Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Pro Wrestling is Just a Ride, an Escape from Reality
By Mr. Tito
Oct 3, 2017 - 12:05:03 AM

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Welcome back to the column that is hopefully an "escape" from your day, whether it's enjoying my wrestling comments or commenting below, Mr. Tito STRIKES BACK exclusively here / Folks, it just feels like the world is falling apart with the damaged caused by natural disasters, mass violence, and politics getting injected into everything and causing unrest. As much as you try to avoid it, you can't... News outlets are trying to get ratings and many are using political differences for outlets to vent. It's getting sad when your workplaces and family events erupt into political debates.

That's why I enjoy various entertainment and sporting avenues so much... They serve as an "escape" for me from reality. A chance to get away not only from how difficult life can be, but how destructive the world can be.

For much of my life, I have been a big fan of Sports, Television, Music, Film, Video Games, and Pro Wrestling and each have essentially been my hobbies. I've obsessed about each, spent hours of consuming each, and took extra time learning more about each. When life gets tough, hey, you have that big Sporting Event to look forward to. If you're depressed about the Holidays, don't worry, the WWE Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania season is just around the corner. It's fun to get lost in the world of Star Wars and I cheered when Disney bought Lucas Arts in order to make more films. It feels GREAT that the Foo Fighters are still putting out albums and although I'm sad about Tom Petty's death, it could encourage new music fans to try his music. I'm snorting lines of the Nintendo Switch and burning through many games (put hours into Mario + Rabbids and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). I play the Nintendo 3DS on my lunch breaks to "escape" a long day of work. Finally, I'm 3 episodes into the 7th Season of Game of Thrones and am amazed how I avoided this show for so long. Of course, I was binging other great shows like Breaking Bad, the Office, Dexter, House of Cards, Wentworth, Orange is the New Black, and many more... The amount of hours that I've plowed through Netflix is alarming.

Point is, I use those entertainment outlets to "escape" reality. Nothing like going through a long day or being depressed by the day's events (today it was the Las Vegas shooting + Tom Petty's death) but being able to take your mind off of things through entertainment. Tonight, I get to continue plowing through Game of Thrones after I catch a few episodes of "Fuller House" with Mrs. Tito (hey, it's funny!). Probably play a little bit of Nintendo Switch, catch my subscribed channels on as well...

My biggest escape? Putting on this Mr. Tito mask and writing about pro wrestling for about 2 hours per column. Ever notice how I RARELY inject politics into my columns? Because (a) I don't want to talk about it and (b) I know that you don't want to read about it... Or at least read about my politics. Being Mr. Tito acts as an extension for my escape of watching Pro Wrestling which is a scripted sporting event with colorful characters who portray Good vs. Evil over championship title belts. Most fans KNOW that pro wrestling is scripted yet they want to play along... We want to believe because again, we want to use pro wrestling as an "escape" from reality. Many mock the "it's still real to me damn it" guy, but he's a guy invested into pro wrestling as a hobby and probably uses it as his escape.

But then, your favorite "escape" gets infiltrated by politics and ruins the experience.

The National Football League (NFL), right now, is more focused on issues beyond their games for the moment and that has translated into reduced viewers for the past 2 years... Now, I'm NOT going to blame that on Colin Kaepernick. Before he did his protest, which many have overblown, the NFL has taken its punches for years. Labor issues, criminal behavior, player discipline, concussions, cheating or bending rules, and performance enhancing drugs have riddled the NFL for years. Last year, division between players and owners/coaches was widening due to the 2016 Presidential Election... The stage was set for an individual's singular protest to become heavily politicized for over a year and it's still lingering to this day.

During a Preseason game last year, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested the National Anthem simply by sitting down on the bench as it played while everybody else stood. Few people noticed, as there were rumors swirling during 2016 that the 49ers might cut Kaepernick due to his hefty contract yet struggles seen during 2015 season. When asked, Colin said he was protesting police brutality which had been in the headlines heavily for the past year due to multiple public incidents. The media reported on this over and over again and Kaepernick's protest gained more headlines than the upcoming 2016 NFL regular season. In the weeks that followed, Kaepernick switched to a kneel during the National Anthem and a few players joined him.

But then things spiraled out of control. Kaepernick's protest, which he was able to articulate to the media as to WHY he did it, was spun into being anti-American and/or anti-Military. Suddenly, everyone began piling on... It went from Colin's 1st Amendment Rights to disrespecting the Military who fights for his rights to play football. Then, it shifted into how much Kaepernick was making on his contract and how dare he disrespect the country where he can make a nice living playing football. Doesn't help that Kaepernick did a few immature actions himself, such as the pig socks and other comments of his came to light to pile on Kaepernick as if he was just an anti-American who hates cops, the flag, the national anthem, and the military. For 2017, nobody will sign him. Doesn't help that his 2015 and 2016 seasons were far cries from his previous years, particularly when he was mentored and coached by Jim Harbaugh. But then you look at the other marginal quarterbacks getting starting and back-up jobs... Chances are that owners don't want the media headache that supposedly arrives with Kaepernick following 2 regressive seasons in the NFL.

And then, President Trump weighed in as Kaepernick's protest momentum carried into the 2017 NFL Season. Now again, this is NOT a political column and I'm not going to tell you how I feel about President Trump. But HE did a campaign speech where he called anyone protesting the flag as "sons of b*tches" and encouraged fans to boycott the NFL regarding these Flag/National Anthem protests. The #1 ranking public official did that and kept doubling down on his Twitter social media account. And he hasn't stopped... The NFL owners, coaches, AND players made it a point to respond to the President at last week's game and somewhat at this past weekend's games.

Suddenly, the focus quickly shifted from the GAME to what will happen during the National Anthem of a game (man, South Park predicted that). You couldn't enjoy the actual football being played on the field because of all of the hyped up drama to occur BEFORE the game. Could not avoid it... For you, working Monday through Friday is tough and a nice weekend of Football (College and NFL) is your "escape". No politics, just athletic competition to win a game. Nope, not last week and this week... How will owners, coaches, and players respond to the President who is addicted to Twitter? Ehhhh, I wanna watch the games!

The result? Ratings decline for the NFL... DirecTV is issuing refunds for their Direct Ticket NFL package. Fans are burning jerseys in the streets.

Going back to last year when Colin Kaepernick's initial protest, the response could have been handled better. While many suggest it was Colin's 1st Amendment right, which it is when involving the government, being an employee of a company is a different matter. Most businesses have internal policies regarding code of conduct, involvement of politics/religion into the workspace, and image. Simply put, the NFL and the 49ers could have invested in more time regarding WHAT Kaepernick was protesting instead mismanaging HOW he was protesting. The NFL and/or 49ers could have simply invested time in reviewing Colin Kaepernick's protest and maybe consider how to invest time, effort, and maybe money into joining his protest outside of the games. After all, 70-80% of the league consists of black players. NFL tries to promote itself as helping local communities... Well, opportunity was knocking. Nope, the HOW Kaepernick was protesting was quickly politicized by many, including the President, and the weekend "escape" was over. Now, everyone is divided by how someone's right to protest occurred and things in the NFL may never be the same.

Pro Wrestling, in my opinion, is at its WORST when it tries its hand at blending in politics with their storylines. After the Iran hostage crisis, the Iron Shiek was pushed... Though the character was legendary, the early 1980s wrestling scene in the North wasn't exactly growing. The 1980s tried and tried to push Russian characters to spark Cold War "heat"... Sure, it had some short-term success, but nothing that caused growth in the business. None of those Russian characters could hold jobs for long and/or main event. 1990-1991 saw the WWE actually trying to fight the Desert Storm military effort in Iraq within the squared circle. While the WWE arguably peaked during 1990 with Wrestlemania 6, the WWE business declined heavily during 1991 and Wrestlemania 7 was even moved to a smaller arena due to drawing issues. WWE tried to push "All American" Lex Luger during 1993 to somehow sprout an America vs. Japan feud with Yokozuna. Nobody cared...

During the late 1990s, WWE didn't have to utilize politics to grow the business considerably... We could "escape" in create characters like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Mick Foley's trio, the Rock, the Undertaker, Triple H, and many more... In WCW, you could "escape" into a stable war with the New World Order (political like name, but it was just a hostile takeover storyline) trying to rule the WCW promotion. Then, you could really "escape" watching the Extreme Championship Wrestling (WCW) promotion and see crazy characters like the Sandman, Raven, Gangstas, and many others push a more adult themed brand of wrestling. 3 great promotions to "escape" reality from, which is why the late 1990s wrestling era is considered the best. No politics... Just fun characters portraying the fight over Championship titles or the heat of competition.

Fast forward to the 2000s... The tragic events of 9/11 happened in which planes were flown into the Twin Towers in New York City and Pentagon in Washington, DC. At first, wrestling avoided any political matters regarding the changing world and the military conflicts that followed. But then, the WWE couldn't resist...

France had issues with the United States military response insomuch that people were actually taling about renaming French Fries to "Freedom Fries". Seriously... The WWE's response? A tag team called La Resistance suddenly appeared but didn't last a year as a tag team. Christian and Lance Storm, two amazing wrestlers in their own right, formed a team called the Unamericans which lasted a whole 3 months. Christopher Nowinski tried to inject political opposition to the United States foreign policy into his character... Eh, although the one-on-one "debate" with Scott Steiner is mildly amusing.

But then you had Muhammad Hassan, a character of Arab descent, who was upset about American stereotypes... Mind you, the guy was Italian with a nice tan... Instead of having the focus on winning championships, his purpose was to upset fans and hopefully convince fans to want to see him get his arse kicked. But unlike a guy in an Elvis costume who successfully did it during 1987-1988 by simply trolling audiences and escaping defeat, Hassan's character was pulling in reality based heat attempts and politics into the WWE. How did that draw again? Worse yet, the WWE went overboard by having Hassan backed by guys in ski masks and camouflage pants attack the Undertaker by choking him out using piano wire! Mind you, the WWE refused to edit the Smackdown taping that contained this segment despite the London attacks that happened days prior to the airing... Bad attempt at cheap heat made worse when reality sets in to ruin the "escape".

How is Rusev doing with his pro-Russian stuff again? Lana?

How is Jinder Mahal doing as a heel who tries to promote India? Yeah, those Smackdown shows will need more tarps to cover the emptiness of the arena. WWE Network subscriptions are down in India despite the hard push for Jinder on Smackdown and Smackdown viewership cannot consistently get above 2.5 million.

Ever notice how the WWE barely advertises the FACT that Linda McMahon actually serves in President Donald Trump's cabinet? That's a really big deal, regardless of how you feel about a President. The fact that the former CEO/President of the WWE and wife of Vince McMahon is in a Presidential cabinet! Better yet, Donald Trump is in the WWE Hall of Fame. This sitting President of the United States is IN the WWE Hall of Fame! Why not advertise the crap out of that, WWE?

Oh yeah... Donald Trump is polarizing and was a president who got elected by losing the popular vote with only 46% of the vote. However with Donald, he's fearless with his words and quotes... He's been a vocal media star for decades now and wanted to win the 2016 election at all costs. You could NOT avoid the topic of Trump at any workplace, family gathering, or any news show for the past year. Couldn't avoid it! Even after the election where he clearly won the Electoral College, the debate continues onward. It never ended, but it has heavily divided the United States. Then, you add recent events plus his fearlessness to inject his own opinion... Kaboom. It appears that WWE and Vince McMahon want no part of this.

It's like what Michael Jordan said years ago about why he didn't get into political discussion despite appearing to be a heavy Democrat contributor. His response: "Republicans buy my shoes too".

SummerSlam 2017 was exactly what I wanted as a wrestling fan... That show was headlined by 4 larger-than-life characters with Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, and Braun Strowman entering a Fatal 4 Way match. Seriously, look at those characters... One was a former UFC fighter, one was a former football player, another was one of the best that the Indy scene ever produced, and the other was a strongman contestant. How on earth can all of that come together to headline a major Pay Per View for one of the company's top World Titles? And that Fatal 4 Way match was SOOOOOOOOO FUN! Even after a long night of wrestling, you still had extra in the tank to see that match and you loved every second of it. Just 4 big hosses colliding in the ring and I could watch hours of entertainment just like that!

Every year around this time, the WWE sort of takes their foot off the gas... The quality tends to dip a little bit... Yet, come January, that Royal Rumble is there and you're PUMPED AS HELL to see that 30 Man over-the-top-rope Rumble Match. Seriously, it excites me each and every year even though (a) it's scripted, (b) it sometimes has winners I don't like/want, and (c) it is the SAME MATCH YEAR AFTER YEAR! Doesn't matter! It's fun! It's MY ESCAPE and my something to look forward to in January each and every year! Then after that, another Wrestlemania just a few months later... Expectations are always too high for that show but when it delivers, you'll never forget that moment. Remember how HAPPY all of us were when the Hardy Boyz appeared? Good lord... Just when the dog days of Summer start getting to you, here comes SummerSlam! Hell, I'll tell you this much, folks... Money in the Bank has been doing it for me lately. #1 Contendership in a briefcase? Go get it, boys!

That's why it breaks my heart when the WWE pushes the wrong guys to the Main Event... My "escape" from reality is tainted by poor decision making by WWE Management and/or poor developmental system choices. I want to root for Roman Reigns, but I'm just not amazed by his progress so far in the Main Event. Too artificial and rushed to the Main Event way too early. Then, the issue if forced by the quantity of wins over big name superstars such as CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Undertaker, Triple H, Randy Orton, and John Cena while having wins over everyone else on the roster besides Brock Lesnar (coming soon!). WWE and Vince McMahon have years upon years of roadmaps for how to make superstars yet their recent rush jobs (Reigns, Jinder, Del Rio) aren't naturally getting over. It's ruining my "escape" although WWE's vast roster, improved Tag Division, and recent injection of good women's wrestling helps to keep that "escape" alive.

Or, I could just watch the WWE Network at any time for only $9.99 per month to "escape" in any era that I choose. I could choose another wrestling promotion if the WWE was disappointing me... My "escape" from the "escape".

In addition to presenting a Quality product, keep reality out of things... I just want pure athletic competition when I watch the NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL... If players want to be political, let them hold press conferences or give them their freedom of speech to say whatever on social media. If it's a worthy cause, give us information on how to join. For pro wrestling, give us good hype over match-ups and deliver on quality matches. That's it... We're watching pro wrestling to get a controlled athletic competition that we don't quite consistently get with UFC or Boxing. If pro wrestling is a world where a guy named the Undertaker can exist, then why does it make sense for political stuff to be injected? Just let someone like Steve Austin humiliate his boss Vince McMahon by spraying beer all him...

We'll believe you because we WANT to believe you... We NEED to believe you because we don't want to believe in reality sometimes.

I think of the worlds that Breaking Bad, Legend of Zelda, Star Wars, Star Trek, Back to the Future, and other forms of media and I just want to get lost in them... I want to get lost in the characters and storylines of pro wrestling. I just want to see good games in sports leagues and nothing more.

It's that simple.



My mind often wonders which helps me produce columns consistently. The above rant was thought about for a few weeks but picked up today as I was sitting in board rooms going over the same old policy stuff.

As a means to rehab a surgery, I started playing Tennis one summer. Why? Well, I used to play racquetball and badminton when I was younger, so I gave it a try. I was decent in my day, lettering twice in high school and winning a few runner-up titles in my local athletic conference. Because of that, I loosely follow professional tennis for both male and female divisions. As I've become older, I mostly just follow the Majors because those really matter and I just don't have time to follow the mini-tournaments.

Lately, interest in pro tennis is just, well, there... There hasn't been strong interest in men's tennis since Agassi and Sampras ruled the day but the Williams sisters, when they're on, are a nice draw. In fact, Venus and Serena are remarkable in their athletic talents and in the case of Serena, she's way too dominant when "on". Majors usually do well when Serena catches fire, as you're watching greatness before your very eye.

But what about those other tournaments, the non-majors? How do you spice things up for those tournaments?

Better yet, did you know that many tournaments also feature Doubles tournaments, both same genders and mixed? Did you know that? Often, the finals of these matches could be featured during the Majors tournament but you never get to see the rest of the doubles battles.

Well, I have a solution... Introduce Title Belts to Pro Tennis.

Instead of having an annual system that produces a ranking based on results, why not have the #1 Tennis Player become the World Tennis Champion and ANY time they play a tournament match, the World Tennis Championship is on the line! That's right... The champ defends the tennis title anytime they play which includes those non-Major tournaments. Suddenly, that non-major tournament on ESPN2 matters because the World Tennis Champion is defending his or her title. Ratings would go up.

Nobody cares about Doubles Tennis... But wait, the World Tag Champions are coming to town and defending their titles in a non-Major or even Major tournament. The Tag Belts are on the line. Holy cow, we have a "sense of urgency" to possibly watch these games!

And then you could get bolder... What if World Tennis Champion Roger Federer wanted to defend the World Title against Rafael Nadal? ESPN or any other sports of channel could promote the match-up at any location. Hell, if it's good enough, you could promote one-off matches on Pay Per View or something that draws money.

I don't know... I could be full of crap here, but it's just an idea to make Pro Tennis a little more interesting.

Could work for Pro Golf as well, although it doesn't truly have one-on-one competition like Tennis or at least confined within a "ring" like Tennis.

Just imagine a Tennis press conference where the World Champion could talk and hype up his title defense at a non-major tournament... Hell, they could make a non-major tournament look serious as the WWE just did recently with No Mercy 2017 by stacking it with important matches.

The things that my diabolical mind think about... Dream... Dream, dream, dream.


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