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Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Would Vince McMahon Push Shinsuke Nakamura? Chris Benoit, 10 Years Later...
By Mr. Tito
Jun 26, 2017 - 11:58:31 PM

Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter.com: @titowrestling

Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com by yours truly, Mr. Tito, with about 4 months away from my 19th anniversary of the day I began writing. Yes, I'm an old man but I guarantee you at least 1 column per week, free of charge. However, this column doesn't award you a participation trophy for reading... I continuously bring you hard-hitting yet thoughtful opinions that even if you don't agree with them, you'll keep coming back for more to see what I have courage to say next.

Like today's topic... Shinsuke Nakamura.

Now, Internet Wrestling Community (IWC), before you collectively have heart attacks over me daring to write about that guy... Let me make the following statement: I LIKE Shinsuke Nakamura and I have stated many, many times that WWE should push this guy to the maximum position possible on the WWE roster.

For years upon years, my readers were telling me to check out Shinsuke Nakamura as an "exceptional talent" from Japan. I probably gave my best "get off my lawn" Clint Eastwood like statement... But then I tuned into NXT Takeover Dallas 2016. Holy cow. As you read in my year-end Awards column for 2016, the Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn match from NXT Takeover Dallas was my 2016 "Match of the Year". That match made me eat crow and I began to scour the internet for his past matches in Japan. Wow... Then, I enjoyed his many other NXT matches. Quickly, I was able to form the opinion that Nakamura had legitimate potential to not just be great on the WWE main roster, but to headline it. Despite his language barrier (speaks better English than he's given credit for, though), I've felt that he had exceptional amounts of charisma, personality, and in-ring ability to make it huge. Plus, he looks cool... Who wouldn't want a Nakamura action figure?

Oh, and Nakamura may have the best theme music of all time...

So, there you have it. I'm a fan of Shinsuke Nakamura. If you believe that I'm writing this column to bash him, then you're a FOOL.

However, this column does more than just "give an opinion". I usually like to assess what I believe the next business move of the WWE Corporation and the CEO/Board Chairman of that company, Vince McMahon. Particularly Vince McMahon who is, by far, the most powerful individual in the WWE and can overrule his Executive Vice President direct reports whenever he wants. Vince controls the direction of the Board of Directors, oversees the Corporate structure and all managers of the WWE, and remains the majority Shareholder by a margin (as Board Chairman, he controls the company's shares too). As I've been deep into the corporate world myself, I feel that I can combine my views as an almost 30 year wrestling fan with my 10+ years in the business world to discuss the WWE Corporation and how Vince McMahon operates. You don't see that type of unique analysis elsewhere...

Plus, as an almost 30 year wrestling fan... You can see the history of what Vince McMahon wants in a wrestler.

I look up and down the many rosters of the WWE throughout the years and I hardly see any Japanese wrestlers on any of the rosters. For the few that have come and gone, they were midcarders at best. In the Wrestlemania Era, you have Mr. Fuji as a manager... Ooops, he was born in Hawaii. Then there was the Sumo wrestler Yokozuna. Oh wait, he was a Samoan portraying a Japanese wrestler who never competed in Sumo wrestling period. Then there's the great Kai En Tai. Well, I wouldn't call that "great" as their claim-to-fame was their feud with Val Venus where they threatened to "choppy choppy" Val's "pee pee". Seriously, that happened. Tajiri was a solid midcarder and was actually taken serious as a wrestler. Though small, his personality and unique style of wrestling did him well.

But NO Main Event Japanese wrestlers in the WWE... Ever. (Yokozuna, again, does not count).

Why is that?

Consider this... During the 1980s, the WWE raided Territories for their top talents to load up their talents to be featured on Cable TV as a nationwide product. Once the money flowed in from the big shows that the WWE began to run, such as Wrestlemania, the money really flowed in. Why weren't any of the top Japanese wrestlers acquired by the WWE?

During the late 1990s, especially once Vince and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin turned things around, the money was flowing in again. Furthermore, WWE was competing with WCW who was bringing in New Japan talents. Why weren't any of the top Japanese wrestlers acquired by the WWE?

During the 2000s, especially after 2001, the WWE had a firm grip on the wrestling business with WCW and ECW officially gone. Why weren't any of the top Japanese wrestler acquired by the WWE?

Do you see where I'm going? And as you can see from the WWE's recent corporate strategies, they really want the Mexico and India markets. They've tried to bring in top talents from Mexico and they are willing to push guys like Great Khali and Jinder Mahal (even if they aren't ready to be World Champions) to impress India.

Why not try to impress Japan? After all, Japan has the 4th largest economy in the world following the United States, European Union (combined), and China. Additionally, Japan loves pro wrestling. Wouldn't it be a decent idea to raid talent and then feature said talent on WWE programming... Suddenly, you could feature "dream matches" of top Japanese stars against top WWE Superstars that Japanese wrestling fans would want to check out.

But Vince McMahon repeatedly says "NO" to bringing in top Japanese stars. Why is that?

Consider the following about Shinsuke Nakamura:

- Veteran wrestler since 2002... Thus, it took WWE 14 years to bring him in as a free agent. In that period of time, WWE did not go after any other Japanese free agents from Japanese wrestling promotions.

- Spent an entire year in NXT despite AJ Styles, Anderson, and Gallows joining the WWE Main Roster immediately.

- Promoted to the main WWE roster and placed on the lesser brand, WWE Smackdown.

Do you honestly believe that Nakamura was recruited by Vince McMahon to join the WWE and/or NXT? Do you really believe that? AJ Styles was in regular communication with Triple H coming in and was the point person speaking on behalf of the other New Japan talents. I can imagine Triple H quietly asked if any other New Japan talents wanted to join WWE and Nakamura showed interest. Again, Styles, Anderson, and Gallows joined the WWE Main Roster instantly. And let's be honest here... How have Anderson & Gallows done on the main roster? While both are experienced talents and Gallows did work in the WWE previously, those guys were not forced to be in NXT for a full year. Nakamura is a very accomplished New Japan wrestler with multiple champions held... But he was placed in NXT for a full year.

A full year in NXT!

Many of you are lusting at the possibility of Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles sometime in the future. After all, they flirted with that idea at Money in the Bank 2017 when Styles and Nakamura were both in the ring together. Hey, can y'all tell me how that worked out again? Oh that's right, the big hoss Baron Corbin pushed both of them off the ladder to win the Money in the Bank briefcase.

Many are suggesting that AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura should or will "headline" Wrestlemania 34. Huh? Do you honestly believe that Vince McMahon would do that? After all, insider reporting within the WWE suggests that Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns will MAIN EVENT Wrestlemania 34. After all, it's Brock's last contractual day with the WWE and Vince McMahon firmly believes that Roman Reigns is the #1 guy. I know, that's ridiculous... Been saying it for years, but you cannot deny that Roman vs. Brock with Roman going over 100% clean could happen at Wrestlemania 34. If not Roman, then Braun Strowman defeats Brock Lesnar on his last contractual day with the WWE.

EVEN IF Styles vs. Nakamura is on Wrestlemania 34... Do you honestly believe that Vince McMahon would let that match "steal the show"? Better yet, steal HIS show? Do you honestly believe that Vince would give them 20 minutes or more of in-ring time? 15 minutes, tops, but nothing extensive to make everyone convinced that it's "Match of the Year". Not on Vince's show. Remember that big hyped match at Wrestlemania 32 between AJ Styles and Chris Jericho? Gave it 17 minutes... The WWE gave 3 more minutes to Styles when he wrestled Shane McMahon the following year.

Just look at the creative push so far for Shinsuke Nakamura. WWE is requiring him to attempt to speak English with a mouthpiece while having Dolph Ziggler mock him for resembling Michael Jackson. And again, who won that Money in the Bank briefcase? Better yet, who sold an injury angle to that briefcase winner at Money in the Bank 2017?

All I'm saying is this: DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP.

Know your history. Vince McMahon is allergic to Japanese wrestling, period, end of story. Particular in HIS Main Event scene and at HIS Wrestlemania event.

Again, I'm a fan of Shinsuke Nakamura... Just assessing what will likely happen unless the man who signed him, Triple H, gains a greater say. That's our only hope unless wrestling fans start buying Nakamura merchandise in droves and WWE executives take notice. Buy his theme music off of iTunes, t-shirts from WWE Shopzone, come to see Nakamura at houseshows. Otherwise, endure more of Jinder Mahal in the Main Event because if wrestling fans cannot financially ($$$) communicate to the WWE who they like, the WWE will force whomever they want.

============================================

THE LAST WORD

Sadly, 10 years have passed since the horrific events of Chris Benoit who murdered his wife and son and then killed himself. To this day, it remains the biggest black eye to pro wrestling and it changed how the WWE operates forever. Possibly for the better (stronger Wellness Policy, Concussion protocols). However, what can't be brought back are the victims of Benoit's crime.

As many of you may know, the Benoit incident caused me to legitimately stop watching wrestling from June 2007 through late 2009. I just had enough... Aside from a few life events (new job, marriage, bought a house), Eddie Guerrero's death was the straw that broke my columnist's back and helped prompt me to retire as Mr. Tito during the Fall of 2006. It depressed me... 2000s were full of wrestlers dying at an early age and Eddie was a personal favorite. If you read my columns during 2006, you'll notice that I was just out of it and depressed as a wrestling fan. So I retired as Mr. Tito during the Fall of 2006 and then when Chris Benoit snapped and did the murder/suicide, I was done as a wrestling fan. Did the WWE kill Benoit's family? No... But the wrestling business did great physical damage to Benoit and my self-imposed boycott was on the entire wrestling business. Enabled drug use, concussions, and overworking the wrestlers to manage injuries the wrong way caused too many to go early.

But I won't get into the how or the why all over again... Been there, done that... Produced multiple columns on Chris Benoit over the years.

However, what I want to ponder is "what if" Chris Benoit DID NOT murder his family and kill himself... Where would he be? Would he still be alive? Would he still be working with the WWE?

I actually worry about all of those questions. Heading into June 2007, Chris Benoit had many health and personal problems. Such as:

(a) Years upon years of head injuries led to early signs of dementia.

(b) According to Nancy Benoit's sister, Chris Benoit began drinking heavily following the death of Eddie Guerrero.

(c) Chris Benoit had been caught of steroid use during the early WWE Wellness Policy during 2006.

(d) Benoit was on a host of medications for pain and to treat anxiety.

(e) Nancy filed for divorce during 2003 and was alleging violent behavior of Benoit at the time.

Something was going to give during June 2007 whether it was Benoit's body or him harming someone else... Had Benoit not killed his family or himself, trouble was coming. With the early goings of the Wellness Policy keeping things internally and opting to advise instead of suspending wrestlers. Sadly, the combination of Benoit murdering his family and then the media piling onto the WWE with online pharmacy stories caused the WWE to change its ways for good. The Wellness Policy had more teeth and began to not just suspend wrestlers but publicly announce those suspensions. It caused permanent change. If it was just Chris Benoit that died as just another wrestler death, would it cause change?

Well, I believe that those online pharmacy stings could have prompted the Wellness Policy to change. It was during the mid to late 2000s that pharmacy stings occurred and affected professional sports such as Major League Baseball. It could have been a matter of time before wrestlers were publicly shamed in the Sports Illustrated article that could have prompted the change. MAYBE if the online pharmacy sting articles were released, maybe Chris Benoit could have received help? Maybe that could have placed the flashlight on WWE and pro wrestling for not taking care of its talent. Something to consider if you consider that Benoit's actions might have "saved" others by the WWE getting serious with their Wellness Policy.

10 years later, you cannot deny the results though... Fewer wrestlers in their 30s, 40s, and 50s have died between 2008-2017 than say 1998-2007. The Wellness Policy has suspended wrestlers and named them publicly. This includes Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Paige, Alberto Del Rio, and several others. Who knows? If the WWE's Wellness Policy didn't catch those wrestlers, could they have been on the lethal path as Eddie and Chris?

Furthermore, WWE has become very generous with many former wrestlers as they have a rehab system that reportedly shells out 6 figures each year for any ex-wrestlers. They don't have to do that but WWE is owning up to the mistakes of past enabling.

If only someone would have escalated any signs they saw of Chris Benoit struggling during 2006-2007 to potentially prevent what happened during June 2007. Surely, someone could have noticed any memory issues, odd behavior, and maybe alcoholism by seeing Benoit often at WWE events. Several wrestlers did come out afterward and said they noticed a few behavior changes with Benoit BUT that life on the wrestling road was hard on everybody. Back then, many wrestlers were taking a little something for their pain, to look the muscular part, or was struggling to make a family work while being a wrestler. THEN AGAIN, even when you're around someone often, they can still have secrets that they are hiding from everyone. Can't be around someone 24/7.

That's the lesson to be learned with Chris Benoit. If you see something, say something. Everybody hurts but it's a matter of seeing someone who cares. Just seeing any form of acknowledgement or appreciation could go a long way. Ignoring the warning signs of depression, substance abuse, or other red flags could cause something detrimental. Be good to others and have each other's back...

To quote the great Bill Withers... "We all need somebody to lean on."

SO JUST CHILL... 'TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!

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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