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Daniel Cormier on a potential future in WWE: ‘Put me at the commentary table’
In addition to being one of the greatest fighters in UFC history, Daniel Cormier serves as one of MMA’s proudest ambassadors with his passionate, insightful commentary on UFC pay-per-views.
Is it possible he could serve the same role for WWE?
“We’ve been talking,” Cormier told Sports Illustrated. “We’ve spoken to some of the people over there in very, very early conversations. WWE is a company I’ve watched and loved my entire life.”
Cormier’s fighting career ended in August when he dropped a five-round title bout against Stipe Miocic by unanimous decision. At 41, his options in the octagon are limited, but there is plenty of potential in and around the squared circle.
The two-time UFC champ—Cormier had a run as light heavyweight champion and more recently as heavyweight champion—would bring instant credibility and mainstream sports coverage to WWE. But Cormier is incredibly humble for a man of his fame. If he ever signed with WWE, he would prefer to begin his wrestling journey highlighting the current stars of the business.
“Put me at the commentary table,” Cormier says. “Let me call the matches for six months and tell you how great these wrestlers are in the ring. I would love that, and I wouldn’t be faking it. WWE is something I’ve loved my entire life.”
Cormier would not be opposed to eventually entering the ring to wrestle but believes an entry into a new realm would benefit from a patient approach. This would also allow WWE fans to grow invested in Cormier, who is full of charisma and insight.
“Then, after those six months, what if I’m sitting next to Michael Cole, and Roman comes over and smacks the microphone out of my hand?” Cormier says, with the excitement picking up in his voice. “But I’m an announcer. Will I hit him back? Then you’re asking if this will happen or not. That’s what I want, that slow build, the type of story you want to see, and your heart feels like it’s going to explode while you’re waiting for it. Give me the slow build, let it simmer.”
WWE remains the worldwide leader in pro wrestling, but Cormier also touched on whether he would consider working for All Elite Wrestling.
“I haven’t really watched AEW as much, but I’m sure they’re doing fantastic things over there,” Cormier says. “I had this whole thing with Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks a few years ago that wasn’t the best, but that’s water under the bridge. I’m happy that those guys are doing well.
“We shared a hotel in Jacksonville. I was working out and Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts came up to me. I said to myself, That’s how you know you’re somebody—Jake The Snake comes up to you and starts up a conversation when you’re working out.”
Cormier was last in the spotlight for his UFC 252 fight against heavyweight champion Miocic. The fight nearly didn’t take place, Cormier shared, following a bout in July with COVID-19. He learned in training camp that he had contracted COVID but credits the Oura ring, a fitness tracker that collects biometric data, with helping to detect symptoms early on. (The NBA distributed Oura rings on its Disney campus, though the device’s ability to detect COVID symptoms is still being studied. Cormier is now a paid spokesman for the device.) Knowing he was symptomatic allowed him to isolate himself before infecting family, teammates and coaches.
“I started wearing the ring months prior to the fight,” Cormier says. “In early July, I didn’t feel well, but a guy like me, I’m going to keep training. That’s what I do—embrace the grind, get through the tough times and eventually you’ll feel better. But I knew something wasn’t right, so I kept checking out my Oura Ring, even though my coaches were making fun of me. They were giving me s--- like, ‘Did Tommy Hearns wear a ring? Did Muhammad Ali wear a ring?’ I went to practice the next day, sparred two rounds and didn’t feel my best. So I went to the doctor, got the test, and I tested positive for COVID.
“The ring didn’t tell me I had COVID, but it told me something in my body was not responding the way it should. If not for wearing the ring, I would have just kept training. It gave me the information I needed to detect it early and fight it early. I didn’t miss practice, and I isolated from my family and my teammates so I didn’t spread this around.”
Fortunately, Cormier was able to rebound.
“Once I got the treatments, more Vitamin B, more Vitamin C, I was able to get to the fight and feel like myself,” Cormier says. “It helped me make it to the fight and go 25 minutes.”
Cormier was ready to end his decorated fighting career in legendary fashion, defeating Miocic and retiring as heavyweight champ. But after a solid opening round, the fight turned in the final moments of round two. Miocic seized control with a flurry of shots and nearly ended the fight, and that barrage helped give him momentum as the fight was extended to five rounds and a full 25 minutes. There is always uncertainty when going to the judges for an official decision, but there was no controversy in awarding Miocic the bout by unanimous decision.
“I wish the end of round two went differently,” Cormier admitted. “I always tell people, there are mistakes you make or avoid, and those either allow you to be great or make you average. I was so attentive to those little details, and that allowed me to be great. But to win the first round and be ahead in round two with 15 seconds left, and then circle into his power, I made a mistake there, one that I couldn’t make.
“I circled to my left, to his right, into his power, with 15 seconds left in the second round. I got knocked down, and it changed the complexion of the fight. Hats off to Stipe, he hurt me bad at the end of Round 2. Third round, I had to give it up because I was still recovering. So if there is anything I regret, it’s the way I finished out the second round. But there is no disrespect intended in that comment whatsoever. Stipe landed the shot.”
Cormier now finds himself in unfamiliar territory. There is no upcoming fight, no opponent to study and no title to defend.
“I knew that [fight] was going to be it,” Cormier says. “I was forthright with the fans and with the company. I’d never cried as much as I cried at our team dinner before the fight, knowing it would be the last time leading and representing my team in that way.”
Cormier’s future in pro wrestling remains to be determined, but the pieces are slowly revealing themselves. And the potential still exists for viewers to one day see Cormier calling matches every Friday night on SmackDown.
“I’m a fan of the product, I have a tremendous amount of respect for it,” Cormier says. “So that’s where I’m at, trying to figure out where my life is after competition.”
Bobby Lashley on the legacy of Chadwick Boseman: ‘We felt it was necessary to pay tribute to him’
Following his United States title victory at Payback, Bobby Lashley stepped backstage with MVP and Shelton Benjamin. The moment was far more solemn than celebratory, as the three men that compose WWE’s Hurt Business wanted to pay tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman.
Boseman’s death in late August at the age of only 43 came as shock, as few people knew he had been quietly battling colon cancer since 2016. It was during that time that his career reached new heights playing superhero Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Backstage at Payback, two days after Boseman’s passing, Lashley, MVP and Benjamin honored him with the Black Panther’s “Wakanda Forever” salute.
“That means positivity, being proud and being powerful,” Lashley says. “That’s what that movie character was. It put an African American character, a Black character, in a different light as a superhero. I never really had that growing up. We never really had our black Superman, but that’s what he was.
“It’s a tragic, amazing story. Boseman was battling cancer but creating some of the greatest movies of our time. We felt it was necessary to pay tribute to him, especially at this time.”
Beyond Wrestling returns this Sunday for live Shangri-La Magistral show
Beyond Wrestling returns for a live streaming special this Sunday.
Streaming from an undisclosed location in a Northeast coastal state, the Shangri-La Magistral show is not open to the public due to restrictions on the number of people allowed at the venue. It will be broadcast live on IWTV.live at 1 p.m. ET, and the focus will be on highlighting a collection of talent that has not wrestled for Beyond since the pandemic took full effect in the United States in March.
Beyond founder Drew Cordeiro has 20 wrestlers scheduled for the show, including Brandon Watts, Mike Verna, Jay Freddie, Still Life with Apricots & Pears, Richard Holliday and Robo the Punjabi Lion.
“This is our third show since the start of the pandemic, both prior of which took place in front of a live crowd, following distancing guidelines, in Atlantic City,” says Cordeiro, who will be doing commentary, ring announcing, and handling the music at Shangri-La Magistral to minimize the number of people at the venue.
“The first was a doubleheader with GameChanger Wrestling, and we wanted to feature talent that would appeal to their live crowd. Our Wear Sunscreen event in August was a chance to feature our female performers. When we ran our weekly Uncharted Territory show in 2019, we were able to work with over 300 different wrestlers. So we want to spotlight a completely different, fresh set of performers at Shangri-La Magistral.”
Cordeiro says the Shangri-La Magistral name pokes fun at the Americanrana name (a portmanteau of America and the hurricanrana wrestling move), which is Beyond’s signature show, though it did not take place this summer.
“There are stricter restrictions for gatherings at this venue, and I was trying to visualize something like a paradise, or utopia, and that’s when it hit me, this setting is going to be like Shangri-La,” says Cordeiro, who always knows how to infuse just the right amount of fun into his product. “We didn’t get to do Americanrana this year, so instead we’re going to give you Shangri-La Magistral. I think that’s probably something that’s never been tweeted before, and it’s always fun to hear from the people who can’t wait to know the name of the show.”
Beyond has long served as a launchpad for wrestlers, and there is endless potential with the 20 wrestlers on this card. The card itself is still developing, but one of the first matches announced is striking specialist Matt Makowski against Daniel Garcia, who just made his AEW Dark debut on Tuesday in a tag match with Kevin Blackwood against the Butcher and the Blade. MLW star Richard Holliday also returns to Beyond for a match against Bullet Joe.
In an exclusive to Sports Illustrated, Cordeiro announced that Robo the Punjabi Lion will be in action against Aaron Rourke at Shangri-La Magistral.
“This card is a level playing field,” Cordeiro says. “A lot of times when putting a card together, you have to focus on the main-event wrestlers when promoting the event. This is an equal opportunity for everybody on the card. Any of these matches could be a potential headliner, and we’ll see who makes the most of this platform.
“Typically, we come out of events like this with a new headliner. We’re not giving the wrestlers times for their matches; some matches we won’t even assign finishes. It’s up to the wrestlers to use the platform to present themselves in the way that will get them the most attention. I’ll be shocked if we don’t see some serious breakout performances on this card.”
Pre-pandemic, Cordeiro had intended to open Beyond Wrestling’s official wrestling school in Worcester, Mass. Given the current circumstances, those plans remain on hold. Cordeiro also addressed the status of the third season of Uncharted Territory, which had been scheduled to begin airing in April.
“We’re waiting for Phase 4 of reopening in Massachusetts,” says Cordeiro. “We might be able to do a reimagined version of Uncharted Territory in the winter, but part of the charm of Uncharted Territory is the live crowd. Right now, we’re working project-to-project, but I’m up for the challenge and would love to do a third season.”
Cordeiro encouraged wrestling fans to watch Shangri-La Magistral, which will provide an early glimpse into the future of indie wrestling’s next crop of stars, this Sunday.
“Everyone is coming with something to prove,” says Cordeiro. “They’ve been out of work and they understand that, in the ultra-competitive environment of professional wrestling, no opportunity can be taken for granted. We had to turn wrestlers away. This show is going to be full of action.
“This is going to be the platform that produces the next national independent wrestling breakout star. That’s always been our purpose at Beyond Wrestling. There is a lot of pressure on the performers, but somebody is going to step up and deliver.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- Sasha Banks is in the trailer for season two of The Mandalorian, which is an incredible opportunity for her to become an even bigger star beyond WWE.
- I still don’t agree with his All Out match being restarted, but it is incredible to see the way Matt Hardy has dedicated so much of his life, and well-being, to his craft.
- The former Rusev made his AEW debut last Wednesday on Dynamite, using Miro as his ring name. His release from WWE immediately stood out as a glaring mistake. If presented in the right manner, Miro is a main-event talent and a potential world champion for AEW.
- Nice to see Finn Balor still found time to phone home after winning the NXT Championship.
- Raw Underground still doesn’t feel perfect, but it is full of potential. Although an appearance by Braun Strowman makes the brand split a little less meaningful, it provided a great spotlight for Dabba-Kato.
- Mickie James didn’t win the Raw Women’s Championship in her match Monday against Asuka. The match didn’t effectively capture what they can do together in the ring, and had a premature finish, so hopefully they will get another chance to have the match they deserve.
- New Japan’s G1 Climax starts on Saturday, and the A-Block opens with matches that include Kazuchika Okada–Kota Ibushi, Shingo Takagi–Jay White, Tomohiro Ishii–Minoru Suzuki and Jeff Cobb–Taichi.
- The backstory of R-Truth making Brock Lesnar laugh is a great story (and Truth delivered).
- At least it’s not cigarettes.
- On the subject of MVP, that was a fantastic moment for The Hurt Business as they were presented as tough, fearless and strong when attacking Retribution.
- Here’s CM Punk working his magic on Twitter.
- Talented artist Hal Haney turned the NWO into art and did a brilliant job of showing the piece step-by-step.
Tweet of the Week
Who else can’t stop watching this clip?