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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - WWE Superstar Shake-Up Thoughts... Was it Worth It?
By Mr. Tito
Apr 12, 2017 - 11:45:32 PM
Shake, shake, shake... Shake, shake, shake... Shake up that roster! Shake up that roster! Welcome back to the column post that has the most, it's the Mr. Tito experience exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. Before we go into the obvious "Superstar Shake-Up" review, I want to send a special THANK YOU to all of my readers for the strong numbers for my columns during this Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania season. I've been doing this for over 18 years now at LoP and I continue doing this on a voluntary basis for you, the readers. I'm very grateful for my audience and I have no plans of stopping with your continued encouragement.
So what did I think of the "Superstar Shake-up"?
Mostly a "much to do about nothing" with one exception... I thought that the Miz/Maryse move from Smackdown to RAW was the biggest screwjob of the shake-up. I could deal with Ambrose or Bray Wyatt leaving... Why? Because we've seen their best already. Can I say that again? WE'VE SEEN THEIR BEST ALREADY... Peaked. Ambrose had his best year last year but seemed to fall off after the AJ Styles feud. I did NOT like the Bray Wyatt performance at Wrestlemania 33. On the biggest stage of the year, he presented NOTHING unique. Ambrose and Wyatt leaving doesn't offend me at all... In fact, Dean Ambrose joining RAW while Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins staying put presents to the opportunity to #ReuniteTheShield... I'm cool with that. Ambrose/Wyatt leaving for Kevin Owens/Rusev/Sami Zayn was a fair trade...
But the Miz... Ouch. That's the most PAINFUL loss...
And I say that with yours truly being VERY critical of the Miz before the 2016 Brand Extension DRAFT. I discussed this in recent column, but I felt that Miz was too corporate, too scripted, and was a product of what the WWE wanted you to see. My challenge was for him to do something that was anti-corporate and to reject the WWE... WWE, instead, had him "shoot" on Daniel Bryan on an edition of Talking Smack and that promo helped build some much needed confidence and gave the Miz a much needed heel edge that was UNIQUE TO HIM. Then, you had Maryse increasing her role from just a piece of arse ringside to an actual heel manager that helps cheat during Miz's matches.
In my opinion, the Creative Team members for the Smackdown brand rehabbed that Miz character and they should be the ones benefitting from Miz launching into a Main Eventer full time and becoming World Champion again. Instead, he goes to RAW where he might have to play 2nd fiddle to the mass man-of-a-mountain named Braun Strowman and also Brock Lesnar. Those 2 cast major shadows (as they should). I thought that if Miz stayed on Smackdown as a HEEL, he could go on to have an extensive feud with newly turned babyface AJ Styles. As you heard on the Stone Cold Podcast, AJ Styles had major praise for the Miz and Styles said that at the time before the Draft, calling Miz "tough" and "great" worker (paraphrasing). If Miz would have overcome John Cena at Wrestlemania 33, he would have mega heat on him to really become a strong Main Event heel draw on Smackdown... However, now he goes to RAW... Ummm, he was a great Intercontinental Champion?
Through it all, I'm HAPPY to see the Miz prove himself as a major wrestling superstar for the past year. I knew that he had passion for wrestling and the WWE, and to be honest, I hated ripping him for lackluster performances since his WWE Title run. The poor guy has 5 lost years between his 2011 WWE Title run to his 2016 draft to Smackdown that are completely lost. Thankfully, the Smackdown Creative Team is pretty good (one of the best NXT writers is there) and they let Miz cut it loose on Talking Smack. Imagine that... A close to unscripted promo got someone over. Imagine that.
If there was ONE thing that I'll praise about the 2016 Brand Split, it's the Miz's career has been revamped and he's now an asset for the WWE to push to the top.
In my opinion, and I say this as someone who felt that (a) the 2016 Brand Extension Draft was NOT necessary and (b) this "Superstar Shake-Up" was NOT neceesary, this whole shake-up is an indictment of how Monday Night RAW is performing. When we're NOT in Wrestlemania season or not featuring Bill Goldberg/Undertaker/Brock Lesnar, the show teeters at or below 3 million fans. Even when we're hyping Wrestlemania or featuring Lesnar/Undertaker/Goldberg, we're still just barely above 3.0 million. The WWE's television deal with USA Network/Comcast expires during mid-2019. The WWE has 2 years to impress those officials to potentially increase their deal to remain on USA Network or to sell themselves to another Cable/Satellite channel. You say that "ratings don't matter"... OK, if they don't, why "shake-up" the rosters? I'm OK with freshening up things every once and a while, but many wrestlers moved rosters including several former world champions. RAW is the flagship show... During 2014 when the WWE signed that Comcast deal, they were just above 4.0 million viewers. Now, a "great" night is getting near 3.5 million viewers while often being at or sometimes below 3.0 million. That's SCARY and could present negotiating troubles for the WWE during mid-2019.
That's why you move Dean Ambrose to RAW along with the Miz, potentially even Bray Wyatt too. With Ambrose, you could easily #ReuniteTheShield for an instant babyface stable sensation while capitalizing on the Miz's momentum from the past year. Make no mistake, there's some potential with Maryse as a female personality... With Bray Wyatt, he can easily feud with Braun Strowman and Wyatt brings the best out of Roman Reigns. I also think there is something to moving Alexa Bliss to RAW... Think about this for a second... Alexa is replacing Charlotte on the Women's roster which is quite the honor considering how hard WWE pushed Charlotte to dominate on RAW.
I think that WWE purposely moved "deadweight" to Smackdown with Sami Zayn and Rusev, 2 wrestlers that RAW had lose repeatedly. I also believe that Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn still aren't high on Kevin Owens's talent... That's OK because Owens gets to work with a former NXT Creative Team member who worked well with him at NXT. That's RAW's loss because they had Owens losing repeatedly to Roman Reigns in non-title matches.
Seems like Smackdown could be a strong workrate show given those moves and they've retained Shinsuke Nakamura. Interesting...
SMACKDOWN will be OK if they use Shinsuke Nakamura correctly and let him be added to the Main Event group. That will take away the loss of the Miz and give us many great match-ups.
But... Could someone show me the last time when Vince McMahon properly used Japanese wrestlers?
Oh, Tajiri? Listen... I LOVE me some Tajiri. He spits the green mist and anyone that does that, I mark out for... Tarantula and Octopus submissions, I'm all in... Devastating kicks? Sign me up... That flip on the ropes into a jumping elbow was a thing of beauty. But Tajiri was a midcarder at best. Kaientai? Are you serious on that? Choppy Choppy off your pee-pee?
It is a FACT that Vince McMahon kept Shinsuke Nakamura, a world class worker and internationally known, in the developmental territory NXT for a FULL YEAR. While AJ Styles, Gallows, and Anderson went straight to the main WWE roster, Nakamura debuted and stayed in NXT. Granted, NXT needed Nakamura to help stay afloat after the RAW/Smackdown brand extension 2016 draft stripped the roster, but the fact remains that he wrestled in NXT for a full year.
Until Vince McMahon proves me wrong and Nakamura is allowed to become a major star, I'll remain skeptical on how Vince perceives Japanese wrestlers.
As much as I hated seeing her go, I'm HAPPY for Alexa Bliss. I root for her to succeed as a success story. With Charlotte going to Smackdown, Alexa effectively replace's Charlotte's role. She got on the mic and just thrashed Bayley and Sasha Banks. Seems like the WWE, however, is trying to push Nia Jax hard now.
If you watch Alexa Bliss's My Daughter is a WWE Superstar segment, you'll become a fan and root for her too. Guaranteed.
Other notes on the Superstar Shake-up...
- Hey, Tamina is still on the WWE roster... Cool, good for her.
- If Smackdown's Creative Team couldn't get Apollo Crews over, how can RAW's Creative Team? Good luck...
- I'm actually sad to see New Day leave RAW... While they've been poorly used since losing their Tag Titles, they just identified with RAW for me. Hopefully, Woods/Kofi are pushed HARD as a tag team while Big E is pushed as a singles star on Smackdown. Please keep them as a trio, though...
- JBL not getting traded confirms that Mauro won't be returning. I'm not defending Bradshaw whatsoever, but I still say that Tom Phillips being added as the 4th member suggested to me that WWE may have planned to get rid of Mauro during 2017. For all we know, WWE just sent him packing early to reduce the value of his exit.
- Speaking of announcers, Byron Saxton and David Otunga were traded for each other. Gee, I wonder why... What, we couldn't trade Corey Graves for David Otunga? Was that option off the table?
- I actually forgot to comment on his debut last week... I'm so happy to see Kurt Angle back on WWE television and as the authority figure. Such a breath of fresh air!
THE LAST WORD
Being honest here, the Shake-Up wasn't that bad... Watching RAW on Tuesday and Smackdown on Wednesdays on Hulu, I had an extra day to think about the roster moves instead of reacting immediately as a show was ending. The Miz's roster movement seems to be my only major disappointment but if he does well on RAW, then it's for the better. RAW needed help and Smackdown had better superstars at the top than RAW's Rollins & Reigns dominance at the top.
My personal favorite in the WWE, AJ Styles, has remained on Smackdown and appears to have a serious second push in order. Getting Kevin Owens further away from Roman Reigns is for the better, too. I'm excited for Charlotte to try something new as Lynch vs. Flair could be a great match-up at this point in their careers.
I'm doing OK, folks...
SO JUST CHILL... 'TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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