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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING, coming to you from the Retirement Home exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. Questions are pouring in during a week that was LOADED with wrestling headlines and also following the Royal Rumble. For any columnist out there, opportunity knocks… If you can’t find something to write about this week, you aren’t trying!
No need for a longer intro, as we’re packed with questions this week.
What are your thoughts on the departures of WWE Co-Presidents and Board members Michelle Wilson and George Barrios?
I thought about it and then I carried on with my life…
For the WWE, wake me up when Vince McMahon steps down as CEO/President and Board Chairman. Did Michelle or George travel with the WWE to shows? Nope. Did they book WWE shows? Nope. Did help with the television production of the show? Nope… Both probably helped manage the WWE’s financials but Vince & Linda did that together for years themselves. On top of that, every corporation has deep Organizational Charts full of other Executive Vice Presidents, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, etc., who are ready to step up. Plenty of people out there who can help balance a Corporation’s books but there lacks people like Vince McMahon who has come up with amazing ideas to dominate the wrestling industry.
In my opinion, Vince is probably setting the stage for one or both of kids to assume more of a role in the WWE offices. I wouldn’t doubt that Stephanie McMahon assumes one of those President roles, if not obtaining full CEO status from her father. I have been predicting that for years. We’ll see on Shane McMahon.
The stock market has been turbulent lately, anyway, based on what investors are seeing in the impeachment trial and the spreading virus from China. Investors will soon realize that the WWE obtains over $400 million per year from foolish television networks and $25 million+ per Saudi show. Wake me up when either of those revenue streams dry up. Until then, WWE is going to make money in spite of itself and 2 fewer executives will actually help save costs as well.
Overrated story and if the WWE’s Stock Price dips too low, it could always be a decent time to buy. Of course, anyone reading this buys WWE stock at their own risk!
Do you believe that Drew McIntyre can draw as a Main Eventer after beating Brock Lesnar?
That’s the key here, folks… Will the WWE actually let him defeat Brock Lesnar? And if he does, will it matter? In my opinion, Lesnar’s star power has been diminished over the last 2 years thanks to his AWFUL feuds and matches with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. Both Reigns and Rollins looked so inferior compared to Lesnar and yet Lesnar had to sell their crap like it actually hurt them. Neither man looked very convincing at hurting Lesnar and yet both guys were able to defeat Lesnar in the end. Rollins, in particular, gained nothing by beating Lesnar twice during 2019.
I just don’t know on Drew… What a main eventer needs is, in addition to look and in-ring ability, are those intangibles that you just can’t teach. For example, the Rock just had a natural confidence about himself and charisma/swagger in just his walk let alone actions. I don’t see confidence, charisma, or swagger with Drew. Furthermore, he struggles on the microphone and doesn’t have that much psychology in his matches. So… What is going to draw with him again?
But the problem remains that it no longer matters to defeat Brock Lesnar during 2020. WWE ruined him even though his 2020 Rumble performance was cool. If I were booking the WWE, I’d have Lesnar absolutely murder Seth Rollins at an upcoming event in the ring to erase the hot garbage of last year. Maybe then, Lesnar will seem like the unstoppable monster that Drew McIntyre could beat at Wrestlemania 36. Still, even if Drew wins, he lacks the potential intangibles to be a #1 guy.
However – We’ve not seem him as a full fledged babyface… If he changes up his character from being a dark brooding type to embracing the fans who supported his Rumble win, it could work. On top of that, the WWE has to actually let him cleanly defeat top wrestlers as champion too.
What do you think about AEW’s television deal extension with TNT?
TNT, or AT&T, low-balled AEW. Period, end of story.
So you’re telling me that the AT&T Corporation, on the heels of expensive acquisitions of DirectTV and AOL/Time Warner, is willing to overpay a wrestling company who needs them more than TNT needs them? AEW without the television deal would not survive and wise executives at AT&T know this. I’m sure that they received some increase but are we talking millions per show like the WWE has? Or even a fraction of that?
It’s good for AEW to get that extension, however… It’s stability that they now have for a few years as they continue to grow as a wrestling company. If the television deal isn’t paying them, then AEW must maximize revenues made from Live Events, Merchandise, and Pay Per View. As you can clearly see with the WWE and already see with AEW, those are streams that are drying up quickly as the general public becomes increasingly disinterested with pro wrestling.
Do you actually believe that Tony Khan and his wrestler EVPs could negotiate a high paying television deal with AT&T? Really?
Do you believe that Charlotte was the right choice to win the 2020 Royal Rumble?
If Charlotte winning results in a one-on-one match with Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania 36, then yes, it was worth it. If she wrestles anyone else, then no.
But again, who has momentum in the Women’s Division right now to deserve to win it? Don’t give me anyone from NXT. As I keep saying, SHOW ME that you can draw on Wednesday Nights first before getting pushed on Monday or Friday nights. Bayley is dull as a heel character and something is wrong with the relations between Sasha Banks and the WWE.l
WWE has a problem where they THINK that they have depth in the Women’s Division yet they just have an excess of warm bodies who don’t have transcendent drawing power. Anyone with potential drawing power has had it beaten out of them or we’ve seen the best match-ups already.
Should Roman Reigns and Shayna Baszler have won the Rumble matches?
In case you didn’t hear, both Roman and Baszler were reportedly scheduled to win their respective gender’s Rumble matches. Plans changed on or around the day of the event. WWE wants to have Roman vs. the Fiend and I believe Baszler would have possibly wrestled Becky? I don’t know…
I would have been OK with Roman because in my opinion, the Fiend has run its course. Re-watching the Fiend’s match with Daniel Bryan, it’s very apparent that a carry job was happening there… Bryan was bumping like a champ and that follows other main event letdowns that Bray Wyatt has recently had. Injuries and age have caught up to him though it obviously hasn’t caught up to Daniel Bryan.
For the women, I would have been 100% against Shayna Baszler winning the Rumble match. In case you haven’t noticed, NXT is only watched by up to 700,000 people on the USA Network during Wednesday nights. If you triple that audience, you get RAW’s viewership numbers. Shayna’s matches have been good but have they been exceptional? Nope… Is she a star that captivates a wide wrestling audience? Obviously from the looks of NXT’s viewership numbers and poor houseshow attendance figures, nope.
The fact is that NXT draws just 1/3 of the WWE’s existing older fanbase. The numbers on USA Network exposed that fact whereas AEW at least attracts the younger demographic.
What are your thoughts on Matt Riddle’s challenges to Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg?
It needs to stop, particularly with calling both out on Social Media. That’s ridiculous and makes him look bush league. Wrestlers need to be ABOVE using Social Media other than promoting their matches. When wrestlers talk openly with fans about how staged or scripted that wrestling is or speak like marks, as Riddle is with his challenges to Goldberg & Lesnar, it exposes the business. Pro wrestlers need to appear “larger than life” to the wrestling audience instead of appearing to be just like them.
And as I just explained about Shayna… Prove that you can draw in NXT first and then we’ll talk about bigtime matches with WWE wrestlers.
Jim Cornette explained it perfectly on his Drive Thru YouTube video this week… All Riddle had to do was ask each wrestler privately on their thoughts of having a match. What’s the worst thing that happen? Both guys could tell him “no”? Nope, instead, Matt Riddle challenged both openly on Social Media. Reportedly, Brock Lesnar came up to Matt at the Rumble and told him, to his face, that he’d NEVER wrestle him. Ouch.
I say this in great pain because I believe in Matt Riddle as a talent. He has specific intangibles as a wrestling talent that you can’t just teach such as personality, charisma, psychology, and the uniqueness of wrestling barefoot. As a huge Kevin Von Erich fan, I appreciate that last fact. But damn it, man, let the Social Media drama be for teenagers.
Focus on getting better as an NXT talent to the point where wrestlers like Lesnar and Goldberg start asking YOU for matches. Come on, bro!
THE LAST WORD
When I did my WWE Royal Rumble 2020 review, I really didn’t think much of Edge‘s return… During Sunday night, I was watching the Royal Rumble event on my iPhone without headphones while the big screen television with surround sound had the 2020 Grammy Awards on… Thus, when Edge appeared, I didn’t hear the full sound of the crowd and as I realize it, I believe I missed Edge getting tossed by Roman Reigns upon first glance as I was enjoying Billie Eilish getting multiple awards during the 11pm hour. I had many “WTF” questions by my longtime readers.
So, with headphones on, I rewatched the Royal Rumble match again…
Yeah, I was wrong… That was a HUGE and GIGANTIC pop by the Houston crowd and then on top of that, his performance in the ring was damn good. The booking of how he was used was spectacular, as the WWE protected Drew McIntyre from negative heat by having Roman Reigns eliminate Edge and then Drew eliminated Roman.
This somewhat validates the Statistical result that I obtained a few years ago when I measured WWE viewership data against World Title reigns using data from 2006 through 2016 from this October 3rd, 2016 Column. From my data testing, I found that Edge, not John Cena, was the biggest WWE draw on television when World Champion. My regression model suggests that when Edge was champion, he could potentially add 0.4 television ratings point as an increase and this result was statistically significant on a 95% confidence level. Contrast that to John Cena who could add 0.2 ratings points as World Champion. The rest of the champions either caused indifferent results or actual declines in viewership.
Edge was a legitimate draw and likely doesn’t get the credit that he deserves for his singles work.
Recently, NBA superstar and legend Kobe Bryant passed away at the tender age of 41 in a helicopter crash. Kobe’s death has been felt worldwide and his life has been celebrated everywhere as well. As many sportscasters have argued, the connection is there with sports fans because they have seen Kobe Bryant grow up from being a teenager who entered the NBA to seeing him retire. It was a nice 20 year NBA journey with its up and downs and redemption at the end with his latter 2 championships and retirement. Most fans were happy to see how Kobe was adjusting to his retirement, given how intense he was on the basketball court.
If you think about why Kobe was so popular and has a big impact on NBA fans… You’d have to think about why Edge is so popular with WWE fans.
Edge joined the WWE at age 23 and joined them as a midcarder to work his way up to the top of the WWE. Then, we watched him retire early due to his neck injury during 2011… For almost 14 years, we saw a 23 year old kid climb his way up to the top and become World Champion multiple times in the latter half of his career. Then, we saw him in his retirement years become a father with Beth Phoenix while making various WWE performances and trying his hand at acting. It’s the SAME exact roadmap as Kobe Bryant, though Bryant obviously is the bigger name because of his insane talent on the basketball court.
For me, Edge debuted in the WWE when I was still in High School… Ditto for Kobe Bryant joining the NBA. Thus, we grew up together and I was able to witness Edge and Kobe climb the ladders of success, become men, become dads, and then be recognized for their legendary abilities.
According to Forbes, WWE’s median age of their viewers was age 54 through 2016. Compare that to 28 during 2000. Thus, when Attitude Era wrestlers appear, they’ll be welcome by WWE’s older audience. In the case of Edge, that fan in their 20s as getting to WWE’s median age now. Thus, he’ll be over…
But what hurts the WWE, long-term, is how they are unable to attract younger fans like they used to. The Attitude Era attracted teenage fans and stole all of the college aged fans from WCW following their great 1996-1997 run. Following 2000, the WWE product no longer became a fad for teenagers to watch and the WWE has been reliant to remaining older & loyal fanbase. As the WWE keeps trying to debut new talent from their NXT developmental territory, the older fans don’t want any part of it… We’re too set in our ways as wrestling fans and long for the Attitude Era.
If you look at All Elite Wrestling (AEW), but are somehow attracting a younger fanbase although their overall viewership numbers are low. Somehow, if AEW could find a younger wrestler who could develop into the next major superstar, he’ll be the “next Edge” that AEW fans will show loyalty towards and cheer when they return in their 40s. Of course, AEW has to sign the right talent and develop them into that Edge-like talent.
What I liked about Edge is the constant redemption story that he endured… Through 2002, he finally gets the singles respect with his feud with Kurt Angle in which Angle put over Edge bigtime with the hair vs. hair match. But that wasn’t enough for the WWE at the time… Edge was go on to have a feud with A-Train (repackaged Albert) and was reportedly blamed for struggling to put the larger and slower wrestler over. Years of wrestling high risk tag matches took its toll and put Edge under the knife for neck surgery. Edge came back and he had to prove himself all over again…
However, Edge‘s personal life had its major twist… While Matt Hardy was out with an injury, Edge became closer with Lita… Once their relationship was exposed, Matt obviously became upset and went public. Edge was then thrust into playing up his real life drama on a wrestling screen. Granted, it gave him the “Rated R Superstar” gimmick which pushed him quickly into the Main Event, it had to be tough personally for him. Eventually, Edge was moved to Smackdown where he made the most of his time there though bad television contracts didn’t help the blue brand. Edge also had to overcome news publications like Sports Illustrated alleging that he purchased illegal performance enhancing drugs through an online pharmacy. The article, by the way, was published after the Chris Benoit death…
And then the neck injury returned and forced Edge to retire during 2011…
Now, he’s back for 2020!
Edge’s story is every bit like Kobe Bryant… The unique thing about pro wrestling, however, is that you can perform at a higher level in your 40s. Edge did NOT appear like he lost a step on Sunday night. Meanwhile, Kobe could not compete at a high level in the NBA any longer after the achilles tear. The beauty of pro wrestling is that as long as your back, neck, and head hold up, you can still work well in front of wrestling fans.
Edge is someone that has been mostly in our lives as wrestling fans.. We watched him grow up and become a great superstar, man, father, and legend… And now he’s freakin’ back to give us more great moments. We are very lucky.
So just chill… Until the next episode!
I recently appeared on the Tommy McDougall Podcast which you can listen to by CLICKING HERE.
Play my Super Mario Maker 2 courses on the Nintendo Switch:
Die Hard (themed after the Bruce Willis Film): 2YH-48W-HMG
Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time Wrong Warp: 2RX-QCV-N9G
Super Link Bros: HBD-H5C-QRF
Santa Bowser Came Early: GL8-F48-3XG
Super Wrestling Bros: 0H6-9HT-S5G
WWE Royal Rumble: SDH-JC2-HFG
WWE Elimination Chamber: P3B-5DJ-91G
WCW World War 3: BT4-W1Y-HRG
Extreme Championship Wrestling: 42J-4GT-W3G
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