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Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - RAW Viewership Under 3 Million and WWE Paying Talent to Praise Roman Reigns?
By Mr. Tito
Sep 15, 2017 - 11:56:59 PM

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Welcome back to the columnist who delivers a Red Wedding like experience in every column and it's exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com... I always send my regards...

I'm pretty sure that I said "wait until after SummerSlam 2017"...

Yeah. 2 weeks UNDER 3 million.

Here's the deal, folks... WWE is burning through all of their last drawing matches at a fast pace. On Smackdown, everybody has already fought each other several times and there's nothing unique. Oh wait, except for Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens. That's right, another time that a TRAINED wrestler has to sell for a NON-WRESTLER in his 40s. For a Hell in a Cell match, no less... If Shane doesn't fall off the side of that cage, it's a failure. To hype this match, 70+ year old Vince McMahon allows himself to get attacked viciously and gets bloody in this PG era. Pretty sad when it takes the CEO/President of the company getting his ASS KICKED just to some heat... And will this help Owens in the long-run? Will he be booked as the #1 guy of Smackdown? Pretty big deal when you attack Vince McMahon.

But getting back on topic here at "burning through all of the top matches quickly". The 9/11 Monday Night RAW actually had John Cena vs. Braun Strowman on it! Cena vs. Strowman! Holy cow! That could have potentially been the co-main event match along with the Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman written in stone match for Wrestlemania 34... And it was given away for a random edition of RAW with ZERO hype ahead of time! Starts to put Steve Austin's 2002 walk out in perspective when WWE randomly booked him to lose against Brock Lesnar on a televised RAW.

In fact, consider these matches just for the month of September:

- John Cena vs. Braun Strowman (RAW 9/11)
- John Cena vs. Roman Reigns (No Mercy 2017)
- Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman (No Mercy 2017)

So after the month of September, what unique matches are left? Certainly not Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar as we saw that already at Wrestlemania 31 and we saw them combating again at SummerSlam 2017 in the Fatal 4 Way. Undertaker vs. John Cena... Have you seen the last few Undertaker matches? You do realize that he's having hip replacement surgery, right? Did Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan improve their workrate after their hip surgeries? Sorry bro, they got worse. Doctors don't perform that surgery so that pro wrestlers can return to the ring and continue taking bumps.

2 straight weeks of being "under" 3 million and we're heading into a No Mercy 2017 Pay Per View with TWO huge match-ups that should be on Wrestlemania 34.

Yikes.

Once the Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman match is over and done with at No Mercy 2017, Brock Lesnar's usefulness is virtually gone. Who could he wrestle on THAT roster that he hasn't already or someone he could draw? I'd personally like to see Brock Lesnar wrestle AJ Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura, but I don't think that would draw like matches with Bill Goldberg, Braun Strowman, and Samoa Joe which fit the WWE template better for "larger than life" match-ups.

I believe that wrestling fans are seeing the the finality of Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman at No Mercy 2017 and are starting to tune off. Why? I believe they know what the future is and that's Roman Reigns MEGA PUSH # 1263612646636.

It seriously feels like 1998 WCW Nitro again where the promotion overpushes 1 guy while burning through great match-ups nightly as regular matches. I've seen several interviews with former WCW wrestler turned road agent for WCW/WWE Arn Anderson say the same thing. WCW burned through many great match-ups on WCW Nitro to remain on top during 1997 and then to regain ground against WWE during 1998. Meanwhile with WCW, they had many up & comers on the roster that got ignored. You may know them from seeing them on the WWE product during later years (Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Big Show, Chris Jericho, Booker T).

Don't forget what happened to WCW Nitro... viewership kept dropping and then AOL/Time Warner executives had enough.

WWE has a television deal up during 2019. Sure, they could get another television deal, but will it be substantially higher than the one signed during 2014? REMEMBER - Vince McMahon promised shareholders that he'd "triple" his previous television deal during 2014. His deal during 2014, after failing to shop around RAW to any interested channels, made him barely get double the amount of the previous year. The result? The WWE stock TANKED during 2014 from being close to $30 per share to under $15 per share again.

I believe that after September once the WWE can no longer draw full strength with Cena vs. Strowman, Reigns vs. Cena, and Lesnar vs. Strowman... We're there. "Under 3 million" permanently.

Or everyone will just watch RAW/Smackdown clips on YouTube.com and remain a $9.99 payer for the WWE Network, which remains a good deal.

Take your pick, but I'm afraid that WWE's drawing power from BIG MATCHES is over once No Mercy 2017 is over.

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By the way, NFL Monday Night Football viewership was DOWN, so you can't use that excuse.

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WWE PAYOLA

During the late 1950s, there was a controversy among several radio disc jockeys where record companies would pay them to not just play their music, but play it often. In other words, record companies would pretty much bribe radio hosts to help them sell their artists. Radio DJs Alan Freed and even Dick Clark were caught getting paid by record companies to play particular artists. This came at a time when radio was the primary medium for music and this if that was impaired by bribery, it didn't create a fair playing field for music artists or other record companies.

Whereas radio disc jockeys of the late 1950s were getting in trouble to "pay to play" music, WWE personnel are are under the policy of "pay to say". In other words, if you cash in those WWE paychecks, you better toe the company line or else your opportunities to make money in the wrestling business is quite limited... Especially if you're an ex-wrestler or non-wrestler.

I love Jim Ross. As a wrestling fan, I have no problems saying that. What he's contributed to pro wrestling possibly exceeds almost everyone outside of Vince McMahon. Even then, as Jim Ross's role as VP of Talent Relations legitimately "saved" the WWE during the 1990s. Ross signed Steve Austin and Mick Foley when McMahon wanted no part of either guy while Ross kept stocking the WWE with new wrestlers via his developmental systems. It's no coincidence that WWE's depth of talent has reduced since Jim Ross stepped down from his VP of talent relations role during 2004. I also enjoyed Ross as an announcer, first from WCW and then later when he joined WWE. I very much anticipate purchasing his book when it comes out soon.

THAT SAID... He's a WWE employee now. As a regular listener of Jim Ross Podcast, "The Ross Report", I've noticed a change in tone with respect to his analysis of WWE happenings. Particularly Roman Reigns. If you listened to Jim Ross during 2015-2016, he was quite critical of Roman's in-ring work and his psychology especially. He was on Reigns weekly that he needed to greatly improve if he were to sustain himself as a WWE main eventer. Ross also speaks how wrestlers need to have intangibles or the "it" factor to become great. He was always worried that Reigns lacked "it".

However, fast forward to 2017, particularly following Wrestlemania 34 around the time he signed his WWE deal... Suddenly, there's praise of Roman Reigns by Jim Ross. Did Roman suddenly become a great in-ring wrestler or improve on his psychology? NO... Did you see that awful Undertaker match? You can attempt to chalk up those Braun Strowman matches, but Strowman has GOOD matches with the freakin' Big Show. Mind you, there was a specific RAW match between Roman and Big Show about 2 years ago where Ross was HEAVILY critical of Roman for showing no in-ring psychology. It's not quite Roman carrying things in those Strowman matches... Braun is proving himself with about any opponent.

Point is that WWE is silencing employee opinions and/or requesting positive things said about Roman Reigns.

Many of you WWE yes-man fans keep messaging me like "see, see, see, Edge & Christian said Roman Reigns was good". Yeah, but they are cashing in WWE Paychecks too. Jim Ross is as well. Steve Austin, though he can be more critical because he still has some star power as leverage, even toes that company line. Chris Jericho has been giving Roman some praise lately but that WWE money and flexibility of schedule is nice to have for Jericho to make money and promote his music. Sean Waltman, though isn't currently employed, would like to have some open channel to the WWE to be employed as needed. Waltman one of the best in-ring workers, period, during the 1990s and was used heavily by the WWE to determine if a newer wrestler was going to make it with a match. How on earth can he watch Roman's matches and see star power?

Oh yeah, money talks.

If you gave me a former WWE employee with zero interest returning to the WWE... I'd give that more of a grain of salt. These guys are on WWE's dime.

With John Bradshaw Layfield's recent Smackdown announcing departure, it's coming out even more that JBL was NOT and I repeat NOT the source of Mauro Ranallo's brief departure from the WWE. The issues stemmed from Vince McMahon's dislike of Mauro's announcing style. Trust me, WWE's media department has a firm grip on Twitter accounts and what is said on the WWE Network. JBL's criticisms were put in the spotlight, but I guarantee there was someone pulling strings behind him: Vince. Vince wanted Mauro OUT as an announcer and that's why Tom Phillips began appearing to make Smackdown have FOUR freakin' announcers. Then, Mauro has the nerve to brag about his Observer announcer award and Vince went on the attack.

My point is that JBL didn't bully Mauro... JBL has no control over what he says on WWE's airwaves or any any social media regarding WWE. WWE Corporation controls all of their talent under contract and if they do something contrary to that or hurts the WWE's public relations... Depush. Ask Dolph Ziggler. He went on radio stations and badmouthed John Cena and Randy Orton. Gee, where is he right now?

The fact is that if you sign a WWE contract, you work for them 24/7. That's how Vince McMahon operates. The LAST thing he wants is for any WWE employee to go to an independent media outlet and bash the guy that he's trying to push. Thus, that's why Jim Ross in 2017 says that if he had to build a roster with WWE's existing talent, he'd pick Roman Reigns as his 2nd guy (AJ Styles is #1). However, the Jim Ross of 2015-2016 would be critical of Reigns as a worker and his in-ring psychology (or lack thereof). That's what I'm talking about.

Thus, if you dare use a WWE employee's praise of a WWE wrestler as a debate point against me, you'll lose points with me. That WWE employee is impaired and told what to say and when to say it by Vince or the Corporate WWE machine.

It's no different than any other company, particularly corporations. Why would you publicly shame a fellow employee, particularly one that management is pushing hard? For one, you're exposing something internal to the public and two, you're upsetting management. Pick your battles, folks... If you're an ex-wrestler, part-time wrestler, or non-wrestler and want those WWE paychecks to continue... You'll know your role and shut your mouth.

So y'all can cease sending me what WWE employees say in public. Roman is not "great" and isn't drawing. Factual numbers are out there with sluggish merchandise sales, declined houseshow ticket sales, and declined RAW viewership since 2014. Gee, what started that year? Oh, that's right... Roman Reigns began getting instantly pushed as a babyface Main Eventer. Roman has headlined 3 straight Wrestlemanias and has big victories over CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Triple H, and Undertaker while dominating the rest of the roster (besides Cena). What does he have to show for it with all of that booking welfare given to him? Lower numbers. But again, you'll NEVER see a WWE employee willing to say that. 6 figure salary is nice to earn.

Money talks, folks. Always does.

WWE payola... Until many wrestlers roll the dice and try to make money elsewhere, more wrestlers will toe that company line with the WWE or take their paychecks. Don't blame them... If it takes praising Roman Reigns to earn 6 figures per year... Yeah, I'd probably do it too.

SO JUST CHILL... 'TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!

Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.

Bookmark Mr. Tito's Column Archive to read the current and past columns.

© Mr. Tito and LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com - 1998-2017

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