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Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Another WWE Superstar Shake-up After SummerSlam 2017?, RAW/Smackdown, & More
By Mr. Tito
Aug 1, 2017 - 11:52:21 PM

Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter.com: @titowrestling

Bookmark Mr. Tito's Column Archive to read the current and past columns.

Welcome back to the columnist who is always here when you need him and free of charge exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. I'm just highly amused at how disorganized that the WWE has become. One would figure that a company who has existed for years and being led by the same man, Vince McMahon, would strive for consistency... Or, the WWE is only good when its surrounding managers are there to complement Vince and help carry the load for him. Things just happened to erode simultaneously when the WWE became more Corporate and the communications major daughter became more involved...

What I'm really LAUGHING at are the rumors of ANOTHER "Superstar Shake-up" potentially happening after SummerSlam 2017 as reported by both the Observer and Pro Wrestling Insider. Didn't we just have a "Superstar Shake-up" following Wrestlemania 33? If that shake-up was done to "fix" a few things, why would there be a need for another?

In fact, I elaborate even further... If the 2016 RAW/Smackdown Brand Split was so successful, why was there a need for the "Superstar Shake-up" following Wrestlemania 33?

When the WWE split the rosters during mid 2016, I argued against it... Through 2016, the WWE Creative Team was struggling to effectively book for a combined roster following the end of the previous brand split. After all, 2014-2016 was the main period where the majority of viewers lost for RAW, all 1 million+ of them, permanently left the WWE. Thus, you're going the Creative Team who struggled over ONE roster the task to make creative ideas for TWO rosters? I further argued that the 2016, even with all of the NXT call-ups, was thin... Particularly since the WWE has been horrible at booking the Tag Team and Midcard Titles for the last 5 years to find any roles for the new talent. That, and you have guys like Dolph Ziggler, Rusev, and others just rotting in the WWE even with the brand split.

So tell me... How are your Titles credible if the wrestlers on BOTH brands keep switching? How has Bray Wyatt & Dean Ambrose moving to RAW and Kevin Owens to Smackdown helped? After all, Wyatt and Owens were BOTH World Champions THIS YEAR before they switched brands. How is that helping with the credibility of the rosters, divisions, and titles? It is a FACT that RAW and Smackdown viewership (plus attendance at live events) have declined since the post-Wrestlemania 33 shake-up. So again, how will another "Superstar Shake-up" after SummerSlam 2017 help?

And then consider the hilarious decisions by the WWE since the 2016 Brand Extension:

(a) The "Superstar Shake-up" following Wrestlemania 33 caused John Cena to become a Free Agent.

(b) Jason Jordan leaves Smackdown for no apparent reason and is allowed to join RAW possibly because his "dad" is General Manager of RAW.

(c) Hardy Boyz join the RAW roster... Can the RAW roster sign free agents as will?

(d) How does the Revival and Shinsuke Nakamura join the Main Rosters? Samoa Joe? What is the developmental transfer system between NXT and RAW/Smackdown brands?

(e) Why have a General Manager and/or Commissioner if Vince McMahon can ultimately move wrestlers when he wants?

(f) How credible are the US and Intercontinental Titles if they can switch brands?

(g) How can Charlotte move brands after dominating the RAW Women's Title scene as the lead star?

And on and on and on...

WWE has a major credibility problem because they did the 2016 Brand Split out of desperation over 1 million viewers lost between 2014-2016 and now that they have to own it. However, the WWE isn't owning it... They are too impatient. Instead of letting both RAW and Smackdown get into a groove with its existing wrestlers, the WWE is shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic instead. These shake-ups create unorganized chaos among the rosters. In addition to that, WWE has had a few "Creative Shake-ups" backstage regarding the creative teams including more Vince McMahon involvement with Smackdown and also placing more creative responsibility on the Road Dogg. Smackdown has eroded significantly as 2017 has gone on and the premature push of Jinder Mahal is one of the most insane creative things that Vince McMahon has tried.

If a "Superstar Shake-up" happens after SummerSlam 2017, it shall be a pure ratings grab when the WWE gets its ass handed to them by the National Football League (NFL) Monday Night Football. But what after that? You'll have 2 rosters who DON'T have chemistry together.

Let's take a look at the performance of the 2016 RAW/Smackdown DRAFT and then the "Superstar Shake-up" following 2017's Wrestlemania 33:

1Q 2016: 2.56
2Q 2016: 2.32 (Down 9.1%)
3Q 2016: 2.12 (Down 8.7%)
4Q 2016: 2.01 (Down 5.3%)
1Q 2017: 2.20 (Up 9.5%, Wrestlemania Season)
2Q 2017: 2.04 (Down 7.4%)

(Thank you to Steve Gerweck for tabulating the Nielson Ratings numbers, as always)

Yikes... The momentum (or lack thereof) of Wrestlemania 32 is scary. What, nobody was excited for Roman Reigns winning that WWE Title from Triple H? Say it ain't so! But then, that 3rd Quarter continues the pain when the DRAFT actually happens and begins. Continued declines during the 4th Quarter but an X-Factor arrived that nobody expected: Bill Goldberg. On several episodes of RAW, his appearance "popped" the ratings as older WCW fans may have tuned into see their hero. The decline actually slowed down in the 4th Quarter of 2016 whereas the numbers usually drop harder during that quarter. Then, the 1st Quarter 2017 for Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania... Funny, Bill Goldberg joined the Royal Rumble, won the WWE Universal Title, and then wrestled Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 33. On top of that, RAW also featured Triple H and the Undertaker to help "pop" numbers.

But then, the 2nd Quarter 2017 which features nothing but the "Superstar Shake-up" Era... DOWN AGAIN! So you're telling me that (a) Roman Reigns defeating the Undertaker, (b) Seth Rollins defeating Triple H, (c) having a part-timer as WWE Universal Champion in Brock Lesnar, and (d) raiding the Smackdown roster for the "Superstar Shake-up" DIDN'T DRAW ratings?!?

Bill Goldberg's ratings success at age 50 illustrates exactly what the WWE is missing right now. We don't need any fancy brand splits, shake-ups, father angles, ambulance rammings, ambulance tip-overs, or rushing complete jobbers to World Titles... Goldberg was a legitimate star who can walk into any room in America and people will recognize him instantly. You can knock Goldberg's in-ring workrate all you want but his look, charisma, personality, and the myths about him (the "streak") have made him into a superstar that exceeds pro wrestling as a celebrity. To fans, he appears like a legitimate badass outside of a wrestling ring where scripted matches happen. If you'll recall, WCW pushed him hard as a former NFL player who transferred that toughness to the ring. That's why Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle were also successful and are stars. Outside of the ring, you believe that both guys could legitimately kill somebody with their bare hands.

Do you believe that with Roman Reigns?

Nope.

And I say that with the understanding that Roman Reigns is a trained wrestler and could probably handle himself well in a fight. Sure... But you don't know that with Roman because the WWE doesn't tell you about his past. Did you know that Roman Reigns played for Georgia Tech and was actually on the same team as former NFL great wide receiver Calvin Johnson? Did you know that? He almost made the NFL, as he went undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft but drew interest from 2 teams afterward. He played in the Canadian Football League for 1 season. As "lame" as that might sound to hardcore NFL fans, it's not like anybody can just join that league. You have to have SOME talent. But you wouldn't know that because the WWE doesn't want to advertise his football career. Ya know, like WCW did for Bill Goldberg. That's WHY Goldberg did the freakin' Spear! It was like a football tackle. Hey, Roman Reigns has a Spear too... But you don't know why he does that move. Instead, the WWE markets Roman Reigns as if he's some mythical character placed on this earth just to be a WWE superstar. Well, how has that push worked for the last 3 years? See those ratings numbers above...

As Jim Ross was saying on a recent podcast, what today's WWE lacks DEPTH in the Main Event in terms of legitimate draws. That's the problem with the WWE right now. Outside of John Cena who has become part-time lately, what does the WWE have who can sell merchandise, pop ratings, and sell tickest for houseshows? Not many... Some guys can sort of do it, but nothing spectacular. That's why the WWE is looking towards other markets like India for new forms of revenue streams. The Attitude Era, for example, had Steve Austin, the Rock, the Undertaker, and Kane and eventually added Triple H, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Big Show, and had guys in the upper midcard ready to go (Benoit, Edge, Guerrero). Then, the WWE had the Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002" developmental class to replace some of those guys who were about to leave the WWE (Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, John Cena, Batista, etc.).

WWE now? Well, those "Class of 2002" guys are still around in the form of John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Randy Orton, all 3 of which were World Champions during 2017. FACT. After that, well, there are the Shield guys... And, well... There were those many attempts to get Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus over. How did that work out again? Miz is still fighting over the Intercontinental Title, oops... Jack Swagger? Yeah, he's gone too... CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were completely blown opportunities to make stars and both are forever gone (I've heard the "CM Punk returning to WWE" rumors, but I don't believe them).

None of the recent NXT guys are catching on yet... Too early. Some potential with Baron Corbin, but they could be pushing him too early as Money in the Bank briefcase winner. Why not defend the US Title successfully first and draw as champion before getting any World Title shots? I am already worried about Shinsuke Nakamura. I really am. His stiff New Japan style is getting blocked by WWE officials for safety purposes and it's limiting him as a wrestler. Gee, who would have thought? For those of you praying for "Kenny Omega to WWE", you better consider the styles of New Japan versus WWE. Someone like AJ Styles can adjust because he worked in TNA forever but Nakamura worked in New Japan that has a much different yet stiffer style than WWE. WWE expects you to work 300 dates per year and wants you healthy to endure that schedule.

I'm actually rooting on Vince McMahon to send several of the NXT call-ups back to NXT. Please do that! NXT's roster has been depleted since the 2016 RAW/Smackdown split and they could use the depth. For example, Emma was catching fire through 2016 and then gets moved to RAW. Nothing. Sure, the injury happened, but now, she's just a warm body for Nia Jax to destroy. In NXT, she gave Asuka her best matches.

And that's another FAILURE by Vince McMahon in addition to the Brand Split and Superstar Shake-up... Destroying the NXT brand just to supplement your RAW/Smackdown rosters for the brand split yet you can't use many of those call-ups. Returning many wrestlers back to NXT is a complete admission of failure.

Folks... We're heading into WCW/ECW Invasion of 2001 territory with how BAD the Creative decisions have become with the 2016 Brand Split and what could possibly be multiple "Superstar Shake-ups" during 2017. The LACK of consistency among your roster and the confusion over the rosters will cause RAW to fit my long-term prediction about the 2016 Brand Split which was that RAW will end up being "permanently under 3 million viewers". In case you haven't noticed lately, the MAJORITY of RAW shows following Wrestlemania 33 have been UNDER 3.0 million viewers. We're almost there, folks, and screwing with the rosters another time could cause more fans to walk away.

But don't listen to me... I'm just a loyal wrestling fan for about 30 years now and am heading into my 19th year as Mr. Tito, internet columnist exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. I've had a prediction or two come true and have been an "early adopter" on wrestling thought for a while now. Going back to 2011, I saw the destruction of CM Punk early and called it with many opposing columnists suggesting that I was foolish for saying such a thing. Ditto for Daniel Bryan during 2013. I knew that it would happen once Bryan yelled at Triple H backstage and then Randy Orton suddenly wins the Money in the Bank briefcase. Yep, I knew that it was coming and again, many called me crazy for predicting that.

And I don't just criticize... I advise. I repeatedly give advice, free of charge, that have legitimate business and wrestling reasons to them. All for free and I keep doing this because I'm a dedicated wrestling fan. Just as my readers are getting content and Pay Per View reviews (immediately after the shows, too) for 100% free, the WWE is getting advice that they pay millions in consulting and management fees each year... Just print off any of my columns...

DO NOT do the "Superstar Shake-up" following SummerSlam 2017. I'll call it right now, even before it potentially happens. Complete disaster if it happens and it will cause a further loss in viewership. Hell, if anything, merge the damn rosters and make the top guys work BOTH shows. What happens on RAW could affect Smackdown, and vice versa.

Look at that 2nd Quarter 2017... You already have enough evidence that a "Superstar Shake-up" could be a failure. Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it (Santayana, 1905-1906).

=========================================

QUICK TAKES

- RAW viewership numbers are on for the 7/31/17 show and it was an average number of 3,163,000 with the show peaking during the 2nd hour at 3,275,000. That second hour was headlined by 3/4 of the SummerSlam 2017 Main Event with a Triple Threat between Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe. Brock Lesnar appeared during the first hour as well and the show was headlined by Big Cass vs. Big Show which held above that 3.0 million. Say what you will, but these HOSS matches are drawing and Big Show has been involved in them. The 2 RAW headliners between Big Show and Braun Strowman did quite well if you'll recall.

Scary thing to me is that Joe vs. Braun vs. Roman can only pull RAW to just under 3.3 million viewers. Those are your MAIN EVENT stars and in the case of Roman Reigns, who won the match, someone that the WWE has been building for 3+ years now to be "the guy". The thing is that you cannot put out that match every week... Can't fly in Brock Lesnar for every show, as we approach his show quota for the year. I really worry about the WWE's fortunes following SummerSlam 2017 and when the NFL becomes their competition again. Worse yet for the WWE, the past few months has seen them burn through many Pay Per View like match-ups and it hasn't draw.

I worry about Samoa Joe... Lesnar and now Roman have beat him in a matter of weeks. Hate to say it, but opportunity lost. Many could suggest that he's "eating turd sandwiches" now in order to win later... But how constructive is that? Why make him lose big matches before winning your top title belt? It has ZERO logic!

- Any John Cena haters left? Seriously... The guy puts over Shinsuke Nakamura and that just adds to Cena's list of put overs such as CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and the returning Rock. Cena, though he has missed itme off, is still the #1 star of the WWE. Yet he's putting over wrestlers clean and making them look good in the process.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jinder Mahal at SummerSlam 2017 for the WWE Title? Mind blown... Makes you wonder if the WWE is doing an even bigger power play for Asian countries than before? They are simultaneously attempting to please the India market while potentially trying to trump New Japan's recent attempts at growing in the United States. While I consider Nakamura's early WWE run to be slightly disappointing, it's good to see WWE rolling the dice on him for SummerSlam. But we'll see.

I'd be very aware of Baron Corbin at SummerSlam 2017. WWE likes to screw wrestlers often at SummerSlam with that Money in the Bank briefcase cash-in, particularly the Internet Darlings.

- Nobody is buying the Jason Jordan is Kurt Angle's son. It's such a fraud of a wrestling storyline. It just so happens that Angle took a magical quest to the midwest to lay some seeds to birth a son who not only followed him to amateur wrestling, but the WWE as well. The segment with the Miz was painful...

- It's pretty clear where the RAW Women's Division is going and that's with Nia Jax. Just seems like everybody is no match for her. Thus, that's why they need someone with firepower to join the RAW brand to challenge her. Might want to consider an Awesome Kong (or Welfare Queen, baby!) return or Asuka call-up to give her someone to match her physical strengths. Doesn't seem like the WWE is serious about Sasha Banks and Bayley ever challenging her and it's only a matter of time before the much smaller Alexa Bliss gets destroyed.

The following are opinions on the WWE Stock and anyone reading the following should know that these are for entertainment purposes. Anyone acting on this advice are acting on their own and taking their own risk!

- Been a while since I actually looked at the WWE Stock. Through 8/1/2017, the stock trades at $21.29... I always look at the 52 Week range and we're sort of at the higher end. Then, I consider the financials. With the WWE getting beyond their "break even" point on the WWE Network, money is rolling in for them at the moment. WWE has wisely turned Wrestlemanias into monster events and SummerSlam events will grow in size and scope too.

However, I don't believe that the WWE's stock has anything to do with performance at the moment... As long as a company is profitable, they should be seeing stock price growth right now. Why? Many Donald Trump loyalists will suggest it's his policies, but Trump has only signed Executive Orders which affect government agency rules and he hasn't signed any key pieces of legislation passed by Congress (healthcare reform, tax reform, etc.). The Stock Market likes congressional "gridlock" and if the GOP cannot get bills passed, then investors are happy because they can easily form expectations.

But I think that stocks are the beneficiary at the STILL LOW interest policy as set by the Federal Reserve. Right now, the interest rate offered to Banks if they choose to borrow short-term loans (pads Liability on Balance Sheet, could help boost short-term Loan offerings on the Asset side of Balance Sheet) are at a "target range" of 1.00% to 1.25%. Just to put that in perspective, the Federal Funds Rate was at 5.25% during mid 2007. With Banks having a lower "cost of funds" due to lower interest payments to the Federal Reserve, that translates into lower interest rates for customers. Thus, one can borrow money to make a huge investment such as a large purchase of stock. It's no wonder why the Dow Jones keeps shattering record levels each week. Money is cheap right now!

At $21.29, I would NOT buy the WWE stock... Just seems too high for me, particularly as I worry about the WWE shuffling the 2 brands up too much. Viewership and attendance numbers in the United States are declining too much for my liking. If you happened to buy when the stock was under $15, it could be that time to sell... After all, the Dow Jones is hitting record numbers and yet the WWE Stock isn't at its 52 week high. Think about that.

SO JUST CHILL... 'TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!

Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.

© Mr. Tito and LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com - 1998-2017

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