All posts by Matthew Dahlberg

Lover of all sports, including Pro Wrestling and Combat sports. Biased Chicago sports fan at times.

No Count Outs: A New Inmate in the Asylum

Drew McIntyre regained the WWE championship, beating Randy Orton and setting up a champion versus champion match with Roman Reigns. Elsewhere on Raw the New Day retained their title over the Hurt Business. NXT also had two title defenses, both Leon Ruff and Io Shirai held on to their gold over Johnny Gargano and Rhea Ripley respectively.

On dynamite Jon Moxley inadvertently revealed his wife Renee was pregnant with their first child in a promo for Kenny Omega. Will Hobbs turned heel, and the death triangle reunited with the return of Pac in a match against the Blade. Finally, the legend and legacy of the Undertaker are discussed in a preview for a possible last ride on Survivor Series.

No Count Outs: A New Inmate to The Asylum No Count Outs

Drew McIntyre regained the WWE championship over Randy Orton setting up a champion vs. champion match with Roman Reigns.  Elsewhere on Raw the New Day retained their title over the Hurt Business.  NXT also had two title defenses, both Leon Ruff and Io Shirai held on to their gold over Johnny Gargano and Rhea Ripley respectively. On dynamite Jon Moxley inadvertently revealed his wife Renee was pregnant with their first child in a promo for Kenny Omega.  Will Hobbs turned heel,  and the death triangle reunited with the return of Pac in a match against the Blade.  Finally the legend and legacy of the Undertaker is discussed in a preview for a possible last ride on Survivor Series. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

We All Want To See It But Can Shaq vs. Cody work?

NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is no stranger to the world of professional wrestling. Despite making appearances on WCW and WWE programming multiple times the big diesel has never had an official match. Will AEW and Cody Rhodes finally pay-off the fans and O’Neal’s dream, or will it turn into a nightmare?

History

Celebrities and pro wrestling have a long and storied history. On paper, it’s a win-win. Fans feel the excitement of worlds colliding. Seeing an actor, athlete, or personality crossover with a John Cena, Sting, or Roman Reigns creates buzz. For the celebrity, entering the squared circle can fulfill a lifelong dream and create iconic moments. In execution, most matches are heavily gimmicked and are a mixed bag at best. For every windfall, there seem to be two or three disasters when it comes to expectation vs. result. 

The Good

    A celebrity match doesn’t have to be the most technical, the appearance doesn’t even have to be very long, but fans want a satisfying build and payoff. One of the best examples of both has to be Vince McMahon vs. Donald Trump in the battle of the billionaires. Back when Trump was the host of the Apprentice, he and Vince went back and forth on Raw one-upping each other, with Trump famously dropping “thousands of dollars” to the audience on fan appreciation night.

 The feud would culminate at Wrestlemania 23 in a hair vs. hair match Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga with special guest referee Stone Cold Steve Austin. Vince and Umaga lost, and McMahon paid with the loss of his locks. Trump for his part, even took a stunner from Stone Cold, albeit not the prettiest of selling jobs from the current president. 

For a more recent example, Pat McAfee stunned most of the internet wrestling community by having a high quality against NXT superstar Adam Cole at Takeover 30. Many people were doubtful the former punter turned sports entertainer could back up his talk on the mic. In the storyline, McAfee had only two weeks to prepare to fight Cole, despite the limited experience he impressed with his athleticism, charisma, and overall ring awareness.    

The Bad

Most long-term fans of wrestling would rather forget most celebrity appearances and while it’s impossible to list all of them there are a few examples that especially stick out as being excruciatingly bad. Basketball fans will remember the endless self-promotion of the Ball family and Big Baller Brand in 2017. LaVar Ball and his sons LaMelo and Lonzo Ball were featured in an ill-fated segment on the June 26th episode of Raw. 

In one of the worst Miz TV segments, Miz talked with LeVar about the possibility of joining BBB. After awkwardly squabbling with the Ball’s and LaMelo mistakenly saying the N-Word live on air, the wrestler formerly known as Dean Ambrose (now Jon Moxley) broke up the segment by announcing he had joined BBB. 

This year WWE fans were reminded that just because an individual is gifted in traditional sports doesn’t mean that translates well to the ring. Rob Gronkowski, arguably one of the best NFL tight ends of his generation, hosted this year’s Wrestlemania. Gronkowski captured the 24/7 championship but showed little potential in the ring or on the mic. The former Patriot star ended his brief wrestling career when he rejoined former teammate Tom Brady in Tampa after being traded to the Buccaneers.

Will Shaq Work

You either learn from the past or you are doomed to repeat it. This is especially true for Tony Khan and Rhodes in their attempts to recruit the legendary seven-foot plus hooper. Shaq was scheduled to appear in Wrestlemania 33 against the Big Show, but the constant changing of plans “messed it up” according to O’Neal himself. The big Aristotle could also land in the camp of Gronkowski as an athlete that can’t transition to the wrestling world. The now NBA analyst is nearly 20 years older than Gronk and is unlikely at best that he could wrestle a full match one-on-one against Cody and give the fans a satisfying finish. 

If Last week’s dynamite is any indication AEW could see its very first mixed tag match as a promotion. Jade Cargill, a newly signed AEW talent and former college basketball player spoke on behalf of Shaq last Wednesday. She interrupted Rhodes in the center of the ring, and gave a long-winded speech, dubious of Rhode’s claim of being a “giant killer”. The segment was punctuated by a strong Brandi Rhodes promo. A tag match would properly limit O’Neal’s in-ring time while hopefully maintaining the star power. The biggest concern is Cargill who also has limited ring work.

Khan has a tough challenge ahead of himself and several variables are incredibly hard to control. If anyone associated with the feud has to be quarantined for Covid-19 exposure or positivity the entire contest could be postponed. The longer this builds, the more likely something could go wrong. My first reaction is skepticism. So many great ideas AEW has had have fallen by the wayside despite the company and performers’ best efforts. The Matt Hardy debut, championship builds starting and stopping, and Will Hobbs’ push being paused multiple times creates worry and casts doubt.

The optimist in me sees evidence that both Rhodes and Shaq will make this work. Both men are under contract for TNT and have partaken in creative advertising before. Each individual is already invested in this so it will be more difficult to back out of. AEW has already successfully had some notable star appearances including a segment in which Chris Jericho brawled with Mike Tyson. Plenty of pitfalls await this feud, but AEW has a chance to make an iconic moment with Shaq if they play their cards right.    

No Count Outs: Fully Pac’d Show

The Full Gear Pay-Per-View finally happened. New champions crowned in the Young Bucks and Darby Allin in their respective matches against FTR and Cody Rhodes. Other champs had better fortune. Hikaru Shida and Jon Moxley kept their titles. WWE had high stakes matches of their own. Johnny Gargano lost his North American title to Leon Ruff. Sasha Banks overcame her past to hold on to her belt over her long rival Bayley. On Dynamite, Pac made his return to break up Eddie Kingston’s family.

No Count Outs: A New Inmate to The Asylum No Count Outs

Drew McIntyre regained the WWE championship over Randy Orton setting up a champion vs. champion match with Roman Reigns.  Elsewhere on Raw the New Day retained their title over the Hurt Business.  NXT also had two title defenses, both Leon Ruff and Io Shirai held on to their gold over Johnny Gargano and Rhea Ripley respectively. On dynamite Jon Moxley inadvertently revealed his wife Renee was pregnant with their first child in a promo for Kenny Omega.  Will Hobbs turned heel,  and the death triangle reunited with the return of Pac in a match against the Blade.  Finally the legend and legacy of the Undertaker is discussed in a preview for a possible last ride on Survivor Series. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

No Count Outs: This is Real

In the go home show for AEW Full Gear, Jon Moxley had a war of words with Eddie Kingston. The Young Bucks narrowly avoided severe injury as Adam Page and Kenny Omega saved Nick and Matt from a viscous assault from FTR. Cody and Darby Allin continued to circle each other days before their Pay-Per-View collision.

NXT was chock full of shenanigans. Dakota Kai, with assistance from Raquel Gonzales, gave Ember Moon her first defeat since her comeback. Toni Storm defeated Shotzi Blackheart with interference from Candice LeRae. Halloween continues to haunt Cameron Grimes as he lost to the timesplitter Kushida after the return of Zombies.

No Count Outs: A New Inmate to The Asylum No Count Outs

Drew McIntyre regained the WWE championship over Randy Orton setting up a champion vs. champion match with Roman Reigns.  Elsewhere on Raw the New Day retained their title over the Hurt Business.  NXT also had two title defenses, both Leon Ruff and Io Shirai held on to their gold over Johnny Gargano and Rhea Ripley respectively. On dynamite Jon Moxley inadvertently revealed his wife Renee was pregnant with their first child in a promo for Kenny Omega.  Will Hobbs turned heel,  and the death triangle reunited with the return of Pac in a match against the Blade.  Finally the legend and legacy of the Undertaker is discussed in a preview for a possible last ride on Survivor Series. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

No Count Outs: Hell and Havoc

Hell in The Cell and Halloween Havoc, and Dynamite all were great shows in terms of work, story and atmosphere. HIAC featured Roman Reigns defeating his fellow Samoan, Jey Uso in a brutal but dramatic match. Sasha Banks got her revenge on Bayley, and Randy Orton secured his 14th world championship over Drew McIntyre.

Wednesday night was no ordinary NXT. For the first time in over 20 years Halloween Havoc returned to the WWE. Johnny Gargano beat North American Champ, Damian Priest in a Devil’s Playground match. Johnny’s better half, Candice LeRae was unsuccessful in her attempt of dethroning Io Shirai. Pat McAfee returned to reveal he was the mastermind behind Ridge Holland’s attack and recruited the already deadly combo of Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan.

AEW continued to build toward full gear, as the finals of the number one contender tournament for the AEW championship was set with Kenny Omega winning over Penta el Zero Miedo and Hangman securing his spot over Wardlow. MJF tried to convince Chris Jericho he belongs in the Inner Circle which sets up a confrontation at Full Gear against Le Champion. Eddie Kingston made another statement in his win over Matt Sydal as he looks ahead to Jon Moxley.

No Count Outs: A New Inmate to The Asylum No Count Outs

Drew McIntyre regained the WWE championship over Randy Orton setting up a champion vs. champion match with Roman Reigns.  Elsewhere on Raw the New Day retained their title over the Hurt Business.  NXT also had two title defenses, both Leon Ruff and Io Shirai held on to their gold over Johnny Gargano and Rhea Ripley respectively. On dynamite Jon Moxley inadvertently revealed his wife Renee was pregnant with their first child in a promo for Kenny Omega.  Will Hobbs turned heel,  and the death triangle reunited with the return of Pac in a match against the Blade.  Finally the legend and legacy of the Undertaker is discussed in a preview for a possible last ride on Survivor Series. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

No Count outs: The Dastardly Debonairs

NXT versus AEW on Wednesday dominated discussion this week. As a last minute replacement for Undisputed Era’s injured Strong and Fish, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch defeated Breezango to become the new tag team champs. Kushida outlasted Tommaso Ciampa and Velveteen Dream in a triple threat match. Ember Moon won her return match but was attacked by Dakota Kai afterwards.

Dynamite’s world title tournament featured all four first round matches. Moving on was Jungleboy, Rey Fenix, Adam Page and a refocused and refurbished Kenny Omega as the fearsome cleaner, who destroyed Sonny Kiss in just a few seconds. MJF and Chris Jericho had dinner and then performed an unexpected musical number. Elsewhere on WWE programming Mustafa Ali was revealed to be the hacker.

No Count Outs: A New Inmate to The Asylum No Count Outs

Drew McIntyre regained the WWE championship over Randy Orton setting up a champion vs. champion match with Roman Reigns.  Elsewhere on Raw the New Day retained their title over the Hurt Business.  NXT also had two title defenses, both Leon Ruff and Io Shirai held on to their gold over Johnny Gargano and Rhea Ripley respectively. On dynamite Jon Moxley inadvertently revealed his wife Renee was pregnant with their first child in a promo for Kenny Omega.  Will Hobbs turned heel,  and the death triangle reunited with the return of Pac in a match against the Blade.  Finally the legend and legacy of the Undertaker is discussed in a preview for a possible last ride on Survivor Series. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

No Count Outs: The Monster Mashup

The WWE draft separated New Day members Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods from Big E. The superstar shakeup switched brands for many notable names like Charlotte Flair, Miz and Morrison, Seth Rollins, and Rey Mysterio. On the Wednesday night wars, NXT had its sights on Halloween Havoc with Shotzi Blackheart as the host and competing in one of two number one contenders’ matches on the Card. Every championship was defended on AEW including a brutal match between Jon Moxley and Lance Archer.

No Count Outs: A New Inmate to The Asylum No Count Outs

Drew McIntyre regained the WWE championship over Randy Orton setting up a champion vs. champion match with Roman Reigns.  Elsewhere on Raw the New Day retained their title over the Hurt Business.  NXT also had two title defenses, both Leon Ruff and Io Shirai held on to their gold over Johnny Gargano and Rhea Ripley respectively. On dynamite Jon Moxley inadvertently revealed his wife Renee was pregnant with their first child in a promo for Kenny Omega.  Will Hobbs turned heel,  and the death triangle reunited with the return of Pac in a match against the Blade.  Finally the legend and legacy of the Undertaker is discussed in a preview for a possible last ride on Survivor Series. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

No Count Outs: Kevin Lee Davidson

Kevin Lee Davidson been wrestling in top level promotions such as Evolve, Ring of Honor, IWA-Mid South, Glory Pro, and AAW. I catch up with KLD on what wrestling has meant to him, how he improves and perfects his craft and of course some of his greatest opponents and matches. X-Pac, Scott Norton, Buff Bagwell, and PCO were big highlights in his independent career, but KLD also learned from some of the greatest teachers in wrestling like Norman Smiley, Michael Elgin, and Eddie Kingston.

No Count Outs: A New Inmate to The Asylum No Count Outs

Drew McIntyre regained the WWE championship over Randy Orton setting up a champion vs. champion match with Roman Reigns.  Elsewhere on Raw the New Day retained their title over the Hurt Business.  NXT also had two title defenses, both Leon Ruff and Io Shirai held on to their gold over Johnny Gargano and Rhea Ripley respectively. On dynamite Jon Moxley inadvertently revealed his wife Renee was pregnant with their first child in a promo for Kenny Omega.  Will Hobbs turned heel,  and the death triangle reunited with the return of Pac in a match against the Blade.  Finally the legend and legacy of the Undertaker is discussed in a preview for a possible last ride on Survivor Series. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

No Count Outs: The Season of the Twitch

NXT Takeover 31 saw the return of Ember Moon and Toni Storm. Along with a stacked card matches that included Io Sharai versus Candice LaRae, and Kyle O’Reilly facing off against Finn Balor. WWE continues to crack down on talent revenue, this time a proposed takeover of wrestler’s Twitch accounts. AEW kept fans on their toes, teasing a possible feud between MJF and Chris Jericho a week before his 30th-anniversary show. Cody fakes out the crowd during his promo against Brodie Lee, and Jon Moxley faces an unexpected opponent in The Butcher.

No Count Outs: A New Inmate to The Asylum No Count Outs

Drew McIntyre regained the WWE championship over Randy Orton setting up a champion vs. champion match with Roman Reigns.  Elsewhere on Raw the New Day retained their title over the Hurt Business.  NXT also had two title defenses, both Leon Ruff and Io Shirai held on to their gold over Johnny Gargano and Rhea Ripley respectively. On dynamite Jon Moxley inadvertently revealed his wife Renee was pregnant with their first child in a promo for Kenny Omega.  Will Hobbs turned heel,  and the death triangle reunited with the return of Pac in a match against the Blade.  Finally the legend and legacy of the Undertaker is discussed in a preview for a possible last ride on Survivor Series. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

No Count Outs: Which One Are You?

Clash of Champions “Gold Rush” Featured an ad-libbed card the had a few misses, but overall a solid Pay-Per-View. Asuka worked double duty, Randy Orton was forced to face his ghosts against Drew McIntyre, and Roman Reigns asserted his dominance over Jey Uso. AEW scrambled with booking as well. Eddie Kingston fought Jon Moxley for the world title and Brodie Lee extinguished Orange Cassidy. Cody made his return with a new look and a familiar attitude.

No Count Outs: A New Inmate to The Asylum No Count Outs

Drew McIntyre regained the WWE championship over Randy Orton setting up a champion vs. champion match with Roman Reigns.  Elsewhere on Raw the New Day retained their title over the Hurt Business.  NXT also had two title defenses, both Leon Ruff and Io Shirai held on to their gold over Johnny Gargano and Rhea Ripley respectively. On dynamite Jon Moxley inadvertently revealed his wife Renee was pregnant with their first child in a promo for Kenny Omega.  Will Hobbs turned heel,  and the death triangle reunited with the return of Pac in a match against the Blade.  Finally the legend and legacy of the Undertaker is discussed in a preview for a possible last ride on Survivor Series. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app