Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Can Baron Corbin Succeed as WWE Champion?
By Mr. Tito
Jun 22, 2017 - 12:17:59 AM

Follow Mr. Tito on @titowrestling

Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at / by yours truly, Mr. Tito. Congrats to Monday Night RAW for returning above 3.0 million after a 7-week hiatus. Everybody sending me notes "see, see, RAW isn't permanently above 3.0 million". Yeah, you got me... I was wrong 1 out of 8 weeks. Yep, you got me... We'll see what RAW does next week without (a) special announcements, (b) Braun Strowman returning, (c) match-up like Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns, and (d) hyping a tag team breaking up. How about that Enzo & Cass break-up? Keeping RAW afloat above 3.0 million in that 3rd hour. I think if anything, Braun Strowman could be a bigger draw than anyone thinks and I think many are excited for Samoa Joe. Still, 3.1 million viewers is subpar compared to how RAW was consistently doing above 4.0 million just 3 years ago.

When you have a bunch of people mentioning me at the bottom of news posts, sending me emails, and tweeting me about my "permanently under 3.0 million" prediction that I made during mid-2016... Goes to show you the impact of this column. For anyone looking to write effectively for an audience, be fearless and don't be afraid of stating polarizing opinions. Meanwhile, be 100% genuine and honest.

ANYWAY - I want to get back to the Smackdown exclusive Pay Per View Money in the Bank 2017. I don't want to discuss the quality of the event, but the ramifications. Specifically, Baron Corbin winning the #1 contendership briefcase.

Honestly, I didn't have too much of a problem with Baron Corbin winning. Usually, the briefcase acts as charity to help a wrestler in need to get over that Main Event hump. If you look at the wrestlers in that match, AJ Styles was already World Champ recently, Kevin Owens was already champ recently, Dolph Ziggler has received many chances already, Sami Zayn has lost too many times over the course of the year... Now, Shinsuke Nakamura winning the briefcase... Man, that could have been fascinating. Over the course of the year, Baron Corbin HAS improved as an in-ring performer. Furthermore, his finisher is DEVASTATING. What's missing is personality... They push his "Lone Wolf" gimmick but they fail to ever repeatedly mention his NFL career and being a Golden Gloves winner in boxing. I think the look could improve, too... Nothing says "tough" like wrestling with a t-shirt on.

HOWEVER, my worries aren't about Baron Corbin winning BUT I'm worried about the WWE Creative Team executing his WWE Title push. Specifically, how they use the Money in the Bank briefcase winners. Often, the WWE gives the briefcase to the WRONG GUY and their cashing in CHEAPENS their World Title victory. Seriously, in UFC or Boxing, do you EVER see the World Champion fight a match and then have to fight a surprise match afterward for the title? Of course not because that would be ridiculous! Doing something like that in UFC or Boxing would diminish the credibility of their Champion and Title. As it has the WWE World titles...

Don't believe me? Let's look at the Money in the Bank winners who specifically won the World Title via cashing in the briefcase.

- I'm OK with Edge and Rob Van Dam winning the first 2 briefcases, as both guys were long over due. I'm also OK with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose winning, as their timing was good and I liked their cash-ins.

- CM Punk (twice) - Not quite ready for the big WWE spotlight during 2008-2009 both in character and maturity backstage. What we saw during 2011 was ready to lead the WWE (of course, Creative destroyed that).

- Jack Swagger - No longer employed by WWE.

- The Miz - Hasn't been World Champion since his 2010-2011 run, taken years to rehab his character.

- Daniel Bryan - Not ready for the World Champion during 2011. It took his loss to Sheamus and overcoming that with a new character to be ready for greatness during 2013.

- Alberto Del Rio - Hurt badly by being moved to RAW and stealing the WWE title from CM Punk during SummerSlam 2011. Never recovered despite other World Title reigns, gone from WWE.

- Dolph Ziggler - Won the briefcase in 2012 but jobbed repeatedly until he eventually cashed in. To his benefit, WWE Creative has been messing with him for years upon years.

- Damien Sandow - Gone from the WWE. Big match against John Cena when he tried to cash in and it didn't help him.

- Sheamus - This guy has won both the Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank briefcase... That's AFTER he was already World Champion. What does he have to show for it?

And that's JUST the Money in the Bank briefcase winners... What about all of the other wrestlers that the WWE has foolishly pushed to the World Title without much momentum placing them there by the fans?

-Great Khali - Size doesn't equal great.
-Roman Reigns - Not over, statistically proven to lose RAW viewers as WWE Champion.
-Finn Balor - Barely in the WWE a month and is handed WWE Universal Title.
-Jinder Mahah - Jobber on RAW all year, joins Smackdown to become instant #1 contender and wins his first WWE Title shot!

I'd argue Randy Orton, too, the 13 Time World Champion in the WWE. His last few reigns on Smackdown during 2011, RAW during late 2013-early 2014, and now 2017 from Wrestlemania until recently have been ratings disasters. Why? Like his other 13 reigns, you get a different Randy Orton every time. Whether he's heel, babyface, the Legend Killer, the Apex Predator, the Authority flunky, etc.... NOTHING CONSISTENT and nothing for Orton to grasp and develop for a long time. Say what you will about John Cena, but he's been the same consistent character since 2005. Orton won the Money in the Bank briefcase during 2013 and the 2017 Royal Rumble Match... Both times, he won the WWE Title... So what does he have to show for it?

The FACT is that WWE Creative is struggling mightily to create MAIN EVENT stars. Because of how Corporate that the WWE has become, Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn are thinking like managers of a Corporation instead of a wrestling promotion. Instead of listening to wrestling minds like Jim Ross, Jim Cornette, Pat Patterson, and Gerald Briscoe, Vince and Dunn have Marketing Departments and results from focus groups to tell them WHO or WHAT to push instead. During 2011, WWE had CM Punk ready to roll out as the #1 guy with a revolutionary character not seen since "Stone Cold" Steve Austin during the late 1990s. During 2013, Daniel Bryan was crazy over and they needed was for Bryan to smash Randy Orton and then get revenge on Triple H during late 2013. Didn't do that... WWE made Daniel Bryan join the Wyatts and job cleanly to Bray Wyatt at Royal Rumble 2014. Fans were SCREAMING at the WWE for what they wanted pushed and WWE chose to ignore it.

Instead, they'd rather push guys based on "look" or who fits the Corporate environment. Sheamus, Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, and the Miz are guys that "look great on a television camera" and to "sell action figures". Meanwhile, each of those guys put fewer butts in seats and lost viewers. FURTHERMORE, 3 out of the 4 of those guys were HEELS pushed to the World Title on top of the many other overpushed guys (Orton, Swagger, Sandow)... On top of Triple H and Brock Lesnar also winning the World Titles. Heels, heels, heels...

Could someone tell me what Baron Corbin is right now? Oh that's right, HE'S A HEEL.

Last time I checked, the WWE grew when Hulk Hogan was #1 babyface and dominant World Champion, when Steve Austin was #1 babyface and dominant World Champion, and when John Cena during the late 2000s was #1 babyface and dominant World Champion. Unless you have a "Nature Boy" Ric Flair like wrestler as your heel champion (fans paying to see them lose), the model of pushing HEELS so strongly towards the World Title seems to consistently fail.

Which makes Mr. Braun Strowman the wildcard here... I think that the WWE is actually on the brink of something here. Right now, he's operating as a HEEL but yet when he's up against Roman Reigns... He gets cheers! In his big matches against Big Show, which have actually drawn ratings, fans are cheering for for him. As you can see from the RAW ratings pop this week, fans were happy to see him back.

REMEMBER the "Tito Plan", which I outlined in my last few columns:

(A) Braun Strowman wins the 2018 Royal Rumble Match
(B) Braun Strowman defeats Brock Lesnar 100% cleanly for the WWE Universal Title at Wrestlemania 34, potentially beating Lesnar in his last WWE match (contract expires).

If Strowman beats Lesnar cleanly and shocks the world by it being a convincing win... He could get over as a babyface.

A babyface Braun Strowman.

Folks, I think we have something here with Strowman and he DOESN'T need a "quick fix" gimmick like the Money in the Bank briefcase to enter the Main Event. Baron Corbin does. That's the difference. Strowman is learning in the ring but where he's becoming valueable is his appearance as a legitimate badass with his look and personality. Unlike Roman Reigns who needs Michael Cole spewing propaganda about him all night long, Strowman just naturally gets over as a human tank. It's easy to believe that Strowman is legitimately tough because his look and his personality are selling it. He looks and acts tough...

But if you push Braun Strowman as a babyface wrestler who is larger than life? Yikes, that could actually work.

Strowman has those intangibles that Baron Corbin lacks and if Strowman won that Money in the Bank briefcase, it would do NOTHING for his character. Nothing because Strowman is already good enough to be World Champion. He's ready.

Baron Corbin? He's looking for a prayer with that Money in the Bank briefcase and the timing of which the WWE Creative Team comes up with to get him over.

History shows that Baron Corbin is in deep, deep trouble...

If you want my opinion, Baron Corbin needs to pull the Rob Van Dam in 2006 trick and not just announce the World Title shot ahead of time, but allow him to pick his arena. Baron could choose his hometown of Kansas City, as the WWE tours that several times a year... Announce his title shot for SummerSlam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, or Wrestlemania ahead-of-time? Hell, announce that he's putting a ring in the backyard of his parents' house and that's when the WWE Title shot occurs.

Point is, history is NOT good to wrestlers who did the opportunistic cash-ins after a World Champion wrestles a match. The World Title victory looks cheap and when the Creative Team won't let that champion win consistently, it's over.

On the Smackdown roster, it's getting hard to deny the popularity of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. St. Louis fans were so happy when the 2 were in the ring alone together. That's going to be a HUGE Wrestlemania 34 match-up, if it happens.

Speaking of Smackdown, I LAUGHED at all of the WWE yes-men fans who were saying that Lana "held her own". Held her own? Did you watch the same match? What I saw was a professional named Naomi bumping and covering for the inexperienced Lana who often looked clueless in the ring on Sunday Night. What specifically did Lana do that didn't involve Naomi executing perfect selling to make Lana look strong? The WWE Women's Division on Smackdown had a lot of good talent in that first ever Money in the Bank Women's Match that should be pushed as WRESTLERS instead but idiot comments like Lana "held her own" will only cause WWE to push Lana instead. If she isn't over by now after how much she was pushed as a character with Rusev, she will NEVER be. Lana is NOT and I repeat NOT the "next Sable".

By the way, Smackdown's ratings were at 2.5 million this week. Whoopee. A post-Pay Per View show with Daniel Bryan's hyped return only did 2.5 million. That's 2000 WCW Nitro numbers. Good job, WWE. And next week, you'll give a way a MONEY IN THE BANK match for FREE between the Women again for ratings as well.

Good wrestling television shows don't need special announcements, hyped returns, or Pay Per View like match-us to draw in viewers. They need Superstars with magnetic appeal that can pull in non-wrestling fans to watch.



Many of the WWE marks were shouting at me and other people who disliked Money in the Bank 2017 as "haters" and cried that "if you don't like it, stop watching it".

But what if we're wrestling fans and we don't want to stop being wrestling fans? Just because the WWE is having issues (loss in TV viewershp, FACT, loss in attendance at live events FACT) doesn't mean that we should stop being wrestling fans. To me, when Pro Wrestling is clicking, there are few forms of entertainment better. Maybe a high profile NFL or NBA Playoff game will give that to me but close games aren't guaranteed. Boxing and UFC never leave me satisfied because the matches either lack excitement or end quickly.

It's like in the comedy Office Space where a character is named Michael Bolton. Everybody in the office repeatedly asks him if he loves Michael Bolton's music and it annoys him. When a fellow co-worker of Michael Bolton (the character) asks him to change his name, Bolton's reply is classic: "why should I change my name? He's the one who sucks!

Besides writing this column, I watch the WWE because when Creative gets it right, the entertainment ride is better than most television and/or sports. Parts of the Brock Lesnar run since 2012 have been awesome and makes you wanting to come back for more. Remember how happy we were when AJ Styles defeated John Cena at SummerSlam 2016?

For me, the Pay Per Views since 2015 have been solid for the WWE and that keeps me going as a wrestling fan. Thus, when the last 2 Pay Per Views have been kinda low in quality, it has me worried... But then I see a moment like AJ Styles and Shinsuka Nakamura confronting each other at Money in the Bank 2017, I want to see more... I want to see if the Miz can continue his growth seen during late 2016 and early 2017. I'm curious to see how good Braun Strowman could become. To me, John Cena is the absolute best wrestler on the roster and I want to see what he'll do next in his wrestling career while we have him. I'm always hoping that many NXT wrestlers that I've liked can get over in the WWE. I love the Revival! I want to see Bayley overcome her problems on the WWE roster and how good Alexa Bliss could get.

See, I have something to live for as a WWE fan... And I still write these columns because I'm convinced that I can HELP the WWE get better. Why else would I do this? Sure, it's fun... But I'm doing it for free and am entering my 19th year as Mr. Tito. I want my opinion to be heard not just towards my wonderful audience, but to the WWE itself. I believe that I give insightful opinions that could not only help the in-ring product, but the business itself. I'm presenting my opinions as a wrestling fan but also as a business professional with lots of corporate experience under my belt now for the last 10 years. Who else crunches their numbers like I do? I used regression analysis to test WWE ratings numbers for Christ's Sake!

Thus, for anyone who gives the line of "if you don't like it, turn it off and watch something else"... You can shove it. You can take that turd of advice and flush it down the toilet for all I care.

I'm a wrestling fan and have been a dedicated one since late 1988 when I saw a tape of Clash of the Champions 1 with Ric Flair vs. Sting for the NWA/WCW World Title. Blew my mind... I've endured worse, I'd argue, as a wrestling an as 1992-1995 were rough years for the industry. But, even during those bad years, it delivered me with my "wrestling fix" somehow.

There's always a diamond in the rough and even blind squirrels find nuts.

WWE Money in the Bank 2017 delivered something for you as wrestling fans. Don't like the Baron Corbin briefcase win? So what... In that same match, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura confronted each other and wrestled for a while. How awesome was that? I had chills down my spine as the two locked horns. The pure excitement of potentially seeing those 2 wrestle on a Pay Per View will keep me tuned in.

It's that simple, folks... I'm a wrestling fan above and beyond being a WWE fan. Can't change that and I'm willing to endure hours of RAW, Smackdown, NXT, and Pay Per Views on my own personal time... That's MY problem... At the very least, I don't just complain, I offer opinions and suggested ways to get better.

I'm trying my very best as a wrestling fan...


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