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Things That Make Me Go Hmmm…: Eliminator Tournaments & LA Knight as Stone Cold Steve Austin Love/Hate

As a child born in the mid-70s and who became a teenager in the late 80s and early 90s, I love using old school pop culture references. They make sense to me even if they don’t to those younger than me. Stay with me here. As the Notorious BIG once spit, “I’ve got a story to tell.” See what I’m talking about?

There was once a show called The Arsenio Hall Show. That show starred Eddie Murphy’s best friend, Arsenio Hall, as a standup comic turned late night host. The show was birthed in a time frame when hip hop culture was burgeoning and entertainers who weren’t mainstream movie stars and TV stars who also were usually darker skinned weren’t showing up on other late night TV shows. They were welcome on this show. As a teenager, Johnny Carson wasn’t necessarily my demographic, though people my age were into David Letterman. But David Letterman wasn’t exactly hip hop.

Arsenio Hall also welcomed WWF wrestlers on his show and infamously, Hulk Hogan lied about his steroid usage on the show, which kicked off the demise of the pro wrestling industry for about four years. But that’s not why I am using an old Arsenio Hall bit to kickstart writing on this website again.

Arsenio Hall did a monologue bit where he’d put his long finger to his temple and mention something that didn’t quite make sense. It made him say, “Hmmm.” This column will be about things in pro wrestling that make me say hmmm. Don’t worry, I’ll try and make it fun.

By the way, the Arsenio bit was so famous that an old musical act called C&C Music Factory turned the bit into a song.

Tony Khan’s World Title Eliminator Tournament

On Wrestling Observer Radio, I joked to Dave Meltzer that the Grand Slam tournament participants to create a new contender for MJF’s world title were more apt for the ROH TV title, which Dave quickly said, “International title.” But he understood what I was talking about. That in of itself does make me say hmmm because of the idea that tournaments happen so often in AEW that they’re not very special anymore. But that’s not the focus here.

It’s really about Tony Khan’s lingo. I understand that the word “eliminator” has been used in boxing parlance to find the top contender to a specific title. If it’s a one-on-one fight, the loser is eliminated from contention and the winner becomes the number one contender. But tournaments don’t exactly work that way. In this specific tournament, Samoa Joe beat Jeff Hardy, which eliminated Jeff from the tournament. But Samoa Joe can still be eliminated himself. That’s what a tournament is. So the term eliminator tournament doesn’t really make too much sense. Why isn’t this just a number one contender tournament?

While this one isn’t as bad as Tony calling a post-show press conference a scrum, I do wonder if we’re getting Tony’s version of Vince McMahon’s WWE-speak. A title isn’t a belt. A belt is what you wear around your pants. You’re not getting a title match, you’re getting a title opportunity. And so on. World Title Eliminator Tournament? Scrum? Hmmm.

The LA Knight Conundrum

I get a kick out of the LA Knight fans who are insistent that he wasn’t heavily influenced by Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, the biggest stars from WWE’s most celebrated period in time. WWE has even leaned into by having the Miz mimic Knight and call him a fake Austin. You have to give it to the guy though; he took from the two most famous wrestlers of the modern era and kind of remixed them into one person. And he’s running with it. The fans are in the palm of his hand as a babyface, which is pretty hard to do in today’s wrestling.

But can you have the new version of this character on top in a day and age when the old characters are still more famous than he is to the current wrestling fan generation? I’m not so sure, but I’m really interested in seeing if they try. The guy is over like rover and he’s climbing the ranks while doing a tremendous job on the mic. Will Triple H go all the way with him? Can the future top guy be a copy of someone who is still super famous? I’m interested to see how hard they try. Hell, have Austin come out and put him over.

LA Knight has kind of sort of won me over by sticking to his character and doing super petty stuff like getting a dig in on Kevin Nash on SmackDown.

Nash called him out for what I’ve called him out on a few weeks ago and Knight was smart enough to get him back on national TV rather than on Instagram. By the way, John LaRocca and I just covered the time frame for our WCW ’96 podcast on the Patreon and yes, I called Nash to task for what Knight was just making fun of.


Someone who hasn’t won me over quite yet though is Grayson Waller. It has nothing to do with him personally, though, his character was an absolute poser from day one and posers are the worst wrestling characters. They told us that he was a social media influencer and he barely had more Twitter followers than I did. That has since changed and his Twitter statistics look almost YouTuber these days.

My issue with the character is that he’s Miz-lite and being the lite version of a that character isn’t anything to call home about. He’s athletic and improved enough in the ring to be called up to the main roster, but he’s fairly stuck in the mud to me right now. Add him together with Austin Theory and you have a tag team that has the excitement of walking on a treadmill. Maybe like Knight has done, he’ll win me over, but for now, he’s fast-forward material in a day and age when we have so much wrestling content, just watching in normal speed is a co-sign.

Quick hits

In the same opening match on AEW Collision, Nigel McGuinness made these two comments.

“If anybody can match up to Orange Cassidy, it’s Action Andretti.”

This is the same Action Andretti who faced Jon Moxley on Saturday and also the same Action Andretti who won exactly one match against Chris Jericho before becoming talent enhancement du jour.

But oh, it gets better.

He also said that he believes that Action Andretti’s strategy should be to try and end the match early win, lose, or draw. Now, I get trying to win early. You should always try to win early. Lose early? I guess if you take some risks, there’s a chance you can make a mistake and lose early. But draw early? How does one draw early? I usually don’t hear commentary this bad unless I’m watching NXT.


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