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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - RAW vs. NFL Monday Night Football & AJ Lee Babyface Thoughts
By Mr. Tito
Sep 8, 2013 - 10:35:50 AM
HAPPY SUNDAY, as the WWE fears this day the most... The day that the NFL fully returns and will officially dominate Monday Nights on Cable again. Of course, you didn't hear about the strong NFL presence on Mondays back during the Monday Night Wars when TWO companies were fighting over a wrestling audience who could watch football or during the peak WWE years of 1999-2001. It's funny how sensitive the rating is to the NFL Monday Night Football ratings. It's as if the WWE is looking for excuses.
That excuse is John Cena. The WWE coasted with John Cena at the top of the card. They knew that his star power, alone, would draw younger wrestling fans and thus, the WWE Creative Team didn't have to work as hard. The WWE pressed the "Easy Button" with John Cena because he could draw no matter how bad the surrounding storylines were. As long as he moved that merchandise and drew well at Houseshows, the rest was gravy. From 2005 through SummerSlam 2013, John Cena was the guy and only had brief interruptions due to injury. Cena was able to call in his SUPER HEALING POWERS to heal fast and return earlier than expected. Man, if only there was something I could take that would allow me to heal from injury as fast as John Cena!
But with John Cena out, what are you seeing? Actual GOOD storylines in the WWE. Whether you like the fact that Vince McMahon/Stephanie/Triple H screwed Daniel Bryan out of the WWE Title or not against the chosen Randy Orton, it's a legitimate angle that could (hopefully) have a big payoff of Daniel Bryan getting revenge. It's David vs. Goliath. Then, on the other hand, you have a serious CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman feud that's ongoing. Meanwhile, there is some seriousness towards the holders of the United States, Intercontinental, and Tag Titles. WWE is also getting serious about the Divas Title with AJ Lee as the champion and now feuding with the Total Divas group. Shows aren't that insulting to watch now that you see SOME direction in the storylines instead of just halfassing the show because John Cena was there to help the show draw anyway.
Imagine if this attention to Creative detail was there for the past 8 years when John Cena was around? Ugh...
So yeah, storylines are good... Keep being THIS CONSISTENT at producing good, solid storylines, and fans will WANT to keep watching instead fully watching the NFL game on Monday Nights. When the New World Order (NWO) was around, I didn't dare change the channel because I WANTED TO SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING NEXT. When "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was around and feuding with Vince McMahon, I WANTED TO SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING NEXT. Degeneration X, McMahon/Helmsley Era, even the ECW/WCW Invasion as it first happened, NWO returning to WWE in 2002, later DX returns, Nexus attacks, "Summer of Punk", Rock's return, and Brock Lesnar's return... I kept tuning in because I WANTED TO SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING NEXT.
Consistency on the storylines, especially when they have big payoffs at the end, is what's needed in pro wrestling in order for it to succeed. Again, and I keep harping on this... WWE has a HUGE video library of old WWWF, WWF, WWE, NWA, WCW, WCCW, AWA, and ECW footage of the last 40+ years of pro wrestling to review and watch. They could easily see what works and what doesn't work. Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it. Simply go back to the late 1990's and early 2000's... Ratings were HIGH during the NFL season because wrestling fans, even casual ones, won't flip over to the NFL game if the pro wrestling product is good on Monday Nights. If the WWE were bold and would let Daniel Bryan win the WWE Title at the next Pay Per View, Night of Champions, next week. Just imagine a proper night of celebrating Bryan's WWE title and how PISSED Vince, Stephanie, Orton, and Triple H could act. How could you not want to watch that?
AJ LEE THOUGHTS
I know what you're thinking... "Oh my, Mr. Tito is about to rip AJ Lee a new one". Yes, I've been very critical of the WWE Creative Staff and its handling of AJ Lee. She went from a good role of Daniel Bryan's girlfriend to the rushed Wedding angle, the horrible RAW General Manager angle, and then to the girlfriend of Dolph Ziggler angle. Just from one nonsense storyline to the next and most were undercut quickly without any satisfying conclusion. Reportedly, Stephanie McMahon considers AJ Lee to be one of her personal favorites and thus the booking love that occurs by WWE Creative, no matter how badly AJ Lee might be failing. The RAW General Manager angle, in particular, was a major disaster and shouldn't have happened. And yes, this column is very pro-Bella Twins. They are my personal favorites and now that AJ is feuding with them...
But I'm not here to rip AJ Lee or to gush over the fact that WWE has 2 hot Twin wrestlers... No, no, no...
I'm writing today on AJ Lee because the WWE is booking her poorly, again. She is currently feuding with the Total Divas show wrestlers (Bella Twins, Natalya, Funkadelics, and the newbies) in an angle that we'll see behind-the-scenes footage of in the upcoming weeks on the E! Network. When it comes to AJ Lee, I'm confused on of she's supposed to be a FACE or a HEEL against that group. Her character is still a heel, thanks to her girlfriend role and break-up with Dolph Ziggler, yet the Total Divas faction responding to AJ Lee's comments are heelish. The Bellas are nothing but heels, for sure. There's confusion on the Total Divas side because Natalya and the Funkadelics are faces, but AJ Lee's comments have called them all out and the Total Divas banded together to whoop AJ Lee last week on RAW. To quote Robin Thicke, we have some "Blurred Lines" here on HEEL and FACE that need to be made clear.
The solution? Turn AJ LEE into a full blown face. She is finished with her association with Big E Langston, which frees him up to do whatever (that guy is a HOSS). She's over the Dolph Ziggler feud... The past is the past. The WWE could embrace her past, both good and bad through a famous segment called...
THIS IS YOUR LIFE.
WWE needs to bring in Mick Foley specifically for this segment. Why? He was the host of the highest rated RAW segment (or second? Maybe an Austin vs. Undertaker match holds the record?) titled THIS IS YOUR LIFE in which Mick Foley, then as Mankind, had an in-ring promo with The Rock that brought elements of his past out. The segment was goofy, as Mankind brought out a teacher, Rock's first girlfriend, and someone else... Funny segment, but the Rock was already established as a big star. Might have helped solidify him as a babyface with a few funny catchphrase moments (I believe the "pie" comments started here), but he was on his way there anyway.
But it could be a HUGE segment for AJ Lee. Came changing, in fact... It could turn her into a FULL BLOWN FACE and also allow the WWE to exploit new fanbases. Hear me out, IWC...
Mick Foley calls out AJ Lee for the "THIS IS YOUR LIFE" segment. At first, you could have Daniel Bryan come out. You could even incorporate the current storylines of Bryan vs. the Corporation by having Randy Orton/the Shield doing something backstage to distract Bryan and actually pull him away from the segment. I could recommend having Bryan apologize for his blaming of AJ Lee concerning the Wrestlemania 28 loss, but I don't know if that would present Bryan's character as being weak? Certainly, AJ Lee could apologize for being a psychopathic girlfriend...
Then, wheel out Stephanie McMahon. She could admit that she wasn't ready to be RAW General Manager and apologize for not succeeding in that position. She could tell Stephanie, to her face, that she's a pro wrestler first and was wasted in that position. Stephanie could be irked by that call-out and that could set-up future AJ Lee vs. the Corporation storylines.
Next, it's Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston. She could suggest that she was vulnerable during that period of time after being rejected by John Cena and did some things that she regrets. She could then end the association with Big E Langston, suggesting that he's now free to do whatever without her input. Puts closure to that feud and storyline...
Then, the next segment would be 100% unscripted and completely unexpected to AJ Lee. In fact, DO NOT tell her about the next mystery guest. What you want here, folks, is a completely spontaneous response by AJ Lee that will actually get her CRAZY OVER as a baby face. All Mick Foley has to do is to ask the backstage production area to PLAY THIS VIDEO:
That's right, that is a younger version of AJ Lee in full tears meeting her idol, Lita in person at an autograph signing. The video suggests it was July 18th, 2001, but regardless, AJ Lee is highly emotional as a kid when she met Lita. Chances are strong that Lita helped inspire AJ Lee to persue becoming a pro wrestler. If AJ Lee has no clue about this surprise guest and she sees this video played before her, she'll lose it.
Then, she'll lose it further if Lita's Titantron hits and Lita actually comes out to embrace her. Lita could cut some kind of promo where she suggests that everyone did things in their past that they are not particularly proud of and that the fans would love to see you move on. Lita could then say that she's proud that AJ Lee has made it this far in the business and is proud to see her as Divas Champion. I guarantee you, if this was a surprise, AJ Lee would be crying heavily and the WWE fans could see this and instantly embrace her as a newly turned baby face.
But could you IMAGINE a new fanbase that the WWE could exploit by this simple connection? By showing AJ Lee as a younger fan and meeting her idol, Lita, younger girls would see this and begin to embrace AJ Lee. I guarantee that AJ Lee's autograph signings would be filled with younger female WWE fans who would love to meet her. WWE has struggled since Lita and Trish left to have an inspiring babyface female wrestler. Kelly Kelly did a decent job but she lacked actual personality and in-ring skills to get the job done. AJ Lee has both and just needs the right push to solidify her as a consistent character. The "THIS IS YOUR LIFE" segment could allow closure for AJ Lee for past storylines but then introduce WHY she loves the pro wrestling business so much. She's a fan of the business and someone like Lita inspired her to join it.
To end the segment, I would have the Total Divas attempt to attack and BOTH AJ Lee and Lita CLEAR THE RING to a major babyface push. If not the Total Divas as a whole, use the Bella Twins as the punching bags and you could let them cut a mini-promo before getting whooped. It's a perfect ending and firmly establishes AJ Lee as the top babyface.
After feuding with the Total Divas wrestlers and getting a few wins over them to strengthen AJ Lee as top female babyface and Divas Champion, you then re-introduce her to Stephanie McMahon. Remember what I said above about Stephanie being irked by AJ Lee's comments regarding RAW GM? AJ Lee soon finds herself in the McMahon Corporation crosshairs. In my opinion, the WWE has to bring in someone NEW to go after AJ Lee. Whether it's someone extremely talented being developed in Florida or bringing back someone of hoss like proportions such as Beth Phoenix or Kharma, they have to pose a legitimate threat of harm to AJ Lee. Beth or Kharma (or a new wrestler) would be Stephanie's enforcer and AJ Lee would have to overcome her before getting to Stephanie. I hate to even suggest this, but a match like AJ Lee vs. Stephanie McMahon could be somewhat interesting at Wrestlemania 30. Stephanie, I think, would be game for the match... See her No Way Out 2001 match against Trish Stratus if you need to see proof.
I just laid out the perfect roadmap to get AJ Lee CRAZY OVER as a babyface. You're welcome, WWE, for the free advice. Now, go get Mick Foley and Lita for that segment... I'm sure they would be glad to do it.
Comments and debates are welcome on Twitter. Bring it on. @titowrestling
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