Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Vince McMahon Loves Alberto Del Rio, RAW is Hulu, & NXT Thoughts
By Mr. Tito
Nov 4, 2015 - 1:05:33 AM

Follow Mr. Tito on @titowrestling

Welcome wrestling fans, longtime and recent readers, and whomever else to the Excellent in Column Writing written by yours truly, Mr. Tito exclusively here at / And for 17 years now, with a brief retirement during 2006-2009... I'm in a good groove right now as Tito. Why? Because I watch wrestling on MY TERMS. Freeing yourself from the "chains" of watching wrestling for 3 straight hours on Monday Night between 8-11 was the best thing I've done as a wrestling fan recently. I can just catch RAW on Hulu for 1.5 hours when it's convenient for me and now, I watch NXT's 1 hour show when I want. Think about this for a second... In 2.5 hours, I catch both RAW and NXT in less time than it takes over 3 million people to suffer through 3 hours of RAW with loads of commercials on USA Network.

Free yourself from the Monday chains... Believe me, it's well worth it. See, I'm a lot less grumpy lately when reviewing RAW...

Hope all is going well for the Internet Wrestling Community and wrestling fans as we head into Survivor Series season. November used to really mean something and Survivor Series challenged at becoming the #2 WWE show for multiple times in its lifespan. Now, sadly, it's just another show. Maybe it's just me, but I would have used a Brock Lesnar appearance at Survivor Series to help subsidize that show. But hey, getting the Undertaker for another month could work.

As I read the great Chrisssssss's column the other day, he brought up some great points about the Alberto Del Rio return, reportedly worth a big sum of money, as being a sign of "no faith" in the current WWE roster. Agreed 100%. If I were a current WWE superstar or someone busting it in NXT, I'd be pissed... But they should also be pissed at many part-timers like Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and the Rock when they've swooped in along with Kane un-retiring to becoming a full time wrestler again. Meanwhile, everyone has to sell for the Big Show as well... For as much as NXT has restocked the WWE with midcard to upper midcard talent, some main eventers, the WWE still relies on veterans heavily in big spots. On top of that is how unstoppable John Cena and Randy Orton have been.

But I think there is a bigger picture to the Alberto Del Rio signing and not just something critical of the current WWE roster. I believe Del Rio's signing and potentially overpaying him is a larger indictment of Vince McMahon more than anything.

First and foremost, Alberto Del Rio was one of Vince's favorite wrestlers. Report after report suggested that Vince McMahon "intensely focused" on television monitors anytime that Del Rio wrestled. Furthermore, Vince had a great hand in the original gimmick for Alberto Del Rio with the rich guy gimmick. As you may recall, after Wrestlemania 27, those same news reports leaked long-term booking plans to make Alberto Del Rio become WWE Champion by SummerSlam 2011. Problem was, however, that Del Rio wrestled on Smackdown and could therefore not be able to wrestle for the WWE Title (brand extension still existed then). The main reason for the WWE Title push, besides Vince's personal liking of the guy, was the WWE's tour of Mexico that was to occur during October 2011. But again, Del Rio was on Smackdown... So he was moved to RAW to resolve that issue! Del Rio wins the 2011 Money in the Bank briefcase and cashes in at SummerSlam 2011 to become champion.

Now of course, Del Rio wins the WWE Title in the midst of CM Punk becoming red hot following the "pipebomb" promo and the hype surrounding Punk's match with John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011. Didn't matter... Vince wanted Del Rio to become WWE Champion at SummerSlam 2011 and thus the booking was devised to screw Punk out of the title after his rematch with John Cena. That's right, the "great" booking of Kevin Nash running down and attacking John Cena for a reason that is still unknown to this day. By November 2011 and when Survivor Series 2011, Del Rio dropped the WWE Title back to CM Punk to end that grand idea. In the years to come, Del Rio would get additional World Title opportunities.

But Vince McMahon LOVES himself some Alberto Del Rio. With the WWE being a Corporation for over 15 years now, Del Rio was caught up in Human Resource and Corporate Policy matters that forced his termination. Had this been the 1990's WWE, Del Rio would have been totally unpunished for his deeds of slapping a WWE non-wrestling employee. But when you're in a corporate climate, particularly one dominated by public relations, WWE felt that Del Rio wasn't worth the liability risk. Hence, he was terminated.

Best thing to ever happen to Alberto Del Rio.

Why? Because Lucha Underground showed interest in him.

To Vince McMahon, Lucha Underground is a legitimate threat to him. Have you noticed how aggressive WWE was when Rey Mysterio's contract was near the end of its term? They were trying to hold Rey responsible for time missed due to injury! WWE had real fears of Rey Mysterio going to Lucha Underground and continuing to be a draw down there. Then, when Alberto Del Rio began working for Lucha during early 2015, we began to hear WWE return rumors on Del Rio throughout the year. When Lucha Underground announced Season #2 was happening, those rumors intensified. October 2015 rolls around and Del Rio appears at Hell in a Cell 2015 to defeat John Cena 100% clean.

Think about that for a second... WWE Champion Seth Rollins struggles repeatedly to defeat John Cena but Alberto Del Rio can return and defeat John Cena cleanly on his first night back? John Cena?!? Whom most heels aren't allowed to ever beat, let alone cleanly?

Vince McMahon is just like a politician right now... He wants that Hispanic vote!

Make no mistake in the United States, politicians and political parties want that Hispanic vote. With immigration, legal or illegal, increasing from the Southern U.S. border, that demographic is growing faster than any other. Throughout the 2000's and recently, there were attempts at granting illegals amnesty or some other expedited legal status. Why? Because the politicians want the VOTES. Particularly in the South where the Hispanic population is thicker, they are increasing their population in "red" or Republican voting states. Recently, Donald Trump has cutback on his comments regarding illegal immigration where had an aggressive position on that matter. Trump also had an argument with a popular Hispanic press outlet which can easily be aggressive towards reporting on Trump.

WWE is in the same boat... They want Hispanic wrestling fans.

However, WWE has only truly drawn with 2 Hispanic wrestlers in Rey Mysterio Jr. and Eddie Guerrero. Many talk about Paul Heyman's success as Lead Writer for WWE Smackdown during 2002-2004 but what isn't often reported is how big of a following that UPN had with Hispanic viewers during that time. However, WWE lost Eddie during late 2005 and Rey Mysterio is a Lightweight wrestler. WWE hasn't had a true WWE Heavyweight wrestler who was also Hispanic. Yes, I'm aware that Eddie Guerrero was WWE Champion but the WWE moved that title off of Guerrero quickly during 2004 and soon returned Guerrero to the midcard after that.

Vince McMahon thought Alberto Del Rio was that guy during 2011. It failed badly because of poor booking that wasn't natural on the RAW brand. However, Alberto Del Rio was making strides on the Smackdown roster "chasing" the World Heavyweight Championship. His Wrestlemania 27 match against Edge was good and hard fought and Del Rio could have kept chasing the WHC Title throughout the rest of 2011 on the Smackdown roster. Hell, Del Rio could have had his HUGE World Title crowning moment at SummerSlam 2011 but by winning Smackdown's World Heavyweight Championship. That would have been natural... But no, Vince McMahon insisted that Del Rio become the WWE Champion and be featured on RAW. Big mistake particularly as it rudely interrupted CM Punk's June/July/August "Summer of Punk" 2011 momentum.

But again - Poor booking ruined any potential that Del Rio could have had in 2011. By 2012, Del Rio became a Smackdown regular and eventually won that World Heavyweight Championship belt that he chased during 2011. Ooops. Damage was done and a quick face turn and then heel turn, without much build up, further diminished his character.

Del Rio is back and I believe that MEGA PUSH is heading his way. Vince McMahon envisioned Alberto Del Rio becoming the #1 heel to contend with is new #1 babyface in Roman Reigns. Vince is still CEO, Board Chairman, and the leading manager backstage at WWE events. That's his tastes/preferences and it's up to the other managers backstage, Triple H and Kevin Dunn, to talk Vince out of any bad idea that may come along. I wish that someone would have talked Vince out of the MexAmerican gimmick with Zeb Colter. Ugh. Don't be surprised if WWE tries to push Reigns/Del Rio HARD during 2016 with a little bit of Sheamus mixed in by Triple H.

That's why Del Rio is back... It's about Vince McMahon. I believe that he has a lack of confidence in the current WWE roster's drawing power, as Chrisssssss said in his LoP column, but I believe that Vince (a) loves Del Rio as a wrestler and character and (b) wants more Hispanic viewers to the WWE product. Can Del Rio deliver that? Not with an older guy following him in a motorized scooter.



Missed the Cut:
X - Cesaro vs. Miz
X - Alberto Del Rio vs. R-Truth (backstage segment with Jack Swagger as well)
X - Many highlight packages

Opening in-ring promo started RAW with Roman Reigns and trying to cut a promo on Seth Rollins. Not bad by Reigns... What WWE has to do is to somehow give Reigns some freedom to let his real personality shine and be less scripted. Most wrestlers who have made it had some creative freedom over their characters. In my opinion, what has hurt Reigns the most is how scripted he appears that coincides with the many quick pushes he receives. Seth Rollins came down and before he could hit the ring, the Authority comes out to announce that a Survivor Series elimination match would occur tonight instead. Sigh... Wouldn't this type of match be better served NEXT WEEK with a full week to hype it? Everything is written on the fly these days by the WWE.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens was all about Tyler Breeze... Zero attention on the match at hand and pushing Mr. Breeze's character as hard as possible. Clever use of the selfie phone to show on the Titantron but that's ridiculous at the same time. What, are the Wyatts and Breeze calling in favors for the WWE Production truck?

Wyatts in the ring... Cool stuff. I'm really digging this Kane/Undertaker feud. In my opinion, Kane and Undertaker just need to add veterans to complete their team and Sting and Big Show make logical sense. I would probably consider using it as a means to debut someone like Baron Corbin from NXT, but we'll see. This feud is quite exciting and I'm curious to see who they add.

Lucha Dragons beat Sheamus/Wade Barrett by, you guess it, Wade Barrett taking the pin. Unless WWE doesn't have faith in the injury prone Barrett, I would be willing to bet that Barrett gives the WWE more upside and potential than the smaller Lucha Dragons.

GREAT segment backstage between Seth Rollins and the New Day with Xavier Woods returning tonight. Just watch Big E in any New Day segment. That guy is having so much fun with this gimmick right now. Good to see the New Day mixing it up with the top talent now.

I enjoyed the Divas Fatal 4 Way between Paige, Becky Lynch, Brie Bella, and Sasha Banks. The added bodies helped keep this match fast paced and action packed. That suplex spot off the top rope with all 4 ladies was sick! Job well done, ladies! Paige is the #1 contender which makes sense storyline wise. However, that promo after the match by Paige was a bit rough. Just trying too hard to sound outrageous and appears to be too scripted.

The Survivor Series match between Team Rollins vs. Team Reigns was a lot of fun and a treat to see on RAW. I would enjoy seeing this again on Pay Per View. I LOVED the pairing of the Usos with Roman Reigns. I would make that permanent if I were the WWE. I know, they are family, but Usos are hip and charismatic and could rub off on Reigns. But for now, it could mask any weaknesses of Reigns.

SHOW THOUGHTS: 2 consecutive GOOD editions of RAW. Seems like Roman Reigns is increasing his confidence as an in-ring performer but the promo stuff needs some work. Show appeared fun to me on Hulu and that's what matters. B+.



Question #1: Given wrestler injuries and several states now legalizing it, should WWE consider removing Marijuana from its Wellness Policy?

Good timing on this question with my Buckeye State considering legalizing monopolies Marijuana on the ballot today. I think with more and more states legalizing the drug (well, not Ohio), all sports leagues and entertainment companies are probably considering deregulating their policies. However, as an employer, they can retain certain policies. Pro wrestling, in particular, should have wrestlers of sound mind... If any drug use that is meant for easing the pain of injuries after an event spills into the ring, then there's a problem.

But at the same time, how many wrestlers have died due to Marijuana use? It's always something with prescriptions and many times mixed with alcohol. Alcohol isn't part of WWE's Wellness Program unless a legal incident is caused (DUI for example). Unless you catch yourself on fire from sparking a joint, it won't kill you.

I would be curious as to what the WWE gives to current wrestlers for ongoing or permanent pain before further assessing the question.


Question #2: Do you still consider NXT to be a "farm system"?

Yes - In fact, I DOUBLE DOWN on my point made months if not years ago. Sure, I've become a regular NXT viewer lately and actually enjoy NXT's show more than RAW. To me, NXT is an actual wrestling show and it's fun. I'm getting to the point where I wish that no NXT wrestlers get promoted to the main WWE roster.

But that's the point. NXT feeds WWE with talent. That's why it's a farm system. defines FARM SYSTEM as "any small-scale or localized network or industry that provides experience and exposure for beginners, similar to that of a baseball farm"

Baseball's farm system has Single A, Double A, and Triple A levels of minor leagues based on experience and readiness to play in Major League baseball. Play well in Single A, the Double A team calls you up. Play well in Double A, the Triple A team calls you up. Play well in Triple A, the Major League Baseball team calls you up. Majority of baseball players are promoted within this "farm system".

WWE hires new wrestlers and sends them to (a) train at the WWE training facility in Florida and (b) wrestle for the NXT promotion. Majority of WWE signings funnel through NXT just as they did through Ohio Valley Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling. OVW, FCW, and NXT are much smaller in operations and scale than WWE. And here's the BIG POINT... At anytime, the WWE can take any existing NXT talent and place them on the main WWE roster. That's why NXT is a freakin' Farm System. Stop being picky and quick acting like being in a "farm system" is a bad thing. Why do almost every Major League Baseball player endure such a system before earning millions in MLB? Nothing wrong with an apprenticeship.

OK, so you're upset that your favorite Indy darling had to wrestle in NXT first before joining the WWE roster. Who cares? NXT is a more enjoyable in-ring product. Just enjoy that before Vince McMahon sinks his picky claws into their character and makes them jobber to the stars. However, there's more to being a WWE wrestler than just the in-ring stuff. You have to cut promos in a full arena, sell merchandise, make appearances and autograph signings, and abide by larger set of corporate policies. It's a different world and NXT, in part, gets wrestlers ready for the bigger WWE picture. Kevin Owens and Finn Balor never had to deal with the likes of Vince McMahon as a particularly picky show owner.

NXT = Farm System and there's nothing wrong with supporting a good farm system. Many minor league teams draw well in both hockey and baseball. Get over it, critics.


Question #3: Which NXT wrestlers would make good WWE performers right now?

I really like Baron Corbin. He's got the WWE size, he's legitimately tough, has a decent personality, and he has credentials of being a former fighter and NFL player. He's 6'8" and moves fast for his size. In my humble opinion, he's the most WWE ready guy on the roster. Personally, I'd put him with Seth Rollins as muscle or a body guard, much like Diesel was to Shawn Michaels 20 years ago (God, I feel old!).

For the ladies, I really like the duo of Emma and Dana Brooke. Their posedown for their entrance is very sexy but both are good heel workers. But they look great together. I would probably give Asuka some time on NXT to become well known in the United States before moving her to WWE. But damn is that one talented...

With time, Apollo Crews... Lots of athletic ability from that guy. Just needs some more psychology instead of relying too much on athleticism. But good lord, the upside on that guy is off the charts. Amazing look, too.

Samoa Joe's time to make a big WWE roster impact has passed. I would keep him in NXT. As you can see by Rhyno, NXT has a need for tough veterans who can mix it up well with any prospect.

I just don't know on Finn Balor... I just don't know how Vince McMahon would assess him as a talent. He seems just slightly undersized for what Vince McMahon usually wants but the in-ring ability is there.

And finally... I really like the Tag Team of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable. They remind me so much of World's Greatest Tag Team or Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) and not just for the tights. Amazing athletic ability. Gable wrestles with his heart on his sleeve and amazes how me how performs against larger wrestlers. Jordan is a big dude who, like Apollo, relies on pure athleticism but I've noticed an uptick on emotion by tagging with Gable. This is a feel good tag team that really connects with fans together.

I really do enjoy the NXT show now... Take no offense if I ever call it a "farm system". I used to be an oldschool Baseball guy. Ask several from LoP who used to play Fantasy Baseball with me. I was hardcore into that stuff... But I also implemented a farm system here at with the Columns Forum (formerly called "Phat Pharm") in which anybody could join, become a writer, and work their way up to becoming a columnist. That's been going for 15 years now since I created it. The writers in the columnists in the Columns Forum write there until the main LoP website promotes them to write for the big site.

It's all about the upward mobility, folks.



As I see trailers and other video gameplay of the new WWE game, WWE 2K16, I can't help but think how fortunate younger wrestling fans are. In particular, we're over 15 years removed from how the Nintendo 64 games fixed pro wrestling games for good. Since then, WWE has enjoyed a nice blueprint on how to construct a good wrestling video game.

During Christmas 1989, I received my first gaming console in the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In addition to the great Super Mario Bros. #1 and Duckhunt combo, me and my brother received another game. Given how quickly we became pro wrestling fans during 1989, my parents bought me Wrestlemania, the NES Game, as well. We were soooooo pumped! In fact, I believe we played Wrestlemania before we inserted Mario/Duckhunt (we played those before at friends' houses). Seemed like a good presentation up front with multiple great wrestlers to choose from... And then the gameplay. UGH... What a piece of crap video game! It's not even pro wrestling. Just poor button mashing and didn't figure out how good the grapple system was for NES's "Pro Wrestling" released years before.

And it wouldn't get better for the WWE... Most of the NES games were BRUTAL and not playable. Acclaim and LJN just couldn't program wrestling games, let alone just about anything. However, things did improve with the Super Nintendo(SNES) and Genesis, the 16 big generation. Acclaim/LJN seemed to perfect side-scrolling games during the 16 bit era and the "WWE RAW" game is quite excellent as the last true WWE game during that era (I know, we also saw "Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game" after that). Acclaim could not figure out the 3D era of gaming... Both RAW and Attitude were brutal games to play and ditto for the ECW games later. It wasn't until THQ published games with a unique AKI engine that the game changed. Not only did THQ and AKI successfully accomplish a playable wrestling game but they successfully transitioned wrestling games into the 3D era.

Since then, THQ and now 2K Games have enjoyed the riches of what THQ/AKI created. Those companies fixed wrestling games and it has been smooth sailing ever since.

So when I hear WWE 2K16 commercials boast the "biggest WWE roster, past and present, ever", I get jealous. My 9 year old self would have killed to play any wrestling game created for Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft since 1997 (well, most of them) compared to what I endured with Wrestlemania on the NES.

Better yet, younger fans get to watch wrestling in High Definition (HD), get to watch all older wrestling via WWE Network, and have the option to watch WWE shows on-demand. I can still remember hoping and praying that the television was available to watch WWE programming let alone playing video games. Late 1980's was still a one-television era for most. And if you wanted to see an older event, you had to go to a video store and use the VCR to fast forward with guessing to see any particular match.

So enjoy what you have, younger wrestling fans...


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