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News From Cook’s Corner 10.19.20: John Cena

Cook discusses lineup changes, relationship changes and cool things when the year changes! Cue the Bowie and read Steve Cook’s musings!



Hi, hello and welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! The twelve of you who are regular readers of this column may have been wondering where it was last Monday. I alluded to some eye problems on the Twitter machine, and now that I’m at 99% per my doctor, I can now tell you that I had a cold sore on my right eyelid.

Yes, that’s a thing that happens.

I’d previously felt some pain in my eye back in April, which led to an infection. This was especially worrying since it was back when people were afraid of getting the coronavirus and one of the symptoms reportedly was pinkeye. The pain eventually went away, and even though I still couldn’t keep a contact lens in there without some pain, I moved on with my life. The pain started coming back, so I arranged an appointment with my eye doctor, who gave me some eye drops to hopefully cure my eye. The eye drops have the side effect of causing an allergic reaction if you happen to have a cold sore, so October 9 & 10 saw me dealing with that instead of doing my usual stuff.

One of many things I’ve learned this year is to put my health far ahead of my writing. To be honest, my mental & physical health have taken quite the downturn during 2020. I know I’m not alone here, but I also know I have to do what I can to make things better. If it means certain aspects of my schedule have to change, I’ll have to do that. I also have to pay attention to what’s going on with me. Unfortunately, some of my friends failed to do that with themselves, and didn’t get a chance to learn from their mistakes. I still have a chance to learn from mine.

Fortunately, I’m ok right here & now, so here’s some news for ya!

Raw Underground Goes Under

The last couple of weeks have seen various reports concerning the future of Raw Underground. First it was cancelled. Then it wasn’t. Right this second, it is done for now. Plans might change, we’ll see.

The death knell was when all the NXT/trainees being used as extras for Raw Underground started testing positive for the covid. This all happened right when reports were getting out about how some of the folks working at the Performance Center were being pretty lax with the guidelines and certain trainees felt uncomfortable there.

Listen. I’m not saying that NXT’s head honcho and grand poobah of the Performance Center had anything to do with any of this. I don’t know if he’s a covid-denier or not. I do know that some of his friends working there are, but I’m not saying that anybody was encouraged to be an idiot and get the trainees sick. It would be reckless and irresponsible of me to suggest such a thing.

Why, I’m sure that Triple H is just as disappointed as everybody else is that Shane McMahon’s crazy Raw Underground idea didn’t revolutionize the business. It’s a shame that everybody will go back to ignoring Shane’s creative ideas. Tough break, kid.

And just so we’re clear, I never said that all of these people getting sick was an attempt to kill off the Raw Underground idea. I just noted it was one of the side effects, that’s all. Do not put words in my mouth that I may or may not have hypothetically floated out there.

Big Push for Big E?

As we all know, the New Day were split by the recent WWE Draft. Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston will head to Raw while Big E remains on SmackDown. This reportedly was done to facilitate a Big E main event push, as WWE hopes to make E more “serious”, or at least as serious as a man can be in a business where he makes his living rolling on the mat with another man whilst wearing tights.
How many times have we heard about a rumored Big E main event push since 2013? This definitely falls under the “I’ll believe it when I see it” umbrella. Love Big E, it’ll be great if he gets that push, but I’m not holding my breath.

I am pleased that they managed to keep New Day friends at the end of all this. Turning them against each other would have been one of the saddest moments of 2020, and there’s a ton of competition in that category.

I’m not sure this is news…

Rumor has it that John Cena & Undertaker will be contacted about participating at WrestleMania 37 in Tampa or wherever the virus lets WWE hold the event. I would be more surprised if this didn’t happen, and question whether it’s worth reporting or not.

But hey, it’s a reason to put John Cena & Undertaker in a headline, and people click on those names. I get it. Same reason somebody mentions The Rock maybe someday wrestling Roman Reigns at WrestleMania one of these years. We have nothing new to say about any of these people, but here’s their names! Click, damn you!

Actually. This gives me a new idea for titles of these things. Just random names of big stars every week, whether they appear in the column or not! That’ll get some clicks and put me back in the good graces of the brass. Good idea, Steve!

And we can start with John Cena since he also got married last week. Some people were surprised by this since it took forever for Nikki Bella to get him to propose, and they never walked down the aisle.

I wasn’t.

Reminds me of an old business associate of my father’s. Did the ol’ married/divorce thing like Cena did. Dated a woman for freaking ever, never any intention of getting married, at least on his end. Broke up with her and married another woman soon after. I was surprised at the time, and even more surprised when the marriage actually lasted more than a few months. Still going, to the best of my knowledge.

The lesson here: just because a man doesn’t want to get married while he’s dating the same woman for years doesn’t mean he won’t meet somebody else that will change his mind. Also, if you’ve been dating the same person for years, they don’t want to get married and you finally wear them down into doing it, it probably won’t end well.

I don’t know why this column is turning into random ponderings on relationships. This is what happens when I swear off mixing politics into my wrestling writing.

Lars Sullivan Returns

Two Fridays ago saw the long-awaited return of Lars Sullivan to Friday Night SmackDown. In case you had forgotten (I had in fact forgotten), Lars suffered a severe knee injury on an episode of Raw in June 2019. He was originally expected to be out for six to nine months, but around the same time we found out that Lars Sullivan had been a racist & bigot on the Internet. Sexist, mysogonist, pretty much any kind of “ist” you can think of.

So if Bianca Belair is the “EST” of WWE, can we call Lars Sullivan the “IST” of WWE?


Anyway, Lars (who I keep trying to call “Lard” here for unknown reasons), paid a fine and went to sensitivity training. We forgot about him for a little while until somebody uncovered the information that he had done some pornographic material of the same-sex quality. Which in itself wouldn’t be a huge deal, but when you consider how angry Mr. Sullivan was was towards homosexuals in his previous Internet posts, you have to get out the Stamp of Hypocrisy.

Lars has finally returned, he’s getting that big push now, and we all saw this coming. Vince McMahon is high on Lars Sullivan, and people complaining about Lars will only make Vince push him harder. That’s always been his MO, and it isn’t changing now.

Wrestle Kingdom 15 on for 2021

Can we skip ahead to 2021? Just forget this whole 2020 thing and move on? New Japan has announced that Wrestle Kingdom will take place in the Tokyo Dome on its traditional date of January 4, along with their new tradition of a second date on January 5. One would expect G1 Climax winner Kota Ibushi to be involved in the main event challenging for the IWGP Championship on one of those nights.

Japan’s coronavirus experience seems to be going much better than America’s, so I’m not sure if they will be allowing any American-based wrestlers to make the trip.

Ben Carter to WWE

A few weeks back, AEW had a special Late Night edition of Dynamite after an NBA playoff game. One of the featured matches pitted Scorpio Sky against Ben Carter, a young man who had made some appearances on Dark. The match got over pretty well and social media was imploring AEW to sign Carter.

A couple of things happened. For one, Carter tested positive for the coronavirus. Then, other companies got interested, and word is that Carter will be signing with WWE to be part of their NXT: UK promotion. If Ben Carter would prefer to live in his home country, it seems like a good idea to me. As for AEW, these things are going to happen when you feature unsigned talent on your programming. Sure, it’s a nice surprise for the fans, but it’s also a great scouting opportunity for your competition.

Thanks for reading, everybody! I conclude this week’s edition of News From Cook’s Corner with one request: Can we get the Stunt Family out of pro wrestling? Nothing against Mama & Papa Stunt, but Logan sexually harassing people & Marko taking part in a match with a sex toy involved pretty much killed any potential goodwill towards independent wrestling coming out of The Collective event. Small request, especially considering the two of them combined don’t weigh as much as I do.

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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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