wrestling / Columns

411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction: Will Cody vs. MJF Steal the Show at AEW Revolution?

February 28, 2020 | Posted by Jake Chambers
Cody MJF

Welcome to Round 2 of the 411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction Road to Wrestlemania Invitational Tournament!

I’m your host, Jake Chambers. I’ve gathered together 8 writers from 411mania who have all participated alongside me in the Wrestling Fact or Fiction column over the past few months, and I am pitting them against each other in a battle of wrestling smarts and wits, as they dare to explain what they think is totally factual or completely fiction for statements on pro-wrestling history, culture and current events. No middle ground will be tolerated!

Over the next few months, this single elimination tournament will feature the familiar format we all know and love along with a few surprises along the way. Polls will also be included so YOU can play a part in who advances to the next round (more on the voting at the end of the column). Now, let’s “tourn” it up and meet today’s participants.

For this semi-final round DEBATE RULES are in effect! All of the writers will compose their responses to the statements based on an assigned a FACT or FICTION. They may not agree with the answer in theory, but they will try to use their powers of persuasion to convince you that their opinion is best.

Round 2, Week 1

Defeated Dino Zee in the 1st Round, your 411 NXT live recapper, Kevin Pantoja
vs.
Defeated Tony Acero in the 1st Round, your 411 Top 7 list-maker, Steve Cook

Statement #1: The Cody/MJF match will steal the show at the AEW Revolution PPV.

Steve Cook: FACT – Since leaving WWE and helping found AEW, Cody has become a master at playing on human emotion. His matches might not exceed five stars due to technical expertise & an insane amount of high spots, but he does better than any of his Elite buddies at making his matches mean more due to the feuds & characters involved.

For example: this feud. MJF is a young, rich asshole that nobody ever liked, except for Cody. Cody saw something in the kid, and let him be part of his Nightmare Family. He even let MJF corner him for his AEW title match, which ended up being a fatal mistake. MJF threw the towel in on Cody, then low blowed him after the match. Since then, Cody’s been all about getting revenge. Through promos and various altercations, this feud has built up to the point where everybody wants to see Cody kill this kid. Match quality is the furthest thing from people’s minds, they couldn’t give a crap if Dave gives it 5 stars or not. They only want to see MJF get what he deserves. With that kind of emotion, you can steal the show without having the perfect match.

Kevin Pantoja: FICTION – There’s a few reasons for this. The things going in favor of the Cody/MJF match are the build and Cody’s abilities. I’ve long hoped for a significant babyface run for him after his stellar work in 2013 and we’re finally getting it. He carried Wardlow to an enjoyable match and he’ll do the same to MJF. However, that’s just it. I don’t have confidence in MJF delivering a great match. He’s not that guy yet (I also don’t think he’s as special as a heel as make him out to be but that’s for another time). I absolutely think this will be a good match and one I’m looking forward to. Stealing the show, though? That’ll be tough. Hangman Page and Kenny Omega are on a hell of a roll and their match with the Young Bucks should be a banger. Also, don’t sleep on Darby Allin/Sammy Guevara. To sum it up, Cody/MJF will be good but not the best.

Statement #2: Daniel Bryan is the greatest professional wrestler of all time.

Steve Cook: FICTION – Listen, I love D-Bry as much as anybody that writes about the pro wrestling. He was the best worker in the independents during the 2000s. Once he made it to WWE, he overcame all of the stereotypes working against him and became one of the company’s biggest stars. Whenever this column discusses who *insert old-time wrestler* here would have the best match with today, everybody always chimes in with “Daniel Bryan”. If you ask me who the best in-ring performer I ever saw was, Bryan would definitely be near the top of the list.

However, we’re not talking about the best in-ring performer. We’re talking about the best professional wrestler. Two different things. Everybody knows that if you ask a wrestler who the best wrestler is, they’ll tell you “The one that made the most money.” Making the company money is the name of the game. It’s how you end up making yourself more money. How long was Daniel Bryan the top star in WWE? I think the most generous timeframe I can allot him is the period from SummerSlam 2013 until WrestleMania XXX. That isn’t nearly long enough to put him in the discussion of “wrestlers that made the most money”. Hogan, Austin, Flair, Cena, these are the guys we need to be talking about here. As much as I love Bryan, I can’t say he was greater than any of them.

Kevin Pantoja: FACT – I read this and took a while thinking about it. Calling someone the greatest of all time is an incredibly difficult thing to do. There are so many things that go into it. Match quality, popularity, achievements, promo work, consistency, etc. To be honest, there’s probably not a definitive answer. And yet somehow, that’s exactly why I gave a definitive answer. Why not Daniel Bryan for the GOAT? He checks off every single box. He’s a safe bet for a great match regardless of the style he’s wrestling. He is one of the most popular wrestlers in history. He racked up the accolades everywhere he went. He’s as consistent as they come. Even his promos and character work have become great. Other guys who get the GOAT tag thrown around have had lackluster runs (Jericho in 2013, Undertaker in 1995, etc.). I can’t say that about Bryan.

Statement #3: NXT has the best wrestling matches on Wednesday nights.

Steve Cook: FACT – There has never been a better environment to have quality matches than on NXT. Say what you will about the Full Sail crowd or the ambiance of the arena, but we’re talking about a setup that’s really tough to fail in. These folks spend all week training at the Performance Center. They work out, plan matches, rehearse things, do anything you could possibly do to increase your performance inside the ring constantly. There’s barely an NXT road schedule, they’re home in Orlando basically all the time. NXT’s talent roster is exceptional enough to take advantage of these opportunities that few wrestlers have ever had. There is rarely a match on NXT programming that is flat out bad. They have the time to perfect their stuff and figure out how to maximize potential, and they get it done. AEW talent doesn’t have these advantages, and you can tell when their wrestlers can’t get on the same page. NXT has a vast advantage in this regard, and frankly has a talent advantage in certain areas. The women being the most obvious disparity. I do prefer a lot of what AEW is doing from a storytelling standpoint, but NXT clearly has the edge when it comes to workrate.

Kevin Pantoja: FICTION – Here’s a close one. NXT and AEW have both been delivering strong shows for the most part. You could honestly go back and forth on who has been putting on the better in-ring product. For the past two or so weeks especially, the edge goes to AEW. Look at Hangman Page and Kenny Omega vs. The Lucha Bros. Cody vs. Wardlow. That tag team battle royal. Nyla Rose vs. Riho. These are all really good to great matches that stand out. NXT had a few underwhelming matches, most notably Velveteen Dream vs. Roderick Strong. Overall, the main reason this is fiction is because there’s no true definitive answer. NXT can’t be number one with a bullet because it changes so consistently.

¡SWITCH!

Statement #4: WWE should stop giving a Wrestlemania title shot / main event to the winner of the Royal Rumble.

Steve Cook: FICTION – The first couple of Royal Rumbles had no real stakes. It was a fun little gimmick match to give guys like Hacksaw Jim Duggan & Big John Studd a big win. The matches were fun enough, but there was no real reason behind them. I’ve always enjoyed matches with stakes more than matches just for the sake of having matches. In 1992, the WWF Championship was on the line. It was a huge deal. Now, obviously you couldn’t do that every year, but the WWF learned in 1992 that putting something of value on the line made the Rumble stand out even more. A WWF Championship match at WrestleMania made perfect sense. Things have gotten more complicated over the years with multiple brands & multiple world championships. The Rumble winner doesn’t always end up main eventing WrestleMania. But, the Rumble stipulation remains viable and beats the alternative of having another meaningless gimmick match.

Kevin Pantoja: FACT – This is the toughest one to argue for as the Royal Rumble winner getting a title shot is such a staple. 27 years is a long time. However, one can compare this to the G1 Climax. Unlike the Rumble, the G1 winners have always lost (other than one time) at Wrestle Kingdom. The idea is that winning the G1 is a huge accomplishment in itself. The same could be said about the Royal Rumble. Simply winning it is enough of an accolade for someone to have. We’d still love the match regardless of what was on the line. The other cool thing about this is that it would make the match less predictable. Each year, only a handful of participants feel like choices to headline Mania. Without that on the line, it stands to reason that a mid-carder could pull off a huge win.

Statement #5: Koko B. Ware belongs in the WWE Hall of Fame.

Steve Cook: FACT –  I’ve been watching a lot of Prime Time Wrestling lately on WWE Network. The 1988 episodes in particular feature a lot of the Birdman, as he was getting a bit of a push due to the Piledriver album. Something I noticed during all of these Koko matches: The dude was really over! 1988 WWF fans were really into what Koko was doing. They liked Frankie the bird, his Ghostbuster finishing move, all of it. A few years later, he had a really fun tag team with Owen Hart called High Energy that put the Rocket on the map.

Sure, Koko didn’t have the best win/loss record. He spent a lot of his time putting people over. But some of his losses were historic. He was the first man to take Undertaker’s Tombstone. He lost to Yokozuna in the very first match on Monday Night Raw. Koko might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of his era, but when somebody brings his name up you remember him. And let’s be honest, 90% of WWE’s current talent would kill for the pops he was getting in 1988.

Kevin Pantoja: FICTION – It’s understandable that the Hall of Fame is kind of just a time for us to enjoy some nostalgia. However, there should probably be some kind of requirement to get in. Koko B. Ware has always kind of been the floor for inductees. Sure, there are celebrities and such but in terms of wrestlers, he’s the least successful person in there. What did Koko ever win? Outside of being the guy with the parachute pants and the bird, there’s nothing even memorable about him. Letting Koko in opens the door for almost anyone. Guys like Ezekiel Jackson, Thrasher, and Mideon could all get in because they at least all won a championship or two during their tenure. If you want people to take the Hall of Fame seriously then it should be at least somewhat exclusive.

Statement #6: The WWE opening up Performance Centers all over the world is good for the wrestling business.

Steve Cook: FICTION – You can see WWE’s goal for the world of wrestling in the United Kingdom. Build a Performance Center. Set up an NXT promotion. Sign everybody under the sun. Run the “indies” out of business. Ideally, they’d like to do this everywhere. There are some advantages for the workers, for sure. The best might not get the same opportunities they could get elsewhere, but they will get the certainty of getting paid. They might not get paid as much, but they can guarantee that they will get paid.

The biggest losers here are the discerning wrestling fans. If you only like watching WWE, you’ll be just fine. If you like watching multiple promotions with multiple styles, you won’t be happy. It’s a selfish perspective, sure. But we’re entitled to be selfish once in awhile.

I think it’ll end up like a lot of things WWE does: good for their business, but not good for the wrestling business. Contrary to what some people would tell you, they aren’t one and the same. 

Kevin Pantoja: FACT – The cream always rises to the top. I get the idea that WWE signing up tons of talent from around the world could hurt the independent scene. However, there are just so many talented wrestlers out there. PROGRESS stumbled a bit after losing talent to WWE but they’ve bounced back thanks to an injection of new life. The same will happen around the world. Plus, WWE is already signing the top talent from pretty much everywhere. Having Performance Centers all over would make things easier. Someone from Saudi Arabia or Thailand or pretty much anywhere won’t have to travel to the United States to train with state of the art equipment and brilliant wrestling minds.

Voting

To determine the victor in each round, the SIX other participating writers will cast a secret vote, along with a SEVENTH, and potentially tie-breaking vote, that will got to the winner of the reader’s poll below.

Anybody can, of course, vote however they like, but I’m introducing these criteria to help guide everyone’s decision:

Persuasiveness = ability to convince you that the writer’s Fact/Fiction choice was the best opinion

Knowledge = demonstration of the history and theory of pro-wrestling (even if not an expert on the topic in the statement)

Use of language = eloquence of the written word; creativity, imagery, comparisons, tone, voice

Plus = Executing the “Debate Rules”


What a tough challenge, but these two were up to the task! Remember when you’re voting, the responses were not necessarily their real feelings on these statements, but how well did they do in convincing you it was?

Thanks to Kevin and Steve Cook for participating, and good luck to them on the Road to Wrestlemania and their quest for the coveted 411mania Invitational Tournament championship title!