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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - No Thanks to WWE "Superstar Shake-Up", What SHOULD Happen, and More
By Mr. Tito
Apr 10, 2017 - 1:16:58 AM
Mr. Tito back at you exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. Everybody is talking about "SUPERSTAR SHAKE-UP" this, "SUPERSTAR SHAKE-UP" that... Blah blah blah blah blah. Don't care because in my opinion, both the RAW and Smackdown rosters should have more room to breathe. Sure, there might be a few wrestlers who have worn out their welcome, but to re-shuffle the deck less than 1 year AFTER the RAW/Smackdown DRAFT to split the rosters... Sounds like something is up or that WWE management is worried, particularly about Monday Night RAW's viewership. That's why I believe that a big move is coming.
Want my opinion? Simply move Dean Ambrose to RAW to reunite the Shield while moving Sheamus/Cesaro to Smackdown. Done. End of story... Everybody WINS with that simple trade. Sheamus and Cesaro can have a fresher brand and creative team to spread their wings while the Shield can greatly help out ALL 3 wrestlers of the Shield. Roman Reigns just spent BOTH Wrestlemania 33 and the RAW afterward getting booed HARD. However, it's not just Reigns... I was listening to the post-WM 33 Steve Austin Podcast and he reiterated the character confusion over Seth Rollins character. Going back to mid-2014, he sold his soul to the devel and because during 2016 that Triple H "screwed" him, it doesn't negate what Rollins did between 2014-2016. There is NO defining babyface moment... Austin would later discuss how the greatest wrestlers had their own identity and it was easy for fans to comprehend. With Dean Ambrose, his win/loss record eroded him between 2014-2016 and he seems lost in the post-AJ Styles world.
HOWEVER - I suspect that the REAL MOVES will be Seth Rollins to Smackdown in exchange for AJ Styles to RAW. This past week's episode of Smackdown seemed weird with AJ wanting to remain on Smackdown and flirting with becoming a babyface... Rumor has it that Charlotte goes to Smackdown (worn out her welcome on RAW) while Alexa Bliss goes to RAW. I really disagree with that move...
Here's my problem with the "Superstar Shake-up"... The RAW and Smackdown brand split has been an unorganized hot mess from Day 1. For example, just look at all of the moves during the past few months. How does the NXT call-up process work? Samoa Joe, Revival, Nakamura, Perfect 10, and others have just appeared on either RAW or Smackdown. Nothing announced in advance, no "Rookie Draft" like the NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL have, or any video vignettes to hype their debuts. Nothing, absolutely nothing. There's nothing clear cut that describes how Free Agency works between RAW and Smackdown for any wrestlers. Wouldn't the psychology be that the WWE Corporation has a budget for each brand? And in some goofy cases, how does a RAW contract "expire" to allow wrestlers to appear on Smackdown?
And then on the night after Wrestlemania 33, the Board Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon just randomly announces a "Superstar Shake-up" out of no where. In fact, there are early reports that Vince actually improvised that line without much notice backstage among the Creative Team or Production Meetings. There were talks of moving wrestlers between brands, but nothing set in stone. Apparently, we'll see wrestler movement this week on RAW/Smackdown.
WWE tries to pride itself in being "entertainment" yet we just witness a Wrestlemania that had 2 World Titles, 2 Women's Title, RAW Tag Titles, Cruiserweight Title, US Title, and Intercontinental Title all defended in one night. You know, like an athletic competition between 2 persons portraying actual fighters. Sounds like sports presentation to me...
So why not treat your promotion like a sport?
(a) Both RAW and Smackdown have SALARY CAPS in place with clearly defined budgets and Vince McMahon enforces that nobody goes over budget.
(b) If RAW or Smackdown sign any Free Agents that put them over the Salary Cap, they must "release" wrestlers to get back under budget. Those "released" wrestlers could join the other brand and it could be sold that those wrestlers signed for real cheap and are there to prove themselves. See how well it worked for undrafted Heath Slater, for example?
(c) Annual "Rookie" Draft held. Any NXT wrestlers who are ready to be called up are part of this draft. Both RAW and Smackdown can actually trade their draft picks for active wrestlers, much like NFL or NBA teams often do.
(d) Wrestler contracts that "expire" can cause a bidding war between both brands. Again, the highest bidder will cause them bump up close to the Salary Cap and cause them to possibly "release" wrestlers to get back under the Cap.
So easy... As opposed to the randomness of Free Agents just appearing on either brand without hype and the ratings ploy for this "Superstar Shake-up".
And let's not mince words here. This "Superstar Shake-up" is being done to SAVE Monday Night RAW. WWE just spent the last few months pushing big name veterans like Bill Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, and the Undertaker to keep the ratings just above 3.0 million because their top stars like Seth Rollins/Roman Reigns/Kevin Owens had ratings below 3.0 million when those guys weren't lurking around. Seriously, the freakin' Undertaker appears on Smackdown to call it "home" but yet he follows that by appearing on RAW often. It's a FACT that RAW was averaging around 4.0 million during early 2015 and we're barely hanging on at just above 3 million right now during Wrestlemania season. Reportedly, WWE signed a 5 year deal during mid-2015 with Comcast/NBC/Universal which nets them between $150 to $200 million per year. Expectations with Television Deals is that they should go up each time... But if WWE RAW has lost over 1 million viewers since the 2014 deal was signed, what kind of bargaining power does the WWE have with cash-strapped Cable Channels?
I believe that if you #ReuniteTheShield and have them square off against a Triple H created stable called the "4 Horsemen" with Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, & the Revival... Things could be OK. Instead, I believe that AJ Styles goes to RAW to "save" the day because as you just witnessed at Wrestlemania 33, AJ Styles can make any human being in that ring look great.
Storytime... I actually met 3 WWE Hall of Fame members on Saturday: Sting, Booker T, and Kurt Angle. Oh, and Dante Hicks, Adam West, C3PO, Lando, and Mena Suvani. I went to a Comic Con just east of Pittsburgh called "Steel City Con". First time that I ever went to one of those... Holy cow, that was interesting... Everyone in costume, aisles upon aisles full vendors selling merchandise, and people showing their appreciation for their heroes. For me, I was there because of my brother who is the biggest Sting fan and we got a picture with him... It was awesome.
After we took a picture with Sting, I told him "your Clash of the Champions 1 match made me a wrestling fan". He just smiled and gave me a thumbs up. Because that's a fact. I was aware of pro wrestling, notably for how popular the WWF was becoming with Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant on top. However, I watched casually at best back then... During late 1988 (October, I believe), my uncle showed me and my brother a VHS tape of Clash of the Champions 1. It was interesting and then I saw the Sting vs. Ric Flair 45 minute draw match. There I was, at the young age of 8 years old, completely believing that Sting could defeat the NWA/WCW World Champion and I was screaming at the television screen for Ric Flair to submit to the Scorpion Death Lock. That HOOKED ME... Soon thereafter, I was inhaling everything WWF and NWA/WCW.
I've had the distinct honor of telling BOTH Sting (2017) and Ric Flair to their faces that what they did at Clash of the Champions 1 inspired me to watch more of what they do. I went to an autograph signing of Flair's during 2003 and said the same thing. He smiled briefly and just kept signing.
It was interesting to see Sting, Booker T, and Kurt Angle interact with fans. Sting was mostly silent, possibly being in his Crow character, and he was moving people along quickly through his lines to sign an autograph or to take photos. His lines were absurdly large! WCW fans are loyal but I think many Comic Book fans appreciate him because he's dressed after The Crow comic. Sting, however, would listen to his fans and took all of the photos they wanted. Booker T was a lot more hands on with his fans and embraced everyone physically as they came up. He was a real treat for fans and he actually appeared in person just like you see him on television. Kurt Angle sat down for his signing, but he had a chair nearby for anyone to sit down to talk to him. He usually chatted with each person wanting an autograph for a while which I can imagine was a real treat for fans.
Comic Cons, I can imagine, are nice outlets for wrestlers to attend as celebrity guests. They are reaching a wider audience that way based on what Sting was charging, especially, it's a nice payday. And that's good because when you don't have it any more physically, it's a nice living and you get to hear your adoring fans remind you of your greatness. Sting helped cause me to watch an excessive amount of wrestling programming for almost 30 years now. By his actions as a performer, he convince me to spend time and money to support the business. Who knows? I might not be writing this column, at this very moment, without that Clash of the Champions 1 match between Flair and Sting.
Been a while since I cleared my Inbox out... My poor email is getting pounded right now as my numbers are up and Wrestlemania season always increases the excitement over wrestling.
Can Matt Hardy bring his "Broken" gimmick to the WWE?
Depends. Specifically, it depends on what his TNA Contract said and who might have trademarked the "Broken" stuff. As far as I can see, Matt Hardy owns the "Broken" trademarks...
HOWEVER - And I can speak from experience here. As I log into my computer at work, before I can see my Desktop, there is a disclaimer that pops up that I must click through. Basically, it's a statement that I agree that anything created on this computer is 100% owned by my employer. Let's just say that I innovate a new ratio that measures something an Income Statement as it relates to the any line item of the Balance Sheet. Something like that... Because I created it on company time on company resources, they have a right to claim it. If I tried to take that formula elsewhere or tried to publish it, they could claim a financial piece of that. Done on company time and on company resources.
That's where I believe the "Broken" gimmick has issues possibly appearing in the WWE. Sure, it was Matt Hardy's creation, but he came up with the gimmick on TNA's company time, acted out the gimmick on TNA's cameras, and the character existed and thrived on TNA's shows. If you think that I'm crazy, consider this... When the Ultimate Warrior went to WCW during 1998, there were specific actions that he couldn't do as threatened by WWE's lawyers. Remember, WWE and WCW were still in the midst of their 1996 lawsuit where WWE sued WCW for presenting Scott Hall and Kevin Nash as invaders from the WWE. That's why Warrior had the ridiculous entrance where the ring would fill with smoke and he'd magically appear in the ring.
That's the issue of conflict between WWE and TNA over the "Broken" gimmick, if it really comes to a head. TNA's new owners, Anthem, have already tried to stop Hardy from using the gimmick in other places after TNA. As you may notice from post-TNA interviews with Matt Hardy, he's in full character for each one as he's probably trying to retain that character by suggesting that he is that character in real life. It's almost to the extreme of the Ultimate Warrior getting his name changed to "Warrior" just to challenge the WWE's trademark of "Ultimate Warrior".
We'll see what happens... I bet one of 2 things happens... WWE will create their own version of the "Broken" character for Matt Hardy or Anthem & WWE will settle on some financial terms to allow it to be used in the WWE. After all, Anthem has the TNA footage and that's valuable to them if the Hardys keep exploding as returning WWE talents.
Do you expect any WWE games on the Nintendo Switch?
No... And I don't care how well the Nintendo Switch does. After the mainstream success of the Wii to put a motion controlled bowling game into every living room, school, and nursing home... Nintendo is now the #2 console of video game players. Most either have the Playstation 4 or the X-Box One for their major Third Party fixes (Call of Duty, Madden, Fifa, RockStar Games, Ubisoft, etc.), but often have a second system to play games that aren't available. Nintendo, for example, has many 1st Party games that you'll never find anywhere else (Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, etc.).
Playstation and Xbox are the systems where big Third Party franchises are played, period... If you'll recall, the Wii had multiple Third Party games that sold poorly and that's what killed the Wii U's library of no significant Third Party titles beyond the initial launch. Even with early sales numbers looking good for the Switch, there are several Third Party companies that are still hesitant to invest in console games for Nintendo. After all, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a first party title and ditto with Mario Kart 8: Deluxe coming out later this month.
I wouldn't if I were WWE or 2K Games... UNLESS it's something totally unique that would sell specifically to Nintendo gamers. You could think something like a Nintendo/WWE crossover game, maybe like Super Mario Wrestling where top names appear. If Nintendo were to use the AKI Engine (same one used in the N64 THQ games), I'm totally on board. That's a pipe dream, however... Maybe if 2K Games would make something cool like WWE: Day of Reckoning that is unique, but highly unlikely.
The gaming network that I'd be focused on, if I were WWE, is Mobile. Those Apps just print money and development costs are much less than a full blown video game. I still believe there is huge money in an RPG like game on mobile for the WWE.
Why did you like Seth Rollins vs. Triple H so much from Wrestlemania 33?
Because it had actual psychology in it... They told the story of Seth Rollins possibly coming back from knee surgery too early and Triple H was focused on that limb. Rollins then had to sell it... Simple as that. Many of you were SHOCKED that I liked it, but my stance is that everyone else hated it because it was feeding them "vegetables" after being fed "sugar" for most of the night. Look at the matches that occurred before Triple H vs. Seth Rollins... Spots everywhere! Everybody was doing dangerous spots, high flying moves, and for the most part, not actually wrestling. Here in HHH vs. Rollins, HHH actually attacked the knee and worked on it for long periods of time... Apparently, they needed to jump through ladders or go through tables to spark some excitement (which the ending did).
Being honest, however... I did not like the 2nd viewing of HHH vs. Rollins as much as my first viewing. I didn't notice the match length being excessive during the first viewing as I wrote my column but damn the match felt long on the 2nd viewing. But overall, I still liked it... Again, actual psychology at an event where everybody else was living dangerously.
Will the WWE purchase Ring of Honor? Why is ROH up for sale?
First of all, I believe this is mostly a move conducted by Sinclair Broadcasting attempting to move on from the pro wrestling business and getting leaner. With the younger generations threatening to watch fewer traditional network channels that have commercials, Sinclair has to think about their revenues and their expenses. Furthermore, Sinclair is probably well aware of WWE's programming losing viewers. They don't get to become a multi-billion company for nothing. Sinclair bought Ring of Honor but didn't quite pour money into it as expected. However, Sinclair expected wrestling fans to flock to their ROH shows despite most syndicated shows airing late at night. Mine is on very late night during Sundays, for example.
Obviously, Sinclair knows that another publicly traded corporation would want their TAPE LIBRARY. Not their wrestlers or retaining the promotion, but WWE wants footage of the many former Ring of Honor wrestlers that they've acquired. That's it... WWE can't spread themselves thin by operating another promotion unless WWE retains Ring of Honor and just makes small cash investments to keep the promotion afloat. Highly doubtful given the many talents who have left ROH recently for WWE.
Therefore, I believe that Sinclair just wants to get leaner and WWE wants the video library.
What potentially happened to the Smackdown announcing team?
I don't know... In my view, I found it entirely odd that Tom Phillips was added as the 4th man a while back for Smackdown. Whatever was going on with Mauro Ranallo, internally or with fellow employees, has been happening for a while now. For example, why doesn't RAW have a 4th person at their table? It's a 3 hour show and might need to give Michael Cole a break. Nope, only Smackdown has Tom Phillips chiming in here and there. I believe that he was placed on television "just in case".
I honestly don't know all of the facts as to what happened backstage, but given the presence of Tom Phillips as the 4th Smackdown announcer, I believe that this issue has been circulating among the Smackdown announcing team for a while. Most are blaming a fellow announcer, but I'd rather let the facts come out before assessing blame.
Who should get into the WWE Hall of Fame who isn't already in?
Obviously, Triple H/Rock/Undertaker/Cena/Orton/Lesnar/Batista/Goldberg/Vince McMahon...
But I feel that Demolition needs to get in. Most consider them a Road Warriors ripoff, but I believe that they became something more. Sorry, but Hawk & Animal didn't get over in the WWE like Demolition did. They were a great tag team with a great attitude that connected well with fans. The British Bulldogs and/or Davey Boy Smith should get in while I'm on tag teams. Dudley Boyz, too... They are the most accomplished tag team ever.
2 women need to get in badly, though, and they are 2 of the most iconic ones that the WWE has ever had. Sable and Miss Elizabeth. As a favor to Brock Lesnar, Sable should get in but she was damn good during 1997-1998. Miss Elizabeth, however, opened the door for every female personality. Chyna should get in but I can understand why she won't.
Sean Waltman (X-Pac, 1-2-3 Kid, Syxx) deserves to get in... He was very important as a performer but awesome as a member of DX.
With the way AJ Styles is wrestling, that guy should get in too... Damn he's good!
SO JUST CHILL... 'TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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