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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Honoring the Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens Friendship Storyline + ASK TITO Questions
By Mr. Tito
Feb 19, 2017 - 12:21:53 AM
So here I am, Mr. Tito exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com, writing during the weekend because "why not?"... But I wanted to write about a specific segment this week that went off perfectly. Instead of repeating myself on how the WWE gives chance after chance to Randy Orton and Roman Reigns despite the lower viewership numbers (fact), I'd like to write on one of the best storyline segments of all time.
Over the past year, one of the storylines that has kept me SANE while watching Monday Night RAW has been the friendship storyline between Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. Since the Brand Split, the RAW roster has had turmoil. They intended to push Finn Balor as its first WWE Universal Champion with that horrific looking red title belt but he got injured. Kevin Owens won the next vacancy title, thanks to Triple H interfering and attacking Seth Rollins, but Seth Rollins waited 4 months before finally seeking revenge! Meanwhile, Roman Reigns endured a Wellness Violation policy to cause the WWE to "depush" him while allowing him to actually beat WWE Universal Champion Owens in non-title matches. Complete mess on Monday Night RAW and that's not getting into how many times the Women's Title has changed hands or how the Tag Team division was sleepwalking until the New Day broke a 25 year old record.
But Owens and Jericho have been the bright spot for RAW. For Kevin Owens, he's had some ups and downs since his arrival and instant defeating of John Cena. While Triple H has had his back, the Vince McMahons and Kevin Dunns of the world have disliked his normal guy, non-muscular look. Yet, anytime that the WWE needs a strong performance in the ring, Kevin Owens always comes through. Great on the microphone, too... As WWE Universal Champion, they won't let him win... Again as I mentioned above, loses non-title matches... Despite that adversity, Kevin Owens keeps rising to the top.
Chris Jericho, though... I've been watching him wrestle for 20 years now from the time he arrived in WCW during 1996 (started watching ECW just after he left). I would argue that Jericho's character at age 46 is the best that he's ever had... And I say that when Jericho has had many great versions of his character. Think about how HARD it is to be relevant in pro wrestling for his over 26 year career... Jericho is able to constantly re-invent himself and find new ways to get over. He's 46 years old and yet he's very over as a wrestler with many younger fans in the audience. The List... Think about how silly that idea is. He carries around a clipboard and when pissed off by another wrestler or personality, he writes their name on a piece of paper. For what reason? It's just hilarious and the way Jericho sells each entry of "The List", it works. The crowd eats it up with a spoon and Chris Jericho is possibly the most over wrestler on the roster. Certainly helps that Kevin Owens was with him as a perfect companion. They were amazing together.
That segment from RAW was one of the best talking segments that I've ever seen in pro wrestling. Certainly, it has its silly moments and gets a big goofy at times (that magician named friendship, as "friendship" was the last thing on Jericho's list as someone on Twitter told me), but then watch when the comedy stops and Chris Jericho gets real:
"I've had such a great time working with you, being your partner... It's made this last year in the WWE one of my favorite years in my entire career. And a lot of that is because of you, OK, it really is. I've had a lot of friends in this business and a lot of partners, but I haven't had the chemistry with any of them like I have with you, it's been a joy. It's made my job and my time here in the WWE a better place."
Watch Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens's eyes in that segment... Both were welling up as Jericho got real. For Jericho, his association with Kevin Owens has helped him to remain relevant despite his older age. For Owens, Jericho was a veteran who believed in him and did everything he could to make Owens look great despite WWE Creative's shortcomings towards him. There's legit tears about to form in their eyes because their partnership as a team is about to end... I got the sense that there was some trembling in Kevin Owens after that speech, too, knowing that he was about to turn on Jericho. Then, of course, they executed the turn when Owens gave Jericho the "List of KO"... The realization by Chris Jericho that his name was on the list and then he looks over... Priceless. One of the more legitimately emotional segments that we've seen lately from wrestling.
The beatdown by Owens was severe and it's likely that Jericho will "sell" the injury before WWE Fast Lane on March 5th, 2017. There, Kevin Owens will have to wrestle Bill Goldberg for the WWE Universal Title and the break-up increases the odds that Goldberg will become a World Champion. I can already see WWE's plans unfolding... Goldberg defeats Owens to become WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar defeats Goldberg at Wrestlemania 33, and then either at the next RAW Pay Per View or maybe even SummerSlam 2017, it is very likely that Roman Reigns takes Lesnar down. Maybe Braun Strowman... Not sure if WWE would be bold enough to keep the WWE Universal Title on a part-timer for long. Regardless of those long-term plans for the WWE Universal Title involving Goldberg, Lesnar, Reigns, and maybe Strowman... I care more about Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania 33. You just KNOW that both guys are already preparing for their match.
It's probably likely that Kevin Owens defeats Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania 33... So then what? I see that Jericho's Band Fozzy has a tour date of May 5th and a few more dates shortly after that. Fozzy also has an album to possibly drop during 2017. Sadly, as much as we've become used to seeing Jericho and Owens together, it's coming to an end soon.
What a shame, but at the same time, good for Chris Jericho. Taking time off has preserved him for the long-term. Jericho does well outside of the wrestling business and probably doesn't need it... But he loves the business and each of his returns are like a much needed shot in the arm. WWE needs him because he's a veteran who knows how to talk, knows how to walk, and knows how to evolve as a wrestler. He doesn't need handholding by the Creative Team to accomplish anything. Creative just tells him a general direction and Jericho can naturally get there. With the WWE controlling every move of their wrestlers now, we're losing that natural ability among wrestlers. Everybody is robotic on personality and dependent on a script by WWE Creative to determine their fates. Jericho is one of the last of a dying breed although he has taught Kevin Owens well. WWE Creative needs to just give wrestlers general directions, not scripts, and let them naturally complete objections of storylines. It's the glaring weakness of the WWE to disallow wrestlers to get naturally over and attempt to force things instead.
In the end, THANK YOU Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens for your storyline. By far, the best thing to happen on RAW since the Brand Split. Being honest here, without both of you talking down babyfaces or announcers, I don't know what I'll enjoy on RAW. I'll probably enjoy their Wrestlemania 33 build-up, but be sad once that is over...
Chris Jericho's career has been amazing and again, he didn't have the full backing of Creative Teams. WCW didn't appreciate him, as they kept pushing veterans and didn't allow for any youth to be elevated. WCW let him join the WWE during 1999. Jericho did great there during the latter years of the "Attitude Era" but the shadows of Steve Austin, the Rock, Undertaker, and Triple H, all-time greats, were always massive to overcome. Then, the "Class of 2002" was injected into the WWE and Jericho now had newer superstars to contend with like Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Randy Orton. Jericho took some time off after his Cena feud and then returned during the late 2000s and we've enjoyed him ever since despite some periods of time off to be a musician. From 1996 to 2017 from the time he debuted in WCW to now in WWE, that's 2 solid decades of entertainment and Jericho remaining relevant. That's not just longevity but legitimate talent on display. Jericho is an all time great.
I'm sad about the passing of George "The Animal" Steele and Ivan Koloff... It's crazy to talk about wrestlers dying of old age rather than the death headlines normally associated with wrestling. I don't have too many memories of Koloff, as much of his career occurred before I began watching wrestling. However, I find it quite remarkable that he was the guy to defeat Bruno Sammartino and end the 7+ year reign during 1971.
I do remember the character of George "The Animal" Steele, though... Watch the early Wrestlemanias and you'll see him... The legend of the Animal is probably more known to me than the actual wrestler. He'd eat turnbuckles... What more is there to say? He had a pretty big role in the growth of the "Macho Man" Randy Savage character as Steele had a problem with the way Savage treated his valet Miss Elizabeth.
Pretty cool to see many tributes on both as you can see the long-term impact that both had on many fans' lives.
Your questions, my answers...
Explain your stance on Apollo Crews. In your recent column, you said that he could become the next big superstar.
Simple word: POTENTIAL. Never said that WWE should instantly push him now... When I listed guys like Big E, Jason Jordan, and Apollo, those were guys you could begin grooming. I have years upon years of being critical of the WWE for pushing wrestlers too strongly. Additionally with Apollo Crews, I've been critical of him in big spots. When he's not working spotfest matches, he struggles... Remember when y'all hammered me for hating on his NXT Takeover match with Baron Corbin? You guys were all over me and I even had other columnists attacking me for my comments on that.
But what I see is a guy with absurd athletic talent and a great look... When I went to a Smackdown houseshow during the Fall of 2016, kids loved the guy. They were all rushing to the barrier just to meet him whereas they only did that in high volumes for John Cena during that same night. Great athlete, great look, and kids love him... WWE just needs to work with him to get his natural personality out in the open, work on the mic skills, and improve in-ring psychology. I've been pretty consistent on that assessment for a while.
Again, I'm talking about POTENTIAL, not push the guy to the top without any proper build-up. What, am I member of the WWE Creative Team?
Why do you keep insisting that Television Ratings matter?
Because they do. During 2016, 33% of WWE's revenues arrived from television. Some might think that 1/3 of revenues is small, but that's a big chunk of revenue that keeps the WWE profitable. Furthermore, RAW and Smackdown are advertisements for WWE Network, Pay Per View, and Live Events. As much as we talk about Social Media and the Internet, the WWE's most loyal fans are in their 30s and 40s. They are still watching television and still subscribe to Cable/Satellite. Furthermore, they are parents of younger wrestling fans. USA Network airs in 96 million homes and WWE wouldn't try to cross-promote on ESPN if they didn't need TV.
When the WWE averages around 4 million during early 2015 and now averages around 3 million during early 2017, it worries me... Not for right now, but maybe in 2-3 years when the WWE's contract with Comcast/NBC/Universal is up. They pay the WWE between $150 million to $200 million annually and that's revenue that you cannot replace. As you saw from their last round of negotiations during 2014, there were only 2 networks interested in WWE. USA Network, of course, and AMC who seemed to want to purchase WWE instead of just having the TV rights. In 2-3 years, will those TV deal still exist? If you look at the ratings, USA Network is struggling... They used to do well in the re-run and movie market but streaming services are absolutely killing them. It's no wonder why they gave RAW 3 hours and Smackdown 2 on back-to-back nights in Prime Time.
Truth of the matter is that I worry about how WWE could remain relevant without TV. Cord cutters are a minority and it will take more time for people to realize how badly Cable/Satellite companies are completely screwing them. Anti-trust exempt!
Who should be in the WWE Hall of Fame that hasn't been nominated yet?
Obvious answers: Rock, Triple H, Vince McMahon, Undertaker, Chris Jericho... Chyna should get in, but I could understand the issues of keeping her out due to her post-WWE words and career choices.
Honestly, WWE does a decent enough job getting big names in. I know that Sammartino, Savage, Warrior, and a few others took a while to get in. However, remember that the WWE can send invites but the wrestlers themselves can say "no". Additionally, past heat can make a wrestler a risk with a live microphone.
I just wish there was a physical WWE Hall of Fame and in my opinion, it should be in Stamford, CT. Just build something near the WWE's Corporate Offices so that it can keep costs down and allows for WWE officials or wrestlers to drop in every once and a while. I'd travel to it if it was in Connecticut.
Who is left to join the WWE Creative Team and make it better?
There's an obvious choice who is a current employee of the WWE... Yeah, Paul Heyman, but I believe that Mick Foley would make a great choice to add to the WWE Creative Team. Foley is not just experienced as a wrestler, but he also has experience as a creative writer. Furthermore with Mick Foley, think about his look... At a time when WWE/WCW were hiring guys who had muscles bulging out of their bodies, Foley looked like a normal human being. Because of that, he had to work extra hard to get over and get a little more creative with his characters and promos for attention.
Put Foley on the WWE Creative Team and let Kurt Angle become the new RAW General Manager. Let Foley write conflicts between Stephanie McMahon and Angle, pure gold.
Do you believe that Bray Wyatt can be a major superstar to carry the WWE for years?
When I made my "potential" list, I left out Wyatt... His injury history worries me. Great big man worker. Wyatt has had great matches with just about everyone (aside from Cena and Undertaker), great talker, and now with the dreadlocks, a badass look to him. But again, he HAS to stay healthy.
I'll tell ya, folks... I was REALLY impressed by Luke Harper's work with Randy Orton at WWE Elimination Chamber. And then I've liked Braun Strowman lately, although he still has a few things to learn. Wyatt Family had all 3...
If Bray stays healthy, yeah, why not?
Why do you not review NXT or 205 from the WWE Network?
I casually watch NXT... Usually, I turn it on during late Friday or Saturday nights, especially now with the Brand Split forcing me to watch RAW and Smackdown (I used to only watch RAW). Honestly, no need to review it because I usually write after RAW/Smackdown happens and I'm worn out after that.
As for 205, no thank you. I tried watching 1 episode and it was not for me. I don't like the WWE Cruiserweight Division. Being totally honest here, the Cruiserweight Classic was just OK for me. Had good matches here, but it also had spotfests there that I didn't care for. When you hit 10 finisher like moves in a match and someone doesn't get pinned, it bothers me. I don't like how they've handled their Title situation. As I've said in previous columns, WCW's Cruiserweight Division did well because it had the likes of Dean Malenko, Ultimo Dragon, Rey Mysterio, Psychosis, and even Chris Jericho making it great. You don't have talents like that on 205 now. Simple as that. Reading Scott Keith relaying the Dave Meltzer note that 205 was one of the worst viewed shows on WWE Network, well, justifies that there are more like me dissatisfied with WWE's Cruiserweight Division.
But if you enjoy 205, please don't let me stop you.
SO JUST CHILL... UNTIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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