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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - 2015 Tito Awards for Pro Wrestling, WWE RAW is Hulu Review, & More
By Mr. Tito
Dec 23, 2015 - 12:33:14 AM

Follow Mr. Tito on @titowrestling

Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING from yours truly, Mr. Tito. I hope that everyone is having a GREAT Holiday season or at least a nice month of December... Damn this weather in the Midwest is fantastic. I'll definitely take this year after 2 consecutive December of brutal subzero weather.

2015 is coming to a close for the professional wrestling year and we're about to turn the page into a new chapter for the Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania season. Ah yes, the best time of the year for WWE historically. But before we head into 2016, we have to honor the very BEST in professional wrestling for 2015. WWE RAW had their Slammy Awards but I have the prestigous Tito Awards. Why take home a Slammy when you could warm up to a Tito at home instead?

As I always say before any Awards columns, these are MY opinions... The column, after all, is called MR. TITO STRIKES BACK... So if you hate my Awards, go write your own column or attempt to do a better job in the Comments section... Furthermore, consider what I watch when understanding the context of these awards. Those Japanese or Mexican promotions that you love and cherish? Eh.... I don't watch them. If those promotions to spoonfeed their content to me easily, I'm not working hard to find them. I watched TNA casually through August before I cut the cord on Cable. I actually do watch Ring of Honor when it comes on Late Sunday Night/Early Monday Morning... But fair warning, they didn't make my awards although I overall enjoy their shows.

I have my tuxedo on and I'm ready to present my awards...



BEST FEUD: Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
2015 didn't exactly present many feuds in the WWE aside from some Cena/Rollins stuff and Reigns vs. the Wyatts. NXT was a better stomping grounds for feuds specifically in the Women's division with Sasha Banks and Bayley which had real human emotion portrayed with Bayley's chase of the NXT Women's Title. However, all of these other feuds didn't have what Lesnar/Undertaker had: REVENGE. Over a year ago, Brock Lesnar shocked the world by ending the Wrestlemania streak that the Undertaker built up for over 2 decades. Undertaker interrupted Lesnar's WWE Title Match at Battleground 2015 with a surprise appearance and attack on Lesnar. This set up Lesnar vs. Undertaker to headline SummerSlam 2015 and it was a great match between the two. WWE had a controversial ending in that match and it set up a rematch at Hell in a Cell 2015 for yet another great match. For the feud, Undertaker was tapping into some heelish ways by lowblowing Lesnar as an equalizer and it worked. RAW ratings went up during Lesnar/Taker segments and fans were heavily engaged in both the SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell matches.

BEST STORYLINE: Bayley chasing the NXT Women's Title
NXT had the "4 Horsewomen" in Bayley, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte which was an amazing display of talent depth by the WWE's developmental system. As you can see from their WWE work, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte received WWE main roster promotions while Bayley remains on the NXT roster. However, NXT actually played that up... Bayley was always chasing the NXT Women's Title and would always come up short... Then, she had a wrist injury that kept her out. Meanwhile, Charlotte and then Sasha Banks dominated as NXT Women's Champions and worse yet for Bayley, Sasha Banks was a rulebreaking heel who showed no mercy towards Bayley or her fans. The storyline where Bayley had to overcome (a) former WWE wrestler Emma, (b) Becky Lynch, and (c) Charlotte to earn her shot at Sasha Banks was compelling and emotional. Then, the match-up at NXT Takeover Brooklyn which I'll have more to say about momentarily... Her NXT Women's Title victory was one of the best feelings that I've had as a wrestling fan ever... So happy for Bayley. Then, at the next Takeover event, Sasha proves herself again against Sasha Banks by defeating her in the 30 minute Ironman (or Woman?) Match.

Is there any question?

I'll be honest here... I didn't think much of this group when they began. WWE didn't give them much of a chance to succeed and their gimmick was confusing at first. Then, the WWE gave them some creative freedom on the mic. Xavier Woods first showed his brilliance on the mic as the group's spokesperson and then he inspired Big E and Kofi to gain confidence in their own mic skills. Even when Xavier Woods is not around, Big E and Kofi can still do well on the microphone. Better yet, Big E and Kofi are very motivated as WWE superstars and their matches are getting better. What I love most about the New Day is that they actually act like true heels... Talk lots of smack and take absolute pride in cheating to win. For honorable mentions, NXT and Ring of Honor had great in-ring years for Tag Team wrestling. Nice fundamental tag wrestling that is lacking overall in the WWE. The Dusty Rhodes Tag Tournament was excellent in NXT...

Top-to-bottom, a strong wrestling card with only 1 match on the card lacking (Baron Corbin vs. Apollo Crews). This show featured a strong NXT Title match between Samoa Joe and Finn Balor but two exceptionally strong Women's matches between Emma/Asuka and Bayley/Nia Jax. Especially that Emma vs. Asuka match which I believe should tell the WWE that Emma is very much ready for a WWE return. Lastly, sit back and enjoy the Mechanics picking apart Big Cass and Enzo with amazing efficiency as a tag team. This event made you feel GREAT as a wrestling fan watching it and the London fans presented an excellent atmosphere for the event to shine.

BEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR: Brock Lesnar going nuclear on the RAW after Wrestlemania 31
Brock Lesnar was furious at losing the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 31 and exploded when Seth Rollins refused to grant Lesnar a rematch on the following RAW. Brock attacked everyone in sight around the ring and actually picked up the announcer's table to throw it on Booker T, JBL, and Michael Cole. It was an absolute trainwreck of a moment and Brock Lesnar looked legimately scary as that character. It pushed RAW to actually hit above 5 million viewers... Sadly, Lesnar was suspended indefinitely until June to hype his WWE Title match against Seth Rollins at Battleground 2015. I know that Lesnar has a limited amount of dates, but WWE had the momentum with the Lesnar character that they squandered immediately and a long summer of Seth Rollins squabbling with the Authority soon followed.

Close race between Bayley and Sasha Banks... Sasha's WWE promotion hasn't provided much to enjoy yet while Bayley churned out great matches with Eva Marie and Nia Jax following her Sasha feud. Bayley is everything that is great about pro wrestling... She's a character with charima, heart, love of her fans, and great in-ring ability. She's the type of babyface that the WWE should be tripping over themselves to promote but for now, we get to enjoy her work against newcomers in NXT. Bayley has almost single-handedly made the loss of Charlotte, Sasha, and Becky seem irrelevant although WWE's developmental system has restocked the talent pool quite nicely.

That doesn't make sense... Well, considering that after Wrestlemania 31, he was going after Seth Rollins with aggression and then he played the role of babyface against a heelish Undertaker. Lesnar was CRAZY over as a performer and because he shifted to babyface, he gets my award. And Lesnar does this as a part-time wrestler... Sometimes, "less is more".

BEST HEEL: Seth Rollins
Very close to giving it to Sasha Banks, but I have to honor Seth Rollins who was the king of Pay Per Views for 2015. Sure, I hated his Kane/Authority stuff on RAW, but when it came to in-ring work, this guy always performed well. He stole the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 31 and helped to cause what I awarded as "Best Moment" with Brock Lesnar. For the most part, Seth Rollins was victim to bad booking... Instead of surrounding himself with muscle to protect his WWE Title, Rollins had to argue with Kane or be dominated by US Champion John Cena. He never had a chance to be great but as the WWE ratings are showing, he sustained more fans during the dog days of Summer and the NFL season than initially thought.

MATCH OF THE YEAR: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bayley at NXT Takeover Brooklyn
I know, I'm slobbering over NXT's women's division here on my awards... But for good reason. NXT has developed legitimate women's wrestlers who are not just talented and beautiful, but have great personalities that help sell the "sense of urgency" of being NXT Women's Champion. Bayley had to earn her stripes to become NXT Champion and had a long road of losing in each title shot she had. Then, she had her storyline where she beat Emma, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch on her way to challenge Sasha Banks for the NXT Women's Title. Sasha Banks and Bayley wrestled a 5-Star epic match in front of a BIG New York City crowd that was host to SummerSlam 2015 the following night. They pulled it off with Sasha taunting Bayley and stomping on her injured wrist as a heel while Bayley showed the heart and determination to win. AMAZING finish with Bayley nailing the high risk maneuver from the top rope and then the Bayley to Belly finisher. It's probably the most emotion that I've felt for a finish of a Title match in years... It felt real...

You can't see me... Surprise! I've always considered John Cena to be a good, if not great, big match wrestler. Most think that he's just the modern version of Hulk Hogan and at times, he's booked to "hulk up" and overcome ridiculous odds. But Cena can wrestle... For 2015, he started off the year by participating in the GREAT (Match of the Year runner-up) Royal Rumble 2015 Triple Threat match against Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins... Then, he performs well against Rusev and then gains the U.S. Title at Wrestlemania 31. US Title? Oh yes... Cena would go on to become a fighter's champion with that belt and took on any open challenge as part of RAW's midcard. Cena actually made part of the first or second hour of RAW watchable... Better yet, you helped you suspend disbelief in thinking that Cesaro, Sami Zayn, Dean Ambrose, and others could actually hang with the company's top star. Then, his work with Kevin Owens. Cena put Owens over 100% clean in KO's first ever WWE match at Elimination Chamber 2015 and the match was amazing! Cena would go on to have 2 more strong matches with Owens and then go on to have more great matches with Seth Rollins. On Cena's way out to have some time off for November/December, he puts over Alberto Del Rio 100% cleanly. What a guy... Amazing in-ring wrestler and for the most part, made his opponents look amazing. Well deserved award.



Missed the Cut:
-LOL Moment of the Year Slammy (R-Truth winning for thinking he had a Money in the Bank spot)
-Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio (Del Rio matches ALWAYS get cut from Hulu)
-Surprise Return of the Year Slammy
-Tag Team of the Year Slammy
-Rusev vs. Neville

Stephanie McMahon starts of RAW this week for the 20 minute forever and ever promo... I feel lucky that my ears clogged and I can barely hear the usual banter from her. Before she can say too much, the Shield's Roman Reign's theme music hits and Roman is wearing his "Empire" shirt immediately. That's right, kiddies... Enjoy that "Roman Empire" phrase getting shoved down your throat. Hey Roman, can you wear that WWE Title please? Don't carry it like it's your purse. Back and forth and of course, it ends with Stephanie being furious and setting up a match for later. Rinse and repeat. At the very least, placing Roman with Stephanie will help him because Stephanie is an easy heat magnet.

BREAKOUT SUPERSTAR OF THE YEAR Slammy nominees as presented by Dolph Ziggler. Kevin Owens, Neville, Charlotte, Tyler Breeze, and Braun Strowman. And the winner is... NEVILLE! Good for him, if fans truly vote for this... I figured WWE would rig this vote with Dolph Ziggler presenting the award for Tyler Breeze to win. Kevin Owens, however, is not happy that Neville won the Slammy. Neville storms off but Ziggler remains... Owens remarks about Ziggler smiling and suggests that the only way Ziggler would win a Slammy is if it was for "Has Been of the Year" award. And they brawl...

Kane vs. Bray Wyatt on RAW... Hey, this is SHADES OF SUMMERSLAM 2013! However, the ring ropes aren't on fire for this match... Match is worthless as the 3 Wyatts on the outside attack to cause a quick Disqualification. Who saves Kane? Why, it's TEAM EXTREME with the Dudleys and Tommy Dreamer. Yay, that feud continues... Do we get to see the Dudleys and Dreamer lose to them again? Oh boy oh boy... Oh, now we have an 8 man tag team match as set-up by the Authority during commercial (or 2 ads for me on Hulu). I'm sorry, but I can't help but worry anytime I see Tommy Dreamer in the ring after reading his own quotes on memory loss caused by years of wrestling. Match was won by Luke Harper from the Wyatt Family and I'm actually happy about that. Kane and Braun Strowman did a clothesline over the top before that finish which should signal a HOSS match in our near future.

OMG SHOCKING MOMENT OF THE YEAR Slammy nominees as presented by Paul Heyman. Heyman argues that all Slammy Awards, besides "LOL Moment" and "Diva of the Year", should all go to Brock Lesnar. The nominees are... Seth Rollins cashing in Money in the Bank, Brock Lesnar going nuclear on RAW following Wrestlemania 31, TLC Triple Threat Tag Match spot with Kalisto on the Ladder, Wyatt Family attack on the Undertaker, and Sheamus cashing in Money in the Bank. The winner is... KALISTO's Ladder Spot at TLC Pay Per View. How about that? "Moments like these help keep me fighting/flying". He seemed legitimately happy to win. Cool!

Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler is up next... Man, that Authority is making up matches on the fly tonight! Being honest, I don't have too much to say on this match other than it a good match between the two. It's getting like clockwork with these two but neither guy is really allowed to defeat anyone else.

SUPERSTAR OF THE YEAR Slammy Award time and Stephanie McMahon is the award presenter. She apologizes for her temper earlier tonight... She said for the "first time in WWE history, every WWE superstar was eligible to win". I wish WWE would use a legitimate accounting firm, like ones who evaluate Banks for Sarbanes-Oxley, to certify the votes for these... Being honest, it was a good in-ring year for many wrestlers this year so I can see this award being argued any which way but loose. Commercial break and we return to see Seth Rollins get the award. Good for him if the WWE fans truly did vote for him... Seth came out on crutches and the fans are excited to see him. You don't know what you've got until it's gone... He starts cutting a heel promo on his accomplishments but then gets serious about his knee injury ("one wrong landing and it's all gone"). Rollins was a bit choked up there when talking about his injury. He promises to rebuild himself and take back the WWE Title that he never lost. Good segment and it should be interesting to see how Seth returns.

HERO IN ALL OF US Slammy Award for charity work is up next and Mark Henry is the presenter. Damn I love Mark Henry's theme music! WWE was able to score Coca-Cola as a sponsor for this... Nominees are Natalya, Roman Reigns, the Big Show, Titus O'Neil, and John Cena and unlike USA Networks RAW, Hulu has no commercial break and John Cena is revealed as the winner. Mark Henry accepts on Cena's behalf and Henry makes a nice speech to the fans.

Usos vs. New Day is up next... Apparently, the Tag Team of the Year award was presented to the Usos but Hulu cut that segment... New Day is pissed about that and I guess that prompts this handi-cap match? Huh? Why would the Usos ever agree to this kind of match? Usos need to find a 3rd person to wrestle in 6 man matches... Oh wait, never mind that... Usos just won this handi-cap match when Xavier Woods tried to hold the tights on a roll-up and one of the Usos reversed that roll-up for the win. Well then, never mind... If a 3 on 2 match-up is meaningless anymore, then how on God's green earth can you sell that the New Day are a threat as heels?

DIVA OF THE YEAR Slammy Award is up next and R-Truth is the presenter and he's very proud of his LOL Moment of the Year Slammy. R-Truth announces that 2015 was the "Year of the Diva". Surely, he's not referring to the WWE but NXT, right? Nominees are Nikki Bella, Naomi, Paige, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte. To play up poor Steve Harvey's Miss Universe error, Paige was first announced as the winner but then R-Truth corrected himself to announce that Nikki Bella as the Winner. Nikki delivers a good speech but it seems to fall flat with the crowd. What, you didn't vote for Nikki? If the vote was legit, I could imagine Sasha, Paige, and Charlotte votes cancelling each other out... Somehow, Paige was OK with Nikki winning and embraced her like a friend. OK...

THIS IS AWESOME MOMENT OF THE YEAR Slammy Award is up next and Miz is the presenter... I really hate hearing this guy talk... He's so immature in his delivery that it doesn't Brock Lesnar destroying the Car, Randy Orton's RKO on Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 31, Divas Revolution on RAW, Shield reunion on RAW, and the Rock/Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania 31. Winner is Rock/Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania 31. Miz accepts on their behalf and Miz plugs his latest straight-to-video DVD on the way out. Send that guy to NXT so that he can figure himself out naturally instead of forcing everything he does.

MATCH OF THE YEAR Slammy Award is presented by Ric Flair, whoooooooooo! I still mark out for that guy heading into my 27th year as a full blown wrestling fan. The nominees are John Cena/Seth Rollins/Brock Lesnar from Royal Rumble, Sting vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania 31 (really?), Kevin Owens/John Cena at Elimination Chamber (wow, WWE nominated that), Roman Reigns/Dolph Ziggler/Kevin Owens/Alberto Del Rio for #1 Contendership on RAW, and Brock Lesnar/Undertaker at Hell in a Cell. The winner is, Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar. Paul Heyman is out to accept the award and he's hugging it like a baby... However, Heyman suggests that Lesnar doesn't want awards but he wants a fight. Nobody backstage is man enough to take on Lesnar but Heyman gives Undertaker props for stepping up.

Backstage, the League of Nations are attacking the Usos...

The Main Event was a CAGE Match between Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose which may or may not be for the Intercontinental Title. My ears are plugged up from a recent cold, so therefore, I don't recall hearing if the title was on the line or not. Sheamus's newer theme is badass... It's a shame that he looks stupid and isn't allowed to get naturally over. That Ninja Turtles movie could be a big deal for him. See Batista during 2014. Other 3 League members on the outside and of course they attack Dean Ambrose before the match. Oh, and we're using "Escape the Cage" rules too? I never know anymore with the WWE and cage matches. Even I can hear that "Sheamus is Boring" chant. It's NOT GOOD when fans chant that you're (a) Stupid and (b) Boring. Oh damn that White Noise move from the top rope... 2 count only?!? That should be a finisher from the top rope. After enough interference from the League, Roman Reigns arrives and cleans house. Then, he throws a chair to Dean Ambrose (lands perfectly while opened, too) and Ambrose destroys Sheamus with the chair. Dirty Deeds DDT onto the chair as well. Dean tries to escape but Sheamus meets him to the top. They brawl from the top and hanging on the side of the cage... All you have to do is fall... And Dean does that, falls from the top. Roman then spears Sheamus afterward and RAW finishes off with Reigns/Ambrose celebrating while Stephanie McMahon is pissed. She slaps around the poor announcer! Good main event, by the way...

SHOW THOUGHTS: Not a bad show. Last week's RAW was among the year's best and to follow that is no easy chore. But tonight served to give out some year-end fan awards and further advance Roman Reigns as WWE Champion. Nothing wrong with this show, B grade in my book.



As we head into the Holiday season, specifically Christmas this Friday... It's yet another holiday to be thankful for what you have and how things could actually be much worse. Compare that to the state of pro wrestling... Right now, you have the WWE as the #1 promotion by a margin. Sure, getting through 3 hours of Monday Night RAW can be such a drag but look what else the WWE provides you... 2015 has presented great Pay Per View events, NXT developmental promotion is a great alternative, and lots of content to enjoy on the WWE Network. Things could be much much worse... You could have NO pro wrestling. History has shown that Vince McMahon is a survivor and he's easily the hardest working person in pro wrestling that the world has ever seen.

Consider the alternatives... TNA wrestling on Destination America or Pop TV? Eh... Ring of Honor late night on syndication? Lucha Underground which is extremely expensive to produce? WWE cannot help it that competition can't rise up and challenge them. And as I said about NXT, if you don't like the main roster WWE, they've given you a valid in-ring alternative... You just need a Hulu subscription or pay $9.99 for the WWE Network each month.

Things could be much, much worse right now. As much as I have complained about the WWE, especially doing non-traditional things like crapping on their midcard or pushing the wrong Main Event stars, I at least appreciate them... When WWE hits on all cylinders, there aren't many forms that can beat them. When WWE wrestling clicks, it sends chills down your spine. I don't get that with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) or Pro Boxing and other professional sports are losing me with their ridiculous politics, poor officiating, and how corporate they are becoming. Seriously, NFL is beginning to forget what catches and hits truly are while MLB is back to spending absurdly high prices on players... Now, pitchers who actually play every 5 games. NHL has to compromise their overtime rules with 3 on 3 hockey just to create excitement.

We should be thankful for the WWE's existence even if they tick you off... How many people at age 70 are STILL motivated to work hard to entertain you? Enjoy it now, because the pioneer of the pro wrestling business, Vince McMahon, may not be here for long. As much as Triple H deserves legitimate praise for his work on NXT, he appears to be a better developer of midcard talent than having an eye for Main Event talent. Sheamus anyone? For all we know, we could be in the last great years of pro wrestling's existence with many entertainment options out there drowning the WWE out and WWE being too reliant on Cable/Satellite deals to exist.

As bad as the WWE can be from time to time, particularly on the 3 hour RAW, things could be much much worse...

Be thankful for what pro wrestling options still exist in 2015 as we had into 2016.

On a non-wrestling note, be thankful for your friends and family that surround you this Holiday season. Life is too damn short and you never know how long members of your family or friends will exist. I lost my last grandparent this past year and it's painful... You have to cherish the moment now and appreciate your surroundings.

But also, when you can, reach out to someone that may be lonely or struggling this Holiday season. Not everyone was dealt a great hand and stuff happens in life. There are many who don't look forward to the Holiday season because of the loneliness it brings. If you see anyone who may be in that situation this Holiday season, reach out to them. Talk to them. Be kind to them. After all, your acknowledgement of them might actually keep them going for another day or a week. Be charitable when you can... There's a program at work where we "adopt" an elementary child to buy coats and warm clothes for along with presents to have at Christmas time. I have no problems dumping serious coin for that cause. There are many people, both whom you know and don't know, who just need some love right now. Don't hesitate...

I certainly appreciate my family, friends, and of course, my readers. I wouldn't still be doing this without your words of encouragement and your desire to still read whatever I post. Since I started writing weekly during mid 2012, I have given you everything that I got in terms of wrestling columns. It's become rare that I miss a week and often have provided you 2-3 columns per week at times. I mostly do it because of you. You send me emails, post stuff in the Comments section, Tweet me, or just provide views for my column... I appreciate what you, the readers, have given me and I don't take it for granted. I'm very thankful for all of you, whether you like my columns or not, and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God bless.


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