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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Revisions to TLC 2017 Pay Per View EXPLOITS How THIN the WWE Roster Is
By Mr. Tito
Oct 22, 2017 - 12:56:44 AM

Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter.com: @titowrestling

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


The "hardest working wrestling columnist on the internet" has returned for another edition of MR. TITO STRIKES BACK exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. Oh, don't you worry, folks... I shall return here tomorrow night on LoP for my usual INSTA COLUMN WWE TLC Pay Per View review. The rebooking of that event actually makes it far more intriguing than before.

BUT...

Let's assume that Kurt Angle and AJ Styles were NOT available as substitutes for RAW's TLC 2017 Pay Per View. Additionally, none of the part-timers are available. Could the RAW roster replace Roman Reigns, who was supposed to be in the Main Event with the Shield against 5 other wrestlers in a TLC match, and Bray Wyatt, who was set for another match with Finn Balor, internally? Is there someone on the RAW bench that could easily step up and fill in? Sure, we could put any warm body into those matches, but would it help the Pay Per View?

No, it wouldn't.

Adding Kurt Angle, who last wrestled for the WWE during 2006, and AJ Styles, a Smackdown roster wrestler, was a complete "HAIL MARY" by the WWE to salvage that Pay Per View. That show already received loads of criticism for how it was booked, notably the poor undercard. Then, losing Roman which takes away from the Shield Reunion match was damaging to this show. In an era where RAW is now consistently under 3 million viewers, thousands have been lost per show in live attendance, and Smackdown struggles to get 2.5 million viewers... WWE has to make good with its fans, even to the extreme. With AJ Styles joining TLC and Kevin Owens needing time off, the WWE is sending Triple H to South America to cover that tour. Wow...

Kudos to the WWE for going out of their way to please fans this weekend. I would argue that for both TLC 2017 and the South America experience, both have been upgraded. Who wouldn't want to see Angle's in-ring return? Who wouldn't want to see Triple H appear at a show? Angle and Triple H are all-time great WWE Superstars. Anytime a major superstar on a card, GO SEE THEM!

But...

Think about what the WWE is doing this weekend. The RAW roster had NOBODY else on that roster to elevate into that Main Event to team with Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins. That, or the WWE just showed NO CONFIDENCE in Ambrose and Rollins to boldly to 2 on 5 and make it interesting. I hope that's not the case, but given how the Shield was just reunited recently... Then, you had nobody on the midcard that could wrestle Finn Balor. Nobody? You have to disregard your brand split to bring in AJ Styles just to help further "save" the TLC show?

Again, I'm HAPPY with the TLC Pay Per View rebookings. Don't get me wrong...

However, the real point is how indicting this is to the WWE's current roster. It's THIN...

Of course, I'll have newer WWE fans count the number of wrestlers on the roster and say "HEY, I see as many wrestlers on the 2017 RAW/Smackdown rosters than those 2002 RAW/Smackdown rosters".

And then I say... Is that Quanity over Quality?

Hmmmmmm.....

I was listening to Jim Ross's "Ross Report" podcast recently with guest Chris Jericho. First and foremost, that show was EXCELLENT. Go out of your way to listen to that show and you'll learn a thing or two (or many) about the professional wrestling business. The wealth of knowledge was astounding... I like how Jericho said that by working for the WWE and Vince McMahon, it installs a work ethic into you that benefits you later in life when taking on other projects. That was cool.

Chris Jericho, though, made the greatest contrasting point of the "Attitude Era" (1997-2001) versus today's wrestling product that I've ever heard. It was brilliant... Jericho was nice to the current WWE roster and gave it nice praise. After all, he'll likely work with those guys in the near future. However, he made this great point on the "Attitude Era" regarding EXPERIENCE. In other words, when you joined the WWE during the late 1990s, you already had years upon years of experience working and starring for other promotions. For example, Steve Austin and Mick Foley had lots of mileage working for promotions like World Class and World Championship Wrestling. Guys like Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Benoit had years of working in Japan, Mexico, Indies, World Championship Wrestling, and Extreme Championship Wrestling before joining the WWE. Then you had someone like the Undertaker who had been around for a while in the WWE.

What do you see with the 2017 WWE? Well, no matter what Indy promotion you come from, you'll have to join the WWE's developmental system to retrain to become a WWE wrestler. Seriously... Guys like AJ Styles are rare...

But what REALLY needs to be said about 2017 is that there isn't a rival big promotion, like World Championship Wrestling (WCW), for wrestlers to develop into legitimate wrestling superstars before joining the WWE. Sorry, but TNA/GFW/Impact whatever its called today and Ring of Honor are NOT even in the caliber of WCW as a competitor. Not even close... WCW had Ted Turner/Time Warner Corporation cutting checks to not only pay for top talent but to beef up the show's production and marketing costs. WCW also had major Cable TV channels for which it aired content. TBS and TNT were industry leaders. I can only watch ROH late at night and PopTV is such a lower level channel for TNA/GFW/Impact whatever its called today. For a while, both promotions were on a lower level Discovery Channel that many Cable/Satellite distributors didn't carry or required an expanded package to see.

I'd argue that both weren't even close to Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in its prime...

The talent that the WWE signs these days from Ring of Honor, the promotion formerly named as TNA, or the independent scene aren't quite ready to work for the WWE... WWE isn't just a wrestling promotion. It's a Corporation, Marketing machine, Charity organization, and a Brand that requires non-stop promotion through appearances and touring. BIG difference between WWE and the rest of the competition. I can fully understand why wrestlers joining the WWE are completely overwhelmed and why many haven't panned out. Then, if you're from New Japan, you're jumping between cultures and language barriers. You wonder why Shinsuke Nakamura is struggling. Being a WWE superstar is too different for him based on expectations placed on him beyond the ring.

The "Attitude Era" not only had more experienced guys but it also had superstars who were OVER as personalities... That came with experience. Look at Steve Austin and Mick Foley in particular... Midcarders in WCW, yes, but the Hollywood Blondes made an impact on that midcard and other wrestlers felt threatened by Austin/Pillman's popularity. Then with Mick Foley, he had amazing matches as Cactus Jack and was able to work with Main Event level stars like Vader and Sting. The 1997-2001, especially by 1999-2001, was THICK with guys who had experience with other promotions and got over with other promotions. You don't have that now...

Take what happened 18 years ago at Survivor Series 1999. Steve Austin's neck injury became overwhelming and needed surgery. Austin did an injury angle at that show and didn't return until late 2000. Then, the Undertaker needed time off after he tore his groin during late 1999. For the first half to 3/4 of the year 2000 for the WWE, they did NOT have Steve Austin or the Undertaker. No problem! The Rock, Triple H, and Mick Foley just stepped up their games and filled in nicely for them. Then, Chris Jericho and a whole bunch of Radicalz from WCW (Benoit, Malenko, Guerrero, & Saturn) appeared. Oh yeah, during 1999, the WWE acquired the Big Show as a free agent as well. For the most part (besides the Rock, but he was in WWE since 1996), experienced superstars who got over elsewhere were ready to fill in.

WWE TLC 2017 Pay Per View? Pffft... It needs to rush Kurt Angle's in-ring WWE return and needs to snatch AJ Styles from the Smackdown tour of South America to "save" this show.

The simple losses of Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt from RAW, which benefited most from the post-Wrestlemania 33 "superstar shake-up", has greatly hurt the TLC Pay Per View. Hell, even before Reigns and Wyatt got sick, TLC 2017 was looking weak as a Pay Per View. By simply removing just 2 wrestlers from the show, the WWE feels the need to (a) rush Kurt Angle's in-ring WWE return and (b) bring in Smackdown wrestler AJ Styles for a match on a RAW Pay Per View.

Remember - late 1999 WWE lost BOTH Undertaker and Steve Austin, all-time greats. Sorry Roman and Bray, you're NOT Taker and Austin even if Roman "beat" Undertaker in a match. Not even close.

And I have yet to even mention the Smackdown roster which I roasted in my last column... Talk about THIN! The 2016 roster was really limping along when John Cena took some time off but then the "superstar shake-up" completely neutered the brand when Miz, Ambrose, and Wyatt were shipped to RAW. Sure, Kevin Owens is trying his best, but when you're a show that features former RAW brand jobber Jinder Mahal at the top of the card... The Smackdown live attendance has been scary to look at, particularly when half of the arena (non-television side) is completely tarped off. Plenty of seats available for Houseshows, I'm told often...

I'd suggest that 2 wrestlers being removed from a Smackdown Pay Per View would harm the show, but I don't think anyone would notice... And don't worry, WWE can always sacrifice Shane McMahon when needed.

Now, many will try to argue that 2017's product has a "better workrate" than the Attitude Era's 1997-2001. For one, I disagree with that point as matches back then made a much bigger impact on me than today... But let's examine that point. IF what you say is true that 2017's in-ring performances exceed that of the WWE during 1997-2001... Well, why is that? BECAUSE THE WRESTLERS HAVE TO DO EXTRA IN THE RING!

See, the beauty of the "Attitude Era" is that great workers like the Undertaker, the Rock, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, and even Shawn Michaels didn't have to step up their in-ring performances to impress you. There was no need... They could do more for the WWE by simply talking on a microphone with mostly unscripted lines than wrestling in a ring. Remember, Steve Austin wrestled from 1997-1999 with a BROKEN NECK. How did he survive? Oh yeah, he spoke often on RAW and used more psychology in his matches instead of spots. Austin was able to work over 2 years with a broken neck and he is arguably the biggest draw in recent wrestling history. WWE grew exponentially from 1997-1999 when Austin was mostly on the mic during RAW back then. Austin and many others from the "Attitude Era" didn't need to go over-the-top on in-ring workrate.

That guy who is returning at TLC, Kurt Angle... How did he get over again? Sure, he was a quick learner in the ring, but didn't he do a lot of heel mic work during much of 2000 to get over? Pretty sure that he did... It was only when WWE's business hit a peak and was on the downslide by mid-2001 that Angle HAD to do more in the ring. And gee, what happened by 2003? Injured freakin' neck. Angle did some CRAZY stuff from 2001-2006 and it led to nothing but injury and dependence on painkillers for that man. Meanwhile, it was his personality that got him over during 2000.

Everybody now is too dependent on being overly athletic in the ring to impress fans. What they don't realize is how much they've desensitized wrestling fans with that style. It's exactly what Raven once said about Chris Benoit. Raven argued that Benoit never got over to a larger audience due to his style. If you ever watched a Benoit match, he never stopped... The "Rabid Wolverine" just kept attacking you and never gave himself a moment to breathe or "take in" the crowd reactions to the moves he just did. Benoit just robitically hit move after move without pausing for a moment to let the crowd digest what they just saw. Sure, his matches were athletic masterpieces but did they draw for pro wrestling? How did that 2004 World Title reign draw again? Eh, it didn't...

That's why John Cena is so good and a standout on the WWE roster since 2005. He doesn't just get over from his in-ring ability... He kills it on the microphone and always has. Thankfully, he was taught and booked by veterans of the business with lots of experience. Wrestlers from the WWE developmental system since 2004 haven't had that luxury with a few issues in developmental under John Laurinaitis. Triple H is doing his best and I like his work on NXT, but he's falling for the same thing as Johnny Ace. You can sign Indy wrestlers all you want but are they ready for the WWE atmosphere that asks you to do more than just in-ring stuff?

That's why the downfall of CM Punk by the WWE is so tragic. Punk had a killer personality and amazing mic skills. He's EVERYTHING that the WWE has ever wanted in a superstar. Yet, they wanted to mold someone WITHOUT a personality and speaking ability in Roman Reigns instead. The results? Here we are, almost 5 years later, and the WWE had to reunite the Shield to "save" Roman's babyface push.

Those experienced guys of the "Attitude Era", who worked at other big and equivalent to WWE promotions, didn't have to step it up inside the ring... They were already over based on promo work and their personality BEFORE the match. Because they were over with fans, they didn't have to work that hard to impress... Wrestlers in 2017 have to pull out everything just to get the crowd to react. See how many announcer's tables are destroyed? See how many gimmick non-DQ matches are needed? We're in an era where the WWE bans headshots yet they have more non-DQ style matches than ever. Reeks of desperation.

Honestly, I would rather other RAW wrestlers step up and take Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt's spots on the card. That would be nice... The THIN WWE roster couldn't fix the situation and it caused RAW's Creative Team to look elsewhere. Kurt Angle's in-ring return should have been saved for a special moment yet it's being wasted to patch the weak RAW roster for much needed star power. You only get ONE chance to show Angle's in-ring return... WWE just blew it.

As I said over a year ago when the Brand Split happened... It shouldn't have happened. Rosters were too thin on superstar power, I argued, and the Creative Team can't handle it. Over a year later, my call looks pretty good...

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Personally, I would want AJ Styles to join the RAW roster full time. Between Styles, Owens, and the Usos vs. New Day feud... I have nothing else on that Smackdown roster. I've become a full-time YouTube.com viewer and will only watch the Hulu broadcast if something looks great on the show. If Styles joins RAW full-time (doubtful), then I'm completely done with Smackdown. No reason to watch.

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THE LAST WORD

A while back, the WWE reviewed what was being viewed or not on the WWE Network. Their findings shocked them in that the majority of viewers only watch for current content and never backtrack into older Pay Per Views or shows. Think about that for a second... WWE has stocked their WWE Network's servers with DECADES of older content and yet what most people want is current Pay Per Views.

So does pro wrestling just have weak replay value?

Well...

Let me give you an analogy. Many complain on my Twitter account that I talk too much about my Nintendo video game experiences. I'm a big Nintendo player and a loyal one at that. I was one of those loyal Wii U players and I'm presently supporting the new Nintendo Switch as much as I can. I have most of the major titles so far and am attempting to support Third Party releases as much as I can.

Recently, Nintendo released the SNES Classic which is a Super Nintendo emulator machine that allows you to play 21 games from the SNES. Just the other day, I went into a local GameStop and THERE IT WAS! I could have bought it... But then I was like, "meh". I have beat 10 of those 21 games and I have at least tried the rest (some of which, I really don't like). Furthermore, I own the actual physical copies of the SNES games as a collector and have bought those games several more times on the Gameboy Advance, Wii Virutal Console, or the Wii U Virtual Console. How many more times can I play and beat Super Mario World? Link to the Past (I find the 3DS sequel vastly superior). Sorry, but I don't want to beat Mega Man X ever again... I'm getting too old for games that make you memorize patterns by dying repeatedly.

I WANT NEW GAMES! I'm tired of playing the same old Mario, Zelda, and other classic Nintendo franchises. I'd rather buy and support new Nintendo Switch titles than spend $80.00 on an emulator of the same old games. For example, I took a risk and bought Mario + Rabbids. Normally, I don't like turn-based strategy RPG games... In fact, I don't like RPG like games at all... But I TRIED SOMETHING NEW and Mario + Rabbids is seriously in my top 20 favorite games of all time. LOVED IT! Right now, I'm trying to learn how to play FIFA 18 and NBA 2K18 while having WWE 2K18 on reserve. I cannot wait for Rocket League to be on the Switch! Then, you have Nintendo revitalizing their biggest franchise like Zelda and Mario this year with new innovative features. Love it! And what do you know? By giving fans something "new", the Nintendo Switch is beginning to erase the problems of the Wii U which served up a bunch of older games by comparison.

Companies that HAVE to rely on something OLD are doing so because they are struggling to create something NEW. That's why Roman Reigns reunites with the Shield. 1 million RAW viewers lost and thousands in attendance since Roman's 2014 push forced the WWE's hand to reunite an OLD group. That said, a babyface version of the Shield is a NEW thing as they were quickly broken up just 2 Pay Per Views into their strong babyface push as a trio during 2014.

What I want from the WWE is something NEW... I have everything that I've seen from the late 1980s in my memory bank. I don't need your archives in the WWE Network to rewatch something that I experienced live. What I need for you to do is surprise me with new stuff. As much as I give love to the Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002", I want something new... Tired of seeing Orton, Lesnar has wrestled everybody, and for John Cena, I'd rather have him full-time instead of part-time. At least with John Cena, he's made a handful of "new" wrestlers by putting them over clean each.

WWE Creative is failing to create anything new or exciting... The sterile WWE Corporation has disallowed for any creativity or innovation to occur with wrestlers and/or storylines. In this day and age where television quality is OFF THE CHARTS, how is the WWE unable to captivate an audience?

How is that Ring of Honor and TNA/GFW/Impact or whatever it is called are completely unable to innovate and BEAT the WWE? Scratch that, Ring of Honor has one thing going for it... The Bullet Club.

Ring of Honor is owned by a publicly traded television broadcast corporation called Sinclair Broadcast Group which has almost $6 billion on its balance sheet and can generate upwards of $200 million in Net Income annually. Why can't they recognize that it has a property in the Bullet Club that could be big? Why can't they invest a little bit of money in the production value, marketing, etc. of this promotion? Why can't they use their large network of broadcast channels to push their wrestling brand harder instead of these Midnight airing?

I want something new as a wrestling fan... Getting tired of seeing a WWE promotion who attempts to look backward when I want to look forward.

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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