Tag Archives: Rob Gronkowski

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

Will AEW finally pay off the dram and give fans a match between NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal and Cody Rhodes? Despite making appearances on WCW and WWE programming multiple times the Big Diesel has never had an official match.

Can a Shaquille O’Neal vs Cody Rhodes Matchup Work?

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. It’s 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.

Can Shaquille O’Neal vs Cody Rhodes 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.    

NFL Week 5 Primetime Moneymakers

Entering Week 5 of the NFL season we can finally form accurate opinions. Ones based on current data and not rely on what we saw last season and expected to see in the preseason that never was. We get a full slate after having the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers go into forced bye weeks following outbreaks of COVID-19. Tennessee isn’t out of the woods yet and there have been other positives from New England to Las Vegas. As of now, though, it’s all systems go this week.

Betting has been tough this year. Injuries have reshuffled depth charts across the league and no preseason had us guessing early on. Hitting on winners has been tough enough, betting against the spread that much tougher. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to try though! With that, let’s get into this week’s primetime moneymakers; bets on (you guessed it) primetime games that can be bet separately or parlayed but should win you some money either way!

NFL Primetime Moneymakers Week 5

Tompa Bay Gronkaneers

Tampa Bay (3-1) comes into this game feeling solid after coming back from down 17 to beat the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4, extending their winning streak to three games. Their opponent, the likewise 3-1 Chicago Bears, come in feeling…not so hot. They had made a living on down-to-the-wire finishes the first three weeks just to have that halted by the Indianapolis Colts.

Tampa is 9th in passing yards and averaging 30 PPG on the season; 32 PPG over the last three weeks. Chicago comes in averaging 21 PPG, but just 14 PPG at Soldier Field where they’re allowing 16 PPG. Tampa, for its part, is putting up 25.5 PPG on the road, but that was against far less formidable defenses. Brady has thrown a pick in all but one game this season and has had two returned for touchdowns.

The money line isn’t paying here, but it is a gimme. Maybe you can parlay it with some riskier bets to add a little extra to your slip. The spread though, 3.5, is low if we are to believe what we have seen from both. This game shouldn’t be close, despite all of Tampa’s injuries, if the last four weeks hold true. Added to that, Brady is 5-0 against the Bears and there are cracks in Chicago’s once impenetrable defense. Take the Bucs and the points, and with a total set at 44.5, take the under in what should be mostly battle of two solid defenses.

Bonus Player Prop: Rob Gronkowski to score (+165) – The Bears have allowed three passing touchdowns this season. All three have been to tight ends, a position Brady has long had an affinity for, and where the Bucs just lost O.J. Howard to a torn Achilles. Ronald Jones has a solid chance too with Leonard Fournette doubtful.

Let’s Get DangeRuss

Did you know the undefeated Seattle Seahawks (4-0) are a pristine 4-0 against the spread this season? That’s important to remember as they prepare to face the Minnesota Vikings (1-3) with the largest spread to date at +7. Minny (2-2 ATS) is averaging 32 PPG on the road and the Seahawks defense just gave up 23 points to the woeful Miami Dolphins. That was the fewest amount the Seahawks have allowed this season. Long story short, this ain’t the Legion of Boom. Minnesota’s once-mighty defense isn’t much better off, allowing over 31 PPG this year.

The Seahawks are letting Russ cook and the MVP candidate is first in passing touchdowns, first in completion percentage, and third in passing yards. There’s a whole host of other categories he tops but you get the point. Minnesota is giving up the fourth-most yardage on the season and has allowed seven passing scores, including two last week to Deshaun Watson. Kirk Cousins is going to have to be at his best to get the win this week.

If you throw away the clamps Minnesota got put on them in Week 2 by the Colts the Vikings are putting up over 31 PPG so the over (57.5) is square in play here, something Seattle has hit in each of its last three games. The spread is a little too optimistic. Take Minnesota +7 and pray Kirk Cousins plays like he did in Week 4 and not Weeks 2-3 because the Seahawks are third against the run this year.

March or Charge?

Maybe the lack of preseason was hindering New Orleans Saints (2-2) quarterback Drew Brees because has heated up over the last two weeks, completing over 78 percent of his passes and throwing five touchdowns to just one pick against Green Bay and Detroit. The Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) defense is better on the backend than either of those teams. Even with all their injuries, they are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete around 65 percent of their passes though they have given up eight touchdowns.

Alvin Kamara should star again in this one with Michael Thomas still nursing an ankle injury and the Saints having a bye next week. L.A. is allowing 4.5 YPC to running backs but have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Luckily, the Chargers are also giving up the sixth-most catches to the position and two scores through the air.

Don’t get it twisted though, L.A. boasts the third-ranked red zone defense while New Orleans is dead last. So while the Chargers are down several pieces, they can still move the ball and will have scoring opportunities and have enough defensive talent to stall drives in scoring position. That makes L.A. getting +7.5 points more appealing and it helps that the Chargers are 3-1 ATS while New Orleans is 2-2 ATS. The under also feels in play, though there isn’t much confidence in that statement. The Saints have hit the over in every game but the Chargers have hit the under in three out of four.

Cam Newton to the New England Patriots is Perfect

It almost makes too much sense. Cam Newton, Superman, is a New England Patriot. And in the year 2020, this is exactly the kind of move we should have expected. Many did, and yet it still felt like such a longshot. Clash of cults of personality aside, there was always a strictly football-related reason for this to happen. The fact that the actual deal is good for both sides is just an added bonus.

New England Patriots Signing Cam Newton is Perfectly 2020

How Did We Get Here?

What an offseason it has been! We’ve seen a quarter of the league’s projected starters entering 2019 change teams, including a wild four-team swap with New England and 75% of the NFC South. Tom Brady joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the shockwave of the off-season; if only slightly edging the Houston Texans swindling themselves out of DeAndre Hopkins.

Jameis Winston is now backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans and Teddy Bridgewater (Winston’s predecessor) will start in Carolina. Even Philip Rivers going to the Indianapolis Colts doesn’t compare.

Tampa Tommy is like the prodigal son going to the Darkside (which would have worked so much better had he joined the Las Vegas Raiders). Newton to the Pats is like, well T’Challa taking over for Steve Rogers. Yes, it’s on the nose, but it’s so very accurate. How else do you describe the expressive Newton heading to the most buttoned-up operation in the NFL?

What’s even better is it is two polarizing entities of opposite ends joining into one. The Patriots have been the bully on the block for much of the past 20 years. This, and a generous helping of sketchy deeds, has led to a buildup of resentment from those on the outside.

Newton, for all his charitable deeds, is more known for his scarves and attitude after losing Super Bowl 50.

Neither man is perfect. Brady was directly indicated in his fair share of the scandals during his time in New England. And, if we’re being honest, the worst Newton has done was his interaction with a female reporter a few years back. He laughed at the depth of her question and said it was “funny” a question like that came from a woman.

But on the football field, both of these men have set records.

Why It Will Work

Brady has the edge in accolades, sure. But even he has conceded it is at least equal parts situation as it is his given talent, effort, preparation, etc. Newton, if healthy, offers the total opposite. A supremely gifted athlete, he reached the edge of the mountain top without the level of coach and system he will have around him next year.

That isn’t a knock on what the Ron Rivera Panthers did either, they ran a system they felt gave them the best chance to win. The issue was they operated like Newton was a rookie for too long, not surrounding him with enough talent at receiver and/or a proper offensive line. His development seemed to stall as the Panthers found their formula.

One thing we know about the Patriots, they know the formula changes from year to year. No team has been better at adapting to their personnel.

Josh McDaniels is a very underrated part of why this will work. He was able to get seven wins out of a second-year Tim Tebow back in 2011. That was ten years ago. But Newton, a former MVP, is far and away a better passer than Tebow ever was.

People also forget the year Newton was having before he got injured in 2018. Carolina was 6-2 with Newton completing 67.3% of his passes for 1893 yards, 15 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He added another 342 yards and four scores on the ground. He over 68 percent of his passes in his remaining six games, but only threw nine touchdowns to nine picks and the Panthers went winless.

What’s The Problem?

That depends on what you thought of Brady last season. He started the season completing 64% of his passes for 2251 yards, 13 scores, and four interceptions over the first eight games. But he finished throwing for 1806 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 4 more picks while completing just 56.9% of his passes. The Patriots went 4-4 over those final eight.

Was that all Brady? He is, after all, in his 40s and has played over two and a half regular season’s worth of playoff games. It’s perfectly reasonable his abilities are in decline.

But New England lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement then lost Antonio Brown (one game) and Josh Gordon (six games) to personal issues. Julian Edelman was still around, but there aren’t many quarterbacks who can overcome that kind of talent drain before and during the season.

Newton’s health will be the biggest deterrent to any success. But he’s been out since September last year and has been seen working with Odell Beckham. Keeping him that way is paramount and dependant upon them either finding upgrades or guys like N’Keal Harry and free-agent addition Marquise Lee stepping up. Edelman and Mohamed Sanu will serve as the vets but the big hole is at tight end.

The offensive line is the bigger concern. Brady took 17 of his 27 sacks over the back half of the year. That line lost center Ted Karras and didn’t add anyone in free agency or the draft until the sixth round. They kept Joe Thuney, though.

The defense underwent a facelift but should be a smoother transition than anything the offense will go through. New England took defensive players with their first three picks and all are expected to contribute early. That’s good with the losses New England suffered at linebacker. Boasting one of the best secondaries in the NFL, though, they should be just fine.

Superman is a Patriot

Cam Newton has had to carry his offenses for much of his career, literally. In New England, he will get a chance to be a part of the machine. They will cater the offense to him week-to-week. His athleticism gives them an added dimension they didn’t have (or need) with Brady. He would also be the first non-Patriots draft pick to start for the team since Scott Secules in 1993.

Doubters will point to Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer and say Newton isn’t a lock to start. But as long as he’s healthy, neither the second-year Stidham nor the journeyman Hoyer is beating him out. The Patriots don’t need the publicity this brought (even with the penalties handed down) but Belichick would love the prestige winning with Newton would bring. We know what’s really on the line here.