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News From Cook’s Corner 8.9.21: What’s Next For NXT?

Releases and speculation abound! Cook delivers a mixture of News and opinion like no other! Check it out!



Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! My name is Steve Cook, and I’m here to serve up the latest wrestling news in entertaining fashion. Given the fact that this website has catered to NXT fans for quite some time, I’m not sure a lot of you will like to read the latest wrestling news. Seems that WWE upper management has decided that the way NXT does things isn’t the way that things should be done. Your solace will lie in words that many of you have told me are useless & irrelevant when previously reported…

Plans change!

Which they typically do when the main decision maker is in his mid-70s, but in the past people tell  me they don’t. Oh, it’s gonna be some interesting times to spin things around here.

What’s next for NXT?

Changes are coming to NXT! PWInsider is reporting that the show will get a cosmetic makeover with a new logo, look & lighting. There will also be a focus on younger talent, and as we found out on Friday night, a focus on different talents. Twelve names were taken off the NXT books with the news hitting the Internet during WWE SmackDown, and the releases drew much more discussion than the show itself did. I think Roman Reigns beat somebody up. Couldn’t tell you anything else about it. Cuts that Dave Meltzer tells us came from the minds of Vince McMahon, Bruce Prichard & John Laurinaitis, not the HHH/HBK NXT Dream Team.

The biggest surprise of the releases was Bronson Reed, who previously appeared to be on his way to the main roster. He’d done some dark matches & appeared on Main Event, and dropped the North American Championship. Heck, he’d even lost to Adam Cole. One can only draw the conclusion that the decision makers didn’t like what they saw from Bronson Reed in his tryout matches. Reed wasn’t the only former North American Champion fired either, as Leon Ruff’s name made the list.

Bobby Fish was part of the Undisputed Era, but with Kyle O’Reilly getting a singles push now he probably seemed pretty expendable considering he isn’t exactly a younger talent. Tyler Rust was just brought up as part of the new Diamond Mine group, but it seemed like the steam went off of them pretty quickly. Jake Atlas got a good amount of hype entering the company but never did too much. Mercedes Martinez getting fired is surprising on one hand because of her value as a hand for the women to work with, and on the other hand you remember that she turned down the Retribution gimmick and requested to be sent back to NXT. I mean, Retribution obviously didn’t work out, but decision makers prone to spite remember things like that when they’re looking for budget to cut.

I honestly don’t have much of an opinion on the others, though I feel bad for Ari Berenstein since he’s taking the Ari Sterling & Asher Hale releases very hard. Some people really get worked up over people sharing their name, even if it’s a gimmick. I got spoiled as a kid because there were so many Steves in wrestling. One of them was the biggest star of the Attitude Era!

So what happened here?

It seems to me this all comes down to HHH & his people having one idea for NXT while Vince had another. Vince wanted a developmental territory producing wrestlers that he could plug into slots on either Raw or SmackDown. You know, like WWE has had since they made the deal with Ohio Valley Wrestling over twenty years ago. A place that trains wrestlers to work on WWE television. OVW, FCW & the other territories that popped up over the years didn’t have the best facilities and weren’t in the sexiest locales, but the people running them were entrusted with training people WWE scouts saw talent in. Eventually, it was decided that WWE would be well served to have their own training facility with the best gym equipment, rings & anything else you could think of. They put their own people in charge, who would surely know what WWE wanted to feature on Raw & SmackDown.

Triple H saw his surroundings and saw he could develop one hell of a developmental territory. Scratch that, he could develop one hell of a wrestling promotion. He could bring in the best wrestlers in the world. The facilities meant the wrestlers could stay in shape & prepare to put on the best matches. There was very little travel, so the wrestlers could spend all their days in the Performance Center perfecting their matches.

Frankly, I don’t blame fans for preferring Triple H’s way. NXT under Triple H’s strategy of hiring all the best indy guys and hiding them from the main roster as long as he could led to some fantastic wrestling matches. There was a point where TakeOvers were easily the most anticipated shows of the year by most Internet fans. Remember when Reddit sent Triple H a fruit basket? The love for NXT from the Internet during the mid to late 2010s was unlike anything I’d seen except ECW fans in the company’s prime.

There was always a flaw in the relationship between NXT & the main roster though. For every NXT call-up that found success on Raw or SmackDown, there were a bunch that didn’t. We even saw people not want to be called up to the main roster, which really wasn’t how things were supposed to work. On one hand, you could blame Vince & WWE Creative for not figuring out how to use these wrestlers. On the other hand, you could blame Triple H & his NXT crew for not recruiting & developing wrestlers that could do well in the WWE main roster environment.

I think many of you reading this would do the former, and blame Vince & WWE Creative. We blame them for a lot of things. However, it’s become apparent that Vince is doing the latter. He looks at his roster and sees a bunch of dudes. He has to dust off John Cena & Goldberg to draw a good crowd for a stadium show, because nobody on the main roster has enough interest to carry a main event at that level. OK, maybe their creative hasn’t been the best, but it’s not like the workers they’re sending up from WWE are impressing anybody. Obviously Bronson Reed didn’t impress anybody. Karrion Kross sure hasn’t impressed anybody with his work on Raw (and not too many people with his work on NXT either, to be honest). What the heck happened to Keith Lee?

We can say that creative hasn’t done these men any favors. We can also say these men haven’t set the world on fire and made us take notice. These things can both be true. Triple H signed a bunch of wrestlers that were capable of executing his vision of wrestling. Vince McMahon has a different vision of wrestling, and NXT was intended to develop people that could continue that.

NXT has done some very good things. We can’t deny that. They produced the talent that took mainstream women’s wrestling to new levels. Those TakeOver shows have had an incredible amount of highly rated wrestling matches. And pretty much every wrestler you like in WWE today spent some time in NXT. Well, except for John Cena, Randy Orton, Bill Goldberg, or Brock Lesnar if he ever comes back. Ronda Rousey skipped it too.

That all being said, there’s a change coming to NXT. As much as we might like what the brand has produced, in order for the brand to serve its role in WWE, change is necessary. We might not like it, but hopefully it leads to good things for WWE as a whole.

Speaking of change, is Adam Cole going to make one?

We’re all wondering what will happen with Adam Cole. It was reported early last week that Cole’s contract with WWE had expired back in July. Which sounded weird because I’m pretty sure I remember hearing a different time frame on his contract the last time it came up, but apparently people within WWE were as confused as everybody else was. Wrestling Inc said that Cole agreed to work for the company through SummerSlam, at which point he would make decisions about his future.

Cole met with Vince McMahon at Friday night’s SmackDown taping. Fightful tells us that it went well. McMahon reportedly took a personal liking to Cole, and the dialogue to make a deal is ongoing. There was some mention in the press that AEW had made an offer, but Tony Khan denied those claims. (Of course he would, and there’s probably not an official offer on the table, but I’m guessing Cole has a pretty good idea of what he could get from AEW.)

From an outside perspective, weighing the pros & cons as we know them, it’s hard to make an argument for Cole to stay with WWE. AEW has a ton to offer Cole on all fronts. We know his girlfriend works there, and we know he’s good friends with the Executive Vice Presidents. As much as Kenny Omega has talked about his physical status and how he feels like this run might be his last hurrah, you wonder what would happen if it actually was. One of the most likely scenarios? Do what they were wanting to do a few years ago before plans changed & have Adam Cole take his place. Plug Cole right in there and there isn’t much of a drop-off.

The WWE forecast just isn’t as great. The perception is that Cole would be too small to make it on the main roster. If WWE really saw something in him, he would have already been called up by now. Once they call him up, he’d just meet the same fate everybody else from NXT does. Shawn Michaels & Triple H love him, but WWE Creative wouldn’t have anything for him.

So, there would be two main reasons for Cole to stay with WWE. One being money. The other? If Adam Cole believes he is the exception to the rule. If he thinks he can overcome all of the things going against him in the eyes of WWE management, rise to the top and become the top star on one of WWE’s top shows. Sure, it’s easy for us to say that WWE wouldn’t give Cole a proper chance, just like they haven’t given other great wrestlers lacking in the size department a proper chance. The thing is, you don’t make it very far in the wrestling business without a healthy amount of ego. Perhaps more than a healthy amount.

Cole doesn’t seem like an ignorant man. He knows what’s happened to other people in a similar position. However, that doesn’t mean it has to happen to him. Should he succeed, he’d be a top star in the biggest wrestling company in the world. That’s a tough dream to give up on, even if it’s really tempting to jump ship, join your friends & help their company build a viable future.

If you’re asking me to make a prediction, I’d say that even though AEW seems like the easier road, I see Cole sticking with WWE. It’s my belief in his ego and my belief in Vince McMahon to still make people feel some kind of way that has me thinking that. Personally, I think success in AEW would be a sure thing for Cole, while success in WWE is much more of a question mark.

Does Adam Cole want the easy way or the hard way? Guess we’ll find out.

Ric Flair’s release is the third news item?

I know, right? What kind of world are we living in? Not too long after I finished the last edition of this column, we found out that Ric Flair had been granted a release from his ambassador contract with WWE. Which according to Uncle Dave Meltzer was a pretty sweet deal. Meltzer said that Ric had taken issue with the booking of his daughter, which I think most of us take issue with, but I’m guessing his reasons might be different than ours? Tough to say.

I have no inside knowledge of anything, but to me this seems like Ric figuring he can make money doing other things that don’t involve staying at home. The Naitch loves to be out there doing things in the limelight. He’s not a house pet. We might make mockery of the Carshield commercials, but I bet Ric had the time of his life doing them. He knows what WWE wants him to do, which consists of managing Randy Orton or Charlotte for a little while before they turn against him and he cries about it. The Lacey Evans thing didn’t work for him because even he knew how ridiculous it was. There’s nothing for him to do on WWE television that he actually would enjoy doing. Which I can’t really get mad at WWE for because they should have more important things to worry about than how to use Ric Flair on television. Especially if they’re really going to focus on younger talent as I’m told they will.

Most seem to think this leads to Ric showing up in AEW. Which wouldn’t be the most shocking thing in the world since Tony Khan is pretty well acquainted with him. I don’t think a 72 year old Ric Flair is something that makes a huge difference for AEW Dynamite or AEW Rampage, but it’s always nice to have another TNT/TBS wrestling legend appearing on the channels again. The fans will go banana, it’ll be a good time.

If Flair does show up in AEW, I really don’t care what he does as long as it involves setting Sting up for the eventual turn. Don’t care what else is involved, I just need to see Flair stab Sting in the back one more time. It never gets old. I don’t care if they’re both on walkers ten years from now, I’ll still want to see it.


I kind of got derailed from the NFL QB list gimmick this week since Bobby Eaton passed and I had to rank his top tag team partners. I chatted with Greg about this and I considered making the top two a tie, but I feel like making a decision on #1 is the best way to go. Gotta take a stand! Plus, I doubt Stan or Dennis will be offended either way.

We will get to the Titans & WFT columns before the NFL season starts, this is certain. I know those fanbases are waiting for it. They will be appeased. Then we figure out what to do next when it comes to the foosball.

The Top 7 SummerSlam Matches column on 411 went pretty well. Good to see one of the commenters backing up my claim of Bret Hart being Mr. SummerSlam.

The podcasting with Blake Lovell seems to be going well too. We talked NXT releases & Bobby Eaton, and I need to watch SummerSlam 1995 for an upcoming episode, so there’s a lot in the works. They haven’t fired me yet, so that’s a good sign.

Though, re-watching SummerSlam 1995 might be a fate worse than being wished well in future endeavors. We shall find out! Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep your stick on the ice.

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AEW Coverage

Mitchell’s AEW Continental Classic Update! (11/27/23)

What a start to the tournament!



Did your picks win points?

The AEW Continental Classic is underway, with almost everyone competing. Check in here if you haven’t seen the winners and losers of week 1!

Here are your Gold League standings!

  • Jon Moxley: 1-0, 3 points
  • Swerve Strickland: 1-0, 3 points
  • Jay White: 1-0, 3 points
  • Rush: 0-1, 0 points
  • Mark Briscoe: 0-1, 0 points.
  • Jay Lethal: 0-1, 0 points


Here are your Blue League standings!

  • Brody King: 1-0, 3 points
  • Claudio Castagnoli: 1-0, 3 points
  • Daniel Garcia: 0-1, 0 points
  • Eddie Kingston: 0-1, 0 points
  • Bryan Danielson: Yet to Compete
  • Andrade El Idolo: Yet to Compete


My Thoughts:

Nothing too crazy, nothing too wild, this tournament only just got started. The only disappointing point is that they could not get Bryan “cleared to compete” Saturday night. Not sure how much of that is shoot given the bad eye, but this was kinda the problem of wanting him in the tournament over tons of other choices. Bryan wants to face Okada for WrestleKingdom 18, how is Bryan supposed to do that at his best if he’s also gonna be in a round robin, doing five top level matches in about as many weeks? And it takes away from Andrade being able to do something. Also a little surprised we didn’t even hear from Andrade on Saturday.

Now as we heard on Saturday, round two’s matches are set. Gold League will see Mark Briscoe VS Rush, White VS Swerve, and of course, Moxley VS Lethal. Nice variety there, a couple 0-1 guys facing off, as well as two 1-0 guys, and then 1-0 VS 0-1. No offense to Lethal, but he feels like an 0-2 going up against Moxley. Hard to call the other ones but that’s the fun of it. Meanwhile, Blue League sees Brody VS Claudio in a showdown to be 2-0, then Bryan and Andrade finally jump in, Bryan against Eddie and Andrade against Garcia. Sadly, feels like Eddie and Garcia are going 0-2, no way Tony Khan is booking Bryan and Andrade to lose their first shots.

In fact, that could be half the reason they did wait on those two, that’s almost too good for just a first round opener. But I still would’ve done it, same as NJPW does stuff like that for round robins, which this is all modeled after anyway.

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AEW Coverage

AEW announces Continental Classic entrants

The C2 is set!



Tony Khan Reveals the Blue and Gold “Leagues!”

Originally livestreamed, Tony Khan and Tony Schiavone officially announced the twelve total entrants and divided them into the two round robin blocks known as the “Blue League” and “Gold League.” If you don’t feel like sifting through the almost 30 minute video, the groups are:

Blue League

  • Bryan Danielson
  • Andrade El Idolo
  • Brody King
  • Claudio Castagnoli
  • Daniel Garcia
  • Eddie Kingston

Gold League

  • Jon Moxley
  • Swerve Strickland
  • Rush
  • Mark Briscoe
  • Jay Lethal
  • Jay White


Tony Khan also explains the rules for the Continental Classic:

  • Every match has a 20 minute time limit
  • The winner of each match earns 3 points, losers earn 0, 1 point for a draw
  • EVERYONE ELSE is banned from ringside for true 1v1 action


Eddie Kingston also joined the selection special as his “life’s work” is on the line in this tournament, both the ROH World Championship and NJPW Strong Openweight Championship on the line as part of the modern day North American Triple Crown Eddie, Tony Khan, AEW, ROH and NJPW are looking to create together. Gold League competes tonight on Dynamite while Blue League will have their start this Saturday on Collision. Look for more articles like this one to keep up with the Continental Classic standings over the next six weeks of tournament action!

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