Tag Archives: Mike Tyson

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.    

Stadium Stampede Match a Perfect Finale to a Stacked Card at Double or Nothing

In AEW’s first pay-per-view since the quarantine The Elite defeated The Inner Circle in the main event to cap a loaded show that featured a new Women’s champ, a variety of great matches, and the debut of former IMPACT star Brian Cage.

The Pre-Show

Best Friends vs. Private Party put on an entertaining match-up to kick off the buy-in. Best Friends were without Orange Cassidy as he prepared for the Casino Ladder Match. Private Party put on an impressive showing. All the usual spots and a few new ones mixed throughout including both teams trading Trent’s headband back and forth and an assisted moonsault Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy. Best Friends got the victory and became the number one contenders for the tag team championship. The date of the match against Hangman Page and Kenny Omega was not announced.

Main Card

As is the case for most AEW pay-per-views, the opening contest was full of high spots, comedy moments, and surprises. The casino ladder match began with Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky as the first two competitors. After 50-50 scrapping back and forth Kip Sabian entered at number three with Jimmy Havoc interfering before Sabian entered the ring. The first big spot of the match came from Darby Allin. Allin attempted and failed to crush Kazarian with a skateboard double foot stomp from atop a ladder outside the ring sending Alling crashing through a second breakaway ladder.

Orange Cassidy entered at number five doing what Freshly Squeezed does best…very little. The comedy spots continued at number six with Colt Cabana entering and promptly getting his fingers pinched in the ladder after nearly reaching the poker chip above the ring. The bad boy Joey Janela entered at number seven as the replacement to Rey Fenix Jr. who was injured on the previous episode of dynamite. Luchasaurus wiped out the majority of the remaining participants at number eight before Allin reemerged slamming the super heavyweight member of Jurassic Express with a code red leaving no one in the ring to stop Allin.

The mystery competitor was finally revealed with the ninth and final participant, Brian Cage. The former Impact star was led to the ring by Taz and the powerhouse Cage dismantled all other AEW stars before finally they rallied together and buried him beneath guardrails, pieces of the set, ladders, and other debris. After more interference from Best Friends, Marko Stunt, and a few more ladder attempts Cage exploded from beneath the wreckage leading to one final spot between himself and Allin. Cage gorilla pressed Allin lying helplessly on top of a smaller ladder and deposited him outside. Cage secured the victory ending the contest at around 28 minutes of near nonstop thrills.

Up next was MJF vs Jungle Boy. As a change of pace the two put on a technical clinic. This match was arguably the best-worked performance of the night. MJF won after referee Aubrey Edwards accidentally gave MJF the momentum he needed by inadvertently knocking Jungleboy into a vulnerable position. MJF won via pinfall at 17 minutes, keeping him undefeated in singles competition.

 The TNT Championship

The TNT championship tournament final between Murderhawk Lance Archer and Cody Rhodes was an excellent balance of storytelling, wrestling, and personalities. Iron Mike Tyson was at ringside waiting to crown either of the two men. Archer dominated Rhodes early on hitting the blackout in the first 10 seconds of the match. The narrative for most of the fight would be Rhodes struggling to hold on while Archer appeared to be toying with him most of the contest. A couple of the main highlights of this match were Rhodes hitting the Murderhawk with a DDT out of Jake Roberts playbook and Archer hitting an Arn Andersoninspired spine-buster. Despite Roberts defying ejection from referee Bryce Remsburg, Tyson kept the peace long enough to allow Rhodes to capture the first-ever TNT victory in just over 21 minutes.

Very little of note occurred for the next few segments. It was announced Dr. Britt Baker would inform the AEW audience live this Wednesday how long she would remain sidelined from her knee injury. Penelope Ford, her replacement for the match against Kris Statlander, did an admirable job subbing in for her. Statlander had her best performance in an AEW ring thus far beating Ford in a tidy eight minutes.

Arguably the only poor portion of Double or Nothing was the bizarre interaction between Shawn Spears and the natural, Dustin Rhodes. It isn’t fair to call this a match. Spears was embarrassed by Rhodes after calling out Cody’s older brother out of an assumed retirement. The chairman Spears was forcefully disrobed and exposed for having his manager, Tully Blanchard‘s face on his briefs. Rhodes pinned him for the victory in a thankfully short, but pointless, four minutes.

Hikaru Shida defeated Nyla Rose to win the AEW Women’s championship. Less than 24 hours after the tragic death of Hana Kimura, a wrestler for the Japanese promotion Stardom, Shida the former Stardom athlete won the no disqualification brawl against reigning champ and native beast Nyla Rose. Shida’s emotion, passion, and storytelling was overwhelming and won with an emphatic baseball-like swing of her kendo stick breaking it over the monster Rose, hitting her with a running knee strike and pinning her at 16 minutes.

The AEW Championship

Jon Moxley finally had his chance to exact his revenge on the exalted one Brodie Lee. AEW champ Moxley came out aggressively trying to tear the head off of the leader of the Dark Order. Lee in contrast, executed his offense in a very cerebral fashion. The referee gave a lot of leeway in this match allowing both wrestlers to leave the ring without counting them out, and not disqualifying Brodie Lee or Moxley for slamming each other through multiple barriers and stage equipment. When the action resumed in the ring the champ Moxley regained his title by referee stoppage via submission, although Lee did not officially tap. Likely, this feud is not over.

The Stadium Stampede

The Stadium Stampede match in TIAA Bank Field will be remembered for its fun and zany antics for a very long time. The less that is said the better. For those who like Matt Hardy‘s broken world, being the elite, and the bubbly bunch this main event may be the best product you watch from AEW this year. If you weren’t a fan of the more cinematic type of matches such as the boneyard match between AJ Styles and The Undertaker its best to skip this one. Kenny Omega pinned Sammy Guevara to win the contest for The Elite after 33 minutes for iconic spots and absolute insanity.