayton. B.J. got the win, but one got the feeling that the Butcher would be back in ROH rings soon enough.

CZW’s presentation of their feud with ROH didn’t go nearly as well. Owner John Zandig didn’t really want anything to do with it, other higher-ups in the company weren’t really interested either and it pretty much flamed out. Kind of a trend in CZW over the years, but at least Zandig got his proper respect on the most recent AEW Dynamite.

1. WWE vs. ECW Head To Head

I told you earlier about a WWE pay per view event I attended that was…well, a pay per view event that I attended. In June, I would head up to Dayton for something that ended up being a lot more fun. The stars of WWE & ECW were facing off in the Nutter Center for a USA Network special to hype the upcoming One Night Stand & the debut of ECW as a WWE brand.

WWE @ Dayton, OH – Nutter Center – June 7, 2006 (4,700)
WWE IC Champion Shelton Benjamin defeated Carlito Caribbean Cool
Matt Hardy defeated Jon Bolen
Jimmy Yang defeated Tatanka

Shelton & Carlito worked a time limit gimmick, as I recall, it was either fifteen or twenty minutes, with Shelton getting the win at the last second. I want to say this was the first appearance of Jimmy under his eventual cowboy gimmick, as he got the win over a Native American. The dark match period also saw Dusty Rhodes come out to cut a promo hyping his DVD, which was a welcome bonus.

WWE vs. ECW – shown live on the USA Network – opened with Mick Foley and Paul Heyman giving inspiration to the WWE and ECW locker rooms, respectively; featured Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler on commentary representing the WWE and Joey Styles & Tazz representing ECW, with Ross and Styles having to keep Lawler and Tazz apart prior to the matches; included a commercial advertising the debut of ECW on the Sci-Fi Channel the following Tuesday night; featured an in-ring promo by Kurt Angle regarding the attack he sustained by Randy Orton on Raw and their upcoming match at ECW One Night Stand; moments later, Orton interrupted, saying the new ECW Kurt Angle would be facing the new Monday Night Raw Randy Orton, that he would make Angle pay for breaking his ankle, and that he would kill the legend of ECW in one match; included a vignette focusing on Sabu; featured an in-ring promo by Paul Heyman in which he announced the return of ECW to network TV the following Tuesday, ran down the scheduled card for ECW One Night Stand, and then showed highlights of last year’s event; featured a look at Kane’s appearance in “See No Evil”:

Rob Van Dam pinned World Heavyweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. in a No DQ non-title match at 10:43 with the Five Star Frog Splash after Mysterio missed a springboard legdrop and fell onto a steel chair; Mysterio had the chair placed across him as RVD went up top but Mysterio threw it off him as Van Dam was in mid-air; after the bout, RVD helped Mysterio to his feet (ECW: Extreme Rules)
WWE Women’s Champion Mickie James pinned Jazz in a non-title match at 2:01 with a jumping DDT

Tough to go wrong with Rey & RVD. Mickie & Jazz only going 2 minutes was the WWE women’s division of the time period, and the AEW women’s division of the now. Yeah, I had to say it.

The Big Show won a 20-man WWE / ECW battle royal by last eliminating Randy Orton at 14:20 after hitting the chokeslam; the match originally ended at 13:32 when Orton eliminated Kurt Angle, seemingly giving the WWE team the victory as both Orton and Show were left in the ring; moments later, Show ripped off his Raw shirt to reveal an ECW shirt underneath; order of elimination: Mark Henry by Angle & Little Guido at the 14-second mark; Matt Hardy by Terry Funk & Justin Credible at the 47-second mark; Guido by Show via a punch off the apron at 1:19; Tatanka by Dreamer at 1:32; Carlito Caribbean Cool by Sandman via a dropkick off the apron at 1:44; Tony Mamaluke by Edge via a hiptoss over the top at 1:56; Dreamer by Orton & Edge at 2:07; Funk by Edge & Finlay at 6:03; Credible by Finlay at 6:19; Al Snow by WWE IC Champion Shelton Benjamin via a kick to the head after Benjamin avoided being hit with Head at 6:49; Stevie Richards by WWE US Champion Bobby Lashley at 7:01; Balls Mahoney by Lashley at 7:16; Lashley by Angle at 7:21; Sandman by Orton at 11:26; Benjamin by Angle at 11:39; Finlay by Angle via a catapult at 13:11; Edge by Angle via a belly to belly suplex over the top at 13:26 as Edge attempted the spear; Angle by Orton at 13:32; Edge spent the majority of the match outside the ring, interfering only long enough to eliminate someone near the ropes (ECW One Night Stand 2)

This might have been the first “everybody wrestles in a brand t-shirt” match, but I’m sure I’m forgetting something. Big Show turning on somebody was certainly a shocking development.

Edge (w/ Lita & Mick Foley) pinned Tommy Dreamer (w/ Terry Funk) in a No DQ match at 6:45 with the spear as Dreamer attempted to powerbomb an interfering Lita, while Foley and Funk battled outside the ring; after the commercial break, Foley sat alone in the ring and cut a lengthy promo on how he planned to end the heroes of ECW at One Night Stand

I got to see Terry Funk punch Mick Foley right in front of me. That would have been on my bucket list if I had one at the time. Foley later wrote in his Hardcore Diaries that he didn’t think the promo got over well with the Ohio crowd. I thought it did, but I also thought that HHH/HBK Cell match got over with the crowd. So what did I know?

WWE World Champion John Cena defeated Sabu via disqualification at 8:04 when the Big Show interfered and attacked the champion as Sabu was caught in the STFU; prior to the bout, Lawler and Tazz brawled around ringside until they were broken apart by officials and returned to their commentary duties; after the match, both rosters engaged in an in-ring brawl to close the broadcast

John Cena vs. Sabu is a main event that I watched in person. Can anybody top that with a more random main event they watched in person? Hit me up on the Twitter & let me know. 2006 was one of those years. This show gave me some hope for the new ECW, which lasted up until the debut of the Zombie. All downhill from there.

Next time…2007? Uh oh.


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Opinion

Greg DeMarco’s 2024 WWE Royal Rumble Reaction

It’s the Royal Rumble! A favorite of many fans, the Rumble kicks off the Road To WrestleMania. Greg DeMarco is here with his live reactions to the event!

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WWE Royal Rumble 2024 Results

It’s the Royal Rumble! A favorite of many fans, the Rumble kicks off the Road To WrestleMania. Greg DeMarco is here with his live reactions to the event!

The WWE Royal Rumble is upon us, and while the Men’s Royal Rumble Match isn’t for the World Heavyweight Championship like I suggested, it’s still the most anticipated event of the year.

Why? The Unknown.

That’s right–in this age of the internet (usually incorrectly) telling us everything it possibly can about what is going to happen in the world of wrestling, the Royal Rumble stands out because despite what we’re told (or, more importantly, what we choose to listen to), the event is always full of fun and surprises.


Check out Steven Mitchell’s 2024 WWE Royal Rumble Results & Review!


Women’s Royal Rumble Match

  • They really are driving home the “main event WrestleMania” point this year–strengthens my thought that women will main event Night 1. Triple H would catch a ton of heat if he keeps women out for the third straight year.
  • NAOMI! Good to see her back, and the emotional response she had.
  • Love Michael Cole calling out Naomi’s time in TNA, and recognizing her as a former Knockouts Champion.
  • Entering #3 doesn’t bode well for Bayley. I honestly don’t think she is gonna win.
  • JORDYNNE GRACE! I saw the reports earlier today. This is a much bigger deal than Mickie James, because Mickie was a returning legend.
  • “TNA HAS A WEAPON!” So glad to have Pat McAfee on the call.
  • Honestly, Jordynne Grace belongs in WWE.

  • Asuka comes in, and they sell the surprise of Bayley. STORYTELLING, people!
  • Something tells me when we get Kairi Sane in there, The Kabuki Warriors will eliminate Bayley.
  • Ivy Nile enters, and I immediately want to see her go toe-to-toe with Jordynne Grace.
  • What if they pulled some crazy sh*t and had Jordynne Grace win???
  • Just step through the ropes next time, Bianca.
  • When I first saw the C4 clock, I thought I would get tired of it But I am already used to it.
  • Here’s Kairi Sane, time to set the plan into motion!
  • This crowd does not appear to like Tegan Nox.
  • Welp, there goes my idea o Asuka and Kairi eliminating Bayley.
  • That was a hell of a way for Jordynne Grace to go out.

  • I think Michael Cole secretly loves to call a Meteora.
  • There’s a reason Maxxine Dupri doesn’t wrestle much.
  • That tandem Code Red was very Young Buckish. And that’s not a compliment.
  • Hair,…gear…this might be the messiest Royal Rumble yet.
  • Ah, here comes the winner, Becky Lynch (I am calling Becky eliminates Bayley to win her second Royal Rumble).
  • LOVE the scoreboard of time in the Rumble for selected wrestlers.

  • R-TRUTH?!?! (Funny story, it was Truth’s spot that Nia Jax took in 2019.)
  • If you push Mia Yim, she’ll take it further than you could imagine.
  • “How is everybody the most athletic person on Earth?” – Pat McAfee
  • Surprising that Roxanne Perez, at #27, is the first NXT entrant. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Tiffany Stratton of Blair Davenport since we only have 3 more to come.
  • Amazing reaction for Jade Cargill. Give her time, she’s definitely going to be a huge star.
  • JUST GIVE HER TIME.
  • Seriously, Nia Jax had to help Jade eliminate her–A LOT.

  • Greg Was Wrong: It is indeed Tiffy Time in the Royal Rumble.
  • Back to Jade–she is insanely over.
  • I know it won’t be, but this should be Tiffany Stratton’s official main roster call-up.
  • Liv Morgan returns at #30, and good for Liv. She nearly went wire-to-wire last year.
  • Liv Morgan: “Thank you!” Pat McAfee: “No problem.”
  • Tiffany Stratton eliminating Roxanne Perez is, to me, an invitation for a match with them on Raw this Monday.
  • Still love the scoreboard as Naomi passes an hour.
  • The camera is catching a lot of in-ring communications right now.
  • And Jade Cargill eliminates my pick to win. Bye Becky.
  • Jade Cargill in the final three of the Royal Rumble (with Liv Morgan and Bayley) is huge for her.
  • Hell of a debut for Jade Cargill.
  • And a huge win for Bayley.

Winner of the 2024 Women’s Royal Rumble Match: Bayley (eliminating Liv Morgan to win)

Fatal 4-Way Match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Randy Orton vs AJ Styles vs. LA Knight vs. Roman Reigns (champion, with Paul Heyman)

  • Glad to see AJ Styles got his tights back. Pants AJ Styles (but still with the football gloves) was not working. Not just bring the beard back to your face Allen–the think beard also ain’t working.

  • Pat McAfee campaigning for Roman Reigns to be given at least a 26% chance is amazing.
  • Say what you want about LA Knight, he’s a damn star and totally belongs in this match.
  • Roman completely sandbagged Randy on the table drop. I don’t think it was on purpose, but he definitely didn’t jump.
  • Roman Reigns is very much like Gunther in that he does the simple things SO WELL, like a jumping clothesline. That’s how you do it.
  • Yes, I compared Roman Reigns to Gunther. Don’t @ me, I’m right.

  • RKO City, Bitch.
  • Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand here’s Solo! (At some point, Solo will get tired of saving Roman’s ass.)
  • Solo ’bout to go through that barricade.
  • Solo indeed went through that barricade.

  • Yes, we had the Solo interference mid-match, but honestly in the end Roman won that clean.

Winner, #ANDSTILL your Undisputed WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns

WWE United States Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Logan Paul (champion)

  • Kevin Owens wearing Zubaz shorts in the Performance Center fight makes me very happy.
  • Logan Paul talking about a full time run, and now he’s putting on size.
  • Logan’s headband didn’t list very long.
  • I honestly hate it when modern-day wrestlers bust out a crotch chop.
  • If you were watching the Royal Rumble and didn’t know who Logan Paul was, you’d just assume he was a pro wrestler. That says everything you need to know about how good he is at this.
  • ANOTHER crotch chop. Now we’re at 2 too many.

  • Cue the “Better Buckshot Than Hangman” tweets. But they might be right.
  • I love the idea of a Logan Paul, Austin Theory, and Grayson Waller stable.
  • C’mon, there’s NO WAY Ryan Tran could see the knucks on Kevin Owens’ hand given his placement. It’s the little things.
  • Finish here tells me we’ll see KO vs. Logan Paul again. I’d guess on TV, if not in Australia.

Winner by disqualification, #ANDSTILL WWE United States Champion: Logan Paul

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

  • Jey Uso coming at #1 was expected thanks to the internet reports. But I still think Jimmy should be #1 and Jey #2, for the reaction shots on Jimmy.
  • Grayson Waller talking himself to the ring is perfect.
  • “No Yeet!” Grayson is a brilliant performer. I’d make a Roddy Piper comparison here, but y’all would get at mad at me.
  • Good to have Andrade back in WWE. Great reaction for him when the mask came off.

  • SmackDown superstar Carmelo Hayes! I really really really hope Trick is also in this match, just for the chants.
  • Melo pointed to the sign, C’mon, man.
  • Do you send Andrade to Smackdown, or do you send him to Raw and let him do his own thing?
  • Oh goody, Karrion Kross is here. Yay.
  • (Yes, that’s sarcasm you read.)
  • Dominik Mysterio is so good. Give him time, he’s going to be a huge star.

  • The Royal Rumble was a great place for the Apple Spot.
  • Here comes Bob Lashley–please just eliminate Karrion Kross.
  • Lashley wearing the WrestleMania white gear more than 2 months early.
  • Austin Theory still gets his concussion effect entrance, despite it being the Rumble.
  • What if–hear me out now–Finn Balor wins the Royal Rumble to get the shot at Seth Rollins, and Priest uses his briefcase to make that match a triple threat at ‘Mania?
  • I know he didn’t, but it sure looked like Jimmy was swerving while he drives in that interaction with Gunther.
  • Kofi did tell us the Rumble Magic wasn’t happening anymore.
  • Give me Ivar vs Gunther!
  • Bron Breakker is a star. It’s inevitable.
  • Of course Omos would be in the Rumble. Good to see MVP on my TV as well.
  • “I didn’t know humans came that big!” – Pat McAfee
  • I half think Pat McAfee didn’t know he was entering the Rumble.
  • Nice moment for Bron Breakker eliminating Omos. WrestleMania match?
  • R-Truth trying to get Dominik (Tom or Nick?) Mysterio to tag him in is brilliant.
  • DOM MADE THE TAG!!!
  • “And now R-Truth is the legal man.” – thank you Michael Cole.
  • Michael Cole delivers multiple TNA references tonight, along with a Dolph Ziggler reference. God Bless Michael Cole.
  • Imagine for a second that this was CM Punk’s actual WWE return.
  • The reaction to Drew McIntyre’s entrance is a reminder that they don’t actually need him.
  • Sami Zayn enters at #30, also known as “Not The Rock.”

  • In the ring, Drew McIntyre is amazing. Just keep the microphone away from him. (And stop the damn counting!)
  • And there goes my choice for the Men’s Rumble!
  • Love having both Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in the press boxes watching to see who wins.
  • Punk kinda looks like Chris Jericho in there. Seriously.
  • Between Punk and Cody, Cody is the right choice. I really don’t want to watch Punk right now–he needs to hit the cardio, and hard. Given Seth Rollins’ injury and Punk’s conditioning, WWE would be smart to make the World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania 40 a multi-man match.

Winner of the 2024 Men’s Royal Rumble: Cody Rhodes


Overall thoughts on the 2024 WWE Royal Rumble

For at least the second straight year, the Men’s Royal Rumble Match was kinda disappointing. Not the result–that’s fine. But the match itself. It just wasn’t nearly as exciting as the Women’s. Of the four matches, I would place it 4th in terms of enjoyment.

Great moments for both Bayley and Cody Rhodes. Logan Paul continually shows that he deserves to be considered a pro wrestler, not a celebrity who is wrestling. Pat McAfee is a joy on commentary. Jordynne Grace is a WWE Superstar, regardless of what company she is signed to. Bron Breakker is a star.CM Punk is very out of shape. Cody Rhodes is about to become THE guy, and he deserves it.

Overall I give the event a thumbs up, but they have to do something about the Men’s Royal Rumble Match moving forward.


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Opinion

WWE Raw Heads To Netflix: What Does It Mean?

Monumental news drops as WWE RAW is moving to Netflix. Is it truly a game changing move? Greg DeMarco analyzes this shift for the TV wrestling business.

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WWE Logo Metalic

Monumental news drops as WWE RAW is moving to Netflix. Is it truly a game changing move? Greg DeMarco analyzes this shift for the TV wrestling business.

Being a wee little kid in the 80s, I am “lucky enough” to remember having 3 TV channels, and my dad explaining what an 8-track is, how shocked I was when I say a laser disc for the first time, when I bought a 6 CD changer, installed my own car stereo, and all the way up to the fact that I have now been watching WWE pay-per-view/premium live events on the WWE Network and Peacock for 10 years. Hell, in the same month (February 2014) I signed up for the WWE Network, cut the cord to drop cable and got Sling TV. I have since moved onto YouTube TV which is highly recommended.

Over the last two years the NFL has put Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime, simulcast to various streaming services, and less than 2 weeks ago put a playoff game exclusively on streaming when a Wildcard Weekend showdown between the Chiefs and Dolphins was only shown on Peacock.

And now it’s fully permeated into pro wrestling.

WWE and AEW are both in the midst of a very important time on the business side, with all of their TV rights up for grabs. The first domino fell when SmackDown On FOX became SmackDown on USA Network, and soon after we learned that WWE NXT was moving to broadcast television and joining The CW (which is also rebranding, but just to CW).

The AEW suite of programming that includes Collision, Rampage, and their most successful show Dynamite is up for renewal with Warner Bros/Discovery, and Tony Khan has been optimistic about the relationship and potentially an increase in rights fees.

That brings us to Tuesday morning, and the likely groundbreaking WWE announcement that Raw is moving to Netflix, starting in January 2025. Triple H tweeted that they’re changing the game, and TKO President and COO Mark Shapiro (who knows a thing or two about shifts in media consumption) used the word “transformative” in his statement, and I really think he couldn’t be more right.

But what does it all mean?

Wrestling Remains A Strong Media Product

I have been claiming this for over a year now. As many online will cite a decline in TV viewership for both WWE and AEW, the TV product has been a strong value to networks. Even in dropping SmackDown, FOX themselves said they didn’t pump enough resources into the show, and that the advertising return wasn’t what they wanted. That doesn’t mean the product (TV value, we’re not talking about creative here) isn’t strong. It’s so strong that USA Network picked up SmackDown for $280 million per year, giving WWE an increase over the FOX deal. CW is paying $20-$25 million annually for NXT, and now Netflix is paying $500 million for RAW.

Why? Because wrestling isn’t just a strong media product, it’s consistent. And that is key.

Look at this quote from Netflix Chief Content Officer Bela Bajaria:

“Raw is the best of sports entertainment, blending great characters and storytelling with live action 52 weeks a year and we’re thrilled to be in this long-term partnership with WWE.”

Now cross reference that with a comment from CW President Dennis Miller from back when the CW/NXT deal was announced:

“We are thrilled to welcome the WWE brand into the CW Sports portfolio as they play an integral role in our mission to bring live sporting events to the network year-round.”

What do those statements have in common? The year-round, 52-week nature of wrestling programming. It’s an unbeatable value for networks. It’s cheaper than a deal with a major sports league, and it’s not finite. Wrestling joins news, talk, and sports talk as the only year-round programming available to networks. And WWE and AEW have shows that essentially always land in the Top 5 after you factor out live sports. You can’t beat it.

What Does This Mean for Netflix?

Don’t get it twisted, this is also a huge leap for Netflix. Prior to the WWE Raw deal, Netflix has only experimented with live events, streaming the live Chris Rock “Selective Outrage” special, and showing The Netflix Cup live (a golf event featuring athletes from their F1 series “Drive To Survive” and their golf series “Full Swing).

WWE is the perfect partner for Netflix as it gets into live programming. It’s sports entertainment: sports like programming (which Netflix has done) that focuses on storytelling (which Netflix has obviously done). And no one does it better than WWE. It’s essentially plug-and-play for Netflix, the perfect solution for their live programming aspirations.

The perfect solution that they were willing to pay $5 billion for.

What Does This Mean for AEW?

The biggest risk to an AEW renewal with Warner Bros Discovery was WBD picking up WWE Raw–and that risk has been eliminated by Netflix. Don’t discount that fact–Netflix did Tony Khan a huge favor by throwing $500 million per at WWE. The path is clear for AEW to remain on the Turner networks.

But at what price?

I know I usually write as if I have all the answers, but I have zero idea either way on this one. WBD no longer has any other options if it wants to keep wrestling (except for TNA, who recently expressed a desire to be on a bigger network), and AEW (at least, Dynamite) is a weekly Top 5 program for them on Wednesdays, on cable.

On the other hand, AEW doesn’t exactly have another network begging for their services. The reason WWE could get a yearly increase for Raw, SmackDown, and NXT is because it was truly a bidding war. Unless Tony Khan gets another network involved, any threat of walking away from a deal doesn’t really hold water.

So if I were a betting man (and who would ever bet on this) I would expect an announcement of a renewal for AEW and WBD relatively soon. We may not know the terms of the deal, I will take a shot in the dark and say that AEW gets a small increase (not the “nearly double” that had been reported last year).

Regardless of the increase (or not), given AEW’s recent attendance challenges, this likely renewal would have to be viewed as a win for the company.


Personally, this is simply an amazing time to be a fan. We’ve seen WWE go from one live TV show per week with Monday Night Raw, through the Monday Night Wars, the addition of SmackDown and later NXT, to being this global juggernaut that is commanding half-a-billion dollars per year for Raw. I also think this makes Raw the flagship once again. All of this comes after Vince McMahon is largely out of power, Triple H has taken over creative (and holds a pretty good success rate so far), and the company was sold to Endeavor, and merged with the UFC as a business entity under the TKO banner.

If you know me, you know I am a huge follower of the business side of the wrestling business. I often care less about WHAT wrestling companies do, but HOW they do it. I have always gravitated towards that, since middle school. And for the past near 24 months, I have been like a kid in a candy store.

The Peacock deal for the WWE Network runs out in 2026, right? The fun never stops!


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