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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - WWE Roadblock Predictions, New Day vs. Demolition, and More
By Mr. Tito
Dec 16, 2016 - 2:59:03 PM
Here we are, at the end of 2016, and you might be expecting a "Best of 2016" or a "Tito Awards" column soon exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. Nope, not yet. We still have ONE WWE Pay Per View to go... For all we know, MATCH OF THE YEAR could be on that very show... Opportunity knocks for anyone and everyone on the RAW roster to STEP UP. Tired of being called the "weaker brand" or "underachieving as a show", then step it up. PROVE that you're worthy of the big spotlight or else the WWE will rely heavily on older veterans of yesterday to carry the brand.
I wouldn't doubt that at some point during 2017, John Cena returns to the RAW brand if/when he's done with his Hollywood break... IF he returns. Did you see those ratings for Saturday Night Live? Up, up, and away... Cena drew a strong number, the best since the Saturday following the election which starred the one and only Dave Chappelle. Cena has brand awareness that exceeds the WWE and sadly, John Cena waited until he was 39 years old to realize this. It took poor WWE creative use of him since 2013 to make Cena think about life after WWE. Good for him but bad for the WWE attempting to replace him. Sorry, but Roman Reigns does NOT cut it and this very column has been consistent on that message for 3 straight years now. I have the columns to prove it...
But let's get back on that Saturday Night Live kick... I see many similarities between SNL and the WWE. Both seemed to creatively peak through 2000... WWE, one one hand, had a STACKED roster, big stars like Steve Austin, Rock, Undertaker, and Triple H headlining their shows... However, that was the peak and RAW went from an average rating of 5.9 during 2000 to 2.6 during 2015 (going lower for 2016!). Saturday Night Live had a big year during 2000 for the Elections between Al Gore and George W. Bush, Will Ferrell in his prime along with a strong supporting cast and good writers. Sound familiar? Since 2000 as many of the comedians moved on and ditto for the writers, Saturday Night Live has diminished in quality (in my opinion). Its ratings have gone from about 6.0 during 2000 to lower 4.0s right now.
Both WWE and SNL are capable of producing good moments, but nothing consistent on a week-to-week basis. While both have produced some stars throughout the years that exceeded the brand, both haven't had as much breakout talent as seen during the late 1990s and 2000s. Seems that there are other entertainment avenues for potential talent to join. There aren't as many athletes trying to become pro wrestlers, as Mixed Martial Arts has created an avenue for many former amateur wrestlers to try instead, while there are many television channels and outlets online to utilize instead of Saturday Night Live. So many options whereas 16 years ago, times were much different. People aren't as dependent on WWE and SNL as vehicles for mainstream success.
With so much competition out there, that's when your Creative Team or Writers HAVE to be top notch. You cannot half-ass it and just expect that the brand of WWE/SNL will draw people in... Not everyone is willing to spend 2-3 hours now in front of a television to watch a live wrestling show at a set time and ditto for a sketch comedy show of 1.5 hours late at night on a Saturday. Life is moving at a faster pace now and many want something brief or summarized to watch instead. Weekly entertainment avenues need to have innovative or unique writing to differentiate itself from the rest of the entertainment competition out there. In my opinion, it just seems that WWE and SNL are just using the same playbooks as they were during 2000 but with weaker stars and writers. Instead of trying something new, the same executives at the top just keep things stable enough to make money and not offend anyone.
Sorry, but you cannot innovate within the WWE when most angles center around the mood of Stephanie McMahon. This week on RAW, she gets drenched from champagne spraying in the room following New Day's celebration of beating Demolition's Tag Title record. Once again, the HEEL authority figure throws a temper tantrum and attempts to "screw" the wrestlers who humiliated her. What did we see during 2000? Anyone who did Stephanie McMahon wrong would face severe consequences... Do you see it yet why RAW has declined? When you do the SAME THING 16 years ago and do not present anything new, you won't grow. Hell, 16 years ago, Mick Foley was also an authority figure and tried to play it right down the line as he's doing now. It's NOTHING NEW but the problem is that Stephanie/Foley won't draw as authority figures without the star power seen during 2000.
If you don't evolve, you won't grow...
Let's discuss the New Day and their "record breaking" Tag Title run... Happy for the 3 wrestlers involved. When they formed a few years ago, I did NOT give them a chance to succeed. I was basically like "WWE has nothing better to do with all 3 wrestlers"... But, WWE Creative, to their credit, gave Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods creative freedom over their characters and promos. The result has been nothing short of legitmate midcard draws. The guys are pushing cereal at WWE shows! I've seen several novelty shops in my area actually selling boxes of Booty-O's. I'm VERY happy to be wrong on this trio...
That being said, they are NOT as great as Demolition for a few reasons:
(a) The RAW Tag Titles do not equal the WWE Tag Titles that Demolition had. Yes, I KNOW, the lineage is technically through the RAW Tag Titles BUT the WWE roster was split in half and new Smackdown Tag Titles were created.
(b) New Day defend the titles as a Trio and not as a duo. Yes, I know that Demolition added Crush as their 3rd guy to flex in for the ailing Ax, but that was YEARS after Demolition's record 478 days. Ax and Smash defended as a duo.
(c) I'll take the Tag Division of the late 1980s and early 1990s over the Tag Division of the mid 2010s. Sorry, but Demolition existed when ALL TIME great tag teams existed in the WWE and they were still strong champions. Brainbusters (Arn & Tully), Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs, Strike Force, Rockers, etc. LOADED Tag Division that helped the WWE draw as a brand. New Day has... Um... Sheamus/Cesaro and Anderson/Gallows? Enzo/Cass? Hmmm... Yeah, that's not much of a comparison.
Demolition was AWESOME... In my older age and having perspective on the wrestling that I saw as a kid, I appreciate them more. Ax and Smash are often suggested to be "Road Warrior ripoffs" but they were more. Ax/Smash, in my opinion, were better wrestlers than Hawk & Animal. They had actual matches whereas the Road Warriors mostly squashed their opponents. To me, they seemed more like KISS ripoffs than Road Warriors based on their looks but they certainly did not wrestle like the Road Warriors. Their success speaks for itself with 3 Tag Title reigns. The Road Warriors, excuse me, the "Legion of Doom" would later debut in the WWE and they didn't quite draw as expected. The joke back then was that the WWE FINALLY had the "Real Road Warriors" when the WWE already had great tag teams in place instead.
As a kid, I LOVED seeing Hawk & Animal destroy jobbers on NWA/WCW programming. They'd run into the ring, sell nothing, and throw a opponent into the Doomsday Device to win in under a minute. As a 9-10 year old witnessing that, I was in awe... More than 25 years later, it doesn't hold up well... But then I tune into older Wrestlemania or SummerSlam shows and I'm VERY impressed with the caliber of tag teams that the WWE had during the late 1980s and early 1990s. After 1990, many of the great tag teams began to dissolve and members were heading into the singles division. The greatness of Demolition, British Bulldogs, Hart Foundation, and the Rockers were never replaced. While many place blame on the Ultimate Warrior not drawing as WWE champion during 1990 and Hulk Hogan's act becoming tired during 1991-1993, the midcard became thinner as well. If you notice throughout time, EVERY successful promotion has a strong tag team in place. Late 1980s WWE and NWA/WCW, late 1990s WCW/WWE, and Smackdown during 2002-2004. Hell, even ECW did well with tag team wrestling between Dudleys, Eliminators, Gangstas, Sabu/RVD, Storm/Credible, etc.
I think that an argument could be easily made that Demolition is as good as, if not better than, the Road Warriors. Granted, Road Warriors moved from territory to territory while Ax/Smash were part of the WWE machine. But to knock Demolition for being part of the WWE machine is unfair... They were GREAT wrestlers who had a nice look and personality that drew you to watch. Give them credit...
And put Demolition in the damn Hall of Fame already, WWE! Given several legal issues between the WWE and Ax/Smash, it's unlikely to happen.
Mr. Tito's PHAT WWE Roadblock 2016 Predictions
And this just isn't any Roadblock event... It's the END OF THE LINE!!!!! Honestly, thank God that it's the end of the RAW brand for 2016. I can almost safely say this, as I've watched RAW since it started... 2016 might be the WORST year of Monday Night RAW ever. Just pure garbage... I'll take all of those goofy career gimmicks of the mid 1990s over the stupidity seen on RAW this year. At least back then, I had a reasonable amount of star power (Clique and Bret Hart) while the midcard had some good wrestlers. RAW is a bloated 3 hour infomercial that has lost over 1 million viewers in the last year and a half. Think about that for a second...
RAW better see some changes to its Main Event scene (removing or retooling Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) or I'm done. Show is just awful even in its 1.5 hour version that I endure on Hulu.
Anyway, prediction time... Put on a fake smile and plow through this crap again. By the way, I've had a good prediction record as of late. Some of the haters who were hammering me earlier in the year for getting predictions wrong seemed to have disappeared... Gee, why is that? And really, I don't care how I do on my predictions... Honestly, I'm GLAD when I'm wrong on my predictions because I'd rather see something surprising than unexpected.
Big Cass vs. Rusev
If both of these guys want to climb the WWE ladder, and believe me, the WWE would love to have 2 bigger and/or thicker wrestlers on top, they should work together to have the absolute best match possible. If these two were to somehow steal the show and get everyone talking, they would be elevated rather quickly. And in my opinion, they are capable of having such a surprising match. Some decent heat heading into this match thanks to the Lana angle and I fully expect Enzo to return for this match.
WHO SHOULD WIN / WHO WILL WIN: No Contest or Disqualification on Rusev, take your pick. I figure that Enzo will either return to make the save after a DQ or something like Lana interfering causes the referee to have enough. Could you imagine if Lana pulled off a Miss Elizabeth move on the side of the ring like what we saw at SummerSlam 1988? Yes, I'll eat 'Member Berries of that moment all night long...
Cruiserweight Title: Rich Swann (c) vs. TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick
WHO SHOULD WIN / WHO WILL WIN: Rich Swann because the other 2 guys didn't captivate us as champs.
Women's Title: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (c) - 30 Minute Ironwoman Match
Funny thing is that I was suggesting this for Smackdown's female wrestlers and I somehow missed the announcement of this match on Hulu RAW. It's a Pay Per View, folks, so that probably means Charlotte will win... We've seen enough Charlotte vs. Sasha already and 2016 has been dominated heavily by Charlotte. Time to move on and try Sasha Banks as a strong Women's Champion.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Sasha Banks
WHO WILL WIN: Charlotte. Seriously, WWE loves this lady.
Tag Titles: New Day(c) vs. Sheamus/Cesaro
Seems too obvious that with the record secured, New Day will drop the titles... But why do that? Everybody is anticipating it, so why burn down that curiosity? Keep the fans wondering when the WWE will move on from the New Day and also begin to build tensions among the trio if WWE wants to truly wants to break them up. Sorry, but Sheamus and Cesaro do NOTHING as a tag team for me.
WHO WILL WIN / WHO SHOULD WIN: The New Day
Braun Strowman vs. Sami Zayn
You know what would be a HUGE moment right here? If Sami Zayn won this match 100% clean. Yeah, I know... That's a pipe dream. But Zayn has had nothing but great matches during 2016 while Strowman isn't drawing... You can keep pushing him like a monster but he's still an ex-power lifter who tried to become a pro wrestler as a second profession. Sami Zayn grew up wanting to be a pro wrestler and has practically dedicated his life to it. That's the difference...
WHO SHOULD WIN: Sami Zayn
WHO WILL WIN: Braun Strowman. Move Zayn to Smackdown, please.
Chris Jericho vs. Seth Rollins
It almost seems that this match and the Main Event are tied together... Owens and Jericho argue through the night but then make-up... Owens tries to help Jericho in his match with Rollins but botches the interference... Costs Jericho the match...
WHO SHOULD WIN: Chris Jericho. Because Seth Rollins is ratings poison with his current character. Jericho is actually over and WWE should consider one last push...
WHO WILL WIN: Seth Rollins via botched Owens interference. Only way he loses is if Triple H finally appears.
WWE Universal Title: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Rumor mill has Roman winning here but I wonder if MEGA PUSH #1636262616 for Reigns will actually begin at Royal Rumble 2017 instead. Wins Rumble match and then definitively wins the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 33. And I believe that's how it happens for 2017, sadly... Based on my Jericho/Rollins prediction, I believe that Chris Jericho will interfere in this match and attempt to attack Kevin Owens... HOWEVER, in attempting to strike Owens he'll accidentally hit Roman Reigns... Owens will be oblivious to the attack attempt, however, and thinks that Jericho tried to help him. Owens will celebrate his win as if they've made up yet Jericho had true intentions of attacking his friend. This uncertainty could boil over to Royal Rumble as I wonder if WWE would be bold enough to do Chris Jericho winning the Royal Rumble and then going after Kevin Owens? Jericho is one of the few top guys over right now...
WHO SHOULD WIN / WHO WILL WIN: Kevin Owens. WWE will wait until 2017 to continue the MEGA PUSH of Roman Reigns and he'll ride the coattails of Goldberg/Lesnar for his championship push.
THE LAST WORD
After WWE Roadblock is over, I'm going to give my annual TITO AWARDS for the best of pro wrestling that I've seen during 2016. Notice the award name, "Tito" Awards. And also notice the column's name, "MR. TITO" Strikes Back. Before that, my name was always in the title because this column represents my opinion and my opinion only. Nobody else has ever filled in for me to write this column. Thus, the annual awards that I give, such as "Best Wrestler" or "Match of the Year", are of MY OPINION.
With that being said, New Japan and other international promotion fans need to chill...
Look, I no problems if you enjoy a certain brand or promotion. Have at it, go hog wild and enjoy it! If you LOVE New Japan, don't let my opinions disrupt what YOU like. And I don't bash New Japan, ever. Hell, I don't even mention TNA, Lucha Underground, or Ring of Honor much in my columns. Those promotions just aren't my cup of tea to watch regularly, but I do follow them. As a pro wrestling columnist for a legitimate wrestling website here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com, I have to be aware of what's happening in the wrestling world at all times. But going without Cable, I'm limited in watching those shows weekly (except I do watch Ring of Honor weekly on very late Sunday nights). If you're fans of New Japan, TNA, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground, and others, be my guest... ENJOY THEM! And again, I won't insult you covering them because I normally don't.
However - If I hear of a great match, I'll go look for it in some medium. Usually, it's made available on YouTube or some other legal option. I always hear a lot of buzz about certain New Japan matches in particular and I check them out if available. If it's somehow on YouTube, I can utilize my Blu Ray player to stream that match on my big screen. Life is good... For the most part, I've reviewed most of the big New Japan matches that received strong ratings by publications or recommendations by you, the readers.
So with that being said, if I give out a "Best Wrestler" or "Match of the Year" award to someone or a match from the WWE, don't hammer me for ignoring New Japan stuff. It gets ridiculous each and every year. The usual "how can you give a WWE match an award when New Japan stuff was better", something to that effect. My response... For one, I've seen most of the New Japan matches that you're referring to, but two... THIS IS MY COLUMN. Don't like that I give my awards to WWE wrestlers or matches, too bad! Go write your own column if you to have awards that are "properly done". Be my guest... Because this column 100% represents my opinion and I've been presenting it to you 100% for free for the last 18 years. I don't need to apologize.
But I'll say this about New Japan... If it's really that good, why isn't it a bigger mainstream success in the United States? Its current American channel, AXS TV, is not widely distributed and could be limited based on the Cable/Satellite provider that you may have. Surely, a Cable channel out there with more than 75 million homes would be looking for good combat programming. Like AXS TV does with New Japan shows, they could easily place American announcers onto the show and it could draw. I actually thought SpikeTV would have tried New Japan after TNA left a few years ago but I was wrong... Is there no interest in New Japan? Would its different style not draw here in the United States?
And don't give me the "Americans don't like Japanese wrestling" excuse. If there's another culture that Americans have embraced, it's Japan. Have you not seen how well Pokemon games have sold during 2016? We love Godzilla... The video game booms of the last 30 years have been pushed by Japan. We probably wouldn't like turn-based RPGs without the Japan influence. Lots of Anime is sold annually... Shinsuke Nakamura is a big success for NXT as Takeover events have packed in fans to the rim of the arena when he headlines shows.
As I've said for YEARS about other promotions, it could been that people gravitate and develop their own loyalty to non-WWE promotions just out of sickness for the WWE itself. Watching the RAW and Smackdown infomercials to build up Pay Per Views can get rough to follow... I feel that with NXT, at times... It doesn't feel like what the WWE has become. WWE has been a bloated marketing machine that has lost its creative touch... NXT appears to be more like an athletic competition instead of "sports entertainment" that the WWE has become. Therefore, we have developed a loyalty to NXT... However that doesn't discount that the WWE itself can have great moments or great wrestlers. WWE Pay Per Views for the past 2 years on the WWE Network have been damn good.
There's nothing wrong with liking what you like... I just present you with a different perspective on the wrestling world that you can (a) agree with or (b) disagree with on your own terms. But because I didn't list your favorite New Japan match as the best of 2016, doesn't mean that (a) I didn't see the match or (b) I'm purposely ignoring your favorite promotion. I've watched more than enough wrestling for 2016 and my column output speaks for itself. Don't automatically assume that I'm avoiding your favorite promotion... I probably just like the WWE style and atmosphere better than those other promotions and so I'm probably biased. But that's ME... It's MY column.
And certainly, you have your own opinions... Feel free to state them... Just don't unfairly hammer me for somehow excluding your favorite New Japan wrestlers or matches. Because I haven't. Believe me, if you tell me a good match and where to watch it, I'll check it out... And I have.
SO JUST CHILL... UNTIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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