Scorpio Sky Happy to Play ‘Bench’ Role for AEW—for Now

The Week in Wrestling: Scorpio Sky on his new podcast project, Pete Dunne on wrestling without an audience and more.
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Scorpio Sky on his current role in AEW: “Everybody wants to be a starter, but somebody’s got to come off the bench”

Beginning next month, Scorpio Sky is taking his talents to podcasting.

The All Elite Wrestling star, who was one-half of the promotion’s first-ever tag team champions, is set to launch his Wrestling With The Week podcast on Jan. 18.

“I’ve been looking for the right opportunity, but it never presented itself until now,” says Sky, who will be joined by cohost James Willems, a comedian and writer. “This is going to be me and James and whoever else just having a conversation. I want to have guests, people in and out of the wrestling industry, and just chop it up. And I want people to feel like they’re a part of the conversation.”

The podcast will have a different topic every week, though there will certainly be staples that naturally include pro wrestling, as well as gaming, world affairs and sneakers.

“Week to week, we’re going to change things up and wrestle with the week,” Sky says. “The funny thing is I don’t know James that well, but that’s part of the charm of the show—we’re getting to know each other, too. That’s going to be a really fun part of the dynamic. I’ve had my mind opened from podcasts, and I’m hoping to do that for our listeners.”

Long known as a West Coast cornerstone in indie wrestling, Sky (37-year-old Schuyler Andrews) broke into the business in 2002 and paid his dues, time and again, before his arrival in AEW. He has shown flashes of brilliance over the past year and a half, most recently in August against Cody Rhodes in a match for the TNT Championship. That bout was overshadowed the following week when Brodie Lee defeated Rhodes for the belt, but Sky remains high on the list of AEW’s potential breakout stars of 2021. A run with singles gold would present him in a different light, as would programs with the likes of Kenny Omega, Darby Allin or even MJF.

“I’ve only shown maybe 80% of what I can do,” Sky says. “I have so much room to grow, and my goal is to keep growing. We have a deep, talented roster, and only a two-hour show. Everybody wants to be a starter, but somebody’s got to come off the bench. Right now, that’s my role. I’m going to keep doing it to the best of my ability, and I’ll keep working until I get to a point where I’m on the show weekly.”

Sky is known for his ability to work a fast-paced, up-tempo style, but there are other dimensions of his craft, like his submission-based training, that will allow him to excel, both as a babyface or if he ever shifts back to being a heel.

“Eighteen years into my career, I still love this,” Sky says. “I sometimes feel like a rookie at times. I want to learn more and more. I’m never satisfied, to a fault sometimes. I’m maniacal about it. I bring every part of myself to whatever I do. That’s the way I was when I was an MMA fighter, and I’ve always taken professional wrestling seriously. I want to approach this podcast with the same drive.”

Sky looks forward to sharing wrestling gems every week on the new podcast, such as his perspective when watching Sting make his AEW debut.

“Going back to the bleach blond days, I was a huge Sting fan growing up,” Sky says. “It was quite the experience seeing Sting walk through the dressing room as he came out on Dynamite.

“After all these years in the business, I’m still one of those people that likes to take a few moments and step out and be a fan and enjoy it. That’s probably one of the reasons I still love this. Watching Sting, seeing him look Cody in the face, it was a really cool moment. He’s going to do some really cool things.”

While Sting’s most glorious moments will remain in the past, Sky is an integral part of AEW’s future. His podcast will allow him to showcase a different part of his personality, one that has yet to be highlighted at length on Dynamite.

“I want to introduce myself to non-wrestling fans and bring them to AEW,” Sky says. “I travel a lot, and podcasts are essential for me when I’m on the road. I want to be one of those guys. We’ll have a format, but it will be loose. If something really interesting happens, we’ll be talking about it. I hope people enjoy it and grow with us.

“Get in on the ground level and come on this journey with us. We’re going to wrestle with what is going on during the week, and there will be something in there for everybody.”

The (online) week in wrestling

  • There was a point in his career when Roman Reigns once struggled on the microphone. Isn’t that now hard to believe? 
  • Paul Heyman offered some tremendous words of wisdom for Big E on Talking Smack. On a related note, Heyman has made this the premier WWE show right now. 
  • On the subject of WWE programming, Raw delivered another devastatingly low rating. There is a story to be made about how close the Raw and AEW Dynamite ratings are in the 18–49 demographics, but another important point is the staggering amount of viewers WWE continues to lose on a yearly basis. 
  • Jim Ross generated headlines this week for comments he made during his podcast with Conrad Thompson. While discussing the importance of the superkick and DDT, Ross stated, “I told a kid the other day at AEW that everybody does the same f------ spot. All you guys go outside. You cluster up like coils. You stand there in a huddle, friends and foes together, side by side, so you can catch some leaping idiot going over the top who never wins with this move.”

Ross is certainly entitled to an opinion, especially in an industry in which he has played a prominent role over the past five decades. I happen to agree with him—the spot has been overdone for a couple years, which means this is a great opportunity to create something new.

There were dissenting points of view. Even if he were only kidding, why would Brandon Cutler put himself in a position where it looks like he is openly mocking Ross? 

There were also those who agreed with Ross, including Darby Allin, who is constantly innovating in his work, and FTR’s Dax, who layers his in-ring style with a tremendous amount of respect to those who came before him. 

  • Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer reported the news that Vince McMahon sent a handful of his heavyweights, with the most notable star being Keith Lee, back to the Performance Center for extra training. Lee had some missed spots in his Raw handicap match loss against Miz and John Morrison, but he should still be someone WWE builds their Raw brand around as soon as possible.
  • Even when a talent is red hot, like Kevin Owens was in the summer of 2019, WWE has simply not been able to capitalize and create megastars. That struggle is a massive issue that exists within WWE’s core structure, and Coach hits on one of the main problems here. 
  • If you haven’t had the chance to watch Kenny Omega vs. Laredo Kid from this Saturday’s TripleMania card, the match was spectacular. Omega is operating on such a high level. This match and the tag title match from AEW’s Revolution in February, which also included Omega, are two of the best matches of the year. Laredo Kid’s future will be interesting. He will be back on MLW’s Fusion, and could be a great fit in AEW, though that roster is quickly becoming overcrowded. 
  • Omega played another important role Tuesday night on Impact, and he will team with the Good Brothers against Impact champion Rich Swann and the Motor City Machine Guns at Impact’s Hard to Kill pay-per-view in January. 
  • Omega is also back in action Wednesday night on Dynamite against Joey Janela. Will we see Jon Moxley make an appearance? 
  • Sting spoke last week on Dynamite, and he shared the ring with Cody Rhodes. If Rhodes ever turns heel, will there be a bigger or better villain in pro wrestling? 
  • Late in the ’90s, Dustin Rhodes had a brief cup of coffee in WCW as a character named Seven, and that callback added some extra flavor to the Dark Order recruiting Rhodes to be their number seven. 

Pete Dunne on the Walter–Ilja Dragunov match: “Watching that, you get really consumed in what’s happening, and that’s so hard to do without an audience”

The NXT title picture gained some momentum last week, as Finn Bálor is back on the active roster and ready to defend his championship.

There will be no shortage of contenders. Karrion Kross returns to the ring this week after recovering from a shoulder injury, ultimately seeking to regain the title he was forced to relinquish. There are plans for Kyle O’Reilly to remain in the main event scene, and another integral piece of the title picture is emerging star Pete Dunne.

Dunne recently starred in the WarGames match at TakeOver. Now approaching his fifth year on the WWE roster, the 27-year-old Dunne—who has been wrestling since he was 12—would make a compelling choice as champion, especially with the added dimension Pat McAfee brings to his character.

Dunne wrestles O’Reilly Wednesday night on NXT with the winner getting a shot at Bálor on the New Year’s Evil special set for January 6. Thinking ahead, a singles match pitting Dunne against Bálor has the potential to be one of the standout matches of 2021.

On the subject of top matches, Dunne was asked by Sports Illustrated for his opinion on last month’s Walter–Ilja Dragunov NXT UK bout. Along with Tetsuya Naito–Kazuchika Okada from the second night of New Japan Pro’s Wrestle Kingdom 14 in January and last weekend’s Kenny Omega–Laredo Kid match at AAA’s Triplemania XXVIII, it belongs on a short list as candidate for match of the year.

“That’s tough to say,” Dunne says. “I don’t like to qualify matches like that. I will say that it’s tough right now with wrestling in empty buildings. In terms of empty arena wrestling, they did an absolutely fantastic job. Watching that, you get really consumed in what’s happening, and that’s so hard to do without an audience.”

Dunne knows both Walter and Dragunov quite well from their time together in the United Kingdom. For those eager to learn more about Dunne’s work in the U.K. before signing with WWE, there is new content on the Network highlighting that stretch of his career. “The Best of Pete Dunne in PROGRESS Wrestling” includes matches against Zack Sabre Jr., Mark Andrews and his excellent PROGRESS finale against Cara Noir.

“It was only a few years ago, but it feels like it’s been so long,” Dunne says. “It’s great to go back and watch, and I am very proud of it. I’m glad that it can live on the Network.”

As for Bálor’s NXT championship, Dunne expressed no concerns about his trademark move of clenching the bulky, gold-plated NXT title between his teeth after he wins it.

“I’m not worried about that,” Dunne says. “I look forward to my action figure doing that someday, too. It’s really helped me identify myself as an individual. The belt is big, but I’ll find a way to make it work.”

Tweet of the Week

For the first time in their careers, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa won New Japan’s World Tag League tournament.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.