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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Post Wrestlemania 29/Monday Night RAW Blues - Ziggler, Ryback, & World Titles
By Mr. Tito
Apr 9, 2013 - 10:47:01 PM
The "EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING" has returned... I'm just wondering if the WWE has figured out what could be wrong with their last few Wrestlemanias. Certainly, the Undertaker match has "brought it" for the last 5 shows but the matches for the World Heavyweight Title and WWE Title aren't challenging for "Match of the Year" honors and John Cena Wrestlemania matches have been mostly lackluster. However, the events of Monday Night RAW after Wrestlemania has been more interesting for the World Titles and John Cena than the night before. What's wrong with that business model? Delivering the goods on World Title or John Cena matches for expensive Pay Per View bucks or for FREE the following night on RAW?
Monday Night RAW delivered huge, once again, following Wrestlemania. For one, let's talk about the crowd. For the second straight year, as last year's Miami crowd was red hot for Brock's return, the RAW after Wrestlemania was much hotter than Wrestlemania itself. Why? Stupid outdoor events. It is hilarious to see how BAD some of the stadium views were at Metlife Stadium with those big posts holding up the ring lights. If you had any seat at an angle from the ring, you were screwed! And ticket prices in New York City (New Jersey) are NOT cheap, particularly for Wrestlemania. Obstructing views and NOT delivering on World Title/John Cena matches are going to cause dull crowd reactions.
New York (New Jersey) fans always bring it. They were part of the rabid Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) fanbase that got that Bingo Hall independent promotion attention nationwide during the 1990's and they are also the WWE's homebase. WWE exists because of the New York fans and the WWE has generations of loyal fans ready to have fun at WWE events. They were red hot throughout the night, were able to amuse themselves during dull matches with odd chants ("Randy Savage") and the Wave, and they may have instantly got Fandango over with future arenas. Humming Fandango's theme music is going to spread like "YES!" and might get worse. I was seriously expecting New York (New Jersey) fans to completely shit on the Fandango gimmick but they may have made it a raging success instead. I guarantee that it was music to Vince McMahon's ears and he'll doubledown on the Fandango gimmick for the weeks to come. Wow, just wow...
I stand by my Wrestlemania 29 review and the 5-Star I gave CM Punk vs. Undertaker. Many are giving me the "it was 4 star match, not a 5 star"... I guess WWE fans are conditioned that if the match isn't a no disqualification match or involves a ladder, it's not great. The match featured CM Punk as the aggressor, which backed up his actions during the previous weeks, and the Undertaker willingly took a lot of his offense. In addition, Undertaker almost lost several times to CM Punk and sold being legitimately worn out facing CM Punk as the aggressor. Probably the only match that featured actual in-ring psychology and that's why it was not only "Match of the Night", but possibly the "Match of the Year". I've seen it twice, as Comcast gives you the replay if you actually buy the Pay Per View. Match held up on 2nd viewing. 5 stars, indeed.
If CM Punk is certain to take some time off, the WWE will miss him. Despite the terrible booking thrown at him, such as cooling him down with Triple H/Alberto Del Rio in 2011, the non-Main Event WWE Title reign in 2012, and repeated losses to start 2012, the guy consistently gave the WWE the best in-ring efforts and actually gave adult fans someone to cheer for. With the WWE being high on John Cena because of the PG Era and for houseshow/merchandise dollars, the WWE lost a lot of their adult fanbase. You can see it specifically in the Pay Per View buyrates. However, CM Punk being featured on a few Pay Per Views has boosted numbers because the adult fans root for the guy. WWE has to take into account ALL of their fans and having CM Punk take time off could harm some numbers. Imagine if CM Punk was booked as ridiculously strong as John Cena?
Now... Let's talk WORLD TITLES...
First and foremost, congrats to Dolph Ziggler on his World Heavyweight Title win. Ziggler has been the workrate horse for the past year and has consistently delivered high caliber matches. Goes to show many pro wrestlers out there that if you're patient and work hard, eventually things will look up... Ziggler was once a minor member of the Spirit Squad, overcame a Wellness Policy violation, and what appeared to be endless years in the midcard. Worse yet, he was stuck in Vickie Guerrero's shadow for too long and lost repeatedly for the past year. Now he's champion.
While I'm happy for Dolph, I'm PISSED at the WWE Creative Team which is controlled by EVP of Creative Stephanie McMahon, a bunch of Hollywood writers she hired, and reporting directly to Vince McMahon. The sad thing for Vince McMahon is that he no longer has the Pat Pattersons, Gerald Briscoes, or Jim Cornettes to repeatedly remind him of pro wrestling traditions and respecting World Titles. Seems with their exits from the WWE locker room and increased presence of nepotism over Vince with his own family members taking more and more control, diminished respect for the World Titles continues to occur.
In the past, wrestlers worked their way up before becoming World Champion. To see how well they could act as champion, they'd fight over the Intercontinental Title (or later U.S. Title) before becoming ready to challenge for the WWE Title. For the main event of Wrestlemania, we had John Cena vs. the Rock. The Rock fought over the Intercontinental Title for much of his career between 1996-1998 to prepare him for his first WWE Title run at Survivor Series 1998. John Cena worked his way up on the Smackdown midcard and fought over the U.S. Title during 2002-2005. Then, when it was Cena's time, he won his first WWE Title at Wrestlemania 21. Funny how OVER both guys still are and why they headlined Wrestlemanias 28 and 29.
Where things began to go South was during SummerSlam 2004 when Randy Orton was pushed too quickly for RAW's World Heavyweight Title. Randy Orton was, at best, the 4th most over guy in the 4 person Evolution stable and maybe (as Ric Flair could still go) the 3rd most worthy guy in the group for World Title consideration. He wasn't incredibly over as a heel midcarder and probably benefited most as a member of a heel stable. Yet, the WWE felt that giving Randy Orton the World Heavyweight Title at SummerSlam AND turning him babyface could get him over. World Title first, getting over second... Wait a second, wasn't the formula that worked for YEARS = getting over first and becoming champion second? Of course it was. Randy Orton was a backstage suck-up to Triple H back then and it paid off with a ridiculously early World Title reign. Orton lost the title consequently to Triple H a month later and took years to recover from this instant push.
Then this Money in the Bank invention happened. Instead of working your way up and actually defeating legitimate wrestlers for months leading up to an earned #1 Contendership, it was replaced by a hanging briefcase obtained by a Ladder involving multiple wrestlers. Certainly, the Money in the Bank match is an exciting watch but it waters down the process of becoming #1 contender. Worse yet, the WWE transferred the Hardcore Title's 24/7 rules to when and where the Money in the Bank could be defended. Edge set the standard when he cashed in his briefcase after John Cena wrestled an Elimination Chamber match, Edge took advantage of the champion's situation and cashed in the briefcase to win the WWE Title. Sadly, this would set the standard for years to come and give credence to the "World Title first, Get Over second" theory employed by the McMahons. Little did the McMahons know that Edge was actually over and was made to look strong by Kurt Angle during 2002. Go watch Judgment Day 2002 when Angle puts Edge over strong and lost the "hair vs. hair" match. Angle remains bald, to this day, following that match. Edge was already over and built up to become a Main Eventer when he cashed in the Money in the Bank. Years upon years of hard work and great matches.
This was CONTRARY to future Money in the Bank winners... Many think highly of CM Punk now as a main eventer and former 2-time WWE Champion on the RAW brand. However, CM Punk was hotshotted to the Smackdown World Heavyweight Title twice in back to back years for 2008-2009. With due respect to what CM Punk has become, and he's been awesome since early 2011... Do fans remember those Smackdown title reigns? Jack Swagger was quickly pushed to the World Title with a Money in the Bank victory. Arguably, one of the worst World Champions of all time and it's not the wrestler's fault. He was pushed too early. No demand by fans to see him champion. Nothing wrong with Miz as a midcard title holder but nothing was trending with fans to indicate that he was ready for the Main Event. WWE put him with John Cena for Wrestlemania 27 and couldn't wait to dispose of the Miz from the main event afterward. Daniel Bryan won the Money in the Bank honor and was just crapped on with losses by WWE Creative. One of the most poorly booked World Champions, including the Wrestlemania 28 debacle, and yet it's his own hard work ("YES! YES! YES") that overcomes it. And now, Dolph Ziggler who spent most of the year after winning the Money in the Bank briefcase to losing regularly on WWE programming.
Ziggler's Win/Loss record was not indicative of a #1 Contender since Money in the Bank 2012. Lost repeatedly on RAW and nothing too impressive on his Pay Per View record for the past year. You'll give me his TLC 2012 Ladder Match win against John Cena, but I'll give you the fact that Ziggler's Cena match was canceled at Survivor Series 2012 and Cena owned Ziggler on Monday Night RAWs surrounding TLC. Cena's dominance over Ziggler did not give Ziggler the star rub that Ziggler probably deserved heading into becoming World Champion in a few months. Granted, Cena was trending towards the WWE Title, but nothing from that Cena feud suggests Ziggler was given the perception that he was an equal to John Cena for the Main Event. The rest of the WWE roster had their way with Dolph Ziggler besides Cena. Just go review the RAW results for yourself...
Heck, the night before his World Heavyweight Title win, Dolph Ziggler took the pinfall in a tag match between Ziggler and Big E Langston versus Kane/Daniel Bryan. What, the newcomer Langston couldn't take the pin?
Speaking of questionable Wrestlemania 29 results, what in the hell was up with the Mark Henry vs. Ryback match result if the WWE is serious about pushing Ryback as #1 WWE Title contender against John Cena? Unless the WWE is serious again about pushing Mark Henry on the RAW roster (isn't he a Smackdown wrestler? Continuity anyone?), the finish does not make sense. Wrestlemania 29 should have given us Ryback somewhat squashing Mark Henry in order to add credibility Ryback's challenge of WWE Champion, John Cena, the following night. Instead, Ryback came out following Mark Henry getting a match against John Cena. Seems like it fits, booking wise, but people remember Wrestlemania wins/losses.
These are WORLD TITLES... By definition, even if pro wrestling is known to have staged finishes, the suspended belief of someone being the Champion is what draws for a pro wrestling product. At the end of the day, wrestlers still have to endure Houseshows and Pay Per Views where they have to actually work inside the ring and convince fans that it's a legitimate sporting event. Part of that belief that keeps pro wrestling, even if it's known to be staged, is the credibility of a World Title. Fans still pay good money to see the World Title defended. The formula, no matter how old it appears, still works. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) draws well with huge title fights that appear legitimate, why can't the WWE? After all, UFC is taking the WWE's Pay Per View dollars!
Champions and contenders to championships matter. WWE Creative needs to just review that MASSIVE video library and see how well World Titles drew within the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), American Wrestling Association (AWA), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), World Class Championship Wreslting (WCCW), and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW)... Then, observe how most champions worked their way up and were built up to become champion with GREAT BOOKING years before their destiny was reached. You can't just slap a title on someone and expect them to draw. Poor guys like Sheamus deserve better. GET OVER FIRST and WIN TITLE SECOND, in that order!
Instead of hiring more Hollywood writers and giving them phony titles, hire someone with analytical skills to review the WWE Video Library.
Best of luck to Dolph Ziggler and Ryback. Booking trends for wrestlers not named John Cena or Randy Orton hasn't been favorable.
So just chill til the next episode...
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