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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - WWE Creative Team Confusion over Wrestlemania 30
By Mr. Tito
Jan 7, 2014 - 8:59:22 PM
First and foremost, special thank you to my readers for a great 2013 of columns. I'm quite proud of the columns that I posted for this year and have enjoyed wearing the Tito mask once again. But it's your enjoyment of the columns that keeps me going... Some of you are getting up in arms about my 2014 Predictions Column. Take a step back and realize that these columns are just entertainment. It's a prediction column that I do for fun and it's entertaining to look back 1 year later to see how I did. I could care less if I went 0-15 doing it... As long as I'm having fun with the column and others are entertained by it, we're good. Just a wrestling column...
So... I've been very observant of the insider wrestling news and how the booking has been on WWE shows lately. Speaking of predictions, you know that I'm obsessed with predicting Wrestlemania and I'm actually quite accurate in my predictions, particularly of the Undertaker matches. Many in the drive-by Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) scolded me for my obvious prediction that WWE did not want to push Daniel Bryan but would rather see Randy Orton pushed instead against John Cena. TLC Pay Per View and now Royal Rumble 2014 later, I was correct on the Orton over Bryan prediction. However, I was predicting Randy Orton vs. John Cena for Wrestlemania 30. John Cena's early return changed that...
But I'm seeing something else right now that is throwing my Wrestlemania 30 predictions off. There's a "change" in the air backstage in the WWE. In my opinion, that change is Triple H taking charge of the WWE Creative Team from his wife Stephanie McMahon. And I'm not bashing it, hear me out...
Since late 2000, Stephanie has been in charge of WWE Creative and has answered only to Vince McMahon, with executive producer Kevin Dunn always having his input. But for the most part, she's worked with her dad and they've had a routine going with storylines, who gets pushed, scripted lines, reporting levels, and booking the big events like Wrestlemania, SummerSlam, and Royal Rumble. As bad as you could argue that the booking has been under Stephanie, you know what to expect with her in charge and working with Vince. The booking between 2001 through 2013 has been very consistent and resembles that of Vince McMahon's 1980's model of find a top babyface (John Cena) and keep them strong at the top while feeding him a rotating door of opponents. You could argue that Randy Orton has been pushed like Randy Savage, as he gets a decent amount of the crumbs while John Cena eats the entire cake (much like Hulk Hogan).
Now, however, Stephanie has taken on a new role as "Chief Brand Officer", which in my opinion is a role to eventually give her the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position from Vince. Triple H, who was the EVP of Talent, now takes her former role as Creative Team lead... And I believe HHH is taking charge of the WWE's booking and Wrestlemania 30 is enduring a makeover on its long-term plans because of this personnel change.
In my opinion, this was Wrestlemania 30 until recent events... This is based on the booking trends that I was seeing along with the insider news that was posted BEFORE Triple H reportedly took over the Creative Team:
-Triple H vs. CM Punk
-(Maybe) Daniel Bryan vs. Shawn Michaels
-Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
-John Cena vs. Randy Orton for WWE Title
WWE has reportedly kept CM Punk busy with Paul Heyman to purposely keep him away from the Authority storyline until the timing was right. I personally believe that Triple H saw the "Match of the Year" candidate that CM Punk gave the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29 and wanted some of that... Much like he witnessed Shawn Michaels getting great matches with Undertaker at Wrestlemanias 25 and 26 and Triple H owning the next 2 Wrestlemanias with the Undertaker. Plus, there's a lot of heat from the 2011 "Summer of Punk" stuff that makes it an obvious fit for Wrestlemania 30. I believe that this match still occurs...
Things have changed, however, with Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar. Reportedly, Undertaker asked management to be paired with Daniel Bryan instead as there's a thought that the Undertaker, at his age and injury, cannot take on what has become a very physical Brock Lesnar. It makes me wonder if the Daniel Bryan storyline of joining the Wyatt Family will now force a handicap match between Daniel Bryan/Bray Wyatt vs. Undertaker. If Undertaker is hellbent on wrestling Daniel Bryan, I believe that this match will occur with the obvious finish being Bryan or Wyatt turning on each other to leave the other vulnerable for a pin against the Undertaker.
UNLESS - The reported John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt match suggestion at Wrestlemania 30 actually occurs. I believe that this idea was floated to Vince by Triple H, as HHH is very high on this character and Vince likes the Wyatt family too because of their hoss like sizes. It's too early in Wyatt's career, but landing a great match with John Cena never hurts. Damien Sandow has been on an in-ring roll lately since his match with Cena, for example. I still don't see that happening because of a love for a certain year of developmental call-ups...
2002 was the year that the WWE unloaded its developmental system into the main WWE roster. Why? WWE was dead serious about the brand extension after the WCW brand failed to materialize the year before. Instead of WWE and WCW, the WWE opted for a RAW and a Smackdown brand. They wanted to create 2 separate rosters with separate titles. To accomplish this, they needed lots of new talent. Thankfully, Jim Ross, Danny Davis, and Jim Cornette recruited and trained many great wrestlers in the Ohio Valley Wrestling territory. The call-ups included Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Batista, John Cena, Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, and others... Orton and Cena have stood the test of time while Brock Lesnar has returned with a high price tag following his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fame.
But now, there is a 4th... Batista is set to return and was announced to be the 1st entrant into the 2014 Royal Rumble. The last time we saw Batista was 2010 and he reportedly left the WWE due to disliking the creative direction of the company and of his character. Plus, he wanted to seek other opportunities in the sports and entertainment world. In his 40's with his physical prime winding down, he wanted to try some MMA and increasing his opportunities in film. But now, he's returning and has been negotiating with his old weight lifting buddy Triple H to return. Triple H and Batista became fast friends in 2002, as anyone does who shares a passion for weightlifting and taking Triple H's advice (see Sheamus now), and I would bet this friendship landed Batista into the Evolution stable and actually replaced another wrestler set for the role (former WCW wrestler, Mark Jindrak).
Batista is Triple H's biggest accomplishment in "giving back" to pro wrestling, in my opinion. He not only helped to groom Batista as part of Evolution (I believe Ric Flair was a big help, too), but Triple H put the guy over HUGE at Wrestlemania 21. Batista was a legitimate main event wrestler for the rest of his WWE career. Batista is probably forever grateful to Triple H and I can imagine with Batista returning, Triple H has an incentive to keep Batista looking strong upon his return. It is quite strange to me how Batista just suddenly appeared, though... In fact, his possible signing was "leaked" to the internet much earlier than anticipated and Vince McMahon was reportedly pissed about word getting out about Batista's return. Who would have incentive to leak that information?
Could be to get people talking about Batista's return and hype him up about match possibilities with Randy Orton, John Cena, and most of all, Brock Lesnar for OVW "Class of 2002" match possibilities.
Batista's return and Brock Lesnar's new angle where he's declaring himself as the #1 contender tells me that the booking for Wrestlemania 30 is about to drastically change. I seriously believe that a Fatal 4 Way match will go down for the WWE World Heavyweight Title between Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Batista for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Here's how it will happen:
(a) Batista wins the 2014 Royal Rumble.
(b) Loser of John Cena vs. Randy Orton will win the 2014 Elimination Chamber match.
(c) Brock Lesnar, by force, will get the 4th spot. Quite possibly, Lesnar "joins" the Authority and HHH/Stephanie seek to reclaim the WWE Title through Lesnar.
But we'll see... Plans keep changing for Wrestlemania 30. I am certain that Triple H's increased role for the Creative say of the WWE has changed things.
However, do you know what's funny about all of the Wrestlemania 30 rumors that we keep hearing? Somebody is backstage within the WWE and is getting away with leaking them.
How on earth are we able to know that the Undertaker requested to management to work with Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 30? What, did Vince, Triple H, Kevin Dunn, and Stephanie have the speakerphone on "high" in front of the entire WWE staff?
How on earth are we able to know that Batista was negotiating with the WWE for a return? Does the WWE Corporate offices have cameras everywhere like a Reality TV show? How did we know that Vince McMahon was very upset by the leaking? Is someone with a camera following him at every moment?
In fact, how are all of these Creative Meeting ideas leaking to the internet and insider sources? Especially when the "exclusive" sources are limited to just a few guys. One would think that Vince McMahon would search phone records for anyone who called Dave Meltzer's phone number for the past month. How on earth is Vince completely unable and incompetent to find the person leaking the information? Either Vince is leaking the information himself or one of his top executive managers is the leak.
I don't believe that Vince is the leak... After all, we hear repeat stories about senile he's becoming with his old age and the tantrums he's thrown about how various storylines haven't panned out. Kevin Dunn doesn't get reported on much, but as the television producer, he has a pretty set job with more of an involvement on the television side of things. Plus, he has peaked in his role as Executive Producer/Director of the WWE and is very unlikely to succeed Vince McMahon as CEO of the company.
And that leaves Triple H & Stephanie. It's quite funny how we rarely hear any gossip stories about the pair from the "dirt sheets". I have heard throughout the years that many wrestlers refuse to speak out about Triple H/Stephanie out of fear of their jobs because those 2 are assumed to succeed Vince and because of how sensitive the two are to comments made about them. Both have long memories and have eliminated many wrestlers who talked smack about them backstage. Remember that Class of 2002 for Ohio Valley Wrestling that I discussed above? Many of those wrestlers were outspoken critics of the WWE's creative direction under Stephanie and disliked Triple H's influence over matters... Many "snitches" sent word back to Stephanie/HHH and many haven't been back since.
All of these reports about Vince McMahon becoming senile and throwing tantrums backstage, leaking Batista's return early, revealing a private request made by the Undertaker to work with Daniel Bryan, and other reported Wrestlemania 30 matches, like John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, to "test" the internet reaction... Seems like something is going on and Vince McMahon somehow can't figure out who is leaking news to the SAME news sources every time. It really sounds like he's truly senile.
Here's a good tip for Vince... Tell each of your executives, Stephanie, Triple H, and Kevin Dunn an exclusive creative idea that only they would hear. Then, watch the dirt sheet newsletters to see which creative idea gets leaked out. There's your rat!
Make no mistake, there is a big push to reform Wrestlemania 30 via leaked news and the new WWE Creative Team leader, Triple H. The "Class of 2002" (Batista/Cena/Lesnar/Orton) are going to dominate 2002 while handpicked developmental wrestlers (Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Big E Langston) will be expedited to the top level.
Let's not knock Triple H too much... The return of the Tag Team division has been very successful. Maybe a new creative voice is what the WWE needs? Granted, Triple H is very loyal to his friends or anyone who shares his passion for weightlifting (or takes his advice on how to weightlift). That's why I LAUGH when anyone suggests that Batista is returning to enhance other wrestlers. NO, he's there to Main Event again. Why else would he return when he has a decent amount of other opportunities and ventures out there?
Not a good time to be wrestlers like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Punk's contract is about to run out and with the Fab 4 of the "Class of 2002", CM Punk suddenly becomes easy to let go (especially if those injuries have become excessive). If the WWE thought Daniel Bryan looked small beside Randy Orton during their matches, how would he look beside Brock Lesnar and Batista? Not just in height, but Batista and Lesnar thick as hell. Daniel Bryan won't stand a chance at a World Title unless injuries occur or if Batista/Lesnar are both part-time performers. Besides, the WWE seems to have their chips in to push Big E Langston, Bray Wyatt, and Roman Reigns huge during 2014.
I'm sorry to say this, but I was not impressed by Roman Reigns first time in the singles main event spotlight. He looked clueless and green out there, as if he needed some more time in the Tag Team division. The only advantage Reigns has over most in the WWE is his look, but the ability and charisma aren't there to draw beyond that. But the WWE will try... Dean Ambrose hasn't impressed as a singles wrestler, either. Seth Rollins seems to be the best in-ring performer out of the 3 but the WWE doesn't have serious singles plans for that guy, it appears.
I like Big E Langston... The guy is a freak as an athlete and as long as the WWE is patient with him AND gets him a better haircut, he'll be fine.
I'm warming up to the Bray Wyatt character... Less over-the-top with the gimmick in recent weeks and I've been impressed with the in-ring work of the 2 family members. It's probably going to workout... Those "Husky Harris" chants went away fast. Getting Daniel Bryan on his side will only enhance Wyatt, just as it did for old man Kane last year and AJ Lee the previous year. Anybody who is around Bryan improves... Heck, look at the way Brie Bella has been wrestling lately. 'Nuff said!
If I were a betting man now... I'll go with this as my Wrestlemania 30 line-up:
-AJ Lee vs. Tamina Snuka for the Divas Title
-Luke Harper/Eric Rowan vs. Goldust/Cody Rhodes for the Tag Titles
-Roman Reigns vs. Big E Langston for Intercontinental Title
-Triple H vs. CM Punk
-Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt/Daniel Bryan
-Fatal 4 Way: Brock Lesnar vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton vs. John Cena for the WWE Title
That looks pretty good... Maybe change in leadership over the WWE Creative Team was seriously needed?
Times are a-changing...
Comments and debates are welcome on Twitter. Bring it on. @titowrestling
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