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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - This Week's RAW & Smackdown Shows WWE's 2017 Issues and WWE vs. Star Wars Fan Comparisons
By Mr. Tito
Dec 28, 2017 - 12:10:22 AM

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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at / Whether you're a longtime reader, a new reader, or you're just here for the trolling in the Comments section... Whatever brings you here, I appreciate it. And today, we're not going to give you a "Year in Review" column or hand out awards... It's going to be business-as-usual as we'll discuss current events in the wrestling world (or WWE). Just because it is year-end doesn't mean we have to half-ass any current news and happenings.

Now - I watched RAW and Smackdown to see what the WWE had in store for year-end and the early beginnings of the Royal Rumble season... And I was ready to vomit. BOTH RAW and Smackdown depicted everything WRONG with the 2017 brand of WWE. In my opinion, 2017 has been one of the worst WWE years on record, in terms of quality, that I've seen since my 2010 Mr. Tito comeback. Wrong wrestlers pushed at the top (Reigns & Mahal), brand extension being uneven, too much product (3 hours of RAW, 2 hours of Smackdown, 2 Pay Per Views per month), depleted developmental system, lack of care for midcard titles, awful authority figures, great female talent but poor creative direction, and factual evidence to back me up (declining viewership and lower attendance).

You don't even have to watch the entire 2017's worth of wrestling... Just watch the 12/25/17 RAW and 12/26/17 Smackdown and you'll see WWE fumbling the ball repeatedly.

Don't believe me?


WWE Culture Problems Seen on 12/25 RAW and 12/26 Smackdown

Seth Rollins wins RAW Tag Titles with Jason Jordan.
So much for the Shield reunion, eh? I understand that the "show must go on" but part of what make the Shield great was the fact that Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose were independent of the rest of the roster. Where the Shield had their WORST time is when they acted as muscle for the Authority briefly during 2013. 2017 saw them reunite and then have instantly made T-Shirts to wear on the same night! Then, they had an authority figure to join them as a temporary Shield member. On the European tour, Triple H joined them as a temporary member despite being a sworn enemy Seth Rollins in particular during 2017 (hello Wrestlemania 33) along with feuding with Ambrose and Reigns during 2016. On top of that, Rollins and Ambrose were pawns to support Reigns instead of the previous 3 way split. Now, Seth Rollins tags up with Jason Jordan and randomly wins the Tag Titles... Speaking of that...

Tag Titles lost on a random episode of RAW.
Hardly any hype and no build up for Rollins and Jordan as a tag team... Yet they can somehow muster a Tag Title shot and defeat the established Cesaro/Sheamus tag team champs. Goes to show you that WWE has no long-term plans for their tag titles and ditto for Cesaro/Sheamus. Yes, I'm aware that Sheamus is injured and could be retiring soon... But he bumped a lot during this match. If he's going to step away soon, why not build up their title match instead of just giving it away... And giving it away on a Holiday episode of RAW is even more ridiculous. Who will see that title change?

Jason Jordan has the WORST gimmick ever.
Jason Jordan, the in-ring talent... Damn he's good. Complete beast of an athlete. His gimmick, however? Kurt Angle's son? Just stupid. Everybody in the world knows that pro wrestling is scripted... So why would they even remotely believe that Jordan is Angle's son? It's just so stupid and is a complete anchor holding down Jordan from greater stardom. Go watch Jordan's FIRST NXT Tag Title win with Gable to see the wrestler you SHOULD push... A guy who took years to climb the WWE ladder and someone who is passionate at what he does... Not a fake son for Kurt Angle.

No hype for John Cena's return.
John Cena returns for the Christmas episode of RAW and you barely hear about it... Yes, I'm aware of Roman Reigns beating John Cena on WWE No Mercy 2017... Still, Cena remains a top WWE star and he's growing in Hollywood. His WWE return should be a big deal.

John Cena wrestles Elias? Really?
So you bring back John Cena and he wrestles... Elias? Really? I enjoy how Cena can help make the midcarders look great in a high profile match, but why waste his appearance on a midcarder?

By the way, anyone who says that Elias should BEAT John Cena is high on crack. John Cena, even if he's part-time, should not be the one enhancing talent. Elias is not ready for such a major win. I like his upside but we don't want to rush him along or else we'll have another Jinder Mahal or Roman Reigns on our hands...

Matt Hardy... Just Not Sure.
I like Matt, always have... Even told him to his face at an autograph signing in Columbus, OH during 2003 that I thought he was a great talent and he was under-utilized by the WWE then. He appreciated my comments... That said, it's a bit too late for this "Broken" or "Woken" gimmick to arrive. WWE went from pushing the nostalgia trip of Jeff & Matt's return as a tag team to lackluster singles runs. With Jeff now hurt, the WWE finally tries Matt's TNA gimmick or a WWE version of it. This comes after the WWE used Matt as an enhancement talent following the Hardys dropping the tag titles. Then, the WWE puts him up against Bray Wyatt who has had an awful 2017 with a disappointing WWE Title run and underwhelming matches. Gimmick is just too weird... Now, Hardy and Wyatt are trying to get weird together. Just not working and WWE didn't utilize Hardy as a singles wrestler well before this "Woken" gimmick to build him up.

Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe - Given away for free again?
Samoa Joe proved that he could draw interest for a Pay Per View at the WWE Great Balls of Fire Pay Per View. However, the WWE has given away Joe vs. Reigns repeatedly on RAW for FREE despite the potential for it being a Pay Per View headliner.

Overpushing Absolution
Don't you just love how WWE debuts new wrestlers and pushes them to the moon? Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville have barely been on the WWE main roster yet all of the established stars have to sell for them. If you watched their 6 man match, both looked very inexperienced out there while Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Mickie James did their sell how green they are. Banks, Bayley, and James are multiple time Women's Champions, too, and yet they can't dominate 2 green wrestlers and someone who hasn't been on the WWE roster in about a year. With Paige, shouldn't she have to repay dues after being out so long and with the issues she had (Wellness Violations, Del Rio Drama)?

Cruiserweight wrestling is awful for the WWE.
Following the Cruiserweight Classic, 205 Live has been a disaster and just a filler part on a 3 hour RAW. The wrestlers are trying and I don't blame them but their creative direction is killing them. Maybe it's time to recognize how GOOD Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio Jr., Ultimo Dragon, Chris Jericho, Psychosis, Juventud Guerrera, Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, etc. were in World Championship Wrestling (WCW)? Right mix of international talent together at the right time with complete in-ring freedom to be themselves... That's the difference. WCW during 1996-1997 didn't have a committee of soap opera writers and marketing types trying to shape that division. Just a few bookers giving a general direction and the wrestlers filled in the gaps.

Kane = "Walking Glass Ceiling"
Look, I'm a fan of the human being behind the mask. Nothing against Glenn Jacobs, as I'm happy for the extensive career that he's had in the WWE. Great gimmick although the layers introduced during the early to mid 2000s really held him back from being a bigger star. The guy is 50 years old and is part-time in stretches... Yet, he still dominates everybody BUT the top tier main eventers like he did 15 years ago. He's 50 years old! And by the way, does anybody want to even dare challenge me on the Finn Balor "burial" now? How about Kane getting his Brock Lesnar match at Royal Rumble? Do you like those apples?

What "Superstar Shake-up"?
Still waiting on the impact of Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, and the Miz moving to RAW... Can someone wake me up when they make an actual difference? Even Alexa Bliss has lost some of the edge that she had on Smackdown versus joining RAW.

Inconsistent booking of Nia Jax
Now, she's flirting with Enzo Amore... Why? I don't get it. One week, WWE pushes Nia like a bulldozer who can't be stopped... The next, she's treated as a joke and has a few bad televised losses. Reportedly, Nia had some possible time off due to rumored disagreements with WWE Creative... Well, if true, I don't blame her. She should murder the entire division until someone equally as tough, Asuka, steps up to the plate with offense that can actually hurt her. Do you really think, in real life, that Sasha Banks or Alexa Bliss could even come close to defeating Nia Jax in a fight?

AJ Styles LOSES a Non-Title Match to Kevin Owens
I like Kevin Owens, so thus this comment is NOT about him but about the booking. There should NEVER be non-title matches EVER in the WWE. Do you see non-title matches in Boxing or UFC? NO YOU FREAKIN' DON'T and don't give me that rare exception, Comments section. I can shove YEARS upon YEARS of history down your throats to PROVE that UFC and Boxing doesn't piss around with non-title matches! Worse yet, to quote my boy Chrisssssss, WWE uses these "non-title" matches to set up title matches! LAZY BOOKING! This crap thins out your champion and also diminishes the challenger if he loses the title match. It's pure 50/50 booking that does NOTHING but harm wrestlers' credibility and title belts long-term.

US Title Tournament... Yawn.
Awful storyline where Dolph Ziggler ditched the very United States title that he won in a great match at Clash of Champions. What was the point of Ziggler getting that big win if he's just going to ditch that title? Makes no sense.

What is the contender system for the Tag Titles?
Gable/Benjamin, New Day, and Rusev/English all staked a claim to the #1 contendership for the Tag Titles. First and foremost, I do like this collection of tag teams... HOWEVER, there is no defined contender system in the WWE. All 3 teams were yelling at Daniel Bryan to plead their case for the #1 contendership. Yet, the authority figure had no idea and just announced a Triple Threat match to happen RIGHT NOW to determine that #1 contendership. Huh? At the very least, give us a week to anticipate this match instead of giving it to us right now.

Conflicting Authority Figures
I'm tired of Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan arguing and favoring opposite wrestlers... Gets old. It subtracts from the actual in-ring talent. Worse yet, Shane McMahon wants to wrestle on occasion and full-time wrestlers have to sell for him. Makes me appreciate Jack Tunney on WWF or William Regal at NXT for just being authority figures who appear rarely for special announcements. When Tunney or Regal appear, it's to resolve an issue but they don't lurk around the television show weekly to revolve multiple issues during the show. Furthermore, they aren't looking to "screw" other wrestlers. They just act like a Judge for arbitration between two parties.

Same female problem on Smackdown - Who are these developmental stars?
Same thing on Smackdown, just like it is on RAW... Riott Squad takes the Smackdown roster by storm and the established stars not only have to sell weakness to them but lose to them as well. Freakin' Naomi was the Women's Champion who won the title at Wrestlemania 33 and yet she's jobbing to Ruby Riot by 12/26 Smackdown. Huh? Overpushed new wrestlers, once again, by the idiot WWE Creative Team.


I'll list a positive for the WWE that took almost 8 months to realize... Jinder Mahal is finally a midcarder on Smackdown!

LOOK at all of those problems just on the last 2 televised shows of the WWE. Nothing but Creative problems, top to bottom. Now, the WWE's top Creative head and also CEO/Board Chairman wants to start a freakin' football league. Don't forget what happened during 2001 when Vince McMahon was distracted by the XFL the first time. A spread thin Vince is a poorly performing Vince McMahon... This follows an awful 2017 for the WWE that actually got extremely worse following the "superstar shake-up" after Wrestlemania 33.

RAW from 12/25 and Smackdown from 12/26 are perfect samples of what's WRONG with the WWE and what must be fixed during 2018.



You know, wrestling fans (including myself), can be really picky... However, I believe that wrestling fans are passionate and loyal. As you can see by the FACTS listed above, WWE has its problems and most wrestling fans are vocal towards the WWE to repair. In fact, we beg weekly for them to repair... Furthermore, I believe that wrestling fans are actually burned out and grumpy because they are overexposed to too much WWE product. 3 hours of RAW, 2 hours of Smackdown, 1 hour of NXT, 1 hour of 205 Live, and then up to 2 Pay Per Views per month of 3 hours of more each.

As much as I've heard criticisms by wrestling fans... NOTHING compares to the utter hatred that "loyal" Star Wars fans have towards their product. Not even close.

Unlike the WWE, the Star Wars franchise doesn't overexpose itself... You had movies every 3 years from 1977 through 1983 and then every 3 years from 1999 through 2005... Now with Disney, we're getting 1 movie per year... Still, it's NOT weekly like the WWE. I know, there is the "extended universe" of all of the animated cartoons, comics, books, etc., but the movies are the true pieces of the franchise.

For Star Wars, we had ZERO films (besides animated) from 2006 through 2014. Producer George Lucas was done following his 1999-2005 prequels which just about everyone hated (most tolerate the 3rd one, Revenge of the Sith). So we go 10 whole years without Star Wars and then Disney buys the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas at the tune of $4.2 billion with the promise of making new movies. Star Wars fans rejoiced! Why? Because there was a dislike of George Lucas's creative direction on the prequels and the Special Editions of the original 3 films. Through 2015, Disney was on a roll with multiple films, acquiring Marvel, and amazing animated films. Star Wars fans thought that the franchise was FINALLY in good hands and were freed from George Lucas making it worse...

In 2015, Star Wars - Episode 7: The Force Awakens arrives and it is met with excitement... At first. Critics loved it, fans loved it, and for weeks, it drove Force Awakens to become #1 box office grossing film of ALL TIME... But then, fans became cynical. Suddenly, it became "cool" to criticize how overpowering Rey was or how closely the Force Awakens resembled the first original film, A New Hope. You went from seeing this film repeatedly 3-4 times and happy that Disney "made things right" to negative... Nevermind that Disney just paid $4 billion to actually bring you Star Wars films again and "saving" the franchise from the George Lucas CGI party. Suddenly, the Star Wars "fans" were DEMANDING that Disney try something different instead of recycling old ideas.

OK, fast forward to December 2017 and Star Wars - Episode 8: The Last Jedi arrives and in my opinion, it's a very different Star Wars film based on the creative direction that it takes. On top of that, it's either watching Star Wars: Last Jedi or NO STAR WARS AT ALL. Remember, from 2006 through 2014, there were no real Star Wars films (besides animated hot garbage). Disney paid $4 billion on top of the production costs for Last Jedi and you can't even appreciate that... But it's not like Last Jedi had actors mailing in their performances in front of green screens like the Prequel Trilogy. There's great acting by everyone in the Last Jedi, some of the best aerial battles yet, some great lightsaber battles, and good storytelling. Could Snoke have a better role? Yes. Was that Casino planet storyline odd... Sure. But Rey, Kylo, Poe, and other characters advanced their storylines to make the franchise more about them and less dependent on the older stars... Isn't that what you want? New Star Wars characters to care about?

Many Star Wars "fans" are threatening to boycott future Star Wars films BECAUSE of the Last Jedi. Really? So you're telling me that you cannot spare 2 hours in a given year to give your beloved franchise a chance to entertain you?

Here's the deal, folks... When you were younger, EVERYTHING was great. That includes Star Wars and also the WWE. I was a child when I watched New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. They were a part of my childhood. Then, the Prequel Trilogy stars in 1999 and they were BLAH to me, especially that 2nd turd of a film called Attack of the Clones. For the WWE, you had the Hulkamania era and following that, the WWE struggled to entertain me as much with Ultimate Warrior, Yokozuna, and Bret Hart on top... Just didn't feel as "cool" as Andre, Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Macho Man as the top stars. However, WWE redeemed themselves with the Attitude Era with Steve Austin, Rock, Mick Foley, etc. with a more adult product to feed your teenage years.

Everything following the Original Star Wars Trilogy and the WWE Hulkamania/Attitue Eras has been "meh" to you under the same ownership who is out of ideas.

In my opinion, George Lucas lost his edge from the 1980s and became focused too much on CGI. You saw it with his "Special Editions" of Star Wars 4, 5, and 6 and then with the Prequel Trilogy from 1999-2005. He was tapped out of ideas and just didn't have an eye for talent as he once did. Furthermore, his creativity wasn't there... Poor scripting and bad direction for the actors caused a very monotone trilogy. It wasn't until Revenge of the Sith began to tug on the original trilogy strings, notably Emperor Palpatine, that the Prequel trilogy finally seemed reasonable. Poor casting by Lucas on Anakin Skywalker really hurt those films, notably the latter 2.

Sound familiar?

Vince McMahon lost his edge since the early 2000s when World Championship Wrestling (WCW) closed combined with WWE going further Corporate. Vince's creativity went out the window and he became more focused on marketing and public relations. Furthermore, he didn't replace Jim Ross with a smart talent relations guy and the WWE has been too reliant on the Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002" to remain healthy and remain top drawing stars. Outside of Lesnar, Cena, and Orton, the WWE lacks star power... It's like they keep pushing their own Hayden Christensen like wrestlers in Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, the Miz (2010-2011 version), Jinder Mahal, and even Randy Orton at times. Wrong guys for the Main Event spot YET the Creative Team at the WWE didn't make them better or mask weaknesses.

Vince is stuck in his "Prequel Trilogy" in attempts to follow-up the Attitude Era. Meanwhile, thanks to his WWE Network programming, he's trying to shape the nostalgia as to what really happened during the late 1990s. In the corporate world, the WWE can do things to reshape its past like erase Hulk Hogan from existence or marginalize any accomplishments that WCW ever did. Furthermore, the WWE can bring back any Attitude Era star at will and try to milk any nostalgia that they can. The creative resources exhausted in getting Roman Reigns over are astounding... Reigns has wins over CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Undertaker, Triple H, John Cena, and Randy Orton but what does he have to show for it? If Daniel Bryan or CM Punk had THOSE resumes of wrestlers defeated 100% clean, they'd be drawing serious money by now.

Yet, unlike the WWE, Star Wars has moved on from George Lucas. No longer do you get to endure the Original Trilogy getting additional CGI enhancements, nor do you get to endure any more Prequel Trilogies. Lucas is no longer there to "ruin your childhood". Furthermore, long 16 breaks between Trilogies and 3 years between movies is no longer there... Disney is feeding you a Star Wars film on an annual basis now! And so far, Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Last Jedi are quality films with, at the very least, all-time great moments in each.

However, Star Wars fans are still not happy... Disney could have NOT bought Star Wars and not given you additional content. You'd be stuck with George Lucas with a firm grip on the franchise yet having no desire to make more Star Wars films, other than animated films. Do you want that? Or better yet, would you want what has happened to the Star Trek franchise which has been rebooted with different actors playing the characters you love? At least with Star Wars, you're getting Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker with ORIGINAL ACTORS playing their roles again with no substitutes. I could argue Chewbacca again, as the original actor was there for the Force Awakens but health reasons caused him to retire. And these are SEQUELS... They aren't rewriting history, just adding on to the existing films.

I'd rather have Star Wars films by Disney instead of NO Star Wars films or more George Lucas Star Wars films. That's a fact!

And let's be honest, could ANY new Star Wars films even come close to pleasing you? The Original Trilogy was brand new and innovative. During 1977 to 1983, you didn't films like Star Wars AND you saw those limited films during your childhood. No matter what George Lucas tried with the Prequels or what Disney now does, you'll never be satisfied. Same goes for WWE. How Roman Reigns is viewed by Adults vs. Children is entirely different. To a younger wrestling fan, Reigns is their hero... To an older wrestling fan, they compare Reigns to Hogan, Austin, Rock, and Cena. That's difficult.

However, Vince McMahon has made his WWE product considerably worse... The guy has not only wanted to start a Pro Football league once but now wants to do it TWICE! And in his early 70s for the second try! The WCW/ECW Invasion Angle was a completely blow opportunity and WWE has botched multiple wrestlers due to petty differences (Bryan, Punk, Benjamin, etc.). And unlike George Lucas, Vince McMahon has put his Communications Major daughter Stephanie McMahon in charge of Creative and other operations for the WWE. She is HARDLY a replacement for creative minds that made the WWE great during the late 1990s. Nepotism has hurt the WWE greatly while the corporate culture has changed Vince's focus too much. On the latter point, George Lucas lost his edge too with the corporate world and money that flowed into his bank account. Money changes everyone.

Vince McMahon just doesn't have it creatively and his mind is wondering into things other than the in-ring WWE product. Seriously, starting a Pro Football league in your early 70s is crazy.

It could very well be that Vince McMahon needs to do the same as George Lucas and SELL his franchise to a company that could "revive" the WWE. A different take is needed at this point in order to remind fans why the WWE is great or to take the company into a different direction. Of course, the new WWE owners would have to be careful of cynical fans who might roll their eyes at nostalgia (Force Awakens) versus changing things up too much (Last Jedi). Yet, if that produces higher numbers and gives us an increase in quality... I'll take it.

I believe that Vince McMahon wanting to start another Pro Football league should be a great reason for him to retire from the WWE. When you become distracted away from what made you great, quality reduces... George Lucas focused too much on CGI which ruined his Prequels while Vince McMahon has been too focused on making the WWE a strong Corporation while the in-ring product has suffered. Now, he's trying a football league... Again.

Star Wars fans have it good right now... Disney is 100% committed at delivering multiple films and completing this new trilogy. They are also creating variety by placing different directors in charge of different films. There's also talk of a television series and doing a Trilogy from a different era of the Jedi. The Disney Corporation is motivated in growing the Star Wars brand into different directions compared to George Lucas who wasn't motivated to make anything live action. For them to even complain about the Last Jedi to me is insane because (a) it was a good to great film and (b) Star Wars before Disney bought it was a diminishing franchise that recycled old stuff over and over again.

WWE fans, however, still have a creatively tapped Vince McMahon who adores the wrong guy on top, Roman Reigns, and now Vince wants to start a Pro Football league again.

At this point, the only thing that could improve the WWE from its creative rut is to replace Vince McMahon with a new creative visionary. Vince, you had a GREAT run and I thank you very much for providing me with years of entertainment... But you're creatively tapped. Enjoy the money that you've made for years with the WWE or focus 100% on making the XFL worthwhile. As you saw from my points above from the 12/25 RAW and the 12/26 Smackdown, the quality of your product is NOT there. Maybe something new with a little more attention to detail and new ideas can elevate the product that you created. George Lucas is doing just fine with his $4.2 billion earned from the sale and his legacy is continued with Disney's motivation to keep building on his world. Lucas has 6 films that speak for themselves with the Original Trilogy being the most loved movies of all time.

If Vince McMahon retires today, who could forget how he took over the wrestling world during the 1980s with Hulk Hogan or how he overcame WCW with the Attitude Era? You cannot erase memories of your fans...

GOOD LORD, Star Wars fans... APPRECIATE what you have going with Disney. For ANY of you to suggest "it would be better if George Lucas stayed" is insane. You HATED his Prequel Trilogies along with his Special Edition changes to the Original Trilogy. What, do you believe that a 73 year old Lucas has the energy to keep making Star Wars films? He's a changed man with nothing left to prove. Ditto for Vince McMahon who doesn't have anything left to prove other than creating a successful Pro Football league (I guess).


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