The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast welcomed Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso on where he and Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman chatted about the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in WWE and AEW. Wrestling Inc. has exclusively reported that AEW has changed their COVID testing procedures as more talent have tested positive. Barrasso commented on the recent news.
“Well, I think it’s just a reflection of society. The virus is real,” Barrasso said. “It’s tough too. When you’re not in that bubble setting, I think we’ve seen that in Major League Baseball, somehow we haven’t seen it yet, it’s still early, in the NFL, but I think the bubble scenario works so much better. It’s not as feasible for pro wrestling. Pro wrestling is just too active.
“The NBA, we’ve seen the bubble work for a few months, but I mean for WWE or AEW, how would you sustain that? To me, it’s not that surprising when you don’t have the capability of the bubble, especially working out of Florida where it’s been prevalent and not even at the shows. It’s more so in terms of people have to live their lives outside of it too, and it’s bound to happen when there’s no bubble.”
Hausman asked Barrasso if WWE and AEW should adopt the bubble concept that the NBA and NHL have done. Barrasso liked the idea noting that wrestling fans want the best for the wrestlers but notes that TV contracts could prevent that from happening.
“It’s not a bad idea. I think in general, wrestling fans care about the talent they’re watching,” Barrasso noted. “So I think that if it meant we had to see a few episodes of taped content so you could go in the bubble, you can self isolate, you could make sure everyone can test and then you could air, you could film however many episodes, say you film eight episodes or ten episodes, I think the viewers would be understanding that the talent need to be safe too.
“Especially in the midst of a pandemic, I don’t think it needs to be live every week. Now, it might be different with WWE with television contracts and FOX and NBC Universal, but I think that it’s something to consider. The priority should always be the safety of the talent.”
NXT’s COVID-19 outbreak forced changes onto the card and the same for AEW as a surprise AEW World Title match main evented Dynamite. Barrasso praised the title match, especially Eddie Kingston’s performance.
“I thought both shows were really good,” Barrasso said. “AEW, I know people say, ‘oh, they signed this guy or that guy. Will they fit on the roster?’ Well, I think last night, it’s great to have someone like Eddie Kingston on your bench and you can call on him for whatever reason. If it’s a COVID thing or an injury, Eddie’s just extremely talented. He told that match, Nick, I thought through his eyes, like he was so good. You could see how hungry he was for that moment, how much he relished that moment and how much it took to capitalize on that moment. I thought that was the highlight of the show last night.”
Barrasso also highlighted the women’s division of both shows praising NWA Women’s World Champion Thunder Rosa for bringing a different presentation to AEW as well as Shotzi Blackheart for NXT. Barrasso then highlighted Kyle O’Reilly as he will now face Finn Balor for the NXT Championship.
“Every time Thunder Rosa steps on screen for AEW, I think there’s just a different presentation for that product, and the women’s matches are very good,” Barrasso pointed out. “She adds so much to their product. I hope we keep seeing more of her. Again, I think Shotzi Blackheart adds so much life to that product and so much fun to see too. Some of my frustrations with NXT: ‘TakeOver XXX’ was, not that it wasn’t great match, but you see Adam Cole and Pat McAfee, to me, at ‘TakeOver XXX’, what a great chance it would have been to have Cole and O’Reilly.
“O’Reilly had his moment last night. I think people are going to be surprised who haven’t seen his work in Ring of Honor. He’s really special. Yes, he’s great in the tag team, but he is also spectacular on his own, and I think that we’re going to see that in the Balor – O’Reilly match. That’s going to be special. So I think both shows did really well. Both stood out, especially given the circumstances around it.”
Barrasso was also given a chance to comment on the death of Joseph Laurinaitis, WWE Hall of Famer “Road Warrior Animal”. Barrasso called The Road Warriors/Legion of Doom the best tag team of all time and recalled his earliest memory of The Road Warriors.
“I’m biased,” Barrasso prefaced. “I think they’re the greatest tag team of all time. It’s hard to say greatest in pro wrestling. It’s so subjective. How do you choose the greatest? But I think that tag team, for what they did, for how they came out of nowhere onto the scene, they were just special everywhere. They were presented the right way. They made it cool to be a wrestling fan. I know as a kid, I was nine when they won the tag titles at SummerSlam ’91 at MSG.
“I think LOD were special. They made wrestling unique. They made wrestling fun, and you can’t think Hawk without Animal too, right? That SummerSlam ’91 was so special. They showed up at two spots too. They had Andre back earlier to set up The Natural Disasters Feud at SummerSlam ’91, and they had the moment with The Nasties too at Madison Square Garden. Their career obviously spans in Japan, and they don’t get enough credit, I believe, for what they did for Billy Gunn and Jesse James, how they helped establish The New Age Outlaws.
“When DX was pivoting away from Shawn Michaels and Triple H, it was something entirely different. I think that they’re just the greatest tag team of all time. Heartbreaking that wrestling loses one of its giants, and like you said too, Nick, 60? Man, that’s way too young. I feel like he should be starting his second run at life, life as a grandfather or family life, and for wrestling to lose them is a very sad day in pro wrestling.”
Justin Barrasso can be found on Twitter @JustinBarrasso. Barrasso’s full interview aired as part of today’s episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.