Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - RAW Ratings Do Matter, RAW on Hulu Review, and Cody Rhodes Leaving WWE
By Mr. Tito
Jun 1, 2016 - 11:02:07 PM

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Welcome, one and all, to Mr. Tito Strikes Back exclusively here at / There are times that I envy my ability to put on the Tito mask and escape... Today is one of those days...

I just LOVE the RAW ratings discussions these days, notably the excuses by the yes-man WWE loyalists and the WWE propaganda machine itself. This week's RAW had several built-in excuses: (a) Memorial Day Holiday, (b) NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs - Game 1, and (c) NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Sure, those could have some impacts... But what about the weeks before and after? RAW is seriously hovering in the low 3 millions now on viewers. While maybe you could use the extraordinary television events of Monday night as an excuse, you can't for other weeks when unopposed especially after the NFL season. When you're pushing under 3.5 million during Wrestlemania season, for example, you've got problems.

And we've already debunked the "everyone watches RAW on DVRs" myth. 2011 varied between 400,000 to 500,000 "delayed" viewers whereas 2016 varies between 300,000 to 400,000. Hulu numbers are insignificant as RAW isn't close to being a top viewed show on that streaming service.

Everything is down, down, down... It's no wonder why the WWE wants to try the Brand Extension. It's yet another card trick shown to wrestling fans that might impress them in the short run but in the long-run, the WWE roster is too thin to split into 2 separate rosters. Worse yet, the WWE doesn't have enough Creative firepower to make 2 unique shows. You're going to burn out your audience by forcing them to potentially watch NINE hours of wrestling programming in 4 days. 3 hours for Pay Per View, 3 hours for RAW, 2 hours for Smackdown, and 1 for NXT. That is BRUTAL!

WWE programming live for 5 hours on back-to-back nights on USA Network. That is crazy... And if things go from bad to worse, this puts a real threat on the WWE's livelihood in the next 3 years when the television deal may be up again (5 year deal?). And if you don't think losing about 1,000,000 viewers and 100,000 DVR viewings isn't dangerous to the WWE, consider that according to the WWE's 10-K report for 2016, television accounts for 35% of the WWE's Total Revenues for the company. HUGE chunk of money... Better yet, I'd argue that television gets a piece of the LIVE Event numbers because televised RAW/Smackdown shows actually draw in more viewers than Houseshows. Furthermore, the cost margins on the WWE Network are tighter... The prospect of being over 1,000,000 subscribers is nice but consider that by WWE's own admission, getting 1,000,000 subscribers was breaking even. The bandwidth and production costs are still high on that Network.

Television DOES still matter... Sure, you have cord-cutters like myself, but USA Network still reaches about 96 million households. Think about that... Hulu only reaches 9 million while WWE Network is in 1 million. 96 million homes. Do you think that Cable/Satellite still doesn't matter? Please... Comcast/NBC/Universal dishes out a reported number between $150 million and $200 million annually to the WWE for television rights to their shows. Then, the WWE sells their television product to International markets as well. WWE reported $231 million in television revenues last year, the largest artery of revenue flowing into the WWE Corporation. Furthermore, I'd argue that Television PROMOTES live events AND the WWE Network. How else would we hear about the WWE Network? Heavily promoted on USA Network's RAW and Smackdown.

It's time to put the "Ratings don't matter" excuse to bed. THEY DO. WWE is still too reliant on television deals for revenue and marketing their other products. Funny how we NEVER heard about how competitive the NBA or NFL were as ratings competitors during the 1990s or 2000s. It's hilarious!

The ONLY way "ratings don't matter" is the point that only *I* have been arguing for a while about USA Network. In case you haven't noticed, but the re-run business has lost its thunder on the Cable networks lately. Netflix and other streaming services, particularly ones with NO commercials, are eating Cable channels alive. In the past, USA Network did well on airing older episodes of Law & Order that weren't seen elsewhere. Now, you can binge through them on Netflix along with other shows. Furthermore with USA Network, they are struggling to create original content unlike their counterparts TNT or AMC. In many ways, USA Network needs WWE to keep their channel afloat... That's some leverage on WWE's part although I wouldn't go down below 3 million into WCW Nitro 2000 territory.

That's it... Otherwise, USA Network remains the only interested buyer in WWE content and that's why WWE couldn't "triple" the television deal as Vince McMahon hyped to shareholders.



The Internet, from what I could see on Twitter and on various Message Boards, HATED this show. Great, can you imagine when you feel the need to watch WWE programming for 5 hours on back-to-back nights? In addition to 1.5 hours of airtime (3 hours is too much for me), seeing Hulu's RAW on Tuesdays is such a great deal. Keeps me sane watching RAW, to be honest, particularly after a Pay Per View. You should space out your wrestling viewership and not cluster them together... Just giving you advice as a veteran wrestling fan and longtime wrestling columnist.

Missed the Cut
- Usos vs. Fandango/Tyler Breeze
- Goldust & R-Truth Segment
- Big Show & Apollo Crews Segment
- Natalya vs. Dana Brooke
- Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

Opening segment had Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon... Zzzzzz... Same old, same old. Just grab a VHS copy of a RAW from the year 2000 or 2001 and press play... SAME THING 15 STUPID YEARS LATER! And to be consistent, the younger Mr. Tito was ripping these 20 minute opening promos back then. New Day comes out to save the day and they create a legitimate worry: will the New Day be split up between rosters? Let me make this clear, and I think WWE is just trolling us anyway... The McMahons would be proven to be unqualified to run a wrestling promotion in 2016 if they split up the New Day. Sell your shares of stocks, get out of the business...

Next up, we had Roman Reigns in the ring and then Seth Rollins would attempt to storm the ring and then pull back. Did this repeatedly.... The Internet HATED this segment, as if the WWE would really turn Roman Reigns into a heel at this point. I don't know... Rollins is trying to play the classic heel, but the problem remains that Roman Reigns is an utter failure as a Main Event babyface. It's just not working from the loud boos in the live crowds and the dwindling RAW viewership since Reigns was a main eventer since November 2015.

Still wondering why the WWE wasted Wrestlemania 32 on having Zack Ryder winning the Intercontinental Title. He's been nothing but a jobber ever since. And I'm not the biggest fan of the guy... But what the hell, WWE? Still don't understand that Wrestlemania 32 move but I'd agree to Rusev beating him to a pulp. Rusev has more upside as a main eventer, particularly as a heel (great opponent to Brock Lesnar) than Ryder due to Rusev's size, strength, and proven track record of good matches. I just don't see maturity in Ryder's character or intensity as an in-ring performer with him. I do, however, like that Titus O'Neil is getting an opportunity to challenge Rusev. Titus has never been given an opportunity to succeed as a singles babyface wrestler and maybe that suspension will galvanize him as such.

Backstage, Charlotte gets torn to shreds by Stephanie McMahon. Wait a second... Isn't Stephanie a HEEL? Why on earth is she trashing another heel? And what business does she have with the Women's Division? She introduced the Divas Revolution about a year ago and then RAN AWAY from it. Unless Charlotte has payback for her, in the form of a legitimate attack on Stephanie... Just more damage done by Stephanie to the WWE roster without any retribution.

Hulu cut out the majority of the Big Cass/Enzo promo... Ouch! Decent match with the Dudley Boyz... Just odd to see it being played out on a random episode of RAW, but whatever. WWE gave up on the Dudley Boyz just a few weeks into their tenure but hey, someone has to lose... Enzo and Cass are looking good in the WWE and appear to be getting over. About time, recent NXT call-ups!

John Cena FINALLY returns... Thank God. For ANYONE complaining about how bad the WWE has been for the last 6 months, just remember how much you didn't appreciate the greatness known as John Cena. He's the BEST wrestler, period. Nobody on the WWE roster has the drawing power of Cena and he's here to save the day. And that includes AJ Styles and the Bullet Club members. Styles is made worse yet by playing a vague babyface against Roman Reigns and disagreeing with the actions of Anderson/Gallows. Complete confusion. Then, AJ Styles turns HEEL and attacks John Cena. Huh? This proves one thing about AJ Styles and Gallows/Anderson... WWE has no idea how to use them and this continual "will he or won't he" crap and then turning him heel after the Roman Reigns feud proves that WWE is changing their plans repeatedly. Napkin booking, folks. But hey, John Cena vs. AJ Styles looks pretty good... Legitimate "Match of the Year" contenders on the way!

Six Man match as the Main Event was fun... Honestly, I don't have much else to say other than it's becoming amusing how Roman Reigns, the WWE Champion, has been kept out of the 3rd hour lately. Notably the Main Event segment. Hmmmm...

SHOW THOUGHTS: Show felt like "business as usual" with the booking as either stale/messy and the McMahons continue to do their same repetitive thing. HOWEVER - John Cena and Seth Rollins are back and that's cool... Cena vs. Styles could be fun and WWE is attempting, at least through the Money in the Bank contest, to possibly push new stars. However, as proven by the last Pay Per View, Roman Reigns doesn't just perform a Superman Punch... He IS Superman. Good luck cracking the Cena/Reigns ceiling, guys. [ B- ]



I'm happy for Cody Rhodes... He's one of the few who wasn't just OK with earning a comfortable living through cashing WWE paychecks. He grew tired of how he was being used or wasn't used, thus requesting his early release from his WWE contract. To WWE's credit, they obliged although I could imagine some no-compete clause in place for something televised in the United States for the next 90 days or so. He was going no where in the Stardust gimmick and any inquiries to return to wrestling as Cody Rhodes weren't being taken seriously by WWE Creative. Why? WWE trademarked the Stardust character and can control Cody's image through that gimmick. Wade Barrett, though very injury prone, made that bold decision to walk away as well. You don't see too many wrestlers walking away from that WWE paycheck with only CM Punk during early 2014 being bold enough to walk away (and he had 6 months left on his lucrative contract).

I've been saying this for a while with many disgruntled, poorly used wrestlers in the WWE. LEAVE

Now, I know what you're saying... Money talks. Sure it does, but having dignity matters as well. Having respect what you do for a living is nice as well. WWE is controlled by a McMahon family who has lost touch with what made WWE successful as a business. It's funny how that suddenly started happening when Pat Patterson and Jim Ross step away from the business as executives. Funny how that works? After a while, eating spoonfuls of McMahon bullcrap gets tiring. For someone like Cody Rhodes, he's been in the WWE for a while now and probably has saved his money after years of probably earning around mid 6-figure annual salaries. Believe it or not, there are decent financial opportunities on the Indy circuit for a former WWE wrestler notably a younger one. Many Indy promotions will throw a few thousand at 1 former name to help draw a bigger house for their promotion. There's always TNA or Ring of Honor, both of whom would take him in a heartbeat, while I bet he'd work out well in Japan or Mexico as well. Good workers find work.

Sure, WWE pays well... While were in the post-Attitude Era where most of the salaries are 6-figures (hundreds of thousands), WWE does that for a reason. One would think that if they were the only player in town, they could REDUCE salaries. Now, they sort of did that with the WWE Network move away from Pay Per Views, but base salaries remain high in the WWE. Why? WWE, with its stranglehold on the Cable TV industry, merchandise, etc., does flex some monopolistic power in the wrestling market place but a competitor could rise up and challenge. How TNA squandered that SpikeTV deal, I'll never know... The WWE purposely keeps base (or guaranteed) salaries high because they want to discourage wrestlers from going elsewhere. It's the opposite of "limit pricing" in economics. Limit prices deals with a situation where a monopolist (single firm) keeps prices low enough to make the market look unappealing to enter by a competitor. I believe that the WWE keeps wrestler salaries high to discourage them from going elsewhere. WWE is trying to discourage wrestler movement to other promotions.

You, as wrestling fans, keep wondering why the likes of Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, and many others take what WWE Creative gives them. Well, money is nice. For someone like Cesaro, for example, grinded his way for 11 years in the pro wrestling career before landing in the WWE Developmental System and then endured a year there before joining the main WWE roster. While I can imagine the first 11 years of his wrestling career were rewarding for him creatively, they probably paid him much less than what he's earning in the WWE. Those 11 years are something that the WWE can't take away from him. Maybe for someone like Cesaro and many other wrestlers with YEARS of indy experience, they'll enjoy cashing those WWE paychecks because their best years are already behind them. Notice that Kevin Owens NEVER complains about his role in the WWE? He did 14 years on the indy circuit before the WWE signed him to a developmental deal. Both Cesaro and Kevin Owens WORK HARD, don't get me wrong, and they are amazing performers... But money is nice...

With many of the wrestlers starting in their late teens or early 20s, they might not have much to fall back on if the wrestling option fails. Therefore, if you get a chance to finally get paid in the wrestling industry through the WWE... YOU TAKE IT!

On the flipside, you do whatever Vince McMahon and his Executive Producer, Kevin Dunn tell you. Is it any different from any other workplace? Boss tells you what to do and if you want to remain employed, you do it... I'd argue that the creative use of the wrestlers does long-term damage, but the analogy to other lines of work is still there.

BUT if you've made enough money or if you take pride in your craft as a wrestler: DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

LEAVE... If you don't like it in the WWE and feel that you're being poorly used, LEAVE. Again, you've made a name for yourself by being in the WWE (as long as it's not trademarked) and there are decent financial opportunities in the indies and international markets at least for the short-term. However, what wrestlers need to realize is that they may need to create their own competition. Why do you think that the Brand Split is coming back or why it occurred during 2002? It's another way that the WWE works to keep competition out. The dilute the market place with excess wrestling product that it discourages cable networks from signing another promotion and it weakens the business enough to keep other promotions out from challenging the WWE. WWE is about to have FIVE hours of live wrestling on back-to-back nights. If you include Pay Per Views on Sunday and NXT's show on Wednesday, that's 4 days and 9 hours of pro wrestling dominating Sunday through Wednesday. That's 3 days free of WWE programming. That's on top of additional houseshows and potential Pay Per Views... Complete dilution of the market place and probably by design.

Until someone presents something better than the WWE, because lord knows that Dixie can't in TNA, we'll be stuck with WWE programming as the ONLY American source of pro wrestling until USA Network gets sick of them. To get the ball rolling, disgruntled WWE wrestlers need to roll the dice... Join up as a group and "invade" TNA or Ring of Honor. And when you join a competitive promotion, "shoot" on why you left the WWE. You need to put heat on yourself and embolden the competitor. Don't believe me? Did you see what happened when Alberto Del Rio joined Lucha Underground? WWE immediately began to beg him to return and threw millions at him to do so. How about WWE's trolling of Rey Mysterio to keep him away from Lucha as well? WWE has real fear of certain wrestlers leaving the WWE to make a smaller promotion more competitive. Therefore, they'll gladly pay wrestlers 6-figures or more to remain WWE yes-man employees to whatever creative says.

Those WWE paychecks are nice... But are you really getting time to spend that money? WWE has a road schedule that keeps you busy for 300 days of the year or more. Television shows, Pay Per Views, Houseshows, and then those company appearances (autograph signings, etc.). On top of that, you're required to pay for your travel and hotels. Oh, and find a local gym on your own to keep your body in tip-top shape. For 6-figures, is all of this worth it? Is it really worth it when you have NO SAY in how you're used as a signed Independent Contractor? Oh, that's right... NO Payroll Taxes paid by the WWE. I hope that you have retirement plans of your own along with medical insurance coverage once you're done wrestling. Employment in the WWE isn't as rewarding as it appears... But again, who is paying anything near 6-figures guaranteed in the wrestling business?

Until WWE wrestlers stand up for themselves instead of being willing to re-sign with the WWE after years of being poorly misused... Nothing is going to change. We'll need more than Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett to make a statement to the WWE. Competition in the form of an American wrestling company that is NOT related to the WWE is the only way that WWE would improve from its current state. If wrestlers don't like their current roles in the WWE, then go CREATE competition. WWE is trying to pay you 6-figures to keep you happy enough not to leave... Then, when the WWE feels your market worth has declined, then they will release you. Go ask Damien Sandow about that one.


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