Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - GREAT Night for BOTH Kevin Owens and Triple H + Push for LGBTQ Storylines in WWE?
By Mr. Tito
Aug 30, 2016 - 11:22:48 AM

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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at / by yours truly, Mr. Tito. I actually watched parts of last night's Monday Night RAW at my brother's house, most notably the WWE Universal Title match between Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Big Cass. Because I mostly commented on the Smackdown brand last week, I'm going to dedicate much of this column to giving a "hot take" on the WWE Universal Title crowning this week.

First and foremost, I do like the quick booking change that the WWE did during the day to make it an Elimination based match. Makes it a much more worthy bout instead of one of those first pin Fatal Four Way matches. I really hate those.

Secondly - Who isn't happy for Kevin Owens right now? Whatever your personal opinions on him as a wrestler, you cannot deny the satisfaction of seeing someone work so hard in the business seeing the pinnacle of his career. You could tell it, too... He held that red belt with pure emotion as if a gigantic weight had finally been taken off of his shoulders. HE MADE IT in pro wrestling. He started as a wrestler during 2000 and worked his way up through various independent promotions, Ring of Honor, and then working for a while in NXT. Then, he joins the WWE last year and wins his FIRST match against none other than John Cena and it was 100% clean! Since that match, however, WWE booking has been very 50/50 for him... Wins some, loses some... Never allowed to get a streak or momentum and that Sami Zayn feud went on forever.

My take on Kevin Owens winning the WWE Universal Title? As mentioned above, I'm happy for HIM, the person behind the wrestler. He's worked hard and I'm sure this accomplishment feels great to his family back at home. I can relate to that.

Was it a good booking move to crown him WWE Champion? Being totally honest here, I want to see what happens between Kevin Owens as it relates to Triple H. I don't know where WWE is going unless we're seeing a new Authority-like stable forming with Triple H acting against the wishes of Stephanie/Mick Foley. Don't know where WWE is going because they just had their booking plans shredded due to an unexpected injury to Finn Balor. This was emergency booking and WWE had to do their best to cover for lost storylines. That involves probably involving Triple H earlier than expected... At the very least, this is something NEW and fans everywhere are questioning "what happened". Keeping wrestling fans guessing and wanting to tune in NEXT WEEK TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS is what you want as a wrestling promoter.

I'm fine with the booking decision to make Kevin Owens WWE Universal Champion and am curious to see why Triple H helped out to defy his Wife Stephanie and the RAW General Manager Mick Foley.

You have to consider the alternatives with the WWE Universal Title. The "safe" pick would have been Seth Rollins. Aside from his Authority/Kane stuff from 2015, he was a strong champion in terms of delivering great in-ring work at Pay Per Views. I would have been 100% fine with the decision although it presents "business as usual". Rollins is a proven wrestler and a good talker... That might work as a babyface against Triple H/Owens? No thanks on Roman Reigns. He was doing great work with Rusev on the midcard feud. The problem with Roman Reigns was that fans did NOT want him shoved down their throats as a Main Eventer. That's it... Let him develop more in the midcarder and then promote... I see major upside in Big Cass but he's not ready to be the top dog in August 2016. Just let him keep growing and getting over with Enzo. That is working and I'd argue that Cass/Enzo are the best 2016 NXT call-ups by a margin.

Where my Mr. Tito columns have been on Kevin Owens is that I (a) think he's a strong worker, (b) think he's a great talker, but (c) I don't like his look. I've been pretty consistent on that stance. He's wearing basketball shorts and a cut-off sleeve t-shirt. Is he ready for a wrestling match or a YMCA pick-up game of basketball? To be fair and consistent, I've criticized Bray Wyatt for some of his outfits and even the Hardy Boyz who often wrestled in full street clothes. You have to LOOK THE PART... If WWE is to be a contrived athletic competition, its champions should look like athletes... That's my ONLY criticism of Kevin Owens... If you'll recall from this June 16th, 2016 Column, a reader named Tigerboy83 helped to really influence me on how Kevin Owens works. I've liked Owens since that reader helped me understand where Owens was coming from and maybe, just maybe, that also offers context into the basketball shorts/cut-off sleeves look.

In my opinion, what Tigerboy83 told me back then is how the WWE should push his character hard as WWE Universal Champion:

The reasons Owens works and Rusev/Wyatt didn't is people can identify with Owens, he isn't fighting for some non-sensical reason (A Bulgarian fighting for Russia) or a cult, he just wants to put food on the table and the best way he can is by seriously kicking ass. The best character on WWE TV in a long time, like 15 years long.

(a) Just wants to put food on the table and (b) the best way he can is by seriously kicking ass. And better yet, I think trying to do whatever it takes to provide for his family in part (a) helps justify his HEEL character. Remember, the more successful he is in the wrestling business, the more he gets PAID. He can easily argue that by joining the dark side, Triple H, he's getting to provide more for his family. Better yet, and this plays into his John Cena feud during the Spring/Summer of 2015. Owens knows how hard he works and yet his kids like WWE babyface characters, like Cena, instead of wanting to root on their dad. Owens knows that at age 32, his shelf life for maximum earnings potential in pro wrestling is limited especially with 16 years of experience already under his belt. The tread on the tire is wearing... Thus, the desperate need and the justification to take SHORTCUTS as a wrestler in the WWE.

In essence, he could truly become the HEEL Dusty Rhodes. Fighting like a common middle class man yet desperate to be stuck with that label. Therefore, and unlike Dusty, he'll cheat to win and take whatever shortcut is necessary.

It can work... Just let Kevin Owens WIN ACTUAL MATCHES as Champion and run up a winning streak. DO NOT let him lose repeat non-title matches, please.

Now, Kevin Owens may not have been the biggest winner of the night, though... That honor goes to Triple H.

Triple H is growing in power backstage and that could be a good thing? As I wrote months ago, I figured there would be some PAYBACK for Triple H losing to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 32. But I think there's more to the story... NXT is a successful touring and now Pay Per View generating brand. It is now an important cornerstone to the WWE Network and proof is how BIG the past 2 NXT Takeover Brooklyn events have been. Both shows have packed the same houses that SummerSlam does. Sure, it's the same building on back-to-back nights, but the reviews for the Takeover events have been seeing nothing short of rave reviews. In fact, I watch NXT regularly because of NXT Takeover #1 and how it continues to entertain me. While I have been critical in the past of Triple H as an executive, something is clicking with him on developmental (well, signing free agents) and booking NXT to look like an actual television show.

In addition to the success at NXT, we may be seeing a change in Vince McMahon. Reportedly, he has taken some time off and hasn't been as aggressive on edits to scripts. The guy is 71 years old (just turned it 6 days ago) and might be finally wearing thin. If that is really true, although he may have already returned or might flip the controlling switch back "on", then we might already be seeing the results on RAW and Smackdown. On RAW, NXT call-ups and guys Triple H has personally vouched for Finn Balor and Kevin Owens are your first WWE Universal Champions. Do you think that it's no coincidence that AJ Styles, a Triple H pushed signing, is receiving the WWE Title push on Smackdown? If someone told me at Royal Rumble 2016 that by SummerSlam 2016, I'd see AJ Styles defeating John Cena 100% clean... I'd call that fan insane! Granted, AJ Styles has worked his tail off and in my opinion, brought out the best matches in Roman Reigns (Vince's favorite). Still, Vince historically doesn't like wrestlers of Finn and AJ's size and is historically reluctant on former NJPW/ROH/TNA imported wrestlers. SOMETHING is possibly changing...

So if you're a wrestling fan and you really like Triple H's growing role in the company, particularly his work with the NXT brand... You should be VERY happy today. Things might be slowly changing for the better. On top of that, you have a new WWE Universal Champion who has wanted to be World Champion for a top promotion for all of his professional life. I guarantee that Kevin Owens won't waste this opportunity.

Of course with Triple H, he works for a corporation...



Not sure if all of you kept up with the news lately, but Stephanie McMahon, speaking on behalf of the WWE Corporation, made a bold statement (Source): when it makes sense … absolutely we will integrate LGBT storylines into our programming

Whoa... And she went on further:

We've had GLAAD come in and speak to our entire writing team and give a whole tutorial on sensitivities, the right words, the wrong word [and] why those words matters. I think that with their guidance and support, we will be able to portray that [LGBT storyline] appropriately.

This follows the initiative taken by WWE's Cable/Satellite broadcast partner, Comcast, who has been pushing diversity hard with its programming from NBC to its various Cable channels like USA Networks and E!, which WWE programming resides. In fact, Comcast Corporation publishes an annual Diversity Report to not only discuss the diverse programming offerings, but the employees of its company. There has been a reported push by Comcast to increase its diversity based on sexual or gender preference, so hence why the WWE, a corporation itself, is obviously taking on this practice.

Look - I'm NOT going to write an opposition piece here on the LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Question) community... As long as you don't physically harm others, I don't care what you do with your personal life. Who you want to date or what you want to be is none of my business. Right now in politics, people are more focused on these social issues than say how the United States has about $19.5 TRILLION in outstanding DEBT. Yeah, let's focus on how other people act in their own homes instead of a crippling financial situation that could blow up the world economies... Let's care about how people use Bathrooms in Target or in North Carolina instead of how our elected officials are completely unable to do simple MATH.

Now that I have that out of the way... Let me pose this question: Given its track record, do you trust the WWE on performing LGBTQ storylines?

You do realize that the SAME Creative Team that brought up Chuck & Billy and HOT LESBIAN ACTION is still in tact, right? That SAME Stephanie McMahon was Creative Lead over both of those storylines in addition to a company that for YEARS exploited Women as sexual objects with the Diva Searches, Bikini Contests, and other belittling storylines. In fact, it wasn't until Triple H's initiative of developing women as legitimate athletes in NXT that true diversity with women was finally achieved. WWE women were referred to as "DIVAS" until Wrestlemania 32 and it sickened me to see Stephanie McMahon trying to take credit for the title change on the Women's Title. SHE WAS AN ENABLER! You do realize that DIVA is defined as "woman regarded as temperamental or haughty". Yet, that's what women were referred to for YEARS in the WWE and even had a blinged up butterfly Divas Title for it.

Just saying - Given WWE's history, do you trust them to do the LGBTQ community right?

Because I sure as hell don't.

WWE struggles with simple storylines that fight over Title Belts... How do you expect them to write storylines on how someone titles themselves? Since 1999, look at how many times per year that the World Title belts, Tag Titles, Intercontinental/United States Titles, Divas/Women's Title, etc. have switched hands. How does Triple H, John Cena, Edge, and Randy Orton each have 10+ World Title reigns within the last 15 years? How about a recent example? Why on earth did Charlotte lose the Women's Title to Sasha Banks on the first Brand Split RAW only to win it back at the following Pay Per View, SummerSlam 2016? What was the point of hotshotting the Women's Title if Sasha was only going to be champion for weeks?!? Could it be that the New Day are helped by the fact that they've been Tag Champions for a while? Hell, they brag openly about being the "WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS" by moving their hips sexually and proudly.

Can y'all get the WRESTLING part of it correct first before excessively worrying about pleasing Corporate interests? After all, generating diversity reports mean squat if you cannot fill Arenas, get viewers for Television, or convince subscribers to buy WWE Network. As much as the WWE Corporate Structure has become bloated, someone in the WWE has to realize that they are still a WRESTLING company. You have opposing sides entering a ring to win by pinfall/submission. You know, like an athletic competition... And what motivates participating in an athletic competition? Title belts to recognize that you're the BEST at something. No matter who you're dating or what gender you prefer, in that ring, everything is neutral. How about the media recently going gaga over the "first openly gay UFC Women's Champion" when Amanda Nunes won the Bantamweight Title at UFC 200? To UFC fans, she was just another fighter judged on her fighting credentials... It wasn't until afterward that the corporate media was beating the LGBTQ drum hard because they had to... I'm sure that those media companies have their own diversity reports to fulfill!

If the WWE Creative Team cannot get the simple conflict of being the best athlete/fighter correct... How will they do well with a LGBTQ storyline? Provided that WWE boasts about being scripted and has completely exposed the magic tricks of its own business (see every other show on WWE Network), how credible would it be to create Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender character? What does that do to the wrestling business? Better yet, if you want to push this Anti-Bullying stuff, which is ironic because the Stephanie McMahon character is quite a bully on-screen, do wrestling feuds occur because of bigotry? Are LGBTQ wrestlers going to openly hit on other wrestlers? Do you guys remember how WEIRD the older Goldust character was when he was trying to hook up with Razor Ramon? Is that what WWE Creative has in store for us?

The best approach for the WWE to take is actually one they've already taken with Darren Young. Remember when TMZ Sports asked him about athletes being openly gay and he casually told them that he was gay? What did you see afterward? And outpouring of support from almost everyone and his character has remained relatively unchanged. In fact, his currently storyline has him trying to become a serious in-ring wrestler by having Bob Backlund as his manager. It would become truly tragic if the WWE even dared to create a storyline where Young/Backlund were having a relationship or if former Tag Team partner Titus O'Neil became a bigot as a character (O'Neil has been VERY supportive of Young outside of the ring). What good is that to their characters or fans if WWE forces something like that?

No - What the WWE should simply do is create an environment where ANYBODY could work for the WWE regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, etc. If you're good enough to perform well in a WWE ring and draw money, we'll take you. If you have the ability fill arenas, draw thousands to autograph signings, sell merchandise, cause more viewers of RAW/Smackdown on Cable/Satellite, or create more subscribers to WWE Network... WWE should not care. Just be entertaining and help the WWE portray what appears to be a legitimate athletic competition in a squared circle.

GET THE WRESTLING RIGHT before you go all Politically Correct on us as a Corporation and force something just to look good on a diversity report. Please and thank you.

By the way, I've heard and read it from multiple sources that the WWE Corporation creates weekly diversity reports that compiles % of segments by race and gender. They probably have some Accountant or someone within their Human Resources department who watches RAW, Smackdown, NXT, or Pay Per Views. In addition recent Diversity pushes by Comcast, the wrestling business learned its lesson for several times when World Championship Wrestling (WCW) was accused of being racist. There were internal pressures on Turner/WCW back then on diversity and it reportedly led to Ron Simmons becoming the first black World Champion. Then, WCW had problems during 2000 when former Japanese manager Sonny Onoo and other minority wrestlers filed discrimination suits against Time Warner for WCW's unequal pay practices towards minorities. Onoo's lawsuit went deeper, as he accused WCW of playing up stereotypes through they heel manager character that gave him and wouldn't evolve.

When you start to look at the results of RAW/Smackdown and actually look how the Brand Split happened and how the wrestlers were drafted... It starts to make sense. There are bigger corporate forces at work in the WWE. I'm not against diversity, but just suggesting that diversity as a Corporate or Public Relations topic is driving the WWE's business decisions and instead of the wrestling product itself.

To think that WWE Creative could effectively create believable LGBTQ characters when they can't properly create a contender system for their World Titles... Yeah, that has me worried and we've already seen this same Creative team try a few Lesbian/Gay storylines before along with poor attempts at diversity with its characters. Do you forgot the Hassan controversial storyline and ending already? Mexicools riding tractors? Shelton Benjamin's mom? Booker T being unqualified to beat Triple H for the World Title at Wrestlemania 19? Chuck & Billy, Hot Lesbian Action, etc. I know, some of those are stale storylines mentioned, but the same Creative Team members remain backstage in the WWE and in the Board of Directors of the corporation.

Get wrestling right and go from there... Looking at his work in NXT, the WWE might have their solution with a son-in-law named Triple H. Lots of diversity, women's wrestling being presented correctly, and a great WRESTLING product on top of that. If Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, or AJ Styles pushes on RAW/Smackdown are any indication of Triple H's power in the WWE growing... WWE might already be on the right path.

Repeating myself - I have no problems with LGBTQ stuff, but I am worried with how poorly WWE will handle it given previous history and what I perceive is a weak Creative Team.


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