Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - More on WWE/NXT Creative Teams and Some RAW Thoughts
By Mr. Tito
Sep 29, 2014 - 11:45:16 PM

Follow Mr. Tito on @titowrestling

Welcome back to the Excellence in Column Writing... I'm often amused at the reactions to my columns, even after all of these years (16th anniversary of Tito, coming soon). Many of my columns can be subject to interpretation. Some see my columns as anti-WWE yet many others see mind as pro-WWE and I'm just a John Cena loving hack! Then, there are times when I try to be sneaky and market my column one way yet the subject leads into something entirely different.

Take my LAST COLUMN entitled "MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Why is Triple H getting Credit for NXT?" posted last week. From the title, you'd think that it's just another Triple H bashing column. Sure, I have written many of those for / for many of my 16 years as Mr. Tito, but it was only good marketing. The dirty secret of my columns is how I market my columns. I take great pride in how the column is titled as it helps to market my column not only to regular LoP readers, but it looks great on Google or other search engine results. Don't believe me? If you were to Google search "Triple H NXT" right now, you'll find last week's column on the 4th page of the search results and my column is only 1 week old. That's the power of marketing especially when you write for the greatest wrestling website on earth,

Sure, I put a few jabs in there about Triple H... How am I able to resist? But I had a much broader point about Pro Wrestling that I wanted to make with that column. Just in viewing internet criticisms of the WWE, most complain about the WWE Creative Team on how they book RAW/Smackdown and which wrestlers they choose to push. Then, on the other hand, many internet fans praise the booking of NXT. My main point was showing why NXT was enjoyed by core wrestling fans and why RAW/Smackdown was loathed.

It's too obvious to me... NXT is a WRESTLING show whereas RAW/Smackdown are TELEVISION shows. That simple.

NXT is run by former wrestlers with CEO/Board Chairman Vince McMahon and Executive Producer Kevin Dunn not caring as much about the developmental territory show. That, or they are way too busy with RAW/Smackdown. History shows that the former wrestlers running the developmental territory often has creative leeway on booking shows. Jim Cornette, for example, booked Ohio Valley Wrestling like a Southern wrestling promotion and WWE didn't meddle that much. After Cornette slapped the piss out of Santino, Paul Heyman took over and had creative freedom to push guys that Vince McMahon didn't want, such as CM Punk. Vince doesn't care as long as the wrestlers are taught how to take bumps in the ring and cut promos. He'll mold that clay when the developmental call-up is made.

WWE for RAW/Smackdown is much, much different... Executive Producer Kevin Dunn has Vince McMahon's ear and is a personal trusted friend to Vince. Dunn, as many backstage have reported, has been trying to morph WWE into a television show since the late 1990's. While turning wrestling into a live action soap opera worked for a while with Vince vs. Steve Austin and having wrestlers like Rock, Triple H, and Mick Foley in their primes, the soap opera style quickly became old when the talent wasn't there to execute. Once Stephanie McMahon took over creative during late 2000, I believe she sought advice and probably listened to Kevin Dunn too much. What happened since late 2000 was a "substitute effect" of former pro wrestlers having creative input to Stephanie and Dunn having ex-Hollywood writers hired instead. The WWE Corporation has also thickened up on Vice Presidents and Senior Vice Presidents of non-wrestlers who have input on day-to-day WWE operations as well. Lots of non-wrestlers making decisions about a WRESTLING company.

But I hold Triple H accountable for being one of the many enablers of how bad the main WWE brand has become. All indications show that HHH was attending WWE Creative Team meetings as early as 2002. Part of Steve Austin's anger during 2002 over the WWE product was the growing influence of Triple H backstage and how it was tampering with other pro wrestler pushes and storylines. By 2003, he was officially married to Stephanie McMahon. Thus, you have over 10 years of Triple H having some creative input on how the WWE operated, aside from just having some influence over his wife. At some point during the past 10 years, especially in the last 5 years when HHH became Vince's #1 adviser and promoted to Executive Vice President of Live Events/Talent/Creative, he could have maybe recommended a shake-up of the WWE Creative Team?

Yet, we still see the WWE Creative Team littered with ex-Hollywood writers. If Triple H truly built the NXT product and show to what it is today, why can't put ex-wrestlers on the RAW/Smackdown Creative Teams as well? He was able to help push EVP of Talent John Laurinaitis out the door, why not a bunch of ex-Hollywood writers?

Is Kevin Dunn really that powerful?

But anyway - My broader point is that NXT appears fun to you because it's a WRESTLING SHOW booked by former wrestlers. RAW/Smackdown is a TELEVISION SHOW booked by ex-Hollywood writers where the Executive Producer appears to have a strong influence. Dunn probably aspires to win an Emmy, but as you can see from Dunn's long-time WWE employment, nobody from Hollywood is willing to give him a chance beyond the WWE.

Wrestling's biggest BOOM periods have been when ex-wrestlers were on the Creative Staffs. Lots of former wrestlers on the WCW Creative Team during 1996-1997 and creativity only went downhill when top dollar wrestlers had their say. Vince McMahon surrounded himself consistently with pro wrestlers for his creative teams and overall operations of the WWE. Since late 2000, he's let his daughter Stephanie and his trusted friend, Kevin Dunn, change the make-up of the backstage. Little did Vince McMahon know that he had the PERFECT formula during 1996-1999 for his WWE Creative Team.

During 1996, Vince McMahon added WWE Magazine Writer, Vince Russo, to the Creative Team. Russo was a much needed addition to the team as some of the wrestling guys (Jim Cornette, Bruce Pritchard) were giving Vince McMahon some stale ideas. Russo had a very creative mind and helped put an adult edge on storylines. However, Vince Russo was most effective in the WWE because he a voice among the ex-wrestlers backstage. In addition to Pritchard and Cornette, he had to deal with VP of Talent Jim Ross, many former wrestler road agents with some say on individual feuds, and Pat Patterson as the "finish guy". Russo was able to be "filtered" of any bad ideas that might not fit in a wrestling context. It was when he went to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) during late 1999 that he lacked the supporting cast backstage. Ditto for his TNA runs... You're only as good as the team that surrounds you.

If WWE likes having ex-Hollywood writers, that's fine... But mix it up. Add some former pro wrestling guys to the mix. While Kevin Dunn might want RAW and Smackdown to be just television shows, there still exists an in-ring competition. Until that ring disappears and WWE resembles something like the horrible WCW Backstage Assault video game, WWE needs to treat RAW/Smackdown like wrestling shows. Just observe the praise that WWE NXT is getting from wrestling fans and apply that to the Main WWE product.

Imagine that... Former pro wrestlers might actually know how to put on a great wrestling show.

And can someone acknowledge that WWE actually employs Paul Heyman, arguably the best creative mind in the business? Imagine if he had some input? How about putting not only Paul Heyman on the WWE Creative Team, but why not Vince Russo? Maybe give someone with actual creative writing talent like Mick Foley on the Creative Team? With TNA dying, WWE is really becoming the #1 option and WWE will need to put on compelling television to keep pro wrestling alive.

SOME RAW THOUGHTS.................

- Decent opening segment with Authority, Seth Rollins, Paul Heyman, and John Cena. I really like that Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are getting some spotlight time now. I wish Roman Reigns a speedy recovery, but WWE was rushing that guy's push. Seriously, there was legitimate talk of having Roman Reigns defeating Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31. That's insane to me and Reigns would have been in over his head not only against Brock Lesnar, but as WWE Champion as well. At least at this point in time... Let Reigns prove that he can draw with the Intercontinental or US Title and then push him to the WWE Title. Isn't that how it has worked for Triple H, Rock, John Cena, Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, Steve Austin, and countless others? Oh, those darn midcard titles...

Anyway - I do like how WWE has included some storyline elements from WWE Smackdown. WWE needs to do more of this as WWE Smackdown has been painted too much to be a second rate WWE show.

I do like how Seth Rollins is acting like a cowardly heel... He apologized to Paul Heyman and makes himself very reliant on the Authority for help. I have no problem with this at this stage in the game because Rollins is still new as a singles wrestler and needs more work to be a convincing Main Eventer. I really like the Curb Stomp... With time, Rollins will appear as a tougher wrestler that doesn't have to always resort on cheating or running away from opponents. With time, he'll get it... He has developed a great personality and nobody can deny the in-ring talent that he has. Doesn't hurt that he's mixing it up with John Cena. If he can give John Cena a great match sometime soon, his career at the top will expand considerably. Then, if Rollins gives Cena a great match, Cena might request more matches with him...

- I REALLY enjoyed the Triple Threat match between Cesaro, Miz, and Dolph Ziggler. With due respect to the Miz, as he wrestled a good match to his credit... But Miz has had multiple opportunities to shine. Ziggler and Cesaro do not have the favorable booking that Miz receives. Those 2 are so talented and it's baffling why the WWE Creative Team can't figure those two out. Oh wait, I answered my point with my opening rant. Ziggler and Cesaro don't fit the TELEVISION SHOWS known as RAW and Smackdown. They aren't able to effectively perform well within backstage segments... That's the issue.

- Don't believe me on Miz getting opportunity after opportunity thrown at him? Now, he's getting thrust into a United States title feud with Sheamus, just after he concluded his feud over the Intercontinental Title. Exactly what makes Miz so different in terms of being a draw and a performer than Zack Ryder again?

- Shoot me in the head when WWE runs anything based on E!'s Total Divas show. What a turd that show has become and worse yet, it's occupying time on this RAW television show. Both the Rosa Mendes vs. Layla and the Brie Bella handi-cap match were brutal to watch.

I'm eating my words here, as I was not as impressed with AJ Lee that most in the Internet Wrestling Community were several years ago. AJ Lee is the key to a successful Divas Division and I don't care who she's married to. She has legitimate in-ring talent, a good personality, and actual charisma. Better yet, she's pretty and actually cares about the pro wrestling business. This feud with Paige has become strange and continues to derail any strong babyface push potential that they have in AJ. I've said it for the past year now... WWE has real money in reliving Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon with AJ Lee vs. Stephanie McMahon. Anytime Stephanie has talked down to the Divas division, she's had heat and made the division actually compelling. That includes the Bella feud... Stephanie can talk with the best of them and could you imagine AJ Lee cutting babyface promos against here? $$$$$$$!!!

- Lots of other midcard stuff to discuss, but it's boring me. I want to publish this column ASAP.

- I had no problems with the Main Event of John Cena/Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton/Kane, especially the beating later. As I was discussing above with Seth Rollins, he was on the attack as a heel mastermind and gave Curb Stomps onto the Money in the Bank briefcase to both Dean Ambrose and John Cena. Rollins is acting like a true heel, consumed by power, and completely cheap. Love it!

LAST WORD on RAW Honestly, aside from Divas matches and other midcard crap that needs to act as filler for a 3 hour RAW show, I happy for Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins at the top of the card and Cesaro/Dolph Ziggler in the midcard. Those are 4 wrestlers that I WANT to tune in and watch and RAW featured them nicely on this show. For that, I'll go B+ for this show. The rest of this show gets a "meh"... The sad thing is that it takes a critical injury to the anointed one, Roman Reigns, to force WWE Creative's hand on pushing guys that the fans want to see.


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