Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter.com: @titowrestling
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Recommendations for WWE to Improve During 2017
By Mr. Tito
Jan 2, 2017 - 10:45:24 PM
Welcome to the first Mr. Tito column of the year exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. In case you missed it, my last column featured my 2017 Predictions Column in which I boldly project the 2017 year based on the trends that I've seen through late 2016. However, I shall place those predictions in danger by giving FREE ADVICE to the WWE on how to improve during 2017.
Because this column holds nothing back, I'm often perceived as "negative"... No, I think that's a matter of just having balls to shoot on what needs to be said. In between the criticisms, though, I often give advice. Yes, that's right... I don't just bitch, I offer solutions and in my opinion, I have legitimate offerings to present to the WWE. Longtime wrestling fan since the late 1980's, columnist covering pro wrestling since October 1998, and my professional knowledge in business gives me a pretty valid opinion... As an added bonus to the WWE, they pay me NOTHING for free advice on their product. I'm the fool for writing this thing for FREE each week but I do so because I love the professional wrestling business and want it to improve. When wrestling, notably WWE wrestling, is hitting on all cylinders, there are only a few forms of entertainment that can top it.
WWE needs help... Viewership of RAW has dropped by over 1 million viewers since 2015 (fact), Houseshow numbers are down (fact), and their reliance on veterans (Class of 2002, Goldberg, etc.) to save the day is not good for the long-term. I believe that Vince McMahon has surrounded himself with a thick group of managers that know more maintaining a bureaucracy in a corporation than pro wrestling itself. I believe that Triple H has improved as a manager but obviously, he needs more experience at the job and seems to work better on a smaller scale (NXT) than a larger one (WWE). Kevin Dunn (producer) and Stephanie McMahon (formerly creative, now "Chief Brand Officer") have been key decision makers since the WWE's peak of 2000 and well, business has been shriking since that year.
Very challenging times for the WWE as they need to make the Brand Split of RAW and Smackdown while always keeping the developmental pipeline stocked and ready to go when called upon (NXT). It's a demanding chore for a wrestling fan to watch up to 9 hours of WWE wrestling for a given week (PPV + RAW + Smackdown + NXT) and on consecutive days. WWE has to be careful with diluting itself while at the same time with shows like Total Divas or Total Bellas, over-exposing itself. After all, a Magician does NOT tell the general public how to do his tricks. CEOs of bigtime corporations do not reveal their managerial skills or innovative techniques. How competitive would Apple be if Steve Jobs openly talked about the new Apple products with the public or other technology companies? For the WWE to expose their business themselves via WWE Networks specials or stuff on the E! Network is ridiculous along with letting their closed door meeting news to be easily leaked to the wrestling news organizations.
But I'm here, once again, to provide FREE advise how to manage and improve a few things within the existing WWE. Many of these ideas are cost-free and just involve improving a few decision and creative aspects of the WWE product.
Mr. Tito's PHAT FREE ADVICE TO THE WWE TO IMPROVE
END Non-Title Matches, period.
If a Title Belt holder is wrestling, the title is on the line unless the match type is a mismatch (for example, World Champion wrestles in a Tag Match, Tag Title holder wrestles in a singles match). WWE has been LAZY in their booking that sees wrestlers winning non-title matches against champion to earn a title shot. Can someone show me any point in Boxing or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) when it was non-title? And furthermore, a non-title match that grants an automatic rematch? Just kills the credibility of the Champion and actually the contender as well because they most often lose the rematch.
Fix BOTH the RAW and Smackdown Tag Team Divisions.
Late 1980s WWE, late 1980s NWA/WCW, Monday Night Wars (NWO + Attitude Era), ECW, and early 2000s Smackdown all had WHAT in common? STRONG TAG TEAM DIVISIONS. RAW's attention for 2016 was to keep New Day strong until they broke the record. That hurt any team who dared to challenge them and then when the record was broken, New Day instantly lost and then lost their rematch. Meanwhile on Smackdown, they gave the belts to a short term funny story with Slater/Rhyno, but once they won the belts, then what? Recently, they gave the Tag Titles to the Wyatts but had them quickly lose the titles on Smackdown to American Alpha. There's just no focus on the Title matches and also building teams up. On each brand, they should have at least 2 concurrent Tag Team feuds, one for the title and another just for bragging rights or dislike for each other. They also need to keep grooming tag teams in NXT, which they have been legitimately doing... But can the Revival fit on a large stage?
Change the RAW Authority figures.
Sorry, but the duo of Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley are NOT working. We've seen both in authority figure roles before and both acted in that role 15 years ago. Stephanie has burned us out on the strong female heel figure that is rarely retaliated against while Foley's character is just the same old, same old thing we've seen from that role. One or both need to go... If Stephanie HAS to stay, then replace Mick Foley with someone who will obviously conflict with Stephanie. Last year, I suggested Kurt Angle to be the General Manager because he's a great communicator and has some past beef with Stephanie. If anything, pay top dollar and get Steve Austin back on as General Manager. Something... Someone who can stand up with Stephanie while being compelling as a draw as well. That, or someone compelling as the General Manager to run the show alone that allows Stephanie to appear occasionally. If Stephanie appears less often, she's not as stale and her appearances feel special. Seeing her dominate the screen each week on RAW has over-exposed her to wrestling fans.
Ditch the Cruiserweight Division or place it in NXT's environment.
The Cruiserweight Classic remains the best looking Cruiserweight wrestling that the WWE has tried this year. Placing it on the big stage has been a disaster on the RAW brand. Seriously, what's with that Purple color given to this division? Purple lights and purple ropes... Look, I understand that Prince passed away, but you don't have to keep giving us a Purple Rain tribute each time this division airs on RAW. The Cruiserweight Division feels more like an independent thing than a midcard feature of the WWE which likes its wrestlers to be at least 6 foot tall or thick (or both). Vince hates it, so keep it off of his WWE main shows. Tape WWE 205 on alternative weeks that NXT doesn't tape OR include it in NXT tapings.
Can I add something to the Cruiserweight Division discussion? How about we give guys like Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, and Rey Mysterio credit for being EXCEPTIONAL wrestlers during 1996-1997? Their unique talents got that Cruiserweight Division over and not the division itself. Those guys brought unique skillsets to the table and a ring technician like Malenko made everyone look amazing. Go watch those 1996 matches with Mysterio... Malenko is legitimately teaching Mysterio how to wrestle and it's beautiful. Mysterio's success in the WWE from 2002 and beyond speaks for itself and Chris Jericho is STILL going strong in the wrestling business. Unless you have talents like that to show off, consider keeping the Cruiserweights off of main WWE programming.
Reunite the Shield on the RAW Brand
WWE keeps trying and trying with Roman Reigns as the #1 babyface... Seth Rollins appears to have completed his babyface turn (although I'm never sure). Dean Ambrose has actually run his course on Smackdown with this feud with AJ Styles and is now feuding with the Intercontinental Champion, the Miz. WWE Title to Intercontinental Title? While I'm actually excited for Miz vs. Ambrose (especially if they let the girlfriends have ECW-like catfights randomly), I see so much potential in a strongly pushed babyface Shield stable. I said that during 2014 when they broke up and that was my MAIN criticism of the Seth Rollins turn. If you'll recall during 2014, the Shield were converting to babyfaces and then they had battles with the reunited Evolution group. They were RED HOT together after beating Evolution and then the WWE gave them no shot to grow as a babyface group. Instead, they broke the group up and poorly handled the heat Rollins had against his former members (in the case of Reigns, he ignored what Rollins did and just went after the WWE Title repeatedly).
Roman Reigns needs help if he's to become a top babyface... The Shield stable gimmick will improve fan opinions of him because the stable will get cheers. Rollins and Ambrose are good but are, at times, incomplete characters without other wrestlers to lean on. You have to think of it like a NASCAR team where the team members actively work together but yet remain competitive when they need to be. If Roman Reigns cannot be the #1 babyface, then spread that drawing power among 3 individuals. It benefits everyone... Trade Cesaro/Sheamus to Smackdown for Ambrose to complete the transaction and those guys can become much needed singles wrestlers there.
Help Apollo Crews as a character and as a wrestler.
In my opinion, if I had to pick ONE GUY from the entire WWE and NXT rosters to possibly become the next #1 singles babyface sensation, it's Apollo. When I went to Smackdown houseshow last year, the kids LOVED him. Besides John Cena, he seemed to have the most pops from the younger fans. WWE has to get his character right, but also, they need to improve his moveset. Gotta have a strong finisher and if you'll recall from NXT's Breaking Ground show, Triple H tried to encourage that. But he also needs character... I have a perfect influence who also provides Crews with a finisher. I'd bring in Ron Simmons to be his mentor but not because of any race reasons. It's because Ron Simmons had one of the most badass finishers of all time, the Dominator. Simmons gives Crews that move and at ringside, whenever a wrestler is slammed, Simmons yells "DAMN!". And then that encourages wrestling fans ringside to also yell "DAMN!" when Apollo Crews hits that finisher... The anticipation of that moment will keep fans actively engaged in the match until he hits that Dominator move and a few false attempts at hitting that move will bait the fans as well.
Place Baron Corbin with AJ Styles as a bodyguard.
Lone Wolf just needs a little help... I argued it during 2015, Corbin should have been called up to play Seth Rollins's bodyguard when Rollins was WWE Champion. I like Corbin's look and his finisher (damn it looks great), but between the start and the finish of the matches, he needs some polish. Working with AJ Styles will teach him the business more and better yet, gives AJ Styles a tag wrestler for Main Events to keep Styles from always defending the WWE Title on Smackdown just to keep that show interesting. Furthermore, every wrestler will have to go through Corbin before they reach Styles. Then, when the timing is right, you turn Corbin on Styles and that's when the "Lone Wolf" returns. Worked for Shawn Michaels & Diesel and should therefore work with Styles & Corbin.
Don't break-up Enzo and Big Cass, but push Big Cass as a singles wrestler.
Managers are a lost art in wrestling and there's no shame in that role for Enzo. His biggest asset is his voice and personality. He's a tad undersized as a wrestler and often used as a liability for Big Cass. But their friendship together draws. Until Big Cass can truly draw on his own, keep Enzo around... And in my opinion, the WWE needs a top babyface draw. Like I said above with Apollo Crews, Big Cass needs a big finishing move and improve just a big more in the ring before getting that top role. However, Cass has so much upside and that's because he's allows to grow with Enzo as a friend.
Women's Match to Determine #1 Contender
Male wrestlers in the WWE have Royal Rumble in January, Money in the Bank during June/July. Both determine the #1 contender. Certainly, you could actually imitate the Money in the Bank match... But they need a BIG match like hte Royal Rumble match that involves everyone. Maybe a female Royal Rumble but in my opinion, you have to be unique... Have a Rumble match but only 2 competitors allowed in the ring at a time? I don't know... Something that adequately determines a #1 contender for the Wrestlemania like the Rumble match does for male wrestlers.
Improve Video Game offerings.
One thing I liked about the older days of Nintendo 64/GameCube, Playstation 1 & 2, and Xbox is that each system had their own unique WWE games. Competition among the 3 gaming companies created uniquely different games for wrestling fans to enjoy. Then, the next generation of gaming during the late 2000s made the WWE release just 1 game but on 3 different systems. What I'd argue is instead of making a WWE 2K## game each year, change it up... Kind of like how Call of Duty creates different settings each year to keep things fresh and gamers interested in the franchise. It works. You could maybe make a RAW brand game one year, Smackdown game the next, retro following that, etc... Make each yearly game unique to maximize the gaming experiences for wrestling games instead of the same complete experience every year with 2K##.
But I also think that WWE shortchanges their Mobile offerings... Sure, they have a few offerings and they do well... But they could do more. Playing through Pokemon Moon (*nerd alert*) got me thinking as to how well WWE wrestling could fit into a turn-based RPG format. You and your opponent can select from a list of moves to execute and speed/stamina would determine if/when the move is executed. Then, you try to perform a pin (like throwing a Pokeball, *nerd alert*), and the events of the match would determine how successful that pin attempt is or not. You'd get growth points if you win, continue to grind if you don't. It's a perfect Mobile game or could be easily sold on Nintendo 3DS systems.
Push Bayley hard to obtain a specific demographic.
WWE seems to be all about Charlotte and maybe they are building up Charlotte to eventually lose to Bayley at Wrestlemania, I don't know... Bayley's merchandise sales for 2014-2015, despite being a NXT wrestler, were astonishing. She was selling more than the majority of Divas despite having fewer products offered. But who are her fans? Younger girls... Older wrestling fans, who are dads, don't exactly have much to offer their younger daughters when presented with a wrestling show. However, Bayley presents them with a tough female with lots of heart whose character traits sell when overcoming adversity. I can imagine a kid who likes Frozen, Tangled, or Zootopia which had strong female leads would like Bayley. WWE, for years, has created an environment where LOOKS matter with female wrestlers. Bayley looks perfectly fine but her character appeals to the audience that WWE has neglected and insulted for years. If you think that I'm FULL OF CRAP on this point, go watch NXT Takeover Brooklyn 2015 for Bayley vs. Sasha Banks but not just for the match but the amazing video package of Bayley overcoming major adversity to get her NXT Title shot. It's breathtaking to watch and was the best booking of 2015.
Put sponsors on the ring, allow wrestlers to wear brand name stuff.
Completely untapped source of revenue... Vince tries to keep his shows about the WWE brand... But why can't wrestlers wear Nike or Under Armor gear that has been agreed upon by those companies to be worn on WWE television? The ring and the turnbuckles are so bare... Put sponsors on them. Look, nothing is sacred anymore in terms of advertisements. UFC octagons are littered with sponsorships and nobody complains. The entire arena where wrestling events are held are full of ads. WWE needs to maximize the revenue earned from its television deals and USA Network pays for the content that WWE provides them. Put ads everywhere.
Eliminate "Hell in a Cell" and "Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (TLC)" Pay Per View Event Names and Themes
I've been saying for years... Because it's October, we have Hell in a Cell matches... Because it's December, we have TLC matches... Worse yet with TLC, we have repetition with the Money in the Bank event. Hell in a Cell and TLC matches should be spontaneous and not defined by a month. When the confines of a regular match are exceeded, that's when the need for a cage or a ladder should occur. Furthermore, both matches are dangerous and harmful to wrestlers... Why not recycle popular WCW Pay Per View names that fit in October and December? Halloween Havoc for October's RAW event, Starrcade for December's Smackdown one. If not those names, try something else... That way we don't have any idiotic Tables matches to watch in December.
Reduce announcer teams from 3-4 people to just 2
Last time I checked, commentators do NOT draw in fans... Even the great Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Sure, they were fantastic together, but people tuned into RAW to see Steve Austin, the Rock, Undertaker, Mick Foley, Degeneration X/Triple H, etc. Many argued that Jesse Ventura was a draw as an announcer during the late 1980s and yet when he later joined WCW, he didn't draw. Gee, why is that? Both RAW and Smackdown have become bloated with their announcing teams and it adds little value. Smackdown has FOUR announcers for a 2 hour show! And exactly what does it add? RAW should have Cole & Graves and Smackdown should have Mauro & JBL. I understand the diversity issue, but just push wrestlers instead of announcers...
Make the 3rd Hour of RAW (10pm to 11pm) become TV-14 or TV-MA.
This PG era crap is insulting for the 3rd hour in which many mature shows air on Cable. Hell, many mature shows air at 9pm on Cable. WWE can disclose at 10pm that the following hour is rated TV-14 or TV-MA beforehand as needed... Hell, the WWE can just have that ratings and just not use it... Create the impression that the 3rd hour is special and unique from the other 2 PG rated hours. If you need a more violent match or if a more vulgar promo needs cut, save it for Hour #3 where the rating fits. The FACT is that RAW consistently loses viewers during the 3rd hour, so change the rating from TV-14 to TV-MA could create interest. Use the first 2 hours to hype what COULD happen during hour #3.
THE LAST WORD: There you have it... I just presented a valid list of suggested improvements and the WWE can either take it or leave it. I also encourage you, the readers, to leave Comments below of any other suggested fixes to the WWE. We are the WWE's customers and at the end of the day, WWE must satisfy us with their product. We need to be heard during 2017 and to disallow us to be ignored. We control the power of the purse with them. If RAW/Smackdown don't improve, STOP watching... If you are tired of the overall Creative direction of the WWE, consider cutting off your $9.99 per month WWE subscription. They need us as much as we often need them for a form of entertainment.
SO JUST CHILL... UNTIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.
© Mr. Tito and LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com - 1998-2017