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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - WWE Extreme Rules 2016 Predictions, Corporate WWE Rant, and RAW DVR Numbers
By Mr. Tito
May 18, 2016 - 7:27:07 PM

Follow Mr. Tito on @titowrestling

Welcome, one and all, to Mr. Tito Strikes Back exclusively here at / Usually, I treat my columns like an open canvas and am happy when I have a blank Wordpad to write on... Then, I realize that WWE Extreme Rules 2016 is THIS Sunday and I have to do predictions... Oh joy, can't wait to force it...

On my many trips to Pittsburgh lately, I've been changing up my listening habits from Music or Political/Sports Talk Radio to various Comedians. I'm partial to the king of one-liners Rodney Dangerfield or Mitch Hedberg, but I began trying out Bill Hicks based on him being my brother's favorite comedian. Wow, have I been enlightened. Mr. Hicks has helped me squeegee my third eye as his routine isn't just funny, but expresses a unique and fearless opinion that you rarely hear. Bill Hicks was unafraid to comment on wars, politicians, celebrities, and social issues. It's great. Sadly, the poor guy died at the tender age of 32 of pancreatic cancer.

What I specifically enjoy about Bill Hicks is his rants on Music... If you listen to enough of him, you'll know that Hicks is a big fan of Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Who, Led Zeppelin, nad a few others... You know, the all time greats and Bill adds them to his pro-drug rants for writing their best music when "real f'n high". Conversely, he's HEAVILY critical of the musical artists of the late 1980's and early 1990's such as George Michael, Debbie Gibson, New Kids on the Block, Rick Astley, Vanilla Ice, M.C. Hammer as being without a soul and corporate sellouts (example, user discretion is advised on that clip!). He's very outspoken about the "artistic role call" for any entertainer, both in Music (George Michael advertising for Diet Coke) and other parts of show business (his Jay Leno rant is legendary regarding Jay's Doritos commercial), who do commercials. "There's a price on your head, everything you say is suspect"... Great stuff!

His rants about how corporate Music has become runs parallel with my criticisms of how corporate that the WWE has become.

Just look at what we're seeing in the WWE right now. Another Stephanie and Shane McMahon brother vs. sister storyline... There you go again, Corporate WWE, recycling old "safe" storylines in order to make a quick buck. Furthermore, if you keep the McMahon family (all big shareholders of the WWE stock) at the top of the card, it allows you to keep salary costs down of the rest of the roster. Worse yet, look at that talent... And yes Comments section, I'm going to mention the famous Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002". That was former VP of Talent Relations Jim Ross's last big talent contribution to the WWE before corporate yes-man John Laurinaitis took over. John Cena, Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, and Batista were taught how to be WRESTLERS under Jim Ross's specific instructions to Ohio Valley Wrestling then ran by Jim Cornette and Danny Davis.

But since 2002... John Laurinaitis began training to assume the VP of Talent Relations position job from Jim Ross through 2004. What did you see in the developmental system for the rest of the 2000s and through the early 2010s? Nothing but developmental wrestlers who are trained to specifically fit the roles that Corporate WWE's growing Marketing department is advising Vince McMahon would work on a wrestling show. As the 2000s wore on, WWE became more of a true corporation that was bloated with lots of VP, SVP, and EVP level managers and many of which have no idea how the wrestling business works. Funny, as that was a problem Eric Bischoff described during 1998 when more and more Time Warner executives began attempting to control World Championship Wrestling (WCW). While merchandise sales are nice, the order of which this happens is wrong. A strong wrestling product should generate strong merchandise sales... Merchandise doesn't draw fans to watch wrestling. Never has and never will (well, maybe Austin 3:16).

Worse yet for the WWE, the June 2007 murders/suicide by Chris Benoit made the WWE extremely cautious of their image and public relations. Vince began seeking the advice of those who claim to be "experts" in public relations and thus the PG Rating was placed on Monday Night RAW. Even though adult themed shows helped boom the WWE and catapult them above the competition, that Benoit event obviously scared the WWE Corporation straight. Then, the WWE exists on NBC/Universal network known as USA Networks who were purchased by Comcast. So WWE is becoming more corporate and their Cable network was bought by one of the biggest corporations on the planet. You know, the one that was ready to spend over $40 billion on Time Warner Cable. Once you're an established brand and corporation, why take any chances?

Look at WWE wrestlers today... Each of them drive their own buses to events. Developmental wrestlers have a state-of-the-art training facility in Florida. There are lists of moves that wrestlers cannot perform. Sure, I understand the whole concussion deal, but someone like Seth Rollins can't do a "Curb Stomp" finisher because that might be offensive or could subject the WWE Corporation to liability of someone imitates. What, should we ban punches from the WWE too? If you punch someone in the right spot on their head, it can do severe long-term damage or worse. WWE has a full team of writers to control each and every word of the talent.

Most of you have noticed that my columns have NOT been favorable to the Miz lately... Do I personally hate the Miz? NO. Do I have something against him? NO. In fact, I have nothing against the Miz maximizing his earnings potential. More power to him. My issue is what the Miz is and he's a product of the WWE Corporate Machine. He's been groomed in the developmental system to be exactly what you see today... Someone who can represent and speak well for the Public Relations (PR) side of the WWE Corporation. They like his look and his ability to speak well... But the problem, as I keep repeating myself, is the fact that he hasn't been trained as a WRESTLER to connect with fans in the ring. Because his training was specific to abide by what the WWE's Marketing and Public Relations department wants, he's missing many psychological tools in the ring to get over as a wrestler. His matches get no reaction... Fans don't believe in what they are seeing.

That's my problem with Roman Reigns as well... Product of the WWE Corporation. He was hired by the WWE with ZERO wrestling training and was hired for his look and family connections only. In fact, he was rushed to the main WWE roster faster than most developmental wrestlers. The WWE Corporation, thick with many VP, SVP, and EVP non-wrestling personnel and large Marketing/PR Departments, handpicked this homemade wrestler named "Roman Reigns" to become the next face of the company no matter what. The result? The fans reject him completely and RAW is consistently under 3.5 million viewers each week as a result. Live shows, particularly houseshows, are down with Reigns as WWE Champion. Endless boos for him as WWE Champion and that's sad.

WWE Corporation loves Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Usos, Lana, Eva Marie, and the Bella Twins in addition to Roman Reigns and the Miz. Each have been given multiple chances to succeed... WWE reluctantly let go Alberto Del Rio only to re-sign him for millions when he dared to work with Lucha Underground. Some of the plans for Lana, before she leaked her Rusev engagement to TMZ, were just ridiculous. You really think that Lana is the next Sable? Really? The mindset of the WWE Corporation with Vince McMahon listening more to marketing folks than actual successful wrestling folks (he has Paul Heyman on his roster!) tries to mold anyone based on look into what the Corporation thinks it can sell to the public. And yet that approach hasn't worked... WWE continues to rely on Jim Ross's OVW "Class of 2002" talent to save them. Why else would you pay Brock Lesnar $3 million per year and lots of money paid annually to John Cena and Randy Orton. Hell, look at that 2014 early push of Batista. I'm sure his return wasn't cheap.

Point being, because many of the Corporate call-ups keep failing... You have to rely on the classics (the OVW "Class of 2002") to keep drawing money. Go look at the Concert tours... The older acts continue to pull in the largest amount of money and by a huge margin. Just watch what happens in 10 years when many of the great acts from the 1960s and 1970s are no longer playing and nobody will be filling football/baseball stadiums for performances. When the music industry figured out that they could commercialize music during the late 1970s with the Disco Era, they knew that they could control what is produced and how to market music to audiences. The end result? Significant music erosion, particularly in Rock, since the late 1970's. Music has become a pop music factory since the Disco Era of the late 1970's and now has Reality Shows in order to find the next pop star (American Idol, the Voice, etc.). Everything is corporate in music now and the quality has dropped.

Funny, after the WWE became more corporate as the 2000s wore on, the worse it became. Here we are in 2016 with Roman Reigns shoved down our throats and more Stephanie/Shane drama because corporations like "safe" angles that rehash the past.

Being honest here... Triple H is actually the last hope to "fix" the WWE. He's had some independence on running his NXT system since 2012 and thanks to working with the likes of Dusty Rhodes, William Regal, and other former wrestlers in Florida, wrestling is being taught again in the developmental territory. You KNOW that Triple H is being successful if Vince McMahon and the rest of the WWE Corporate suck-ups are rejecting some of his wrestlers. Keep working at it, Triple H... I give you serious praise for how you've run NXT as it's currently my favorite wrestling show right now. Maintain your independence and stick to your guns... Eventually, father time will catch up with all of the corporate call-ups of the late 2000s and your NXT guys will take their spots. But, even if/when Vince McMahon retires, Triple H is suddenly surrounded by the same VP, SVP, and EVP non-wrestling managers that Vince has to listen to... Shareholders might not like if if Triple H rattles the cages.

Welcome to Corporate WWE, America... And why on earth hasn't a RIVAL wrestling company challenged the WWE yet? Good God, TNA, what the hell is wrong with you?


Mr. Tito's PHAT WWE Extreme Rules 2016 Predictions

I always laugh when critics of mine try to rip me for any Pay Per View predictions that I make. You guys realize that I absolutely HATE writing Pay Per View predictions and it's probably my most hated thing, column wise, to do each month. Well, that and reviewing RAW even at 1.5 hours on Hulu (I'm skipping that BS this week). So if you'll excuse me, I'm just going to plow through this crap to get it over with.

Pre-Game: Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
With the way Hulu has been editing RAW, I had no idea that this feud was continuing. I am heading into this prediction blind, so...

WHO SHOULD WIN: Dolph Ziggler. Seriously, what is WWE missing with this guy?

WHO WILL WIN: Baron Corbin, only because WWE isn't sersious about using Ziggler.


Texas Tornado Match: The Usos vs. Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson
I could be spoiling this for some, but the obvious winning by the Usos over Gallows/Anderson on RAW should tell most that this match could occur. If I spoiled Smackdown for you, then apologies in advance... Usos won on RAW which should tell you...

WHO SHOULD WIN / WHO WILL WIN: Anderson & Gallows - I'm fine with that in order to possibly hype a big 3rd match between the two teams. I just worry that Anderson and Gallows aren't getting the traction in the WWE as they should.


Asylum Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
You have to think forward to the next WWE event, Money in the Bank 2016, and also what happened at the previous Pay Per View, WWE Payback 2016. If you'll recall, Dean Ambrose BEAT Chris Jericho at Payback. Do you really think that WWE Creative would book Ambrose to beat Jericho on back-to-back Pay Per Views? Nope... And I believe that Jericho will become Roman Reigns's opponent for Money in the Bank...

WHO SHOULD WIN / WHO WILL WIN: Chris Jericho. WWE needs a strong heel right now and has to rely on a trusty veteran to get the job done. That, and Dean Ambrose is struggling on promos as of late. WWE wants him scripted and yet Ambrose wants to improvise.


Fatal 4 Way for the WWE Intercontinental Title: The Miz (c) vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
The Corporate Intercontinental Champion against 3 guys who scratched and clawed to make it to the WWE. Ah yes... Heat wise, Owens vs. Zayn is the attention remains but they don't need a title to have a heated feud. I just don't know what the WWE's motivations on Cesaro are... But I do know that WWE loves the Miz.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Sami Zayn. Please reward this guy for losing to EVERYBODY lately while putting up quality matches.

WHO WILL WIN: The Miz. I wouldn't doubt that after Extreme Rules, AJ Styles is moved to the IC Title division and is the man who unseats Miz as champion.


WWE Tag Team Title Match: The New Day vs. the Vaudevillains
I think that the injury to Enzo will keep the Vaudevillains away from winning the titles. All I need to say, but I'd agree that the New Day should retain anyway. Let the Vaudevillains organically get over in the WWE with their gimmick and then grant them more title shots.

WHO SHOULD/WILL WIN: The New Day. Too early to give the Vaudevillains the tag titles


United States Title: Kalisto (c) vs. Rusev
Surely, the WWE won't let Kalisto make Rusev look bad as he did with Ryback. Now, I'm NOT knocking Kalisto personally... But he's a small wrestler taking on thicker trees like Rusev and Ryback. Adding to the WWE Corporation stuff above, Kalisto is being pushed like Rey Mysterio to exploit merchandising.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Rusev and he should mow through Kalisto.

WHO WILL WIN: Kalisto... I'm done betting against this guy.


Submission Match for Women's Title: Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya
No way that the WWE wouldn't have Natalya on her 3rd Pay Per View event against Charlotte and then have her lose again. Ric Flair is barred from ringside, but in my opinion, the WWE missed out on using the classic elevated cage for Ric Flair to sit in... Go watch a classic AWA event in which Jim Cornette or J.J. Dillon were both placed in cages in the air to prevent them from interfering in the match.

WHO SHOULD/WILL WIN: Charlotte. Just not feeling Natalya as a viable Women's Champion. She's fine elevating other talent, but no drawing appeal as the top person.


Extreme Rules Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Title: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Aj Styles
Just look at the WWE's track record on handling imported main eventers from other promotions... That's all I need to say. But I think that the Payback match in which the match had to be restarted made Reigns look weak so therefore in this match, Reigns goes over strong in the end. Plus, I see the real potential in Chris Jericho vs. Roman Reigns happening at Money in the Bank 2016. That, and I just don't see AJ Styles as a strong drawing WWE Champion. Nice wrestler with fun matches, but WWE top guys need to do more. Those promos, man, and Styles looks undersized in the larger WWE.




So as RAW's ratings are dropping, the loyal yes-man WWE fans keep telling me that fans are just putting RAW on DVR or watching it on Hulu. Guilty as charged on the Hulu... But if RAW is going under 3.5 million viewers, what are the DVR/Hulu numbers doing?

In reviewing the numbers that the Pro Wrestling Torch collects for 2016, average RAW DVR delayed viewing numbers have held steady between 350,000 to 400,000 but can go above that range on post-Pay Per View nights. As I look back 5 years ago, DVR viewership for RAW was around 400,000 to 500,000 viewers. Hey, that correlates with RAW's live television viewership declining since 2011. So that's off the table...

But what about Hulu? Well, last year Hulu reportedly had 9 million subscribers. If you use the same methodology of the total share of the audience that RAW commands among Cable users, we're looking about 3-4% on a Monday Night. Assuming that same methodology holds, maybe 360,000 additional viewers? But we don't know because there has never been an official reporting of RAW viewership on Hulu.

The DVR number shrinking is a bigger concern. Though subscriptions to Cable/Satellite numbers have peaked and have seem some declines, we're still looking at somewhere close to 100 million total households that still have their televisions hooked up. That's still a high number and if wrestling was popular, DVR numbers would NOT decline... But they have. There is a clear erosion in DVR viewings from 2011 to 2016. Live events through early 2016 have struggled to sellout as a sign of something happening as another indicator.

So yeah, the DVR myth has been busted. Wrestling fans just aren't watching RAW as much as they were before. It's mostly a fact unless Hulu is racking up RAW viewers (I doubt it).


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