Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Damien Sandow and the Miz, Shane/Stephanie, RAW thoughts, and more
By Mr. Tito
May 13, 2016 - 10:10:49 AM

Follow Mr. Tito on @titowrestling

Welcome, one and all, to Mr. Tito Strikes Back exclusively here at / Past 3 weeks have been rough... Let me say this... One of the benefits of being my age (mid 30s) is that your parents were a part of big families per the "Baby Boomer" generation in which soldiers returning from World War 2 came home and produced large families. Christmas and other holidays were nice because you could celebrate together with your parents and many Aunts/Uncles. Well, now most are at least 60 years old now and as you get older, father time will catch up to you. Recently, I had one pass and one greatly impaired, and it's been tough... As I've said in previous columns, appreciate what you have and spend as much time as you can with family/friends.

So... WWE had several releases lately. With the NXT roster getting thicker, I predicted that in order for the WWE to accommodate call-ups, they could enact some "Spring Cleaning". That they did with more releases reportedly on the way. For the most part, and I don't wish unemployment on anyone (except MANY members of Congress), those who were released weren't being used much or just weren't in the WWE's long-term plans. I wasn't shocked by the releases with one exception: Damien Sandow.

I find it HIGHLY funny that 2 of the former apprentices of the Miz character, Damien Sandow and Alex Riley have been released. Overall, I thought Alex Riley was a talented wrestler and I don't know what happened between Riley and the WWE. Just never clicked... I wish him the best. When I saw him back in NXT, I figured his time could be up unless he really stood out from the rest. Just seemed that once he broke away from the Miz, WWE didn't have any real plans for him. However, they had multiple different pushes and angles ready for the Miz. You know... FIVE Intercontinental Titles after he lost the WWE Title during 2011. That's right... A rate of 1 IC Title per year.

Damien Sandow is more shocking to me as I thought the guy had real charisma, personality, mic skills, and was a decent worker. He had "SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT" written all over him. In fact, through 2013, he appeared to receive favorable booking by the WWE. He won a 2013 Money in the Bank briefcase albeit from the "B-Squad" version of the Ladder Match that night. Still, a World Title shot is a World Title shot. He feuded with Cody Rhodes to play off their former partnership as a tag team and then cashed in the briefcase against John Cena during an edition of RAW. I enjoyed the match as I thought it was Sandow's proof that he could work a big and important match... However, backstage thought otherwise... Since that Cena/Sandow match, the booking went downhill for Sandow.

For the next year, Sandow was the butt of every joke by the WWE Creative Team. He did gimmick after gimmick which often depended on the location or what was going on with pop culture at the time. Complete mockery of the good wrestler and personality that he was developing through 2013. Then, during August 2014, Damien Sandow was enlisted as the Miz's "stunt double". Miz endured his 28484845194th repackaging as a Hollywood Star for his multiple WWE Studios films (3 of them during 2013 alone) and thus with nothing else to do, Sandow was his stunt double for a week... Like many great wrestlers dealt bad gimmicks, Sandow made the best of it. He completely sold the "stunt double" gimmick by attempting to replicate every move on the outside of the ring that Miz performed. Fans were LOVING IT and it created an actual reaction for Miz matches. Before the "stunt double" gimmick, Sandow kept switching gimmicks weekly... But the new role with the Miz stuck around for many months.

"Mizdow" was the name dubbed to Miz and Sandow together. And all Miz had to do, acting as a heel, was to be occasionally upset with Sandow and his antics. It gave him heat... In my opinion, the WWE could have kept up the "Mizdow" act for a longer period of time to really build up Miz as a heel but also in my opinion, Sandow was over and potentially ready to move on. However, WWE had other ideas... The Miz is their Corporate guy and Miz is a company guy until the bitter end.

You see, the Miz had some wrestling training before joining WWE Tough Enough during 2004 but nothing extensive. However, before that, the Miz appeared on Mtv's Real World show and various spin-offs. See, he was an "entertainer" and just what the Corporate WWE structure now wanted. Miz joined the WWE following his Tough Enough stint and trained to be a wrestler during the weaker years of the WWE developmental system. After 2004, we were in full John Laurinaitis mode and those early years were rough particularly as the Ohio Valley Wrestling promotion was losing steam in the WWE's eyes. You can see that in his in-ring ability to this day... NO psychology. Miz just robotically hits move after move with efficiency but lacks emotion and the ability to sell agony/pain. However, Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn lusted over his past television experience, his look, and his ability to speak well.

Miz is a test-tube WWE product from the developmental system. He's the guy that the WWE Corporation wants you to like because they feel he looks great on the WWE's ultimate marketing device, television. Nevermind that getting 10,000 to 20,000 paying wrestling fans into an arena is important, but they love the Miz for the television product. However, what the WWE continually forgets is that "WWE" stands for World WRESTLING Entertainment. While having a good ability to speak is important, WWE still makes their bulk of their money from WRESTLING Pay Per View events and other touring events where guys WRESTLE IN THE RING. In addition to the lack of psychology in his matches, there is a lack of psychology as to how Miz obtains his pushes. Fans weren't beating down the WWE's door to make him WWE Champion during 2010. Sure, he was fine as a midcard champion, but he wasn't exactly headlining houseshows as a midcard champion. WWE tried to make him WWE Champion and tried their best to incorporate him into the Rock vs. John Cena hype (I personally thought Miz had some good promos here)... But nothing stuck as a Main Eventer. Numbers weren't there.

After he lost his WWE Title during 2011, we've been treated to multiple midcard titles (5 Intercontinental Titles since 2011) and multiple repackaging attempts by WWE Creative of the Miz. Monday Night RAW repeatedly reminds us that Miz is also a movie star EVEN THOUGH he's mostly appearing in WWE Studios based films. Whoopie. WWE is subsidizing the Miz's "Hollywood" career and once again attempting to spoonfeed their vision of the Miz. But fans aren't lining up to see Marine 3, nor do they want to see Marine 4. We don't believe that he's a real movie star! Why? Because again, WWE is manufacturing the Miz and attempting to use its marketing devices to make him popular. Of course, it's not working... Why else would Maryse, his amazing looking wife, join him at ringside? He needs any kind of reaction now.

But let's go back to the "Mizdow" era... The BIG moment of their break-up occurred at Wrestlemania 31 during the Andre "the Giant" Battle Royal. Sandow overcame his bully by turning on Miz and almost winning that Battle Royal. So, you'd expect that the NEXT WWE Pay Per View following Wrestlemania 31 would feature Miz vs. Damien Sandow? Nope... Over the next following weeks on RAW, the two wrestled multiple times until the last match, the rights over the "Miz" persona/music, was on the line. Miz won that match, of course, and any mention of the "Mizdow" gimmick was gone by the next Pay Per View that rolled along. In fact, Miz and Sandow were NOT on the next Pay Per View, Extreme Rules 2015, at all. Not even in the Pre-Game show!

BURIED - And Miz's career carried on with that false Hollywood gimmick. Meanwhile, Sandow was placed on the lower midcard and often didn't appear on any television shows.

I don't get it... WWE is completely tone deaf when it comes to FAN reactions to their wrestlers. After all, you had fans lifting arena roofs upward with "YES!" chants but the WWE had other plans for pushing other wrestlers instead of Daniel Bryan. At minimum, keep the "Mizdow" gimmick going longer after Wrestlemania 31... Or better yet, Damien Sandow convincingly defeats the Miz and goes on to bigger and better things. As 2015 would prove, the WWE was short on higher level babyfaces once John Cena took time off and also became injured.

To Damien Sandow or ANY wrestlers released recently by the WWE: GO PROVE THE WWE WRONG.

I know, TNA Wrestling is in limbo with a potential sale happening and Ring of Honor could use some more mainstream exposure... But make a big splash in a small pond. In my opinion, what both promotions lack is a Main Event level wrestler full of personality, charisma, and speaking ability. Honestly, both TNA and ROH have some decent in-ring wrestlers but drawing power is what they lack. Sandow, probably having to use his real name in some fashion (Aaron Stevens or Aaron Haddad), could make a big splash into TNA Wrestling as a guy shooting from the hip about the real life FACT that the WWE released him. Hold nothing back in your promos... And if you're worried about the lack of the "Damien Sandow" name, just remember that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash existed quite well without their Razor and Diesel WWE gimmicks respectively.

PROVE WWE WRONG and also prove that WWE Corporation and its Creative/Production departments are FOOLS for pushing the wrong guy from the "Mizdow" split.

Until current disgruntled WWE wrestlers or recently released WWE wrestlers help legitimate a competitor, there will be NO competitors to the WWE. Fact.

As for the Miz... Welcome to 2016... I used the word "awesome" often during 1989. Get new theme music because again, it sounds like a bad pop-alternative song that I heard during the early 2000s that helped make downloading music more appealing. And ditch the "Hollywood" gimmick. Sorry, but WWE Studios films where they handpick you does NOT make you a movie star. Nobody is buying it... Figure out the concept of "Less is More" and work on psychology that softens up opponents in order to make your finisher, which is truly "awesome" and one of the best in the business, defeat anybody convincingly. And finally, earn your push... I don't blame the Miz for enjoying the fruits handed to him by WWE Creative, but forcing his overhyped character down our throats is hurting him in the long-run.

But hey, that's my opinion... I honestly wish the Miz the best in improving and Sandow for landing another good wrestling job (along with the other releases).



Been a while... Time to clear out my inbox of pending questions.

Question #1: Given the recent Transgender news, do you think that a Transgender wrestler or personality could work out well in the WWE?

I guess you missed "Cloudy" from the mid-1990s which was the Bodydonnas replacement for Sunny...

I think it could very much work but the WWE would have to either find a genuine Transgender wrestler or find a way to suspend disbelief over a character. Anything that appears fake, in my opinion, would fail. I think the way WWE should go is how the Australian show Wentworth with their "Maxine" character. She's a transgender and because she's a former man, she is overpowering of other ladies in prison and acts as the lead lady's bodyguard. You could have a Transgender wrestler enter the Women's Division and overpower the existing female talents.

But again - I stress... Don't screw around with it... You'll have to actually protect the business and the character in order to convince fans that the character is legit. Funny how WWE's full exposure of its wrestling product would disable them to do any real character opportunities.


Question #2: Will the Bullet Club reunite in the WWE?

Follow-up from a previous column... I did not know this, but New Japan appears to own the United States copyright on "Bullet Club"... But it could be called "Balor Club"? That is if the WWE truly wants to push Finn Balor strong on the WWE roster. I'm just not seeing it...

Just seems too obvious that the former New Japan wrestlers would team back up. That, and Styles/Anderson/Gallows and Roman Reigns just aren't getting strong reactions (RAW numbers are sliding again) in the Main Event spotlight. I still sense that Anderson/Gallows are not for Styles but may end up joining Roman Reigns to potentially form a heel stable... BUT BUT BUT, I still see Vince McMahon being stubborn on Roman Reigns remaining babyface.

Depends on what money that the WWE sees in "Balor Club" vs. the Shield. I still see the WWE reuniting the Shield during 2016 as a means to get Roman Reigns over.


Question #3: What do you think of the WWE's 1st Quarter 2015 Financial Results?

Considering Wrestlemania isn't factored into 1st Quarter 2016, but it was for 1st Quarter 2015, the WWE did well for the first quarter 2016. WWE made $171 million in revenues for the first 3 months of 2016 compared to $176 million during 2015. That is WITHOUT possibly the biggest Wrestlemania money maker of all time, Wrestlemania 32, which occurred in April. WWE easily made more than 5 million from Wrestlemania 32 to make up that difference. However, I really like the Cost reduction seen in the 1st Quarter 2016. WWE reduced their costs of revenues to $93 million, down from $110 million.

Where I see some weaknesses is the American market... I know, Wrestlemania 32 wasn't factored in, but Live Event ticket numbers were down and ditto for Live Event merchandise. There were insider reports that suggested that WWE was struggling to claim "sellouts" on big shows and houseshow numbers were down considerably. WWE is still reliant on being a touring entertainment act and if they cannot fill houses, trouble is on the horizon. If you want my opinion, WWE should randomly televise 1 houseshow per week on the WWE Network to boost houseshow numbers.

But overall, a good quarter and the 2nd quarter should be interesting to see how big of an impact Wrestlemania 32 made to WWE's financials.


Question #4: What do you think will happen with the Shane vs. Stephanie feud?

They won't last long as happy siblings... I predict a split soon but that Stephanie gets RAW and Shane gets Smackdown. Originally, there were plans to have Shane take over RAW and Triple H/Stephanie would have full reign (real life and in character) over the matters involving Smackdown. However, I believe that those plans were quickly squashed...

There's something to the 3-year "wrestler" deal that Triple H just signed. In many ways, Vince McMahon needs Triple H as a wrestler. I believe that leverage is being used to change plans and if Shane McMahon wants to stick around, he'll exclusively appear on Smackdown. And in my opinion, that would be best to make Smackdown look unique versus the old and tired RAW dominated by Stephanie/Triple H.

All depends on how long Shane McMahon wants to stick around...


QUICK RAW is HULU Thoughts

It's fairly obvious that Big Cass has caught the eye of Vince McMahon... But, Big Cass did well in his segments. Considering how new he is to the WWE product and the bigger audiences along with being a tag wrestler, he's doing OK so far. Hopefully, the WWE keeps with Enzo for a while and lets Enzo continue to help Big Cass grow as a wrestler. Just don't push Big Cass too fast... Be patient and let him develop until stronger babyface power is shown.

Kevin Owens is doing outstanding in-ring stuff right now... He's an amazing in-ring wrestler, great talker, and he feels like a legitimate Main Event heel. Just please, someone in the WWE refine his look. As I've kept saying, he looks more ready for a playground basketball game than a wrestling match. Just fix that and he's fine.

Fun 6 man between Roman Reigns/Usos vs. Styles/Anderson/Gallows... You can see some progress with Reigns but my main issue with him remains to be conditioning. It just seems that at points in matches, he's down to one knee sucking wind. Maybe that's him trying to sell, but it looks like him struggling to breathe.

Why am I getting the impression that Chris Jericho will win the final match against Dean Ambrose? But at the same time, I'm OK with that because I see veteran value in Jericho and I think that Ambrose's mic skills and storyline work has been a bit off lately for his feuds with Triple H, Brock Lesnar, and now Chris Jericho. I thought he was the best talker of the Shield? Best personality?



At the risk of irritating my fellow columnists here at LoP, let me just suggest that my rant is NOT directed towards them. In fact, I feel that LoP has one of the best retro writers in the Doc, Chad Matthews who presents his columns in a unique and entertaining way. As I've had some time off, I've been able to look around at other wrestling websites and I'm disturbed by what I'm seeing.

Are any of you, like me, sick of RETRO wrestling columns? Specifically, (a) Show Reviews and (b) Top 10 Lists about past happenings?

If I have to read one more review about "WWE In Your House 5" or the same Top 10 Lists that reword and reorganize the same retro categories over and over again... I'll lose it. Seriously... Does the Internet not want to write about CURRENT topics? There's a lot of material out there on the current WWE product and wrestling in general. WWE's corporate structure, alone, provides for many discussion points to criticize. Hell, I've made my entire run as Mr. Tito by talking about CURRENT topics. That's my secret, folks... I market my column titles to entice you to *click* the link and then I deliver something about the current product. Look at today's column where I talk about Damien Sandow, Transgenders, Shane/Stephanie, WWE 1st Quarter financials, etc. And I talked briefly about the recent RAW.

These older Show Reviews, especially... Sorry, but I already lived through most of the WWE, WCW, and ECW Pay Per Views. I don't need to read a 5th or 6th review on SummerSlam 2003. Anything and everything has been said about each and every WWE/WCW/ECW Pay Per View. There's nothing new to report here and it's very likely that your match ratings will be similar to the other reviews. But do you want to know the funny thing about doing Retro Show Reviews? Some WWE executive told one of the insiders that WWE Network actually sees LOW viewership for the older Pay Per Views. Seriously, all of those events sitting on those servers from the past 3 decades are not getting watched by today's WWE fans. Fans have already seen those older events or have watched the biggest matches in other video collections... Plus, the lack of HD makes it tough and annoying to watch the older stuff particularly for the younger generation of fans.

But those Top 10 Lists... Ugh, especially the click bait ones that force you to click a link to see each number on the list. At least when I did my "Final Countdown" top 10 list, I always conveniently kept all 10 list items on one page. But I did those years ago... We now have entire websites that just pump out retro pro wrestling top 10 columns all day long... Argh... I don't get it, but then again, those probably make easy ad money with many clicks.

My issue is that there is a LACK of columnists online who write compelling columns about CURRENT topics. With RAW having 3 hours, Smackdown with 2 hours, Pay Per Views once a month, and a leaky WWE who lets insider websites report all of their backstage secrets... How is there not material to discuss CURRENT topics in a column? And because there is a LACK of columns that discuss CURRENT topics, wrestling websites have less of an influence on the product. Take sports, for example... There are many MLB, NBA, and NFL columnists whose opinions are widely read and held with a high regard. You don't see those same MLB, NBA, and NFL columnists constructing Top 10 Lists or writing about past games. Nope... All current and that's because it sells.

WWE needs louder opposition voices to hold their feet to the fire in order to help them improve... Instead, they see demand for RETRO columns out there and that convinces them to care more about the past via WWE Network than improving their current product. Yet, their own WWE Network says otherwise... Newer content is viewed more than older content on that Network. You don't exactly hear about pro wrestling columnists being held up as influential or considered as journalists as you do in other pro sports. Why? Because we're so stuck in the past that we refuse to challenge the present to be better.

Just saying - Write about CURRENT topics, guys. Pro wrestling needs columnists to step up and scream at them with a large megaphone to improve. Instead, the more RETRO columns that the WWE sees, the more that they'll try to exploit the past for money as well. And yet, by living in the past, we can't move forward.

Otherwise, you'll keep me popular by being one of the few guys consistently talking about CURRENT wrestling topics. Sure, I'll stay in the spotlight... What's another year on top of my 17 years here?


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