It wouldn’t surprise me if most people reading this website are not familiar with Tim Cooke. He’s not exactly a well-known name among most wrestling fans, and he spends just as much time posting about his beloved Baltimore Orioles as he does pro wrestling. Thankfully I know Tim, and have been following him since I first discovered the online wrestling culture. Tim is a guy who has watched lots of wrestling, and as such he delivers highly informed opinions and critiques. I disagree with Tim more than I ever agree, but I always know that I can count on a strong and measured take from Tim. To be honest Tim doesn’t write about wrestling all that much anymore. However, he still puts out the occasional post on his brother’s blog, Cross Arm Breaker. He also offers up the occasional post on the premier pro graps message board, Pro Wrestling Only. If you’re looking for a mixture of politics, Orioles talk, and pro graps discussion then be sure to follow Tim on the Twitter machine, @timcooke82.
*As a general reminder, what follows are Tim’s answers to a standardized set of ten questions. This is meant to help gauge the variety of opinion within the larger wrestling community. It’s also done in this manner to avoid any editorializing on my part (outside of minor grammar corrections), and eliminate any opportunities for bias.*
1) How old are you?
2) When did you first start watching wrestling?
“September 14, 1998.”
3) When do you recall first thinking critically about wrestling?
“After WCW (World Championship Wrestling) died, I really started to dive deep into Japan and Lucha Libre wrestling. So probably spring 2001, especially when I realized that Jack Epstein was not the only tape dealer around and found Jeff Lynch, Bob Barnett, Steve Friedlander, etc. That opened the wrestling world up and got me into different styles and trying to figure out the best matches from all promotions, since I am a big fan of lists.”
4) What is your favorite promotion of all time?
“This is a tough one. I loved WCW and there hasn’t been a big time promotion to fill that void for me. I’m someone who watched every Thunder, even in the dark, dark, dark days of 2000. So if NWA (National Wrestling Alliance)/WCW consists of 1985-2001, that’s probably my favorite. The runner up would probably be 1990-1996 All Japan. (All Japan Pro Wrestling)”
5) Who is your favorite wrestler of all time?
“This has changed a lot over the years. At one point, it was a no doubter for Ric Flair. Same with Chris Benoit. Same with Jumbo Tsuruta. In February 2016, I probably have enjoyed El Hijo del Santo as much as any other wrestler, especially as I revisit matches for the Pro Wrestling Only Greatest Wrestler Ever. So we’ll go with him for now.”
6) What is your favorite era of wrestling?
“From a nostalgic point-of-view, WCW in the fall of 1998 (almost completely due to Flair and the couple of times they made (Bill) Goldberg look as strong as Steve Austin) and WCW from January to March 2001 are two of my favorites. For week in, week out television, September 1985 to April 1986 in Memphis (Continental Wrestling Association) is tremendous. I have really been enjoying the January through November 1984 Houston (Houston Wrestling) matches that are being released by NWA Classics 24/7. 1994 is probably my favorite era as you have All Japan really coming into it’s prime, New Japan (New Japan Pro Wrestling) juniors beginning their four year run of dominance, AAA (Asistencia Asesoría y Administración) at its height, All Japan Women (All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling) at its height, UWF-I (Union of Wrestling Forces International) and RINGS (Fighting Network Rings) kicking out good shows, WCW being great for the first five months of the year, and more I’m probably forgetting about.”
7) What is your favorite style of wrestling?
“Southern tag team matches. A simple formula, when executed well, is why pro wrestling is interesting. Unfortunately, this type of match is dead in 2016 and has been for some time. The last really great southern tag from my perspective is the January 29, 1999 Hardy Boys vs. Shane Helms/Mike Maverick match from OMEGA (Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts) where the double teams, high spots, and crowd heat all synced up for that ultimate southern tag feel.”
8) What are the elements that make up a talented pro wrestler?
“Knowing how to play to the fan in the first row and the fan in the last row is my top element. It’s a lost art to get heat without resorting to stunt shows and a wrestler who is able to do that is already 50% ahead of the game. I also want clean fundamentals. Making the moves look good is more important than trying out of this-world high spots that may only look good two out of ten times. And selling. Selling doesn’t have an overarching definition. I’ve seen strong selling in 1999 Toryumon (Toryumon Japan) matches by wrestlers who ten years later would just run through spots for the sake of keeping the match going at a high speed. It also doesn’t necessarily mean selling a body part. Not every match can be El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani from January 21, 1996. Good selling is staying within the rhythm and balance of your match and the promotions general style.”
9) What is most important to you when it comes to spending your time with a pro wrestling product?
“I don’t watch everything new in 2016 (haven’t really done that since 2004-2005) but finding unexpected great matches always makes slogging through a few bad one’s much easier. The May 11, 1985 Rock n Roll Express vs. Dirty White Boys match from Oklahoma for Mid-South (Mid-South Wrestling) is an example of a tremendous match that even when released on the DVDVR Mid-South set didn’t get the appropriate attention it deserved. Just last night, I watched a Bryan Danielson vs. Rocky Romero match from February 22, 2008 in Ring of Honor that is very much a hidden gem that had somehow been off my radar for eight years. ”
10) What major changes do you see in the pro wrestling landscape ten years from now?
“The All Japan late 1990’s problem: how do we top this? It’s already a problem but it’s going to be an even bigger issue as wrestling continues to go down the road of “spot-spot-spot” with guys killing themselves in front of small audiences. Once it is opened, Pandora’s Box usually can’t be closed but I’m not certain that the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) or New Japan couldn’t retrain their audience by taking a couple of big steps backwards and re-establishing what moves really mean. It would be a potential money issue short term but the long term benefit would be tremendous. But because of the short term, I don’t see anyone with any significant audience being able to put this together.”