MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – What I HATED About WWE RAW and Smackdown Following Wrestlemania 34

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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. One of the best decisions I made was during August 2015 and that was to cut the Cable cord for good, thus freeing myself from the 3 hour RAW marathon on Mondays. Now, I have to wait 1 day to watch the condensed 1.5 hour version on Hulu. THE POINT is that by changing my viewing habits, it FORCES me to take Mondays off. Do you realize how GOOD that is for me as a wrestling fan? Keeps me sane… I was typing from 4:30pm until 12:05am for my Wrestlemania 34 Review and that followed the previous night where I spent 3 hours pounding away at my NXT Takeover: New Orleans Review. My mind was fried all day Monday and there was NO WAY JOSE that I was going watch another second of pro wrestling on Monday. Luckily, I cannot because by cutting the cord, USA Network doesn’t exist… It feels GREAT to have Monday Nights OFF following a Pay Per View. Trust me, it will keep you sane as a wrestling fan!

Before I get into today’s material, an admission of sorts… On “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, I was wrong… Everything clicked for her at Wrestlemania 34. What I read into was body language on several RAW shows and the many sports shows she appeared that pro wrestling was “beneath her”. That, and I wasn’t sure her in-ring mechanics would be trying to translate her fighting style into an entertainer as a pro wrestler. I was SHOCKED at what I saw on Wrestlemania 34 and in my opinion, the HHH/Stephanie vs. Angle/Rousey match wins “Match of the Night”. Then to follow that up, Rousey does a segment with Stephanie McMahon on RAW where she goes right after Stephanie and attacks her. If we can keep seeing more of that as a personality + legitimate talent shown in the ring as a performer, WWE may have something here…

Isn’t is nice to FINALLY see Stephanie McMahon “getting hers”? Why has this fool purposely kept herself strong as the bully of the WWE based on the way she talked down BOTH male and female performer. “B+ Performer”, she kept calling Daniel Bryan, and they proceeded to get the better of a feud with his wife, Brie Bella. She is a NON-WRESTLER… Why couldn’t fully trained wrestlers dominate her in seconds, let alone a former UFC fighter? But man, once Rousey got a hold of her… Pure magic. Then to see HHH showing fear against her, too… To cap it all off, Rousey struck again on Monday Night RAW, ripped her arm brace off, and applied that armbar again. Why did it take 19 freakin’ years to realize this on Stephanie? It’s like they waited 19 years for someone like Ronda Rousey to come along. Geesh.

NOW – Back to the matter at hand… Telling you where I’ll be right on the pro wrestling world.

Next week, we have another “Superstar Shake-up”… *face palm*

JUST AS the RAW and Smackdown rosters both start to figure out their chemistry among their wrestlers, we’re going to swap wrestlers once again. *Sigh*… I could even argue that both rosters were just starting to figure out their roles. If you look at both rosters, they had a decent tag division developed, US and IC titles were taken a little more seriously, and what Smackdown lacked in star power the found in the returning Daniel Bryan. The Rumble to Wrestlemania season beat my prediction of “under 3 million” repeatedly following the end of 2017 that was consistenly under 3 million for RAW. Even Smackdown had some decent nights heading into Smackdown to get above their stagnant 2.5 million viewers.

But no, we’re going to make damaging moves to chemistry just as the 2017 “Shake-up” completely broke things (along with changes to Smackdown’s Creative Team). Last year’s shake-up saw the Miz, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, & Alexa Bliss traded for Jinder Mahal, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, New Day, Charlotte Flair. Now, you’d think that on paper, that looks OK but then you realize how they were booked. Miz was kept as an Intercontinental Champion contender and it shot down the heel heat he generated on Smackdown with Maryse and shooting on GM Daniel Bryan. Dean Ambrose was a WWE Champion on Smackdown, nobody on RAW. Then on Smackdown, they had Charlotte on the roster for almost 6 months before realizing she was there and awarded her the Women’s Title. And then, Smackdown pushed Jinder Mahal, whose last win on RAW came during August 2016, to become its WWE Champion for much of 2017.

And now we’re going to SHAKE THINGS UP AGAIN… Whoopee.

Oh, and also part of that shake-up, we’ll raid the NXT Roster once again. Sorry guys! I know that you had an AMAZING NXT Takeover: New Orleans event that actually BLEW THE DOORS OFF of Wrestlemania 34… But don’t worry, we won’t try to grow NXT. We’ll place you on the WWE roster because the Andre “the Giant” Battle Royal needs competitors at next year’s Wrestlemania!

How on earth can Vince McMahon and the WWE Creative Team full of “YES” (not the Daniel Bryan kind) Men & Women to Vince SCREW UP three straight days of booking? Seriously, folks… Wrestlemania 34 was a complete grease fire in parts with bad choices made (Jinder pinning Rusev, Cena getting squashed, Asuka’s streak ending, Roman Reigns requiring 6 F5 finishers + blood to lose, and Braun Strowman tagging up with a freakin’ child to win the Tag Titles), RAW was “meh” following Wrestlemania with unannounced NXT arrivals and the one guy with upside on the WWE roster, Elias, getting destroyed by previous WWE and TNA/Impact Failure Bobby Lashley. That’s right, the same guy who participated in the Vince vs. Trump match and STILL couldn’t get over… Big pile of muscle. That third hour of RAW was the dumps and it lost 500,000 viewers from the second. Then on Smackdown, let’s just GIVE AWAY Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles, a dream match of many fans, for FREE! Oh, and because people couldn’t get enough of Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal, let’s do it again!

Few weeks ago, I wrote my Why Wrestlemania Matters and Why the WWE is Ruining that Event column which was pretty much “doom & gloom” at the prospect of the WWE wanting to keep pushing the wrong guys like Roman Reigns and Jinder Mahal… Then, a Daniel Bryan return, attending a good Smackdown live event, and a few good episodes of RAW… I had some optimism. Nope, it turns out that I was right.

When the WWE did their 2016 RAW/Smackdown Brand extension, I was worried about (a) depth of wrestling talent and (b) depth of creative talent. Well, (a) has significantly improved. Good job Triple H. But (b), Vince McMahon filtering a creative team full of cowards who won’t dare challenge Vince to think differently… Ridiculous. What on God’s green earth is anybody seeing in Jinder Mahal? He’s possibly the worst WWE Champion in the history of that company and his offense doesn’t even look strong enough to hurt anyone to contend for the US Title. Fans don’t want to cheer Roman Reigns as a babyface. Hello, WWE? PUSH HIM AS A FREAKIN’ HEEL YOU MORONS! Fans WANT to boo him, so give them more reasons to boo him. Christ… Did you not learn your lesson from Rocky Maivia during 1996-1997? Then, you turned him heel and he became the Rock. Fans paid TOP DOLLAR to boo that guy.

Is WWE Management just so obtuse that they cannot see the forest for the trees?

We don’t need another WWE Superstar Shake-up. What WWE needs is discipline and organization of the 2 brands.

Treat RAW and Smackdown as sports franchises with Salary Caps with the ability to trade with each other as needed. Then, after Wrestlemania, have an actual Draft of PROSPECTS… In other words, treat NXT as COLLEGE FOOTBALL as a talent pool to feed the “professional league”, like the NFL. NXT is College Football, as it signs talent from other promotions or grooms any other types of athletes into wrestlers… They develop in NXT and when their 2-3 years are up, each Spring, we have RAW and Smackdown drafting “prospect” from NXT to help fill their roster. They’ll alternate each year but where you could get creative is to give RAW/Smackdown the ability to TRADE DRAFT PICKS too. For example, if Smackdown really wanted to trade for Braun Strowman, they’d have to give up Baron Corbin, the Usos, + the #1 pick in the 2019 NXT Prospect Draft.

But you have no such organization now. Instead, just randomly announced on RAW, we’re having a “Superstar Shake-up” next week!

Like I have done with previous post-Wrestlemania RAW/Smackdown shows, I’m going to state what was CLEARLY WRONG with WWE Creative decisions.

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What I HATED about RAW & Smackdown following Wrestlemania 34

100% focus on the negative…

Superstar Shake-up announcement…
Why is this happening again? Can’t the WWE see the damage done from last year? You know KNOW that Smackdown will get screwed again and many wrestlers will be misplaced. I thought that the RAW/Smackdown split was supposed to create “new opportunity”? Yet, all I see on Smackdown, for example, are recycled Randy Orton pushes.

Giving away AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan for FREE on television with zero hype.
My head about exploded when I heard that this match was happening. YES, I DO WANT TO SEE THIS MATCH… But can we build it up for a Pay Per View? And make it for the WWE Title, too? You seriously gave wrestling fans LESS THAN 2 hours to prepare. Could you imagine Smackdown’s viewership number if they had at least a week to prepare?

Elias has more upside as a WWE superstar than Bobby Lashley.
Consider the facts… The headliner of the famous ECW “December to Dismember” Pay Per View but also the wrestler competing in the Vince vs. Trump match at Wrestlemania. Yet, he never drew in the WWE no matter what they tried. He leaves the WWE and eventually joins TNA/Impact wrestling. Many blame the promotion or the bad television contract, blah blah blah. A great draw will draw any place that you put them. Lashley was headlining shows that had under 400,000 viewers. That will translate into a top level superstar in the WWE how again? And you have him destroying Elias in one night, a guy whom the crowds love and are highly receptive towards. Crowds have never reacted strongly to Lashley.

Not everyone watches NXT.
So when Ember Moon, Authors of Pain, No Way Jose, the Iconics, etc. on the roster, how much of the WWE Universe actually knows them? NXT YouTube numbers are usually low and NXT shows are not strongly received on WWE Network… Probably because you’re asking wrestling fans to watch a 3rd or 4th consecutive day of wrestling. Instead of the wrestlers just randomly appearing, run vignettes to hype their debuts.

RAW Tag Titles were vacated.
What was the point of burying the Bar at Wrestlemania 34? Braun tagged up with a Child to beat an accomplished tag team basically in a 2 on 1 fashion. Most idiot yes-man WWE fans are like “it was a cute moment”. Was it cute for Sheamus? Was it cute for Cesaro? Do you even realize the countless hours that both Cesaro and Sheamus put into their wrestling careers? Sheamus has legitimate back problems that are going to end his career soon yet you reward his sacrifice by humiliating him with a child as a tag opponent? And then on the following night, Braun Strowman and the kid just give up the titles. What was the point? Now, we’re rebuilding the Tag Team division on RAW from ground zero again. What a freakin’ joke.

Who wants to see another Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal match?
Can someone show me who is begging the WWE to see another Orton vs. Mahal match? Who is it? Did you not watch those AWFUL matches from 2017?

What was the point of Charlotte Flair beating Asuka?
Camella cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase on the night after Wrestlemania following the Iconics beatdown of Charlotte… So what was the point of Charlotte defeating Asuka, an undefeated wrestler, again? Completely diminishes that big Wrestlemania win and will probably lead to yet another Charlotte title reign in a few weeks. Happy for Carmella but it’s a tainted win from a briefcase won under awful circumstances.

Paige is the Smackdown General Manager?
I don’t know what to think about that pick… Yeah, she was a good wrestler… But what makes her a good authority figure? That, and I worry about keeping her on the road… Why not hype up a “new RAW general manager” for at least a week? Instead, it just gets randomly announced and we’ll all move on. I’m still baffled as to why we need TWO Authority figures of each brand.

Another Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn match.
How many times have we seen this match? Both are great workers, but we’ve seen them wrestle so many times.

RAW Main Event was Miz/Miztourage vs. Seth Rollins/Finn Balor/Jeff Hardy.
500,000 viewers lost during that 3rd hour. I like most of the wrestlers featured in that match, but RAW can put more star power into their main event if they wanted to. Provided that Miz teamed up with his Miztourage who essentially jobbers, why would I want to watch this match?

SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!

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