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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Orton/Batista saved by Evolution, Lesnar/Undertaker, & Ultimate Warrior thoughts
By Mr. Tito
Apr 16, 2014 - 9:00:14 PM
Hey guys, Mr. Tito here! Hot damn at those Monday Night RAW viewership numbers. Over 5 million last week for the awesome post-Wrestlemania 30 show and now close to it for the second week. That means that last week's RAW created many return customers. Compare that to other 2nd weeks after Wrestlemania and viewership normalized. Not this year.
And yet, who is responsible for it? Last time I checked, John Cena is STILL on the midcard with Bray Wyatt. That means something else within the Main Event program is drawing beyond Cena. For the first time since 2005, the WWE appears to not be as dependent on John Cena as a television draw. Two things have happened... (a) John Cena's fans are older and are bored with his usual routine. I actually felt really bad for Bray Wyatt after Cena's ridiculous promo where he presented Photoshopped pictures of Bray Wyatt as if he was hosting the Conan O'Brien show. Bray tried to be serious with his promo but John Cena followed that with stupidity...
But more importantly, (b) the surrounding talent in the WWE has risen to the occasion. Not only has Daniel Bryan provided the WWE with a legitimate babyface draw, the developmental system has unloaded into the WWE and has thickened the roster with many great wrestlers. For years, that was the problem with the WWE when John Laurinaitis took over the developmental system from Jim Ross in 2002. After Jim Ross's talent was depleted, Laurinaitis's crop of young talent was a bit subpar at first and it made the WWE extremely reliant on John Cena, Batista, and Randy Orton to carry the roster. Then, Laurinaitis figured out his job and replenished the developmental system with great talent that you've seen for the past 2-3 years. Now, Triple H has taken over developmental and just opened a new state-the-art facilty to keep that ball rolling.
But the more things change, the more things stay the same...
Many of you gave me props for predicting that Evolution would reunite... However, it was NOT a prediction. I was advising the WWE on what to do with DEADWEIGHT wrestlers named Randy Orton and Batista, who along with John Cena, comprise that famous developmental system "Class of 2002". Randy Orton's utter failure to draw as WWE Champion (see Survivor Series 2013, LOL) and Batista's failure to matter after his debut has really painted the WWE in a corner. Both guys, no doubt, make millions per year in guaranted WWE money and yet they're not drawing. When I recommended that the WWE reform Evolution, it was more or less suggesting something for Orton/Batista to do with their careers. At least by pairing up with Triple H, they can act as a stable and generate heel heat together.
The thing is that 12 years later, the time is up for the "Class of 2002" developmental system wrestlers, aside from Brock Lesnar. WWE no longer needs to depend on John Cena as much and Batista/Orton are complete busts at the top. Problem with ALL THREE wrestlers is that each of them have BEEN THERE and DONE THAT. Don't believe me? Count the World Title reigns among the 3 wrestlers: John Cena (14), Randy Orton (12), and Batista (6). DO THE MATH... That's 32 title reigns during a 10 year span if you start from 2004 when Randy Orton won his first World Title at SummerSlam 2004. Think about that... Divide 10 years into 32 reigns, you're looking at those 3 wrestlers obtaining 3 different title reigns per year. That's ridiculous.
Fans are FINALLY moving on... Batista and Orton had good years during the late 2000's but their best years have passed. Batista is 45 years old and left the WWE during June 2010 before returning during January 2014. Time has passed on him... For Randy Orton, he's just 34 years old and yet you feel that Orton has been with the WWE forever. WWE has tried and tried to get this guy over with all 12 of his title reigns, even pushing him ahead of the very over Daniel Bryan during 2013. He just doesn't have "it" to be the top drawing guy. History has showed that, although in my opinion, he should have BEAT Triple H at Wrestlemania 25 as a possible career defining moment. Terrible booking there...
Batista and Randy Orton NEED Evolution to stay relevant in the WWE. On their own, especially when pushed strong over Daniel Bryan, they are utter failures. For as much as the WWE is currently paying them (both in the millions), the WWE isn't getting their bang for their buck. At least with John Cena, he can still point to merchandise sales and the attendance at Houseshows that he's on. But like Orton and Batista, John Cena isn't drawing numbers for the WWE. Somehow, it appears, that Daniel Bryan and the loads of new talent introduced are creating interest in the WWE product. So many wrestler wrestlers to enjoy... The Shield, the Wyatt Family, Cesaro, and many more.
One member of the "Class of 2002" that still matters, however, is Brock Lesnar. I don't understand the crying over Lesnar defeating the Undertaker's streak. For one, Undertaker was reportedly FOR Lesnar breaking the streak. No doubt that Taker has some say in the creative direction of his character and the Wrestlemania streak. He chose to lose to Brock Lesnar and the mere fact that it's causing emotion makes the decision THAT much better. Furthermore, Brock Lesnar is a former NCAA Heavyweight Champion, former UFC Heavyweight Champion, and he has BEAT the Undertaker before. Lesnar was a weaker wrestler during 2002-2004 while Undertaker was entering his prime years. Now, Lesnar is dangerous from his MMA experience and Undertaker is 49 years old. How does that NOT make sense to have Lesnar win the match?
What the WWE marks are missing is that Lesnar is now made into a HUGE monster for someone to defeat. By overcoming the streak, the mystical power has transferred from Undertaker to Lesnar. Now, if someone beats Brock Lesnar in a match, say at Wrestlemania 31, they not only have the credibility of defeating a former UFC and WWE Champion, but also the guy who ended the Undertaker's streak. Seriously... That is major bragging rights for anyone who defeats Brock Lesnar from here on out.
Want my prediction for Wrestlemania 31? I predict that Roman Reigns will defeat Brock Lesnar. I'm calling it now...
WWE is very bullish on Roman Reigns right now and I believe that the year-long build is ON for him. We'll at first see him participate in the Shield vs. Evolution feud. Then, Ambrose and Rollins will turn on him and he'll feud with them for a while. Then, he wins Royal Rumble 2014 just as Brock Lesnar obtains the WWE Title (possibly at Rumble). Lesnar vs. Reigns will be hyped and Lesnar will gladly do the honors of putting Reigns over. Not just because Lesnar is getting paid $5 million per year, but for the fact that Roman Reigns is related to the Rock and Lesnar is grateful to the Rock for putting Brock over at SummerSlam 2002. It just seems like it's written in stone...
Meanwhile, the Divas Division has a bright new star with Paige and will probably have another huge star once Emma gets the hell out of the stupidity known as the Santino vs. Fandango feud. LOL @ WWE replacing Summer Rae with Layla for Fandango's dancer. Looks completely out of place and Layla, despite looking like pure dynamite in terms of looks, has been a complete dud for whatever the WWE has tried with her. Remember that awesome 4+ month Divas Title reign during 2012 that nobody remembers? I guess Lay Cool was OK, but on her own, Layla has been "meh". Summer Rae was much more charismatic as Fandango's dance partner and just fit well. Layla just seems thrown in...
Getting back to Paige... Not sure if it was JBL on his own or Vince/Triple H on the headphones backstage but FINGER OF SHAME pointed to JBL and the WWE for mocking Paige's pale skin. JBL repeatedly mocked her and recommended that she get a tan. What on earth does that do for a new wrestler? Sure, JBL is the heel commentator, but draw the line on something so ridiculously judgmental. Paige is very beautiful and at age 21, she has a great career ahead of her. No need for those personal attacks even if you think you're saying it in character. Words stick...
I have to admit... The Wyatt Family is growing on me. I liked Bray's promo on RAW before John Cena came out and became idiotic. There's talent there. As I've always said with developmental wrestlers... TAKE YOUR TIME in developing them. Not everyone is a "freak of nature" like Brock Lesnar and get over in a few short months after debuting with the WWE. The formula getting over in the midcard FIRST and then pushed to the main event next has always worked. Don't believe me? Spend some time watching that WWE Network, please.
Wow, I didn't know that there were so many Ultimate Warrior fans. I'm shocked... I never knew such a fan outpour existed for the guy nor did I expect many WWE personnel to actually care about the guy. Oh wait... Before the Warrior died, many fans thought he was a lunatic (even mocked about everything he said at the Hall of Fame speech) and many within the WWE have been bashing the Warrior for years. Before Triple H reportedly worked on getting Warrior back into the WWE 18 months ago, WWE wanted nothing to do with the Warrior. In fact, they kept their distance as Warrior was making rants about the wrestling industry on his own YouTube channel or Twitter account. Then, you have the Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD in which Vince McMahon, Triple H, and Hulk Hogan were all giddy to bash the Warrior for his past.
But like Michael Jackson in death, the Ultimate Warrior is acceptable to like again by wrestling fans. Without him being alive to act strange, in their eyes, you can just remember his peak WWE days and forget about everything else. Ditto with Michael Jackson... The second Jackson died, everybody started listening to his music again and radio stations were glad to play it. Where were you as fans of both guys when maybe BOTH guys were crying for help? Some people act crazy for a reason and it's not just for attention...
So go ahead and jump on that Ultimate Warrior bandwagon... Use that as a lesson for any wrestler that you've deemed to be a lunatic or a problem outside of the wrestling business. Instead of bashing them, why not reach out to those wrestlers and see what's wrong? In many ways, the WWE is doing it correctly with the Wellness Program's rehab offering to any former WWE wrestlers. Instead of ignoring past employees, the WWE is actually subsidizing rehab services to help wrestlers get clean. With Warrior, instead of trying to figure out why he might be "crazy", the WWE just openly mocked him. That DVD was pure bullshit and possibly the most unfair thing that the WWE has ever done to bury a former employee.
At the end of the day, the WWE did attempt to make nice with the Warrior and inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame. I'm sad to see him go, but you have to wonder if the relations between Warrior and the WWE would remain strong after the Hall of Fame induction. We'll never know... But the Warrior went out on a high note by being inducted into the Hall of Fame, appearing at Wrestlemania 30, and appearing on RAW, the latter 2 events last happened during 1996.
For me, I was mostly a Warrior fan even in his post-wrestling years. You can dig through my archives and you'll see many columns written about the guy. Many of you called me CRAZY when I named his SummerSlam 1988 Intercontinental Title win as the #1 moment in SummerSlam history. I've been a big defender in how the WWE botched his 1990 WWE Title reign by feeding him midcarders after Wrestlemania 6 instead of feuding immediately against a real main eventer like "Macho Man" Randy Savage. The guy was my childhood favorite WWF wrestler during 1989 with Sting being my WCW favorite. Must be the facepaint. I had the Ultimate Warrior "Wrestling Buddy" back in the day.
He was very outspoken and unafraid to say anything. But that doesn't make him weird. As you saw at the Hall of Fame, he had a loving family who are going to miss him dearly. Furthermore, he hasn't been in the wrestling business since late 1998. He didn't need pro wrestling to succeed in life. Many other wrestlers have to crawl back to the industry, even when they've had bad relations when leaving it. Guys like Warrior or even Bruno Sammartino don't need the WWE to survive. Both guys had the WWE begging them to come back to participate.
Nothing wrong with being sad about the Warrior's passing... But to suddenly give major praise to a guy just because he died is just a little late. At least with the Warrior, the WWE was able to give the guy a lasting tribute...
It wasn't that way with "Macho Man" Randy Savage. After his WCW contract expired during the early 2000's, WWE never brought the guy back until the very end when Savage did some merchandise and WWE.com stuff. WWE made the bad assumption that Savage would exist forever but an untimely death proved otherwise. Now, the WWE can never celebrate the career of the Macho Man because petty issues over money and Hulk Hogan's WWE employment got in the way. And no, it wasn't because of something else... Those were the reasons.
SO JUST CHILL... 'TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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