Transcribe your podcast

Hey, if you love the watchbox, did you know that the entire archive of the was lives over on our Spotify feed? That's it. One hundred seventy five movies plus from the past four years. You can only find them on Spotify. If you want to hear one of the new podcasts from last 60 days, you can find those anywhere, everything for the past four years, only on Spotify. This episode is brought to you by a really, really old friend of mine, eBay.


When you need new sneakers, you need him fresh fly and above all, authentic. And with eBay, you can shop everything from vintage rarities to the latest releases, all backed by eBay's authenticity. Guarantee eligible sneakers. Over one hundred dollars are inspected by a team of independent authenticators so you can shop so with total confidence because you deserve the best. No fakes, no fraud, no doubt. Just shocked to learn more authenticity guarantee at eBay that authentic sneakers.


This episode of the Bill Simmons podcast is presented by quick books.


Small business owners go all in on their passion. Sell the car of your dreams for a food truck. It's because you're hoping to make the best burger. Whatever your dream, quick book suite of tools can help you get there into it. Quick books help small businesses be more successful. Learn more at cookbook's dotcom. We're also brought to you by the Ringer Dotcom, as was the Ringer podcast network. Put up a new Rewash Tibbles last night. The Doors, me, Chuck Klosterman, Chris Ryan talking about one of the weirdest, craziest, most flawed movies of the 90s that features an absolutely iconic Volkmer performance, which we spent probably half the podcast talking about trying to figure out where it ranked, the pantheon of just crazy career movie performances of a movie that's not even that great of a movie.


But you can check that out on the reef. Watch HBO's Feed.


Coming up, I'm going to talk to Jonathan Sharks about what is going on in Atlanta and in Dallas and also some tzion stuff as well. And then my friend David Shoemaker from the Ringer, formerly of Grantland. We're going to just get a wrestling update as we head toward restoration here. There's a lot of crazy wrestling stuff happening right now. So that's the pod. First, our friends from Pearl Jam.


All right, we're taking this little past noon Pacific Time on Tuesday. Jonathan Sharks is here from the Ringer Dotcom, a very good website. He is also in the Ringer NBA show a couple of times during the week.


There's always something to talk about NBA. I had brought you on initially to talk about Dallas because I really wanted a deep dive with the future of that team is because I think they're kind of a stealth contender.


But we're not going to start they're going to start with the Atlanta Hawks who fired their coach, Lloyd Pierce, today. You could see this coming for a while. And I guess I'm going to start here. We could get into whether he was doing a good job or not. It seems like he wasn't their fan base wasn't that happy. They I think they blew 11 fourth quarter leads just this year. They they're 14 and 20 for the season. They're close enough to like the four or five seed where you can make a case.


You do this now, somebody writes the ship. You could still be a top five playoff team. My question is this, when you build your team around this entire philosophy. And you spent three years doing that in that philosophy, is it necessarily working? Isn't that the fault of the GM and the owner over the coach? Why is the coach has to be the fall guy first. And then I think the GM, Travis Schlink, will end up being the second fall guy in the off season.


But why does the fall guy always have to be the coach first with this roster? That clearly doesn't work. I mean, it's always the coach, right, because the GM is his boss. So that's probably the first thing. Like whenever a coach is fired, it's almost always the GM's fault, ultimately, right?


Yeah. Who, by the way, who hired this coach. So it going backwards. And this is why I always get criticized from from Hawks fans that I'm too hard on Trae Young. I'm not I'm just realistic on Young. I'm not sure he's a winning player. He might be he might turn into a winning player right now. I'm not sure what he is. I know he's one of the worst offenders in the league.


But since they got him and I think it all starts to that look at trade and the fact that Luca became good right away and they went all in on Trae Young in that trade. They got basically training Camp Redish. They're trying to build this infrastructure to make Trae Young succeed. That is the goal of this franchise from the moment they make that trade and they kind of annoying to him as this guy can be our Steph Curry. So every decision they make after that is based around this premise that Trae Young could be Steph Curry.


And that leads to three straight years of decisions that when you look at them cumulatively, I don't think they worked. So I don't know who the coach could have been that would have made all the moves they made. If you're just starting with the fundamental premise, Trae Young is the next Steph Curry because he's not.


Yeah, I think you got to look at it like year one, year two. We're always going to be busts with Trey, like we're going to rebuild. I mean, last year they're playing Cam and DeAndre Hunter like thirty minutes to like nineteen and twenty one. So really it's like this is the first year that really counts for them. This is what the year they spent their money, they had the quote unquote team they want around Trey. It's really to me it was like two years.


We're just going to burn and year threes, you're going to come all come together. And that's why Pierce was fired so quickly is because the pressure is on Schlink now, big time because we kind of got a two year window to do whatever he wanted with really no expectations of reading results.


Well, going back to the premise of building everything around Trae Young, you're you're in Texas where they're doing this with Luca and Luca is a better all around player and a better bet than Trey. Ironically, they're traded for each other. But the mindset from that first year, how they eased him in, Dirk was still there. They still had that Carlisle as like the strong coach. You still got to win that guy over. They had the 2011 title kind of lurking in the background.


A lot of the same people were there that built that. And even the Luca was anointed as a possible superstar. He still kind of had to earn it. Didn't you feel that way, like as good as he was that they didn't, like, throw him into the fire as like, this is our guy. Everything's about Luca. They were still like baby steps with the whole process. I, I am I seen that incorrectly.


Not because, like, it took them about three months to trade the four stars in that team. So if you remember, they had like Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, DeAndre Jordan, Dennis Smith, and none of them like love the Lucas centric offense. The Mavs are like, OK, you all can leave them all out like in like two days.


I forgot about that. But in that case, that was the right move, though, because it's like, hey, wait a second, this is vital if it's actually that. So in some ways, they kind of had to pave the way for Luka to be Luca. But he was also obviously a special player. Like, you kind of have to do that. I guess my my thing with Trey is I think he's a special talent. I'm not sure if he's a special player.


I'm not sure that this is a guy who could be the best guy on a championship team. Whereas with Luke, I think he could be.


Yeah, I think he's probably the best guy in a fifty one team. You're talking about a championship team. I will say this as a massive fan. I look at the team they have around Trae the Andre Hunter, Clint Capela, John Collins, Cam Redish, Kevin Huerter and I'm kind of envious and like that's a lot of good young talent. The Mavs have probably one good young player out, Luke and Jalen Brunson and like Trey's got a nice infrastructure I think going forward.


How much he can propel it for I don't know. But there is a lot of young talent on that roster for Spieth had been this season and we only saw it because Hunter got hurt and that's when the spiral really kicked in there for an eleven year last fifteen. He was hurt for most of those games.


Yeah. So when they were nine or nine without him. Five and eleven. Yeah. When, when he was out there and I don't know what the sample size of it was but when Capela Hunter. Collins Furter Young, when those five guys were all out there, that was a five that actually made sense to me as a family of five, where it's a really big line up outside of Trey, you have six, seven, six, eight, six, 10, six, 11, which is what you want about a six foot point guard.


Right. And I think that's probably why it's easy to blame the coach, because from an asset standpoint, you look at all the assets and you go, hey, we have a lot of talent now. They've had some bad luck. And we'll get into that in a second with injuries and some of the guys they sign this year. But ultimately, I think Huerter has been a lot better than you ever could have expected from where they drafted him, where it's like 19th pick you just thinking like best case scenario, he's kind of a sharpshooter, like a larger Sheremet type of scenario, but I actually think he's better than that.


I don't think he's an all star, but I think he's maybe a level below. And I think it's interesting that he can create his own shot when they need it and he can do some things where he's not just a typical shooter. And then Collins, they got him at 19 to twenty seventeen. And he to me is is one of the reasons why if you're going to make the case, they should fire the coach. How they haven't unlocked him this season, where his stats actually went backwards and he got suspended last year.


I don't know if he ever really totally regained the momentum, but I think he's a really talented player. I'm scared of him when the Celtics play him and it seemed like there is some Trae Young college stuff, some of that. So I don't think that was part of it. Right where he's the second most important player in the team, turned down the contract extension. You have that decision looming and then it's like, all right, what do we have here?


So maybe they just felt like we need to we at least need a coach we trust a little bit more to figure out what do we have here.


Yeah, even with Collins, I've been impressed that he's played well with Clint Capela because that was a big concern. You have to run running bigs but they kind of made it work a little bit more on the outside. A little bit. As far as lectureship with the coach, there's an article in the athletic where they just all the knives come out and that was vicious. They're like Yeah Trae Young don't like him, John Collins don't like him, can't Redish don't like them.


And it was like, man, they were just waiting for him to get far to drop that article.


Yeah. It's tough on all the young stars don't like you, but at the same time they're young stars who if you're not succeeding, it's just easy to blame the coach and put everything on him. And meanwhile, like, you know, it's it's part of Trae Young's responsibility if he's going to take the mantle as the team superstar to try to make some of these other guys better, which I don't I don't feel like he was doing the it is funny.


Usually those pieces come out, what, like a week, two weeks, three weeks later, we call it like the the notebook dump, all the stuff the reporters couldn't really use. Yet once the guy goes, then they wait a couple of days and then it starts trickling out. That one was out within twenty four hours and yeah, it was pretty harsh. It really did seem like the young, the young person was kind of unsustainable. I think it literally said that at one point the article like unsustainable their relationship, which is if not going to be strategic coach and your players don't like you.


That's a tough that's tough. Well and and the fans were really upset about some of the end of the game stuff and. I you know, I am I'm probably I always air on the side of blaming the coach for all the stuff at the end of the games like that, Stan Van Gundy against Utah last night was unbelievable, where they just kind of forgot Zyad was on the team in the fourth quarter as Utah's mountain in this ferocious come back.


And I my point is there's I see bad game coaching every day with with Atlanta. I still start fundamentally with what's the destiny of this team. They're basically going to have to do like Brooklyn Lite. They're going to have to outscore teams because they're not going to get stops on the other end with the roster. They have hunters, the only, I think, above average defensive guy out of those five like Capela would you say he's a good defensive center.


I wouldn't.


I mean he's solidify their team but I think they're playing pretty good duties on the floor. He can switch a little bit, find the rim is a good center I think. OK so then you can redish he's kind of like the missing piece for them. It's like can he get going because I think he has a ton of talent. He's like a six nine guard. He can guard like three positions. His jumpshot looks good. Doesn't go in very much though.


Like I think Cam is a huge part of this team's future one way or the other. But isn't everything we've gotten from Camerata this season and a half exactly what we were promised heading into the draft with Camerata, where it was like tantalizing, ultimately a little disappointing. Yeah, and that's that's very bad, right? You catch them on the right side or even the right corner, and it's like, wow, that guy's woo, put it together.


And then the next quarter it's like, was he out there at it? I didn't notice. Or I guess he was. No, no question about it.


But he's still so young and it's just it is tantalizing. A guy that big can move that well and you just hope some coach can figure it out, get him going.


So they did. You know, you go back to you look at their summer. This is another team I can blame Halliburton on. The six point, if they get a burden on this team, well, think about that would have been huge. So take a Kwangju, a quango. How do I set. A kangaroo, a kangaroo. My mispronunciation, dyslexia always kicks in, they take him six, the rap on him was, hey, there might be something wrong.


What was it with his foot? Yeah, he was hurt for the project process. Yeah. So it's like a red flag because at one point it was like he might go top three and then it was like he might not be healthy. So now he's hurt. If you take Halliburton six, which I don't think is inconceivable because I think all the smart people had him in the four or five range of just best guys in the draft, then you don't have to spend the money on Rondo and done and you can kind of put together your off season.


Completely different, right? Because one of the things have been Hillburn special was he can play without the ball. That was one of the reasons so many teams were enamored with him because he wasn't like a high usage guy. He could be good even when he's on the side, which is what he's shown in Sacramento. So it's funny, if they just take that, then they don't have this Rondo done, which is basically twenty five million for two years for the two of them.


Rondo, I never made sense to me and they're like, there's going to be veteran leaders like really he's going to play with Trae Young. That makes no sense. Then they spent sixty million for three years on Gallinari and then Bogdanovic for seventy two for four, which I thought was the most polarizing signing of the off season. Just because some people really like him and other people are like and it just didn't seem like there is any in between. But when they did those four things, what was your reaction.


I just thought it was an asset play because they looking at it like if we got to pay Collins pay young pay Huerter this is our one chance to use the money. How many guys you're really going to take our money in Atlanta. Never been a free agent draw. So my thought was always there just grabbing assets right now. I mean ownership is giving us the money to do it. We've got to win this year. That was also pretty clear.


It was like win or lose the mandate from ownership. So it's like just grab whoever you can get. And it was almost like whoever is going to take on my works and gave it to him. Which is usually a recipe for disaster. Yeah, it hasn't worked out. There's been some recipe for disaster pieces to this one is what I said earlier, building around a player where it's unclear if he's your best guy, if you're ever going to be a finals team, too, was we have the money this year, we might as well spend it, which I never, never totally agree with.


And then three is the new owner, which is the piece that we can never forget with this stuff where we have the new guy buys the team. I was called New Owner Syndrom. You guys say, hey, you know, I want to be good here. My thoughts and things that can be fixed right away. They're used to having a ton of success in their life, right. They became wealthy enough to buy an NBA team for a reason.


So it's like now I'll succeed at this. And it's I guess what the stuff's hard. Your coach doesn't your best player doesn't like his coach. Neither the two of your other young stars, the message board that you go to, they're killing the coach for this substitution made with a minute left. You're rich. You're talking to a rich guy, friends, the other guy who owns a team who made the finals three years ago. And he's kind of giving you that look like, oh, a little harder than you thought, isn't it?


And now you're getting competitive and now it's like, oh, shit, I want stuff to happen. So the new owner, Sinja, I definitely think it's part of this. Yeah. I mean, you look at a time I have this team, right? So Shillong came in four years ago and I think like four years, as long as many owners are going to give you to rebuild, it's like I have no patience for this. It's time to start worrying right now.


And in the athletic world, they're talking about roster doesn't care about injuries. He says we should be winning games. I just spent half a million dollars. We got to win. I don't care about why. Yeah. And Schlink is like, man, if we don't turn this around, I'm out of a job at the end of the season. So what do I have to lose? We got Nate McMillan right there. He randomly coached a couple of games, what was it, two weeks ago?


Because, yeah, he would like Pierce had to go, actually.


Yeah, that's kind of sad. He had a kid like two weeks ago. He got fired. Yeah. So they get kind of a little test. Look at Nate and Nate's been successful like he's everywhere he's been. The rap on him has always been why didn't your team go two rounds further than it did or why did your team blow that series or whatever? But his teams have usually competed and, you know, been one of those hard working, a seven game series around one type teams, which for the Hawks would be a step up.


They just want to make the playoffs. So I guess short term, Nate is probably a better fit than Lloyd Pierce. But I just think just fundamentally, I have a real problem with this. Like, you know, if you look at all the trades they made. They traded eight, seventeen and thirty five to New Orleans for Hunter. But I think that, again, that's a good one, right? Yeah, for sure. So that was their best one.


They traded Loukia, the rights to Lukáš for Trae Young and Redish, which, you know, it's hard to say what level of a catastrophe that will be remembered as ultimately, but it's in the conversation. But they traded somebody who has a chance to be one of the best twenty five players of all time, easily 20 whose chance to be the best offensive player since LeBron, basically. That's a tough one when you when you miss something like that, everything else kind of pales in comparison, right?


Like as a genuine known for your high draft picks.


And when you blow that everything else you're looking at a pretty masterful they took Redish over Camelot's and PJ Washington and Tylor Hero.


I can't crush them on that, it was around the spot he was going to go, right? Yeah, I guess Hero would have been interesting on this team and then a Kwangju at six. Over Halliburton. I guess, you know, Halliburton drops to 12, so maybe you can't kill them too much, but KFC would have one of them to take killing Hastler no doubt he's got carsick when KFC redefeat, where it's where it's killing. He's running a pick and roll with Mo Obama as as poker stands at the corner waiting for a pass he dream team.


But then long term, here's what really worries me. If I'm a Hawks fan, which there's not many out there. Hundred of one million guaranteed in twenty twenty one twenty two next season, not including John Collins. So then they have this John Collins thing where he's a restricted free agent. Somebody is going to screw them on a giant offer for him, right? He'll get four years of money for sure, four years, one hundred, ten, something like that.


So they're going to have to match that. Then TREIS contract is coming up and all of a sudden you're paying all these checks. And you haven't even made the playoffs, so is there any chance John Collins goes anywhere? I don't know, I think just in terms of an asset play, I'd be stunned if I let them walk for nothing like he's played so well this year. I think at the very least, you match the contract to trade them later.


I don't think you can afford to let them go. What about before the deadline? It also goes back to like, how can you trade him now for a player who fits the team now if you want to win now? Right. It's very hard to, like, walk that balance. Also, he's on a very small contract right now. So hard to match salaries, what, four million or five million or whatever he's at? That's tough.


I also like men. If I'm Atlanta, if I have Young Huerter Redish, Hunter, Collins, Capella, that's six good autotuning, six players in the same team. I think that's a pretty good future. I think I agree with you, my fear would be if college just didn't want to stay there and it became untenable, and now you're you're paying him a lot of money, but he's not happy. And him and Trae Young are clicking for whatever reason, and now I'm just down this rabbit hole of a soap opera where my two highest paid guys don't like each other.


Well, do you remember that story that came out in early January? That was pretty crazy. Yes, I do. Where? Recap that for our listeners. OK, so apparently, first off, Collins and Trae Young get an argument in the film room about how much Trey holds the ball. The next night, Trae Young pulls a Kobie and doesn't shoot her pass. The entire game takes like five shots and two assists, which is clearly a pretty blatant middle finger to Collins.


Like, Hey, look, I'm a holding the ball tonight. What's happening? And they get freakin killed by Charlotte. And it was just like, that's something you worry as a as a coach, as a franchise when your top two guys are beaten like that.


Yeah, well, and then the other thing with Trae Young, it's like. Yeah, if if you pull back your usage rate, the team's going to suffer because the team is built around usage rate, it's like if you do something every day on a basketball court and then all of a sudden that variable gets switched, you can't expect other guys to be like, oh, cool, now we're going to do this like they're used to playing. Like if Lukáš just stopped shooting for a half and the Mavericks like what would happen?


Tim Hardaway would be like, OK, clear out. I just completely fall apart. I was curious to see if they would shoot Collins before the deadline and try to get proactive with it. And I threw this out, Jackie Mack, the other day and I keep thinking about it since whether a Marvin Bagley Collins. Pick swap. Something where Sacramento gets Collins early, they basically get out of this Baguley thing that's ever going to work.


I do that in a second. Oh, my gosh. Well, and maybe it's something with the picks where Atlanta gets the right to swap picks this year or next year because because Collins obviously has more value the Bagley. But if you're Atlanta and you get to now have Baguley.


First of all, that would be funny because then they would have two guys that got taken instead of look at which I think would be hilarious, but then with Baguley, they would at least get to roll the clock a little bit and not have to go all in on a roster and they'd be a little more valuable. Do you believe in. Am I the you know, granted, I'm taking a victory lap right now because I was the only person in America with Malik Monk stuck.


And I really feel like I've cashed in. I bet I'm really proud of I've held it for a long time. I held it forever and I never stopped believing. And it's been emotional for me. But I have a lot of Baguley stock and I still feel like he can be a valuable NBA player and a real problem on the right team. Where do you stand on Baguley? It's funny because there is actually a lot of comparisons. Predraft from to Baguley to Colins.


They were kind of similar players. I would just say those jumps to Collins has made as a shooter playing on the perimeter as a four as a defender. We have not seen Bagley make anywhere close to that progression in his NBA career. And until he does, it's just hard to see him as a winning player because right now, Baguley can't stretch the floor and he can't guard. Yeah, plenty of bigs can't do that. And they're basically useless out there killing your team.


And he's killed a team in Sacramento, his whole his whole three seasons there. So to me, I wouldn't trade it for bad. Let's have like a Myles Turner type who could protect them on off defense and stretch the floor. It's hard to find those kind of players. So I wouldn't want Bagley on my team pretty much in most situations from the NBA.


What about trading Hunter for semicircular and a couple first round picks, antiseptics? Any chance anyway? Anything.


Hunter is a freakin stud man. He was incredible before he got hurt this year. Like that was kind of like really sad. The underplayed story about this whole thing. Six dead guy guarding three positions, shooting threes, defending at a high level. That was really tough to see him go down. Yeah, he was like about.


Three or four weeks into the season, people start writing the guys who made the Leap piece and they'll put like six to eight people, and if Hunter wasn't in your piece, I'd stop taking you seriously as a basketball person because he was one of the guys that really jumped out. And, you know, Miles Bridges was another one, although there were signs for that. Miles Bridges, Michael Bridges on the bridge has been good, too. But Michael Bridges was another one that even though there are signs of it last year, we're seeing some of the stuff that was happening with him and especially in crunch time.


This is like, oh, it's finally happening for him, you know, and there's certain guys like that. I still have hope Bagley will be a guy like that. But what I know.


So. All right. So Atlanta is 14 and 20. Somehow they are looking this up, how many games are they out of the nicks behind the Knicks?


The Knicks are not about the Knicks or the force. It's super crowded right now.


It's like two games, like four and 12 or something like. Yeah, Atlanta's fourteen. Yes. So they are two and a half games back. And Atlanta is the 11th seed. So there's basically there's two and a half games separating eight teams, nine if you count the Wizards. But I was talking to a Knicks fan last night, actually, I'm friends with. And I was like, are you starting to get ideas like when fans come back, like there's some first round freakiness with you this year, with the with that young, hardworking team, you got to score crunch time.


And if the fans got involved, maybe there's something there. And he was just like, I'm not talking about that, but they're big fans. It has been a revival for them where at least they have a semblance of hope for the future and for the culture and the whole thing.


Right. No question. I mean, it's good for the NBA when they're decent and they're decent now. So that's good. It may be better than decent if Robinson comes back in time. There they can defend they have multiple guards. I feel like they can defend perimeter scores like guards and one, two, three positions I think they can defend and they can actually create shots at the in games. That swing guy for them is RJ Barrett. Whether what you're getting from him night tonight, like the ceiling of him versus kind of what you see from there tonight.


But I've been treasurership for next. All right. We're going to take a break. Coming back, we got to go to Luka and I have a look at area I'm going to throw you.


This episode is brought to you by eBay, whether you're looking at some sneakers or sell a few pairs so you can buy more. Well, eBay has your back. When you buy sneakers on eBay, you'll find everything from rare dead stock items to the latest drops, all backed by authenticity guarantee eligible sneakers.


Over one hundred dollars are inspected by a team of independent authenticators so you can shop or sell with total confidence. That's also free to sell and sellers are protected with verified returns. I'm on eBay a lot. eBay has been a friend of mine since 2002. I'm on eBay more than ever because the card market has gone nuts. No fakes, no fraud, no doubt just shopping. There's no excuse. But did you really need one? Learn more about authenticity guarantee at eBay, dotcom, authentic sneakers.


OK, look at that chick who you've probably watched as much, MABS Luke as anyone I know over the last couple of years, I think it's interesting to me the wreckage from that Loukia trade.


When you think about. So the sons take a. When did the GM get fired after that? Did he even make it to the season or was it you didn't make the decision yet? Every one of the preseason, it's pretty soon. Yeah, it was like, whoa, wait, what are we just do? Sacramento Vladek got fired. Atlanta, we've seen a coach firing, and unless they could turn it around, I think we also see a GM firing.


So that's that's three. Then we have this whole Trae Young thing where he's just looped into. Because of the Lukáš trade, it's like anything that he does that's not like winning round two of the Eastern playoffs will be disappointing compared to what they could have had with with. There's even some Camerata shrapnel because like it's like, well, they got Loukia and they also got Camerata just like, yeah, but they could have had Luca. There's just a lot of paths going from a lot of What-If paths emanating from that moment, that trade, the first of all, the fact that he fell, he fell one to three and then the team that had three traded him.


But then going forward, it just seems like he's going to be the What-If tornado from for this generation, this post LeBron generation, where everything will emanate from that moment, that day. Yeah, I mean, I remember draft. I think we're at the ringer was just like I Draupadi. Yeah. I couldn't believe I was like, there's no way the Mavs at five are going to get this guy. It was it was unbelievable. It still is to this day.


You and Gallagher, who the other Mavs fan there, you guys were rejoicing like we had we had like a leaf blower just blowing hundred dollar bills on. Everybody here is like literally winning the lottery play a couple of years. So, yeah, it was great. So the Mavs are 17 and 16. They're eight and eight and two. In their last ten, they had this crazy home stand. Where were they home for like two and half weeks.


So they were also home because they had the ice storm.


So they couldn't play any games to those even longer than that right there. Signs of the ship being rated. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that they're no longer getting annihilated by covid and dumb injuries and they've actually had their team, which is what they've been saying all along. But behind the scenes and publicly is like we don't have our team and it's like they were barely holding on to begin with. But as you point out, the supporting cast basically two to 12 when you compare it to basically any other team in the league is pretty weak.


It's just a lot of supporting role players. Luca came in out of shape a not his fault, I don't think, because I don't think anybody realized the season was to start that fast. There's been signs within the last week or so. And I think to me, he's the stealth MVP candidate. He was the guy before the season.


People had people got thrown off him. But it feels like he's about to go on a run and it feels like it's already starting. What do you see from this angle?


I mean, I think the big thing is his jumpers come around. So he started this season just brick and threes like crazy. Maybe because he was out of shape, I don't know. Now is shooting a career high from three percentage wise. I think he he's thirty six right now. And that was always the thing for me is like if he can get to like thirty seven, thirty eight and make them step back threes consistently, then we're talking just absolutely no offensive ceiling whatsoever.


Now he's making them of course that Celtics game. I mean I think that's what sticks out in your mind that last week are those two step back threes like twenty seconds. I did hard core drugs to blow my mind. I don't I don't remember. What you're talking about now is actually that was that might have been the turning point of the season for both of those teams. I'm not going to rescue the Celtics yet, but I do want to get to the off season and we're going to think like, remember that game?


And then Dallas, Dallas took off and the Celtics fell apart, like it does have potential. I mean, I think the big thing, it's Capi, it's poison gas, that's the swing piece for this whole franchise. I don't know where do you stand on him now? Just as a player, as long term? So he's putting up the old twenty and eight twenty points, eight rebounds. Which is that number to me, that's like in a weird way, kind of a red flag, because we've seen a lot of guys over the years who can get to 20 points and eight to 10 rebounds.


But aren't that consequential to their team? Mm hmm. And I think the thing that surprised me with him. Jacqui and I talked about love on Sunday, but I think we should dive into it defensively, he's not the same, and it seems like the lower half of his body just isn't as fluid as it used to be. And I think one of the things that made him seem like he had a chance to be special on the Knicks was his ability to recover on defense, especially on guys that drove where he was like this huge guy, but was weirdly athletic and malleable and moving side to side, things like that.


And I don't feel like he's like that anymore. I don't know whether it's going to come back or not. But he's had some real leg injuries, you know, so that and then he doesn't get to the free throw line the same way. It wasn't like he was going 10 times a game, but he was getting there six times a game. And now it's like he might get fouled twice in the game. And for the most part, it's just a stretch five, which I don't know when he was having that run on the Knicks, when we were comparing him and Embiid and and Giannis and like who's the best unicorn.


All that stuff. Like we thought this is going to be like a 30 points a game guy and somebody that got to the line ten times a game and would be a lot like what Embiid is like this year where it's just like it was all going to come together and I don't know if that's going to happen. Are you optimistic or pessimistic. Well I would say on offense, I think that's a product of playing with Luka and that's fine. That part of it is what I'm most optimistic about is that KP has been willing to just let Luca do his thing, spot up off the ball.


That's a good thing a lot of young stars would do is like Luca in a way is hard to play with because he holds the ball so much as the whole LeBron thing. Right. Like one guy has the ball the whole game. He's taken all the shots, making all the passes. That's hard. So I think in that sense, I don't I'm not surprised CPI's free throws are down or Eustace's down. That's to be expected. To me.


It's the defense. Like if he's going to be totally immobile, it's just really, really tough because you're kind of hoping he's going to protect Luke on defense and not be a second liability. And that gets back to his health. I was so optimistic after the bubble because he had played so well. But looking back on it, he got four months off, right? He got four months really kind of rest his body, get ready for the bubble.


He's looking great. And then he tears his knee in the bubble. And it's like this guy needs so much time to get healthy and he's still getting hurt. And this year he's coming off knee surgery from that injury in the bubble. And it's like it just seems like the way the NBA, the schedule is and the demands on your body. It's just hard to see them staying healthy for long periods of time, and that's really, really the concern, I think.


Yeah, and then you think about the injury history with. Basically, guys, seven tuneup. You know, Embiid was a recent example, and it seems like he's figured it out and a lot of it probably for him has to do with being at a certain weight, not carrying too much weight up and down, stuff like that. But Yao Ming, his career was just over. All of a sudden he went from being one of the 10 best players in the league tables out of the league.


Ilgauskas was another one, Rik Smits, Shawn Bradley, who by the time he got to the NBA, had already had knee surgeries and couldn't move like he even did in college. Really the only tall guy like that who has aged perfectly and kept his athleticism with Kareem.


And I think that's the key point, is like even if he's healthy 80s and the injuries are sapping the way he moves and he's more immobile, the NBA has a fast game now, right. Team spread you out. So far, it's just kind of limited or sailing pretty significantly.


Yeah, it's almost like they need to completely and I'm sure they're doing this and thinking about it, but it's almost like they need to either.


Reinvent when his body is so he's carrying much less weight, right, we say skinny guy even. I know, but even like less like you might want to get to as whatever the slightest he can basically be, just keep that weight off the bottom half of his body. And then the other piece, I think is a little Loukia related. Look, it does have things with him. They do have things together, right? They have that play when Loka comes flying down and then he stops and turns his back on the on the defender and throws it back to Capi for the trailing three.


And they do have a couple of things like that. But I, I do feel like he could explore that one a little bit more like some of the pick and roll high screen, all that stuff, because I do think they they, they kind of play well together offensively. Yeah. I mean I think that's for Lucas has to grow. It's like you ain't got to go for thirty five every night. The mastery of the game to where I can just get some guy go in tonight.


He needs some shots. He kind of the whole point guard thing. Right Lucas. Like point forward. I think that just comes with time is like your numbers are going to be your numbers. That'll be fine. I still think sometimes it gets caught up in that he had a quiet news last year, like, I don't care about my numbers. It's like, no, you care about your numbers. Let's be honest. Well, especially like every interview they give with him after a game in a national game.


And so I was like, Luka, you're the second player over the past four thousand points. And one thousand assists are like they're always throwing stones at him. I well aware of these things.


The fundamental issue for that team. When Kepi, I guess if you posted him up more, the stats aren't even that great when he posts up, but if he did it a little more, let's say they did. Let's say they tried to kind of force feed him into the office offense more. You're putting him away from you, putting him in the paint in a way from the perimeter, which then clogs the paint for Luco, which they're very careful about.


They don't want to block the paint for Lukáš.


They want to give them this free runway. I felt this way last year and I mentioned a couple of pods, but I you know, I think the potential of it made it so that you couldn't say they got to get rid of them. But it was something is worth noting last year. Are these two a good fit together? I think now you would say, all right, is this the ideal guy for Luka to play with? I would say no, I don't think it's a bad guy for him to play with, but I'm kind of on the fence with whether he makes sense.


But what's really interesting is I don't think they have a lot of outs like he was in some trade buzz. How can you trade for him unless Dallas was taken back somebody else's other injury risk, right?


Yeah, you're kind of stuck with them given the contract. I mean, I think he has three years, one million dollars after the season with his history. There's just no way you can trade him. Yes. So you would think normally you would just go to the dumb teams, right? You would say, oh, Sacramento Valley defensive trade for him. They're still dumb teams out there. But I think those teams are also really hesitant to take on big money and an injury thing.


So now you're looking at somebody else's, you know, like a friend of mine was like, why wouldn't you just trade Khumba for KP?


And I was thinking about I was like, well. Were either each guy is some kind of an injury risk where you're not sure if their knee is going to come back or not? I would I would rather bet on the Kenbi injury risk to come back versus the seven foot three guy who's already had multiple surgeries. That's an interesting one, actually. Oh, you like that one cup of coffee because it's like yes, like you have like your smaller 30 ish guard and your freakishly tall, injured big man.


That's like a two like classic red flag players kind of. And one that's fascinating, actually. Oh, my gosh. Thank you. That's why I'm here.


I had the other one I had was they could just sit.


Dallas has it. Dallas does have ways to get better. The question is, do they want them? Because they have Hadaway, who I think has been pretty good this year. Good last year, too, he said.


I think considering he was a cap casualty throw in of that cap trade, he's I think they're pretty reliable for them. But they have Hadaway, James Johnson and Bob on the thirty eight point five million of Spierings, which really allows them to get aggressive if they wanted to, that so have the corpse of Josh Richardson at eleven point six player option next year. I don't know if if Zombie Josh is ever coming back and just is just we just have Zombie Josh from now on, or whether the guy who is really good, that one Miami season, whether that was just the all time outlier season or what.


But he's been awful. And they they got they he's been tough. They badly lost that trade. Do you see him coming back? Because if he comes back, this becomes a lot easier.


It's tough with him as I was watching him this season. And I'm like, oh, is he versatile or is he actually not a great shooter or a great ball handler?


I think that I think it's the latter. Yeah. He's like a theoretical on ball off ball player, but really, maybe he's just not great at either one of those things. This would be a good ringer piece for you when the idea of a player. Is actually way different than what the actual players, right? Yeah, it's like, oh three and D guy. He can super versatile defensively and it's like, well his threes don't go in, like, should that be a proper defense is don't respect him.


That's for sure. They leave now wide open all the time. He's twenty nine point eight percent from three this season and two point two free throw attempts. As you know, I love free throw attempts. So basically you're telling me he doesn't get to the line and he can't shoot threes. Well, why are you out there? Especially you're playing next to Luka and you look at some of the other guys. You mentioned how Lucas Threes have gone up Brunson.


Has been really kind of not only really good this year for them, he's forty two percent from three, but weirdly important at the end of games, if they collapse on Luco and they need somebody else to create a shot, sometimes it's been Brunson, Finnie Smith said. Thirty six percent, Trey Burks at forty. Kleber, who they always say is like their secret key guy. He's a forty seven percent. So if you, if you just had Steph Curry in there instead of Josh Richardson, all of a sudden this is the best three point shooting team in the league other than Brooklyn.


But the Richardson thing is the X Factor. When he's out there in crunch time, teams are five feet off him. I don't know. He saw that. Yeah, you just got to hope you can make wide open spot up threes like birdies continue to do that at some point. While you're here, just catch and shoot open three. Just one thing I want to ask you. I've learned a lot about this lately with Luka, and I'm thinking about like all these super teams, it feels like so much of them.


It's all about pre-existing relationships, right? This is Team USA, guys that become close. And I just wonder with Luca. Right. He's never playing on Team USA. He didn't know these guys. He didn't play football growing up in Europe. I just wonder, like, if he's ever going to be on a super team, how is that going to happen? How does he develop those kind of relationships? Right. Like, is that going to hold the Mavs back ultimately because he doesn't have those relationships, other great players.


I'm going the other way, I think he's so talented, he becomes their free agent lower for some of these guys, because if you look at this objectively and all these guys, their goal is to win the title. You're making your list of teams who have cap space and a guy who can help you win the title, Loukas going to be the number one guy in that list once this LeBron whatever year the LeBron thing finally fades away. The Brooklyn guys are all tied together now for that next generation.


It's. So they they potentially they could be at 80 million heading into this summer.


And Richardson, we've seen weird shit before with these player options where you're like, oh, he's opting in eleven point six million, but who knows, like Oladipo is another one who could have had forty five for two from Houston. Did it not then because there's no good free agents next summer and there's always three teams like Atlanta who's like we don't have the money, you got to spend it. So I think Richardson actually opts out. I think they're going to have a lot of money to spend on somebody or to take a big contract.


So Colins to me is like the perfect guy for them and a lot of sense. But the problem with them as they could be like Collins is our guy. That's who we're getting Max on for four years. And then Atlanta is like, cool, we matched it. What's your plan B? Dallas now? You have no plan B, you went all in on Collins, so they're going to have to figure that out. I guess my big question with Dallas.


Do you have a chance to make the finals this year with the team you have and a deadline move, or should you say this wasn't our year? Let's let's not do anything weird, let's try to get to the off season and then we'll figure it out, because I would argue every year that you have Luke on your team, when he's playing like this, you're in the mix. I don't care what your record is and who's on your team.


I think you have to. You can't just be the guy. Next year will be our window. You don't know what the NBA. You never know. I mean, that part is true, but I don't see one move that puts them about the Clippers, the Lakers like what would that move even be? Because this team, as currently constructed, is not beating those teams like, well, I don't see the move that makes sense to push them over the top like that.


The move that would help them beat the Lakers is Anthony Davis is never healthy this season. There the move that would help them beat the Clippers. Is the Clippers self destruct like they did last year in the bubble and the Clippers beat themselves more than anyone beats them? You get through those two. Then it could be 10 minutes like Utah. All right, you could make a case for every team falling off, right? Utah, they peaked too early.


I don't know if I saw it with the Celltex on that Celltex Mavs game, you can have a better team than Dallas. You could be playing better than them. And then Loukia can do something crazy in the last minute and you lost and they're always going to have that factor, so. I do feel like there one move away from at least being frisky. So you don't you're in that you're in the opposite camp. I mean, I think they're move away from winning a playoff series like I think most likely.


I mean, yes, if the L.A. teams implode, anything is possible. But I think most likely you can have to be both L.A. teams go to the finals and this Mavs team, I just don't see how that's going to happen. OK, let's talk about how it would happen, though, Capi. Starts getting his shit together, right, looks better, a cop jump. Josh Richardson rediscovers his three point shot. Discovery, if it discovers it, and then the problem for them is they can't trade any pics, so they can't even do like James Johnson and Borbon for Evan Fournier.


Because Orlando, like, cool, what else are we getting? Even if you put Evan Fournier on this team, I feel like they're better. I mean, I just think, like, you need one defense. The Mavs have Dorothy Smith is decent, but he's not guarding LeBron. He's not going to second in the team in minutes because he has to guard perimeter defenders. I think that's what they thought Josh Richardson was going to be for.


Yeah, he's more of a point guard defender than a guy who's in a guard big wings. They just they need big winged defenders, big athletic wings. They don't have them. And without somebody like two giant green Krajcir, those guys. Before we go, can we do two minutes on Zaa? Yeah. Yeah. Loves because oh my God. That game last night against Gobert. Unbelievable. And then they just ignored. I did a thing with Zach about the five guys you would go to down one with 20 seconds left and Zion was my third pick, which seems crazy because I even had him ahead of Luca or even with the guy I can't remember.


I think he's completely unstoppable, and I actually feel like. I think we know this, and I'm not sure New Orleans knows it yet, and I watched these games and they figured it out against the Celtics when they beat the Celtics that day where there was like, oh, they can't stop Zyad. I feel like that every game I'm still waiting for the team or it's like, oh, they've they've they've figured out how to lock down Zyad. I haven't seen yet.


Every game you look at the box score, there's four minutes left in the third quarter and he has twenty four points and he's like ten for thirteen every game. He's sixty percent. Nobody's figured it out. Why don't they just let him loose. I don't get it. Well they made the switch about a month ago to go on sometimes and that's when the whole thing kind of flipped for him. Well he has like a probably eight minutes to game that second unit.


He brings the ball up himself and goes directly at the rim and there's nothing you can do to stop him. And that game last night, there was like two plays where Gilbert challenges iron in the air and Tzion just kind of not just about the way. And he's crying for an offensive foul because I just bullied him to the basket. Yeah. Like I was looking at the numbers. Zionist averaging twenty five points on sixty one percent shooting. That's never happened before in NBA history.


Never so many points.


The high percentage. He also can get to the line whenever he wants. Because there's no way to stop it and he's doing it. It's like it's a lot like LeBron where he's so strong there's kind of no way to stay in front of them. And even if you bounce off them, you're bouncing backwards. So it looks like it's your fault that his Celtics game when Tristan Thompson. Oh, my God. Shoved to the ground and went against them.


This is embarrassing. And I was watching it live going, what the fuck? That was an offensive foul. And then they show the replay and it's like, oh, xians, just a beast. There is just no way to stay in front of him. He's a giant bowling ball. I, I really it feels like they're the Redick piece has unlocked a little bit with him. I like when they play together. Lonzo starting to figure it out a little bit more and I do wonder if there's a month where he just averages like thirty three points a game like some some number.


That seems inconceivable. All I know is every time the third quarter is twenty four points with four minutes left in the quarter and then they haven't figured out the Ingram piece yet and somebody needs that said Ingram on their knee and have a real conversation with the. Be like, look, it's this is in case you're wondering, you're playing with a comment like, can you stay out of the way the last eight minutes? You're not the best part of the team.


You realize that, right? You're not the best player in the tough conversation to have. But, yeah, whatever he wants the pelicans and he doesn't have the ball, the top of the key, you're like, why are you wasting time? Get out of the way. Tzion point to the basket. This is not complicated.


It's so bizarre. But I, I think they'll figure it out. It might, it might have to lead with them trading. Brandon Ingram but we'll see. All right. I'm glad you love Zionist's eight. To me it's like I felt like he was a calmness. I would have bet my life on it. The injury stuff worried me. And I started to think, well, maybe his body will be the campus, not the talent, but maybe the body won't be able to sustain.


But man, what we've seen in the last four weeks, it's been everything we thought and especially some of the slash and kick stuff spent fun with him to the passing and ballhandling. I think right now, like when the pelicans are on, it's just hard not to watch them. I totally gravitate to the pelicans no matter who else is playing, because just tzion. Yeah. Yesterday comes out.


It's like, I don't know, I was going to drive my daughter to soccer practice yesterday and then I realized it was Pelicans Utah and I was like, you're going to have to take that leap.


I really want to see this. It was really fun. It was good. But all right, sharks tell us the Ringer MBA shows you're on. OK, so I'm on group chat with Justin Berry and Rob Mahoney. It's every Tuesday and then every other Wednesday we do ring her MBA university. It's me, KMC, Kyle man, kind of more deep dives on younger players, NBA draft stuff and kind of look at like guys years one through three in the NBA.


And then the last five minutes, is KFC trying to pretend Poca is going to happen? As there the whole show really comments big on them to cow man's being on Poca to their huge poker guys. Oh my God. I don't know what to say. I really I thought I thought by veteran influence was really going to go further than a guy who doesn't get to the free throw line or have any access like that was going to be a real guy.


He has a lot of talent. It's possible he's got talent.


Is he over 190 pounds yet? Dorsum. When can I come on ring are you and give my take that I'm not that impressed with Kate Cunningham. Oh, yeah, you're always welcome. Oh, that's interesting. Yeah, come on, I'm saying he's going to be a bust. I'm just saying. Maybe we should calm down like a notch or two interest, just like a nice interest, just like I think he's another guy like your idea. We talked about the idea of Josh Richardson.


I think the idea of Kate Cunningham is more exciting than actually watching Kate Cunningham. I get what you're saying, there are games where he's not scoring and you're just like, what's he doing out there? Hmm. All right, I'll come on, I'm happy to drop that take charge. Good to see you. Actually had me on. The subset of the Bill Simmons podcast is brought to you by Land Rover, don't follow the crowd, blaze your own trail in the twenty twenty one Range Rover sport.


From the moment you lay your eyes on Land Rovers performance SUV, the presence is formidable, its iconic muscular design. But the dynamic beltline, an aggressive stance, looks like it's in motion even when standing still. I've never had a Land Rover. I've always been super jealous to them. I appreciate its finer details, such as the wraparound early delights and stylish wheel options. How about when you start the engine, you get a range of six available powertrains, including a high performance, five hundred and eighteen horsepower V8 engine that takes you from zero to 60 in five seconds.


Nice Range Rover sport turns even an ordinary morning commute into an exhilarating driving experience. God, I love cars and to deliver optimal control of all that power terrain response to with dynamic program tunes, the suspension for greater stability and is ready for whatever road conditions come your way.


Well, to experience the Range Rover sport for yourself, contact your local Land Rover retailer today to schedule a test drive Land Rover above and beyond.


This episode of the Bill Simmons podcast is presented by quick books. Small business owners go all in on their passion. Maybe sell the car of your dreams for food truck because you're hoping to make the best burger and be the new favorite lunch spot. Or if you make the best fish tacos, maybe you make great chicken sandwiches, maybe make awesome lobster rolls. Here in L.A., we have food trucks all over the place. Guess what? Some of them have the best food I've eaten in L.A. Maybe sell your car to fill that newly empty garage with enough service to power small countries.


They can create the next hit up. Well, if you're going to do it the right way, you need the right support. Whatever your dream, quick book suite of tools can help you get there into it. Quick books help small businesses be more successful. Learn more about quick books that come. All right. David Shoemaker and I have worked together for almost ten years. About that. Wow. Coming up in our 10 year anniversary together. Wow, that's a that's a truth.


That's a long time since then. He is he's evolved now. He is.


What's your title at the ring or no art lead? I think that Art Lead, as well as the host of the press box and the Masked Man Show, and sometimes he comes on here to talk a little wrestling with me. Yeah, much like me. Once upon a time, he was a writer. He used to write every once in a while, my fingers just don't work anymore. You'll come out of retirement. You're like you're like Goldberg.


Every once in a while, you crank one out every year.


And all the young people, the ringer dotcoms have stolen their spot for that day.


So, yeah, it's a tough scene.


They're furious about it. So wrestling's getting super weird. There's a lot of stuff going on. We we have a. We have room and ranks as a hill. We've won it for a long, long time and they finally played that card, I think, to much success. Yes, he's going to be in the main event because they're coming off a oh. Royal Rumble, where basically all the old guys were rewarded, which you wrote about, and it's like what kind of company you're trying to have when you're competing against A.W., who is just building young stars or guys in their 30s, left and right?


Why are you doubling down on these old guys now? It seems like they're reversing pivot. Explain to us what's going on right now.


Well, I mean, you say young stars, and that's right to to a large extent they do, but there's also sort of the notion of new stars to which they're not necessarily synonymous in wrestling. There's guys like Damian Priest, who just popped up on the main roster from next, and he's closer to 40 than he is to 30 times down Diamond Dallas page. That many people before him that kind of got late starts. But it does feel like WWE is is well, I mean, the easy way to look at it is that there are sort of so, so obsessed with sort of getting one big rating, getting one big media cycle, getting one look in USA Today or whatever it is that they will they will push the button over and over again on someone like EDG or Goldburg is actually a better example and say, well, we won the day, we won the cycle.


But that doesn't necessarily add up to an overall victory. Right. Edge is an interesting example, because he was he he he's not like one of these guys that retired and came back for some extra money. He was forced out because of a neck injury. He was absolutely on top of the game holding the championship belt as he retired, you know, and he was at his peak at a place where he would probably have been rivaling Cena for, like, significance in the company.


If he had stuck around, he had to leave. So he's coming back as a fan favorite, even though he sort of fits the mold of an older wrestler who's who's coming back to, like I was joking before, take take a younger guy spot. So he sort of is straddling both sides of it. He's also not quite the star that Goldberg was or that the Rockies, when he comes back or John Cena when he comes back or you know, and even Battisti, you could say, you know, I mean, he's not he's maybe on par with Batiste.


So he's more of like a wrestling is a wrestlers wrestler, but. The whole thing is very confusing, he won the Royal Rumble, they told the story that he survived from start to finish, I guess, just to prove that he could still go. And then they took a month to get to decide whether or not he was going to challenge Roman reigns or Drew McIntyre for the title. And I don't know if it's a life imitating art situation, but it really felt like we didn't quite know who was going to be facing at wrestle mania until they pulled the trigger on Roman reigns last week.


And at the same time, the other championship belt switching hands. The mist came in. My son came running into the room the other day because he was watching whatever event that was, and all of a sudden the message was cashed in his money in the bank suitcase, which I love. I wish the NBA had its money in the bank suitcase, at least for one playoff series like the round two. Oh, what an amazing winning Game seven by Denver Nuggets.


Wait a second. Oh my god that's Damian Lillard is his challenge in the Yokich to Oh my God.


You know I've long argued that that should be more or less how the how the slam dunk contest is or the slam dunk championship is protected. There you can go, you just show up at the end of a basketball game and point at LeBron James and just say like we're doing this right now, that would be great.


The players union would probably step in if they know that we're actually not doing this right now. Yeah. So Mieze wins the money in the bank and then he loses it right within a week. Well, he so he didn't he didn't actually win the ladder match. That was Otis who most people don't even probably remember. Now if you're not watching every week, he's sort of been back, Bernard, a little bit on Smackdown. But anyway, long story short, MWS had the money in the bank briefcase, did some kind of comical failures to cash in, as they always do these days.


And then it's the elimination chamber pay per view. He wished they showed him talking backstage MVP. It was Bobby Lee's manager or the co leader of the Hurt Business faction. And I guess the deal that they struck was that Bobby Lashley would come out at the end of the elimination chamber match with Drew Mack, which Drew MacIntire one defending his title. He would beat up Drew MacIntire p.m. to a pulp and then the GMs would get to cash in and the condition would be that the mills would have to defend the title against Bobby Lashley if you want it.


It sure seemed like they were headed towards a situation where we could have Lashley versus MacIntire versus the in a sort of triple threat, which would have, you know, all three of them might not have the individual star power of a John Cena or something. But the combined wattage my might add up to something really interesting. But as it turned out, as we found out on Monday night, there is was a transitional champion in the style of Bob Backlund or even the Iron Shiek.


His job was to make Bobby Lashley look awesome, which he did. And it looks a lot like we're cruising towards Lashley, defending his title against against Drew MacIntire, the recent ex champ at Wrestle Mania on the right side.


Lashley the classic. I mean, how many times have we seen this guy in wrestling history? Right. This is basically Ken Patera. It's over and over again. These super strong guys, personality wise, really all they're doing is bulging their eyes and looking evil. Mm hmm. And they just seem imposing. They're not really great on the mic. Yeah. I'm not the most fun wrestler to wrestle against. I would say, like the the other guy in the match is probably bummed out afterwards, but these guys rarely win the title.


They're usually the the villain Propp that gets defeated. So I would be surprised if he kept it.


Well, yeah, I mean, you're right in a lot of ways. I mean, Bobby Lashley, for the last year, I mean, for most of the last year, was involved in an angle where he stole Lana from her husband, Rusev, and it was like an incredibly awkward, you know, historically loaded and fraught just sort of whatever relationship angles and nice way of putting it. It was an on screen affair.


We were they were they together and really Lana and Rusev ever really married.


But this writers decided we're just going to pretend that Lana is now in love with someone else and that someone else is actually Lashley. You know, like I said, fraught history aside, was sort of a throwaway. I mean, he could have kind of been anybody in that role, but. Yeah, then, well, that was that was not like this last year. This is a year ago. But then in the past year, he's he's joined up with MVP and Sean Benjamin and form this faction called The Hurt Business.


And they are you know, there are a lot of I mean, it's for black guys in the group. A lot of people are comparing them to the nation of domination and assorted other factions. But they weren't that, you know, I mean, this was a you know, in VPI and Bobby Lashley shared a history and impact wrestling that they sort of brought over to WWE and they kind of let them do what they wanted to do for a little while during the during the quarantine era, and which I guess is now its own era.


And they and they turned themselves just by the fact of being cool and by giving an opportunity to be cool into a bunch of cool fashion that people were cheering for, even though they're nominally bad guys. Yeah, it was just by persistence, I mean that they were able to get to where they got no. And Bobby Lashley on his own is not necessarily been the kind of guy that lights up the screen and makes you want to buy tickets or pay previews or whatever else.


But with MVP, he's really incredible. And sometimes the hardest thing to do is to just get that first little bit of personality over the finish line. And even though it's been a long time with Bobby Lashley, the look on his face, the real tears in his eyes when he won the title on Monday night, Raw with no fans in attendance, was maybe the most compelling thing he's ever done. And I'm I mean, I am not just as a wrestling mark, not just a fan.


Like, I am legitimately excited to see him defend this title at Wrestle Mania. And really fifty, seventy five percent of it is based on what happened on Monday night. Rodge, watching him win.


Well, you know, he got a huge seal of approval the other day. I don't know if you heard about it. I don't know if it was in the wrestling websites. My son said he was his favorite wrestler. All the last really like a gimmick, can imitate it, can walk around the house. I mean, Walter had the the top seed in the rankings for a long time because of the chest slaps. Oh, yeah. Oh, it's coming out of nowhere.


Try the chest. Slap me as I'm like carrying a hot soup. But but yeah, Lashley does seem like he's resonating. It's surprising because usually these guys, the history of WWE is they have this like kind of brief comment run and then they kind of don't know what to do with them. Right. And well, that time around, it seems like this actually has legs. I mean, that's sort of the lesson, about ninety nine percent of what he's done over the past two decades.


Yeah, the I mean, it's true. It's true. I mean, Bobby was Bobby Lashley is is sort of in some ways very straightforward in an era where fans just sort of hate the any wrestler that seems like they've been ordained as the next thing by the front office. It's really hard to get the majority of fans behind you when you look as good as Bobby Lashley looks. I mean, he looks like he literally looks like an action figure.


I mean, he is as jacked and ripped and whatever as anybody could be.


And, you know, when when he's standing next to your favorite wrestler, if your favorite wrestlers, Daniel Bryan or Kevin Owens or Sammie's and or one of these guys who are amongst my favorite wrestlers, you kind of, you know, look at Bobby Lashley and you say like you're kind of you're you're ruining it for everybody else. You know, you're be a part of a his part of wrestling history that that not everybody is into.


But when you when you when you figure out you love this guy, then you're just like, look at this giant. I mean, you understand you've become Vince McMahon backstage. Like, look at this piece of man. Look at this like absolute statue. He is everything. I wanted a professional wrestler.


And he's I mean, I'm I'm close right now. And that and this to take nothing, nothing away from Walter who who you know, the pandemic is not done. Great things for his visibility in the US. But but, you know, I'm I'm I'm kind of with Ben Simmons on this one. I like what I like what they're doing.


Is there a lesson possibility with me? There's always a list like I mean, like like could he be a Lesnar type figure over the next two years for them?


Well, you know, I was actually wondering if that's not part of the calculus.


You know, I mean, as much as W.. As much as this feels like something new at some point is Bobbie like she's no spring chicken either? They have to if they're not going to start building a new generation of young stars, they have to start building the old stars they're going to bring back in five years that we're going to be complaining about. Right. So so it could be that guy. I think it'd be hard to be Brock Lesnar.


It's I think it's impossible to actually fully be Brock Lesnar without actually another high profile job to to to wander off to, you know, I mean, that's what made Lesnar so great, was I mean, he was a freak. He was a he was a perfect wrestler in so many ways.


But also he was like he had the legit real life ability to say, no thanks. I'm going to go do something else that'll pay me just as much and give me just as much fame, which very few, if any, professional wrestlers have ever had.


So we have Rheins versus EJ and Lashley against MacIntire. That seems to be our double main event, though, the women's side of things, thanks to the Becky Lynch. Having a child is great for her, not great for Dabdoub, they had positioned her as the biggest star in the company and she's been gone for how long? Like a year. Yeah. And they have that really replace the the juice that she had.


I don't feel like well, I mean, it would have been almost impossible to it's not like we found the magic formula for making the most popular women's wrestler of the modern era. I mean, she did that. She did that herself. Yeah. And that could be said of men's wrestlers or anybody else. She did that. And then she she had to you know, she got pregnant. She made the right call to step away and do that.


And she'll be back someday. And it'll be it'll be great.


There's always the timing of it. It felt like she never had that year after it happened where it's like, all right, now I'm just going to kick ass for years. I think she would have been the biggest star in the company. And that's going to be hard to get back. You know, I think at the time she left, it really felt like things were happening. And, you know, for her, she has family, the whole thing.


But I don't know how that how do you reclaim that? How do you be like, all right, I'm back. Let's let's pick it up. I'm still four hundred and fifty degrees.


Yeah, but what I mean is it has done it has hurt WWE. I mean, the women's division, it's hard to find. Charlotte Flair has been out for a lot of this year or two. And and and there's two different shows. There's two different brands. So Sasha Banks and Beeliar have run smack down and Oscar's on raw and without without there being someone who is the stone cold. Steve Austin, if you will, of the division. It's sort of everybody sort of feels like they're sort of floating in the middle.


Right. So you need some sort of variation just in terms of, you know, star power and significance to to I think for other people to really get the chance to shine by comparison.


Well, biggest, biggest stars right now. Rheins CENIZO.


Mm hmm. No company. Yeah, I mean, yeah, I'm saying like because where is you every time you come on, we always talk about how the WWE ebbs and flows depending on how many, like, true stars they have. And I think Becky Lynch was the biggest star in the company when she left. Oh, absolutely. You have Reince is largely on that list now because I feel like he might be.


This is a real I mean, this is a this is a resume where we'll know. I mean, they're making they're attempting. Right? I mean, and we'll know more on the other side of it. I think Drew Macintyre and Bobby Lashley could both be people we're talking about on a podcast in five years or 10 years or 15 years.


I mean, there is like MacIntire made it. I feel like he got over the hump. Well, there's I mean, soon we will be formalizing the rankings of the of the pandemic. All Stars Andrew Macintyre, is he he suffered from having to work in front of a crowd know in front of zero fans for a whole year as champion. Yeah, he but he proved something, I think really significant in that time. He proved that he was a top performer.


Same thing with Oska on the women's side. She's one of the absolute best of the best. And she became more interesting than she ever had been before and wasn't the same thing for Sasha Banksia's. It was already a star. And who might be the probably the biggest star on the women's side right now? I mean, she's you know, she was on the Mandalorian briefly this season. She's got her other stuff going on and she's operating at a level that she's never operated before.


She's going to be fighting Bianca Bellaire, who won the women's royal rumble at Wrestle Mania. And that has the potential to be just the Bangar of the weekend. I mean, it could be that both of them are extremely gifted and and that could be a real big win. Bel Air, her gimmick is sort of that she's and people keep comparing it to Mr. Perfect. She calls herself the E of the WWE. And, you know, she's she's married to a member of the Street Prophets.


Both of them are just physically beyond comparison. But you look at them, you look at Bianca Bel Air for five minutes, for five seconds, and you can say, like she might be the biggest star in the company in a few years. I mean, she's really incredible.


Are you surprised that they've still steered clear of any real life American stuff, like even bringing back the Million Dollar Man as the Billion Dollar Man as a twenty, twenty one gimmick and trying to tap into being mad at all these people out there who think I earned every penny of this and like try to do that whole thing, which they, by the way, would have one hundred percent done in the eighties. They don't try to reflect some of the some of the stuff going on in real life like they used to.


And I don't know if it's partly because Vince is old and he's still calling the shots. They want to stay away. They don't want to take any shit, whatever. But even like the the hedge fund character would be such an easy character for them. The Billion Dollar Man is Ted Diaz's nephew. And he put together his fortune the old fashioned American way and bah bah bah, like, I do think that would work if you you should go get bin Laden and the two of you together, he'll he's probably seen it.


But on next year, right now, there's this character named Cameron Grimes, who's this just like Southern Kook and he's fantastic. But he is doing a like ironic Mr. Perfect I mean, sorry, a Million Dollar Man character right now. And he spent a whole episode trying to recreate the infamous vignette where Million Dollar Man paid a kid from the audience to dribble a basketball ten times. Then he kicked it. But the gimmick, the joke was that Cameron Grimes didn't get the kick, like he just couldn't figure out why people were able to dribble a basketball ten times in a row.


And so he kept having to pay them. But anyway, he's a gym. Go watch that and he's doing great. So that's great. I'm buying stock options. That sounds great.


But you're right, they they've stayed away from it. And I think that some of it's probably advisable. I don't know. I would agree.


I mean, you remember they had a group called The Right to Censor. That was a take way back in the 90s. That was in the early 2000s. It was a take off from the Parents Television Council that the jerk parents that would that would write in and complain about violence and sex on television.


I mean, I can't imagine I don't really know how you book. You know, what did Chris Harrison from the WOAK police like if there was like a rogue police faction, but I guarantee Vince would get it backwards, you know?


I mean, they could screw it up. Yeah, whatever. Whatever however they booked the audience would immediately just be like, nah, you're canceled now, too. So I don't I mean, that would be a good wrestler named Cancel.


Yeah, that's just as they say. And here he is. Cancel.


But yeah, no, I mean there's a lot of there's a lot of stuff that they could do. You know, the joke is that Vince is always like ten years too late now, but like turning Babyface Zeitels but also in like his pop culture references. So maybe, you know, maybe when the when the you know, when the movie is about this era start coming out in five years. We'll see some wrestlers with that. But it's it's you know, it's dicey territory.


I think that the hardest thing they've had to deal with is that in pop culture, it's harder to tell who the baby faces in the heels are right. Between the culture being so split and also between, you know, with all like the milkshake ducks and everything else in the world out there. I mean, you book a character one way and it's going to be, you know, real life has a lot of.


John Cena is in Roman Reigns, is it I'm right, we're like the people that we used to think we're heroes are now the ones getting the loudest boos. And I'm not sure he knows how to handle that any better than the rest of us do.


One thing they've done well is they figured out the audience thing, at least as a temp, until they get an audience back to the set. That is pretty cool with the faces. I thought wrestling was unwatchable the first couple of months of the pandemic, it was just too weird for me. I didn't like it and we've talked about this in the past, but really showed how important it audiences and how how much of the match and the entrances and everything is geared toward eliciting a reaction.


So they were able to solve some of that. And if anything and you've written about this and talked about it, it's given them some luxury. With being able to put in canned noise to get the reactions they want to get versus what was so enjoyable for people like us when they thought a certain thing was going to play out and the audience just was like, we don't like that, or, oh, we actually really like that guy. You're doing this wrong.


And, you know, then they would kind of have to Audobon the fly. Most famously, when the fans are just like now Roman reigns. We're not buying this yet. You're not you're not force feeding him as a superstar. And they just reacted. They've figured out how to manufacture that. But crowds are coming back. Yeah. And do you think there's going to be a disparity between the narrative we're being fed, that the fans, how they feel about certain wrestlers versus when we actually come back and the fans are back, what's going to be different?


Well, I mean, yes and no. I don't. I can't. I struggle to think of a of a certain wrestler who would get a like the opposite reaction that they're that they're supposed to get, mostly because Roman reigns, like you said, is is a heel now. And and, you know, the diehard fans like me will boo boo him because we because we're happy that he's a heel. Right.


But I would be he might get a bunch of cheers the first time he gets in front of a big crowd because we've been holding it in for so long. We're so happy to see him, you know, like thumbing his nose at us that he'll probably get a big round of applause. And then we'll go back to politely cheering and booing along as we're scripted to do.


You know, it would be someone like the is always divisive and it'll be interesting where he would go. I think that the biggest question is not is someone getting cheered or booed the wrong way or a different way? And they would in front of a crowd. But when the crowd might just be quiet. Right. And because the one thing even if you're critical of the way that he's been been piping and sound, it's that there's a real monotony to it.


There's not a lot of real highs and there's no lows. Right. So when Drew McIntyre is talking on the microphone, he kind of gets drowned out when he's in a certain register because the sound is just so it just drones. Yeah, but but like, you know, you spin that out. A wrestler's I mean, the real reactions they're getting, like, you know, is there a is there a point in a in a smackdown tag team match where the crowd's just not making any noise at all.


Well, that will be interesting to watch. Right.


Or is there going to be you know, is is there the people say nothing when Randy Orton and the Fiend are going at it with their spooky hijinx. Right? I mean, is it is that is it I, I don't know if the crowd is going to be crazy into that or just sort of over it by now. We don't know. The good thing is they've been able to take time playing that story out. I'm for better or worse, I'm glad to see them taking their time and telling a slightly more intelligent story.


But I don't know how the crowd would be reacting in real time. They probably tired of it. I missed it during the rumble. Mm hmm. Because the best part of the Rumbo is when the terrible guy comes out like number 22 and the crowds just say, oh, no, that guy. What's he doing here? We didn't get that that reaction shots from that about.


Yeah, I mean, that's a it's a it's a relatively recent part of wrestling that you that we're just that we're so irrationally hopeful that steampunk is going to come out in the Royal Rumble every year that like we can't that we that the last five regular folks get booed. Yeah, but that is a really that is really special. I mean, there have been some of the some of the most beloved royal rumbles in history. Go back and watch them.


I mean, it's like both members of like tag teams that you never cared about come out like ten people apart, you know, I mean, there is so it's like, oh, it's the second blue brother. Like, am I really supposed to be excited right now, you know? And and yet that's the story that they're telling. And we all we all we're OK with it.


Then who is the guy that was one of the Bushwackers came in and just got tossed out and he did this whole prancing, tossed out, pranced out like all in one motion.


I don't remember if that was Luke or Bush. I'm a bad risk. That was good. But I don't know what you're talking about.


Today's episode is brought to you by a psychiatrist in comfort, Chicago rasas provide advanced skin comfort. Anywhere you shave, there's a razor for just about any skin type. Now, the new stubble eraser is here. It's a razor designed to comfortably shave up to seven days of stubble designed with a unique stubble comb. So there's no more of that painful poor drag with old school razors, especially when it's been a few days. Sounds like I need this because I always forget to shave.


And then when it passes a certain point and you start shaving, it feels like you're just ripping the hairs individually at your head. Or you can be like my son who's got that little like 13 year old kind of awesome little stubble mustache. You know, it just it seems kind of dusty. And then you realize it's hair. He might need this, too, if you only shave once or twice a week. It's the razor you've been dreaming of.


Check out the new Schicchi adjustable rates here today at Shick dot com. That is s c h. I see Kay Dotcom.


This episode of the Bill Simmons podcast is presented by Free Assembly, Free Assembly.


A new kind of fashion brand that looks good, is priced great and is committed to sustainability premium jeans that feel like broken and favourite's, but without the premium price plus 100 percent organic cotton tees, bold camp shirts and lightweight jackets. I'm old. I don't know if you knew that I. I have t shirts that I've had for 15 years, 16 years and then one day they're just gone.


You might have left them in a hotel room. You might have just accidentally thrown it out. Maybe your spouse or girlfriend threw it out. Who knows? Things just disappear. Treasure your favorite clothes. Well, this collection starts at nine dollars with everything under fifty dollars. Grab a few looks for spring. It's the right time of year to look forward to something and feel new. Mix, layer and assemble freely. Shop now at slash free assembly before we go on this.


They made all this money from Peacocke, you got like, what, a billion dollars for five years still allows them to sell the company, you know, and Nixon came in, the former CIA agent you knew. You knew he was coming in to make deals, so he made a big deal, they got out of the WWE Network at the right time. Feels like it was funny. It seemed like I remember we did we wrote a whole thing about the WWE Network program and when they launched it, basically saying how ahead of its time it was, which it was, it really when you look back and it's a cool piece to reread, I think, because I think we saw a lot of the value and kind of the future value of not just what they were doing, but kind of where this was going and they planted their flag first.


I thought it was interesting that they also planted their flag first and the hey, let's get out of this. It's actually better to sell our rights to somebody else versus like running our own app and having to constantly updated. And I think one of the biggest things was that app, which was like seven years old. Now you have these major players coming in and their entire businesses like Disney, Paramount, Netflix, they're making these incredible apps that they're constantly upgrading.


And at some point it becomes diminishing returns. If you're a place like Dabdoub, now they're out here, peacocke, you take it over, you do it. My question is, is now that they got all this money. Can't we make for two hours now? Does it have to be such a money grab? Well, if we took a vote, one hundred percent of wrestling fans would be like, should be two hours. So just do it.


Just give some money back to USA and make all of us happy. Why is this art?


I mean, you can call Nick Cannon and suggest that to him. I'm sure many people already have, and I'm not sure that it's going to make any difference at all. There's just too they're just too invested in whatever commercials they can sell for that third hour of Monday night raw. And it's it's absolutely bonkers. There's so much wrestling to watch now. And there's so I mean, you know, we got A.W. Next, which I guess is moving away from A.W. now.


There's but there's still going to have I mean, there's there's just so much to watch and the three hours of raw I don't know anybody that's watching all of it. I guess I'm not maybe maybe Binz Demo is watching all of it, but he's got he's watching clips and checking Tic-Tac. And if things happen, he'll go in.


Yeah, it's it's it's sort of nuts. The Peacock deal is was sort of mind boggling. I mean, mind blowing. I don't know, mind boggling is the right word. But I mean, I got to imagine a billion dollars. I mean, he's worth it. I mean, you can you can you can you can do the math or whatever. But you got to wonder, I mean, when they said a billion dollars, do you think the people over at like Paramount Plus are just like, wait, could we just stop and sell the entire operation for ten billion dollars?


Like, that's that's a crazy amount of money. Right. But yeah, I mean, it's a lot of money. There's a lot of fun things they could do with it. I said that's the second that they did it. I said they should just write a blank check to New Japan and said, we're just going to write you this to make sure you don't sign a deal with A.W.. You tell us how much they offer you and we'll give you one dollar more, you know, like whatever.


But then they didn't do it, obviously. But yeah, you could. They got a lot of weight to throw around. Now, the history I mean, the last time we really threw around that, like took an open checkbook and and tried to really and really did made history with it would have been when they launched the company. I mean, that's I mean, when Vince took over and he started signing everybody away with like who knows where all that money came from him.


It was funny money at that point, but history since then hasn't really shown that they they wanted to take their billions of dollars and do anything like making raw better with it. So we'll see. Maybe they will put in the movie. And I don't know what their smackdown contract is, but when did the movie to put all the best WWE people on one of the shows and then you open your checkbook for the other one? In all, Japan becomes a cross between Japan and next basically, and that becomes raw.


And that's just how you do it.


Yeah, I mean, listen, next, he has X, he's a great show. I mean, it's really well written and everything, but it's sort of stagnated because they have such they do have a stable, a stable roster.


There are a lot of people who I talked about this in the mass show last week. A lot of the people who are interesting looking or physically or gimmick wise get called up to the main roster. And the people who are left are just these like real incredible indie wrestlers who are very good at their job. But it's not really developmental territory anymore. You know, it's not it's not it's not kind of what it used to be. And they definitely need some more tears.


They should if they had another next year that was like, you know, in Texas or in Canada, in L.A. or something. And they just like let that be a level below. That would be fantastic. They're trying to start this. I mean, they're trying to get into Japan. So maybe, yeah, they have a Japanese promotion in Japan that they're running out there. I mean, next year is sort of is what it is.


But but they have room to evolve without just doing more of the same. And that's what keeps running up against. They have a small number of people making creative decisions. And so unsurprisingly, you know, they they hit this they hit this wall of sameness in a bunch of different ways over and over again. It's going to be a fascinating year, and we should mention Vince is not young anymore. You know, Vince is now in the early 70s, mid 70s.


And, you know, they do this deal with Peacocke for five years. I Yevsey is worth watching with ESPN, too, because everything I've read about that deal is you have outperformed that deal. ESPN paid whatever, but they've made money on it. They're going to have to redo it at some point. People are wondering, should ESPN, Disney just buy UFC? Yeah, could be the same thing with this WWE deal. Could this lead to just peacocke buying WWE?


Could this lead to Vince getting out? You know, could he get out before he turns 80? Like, is he just going to do this until the day dies? I don't see that.


I mean, he's got two kids and a son in law who clearly want this to be their company when Vince is gone. Right. They want to keep doing this forever. And maybe they'll get if they if he sold the company to Disney, maybe they would get lifetime jobs or whatever.


I'm not sure how they could really expect that to pan out, but or you sell a majority stake. But they had the controlling interest, something like that. Yeah, but I mean, it's it's obvious when they were selling the company in the past, it's obvious that Vince McMahon, like anyone in his position, is very interested in seeing how many dollar signs they could put next to his name and that Hollywood Reporter article or whatever. You know, I mean, they want he wants to know he wants the world to know what he's worth.


And sometimes, I mean, and there's probably a number that he would say yes to just for the sake of everybody knowing that Vince McMahon, who started off in a trailer park, just sold the company for 20 billion dollars or so, you know, whatever, just like that, that, you know, there's a lot of value to that. So it would be interesting. I wouldn't be shocked if the company got sold. But I don't know.


I mean, it's also. Is that is that the big you know, on the end of the career, I mean, I don't I don't know. I find it hard to totally wrap my head around it.


Yeah, won't be anytime soon because they got this awesome Peacocke contract, they the Fox money, and they have a chance to make a play in that. And, you know, we barely talked about them, which is my fault. But A.W. is the first real challenger they've had in how many years? Twenty five.


Yeah, it's I mean it's since two thousand. I mean since two thousand. So yeah. I mean twenty five years was that would have been when they were right in the heat of the Monday night wars. It's a it's a it's pretty crazy. I expected them to survive, I mean and do fairly well but it does actually feel a lot more like a challenge than I more quickly than I thought it would, especially since A.W. launch and.


No, I mean, just headlong into the quarantine, you know, I mean, they've they've had small crowds at their venue in Jacksonville, but they they haven't had any better off than WWE. And and they've you know, it might sound like a small thing or even a punch line thing to people that aren't paying a lot of attention. But they signed the big show last week who's sort of retired. They put out the press release. We have Paul White.


And it's it's it isn't any he's a big guy. It's not the biggest signing in the world. He's probably not going to wrestle more than five times, ten times for the rest of his career.


But when he got when he when WWE stole him away from WTW back in the day, I don't I mean, he it wasn't like stealing, you know, Shawn Michaels or stealing, you know, stealing back Hulk Hogan. It wasn't the biggest thing in the world. But but it represented something really big. It represented the WWE that Vince McMahon was still in the bidding, he was still in the game, and he was still out there to shock you and to spend the money that it took to make his product the best product in the world.


And there's that parallel is not lost on Tony Khan is not lost on any wrestling fan. Right. This is AWG in the game. And they will spend money to state to stick around, to grab you. Right, to grab your attention, everything else. I mean, a couple of years ago, Cody Rhodes, the wrestler, one of the founders of A.W., said they wouldn't be running shows during Wrestle Mania weekend just to sort of stay out of WWE territory.


They made it. They can have it or whatever. A.W. is not in that mindset anymore. If they ever really were. I mean, they if they have the opportunity to steal some headlines that day of wrestle mania, Tony will do it and he should. And it's good for the business and it will be really fun to watch them, to watch them really try to go head to head for the next year or ten years, however long it is.


I think they've had great taste and talent, especially like knowing that WWE roster was too big and not everybody's going to get the right shot and grabbing the former Dean Ambrose to turn him into John Moxley, who I think was probably the most significant wrestler of twenty twenty, and then Kenny Omega, who is sitting there for a couple of years. And was always like the darling of all the wrestling newsletters and all that stuff, but then they went in and they made a big commitment to him, and then they've been able to develop some some younger dudes that.


You know, I think are legitimate guys, you know, it's a little reminiscent of when when they lost all those dudes in the mid 90s and had to rebuild around their younger guys. And that led to probably the most fruitful era of his career since the mid 80s. Yeah, that's what A.W. that's basically their game plan. And like I said, I mean, it's not just young, it's new and it's also just opportunities.


I mean, listen, that peak of WWE, if you go back and watch, it's not as perfect as we like to imagine it was or whatever. But part of what made it so interesting and so vital and really what made it so successful is that they had to, like, roll out the road dog Jesse James for three segments on Monday night raw and let him be funny, right? They had Mick Foley was out there multiple times. They were just killing time with guys and the end.


And the talent really did win out because it's like, you know, you can't get somebody in a gym for two months and teach them how to entertain a live crowd for forty five minutes. Right. I mean, that's, that's that is a skill that you were born with it.


And and luckily I would age too like that, realizing that he had that talent when he did stone-Cold, then the rock is the most gifted wrestler ever.


Yeah, absolutely. I mean and but even I mean even those guys, it's it would be impossible to I always joke or half joke that WWE biggest problem is that they keep trying to find the rock that every single wrestler has to be the rock. That's the bar that they set. So if somebody goes out there and they're like the best physical specimen ever, it can do 15 back flips off the top rope. But they can't make a crowd laugh with a microphone in their hands and they're worthless to WWE.


But but the rock I mean, you can't put you can't quantify what he had, right. You can't quantify with stone cold Steve Austin had. I mean, how could a guy be that over for that long and have to blown out knees for most of the run? Right. I mean, he could barely do anything, but he was just so he was he was he was irrepressible. And what a has really been able to do is give opportunity and give screen time, almost by necessity to people that did not would not have kind of sniffed that opportunity.


And WBB at Dean Ambrose, who was there in the main event, but not getting the opportunity to do what he wanted to do or someone like I mean, I don't know, Darby Allen, who just wasn't going to be a WWE guy for whatever reason and is now sort of hanging out with Sting and laying claim to his mantle. I mean, it's it's impressive what they've done.


Who's that guy? MFC.


Oh, MJF, MJF, MJ, M.J. at the end of the MJF would have wound up in WWE eventually, you know, and he would have been a big player next year.


We all would have loved him or whatever. But he does something really interesting and A.W., which is that he's kind of playing that Million Dollar Man retro gimmick to you, which is a very like twins or before gimmick of this sort of entitled brat wrestler.


But he can really, really wrestle in the ring and he's being a little bit of a throwback is perfect for A.W. because they have a throwback crowd and they have an audience who's willing to embrace anybody who's good at their jobs, whether or not they're pushed right to the main event or just kind of doing a lower level thing. He's so good at what he does that he's really he's the crowd loves him and he's proven that they're not just a blood and guts company and they're not just a flipping company.


They're also just like a good character, good talker company, which he's really good.


Even if I when they called him MFC because I couldn't remember what his acronym was, I've always been impressed by him. The one I can't believe is Cody Rhodes.


I never would have expected him to become a valuable weightlifter in a good company. I just did not see that one.


Well, I always had a soft spot for Cody Rhodes one because back when. No, I mean, I don't know if no one knows who I am now, but I interviewed him one time on a Wrestle Mania weekend and then ran into him three days later in a totally different situation. And he remembered who I was.


So I was just like that guy someday. Yeah. But more importantly, he didn't have a great go of it. WWE the whole time. He had a bunch. But but everything they had him do, he excelled at. I mean, he he was playing Mayberry's Dasheng Cody Rhodes. He had like a had a mask at some point because he thought he was ugly. He had a mustache for a while. He would all end. And then he was stardust wearing the face paint in the body suit.


The interview that I'm talking about, he did the whole interview as Stardust, which is crazy because it's a it's the thickest, most impenetrable character. But he also made it interesting and he made it compelling. And he did. He was just he he's just good he's good at being a professional wrestler.


And then what happened was it was like that, too. Are they trying them on things? They couldn't figure it out.


I mean, imagine if Owen Hart got the opportunity and had the motivation, God rest his soul to be freed from WWF and just to be and if he was, his only goal in life was to make Stewart his dad proud. And that sort of Cody Rhodes is his dad is one of the most important people. I mean, Dusty Rhodes, obviously one of the most important names in professional wrestling history. And Cody Rhodes just got the opportunity to try to really re-engage his father and his father's career by.


Trying to do a lot of that same stuff himself, and it's a it's not a new story, a new parable, but it's sort of it's really crazy to watch him do it. He's he's succeeding. I mean, he's doing something that nobody what he thought he could do. Not not to this extent for sure.


I'm really impressed by them. And you can tell A.W. is being run by a rich guy, son who's four in the rare exception of rich guy sons, actually has done a really good job and more importantly, is a real fan of wrestling and the way he's booked it and some of the stuff they've done, you could see like it's the DNA of somebody who's probably been watching wrestling since he was a kid. So I'm glad that I'm glad they have a competitor.


I'm glad there's two good places, because I think competition is always going to lead to the best versions of both companies.


I mean, all you really need to know about Tony Caan is running A.W. is that is to look back at when Browdy Lee passed away recently. His name was John Huber. He was Luke Luke Harper in WWE. He was he jumped ship, moved A.W. and died. And they did a tribute show after his passing that was just one of the best wrestling shows ever. I mean, I didn't listen, you can't compare it's apples to oranges. And you're comparing a tribute wrestling program to a regular episode of Dynamiter Monday Night Raw.


But he the Tony Coleman wrote the show from start to finish, you know, going on no sleep for two days, just like created this special beautiful symbol of this wonderful man's life. And and that was and he beat himself up to do it, you know? I mean, he really knew he had to make this perfect and he succeeded. And it's really it's really impressive that a guy who doesn't need to do anything to be rich, he's already got his money.


You can do it every once in his life. Carries this much about one small thing being professional wrestling and every wrestler that works for him. But he's just going to break his back to make every little thing perfect. And that's that. I mean, you really can't ask for anything else when it comes to competing with a monolithic WWE.


All right. So that's our wrestling update. Is A.W. going head to head against Wrestle Mania that weekend?


No, I mean, they haven't and I don't think so. But but, you know, I wouldn't shock me, wouldn't shock me if they pulled something out of their back pocket. You never know.


Before we go, the press box is such a pleasant podcast to listen to lately. I wonder what's different.


Did we talk this week about at CPAC? I like everything. Nothing could change, right? We're not not only is Donald Trump back saying the same bullshit he was saying before, but like the media is still tracking him. His every is every footstep. Like he's like Urban Meyer auditioning for football jobs. Right. The flight trackers are all over the world and we can't stop talk to the press box.


Has to be about him again. You know, like we're all kind of back to that.


It doesn't have to be you that you want to depart, right? No.


If it's when it's not, it's now it's just CPAC, because it was just so ridiculous. We had to talk about it. But but yeah, we're talking about other stuff now. And and it's fun.


It's yeah. I texted you guys a couple of weeks ago because you had some subject heading on the show today. I'm like, oh, these guys are actually able to do weird shit their show again versus like the first twenty five minutes has to be a referendum on whatever terrible thing happened lately. So cool. The press box, the best man show, that's where you can hear David Schumacher and occasionally his fingers still work. And he writes a piece for the website, which is more than I can say, but it was good to see my friend.


Good to see you too, man. Thanks so much. All right. That's it for the podcast. Don't forget about new episodes. We watch The Doors. That is on the feed. Now, I have another podcast coming on Thursday.


See the. Simply safe is incredibly easy to customize for your home. Just go to simply save dotcom jobs, you can easily choose the exact sensors you need or get help from one of their experts. It'll get to your house in about a week, which means by this time next week, you and your whole family can go to bed knowing your home is being guarded. It's easy to assume everyone in your house already feels safe.


Well, they might not, and it's worthwhile to talk about it. Simply save a small, easy step to make sure everyone feels safe at home. A simple sitcom such as today to customize your system and get a free security camera once again simply set for two hours, simply safe dotcom Saabs.