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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Finally - Great Booking by WWE Before Money in the Bank PPV
By Mr. Tito
Jun 25, 2013 - 9:46:04 PM
I always laugh when I hear TNA fans rip the WWE. Despite the fact that the WWE is miles ahead of TNA for market share and the low ratings that IMPACT gets, it's the same old smacktalk from TNA fans. Personally, I have no issue with TNA. I don't prefer to follow it as closely to the WWE because I've seen many of TNA's stars at their peaks already... But in other promotions. The guys I want to see more of, the Samoa Joes of the world, are poorly booked in favor of whatever former WWE/WCW/ECW star is the flavor of the month at the time.
My point about TNA Wrestling is that if it was soooooo great, why hasn't it overtaken the WWE by now? WWE gets 3.0 ratings for its RAW broadcasts with around 4 to 4.5 million watching per show. TNA, with its 1.0 ratings, gets around 1 million viewers. Certainly doesn't seem out of reach, but TNA has been at this for 10 years. If it was such a great promotion, it would have closed that 3 million viewership gap by now. And I'd argue that 0.5 of TNA Impact Wrestling's viewers are WWE fans looking for more wrestling to watch on Thursday nights.
Where TNA truly loses is when the WWE gets motivated and begins to put out quality. The booking for the post-WWE Payback shows have been, thankfully, strong. The Ryback experiment failed and now the WWE will try Mark Henry. Say what you will about the guy, but he's a legitimate HEEL wrestler from years upon years of seasoning. I enjoyed his World Heavyweight Title run and he feels like a legitimate main eventer. He sold the "retirement" angle well and it generated strong interest in the Mark Henry vs. John Cena match. In addition to threatening retirement, Mark Henry has a "sense of urgency" to beat John Cena because he's never held the WWE Title before. He's not some goof who has no clue how to be a heel or comes out of the back of an ambulance before his matches. Thankfully, in hindsight, Mark Henry beat Ryback at Wrestlemania 29 and won't look weak heading into his matches with Cena.
Speaking of "sense of urgency", what a STACKED MONEY IN THE BANK match. Look at this list of participants: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Christian, Randy Orton, Sheamus, and the returning Rob Van Dam. Each of them have held an official WWE World Title at least once... That's impressive. And I love the mixing of RAW and Smackdown brands in this match and I HOPE that a second Money in the Bank match isn't started. Just 1 match, winner take all. That's what makes the Royal Rumble remain credible. Just one Royal Rumble match, regardless of brand. You don't see a RAW and then a Smackdown Royal Rumble match, do you? Keep this as the ONLY match and fans will look forward to it... It's STACKED with so many great superstars, how could a second live up to it?
The announcement for this match came from Stephanie McMahon... USA Network reportedly wants more McMahons on the shows, so that's what we're getting. One thing I don't like, and we saw this with Stephanie last night, is how the McMahons talk down to everybody. Maybe if there was a storyline arc where the McMahons "get theirs" for being such dicks, I could understand... But they are here and commanding a major presence on the shows. Stephanie completely undercut Vickie Guerrero last night on the Money in the Bank participant announcement and pretty much nullifies why a RAW General Manager actually exists. Personally, I kind of like the "heel boss" angle for the Divas division. Granted, it would steal ideas from the Austin/Vince storyline of the late 1990's, but it's a different gender. Imagine if Stephanie had her own heel stable of females who were all her flunkies and the face Divas had to get through them to get to Stephanie?
But Stephanie carries that swagger that sucks the air out of anyone on television. Her character was so damn strong during the early 2000's that she's unable to turn that strength off here in 2013. She belittled the Divas last week and did the same to Vickie this week. Very strong personality, which makes me wonder how broken the Creative Staff is when they dare speak up? Probably why Creative has suffered for the past decade.
Where creative is getting it right, however, is the whole CM Punk/Paul Heyman/Brock Lesnar storyline. I was hoping this week that Paul Heyman would completely deny the Brock Lesnar attack on CM Punk. That segment last night on RAW between Punk and Heyman was legendary. Both are such great pros that they put legitimate emotion in that segment to sell the eventual betrayal that Paul Heyman will perform later. CM Punk ripped Heyman to shreds, thinking that he trusted him... And then Heyman's response, even saying he "loved CM Punk", was tremendous. Just watch CM Punk listening to Heyman's promo... Amazing. Punk was selling Heyman's words as if they were legit and it doesn't make CM Punk look like a fool for believing Heyman. Between Punk/Heyman this week and Mark Henry last week with his retirement speech... THAT is how Creative should be done, along with properly showing how to work a WWE crowd.
Simply put, they know that Heyman is going to doublecross CM Punk just as they knew Mark Henry would attack John Cena at some point during the retirement speech. However, the actors involved did such a great job that it convinced the fans to PLAY ALONG. That's pro wrestling in a nutshell. We believe it's 100% fake and fixed, but it's so interesting that we're willing to play along. Already, you know that when Heyman turns on CM Punk officially, it's going to be epic and you want to see it! That's pro wrestling, baby! And that's what has been missing from the WWE for years.
What makes better pro wrestling is when the promotions listen to the fans on when a wrestler is getting over. WWE management likes and has tried to push Sheamus, Jack Swagger, the Miz, and Alberto Del Rio down our throats for the past 3 years. We've rejected them at the premature times that the WWE made them champions and rightfully so. There's one guy that the WWE fans like and that's despite the unfavorable booking he's been granted: Daniel Bryan. Thankfully, the McMahons are finally recognizing the guy that the fans, not the bookers, have chosen to be their favorite. Daniel Bryan is not only over with the fans, but he's capable of putting on great matches. He put on a classic to headline RAW this past Monday against Randy Orton and get this: HE WON.
Imagine how much over Daniel Bryan could be if he started winning matches regularly and against big names? It's untapped potential...
I just don't know where the WWE is going with Bryan's opponent from Monday night, Randy Orton. I've praised the guy for his in-ring ability in the past few years, but he continues to baffle me on how he can't figure out the OTHER side of the business: character and personality. Randy Orton is completely void of it, as if he's just a robot who walks out to that ring and just wrestles. Nothing more. You could argue that it's a babyface thing but he wasn't all that impressive as a heel. I'd argue that he's a better heel than a face, but what I see is a guy that the WWE has tried to overpush since the first main event push through SummerSlam 2004 that went bad. The guy gets super favorable booking yet what has he shown for the WWE business? I think the only man that could save him is Paul Heyman, and I don't mean as a manager... As a booker. Heyman has taken poorly booked guys from both his ECW and Smackdown days and got them over by repackaging their characters in a meaningful way. WWE needs a strong creative mind on Orton and fast.
Speaking of odd booking, what the heck was up with that 3 Way #1 Contender's Match on RAW for the Tag Titles? I wasn't aware of any organized ranking that would allow the Usos, 2 members of the 3 Man Band, and Brodus Clay/Tensai to be up for #1 Contendership. Later in the night, the Prime Time Players came out for a singles match with Punk and I was wondering why they weren't in this tag match? The Tag Team Title needs more attention and more organization than this, WWE Creative. Just look at the lack of heat for this tag match and then look at how much more badass the Shield, who is strongly booked, looks compared to the Usos. WWE has barely let Monday Night RAW viewers see the Usos in a winning fashion and thus no heat for them as #1 contenders. I would have gone with Brodus Clay/Tensai as the winners of this match just for some fear factor for the Shield on wrestling hosses compared to the still unknown Usos.
PLENTY of great tag team wrestling on the Indy Circuit... Baffled as to why the WWE doesn't bother making the investment. Late 1980's WWE had strong tag team wrestling. Late 1990's/Early 2000's WWE during the Attitude Era had strong tag team wrestling. WCW during the late 1990's had good tag team wrestling (Steiners/Harlem Heat vs. Outsiders did great business). ECW had a fun tag team division that helped their promotion (made the Dudley Boyz). AGAIN - WWE has the freakin' video libraries and they can clearly see themselves or other promotions succeed due to the investment in a great tag team division. It's such a major asset to the midcard of ANY show.
Let's have a quick peak at Money in the Bank 2013 so far, according to WWE.com:
-John Cena (c) vs. Mark Henry for the WWE Title
-Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler for World Heavyweight Title
-Money in the Bank All-Stars (Rob Van Dam, Kane, Christian, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Sheamus)
-Chris Jericho vs. Ryback.
I LOVE the "Money in the Bank All-Stars" name for that match. That's great stuff.
I have to admit... This is definitely leaning BUY for me. I'm enjoying the Henry push and would be curious if they gave him a WWE Title win after this retirement angle while the Money in the Bank match looks EXCELLENT. Over the course of the next few weeks, the WWE can just mix and match the All-Stars into matches and tag matches against each other. We're gold for the next few RAW episodes, folks.
Better yet, CM Punk participating in the Money in the Bank match means that CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar is being saved for SummerSlam 2013. That's good business for the WWE.
Things are looking up for the WWE right now. The booking appears to be improving and there seems to be an importance on who to push for a title and who should be champions. Right now, the Shield occupying the midcard titles has been a great boost while the WWE seems damn serious about Curtis Axel at Intercontinental. At least with Smackdown's World Title, Jack Swagger is out of the picture temporarily. The guy had a horrible 2012 and yet the WWE tried make us forget that for 2013. Ryback out of WWE Title picture is good, although Chris Jericho can only put over so many wrestlers before that gets old. Is Jericho the only guy who can put over talent now in the WWE? I'm loving this Mark Henry push and it gives John Cena a legitimate heel to wrestle for the moment. We'll have to see if the WWE gets serious about Mark Henry with the reported Daniel Bryan push waiting in the wings... If WWE management feels Henry is getting over as a heel, he'll win the WWE title and keep it for a while.
Just fix the Tag Team division, create a list of United States/Intercontinental Title contenders, reduce the McMahon belittling of other wrestlers/personalities unless it leads to something meaningful, and recognize weak World Title contenders when you see them (and depush them). But the past few weeks have given me confidence in the WWE Corporation that they are getting their crap together...
TNA doesn't stand a chance when WWE does things right.
So just chill til the next episode...
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