Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - WWE Great Balls of Fire Pay Per View Predictions, New Japan, More
By Mr. Tito
Jul 4, 2017 - 12:15:38 AM

Follow Mr. Tito on @titowrestling

Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here / by yours truly, Mr. Tito. This is the column that pulls no punches, is brutally honest, and doesn't follow what a crowd would considered hip.

I know, you've all tuned into this column to see my thoughts on the recent New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) show. Yep, full review coming up...

See, here's the thing... I have NOTHING against New Japan. Never have, never will. Is the style of wrestling my "cup of tea"? Nope and I've tried it many, many times. I've had videos sent to me to stream, to watch on VHS/DVD (yes, I've been around so long that VHS tapes were traded in my early days), and have spent time attempting to research New Japan and other Japanese promotions. I've tried to get into New Japan but it just doesn't "do it" for my tastes/preferences as a pro wrestling fan. It's a matter of a lack of showmanship, personality of its characters, or the matches are either too technical, too spotty, or reliant on stiff shots. Many were insisting that Omega vs. Okada from early 2017 was one of the greatest matches of ALL TIME... Sure, it's impressive how long they wrestled, but the match was filled with stiff shots and finishers that should have resulted in many, many finishes. I like selling...

But if you like New Japan, don't let me tell you otherwise. Have fun!

However, what I don't like is that everytime a major New Japan event arrives, suddenly a bunch of "bandwagon" Internet Fans appear and act as if they've watched NJPW for their entire lives! And it comes with "this is WAY better than WWE" quotes, too. Really? Then quit watching WWE and go 100% New Japan if you want to justify that statement. The same thing happens with NXT, Ring of Honor, and even TNA (now GFW, LOL!) events... Suddenly, those shows are FULL of praise and the feedback heard among the Internet Wrestling Community are "better than WWE".

Here's the thing about the WWE and this justifies my stance as a fan as well: the market is too over-saturated with WWE stuff that many begin to resent the promotion. If you have the USA Networks and the WWE Network, you've got 4-5 episodes of RAW to watch at 3 hours each, 4-5 episodes of Smackdown to watch at 2 hours each, and then 2 Pay Per Views at 3 hours each to watch per month. Assuming a 4-show watch, that's potentially 26 hours to watch per month. Watch NXT as well? 4 hours on top of that to make 30 hours of WWE content that you're watching per month. Oh, you watch WWE 205 Live too? 4 more hours on top of that. 34 freakin' hours per month!

Gee, no wonder many of you want to CLING to New Japan as a possible alternative to the WWE. You're soooooo burned out on WWE that you'll welcome any kind of change. Better yet, you'll look around and see what's the "hip" thing to follow such as your favorite newsletter or wrestling website's recommendation. Somehow, watching just a few of their events makes it better than the over-saturated WWE?

I don't think so. WWE is an empire. If you ignore the Infomercials known as RAW and Smackdown and strictly watch the Pay Per Views, you can see that. Aside from a few turd shows this year (that RAW roster, ugh, and Orton/Jinder as champions), the WWE Network era has pumped out some great wrestling and some great shows. If you watched 100% Pay Per Views only while skipping RAW/Smackdown, you'd be fine as a wrestling fan... I'm almost there as I've started to casually watch the condensed Hulu versions of RAW/Smackdown while focusing in on the Pay Per Views.

The only other issue with the WWE is how they cannot make top Main Event stars any longer as you can see from the utter failure known as Roman Reigns, the recent overpushing of Jinder Mahal, the many, many attempts to push Randy Orton, and the struggles getting Seth Rollins over. 1 million fans lost on RAW because of poor Creative decisions at the top and the complete inability to replace John Cena as the top star.

But if you just watch WWE's Pay Per Views, you'll easily see why WWE is STILL the #1 promotion in the world. Best roster on the planet, best presentation, and still delivers best on characters/storylines. Sure, you could argue about AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura joining the WWE from New Japan... But while both had great matches in New Japan, have they looked better than when they've been on the WWE stage? You can hate on Vince McMahon's recent creative vision, but you cannot deny how big he makes events feel or how larger-than-life he can make characters become. There's a reason why Vince McMahon has dominated for 35 years now with only a brief 2-year period when World Championship Wrestling (WCW) bought his talent to challenge him.

Let's talk about New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). It has existed since 1972 and has had multiple deals with WWE, WCW, Ring of Honor, and TNA. In fact, I recall WCW heavily promoting New Japan during the 1990s and even incorporated several of their wrestlers into the New World Order (NWO)... Didn't catch on. During the 2000s and now 2010s where there is actual room for a competitor to rise, where has New Japan been? Airing shows on AXS TV which only reaches 35 million households in America. By comparison, TNA wrestling is on Pop TV and that channel reaches 75 million households (USA Networks for RAW is over 90 million). At a time where the #2 promotion, TNA now GFW Impact Wrestling is a distant 2nd (under 500,000 viewers weekly!), someone like New Japan could seem appealing.

Why hasn't it caught on here in the United States? Other Japanese pop culture has easily caught on. Like Nintendo? It's a Japanese video game company who has been pushing their characters, art style, and gaming style into American homes for over 30 years now. Pokemon has been crazy huge in the United States for 20 years now and is actually getting stronger with the Pokemon Go app and the recent 3DS games, Moon & Sun. Not just video games, as the card games and merchandise are very popular. Like Dragon Ball Z (or as I call it, "dragonballs")? Japanese company. Many people love Japanese cartoons or Anime. Like the Power Rangers? Their shows were from Japan with American scenes edited into the show. Godzilla has been adored for a long, long time. I could go on and on and on about Japanese culture spilling into the United States and everyone has open arms for it.

Why haven't New Japan or other Japanese wrestling promotion joined that Japanese pop culture spillover? Besides the Great Muta, why can't other Japanese stars hit it big in the United States? After all, America has rabid wrestling fans... RAW pulls in 3 million viewers weekly and most televised WWE shows can pack about 10,000 fans into an arena. NXT has proven to be a decent draw particularly its Takeover events that can pack bigger arenas. Even Ring of Honor and TNA GFW promotions can have some loyal audiences. However, in my opinion, none of those promotions can figure out how to hybrid traditional wrestling and the realism that Mixed Martial Arts presents. New Japan COULD do that if presented correctly.

Something is missing to create widespread appeal here in the United States for New Japan or other forms of Japanese wrestling... Maybe it's how they present their stars, the in-ring style, or who knows, the language barrier... I don't know. With the way OTHER forms of Japanese pop culture have quickly grown in the United States, it should be expected that Japanese wrestling could too... Not seeing it just yet, although many vocal Internet Fans make it appear as though it's already big in the United States. Yeah, well, did you see how tiny that arena set-up was for those recent U.S. New Japan events? I've seen touring Mexico promotions draw much bigger audiences.

But go ahead and hammer me for stating this opinion which is rooted in some actual facts. As I stated above, if you like New Japan, then don't let me tell you otherwise. Enjoy it. Just don't act like it's the greatest thing since sliced bread and that the WWE is absolutely horrible by contrast. I'd like to see New Japan run 20+ hours of television + 6 hours of Pay Per View per month and retain quality. It's HARD to do what WWE does weekly, monthly, and yearly.


One thing I want to say about the recent New Japan shows is how baffled I am at the Jim Ross bashings. Somehow, you have expectations of the 65 year old Ross being able to sound like the "Good ol' JR" that you remember from the past. What, were you expecting Mauro Ranallo instead? Oh that's right, he sold his soul to the WWE for a return to NXT.

Why would anyone bash Jim Ross's commentating? After all, it's very likely that HIS involvement in announcing New Japan shows actually brought many fans to the product.

Be nice to Mr. Jim Ross. It was his role as VP of Talent relations that "SAVED" the WWE, period. He was responsible for the signings of Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and creating the developmental systems that restocked the WWE roster time after time. Furthermore, being overworked to provide you with a great wrestling product has been rough on his life and his health. He's sacrificed much for you, the wrestling fans.

Show some damn respect, please.



Cruiserweight Title: Neville (c) vs. Akira Tozawa
Who knows? It's cruiserweight wrestling and I don't care.



Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
Do I even have to analyze this? Bigger guy wins over the guy who has been regularly jobbing for the past year.



Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins
Zzzzzzz... Just does nothing for me. Seth Rollins has no identity as a babyface and Bray Wyatt has been nothing but a dud for 2017 with his goofy gimmick. Hopefully, these two pull off an unbelievable match-up, as they are capable of doing, and they can both build off this momentum.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Bray Wyatt. He needs a big win.

WHO WILL WIN: Seth Rollins


Ambulance Match: Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
Gimmick match and we're heading into SummerSlam 2017 with the reported Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman match-up. The goofy gimmick will allow Braun to win without Roman getting pinned. See how that works?



Women's Title: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks
In my opinion, this is TOO EARLY for this match-up to happen. I would have saved it as the two could have destroyed each other on the microphones for a while to hype this match. However, the WWE quickly goes to this match to fill a monthly Pay Per View and they lose a unique match. Seems to me that the direction we're heading is Nia Jax winning the title and dominating if that gauntlet is any indication. Alexa won't lose to her, as a babyface will be the one who lose to heel Nia.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Alexa Bliss should retain. I don't like hotshotting this match so fast.

WHO WILL WIN: Sasha Banks and Nia Jax will soon defeat her.


Tag Titles: Hardys(c) vs. Cesaro/Sheamus - 30 Minute Ironman Match
I'm very excited for this match! They've been going back and forth since Wrestlemania 33 and this is the timing when to have a gimmick match. I figure this will be 30 minutes of excitement and it will probably go fast. I'm equally as excited for this match as Joe/Lesnar.

WHO SHOULD WIN/WHO WILL WIN: Hardy Boyz, as WWE seems content with them as a team right now.


Intercontinental Title: Miz (c) vs. Dean Ambrose
All you need to know is that reportedly, WWE Creative Team is not too high on Dean Ambrose right now for whatever reason. Not sure what it is other than his peculiar personality (see Steve Austin Podcast). Meanwhile, WWE management loves the Miz. I figure that his new entourage will interfere to help Miz win. And I agree. Move Ambrose back to Smackdown, please.



WWE Universal Title: Brock Lesnar(c) vs. Samoa Joe
There has been heightened in interest in this match-up as the ratings were trending below 2.5 million until this match was signed. Now, we're just below 3.0 million. Imagine if Samoa Joe actually won? However, the long-term plans are to have (a) Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman at SummerSlam and (b) Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 34. Meh... I've argued that Joe should win and allow for Lesnar vs. Joe rematch at SummerSlam and then build-up Strowman at Royal Rumble to defeat Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 34. Get Roman "1000 chances to get over but failed" Reigns out of the way already.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Samoa Joe and via choke-out, too.

WHO WILL WIN: Brock Lesnar. Vince only wants Reigns or Strowman as top guys to defeat Lesnar.



From last week's RAW, many were wondering why the WWE would feature LaVar Ball, father of future Los Angeles Laker Lonzo Ball. In case you never heard of LaVar Ball, he's been quite outspoken about his sons' potential in the basketball world and is always worth a soundbyte to reporters. Plus, he's bold with his opinions and holds nothing back. He is beginning to use "stay in your lane" for any reporters who challenge him on his bold opinions.

Ball reminds me a lot of Donald Trump, although Ball isn't the "leader of the free world". Trump has made a career of being unfiltered with his opinion and generating lots of interest, good and bad, and it eventually led to him becoming President. Trump has the ability to flood the airwaves with his smack that everyone becomes numb to the abundance of his chatter. How else could he get away with a recording of Trump saying grabbing women by the privates just weeks before the election?

But what Donald Trump and LaVar Ball can do is CREATE THEIR OWN HEAT.

Both guys are totally unfiltered and aren't afraid to say outrageous things. Furthermore, both have personalities that are polarizing to about half of the audience that hears them.

It's unlike today's WWE which is totally scripted and controlled. Part of why Roman Reigns is failing is that every move and every word he performs is mostly scripted. Ditto for the rest of the roster. If you go back in time, Steve Austin delivered his "Austin 3:16" as a totally unscripted moment. Ditto for John Cena who was able to write his own raps during 2003-2004 to get over. Then, of course, you have CM Punk's famous "pipebomb" speech which, for one night only, had Punk being allowed to be unscripted and say whatever he wanted. The result? Austin, Cena, and Punk GOT OVER on their own creative and internal merits.

What WWE needs is someone who can generate actual heat with unscripted and unfiltered words. Now, I'm not saying they should curse every other word, but by removing the scripts, it allows wrestlers to TAKE OWNERSHIP of their characters. Who knows, maybe Roman Reigns would thrive if he had some creative freedom over his character? We don't know that...

However, WWE is also struggling in the Creative department. How? As I've said in the past, they have 40+ years of wrestling footage in their video library to utilize. Why not recycle? Why not reuse any great storylines from WWE, WCW, AWA, World Class, ECW, and more? If you're using different characters for these roles, nobody will notice.

Better yet, why doesn't the WWE attempt to utilize great characters or storylines from Film or Television? Right now, we're at the peak of television with AMAZING shows out there that are full of creativity. I cannot get enough of great television series right on Netflix and I would be highly ashamed if I showed you the hours that I've spent binging shows. And great wrestlers of the past have used characters from TV/Film as models to emulate. Razor Ramon is clearly a take on Scarface and Steve Austin developed his early "Stone Cold" persona based on a psychopathic killer he saw on television. During 2004, when the WWE needed an instant Main Eventer for Smackdown, they turned to Bradshaw and repackaged him as "JBL" to emulate the J.R. Ewing character from the hit show Dallas

Right now, I am LOVING the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul world and characters. Characters are well developed, twists and turns are properly built up, and storylines are paid off in the end. Seriously, who wasn't shocked at that nursing home explosion that did in Gustavo Fring? Better yet, how about that quiet build up of Gus as the big kingpin? Or how about Walter's rise from a simple chemistry teacher to someone consumed with power to sell meth?

Many of you probably haven't heard of this show but I've been watching Wentworth on Netflix. Many of you like "Orange is the New Black", but this show is a maximum security female prison show instead. The show has several super-villains that create conflict in the show, including Ferguson who was once the Governor but turned prisoner (pure evil), but the rise of its babyfaces to challenge the evil that lurks in that prison is what makes the show. The rise of Bea Smith from being a "fish out of water" to being top dog of the prison is quite impressive. She's a weak character at first but grows to dominate the show with time.

I mentioned Dallas above... You had the villain, J.R. Ewing but you had the babyface Bobby Ewing, his brother. Constantly trying to outdo each other and it endless storytelling until Bobby left the show for 1 year. Kind of reminds me of when Steve Austin left the WWE for 1 year and the world was different.

I always thought HBO's prison drama, OZ, had amazing character development... Again, it's easy to play that "fish out of water" character with a prison show and then pushing a purely evil villain for them to overcome. With Oz, they had a lot of heel characters built up and then when their deaths arrived, it was to the benefit of another character who did the deed (like winning a championship).

But then take a comedy like The Office. In my opinion, the real "draw" of the show was Jim & Pam with the "will they or won't they" hints of those two hooking up. Pam started off dating another guy and then Jim moved to another office site... When the finally hooked up, it was nice, but it was clearly the peak of that show. The Office tried to introduce new characters and create new love interests after that but it just wasn't Jim & Pam.

My point is that Film & Television has TONS upon TONS of great characters and storyline ideas. Why not steal them? Why is WWE's Creative Team so bad or is it just Vince McMahon trashing anything given to him? Maybe he's too impatient?

How any entertainment entity is struggling right now is beyond me. SO much creativity out there with film and television as we're truly blessed right now with television. WWE must be lowballing writers or presents too many hours for anyone to work. Who knows?

But what I do know is that the model for character and storyline success is out there through other mediums whether it's a politician, controversial sports dad, or television/film.


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