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Posted in: In Laiman's Terms
30 Thoughts with Al Laiman and Mr.Tito
By Al Laiman
Aug 14, 2013 - 11:22:55 AM

credit Tom Jenner

Email: al.laiman.lop@gmail.com
Twitter: @AlLaimanLOP

30 Thoughts with Al Laiman and Mr. Tito

1. It's becoming less uncommon every day for wrestling fans to become jaded with the current product. Sure, the quality has been there at times, but so has the air of "phoning it in" so to speak, as well as the same names retaining the same spots for extended periods of time. However, a new day may be on the horizon, or at least the potential for one is there. As we approach Summerslam 2013, names like Daniel Bryan, The Shield, Bray Wyatt, Dolph Ziggler, and CM Punk are mentioned with the likes of the standards in John Cena, Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, and Brock Lesnar. A rift seems to exist between what WWE wants and what the fans want at times, but on RAW a few weeks ago, John Cena selected Daniel Bryan as his opponent for Summerslam. In fact, as I stated on HAM Radio Weekly the following day, the show felt like a badly-needed reset button that hadn't been pressed in far too long. While it is possible and even fathomable to believe that this could be the start of something new, it could also be the continuation of the status quo. With the NFL season approaching, more and more fans becoming sick of the same old song and dance, and patience wearing thin, where does this leave us? I've decided to call on an expert; the man who inspired me to start writing columns well over a decade ago, Mr. Tito.

2. Thank you very much, Al Laiman... I'm grateful to join your column and I encourage all of my readers to follow your work. With today's WWE, Vince McMahon is stuck in his own business model and he lacks strong wrestling minds backstage to help him change his mind. During the late 1990's, for example, when changes were needed, Vince could rely on Vince Russo, Jim Cornette, Jim Ross, Bruce Pritchard, Pat Patterson, Gerald Briscoe, and other wrestling minds or veterans for advising. Most of those are gone and in place we have Triple H/Stephanie overseeing soap opera writers. With complete idiots about how a successful promotion operates, Vince McMahon is reverting to his old business model where a handful of baby wrestlers are invincible (John Cena, Randy Orton) and everybody else lays down for them. Without competition, Vince just sees 4 million viewers for RAW and 200,000 buys for Pay Per Views and is content with that. Even at $10 per share for the WWE stock, Vince still owns 40 million shares and remains rich with the WWE being profitable. The amazing thing is that with a little more effort and creativity, Vince McMahon could have a lot more money with a growing company. But no, the business model of just getting a few wrestlers over and the rest bow down is in place. Daniel Bryan gets to walk into SummerSlam with not only John Cena to overcome, but Randy Orton overshadowing his opportunity. Fans wanted Daniel Bryan, but Vince believes that Cena and Orton must be booked strong and they can't be overthrown as the kings.

3. I’ve maintained that the peak stars of the most famous eras have always had equals. The biggest problem with the last eight years of John Cena is that the closest thing he had to someone on his level was CM Punk in 2011, and we all know that was put on hold because he really, really, really wanted Alberto Del Rio to be champion. Yes, it remains true that John Cena is a huge draw, but how long can those reactions be ignored? It used to be a split reaction, but it seems to have drifted to a combination of annoyance and indifference. Mark Henry faked a retirement and got cheered against him, and even a Green Bay crowd that didn’t seem to be there half the time started a “BORING!” chant on what I thought was one of his better promos in recent memory. The idea of sacrificing a wrestler really hitting his stride and getting consistent, amazing reactions in favor of adding another name to John Cena’s resume or to make Randy Orton look good doesn’t seem to be good for the long-term investment.

4. The way the WWE hype machine works, however, is to sell as much merchandise to the kiddies as possible. That's why John Cena is kept strong. Randy Orton is kept strong because he's a legacy wrestler and his dad was part of Wrestlemania 1. You cited the problem above with CM Punk and now we're seeing it with Daniel Bryan. The McMahons have their personal favorites and it consists of wrestlers they've personally groomed in the developmental system (Alberto Del Rio) or guys who make workout buddies (Sheamus). Guys who could get over if they were properly developed, but yet the WWE elects to push them to the top of the roster and assume that a World Title reign will get them over. Vince McMahon thought he say $$$ signs in Del Rio during 2011 and was willing to sacrifice CM Punk's momentum for that cause. Now, the WWE is in love with Randy Orton again and is willing to flush the fan favorite Daniel Bryan in the process. It's NOT Super Cena that is the problem with the WWE. It's how Vince McMahon and Triple H are assessing the rest of the roster and through 2013, they don't have a good sense for what draws and what doesn't any more. Ratings and buyrates show that, which is why they're paying Brock Lesnar and the Rock millions to help lift their numbers.

5. It is unfortunate that numbers are taken as the sign of success. On a show as vast and full of variety such as pro wrestling, it can be used to excuse going the easy way instead of actually listening to the audience. It used to be acceptable to decide for the audience who they should cheer and boo, but surprisingly enough, people have learned to think for themselves. I disagree that Super Cena isn't the problem while certainly agreeing that he isn't the entire problem. However, when you have even diehard, longtime Cena fans getting fed up with him, that's a problem. It would've been like continuing to shove good guy Rocky Maivia down everyone's throats despite the chants for him to die. Now you're right, it does seem they're intent on pushing Orton no matter what at the expense of possibly finally having another huge star. Despite my own severe Orton hatred, I acknowledge his main event status, but he's been given numerous chances to carry the company and they've fallen flat, to say the least.

6. Numbers are taken as a sign of success because the WWE's Quarterly Income Statements show profits, profits, profits. They are content with 4,000,000 viewers of RAW, 200,000 buys of Pay Per Views, and 5,000 at most at houseshows. WWE is still making money on that. The amusing thing is if the WWE would simply promote their Title Belts better, such as properly building wrestlers instead of rushing them (you know, how it used to work), WWE's business could grow. Instead, the WWE ignores the wrestlers who are actually over with fans and does all they can to protect the cash cow named John Cena. They think that Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, and Sheamus are drawing guys but their reigns at the top did not grow business. The problem is that WWE lacks quality competition to challenge them. Vince McMahon operates better when competition stares him in the face. TNA is an utter joke of a promotion and the WWE has no fear of their competition. Therefore, the McMahons can push they want while sustaining a moderate level of business. If you still like pro wrestling, where else can you go other than WWE on Mondays, Fridays, and Sundays for Pay Per View and TNA Impact Wrestling on Thursdays? I believe that Paul Heyman remains on the WWE roster, in part, to keep him away from a competitor.

7. Paul Heyman would be one of the few names that could draw a tremendous threat from Titan Towers; not because of his drawing power, but his creative. They clearly don't let his creative control extend beyond his promos, but against the company that has not seen legitimate competition since 2001, it could be presented. Stagnation has been present, especially in the buildup of this year's WrestleMania, where they took no risks, played it safe, and phoned in WrestleMania. It was considered a success because people bought it, but the following night's Monday Night RAW really set the tone for where the company's audience may be. They mocked Sheamus and Randy Orton by chanting anything they wanted. They let out a huge ovation for the then-heel Dolph Ziggler cashing in Money in the Bank. Yet, Daniel Bryan received the same reaction he had everywhere else. There is a man whose reaction has grown organically, not forced or by being handed a championship. You're correct in that wrestlers used to win championships for being over. They weren't given championships in hopes that they would. But the status quo isn't likely to be challenged when numbers stay pretty much the same. However, newer wrestlers have been emerging, and at times have been booked to be stronger than their veteran counterparts. A new generation of NXT-bred new blood have given the Sheamuses and Randy Ortons of the WWE Universe their fill, and we now stand at a point where something new and different can commence, or where the candle can be extinguished in favor of the safer route.

8. What puzzles me is how many developmental wrestlers after the initial Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002" have been pissed away by WWE management. If you go look back at Pay Per Views, you'll see a whole bunch of talent that the WWE tried to push and then quickly gave up on shortly thereafter. I laugh at everyone who ripped John Laurinaitis for not being Jim Ross as VP of Talent Relations. But there were many Ross developed wrestlers that went bust... It's all about CREATIVE. Prime example is Bray Wyatt. He's a son of former WCW/WWE wrestler Mike Rotunda and the nephew of WCW great Barry Windham. Yet, the almighty WWE Creative team calls him "Husky Harris". His little brother was given a ridiculous name, too, in "Bo Dallas" and was rushed to the main WWE roster to destroy Wade Barrett (another wasted wrestler) and then demoted back to the developmental site. It amuses me how much the "EVP of Talent" Triple H jacks off all over the new developmental territory but his beautiful wife will market each wrestler call-up foolishly. Stephanie McMahon is a communications major that her daddy elected to become the successor to Vince Russo (1997-1999) and Chris Kreski (1999-2000), the 2 lead writers during the peak years of the Attitude Era. Instead of treating the WWE like a wrestling product, she treats it like the soap operas she may have watched. WWE represents a contrived athletic competition over Title Belts, not something that should imitate "Days of Our Lives". Many, many wrestlers had to be converted into soap opera actors and many got tired of it and left.

9. There’s a point to that, but at the same time, even Vince McMahon himself has referred to professional wrestling as a “soap opera for men” so to speak. I prefer to refer to it as physical theatre; a modern take on living vicariously through a series of characters. I think there just has to be a balance between the theatrics and the athleticism. The casual wrestling fan might dismiss Ring of Honor for being too sporty, but might also get tired of the love triangle angles as well. Bo Dallas and Husky Harris, despite being legacies so to speak, were treated with aimless pushes. However, we see what can be done when the proper time and effort is invested. We have vignettes that look straight out of a Rob Zombie movie. We have a new version of a classic character in the charismatic cult leader. A new look with a new setup; an adaptation of something done before, but with a different twist. That is what wrestling has needed: a modern twist. Stephanie McMahon may not get that, but I do think Triple H has at least a grip on the necessary modernization of professional wrestling. What else do you think needs to happen to push that along?

10. Triple H doesn't get it. He's been a part of the WWE management nucleus for a long time now and owns much of the blame. Remember, Triple H was the one who thought Sin Cara would be a huge star and HHH is responsible for the hard pushes of Sheamus. Now, he's put an iron grip around the developmental territory. Again, the issues weren't the wrestlers... For the last few years, John Laurinaitis actually restocked the WWE pool with many good wrestlers. The problem continues to be WWE Creative. Instead of former pro wrestlers backstage with Vince, he now has family members plus failed soap opera writers. Even if you want to argue how "great" the Bray Wyatt character is, the fact remains that (a) Husky Harris actually happened and (b) the Wyatt family is taking hits from WWE Creative, too. All we've seen is Bray sitting in a chair while his plain looking followers wrestle "Tons of Fun" in tag matches. Whoopee. WWE won't get a modern twist until nepotism stops running rampant backstage, particularly with the creative aspect. They've lost half of their audience since the peak Attitude Era years and at any other Corporation, those EVP's would be fired upon having several job evaluations.

11. One thing I learned from being in professional wrestling is that the business structure itself is still very archaic by today’s standards. Once you get within that certain special circle, it’s nearly impossible to get fired. I see your point on Sin Cara, but I also think Sheamus at least has the potential to be something, though how he got the spot reeks of early 2000s favoritism. At least he didn’t end up in a stable where H could personally monitor his progress… not that that ever happened before. Sure, they wrestled essentially a squash match against Tons of Funk, but Bray himself also got booked against Kane at Summerslam… A Kane who has been revitalized due to his run with none other than Daniel Bryan. While I do see a strong win for him there while possibly having the other two in the tag division, there’s already another triad of terror doing that named The Shield, and they’re also heels. Granted, The Shield does get cheered almost everywhere they go, but do they turn them face too? There’s already an overwhelming majority of faces on the roster.

12. I'm not so high on the Shield lately, and you mentioned Kane's revitalization. Where would the Shield be without Daniel Bryan carrying them in their matches, along with actually putting those wrestlers over? Let's think about the Shield for a moment... They are just another example of how poorly the WWE treats its developmental wrestlers. Certainly, they have better names and a better look/gimmick than most wrestlers. But they came out of no where and attacked at Survivor Series and still haven't defined WHY they are who they are. One week, the WWE tried to have Paul Heyman pay them off to do his bidding, but we're still without a true reason why those 3 wrestlers exist in the WWE. Take them away from wrestling Daniel Bryan every week, and they are boring. Dean Ambrose with the United States Title and Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins with the Tag Titles are not setting the wrestling world on fire. Why? They debuted and were rushed to the Main Event scene, once again... Same problem. Except in the Shield's case, they had Daniel Bryan to make them look better than what they are in this early stage in their WWE careers. Funny pattern that I repeatedly see with Daniel Bryan... AJ Lee, Kane, and Shield... All individuals who repeatedly worked with Daniel Bryan and yet somehow got over... Furthermore, each of those individuals are lost without Bryan. Yet the WWE is internally questioning why they have Daniel Bryan in the SummerSlam WWE Title match?

13. That should speak to the quality of Bryan Danielson as much as anything. What I think Cena and Orton lack is the ability to make a star while remaining one. Nearly everyone looks dynamite against Bryan, winning or losing efforts aside. That is something that should not only be desired as a world champion, but demanded. Bryan has revitalized Kane and the tag division, and brought into light the talents of The Shield, not to mention getting himself over despite losing more often than winning. Not to mention despite that, he remained over, if not getting moreso. I do disagree that Ambrose is boring, only because I don’t see the chance for his natural personality to get any limelight, and I think that will come out if given the chance. I do like The Shield as kind of the mercenaries of justice, which I think was the point of them, but that doesn’t have much longer of a shelf life if they’re now dealing with the likes of the Uso’s after mercilessly disposing of world champions. I would prefer if they were at least hinting toward revealing a reason, but I suppose it’s too old school to actually progress a storyline that’s not in the main event.

14. While I'll agree with you on Randy Orton, as he tends to take advantage of his protected booking status and not put too many people over (other than Triple H), I somewhat disagree on John Cena. I think what Cena did for CM Punk was extraordinary. Go watch the Money in the Bank 2011 match. It's John Cena selling Punk's offense like a champ. Cena's work in that match made it "Match of the Year" for 2011 and put CM Punk over as a star. John Cena can't help it that the WWE's booking is foolish. He's just doing his job and he does it well. And I would argue that other than Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and CM Punk, John Cena has been fed weak opponents who can't draw well with him on Pay Per Views. It wasn't until Cena could wrestle CM Punk (Money in the Bank 2011) or Brock Lesnar (Extreme Rules 2012) that he could finally have a dance partner worthy of his star. The problem is NOT John Cena, but the poorly booked roster surrounding him. There is certainly no lack of effort on Cena's part, just on WWE management's to care about the rest of the roster.

15. Cena definitely lacks an equal, which has been one of my biggest complaints about the current status of the roster. CM Punk was the closest thing they had, but we’ve already covered that. However, I have to disagree on that point. I respect John Cena and even started to like him again before the cookie-cutter Royal Rumble-to-WrestleMania. It speaks to the point that I made in Thought 13 though; not focusing on storylines that don’t involve the main event. Look at what happened with the Team Hell No storyline, transitioning from enemies to uneasy allies against The Shield. Focus was on more than who John Cena was fighting, so that by the time Bryan got his shot, the crowd had a reason to give a shit. I don’t blame John Cena for the way his opponents have been treated; I only speak to how tired I am of it. If he’s The Rock of our generation, he needs an Austin, Taker, Kane, Foley, and an upper-midcard that can be seen as a viable threat beyond winning one match and getting a shot at him, and that includes the Money in the Bank briefcase.

16. Focus is always on who John Cena is wrestling because he's over and much on the rest of the WWE roster are not. While the WWE Creative Staff can trash wrestlers with poorly executed pushes, bad names, and fast track pushes... The wrestlers have it on themselves to get over, too. John Cena didn't get over by just existing, as some of the developmental wrestlers actually think. No, Cena waited patiently for his opportunity and once he found the attitude that his character should portray, he invested time and effort in getting it over. The "Thug Life" gimmick got over because Cena worked at making that character better. Remember, John Cena debuted with stupid multi-color tights and looked just like the rest of the roster. Aside from debuting against Kurt Angle, he quickly went down a few notches on the roster and worked in the midcard until he figured it out. Once he did, he just climbed the ladder until it was his time to become WWE Champion. He did that through hard work. I just wonder if the WWE is playing their hand too early with developmental wrestlers by featuring them on NXT and debuting them on the WWE roster as if they were a big deal. Almost spoiling the wrestlers and removing a possible incentive to work hard and earn it like wrestlers before them?

17. That can be seen with someone like Ryback, who debuted facing different jobbers every week, and then suddenly after a quick match with Miz, was in the WWE title match against CM Punk. He was inexplicably in the main event scene consistently, despite not being able or ready to be in those types of matches, and then once the de-push commenced, it was visibly obvious couldn’t give less of a shit. It does give a sense of entitlement for sure. Sometimes people wonder why wrestlers get demotivated or jaded, and that could be a very apparent reason. Cena got over the right way; I’m certainly not arguing that. Though interestingly enough, his Summerslam main-event counterpart got over despite what they wanted, and now will either be rewarded or disregarded for that reason.

18. Ryback was an example of the WWE Creative Team trying to force something on the fans. And certainly, the WWE Creative Staff is in the way and possibly hurts the motivation of many wrestlers on the WWE roster. Some work their asses off and yet developmental wrestlers who kiss WWE Management's ass or is just the flavor of the month are the ones getting pushed. Just look at how hard Dolph Ziggler has worked over the past year. His workrate is off the charts... Yet, he's stuck with Vickie Guerrero, then stuck with AJ Lee/Big E Langston, and wins the World Heavyweight Title under cheap Money in the Bank circumstances. The concussion hurt him, but the WWE immediately ripped the World Title from his hands and gave it to Alberto Del Rio. Instead of chasing Del Rio, Ziggler gets Big E Langston... How on earth is Dolph Ziggler still driven to succeed with the horrible booking that he's given? Ditto for Daniel Bryan who has been crapped on since his "controversial" Nexus debut in 2010. Goes to show you how great Daniel Bryan is with the way he's overcome the God-awful Wrestlemania 28 finish with Sheamus and then getting shoved into the Tag Team division, yet he still gets over. Has Randy Orton ever had to overcome those horrible booking odds?

19. I won’t say that Randy Orton didn’t have to work hard to be where he is, but he’s certainly had his fair share of chances despite numerous behavioral and Wellness violations. He was brought in and within a year of his debut, he was working against Shawn Michaels and placed in a stable with Triple H and Ric Flair. The hard knock life for that guy, wasn’t it? The only horrible booking odds Randy Orton ever got was winning the world title way too early and turning face incredibly awkwardly. Ziggler, on the other hand, go back even further. He had to overcome being Kerwin White’s caddy and being a member of the ill-fated Spirit Squad. That speaks volumes about the man’s workrate and motivation. Ziggler is one of the many who could be contributing to this new era of sorts. It seems that if they played their cards right, the main event scene could be restocked and credible instead of Cena, and then the rest. It could also be botched like the finish to the mixed-tag match on RAW, and then what?

20. Randy Orton shouldn't have won the World Title in 2004, period. The fact that he received extremely favorable booking, thanks to his backstage friendship with Triple H and being the son of Cowboy Bob Orton, isn't an indication of hard work or naturally getting over with fans. He's had issues and took his escalated spot for granted. If the WWE took their time with him as they did with John Cena and Batista, both guys winning titles at Wrestlemania 21, then maybe he'd fair better. Seriously, Orton has won 9 World Titles in 9 years. Tell me that isn't extremely favorable booking yet the guy isn't drawing as Smackdown's lead star or main eventer of Smackdown houseshows. He is the genesis of the WWE's problems: developmental wrestler pushed too fast and assumed that the World Title will get the wrestler over. That's a backwards business model for how pro wrestling really works... You get over first and then earn the World Title. John Cena did that and was an actual draw as United States Champion before earning the trust of WWE management to make him WWE Champion during the next year. WWE tried to quickly get over CM Punk as World Champion during 2008 and 2009, yet it wasn't until he was getting over with fans during the "Summer of Punk" in 2011 that he became truly worthy of a World Title. Heck, CM Punk got over enough that it convinced WWE Management to change their creative plans and make CM Punk not only WWE Champion, but beating John Cena in the process.

21. Remember when Mick Foley won the then-WWF title in 1999? Remember how the fans went crazy for it? That was a product of working his ass off for years, and while not being made the number one guy on the show, it was a reward for all of those years of hard work. That wouldn’t mean nearly as much now, because they’ve been using the World Heavyweight Championship as a token of begging for a reaction. Backwards is putting it mildly, because the titles should be on people who draw, not put on people as a reason to try to make them draw. The WWE title is the only one treated with any dignity, the 2011 debacle notwithstanding, but the rest of them have been devalued and stripped of their meaning. There need to be fewer, and they need to mean something again. When the US title isn’t even defended but once after it’s won until Summerslam, that says something about its standing.

22. Better yet, how about all of those non-title losses that the United States and Intercontinental Champions have to endure? Wade Barrett as Intercontinental and Antonio Cesaro as United States champions were absolute jokes, and not of their doing. They just lost non-title match after non-title mach. The midcard titles have become accessories instead of something taken seriously. Midcard titles should be used to assist with wrestlers not ready for the World Title scene. Yet, the WWE pushes their entire roster as if they are World Title contenders yet only a handful are even worthy of a World Title. Yet, the WWE just gushes over using the Money in the Bank briefcase to "get a wrestler over" and then craps on their early careers with a cheap World Title victory. What is so wrong with chasing a midcard title? Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, the Rock, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, and even John Cena did it... Why can't today's wrestlers? If wrestlers get over with a midcard title THEN you can push them towards a World Title. WWE has 30+ years of its own footage, WCW, AWA, World Class, and ECW to prove that fact. Use that damn video library as a resource!!!

23. It’s how most jobs work, isn’t it? Start at the bottom, work your way up, see rewards along the way? There’s no shame in it, but it seems like they gave Antonio Cesaro the US title, and then did nothing but use him as fodder for Sheamus and Randy Orton. I used to make the joke that heel Alberto Del Rio had the JOB Squad of Sin Cara, Zack Ryder, and Santino Marella. For a good long time, Sheamus and Orton had one of Cesaro, Sandow, and Rhodes. I didn’t watch wrestling at the time, but it used to be a big deal when the Intercontinental champion would face the WWF champion, like at WrestleMania 6. Now it seems they’re not even rewarded, they’re just given out so that it’s given the illusion of these guys having something to do. That can be changed, and with the work necessary to put that into effect, it wouldn’t seem that the WWE title contenders would come out of nowhere, and the matches for Pay-Per-Views wouldn’t be thrown together at random.

24. Steve Austin was Intercontinental Champion in 1997 before he was WWE Champion in 1998. Rock was Intercontinental Champion just months before he the WWE title in 1998. John Cena was United States Champion during 2004 before he was WWE Champion in 2005. Need I go on? Those guys were HUGE for the business and they were carefully built up to become great. Quite possibly, John Cena might be the last big drawing WWE superstar because of how broken the wrestling system now is with Vince McMahon running the company with family members and soap opera writers instead of legitimate wrestling minds. Any guys who might rise to the occasion (CM Punk, Daniel Bryan), Vince McMahon, Stephanie, and Triple H actually question what is wrong with the WWE fans and push their guys (Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton) hard instead. The WWE business model is fractured and might actually lead to the death of bigtime pro wrestling in 10-20 years if the WWE isn't careful. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) keeps taking more and more teenage fans because the WWE isn't giving teenagers any reason to brag about being a WWE fan at their school. When I was a teenager during the late 1990's when the Monday Night Wars occurred between WWE and WCW, you bragged about being a pro wrestling fan and enjoyed wearing "nWo" or "DX" t-shirts regularly. Now, you might be made fun of for liking the PG-era WWE that only pushes John Cena who purposely caters to a younger audience. Good luck getting laid when you flash around the John Cena arm bands and tell girls at school "you can't see me". Exactly.

25. What a nostalgia trip. I was 12 when DX was at its height in 1998, and I’ll never forget 6th grade Field Day. When the other section of 6th grade came into the gymnasium, literally all of the sixth graders stood up and started chanting “SUCK IT!” I remember everyone being into wrestling in middle school, and while I attribute some of that to being young while wrestling hit its boom, there was a sense of emphasis and mainstream attention paid to it back then. It had an edge to it that I don’t know if they’ll ever risk replicating again. The PTC attacks that Mick Foley documented well in his second book scared McMahon into not wanting to offend any advertisers, but it also bored away half his audience, as you said earlier. I will never understand the attraction of MMA, as I enjoy the theatre that comes along with the athleticism of pro wrestling, but I don’t know if pro wrestling is a given anymore, for the exact reasons you specified. Will it ever reach the heights it once did? Not likely, but I believe there can be another boom. The problem is, it requires taking a lot of risks, and it doesn’t seem like they’re willing to do that anymore.

26. At the same time, the late 1980's WWE was hardly risque in its storylines and very much like PG-era. Yet, the WWE created captivating yet simple storylines. Hulk Hogan was the WWE Champion and yet an old veteran like Andre the Giant challenged Hogan. Andre had never been WWE champion and was upset about Hogan's recent rise to fame. "Macho Man" Randy Savage rose from the midcard and became WWE Champion at Wrestlemania 4. He had a partnership with Hulk Hogan that quickly went sour and they went to war at Wrestlemania 5 over the WWE title. Think about how big Wrestlemania 6 was when the Intercontinental Champion took on the WWE Champion. Hogan vs. Warrior was HUGE and it was all from simple booking strategies to get the guys over. What is the common pattern? Despite the tame PG-like storylines of the Hulkamania Era, the "sense of urgency" was chasing the WWE Title as if it was the greatest thing ever. And then when you held the belt, wrestlers held it with pride and were over to draw packed houses of wrestling fans. Better yet with Savage and Warrior, both got over as Intercontinental Champions. When it was their time to be WWE Champion, WWE recognized how over they were as midcard champions and promoted them. So simple and yet doesn't need any excuse from the "blame PG-era" crowd. Make the damn titles matter and present pro wrestling, once again, as a legitimate sporting event instead of a male soap opera.

27. When I say “edge” and “sense of urgency” I’m definitely not saying that it needs to become a bloodbath or risqué, necessarily. It may be simply one of the first things you mentioned: there being no competition creates no need to change the status quo. It’s hard to watch a show when it feels like they’re all just going through the motions, and we’ve had plenty of those as of late. We don’t necessarily need controversy, we just need captivating. We don’t necessarily need blood, but scarce use of it can be used for emphasis. We don’t need promos that curse, we need promos that MATTER! We don’t need the number of title reigns to get the wrestler over, we need the reigns they do get to have the purpose they should. All of these things fit in a formula that is tried and true, and is what they did during their peak years, not to mention that immense video library you mentioned.

28. I just think that Vince McMahon has surrounded himself with unqualified personnel to run the Creative part of his in-ring wrestling product. Stephanie is lead writer, yet she's a communications major. That translates to creative writing for an entertainment business how? Triple H only knows how to book himself, his friends, or any suck ups strong. Clueless otherwise and the WWE might be in danger with their developmental system overseen by him. Then there's Kevin Dunn, the Executive Producer of the WWE. That guy has dreams of winning an Emmy, as Jim Cornette has ridiculed... He has actively tried to remove the term "wrestling" from World WRESTLING Entertainment and his influence over the soap opera aspect of the WWE cannot be denied. Without legitimate wrestling veterans surrounding Vince, there is a lack of care for legitimate fundamentals of wrestling and how to get wrestlers over. Thus, why the WWE is clinging onto John Cena because of the rest of the roster and the World Titles aren't drawing. The WWE world without John Cena is going to be crippled... Who replaces him as a draw?

29. That’s precisely why they need to make new ones, because John Cena isn’t going to be around forever, whether or not they make new ones with him being there to help. The risks they need to take may not involve controversy, but they have to find new long-term investments and create a WWE Universe where if John Cena has to leave, it isn’t time to panic. I love what this business can be, and I see so many ways it can head in that direction, kicked off with a Summerslam that has a lot of those pieces in place. I also see a Summerslam that could play it safe once again, and wait as more and more fans become jaded. I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want to lose the mainstream pro wrestling business, or what’s left of it. I do believe this can happen again, and that the business can rise; maybe not to what it once was, but better than what it’s become. Tito, you’ve been covering this product for so many years, and it’s been awesome getting to converse with you in this forum. Please send us out in Thought 30 on a positive note by postulating what could happen, and what it would take for the rise to happen.

30. In my opinion, the WWE faces extinction risk in about 10 years. Their business model is backwards, Stephanie/Triple H aren't proving themselves as successors due to their errors in judgments, and other forms of entertainment are challenging the teenage demographic of male fans. Instead of pushing pro wrestling as a legitimate sporting event that fights over legitimate titles, booking is done on the fly each week and titles are taken for granted. There's a valid reason why the WWE Network is failing... Nobody wants it. That's despite the potential that the WWE Network could actually present wrestling fans with the many years of footage WWE owns from itself and other promotions. Teenage fans are ashamed to admit to being wrestling fans and would rather admit to watching UFC instead. Wasn't like that 15 years ago. So what has changed? Not Vince McMahon, but the people he surrounds himself with. Complete idiots who are out-of-touch with their own wrestling product and fans. Sadly, there isn't a legitimate competitor to smack the WWE around and challenge it to be better. Many older WWE fans have actually accepted the status quo instead of challenging it to be better as well. Unless other promotions rise up and fans challenge the WWE to become better, bigtime pro wrestling could be a thing of the past by 20 years from now. Recently, the stock analyst Zacks downgraded the WWE stock from "neutral" to "underperform". That's funny, as the WWE has been underperforming for YEARS.

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