Posted in: Mr. Tito
TITO RISING - RAW Review & Grade - Pushing Zack Ryder Too Soon? RAW/Smackdown confusion, more
By Mr. Tito
Dec 5, 2011 - 11:45:01 PM

CONTACT MR. TITO - Email: [email protected] - Twitter: @titowrestling - Join Feedback Thread


Welcome back to the "Excellence in Column Writing", also known as Tito Rising. For months, since we began having the RAW Supershows, the WWE has flirted with merging the RAW and Smackdown rosters. The excuse was that ratings were down for Monday Night RAW and one way to boost them was to add Smackdown talent. Well, ratings haven't gone up but the Smackdown wrestlers remain.

Tonight, RAW really blended up the RAW and Smackdown rosters and in damaging fashion. I'm sorry, but the booking of Zack Ryder to defeat Smackdown's World Heavyweight Champion, Mark Henry, is highly insulting. I know, I know... It was a cheap win. But it's the Smackdown brand's World Champion and he's being used as a pawn to allow someone to win a United States Title shot. How is Henry supposed to look strong against the Big Show at TLC after this booking debacle?

And Smackdown wonders why it's considered a second-rate brand.

Worse yet, RAW wrestlers had to defeat Smackdown wrestlers to earn a WWE Title shot. How on earth does that make sense? Earning a RAW World Title shot by defeating Smackdown wrestlers? Stupid, stupid booking...

Then again, the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (TLC) Pay Per View is 2 WEEKS AWAY... As good as RAW was last week, it didn't set the table for the TLC show. Tonight felt very rushed, as if they rewrote 6-7 scripts to come up with the idea "hey, let's ruin the Smackdown roster to book TLC for the RAW roster". Very hard sell to get to Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk vs. the Miz, although I'd argue this could make for a very strong TLC match.

Smackdown embarrassment aside... Tonight's show, however, belonged to Zack Ryder. I know, I better tread carefully when talking about one of the the Internet Wrestling Community's "sacred cows", but I'll be watching the RAW Ratings very closely tomorrow. Zack Ryder wrestled 2 matches while being involved with a 3rd for tonight's show. WWE has been having massive fan attrition during the 2nd hour lately and we'll see if Ryder can help or harm his career, in the short-term, based on how the 2nd hour rates.

Of course, if RAW's ratings tank, Ryder will get scapegoated because that's how the McMahons work. Not the genius idea of blending the RAW/Smackdown rosters to hurt each brand's credibility, oh no. Ryder is the guy that the WWE elected to push hard tonight and if ratings continue to dropoff during the 2nd hour, as recent trends have shown, Ryder's only facetime will be on his channel...

But if Ryder boosts ratings... The IWC, who have been begging and begging the WWE to push Ryder to the moon, can scream "I TOLD YOU SO" from the highest mountain. Of course, I, myself, will sit back and wait for Zack Ryder to blossom into the wrestler that everybody is currently overhyping. To me, Ryder is OK, but he seems to me like he needs continued growth and development before receiving a full blown push. HOWEVER, I will admit that it's nice to see the WWE somewhat listening to fans and also pushing a fresh face.

This show was confusing to me because I've been preaching, for months now, that the WWE should either "SHIT or GET OFF THE POT" when it comes to the RAW/Smackdown Merger. You can't half-ass, WWE. You have Titles for each brand that should be established to have credibility within each brand. When you start cross-breeding the rosters yet telling fans that the titles of each brand matters, the ability to sell main event match-ups goes down the tubes. As I said before, who cares about Mark Henry vs. Big Show when a U.S. Title contender from the RAW brand can get the best of the champ?

Other things to note from RAW...

I'm glad Kane is coming back and possibly masked. He's one of my all-time favorite characters and I will, to this day, argue that he was booked poorly by WWE brass. Never forget the unmasking and "Katie Vick" storylines. Sadly, Kane is 44 Years Old and durability to follow through with the rebooted character is an issue. I wish him the absolute best, as the WWE should have pushed him harder during the 2000's. Where else will you be able to find someone as tall and agile as Kane?

Everytime I think of the Slammy Awards, I can't help but think of Owen Hart... It was part of his character to carry around 2 of those awards as well as proudly displaying the Slammys on his tights. Owen Hart is the only wrestler who, to this day, still tugs at me emotionally. He was all that was good with pro wrestling and it was an utter shame that he didn't get a piece of the 2000 action when the WWE roster was STACKED with Jericho, Benoit, Guerrero, Saturn, Malenko, and a newly pushed Triple H. We were robbed as fans, but most of all, a wife and children were robbed of a great husband and father. What a shame.

Kevin Nash vs. Triple H at TLC, with a ladder match for a Sledgehammer hanging above... Oh good lord. Can anybody even argue how worthless Triple H's return since Money in the Bank has been? Failed "Chief Operating Officer" role and now, a feud with a 52 year old Kevin Nash being shoved down our throats? Sadly, if Nash were a bodyguard or a stooge, he'd work well because he still looks tough. Instead, Triple H is insisting on having yet another feud with his best friend. What, wasn't the crap feud of 2003 enough?

I thought the show ended well with the Contractual Signing. Decent mic work overall and I liked the brawling by Miz/CM Punk/Alberto Del Rio to end the show... The segment helped to further add to John Laurinaitis GM character... I still suggest that the WWE should have put Laurinaitis in charge AFTER Money in the Bank PPV instead of making Triple H "Chief Operating Officer". Better money would have been made with CM Punk as the rogue WWE champion going up against WWE Management (Vince McMahon, John Laurinaitis), while Triple H could have helped out the depleted Smackdown roster instead.


LAST WORD on RAW: Very HARD sell on the TLC Pay Per View for the RAW roster, while very confusing booking to say the least. WWE just needs to merge the RAW and Smackdown rosters, as well as the titles, and just get be done with it. Shit or get off the pot! In my humble opinion, the WWE roster is VERY talented right now and better creative ideas are needed to actually create a drawing period for the WWE. This roster is better than the 3.0 ratings that the Creative Team deals it. I'll go C+ on this show, provided the odd booking. Decent match-ups overall, though...

10 Things I Think

Modeled after Sports Illustrated's Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback.

1. Not sure what to think about for a Chris Benoit movie. For one, pro wrestling movies appear to be difficult to construct. "The Wrestler" is a bigtime exception, as other attempts at making pro wrestling have failed. I would think that finding an actor who can wrestle like Chris Benoit would be incredibly difficult.

Where I think the true difficulty would be is to construct what actually happened during June 2007 to Chris Benoit. Something snapped and we'll never know exactly what happened. However, some movie studio is going to attempt to construct what could have happened... Either way, I would strongly advise that the WWE never acknowledge this movie. June 2007 is forever a black eye on the business and the WWE, for its part, has tried its best as a Corporation to improve its drug testing and public image since. That includes you, Jim Ross, for acknowledging the movie's existence.

2. Turkey this, WWE. I'm reading that a bunch of former WWE/WCW wrestlers are getting "up in arms" about being on's "Turkey List". So what? It's just a stupid list insteaded to, guess what, spur reaction. If a few former wrestlers get a bit butthurt from being called a "Turkey", you could have been called worse.

I won't say which wrestler, but I had a direct source in the wrestling business that told me that the WWE was in "hot pursuit" of one of the wrestlers on that list that never officially wrestled for the WWE. If you only knew the actual details of the gimmick that they wanted to give him, you'd call WWE Management a bunch of "turkeys".

3. TNA is STUCK. I just can't get over how TNA Wrestling can't get above a 1.5 rating. They are always stuck between 1.1 and 1.3 and they have been that way for the entire run on Spike TV. They've hired this and that WCW/WWE/ECW wrestler, as well as stealing Kurt Angle from the WWE in a very controversial fashion in 2006. Added Hogancare to the plan, but still no improvement. One would think that with the WWE dropping in viewership, the competition could benefit as an alternative. Nope... Instead, the wrestling audience is shrinking further.

4. 10 Years since WCW officially died? As I was watching review of "WWE 12", I saw that WWE 12 had a WCW stable or something on the game. Then, it occurred to me... Survivor Series 2001 was the last actual time that World Championship Wrestling (WCW) actually existed. If you'll recall, the WWF bought WCW during March 2001 and then tried to create WCW as a separate brand during the Summer of 2001. But that failed miserably and after being merged with the ECW brand to form the Shane/Stephanie McMahon "Alliance", things came to a head with WWE vs. Alliance at Survivor Series 2001.

After that, WCW was officially dead. Of course, one could argue further that the official WCW nail was at Vengeance 2001 when the WWE officially merged the WCW And WWE Titles into the "undisputed" WWE Championship (which was December 9th). But existing as an entity, it was gone at Survivor Series 2001... 10 years ago. Damn it, I'm getting old!

For those of you who think I'm soooooooooooo negative now, especially towards the Creative Team, go dig up my archives and see what I said about the WCW/ECW Invasion when I wrote the "Phat Daily Column" daily back then. I shat all over that missed opportunity that ultimately killed the "Attitude Era".

5) Counting on the Great Khali. Back during January 2011 for my predictions, some of you were wondering which "former World champion" would get released. I was actually counting on the Great Khali to get released, as I assumed that the WWE would purge a bunch of older wrestlers this year. I see him still doing promotional gigs and am glad that the WWE kept him around. There is something, still, to the drawing ability of an insanely large wrestler. Say what you will about Khali as a wrestler, but when he walks into a room, everybody takes notice... It's the same magic that made Andre the Giant a wonder to look at by wrestling fans.

Hey, does the ECW Championship count as a former World Championship? If so, Chavo Guerrero makes my prediction work...

6) Good to see Barry Windham OK. I read a newsbyte at Pro Wrestling Insider that Barry Windham is recovering from a heart attack he suffered in October. Many younger fans probably have NO IDEA who Barry Windham is, but he was a major player in NWA/WCW during the late 1980's but ruined his career, in my opinion, when he jumped to the WWF to be a midcarder in the prime of his career. Do yourself a favor and look for the 1 Hour match between Windham and Ric Flair before Windham turned heel and joined the Four Horsemen.

I watch Dolph Ziggler now and he reminds me a lot of Barry. Windham just seemed to naturally perform as a wrestler and always seemed to change up his style for each wrestler he fought against. Ziggler is the same exact way, as his in-ring style just seems to be natural and he works great with everybody. If Dolph were to put on 1 black glove for the Claw or start hitting Superplexes on wrestlers, I'll mark out...

7) Just as I suspected, Comcast is pushing the WWE Network. Comcast, who acquired NBC/Universal, owners of both the USA Network and SyFy Channel which host RAW and Smackdown for the WWE, are reportedly representing the WWE in its negotiations with top cable providers, Sports Business Daily reports. I honestly wouldn't doubt that when it's said and done, Comcast will probably own a piece of the WWE Network.

WWE needs Comcast to push the issue, but at the same time, working out a deal with Comcast will get them around coverage within Comcast's 39 states of coverage and around 23 million of potential Comcast customers. Being successful on Comcast, while probably giving Comcast a discount, can prove a boost in demand for the WWE Network for other cable and satellite providers.

BUT - We'll see. As noted by the TNA Ratings discussion, pro wrestling isn't exactly booming with demand right now. That, and we're still in a very difficult economic times... Declining fan population and trying economic times... I don't know, WWE... I think you'd be best offering individual historical matches via Apple iTunes instead of sinking lots of capital investment into a new Cable channel.

8) Former WWE employees all over ESPN News. Completely blows my mind to see 2 former WWE announcers/personalities, Jonathan Coachman and Todd Grisham, on ESPN News. For one, I like watching the "Highlight Express" rather than the "fluff" that has become Sportscenter. Give me a condensed 30 minutes' worth of news and let me go... But both Coachman and Grisham are pretty good. Fellow ESPN commentators seem to like Coachman, often calling him "the Coach" and Coachman does well on ESPN radio. I find Todd Grisham to be very good as a news reporter on ESPN News and am in fact glad when he's hosting a half hour of news. Very professional and not over-the-top like other sportscaster wannabes.

9) Silence is golden for John Morrison. I'm somewhat glad to not hear as much noise from John Morrison, as unless I'm looking at his Twitter account wrong, I don't see any public statements since November 28th, 2011. In his case, especially if he's about to join TNA Wrestling, he just needs to leave the WWE behind. Yourself and Melina said what you needed to say, but in TNA, if you don't work out there, you can't blame the WWE for failing elsewhere. Let your actions speak louder than words.

Both Melina and Morrison HAVE to show that they are true professionals in the pro wrestling industry. After all, if they are both to continue earning incomes from the sport, they HAVE to get along with the promoters. Ceasing any comments about the WWE would be good, as if they lose employment elsewhere, the WWE is still a potential employer to return to. It's BEST to succeed elsewhere and then make the WWE want you back!

Talk is cheap, as is taking shots publicly at your employer with a Twitter account. Both Melina and Morrison need to prove why they are so "great" and why it's the WWE's loss that they are succeeding elsewhere.

10) Not sure on the WWE Stock. The recent WWE buyrates since Wrestlemania 27 have me worried that the WWE is becoming too dependent on Wrestlemania 28 being a raging success with Rock vs. John Cena. The real issue for the WWE is "what else do you have to offer?". Thus, even with the Stock Market surging thanks to free Central Bank money across the world, the WWE stock is still under $10 per share. I would advise seeking other stocks, provided how tight of a price margin that the WWE appears to have right now on its stock. There are plenty of sturdy companies that are trading low right now yet will always have products that people will always use, even during a deep recession.

@ As noted before, keep an eye out on or Follow me on Twitter, @titowrestling, for a new offering of Mr. Tito related content. It's a project currently in the works and it might be worth spot-checking the Mr. Tito/LoP Archives for the launch. Those who really enjoyed the wildly successful "Blog is Tito" will really enjoy what is to come.


CONTACT MR. TITO - Email: [email protected] - Twitter: @titowrestling - Join Feedback Thread

© Mr. Tito 1998 - 2011