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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Why WWE RAW/Smackdown Superstar Shake-Up Happened, Jinder Mahal Push Thoughts, More
By Mr. Tito
Apr 25, 2017 - 12:36:48 PM

Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter.com: @titowrestling

Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com as carefully prepared by yours truly, Mr. Tito. Man, I threw many of you off last week with a concept or artsy like column with my "13 Reasons Why"... It's one of those columns that just came to me after getting tired of ranting on RAW and Smackdown. Last week was DEPRESSING for both brands and I had a wrote a partial column ripping both shows, but then I canned it. Just gets tiring stating the obvious about the AWFUL WWE Creative Team...

Few weeks ago, I looked at the "Superstar Shake-up" and thought, meh, it was OK... My opinion was that Smackdown had a better main event scene while RAW had a better midcard. I was a bit upset at the Miz leaving, in particular, but thought that Owens could do well on Smackdown. New Day, Charlotte, Rusev, and Sami Zayn need new environments and could thrive on Smackdown, I thought.

Then, I've watched both RAW and Smackdown... Sigh.

First and foremost, let's talk about WHY the "Superstar Shake-up" occurred. It is a FACT that RAW scores just above 3.0 million viewers (thank you Goldberg/Lesnar/Taker & Wrestlemania season) while Smackdown is lucky to get 2.8 million viewers. It's been that way since the July split with Smackdown only beating RAW just once, I believe. ONCE.

So consider that fact... If you're CEO/Board Chairman Vince McMahon and you look at those numbers... What do you think?

What he probably thinks is that no matter what, fans few RAW as the flagship brand and Smackdown is 2nd rate. That's why Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, and the Miz were moved to RAW. If their appearances on Smackdown can only get 2.8 million tops for Smackdown, why keep them in a smaller spotlight? That's 2 former WWE Champions and 2 of the more dominant Intercontinental Champions. For the Miz, he was on the verge of really breaking out as a main eventer (although the Cena/Nikki loss, in my opinion, hurt him). I believe that Vince McMahon realized that older veterans Randy Orton and AJ Styles aren't generating the viewership needed to boost RAW and thus both were kept on Smackdown. While I believe that Vince appreciates how AJ Styles turned out, he's still a smaller wrestler and former TNA performer in Vince's eyes.

I believe that we're in the post-2005 mode in comparison to the last brand extension... You know, when John Cena was moved to RAW as WWE Champion and Smackdown was quickly delegated to being inferior for the rest of that split. Smackdown declined for the next 6-7 years.

If you look at that RAW roster right now, it's become loaded... You could have the full Shield reunion now while continuing to develop Braun Strowman as a legitimate badass. I was totally wrong on Strowman and am so happy to see becoming a big star. AND he's a decent performer! I see real money in Bray Wyatt taking on Strowman... That's a real HOSS match that could churn out actual good matches. What scares me about the Miz joining RAW is how he fits in... Lots of size on that roster... Do you believe that he could legitimately beat Strowman, Wyatt, or Brock Lesnar in a fight? Nope... And you just know that Roman Reigns will take a bite out of Miz's ass.

But let's talk about Smackdown... Making matters WORSE for that brand is the BOOKING. 2 weeks ago, WWE held a #1 contendership for the US Title between Baron Corbin, AJ Styles, and Sami Zayn. When it happened, I questioned it although I wasn't too offended because it will produce Kevin Owens against one of those 3. I'm OK with an extensive AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens match. Cool... But then the following week of Smackdown featured a #1 WWE Title contender's match between Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Mojo Rawley, Jinder Mahal, and Sami Zayn. First and foremost, why on earth were Styles and Corbin not in this match while Sami Zayn was? So freakin' stupid... But LOOK at the wrestlers in this match! The ONLY one I'd remotely consider a "contender" is Luke Harper because he pushed Orton to the limits recently. Ziggler? No, too many losses. Rowan is a punching bag. I like Mojo, but he needs more midcard singles work.

Jinder Mahal? First and foremost, how is he even in a WWE Title contender's match? I thought that I heard on a recent Podcast somewhere that Jinder has only won 2 televised matches that he was involved with since August 2016. If you look at his lifetime win/loss record in the WWE, he's only won 17% of the matches he's been involved with. 17%!!! And it is a FACT that he was only brought back to the WWE to be an enhancement guy to the RAW roster. After all, WWE released him during 2014 after his 3 Man Band stint. The members of that 6-pack challenge were a joke to begin with but having Jinder Mahal win it is even more hilarious.

Goes to show you what Vince McMahon thinks about Smackdown, eh?

But but but "he'll help gain viewership in India" is what I keep hearing. Oh really? Is that where he's from? Maybe where the WWE bills him, but he was born in CANADA. Yes, I'm well aware that his family was from India... Doesn't deny the fact where he was naturally born and raised, however.

Haven't we tried this "growing India viewership" experiment before? Oh yeah, the Great Khali. WWE made him World Champion and I'd even argue did him more favors by landing him in a few movie roles. How did that draw with the India fanbase? At the very least with Khali, WWE didn't book him to be a JOBBER like Jinder Mahal. I'd agree to this Mahal push if the WWE reasonably pushed him in the midcard for the past year. They didn't.

But let's discuss this push for growth in India... Here are some facts:

- According to the Observer, India's television deal is the 3rd largest among the WWE's television deals. OK, let's ponder this... From the United States TV deal signed during 2014, it reported gave the WWE between $150 million to $200 million per year... The precise dollar amount hasn't been disclosed but I think we're safe at assuming the middle amount of $175 million especially since Smackdown was moved to Tuesday and LIVE while adding Total Bellas as an addendum to their deal. So if the WWE made at least $175 million, what part of the India TV deal comprises of the remaining funds of WWE's annual TV revenues of $241.7 million from 2016 (source: WWE's 10-K report)? Do the math, $241.7 million - $175 million = $66.7 million.

And remember... India's deal is ranked 3rd... Sky Sports from the United Kingdom is WWE's 2nd biggest television deal. Even if we assume that India's TV deal is a close second, they are only giving WWE, at most, $33 million. However, WWE doesn't just air in the United Kingdom or India... Many, many television deals throughout Europe and Asia. That remaining $66.7 million pie is divided many ways.

- India's Gross Domestic Product is just over $2 Trillion annually. Compare that to the United Kingdom who is close to $3 Trillion annually... But making matters worse for India is their per capita numbers. Remember, India is a very populous country with its density of people per square mile being higher than almost every country. United States is at about $18 Trillion.

- On a Per Capita GDP basis (GDP / population), India earns almost $1,600 per person. By comparison, United Kingdom is at almost $44,000 per person (United States is at about $56,000 per person). That's an impressive number for the United Kingdom and could help explain why the independent scene over there is thriving.

Those are FACTS... So thus what I'm about to say may appear controversial, but again, you cannot deny facts.

If you look at the United States of America since the 1970s, what is different about the manufacturing sector? Oh, it has greatly decreased in size. I live in the Midwest where many manufacturing plants and steel mills have closed. They call it the "Rust Belt" for a good reason as many empty factories are just sitting there and rusting away with no interest in occupying those buildings. In the South, the textile industry left that area and shipped to other countries as well.

So here's an honest question... Why would any employer want to terminate United States manufacturing jobs and send them to various countries in Asia like India or China? You know, that "outsourcing" issue that has been discussed about eroding jobs in the U.S. Well, if you look at the Per Capital GDP numbers of those countries, India at $1,600 (as reported above) and China's close to $8,000... Employers are taking advantage of those countries' lower standards of living to exploit paying a lower wage rate than what you see in the United States. Outsourcing firms don't have to deal with the Minimum Wage or Labor Unions in those countries. Oh, and they don't have to pay for Healthcare, fund Pensions, pay Payroll taxes, and abide by Job Safety regulations. Let's not forget environmental regulations. There is no Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulators to worry about when manufacturing goods in India and China. Remember during the Summer 2008 Olympics in China when many athletes were concerned about the air? How about rivers turning, well, redish in color?

So how does the WWE expect to boost income from India again? $1,600 per capita?

And again, WWE is attempting to do so by overpushing Canadian born Jinder Mahal to a WWE Title shot. If you take the "India expansion attempt" out of the discussion, the WWE is quickly pushing a wrestler with a lifetime 17% winning percentage in any WWE match he's participated while barely winning at all, period, since his WWE return during 2016. Remember, Mahal was brought in specifically to be "enhancement talent" as a warm body for babyfaces to beat on. He was the 2nd fiddle in the association with Rusev.

I don't get it and it's takes ZERO offense with Jinder as a wrestler and the country of India. I have no problems with either one... But the facts stand for themselves.

Want my opinion on where to go internationally?

The Fate of the Furious opening weekend broke International box office records 2 weeks ago. The big driver (no pun intended) is CHINA. In just 2 weeks, they generated $300 million in box office revenues! $300 million! But then consider Transformers 4 which did over $1 billion worldwide. It under-performed in the United States versus other Transformer films but did $320 million alone in China. Consider that and then consider how the National Basketball Association (NBA) has been performing well in that country. NBA has earned around a reported $200 million per year from that country and growing. And consider jersey sales which do well for the NBA's biggest stars. Remember when Yao Ming was in the NBA? The initial fanfare of their homegrown talent was big, but Chinese fans were actually buying jerseys of other stars instead (Kobe, for example).

Watch what Triple H is doing in NXT and with the WWE Developmental Stars. I believe that HHH "gets it" as he had his first Chinese wrestler signing during July 2016 and then signed multiple recruits from that region later that year. If the WWE can somehow create a breakout star or at least someone reasonable, that's an avenue to growth. China seems more apt to consumerism than India. China's per capital GDP is growing and seeing big budget films like Fate of the Furious and Transformers 4 do ABSURD numbers in that country should tell you something. They're growing and citizens are hungry for American produced entertainment.

But I still contend that the WWE needs to do a better job competing in the United States. That's where the WWE is headquartered, that's where it mostly tours, richest TV deal by a margin, has the most WWE Network subscribers, etc. Remember - WWE has to tour with large production trucks while putting up everybody in hotels, feeding them, and travel. Expenses shoot right up when you do International tours.

Now, I'm not saying WWE should avoid international avenues... Go for it... If you have an India television outlet willing to overpay for WWE programming, take their money! Nothing wrong with an International Tour either, especially if they money is right (when they pay you more to tour as well). But to overpush a JOBBER like Jinder Mahal to convince an India wrestling fan to buy WWE products beyond their $1,600 per capita GDP... Good luck with that!


Remember Alberto Del Rio from 2011? The plan following Wrestlemania that year was to make Del Rio become WWE Champion by SummerSlam 2011 so that he could have the WWE's top belt on the Mexico tour later that year during the Fall. Now, that sounds like a great idea on paper but DON'T FORGET where Alberto Del Rio was earlier that year... He was on the Smackdown brand and chasing the World Heavyweight Championship! Del Rio was quickly traded to the RAW roster following Wrestlemania was rushed to winning the Money in the Bank briefcase at that event. The ironic thing is at that same Money in the Bank 2011, the WWE was almost on its way to creating the next "Stone Cold" in CM Punk as WWE Champion yet they were planting the seeds of his destruction at the SAME EVENT with Del Rio winning the Money in the Bank briefcase. Then at SummerSlam, mysterious Kevin Nash attack happened and Del Rio won the briefcase.

Appealing to ONE COUNTRY for the sake of the entire promotion can backfire. WWE better know that this wrestler can not only appeal to ONE COUNTRY, but also to ALL WRESTLING FANS. Del Rio did not and I guarantee that Jinder Mahal will not. Look at how pissed off wrestling fans are about the overpush of Mahal. They ALL SEE that he was a JOBBER before winning that #1 WWE Title contendership. EVERYONE sees that! Just like many saw Del Rio as being overpushed just for the sake of appealing to Mexico fans despite having a white hot over wrestler in CM Punk back then. Didn't matter... WWE destroyed CM Punk for the sake of trying to appeal to ONE COUNTRY. What about the American fans who were excited about CM Punk's "pipebomb" speech and were happy about him going over John Cena? Why don't they matter anymore?

If Jinder's push doesn't cause any growth or actually causes Smackdown numbers to decline (television ratings, live attendance), people need to be fired within the WWE Corporation. Now, if Jinder does cause growth... Obviously, I'd be wrong and people need promoted.

However - "Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it." Don't ever forget that, WWE and wrestling fans.



Being honest here... My schedule has been hectic lately and my television viewing has been erratic... I've been catching both RAW/Smackdown later in the week, so I'll just go with responding to your many questions instead. I have material for years' worth of columns based on your emails... Holy cow.

Why didn't you have World Championship Wrestling (WCW) or Eric Bischoff in your 13 Reasons Why WWE Has Declined since 2000 column?

Well, look at the title... "since 2000". By 2000, WCW was on life support. It was only a matter of time before Time Warner officials combined with newly added AOL merged officials would look over WCW's numbers and cancel programming. They were a zombie limping around during 2000 and were set to close soon. By March 2001, that happened. So remember that, closed during 2001... The column was speaking about 2000-2017. Hard to blame a company for 16 years that followed. I didn't see anyone from WCW booking that 2001 ECW/WCW Invasion Angle, for example, and Eric Bischoff never had anything to do with WWE's booking.

I blame TNA Wrestling far more... They were the new competitor who had 4 Cable TV deals in place to legitimately challenge the WWE. WCW by 2000 was dead and gone, but for a while, TNA had Panda Energy money willing to take losses in order to compete. Late 2000s, in particular. But what happened? Bad executive choices, poor booking, and Dixie Carter taking more control over the company including her on-screen character. They NEVER challenged the WWE in terms of television or being a place to steal talent. If anything, they became dumping grounds for talent that WWE no longer wanted or wasn't willing to overpay.

Speaking of WCW, a "13 Reasons Why" column about why that promotion died is circulating in my head... THANK YOU for the reception to my last column. Appreciated!


Why do you use CAPITAL LETTERS throughout your columns? Are you shouting at us?

YES I AM... I'M SCREAMING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION TO A POINT! It's a way that I've styled my column to (a) make it easier for you to read and (b) draw attention to something. I've found that not everyone reads my column word-for-word, as they'll just scan over parts of my column to read something specific. If someone is coming in just for my RAW/Smackdown review, I hope to draw their attention to something else.

It's about style, folks... If you ever notice, I also use BOLD HTML coding for names or events when I use them the first time in a series of paragraphs. I learned that format from the Sports Illustrate website, as that's an easy way to draw in attention for your audience. Then, I read the Market-Ticker.org blog by Karl Denninger. Karl often uses heavy HTML coding like bolds, underlines, italics, or a combination of 2-3 of them to emphasize a point. Well, I was already using bold HTML coding, so to change that up, I use CAPITAL LETTERS.

And it works... Many who attempt to mock me actually lift that style to tell you, the reader, who they are mocking. So to the person reading the Tito parody post, they instantly know who is being mocked. "Oh, that's a Tito parody"...

It's all about how you connect with your reading audience. I'm trying to make my columns easy for YOU to read while also attempting to bring attention to a specific point of mine. The format works hand-in-hand with my column title's, which are provocative to tempt you to click the link to read my column. Then, once you're here, the format is styled to make it easy for you to read and the CAPITAL LETTERS are screaming at you to READ THIS POINT.

There you go... I just revealed my playbook on presenting my column.


Do you believe that John Cena and Nikki Bellas's relationship and engagement are real?

Yeah... Now, are the events of Total Divas / Total Bellas possibly staged? Oh hell yeah. And that's what blurs the lines. But think about this... Why would both John and Nikki devote parts of the prime years of their lives just for the sake of a TV show? John Cena has already made millions of dollars... Why would he stage a 5 year relationship to help promote a show on the E! Network? That's ridiculous.

Cena proposing at Wrestlemania 33 was certainly for Total Bellas, but he was going to propose to Nikki anyway. If not, many reports of other women coming out and saying they were with John Cena would come out. Nope... 100% devoted to Nikki Bella.

Can I say this though? If I can avoid ever seeing another edition of Total Bellas, I'll be happy in life. To hear Nikki and Brie perform contrived arguments between each other while creating manufactured drama makes my blood curdle. If that's what John Cena is marrying, GOOD LUCK bro. I'm guessing both Nikki/Brie are playing characters on that show and I'm beginning to assume the same for Bryan/Cena as well. I was very uncomfortable when Nikki was railing on Brie about trusting Daniel Bryan. Just AWFUL.


Which traded wrestlers from the Superstar Shake-up could benefit most from moving rosters?

Sami Zayn getting away from the larger roster of wrestlers on RAW is my obvious answer. No way that guy can keep losing at the rate he does. Oh wait, Kevin Owens is on Smackdown too...

I think if Kevin Owens can change up his LOOK... For example, when he appeared in a suit while a big more shaved to debut on Smackdown, he made an impact. He looked good in the suit and appeared professional. That first promo on Smackdown made an impact because of how he finally presented himself. Wrestling in basketball shorts and a cutoff t-shirt just aren't looking professional when he wrestles. I know, you'll tell me about John Cena and Dean Ambrose... For one, Cena wrestles without a shirt... And two, I'd agree with you on Dean and that's why he was moved to RAW (peaked on Smackdown). WWE has to figure out his wrestling attire to make him look more like a legitimate fighter instead of a guy playing open gym basketball at the local recreation center.

I think if Big E starts a singles push, it could work... New Day has given him a personality and unleashed his charisma.

I believe that Alexa Bliss's star will keep growing... More people are getting impressed with her in-ring work and mic skills... I also believe as more people hear about her backstory, she'll become their favorite female wrestler. Bigger spotlight on RAW will only throw gasoline on this fire. I figure she'll be cautious of Nia Jax and utilize that bulldozer for her every need. Feuds between Bliss and Sasha could be serious money for the WWE.



I want to emphasize that I do NOT like to talk politics in this column... I fully understand that you click my column's link because you are at a WRESTING website to read WRESTLING content. Besides, with time, I'm starting to sound like Bill Hicks as he described both parties during 1993 during a stand-up comedy routine. "Puppet on the right shares my beliefs, the puppet on the left shares mine... Hey, there's 1 guy holding up both puppets!" No, I don't want to talk about politics... I still have relatives and co-workers reliving the 2016 election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. At the top of my lungs I just want to scream SHUT THE HELL UP at them every time...

No, what I want to specifically talk about is HOW Bill O'Reilly exited FOX News. Reportedly, FOX News and/or Bill O'Reilly paid "more than" $13 million to settle multiple sexual harassment suits due to behavior conducted by Mr. O'Reilly. However, that's not what I'm talking about... After that suit settlement was announced by the media, over 50 sponsors including several top companies in the US, withdrew their ads from the O'Reilly Factor. BEFORE that happened, Bill O'Reilly's show went on and FOX News seemed to be over his actions by simply paying $13 million. It wasn't until the sponsors began leaving in droves that O'Reilly's exit began to get discussed and it appears that he's gone.

So, what's the point as it relates to pro wrestling?

If recent events within the WWE PISS YOU OFF, then stop watching...

But you could do that with 1 brand that you don't support... For example, as discussed above... Don't like the Jinder Mahal instant MEGA PUSH, then STOP watch Smackdown! Don't like how the Superstar Shake-up affected 1 brand? STOP watching that brand! Don't like how JBL's online taunts may have caused Mauro to exit the WWE? Stop watching Smackdown!

At the end of the day, the WWE needs you... Why else are they scrambling to impress countries like India and its lean, mean, buffed, and jacked low per capita GDP? Because you, the audience, have spoken about the WWE's declining quality. Monday Night RAW has lost about 1 million viewers in the last 2-3 years while live event attendance has dropped. Before that, Pay Per View buyrates were dropping which prompted the WWE to consider new ideas (like the WWE Network). When viewership and attendance is dropping, the WWE will attempt to see what they can pull out of the international markets.

Smackdown, just 1 week following the Superstar Shake-up, did only 2,544,000 viewers which is their LOWEST NUMBER OF 2017! Message is already being sent and that's a net loss of 450,000 fans from the previous week. Many probably saw that Jinder Mahal win and changed the channel, I can imagine, and were insulted by the FACT that AJ Styles and Baron Corbin wrestled a singles match rather than caring about a #1 Contendership match to wrestle for the WWE title.

And for all of you haters who have been bashing WWE Pay Per Views... I still hear pissing and moaning about Wrestlemania 33, a show that I overall liked (despite the length). Be a man and delete your WWE Network subscription. WWE losing your $9.99 per month and almost $120 annually will send a message LOUD & CLEAR.

That's a good reason why I watch RAW and Smackdown on Hulu. I was tired of Comcast's price gouging on Cable television and continually increasing prices further without challenge. My response? CUT CABLE. Saves me about $100 per month, $1,200 annually. Wanting to see RAW/Smackdown LIVE and as they happen or the option to DVR full shows could have kept me as a Cable customer. However, it didn't... I was honestly struggling with watching 3 hours of RAW that was packed in with excessive amounts of commercials. Which, by the way, you cannot fast forward commercials on DVR... When I found out that I could watch condensed versions of RAW and Smackdown for only 1.5 hours each, I didn't blink. Gone was Cable and I watch Hulu every week, just 1 day later for WWE events. Oh well.

RAW/Smackdown are appearing often around me... I live roughly in the middle of Columbus, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. I can easily drive 1-2 hours to each and see many, many WWE houseshows, television shows, and Pay Per Views during a year if I wanted. But I haven't... I have NO demand to watch those events live. I've only been to 1 WWE live show in the last 10 years and that was merely to support AJ Styles as WWE Champion. That was my official SEAL OF APPROVAL for him as Champion. I spoke with my dollar and bought some merchandise too.

I WANT to be a wrestling fan... That's why I haven't given up on the WWE. They have parts of their programming that I still enjoy and the WWE Network is damn good. NXT has kept me sane as a wrestling fan when RAW/Smackdown have underwhelmed. That's why I'm still here... Plus, I enjoy writing this column. It's like a hobby of mine... However, I'm also speaking with my wallet... WWE is barely getting a fraction of that Hulu dollar compared to the Comcast/USA Network dollar while only getting $9.99 per month directly from me. No Live Events, hardly any merchandise.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, I bought lots of WWE Videos, books, shirts, figures, bobbleheads, and attended many live events.

Don't approve of what the WWE or the RAW/Smackdown brands individually are doing, send a financial message... Money talks.

Funny thing is that the WWE appears to have given up on the United States fan... Instead of improving their product's quality, they'll create gimmicks to impress another market instead. If you don't like the Jinder Mahal instant-push after being a JOBBER for much of the year, turn Smackdown OFF. That simple...

WWE's television deals in the United States and United Kingdom are coming up during 2019. Make the WWE nervous with lower viewership to make a point, just as sponsors leaving the O'Reilly Factor on FOX News made a point. It got the #1 cable news show cancelled and allows the host of that show to join another network.


Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.

© Mr. Tito and LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com - 1998-2017

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