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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Praise for Triple H?, More Wrestlemania 33 Thoughts, and RAW/Smackdown Reviews
By Mr. Tito
Apr 6, 2017 - 12:22:49 AM
The LORD OF PAIN has returned to deliver more EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. For months now, many of you have insisted that WWE's YouTube.com channel has been a source of erosions for WWE's live broadcasts of RAW and Smackdown. I, for one, have laughed that off as something insignificant UNTIL I was checking out the YouTube channel as both shows were happening. The WWE actually posts YouTube clips of RAW or Smackdown as the show is still occurring live! Seriously! I was actually caught up on both RAW and Smackdown by the end of the night and nothing on the Hulu replays impressed me. Better yet, I BARELY saw ads on YouTube and I have no ad blockers on my computer. I'd be terrified of the next television deal if I were the WWE...
Anyway... I want to start off today's column with some praise. It's been a good 4 days for current Executive Vice President of Talent, Creative, and Live Events, Triple H. Being honest here, the majority of my criticisms of Triple H have been specifically about the competitive wrestler, specifically during the years of 2002, 2003, and 2011. As a wrestler, he's can be extremely competitive at times and sometimes the ego gets in the way. When he returned during early 2002, I believe that he was on a power trip. He was returning to a strong push and he was sitting in on production/creative meetings as a wrestler before he married Stephanie during 2003. After he politely dropped the WWE title to Hulk Hogan, he tore through many wrestlers not named Shawn Michaels. Kane, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Bill Goldberg, Scott Steiner, and others... Pure dominance by HHH. Then during 2011, he let a few "shoot" comments by CM Punk become personal and HHH went on to bury his "Summer of Punk" momentum.
I believe that those years are getting in the way of the BODY OF WORK that Triple H has given us. Just look at his Wrestlemania put overs... Undertaker 3 times, made Batista into a big star, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins. Furthermore, HHH has been in the WWE for over 20 years... Besides the Undertaker, no one else has been in the WWE for as consistently long as Triple H has been. The part-time Triple H of the 2010s hasn't been dominant even if his RAW authority figure appears a bit excessive at times. Then again, he's often following the bullying lead of his alpha female wife, Stephanie McMahon... As a wrestler, Triple H is more generous than his reputation. In my older years as a wrestling fan, I'm starting to fully realize that. I still don't like what happened with CM Punk, but Vince McMahon had a lot to do with problems handling Punk back then too. False promises and Vince ultimately signs off on creative decisions.
WWE Hall of Fame featured 2 polarizing figures again who returned to the WWE after a decade of being away. Jim Cornette was terminated from the developmental system and he's been openly critical of Vince and Kevin Dunn ever since. Kurt Angle betrayed Vince McMahon during 2006 by escaping his WWE contract due to health reasons only to show up in TNA a month later. He's been residing in TNA ever since. Guys who have burned Vince that badly by bolting to competition in a harsh way have been blacklisted by Vince. See Jeff Jarrett and Lex Luger, for example, who burned Vince in favor of joining a competitor. This follows Triple H convincing Ultimate Warrior and Bruno Sammartino to return to the WWE for the Hall of Fame despite having major nuclear heat with Vince. HHH is bridging the gap to the WWE's past to the present and has smoothed over relationships with various talent who have problems with Vince.
Did you see that crowd for NXT Takeover Orlando? Packed arena for an NXT product that had a depleted roster thanks to last year's RAW/Smackdown Brand Extension... Oh, and about that... HHH has replenished the WWE developmental system with talent to help thicken up the roster, particularly one that has been split into 2. Though he has yet to create his "next John Cena" or "next Brock Lesnar" type of mega drawing main eventer, he has given WWE many upper midcarders who could possibly become that. 5 years ago, Women's wrestling was a joke and Tag Team wrestling was non-existent. While Tag Team wrestling could still improve, the NXT Tag Division has been damn good. Revival is the best new tag team that I've seen in years. The Women's Division... Just wow... Suddenly, it's a major part of BOTH RAW and Smackdown rosters with many women talented enough to perform well in the WWE ring. The best part now is how many former TNA wrestlers are tripping over themselves to join NXT.
The free agent signings, though, has been clutch for Triple H. As much as Jim Ross gets praise for his role as VP of Talent for creating the great Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002", it's his signings of Mick Foley and Steve Austin that were incredibly huge for the WWE. WCW didn't want them but the WWE had roles for them... WWE doesn't catch WCW without those 2 specific wrestlers, especially Austin. For Triple H, his raid of New Japan last year will prove to be a big part of his legacy as the Talent EVP. AJ Styles, Anderson/Gallows, and Shinsuke Nakamura was a huge group of talent to sign at once. Nakamura has helped NXT limp along as RAW/Smackdown raided the rest of the roster. Without him, the NXT brand greatly struggles... AJ Styles helped Smackdown survive without the part-time John Cena on the roster. Furthermore with Styles, he had GREAT matches with everybody on the entire roster including Roman Reigns. On the TNA front, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode and others... Dixie Carter has to be sick to her stomach and I'm sure seeing the Hardy Boys return to the WWE in short order doesn't help as well. WWE will capitalize on Matt Hardy's character development from TNA.
I think WWE will be just fine with Triple H in charge. He has more than proven himself and if one of his NXT wrestlers or free agent signings clicks to become the next big main eventer, there shouldn't be doubt in anyone's mind.
We may have witnessed the last Bill Goldberg match unless the money is right and ditto with the booking. He's 50 years old and doesn't want to perform on a full-time basis. I'm still SHOCKED that Goldberg ate 10 German Suplexes at Wrestlemania 33. That was impressive even if the match was short and he didn't endure many other moves other than the F5.
But I don't understand the utter HATRED for Bill Goldberg by many. You're upset that the Creative Team let him destroy Brock Lesnar and Kevin Owens in short fashion? Well, why don't you blame the Creative Team for those short matches? Goldberg, as far as I know, doesn't have creative power over his character. He returned, actually drew spikes in RAW viewership (300,000+ on some nights), and helped give the WWE a big name star that mainstream media outlets wanted to follow. Goldberg vs. Lesnar drew some legitimate outside interest.
Why should you be mad at Bill Goldberg? If anything, you should be HAPPY that Bill Goldberg at age 50 can appear legitimate in the WWE Universe. Ditto for 52 year old Undertaker, 47 year old Triple H, and hell, the 47 year old backyard wrestling Shane McMahon. Few years ago, a 50+ year old Sting was able to finally join the WWE and wrestle at 2 Pay Per Views in the same year, one of which was at Wrestlemania against Triple H and then wrestling for the WWE World Title later during the year. Aside from a few exceptions, where do you see older fighters existing in Boxing or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)? Often what happens, see Ronda Rousey, is that when a Boxer/MMA fighter takes a bad loss or series of losses, the sport shuns them. Rousey at just 30 years old might be done with UFC due to 2 losses. We may have to see her join WWE just to keep her legend alive! Worked for Brock Lesnar...
You should be PRAISING Bill Goldberg and other older stars that exist in the WWE. Why? Because your FAVORITE wrestler that you enjoy seeing today is going to have LONGEVITY. For example, let's just say that you really like Seth Rollins... He is going to turn 31 years old this year. Well, if you look at the age of his opponent from Wrestlemania 33, that would suggest that Seth Rollins could be a part of the WWE for another 16 years. How about that? AJ Styles is going to turn 40 this year... But again, we could see him for at least 7 more years. Think John Cena is done with the WWE or about to be? He'll turn 40 here shortly as well and he could keep going for another decade if he wants to. If he tries Hollywood for the next 3 years but fails, he still has the ability to still return to WWE and perform at a high level.
That's the beauty of pro wrestling and having scripted athletic competitions. THEY CAN PROTECT THEIR STARS... UFC cannot... Fighters lose, not only do fans lose confidence, but the fighters themselves lose confidence too. It's hard to overcome a real loss. Meanwhile in the WWE, they can make the Undertaker only lose TWICE at Wrestlemania EVER. And again, they can create a myth called Bill Goldberg and draw money with him by carefully booking him to appear strong.
Goldberg, Triple H, and the Undertaker still performing at a high level on Wrestlemania helps ensure you, the fans of younger stars, that you're going to still see your favorites performing when you're older. Believe me, when you get older, you get set in your ways... Why do you think my column is incredibly favorable to John Cena? He presents a comfort zone as a wrestling fan because I've been watching him since 2002. It's harder for me to accept newer wrestlers unless they are extremely impressive.
Why hate on the older guys? Unless they are totally suffocating the younger stars and putting up a real glass ceiling, let it go... Let them remind you that the WWE will keep around your favorites and bring them back at future events in their 40s.
THE RAW SMACKDOWN
It's a shame that the Wrestlemania 33 match-up between John Cena/Nikki Bella vs. Miz/Maryse was sort of a letdown... Miz and Maryse are just hitting their strides with the Cena/Nikki parodies. Miz has been on fire for the past year, but Maryse's character is hysterical. As she opens up, it just helps complete Miz as a competitor and heel. I'm actually starting to think that maybe, just maybe, that Miz/Maryse could work well as a babyface duo. She's smokin', no doubt about that... Anytime you can wear Nikki Bella's outfit and upgrade it, that's saying a lot... WWE could legitimately market her as the next biggest female personality.
That being said, Miz/Maryse were about to end their segment when a guy with a violin comes out and begins to play Shinsuke Nakamura's theme music. THANK GOD. I hate to see the poor NXT brand take another talent hit, but this guy is the real deal. You cannot teach charisma and this guy has loads of it. If the WWE carefully uses him, they could have their first legitimate Main Event Japanese wrestler. I'm so happy to see him.
Speaking of NXT... I did NOT like Revival's debut in WWE. For one, there was ZERO hype for their debut. They just appeared and WWE assumed everybody knows who they are. With 1 million WWE Network subscribers, not every member of the 3 million viewers of USA Networks for RAW knows who Dash & Dawson are. And I don't like them defeating New Day on their first day. You guys remember that New Day broke the Demolition record last year, right? Right? Secondly, WHY are they on RAW? RAW actually has some decent tag teams with the Hardys joining and are now RAW's champions. Smackdown's tag team division is weak and in need of life support. Nobody is getting over and the booking has not propped anyone up.
Cool little segment between Shane McMahon and AJ Styles, possibly planting seeds for a babyface turn of AJ Styles. You just know that Vince McMahon is sooooo happy with AJ Styles now for carefully working with Shane at Wrestlemania 33 and making him look good. It was nice to see the handshake and that just adds to AJ's legacy as a welcome addition to the WWE roster. Vince reportedly had plans for AJ Styles to get squashed at Wrestlemania 32 and be a full time midcarder after that. However, Styles just busts his ass, delivers in every single match, and makes all of his opponents look great.
Happy to see Emma back on television. She was good in the ring, too... She was showing off that aggressive style that she was developing during her 2nd NXT run. To this day, nobody has made Asuka look as good as Emma made her look several times. Good seller, but Emma is tough and isn't afraid of aggressively going at her opponents. Hopefully, everything works out this time.
By the way, Hulu edited the crap out of the opening segment with Roman Reigns. USA Network viewers reportedly saw 13 minutes or so, but I saw maybe 2 minutes. Seriously. He walks to the ring and hears a few non-cursing cheers and then he quickly says "this is my yard now" or whatever, segment done.
Why have Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi on the Smackdown after Wrestlemania 33? Why not at least build it for a week? Alexa will be done for a short while now and that's a shame because she's been a shining star as a NXT call-up.
I can say the same thing about Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose. Why not draw money with it by hyping it a week in advance?
I don't understand why a WWE roster "shake-up" is needed... Vince McMahon is impatient and I believe that both RAW/Smackdown are starting to figure things out. I like the chemistry among the wrestlers, particularly Smackdown. If I were a betting man, I bet that the WWE World Heavyweight Title (Randy Orton) and WWE Universal Title (Brock Lesnar) will switch brands. I still believe that AJ Styles will jump to RAW although his Shane segment suggested he wouldn't. Kevin Owens to Smackdown. I still don't see the need to change up the rosters, Vince. Don't get it.
After that bad match-up at Wrestlemania 33 with the weird in-ring effects, I want nothing to do with another Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton feud. No thanks. Their moment was at Wrestlemania 33 and they gave us a bad match. The Wyatt Family reunion tag match as the Main Event? No wonder we're only at 2.8 million viewers on the Smackdown following Wrestlemania 33.
I'd be very curious at how Braun Strowman works with Brock Lesnar more so than what the Internet Wrestling Community wanted... Finn Balor? What, are you looking for the Spike Dudley slaughtering effect?
See, I just don't get it with Finn Balor. The WWE Network exclusive show, 205 Live, is referencing the maximum weight limit in order to compete for the WWE Cruiserweight Title. Finn Balor is reportedly 190 pounds at 5'11" in height. And he definitely looks it. For months before I began watching NXT, I kept hearing praise about how great Balor was as the NXT Champion and how it "blew the WWE out of the water". That's all I heard from the Internet Wrestling Community... Then, I began watching his matches... Where was this guy that everybody was praising? I just saw a Cruiserweight trying spot after spot without an ounce of psychology. Then, he gets on the mic and he a weak speaking ability on top of his robotic personality. Oh, does he show his "personality" when he paints himself up? Everytime he gets painted up, the match always seems to underwhelm. Maybe you're too focused on the paint job for that day instead of the big match?
I just don't get it, folks, and I suspect there are many more like me. After his 2016 debut, RAW's ratings started to tick downward... WWE just plucked him from NXT and shoved him to the top of the card. What, do you assume that non-NXT viewers will understand who he is? But he looks like a Cruiserweight and performs like one too with excessive spots without psychology. He should be on 205 Live and there's nothing wrong with that. You don't see any other forms of sporting competition letting weight be a knock on their performers. Only in the WWE where it's insulting to not be wrestling for "heavyweight" gold.
Many will suggest that Finn Balor is the same size as say Chris Benoit or Eddie Guerrero. That's actually inaccurate because both Chris and Eddie were actually heavier than Finn. Granted, who knows how they got there, but Chris and Eddie looked tougher. Furthermore, they brought a fighting style that would suggest that they could beat a legitimate Heavyweight. Especially Benoit with his aggressive style. I don't see that with Finn. Not much emotion to sell that he's tough enough to even stare Roman Reigns down along with that smaller 190 pound frame.
I don't get it... Finn Balor would have to do something unique for him to matter to impress me. I've seen enough of him in NXT to not impress and he looks much smaller in a WWE ring within a bigger arena. Hopefully, I'm wrong on him but I've seen enough body of work to have worries.
SMACKDOWN = RAW, both were about the same this week. I felt incredibly underwhelmed by the tag matches that headlined each show.
SO JUST CHILL... 'TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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