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The EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING is back in your face exclusively here at WrestlingHeadlines.com, a LordsofPain.net company. As I stated last week, while the Sports Media struggles to find content to fill their news and talk shows, the wrestling business has news growing on trees. Seriously, folks… We have sports outlets reviewing a Michael Jordan documentary and treating it as the #1 sports topic. Those were events that happened over 20 years ago! But for Pro Wrestling, I can easily fill an “Ask Mr. Tito” column and have had zero problems filling this weekly column with content. I could write daily at this point!
Let’s face facts, though, about the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Learning how viruses can quickly spread is going to scare people permanently. Anywhere with large gatherings of people may be DOOMED moving forward. This includes anything School related, Movie Theaters (the boycott by AMC of Universal Films is a nail), Sporting Events, Concerts, Nightclubs, Black Friday Shopping, and of course, Pro Wrestling Events. You can think that by wearing gloves and a facemask, you’ll be protected. Nope… COVID-19 is microscopic and unless you restrict your mask by not letting microscoping air particles breathe into your mouth and nose (in other words, not breathing), you’ll be vunerable no matter what.
And the thing is that many of these industries were dying anyway… You’ve read me repeatedly pounding the table about WWE’s attendance issues. For most arenas for television tapings, they cannot fill half of capacity and often push fans to sitting into the television view part of the arena. Before Coronavirus even hit, WWE was cancelling Houseshows because they could not sell tickets! After a hot start, AEW was actually experiencing the same problems with attendance. Movie Theaters have been losing attendance for years and are quietly thankful for the Marvel Film Universe and other Disney properties carrying their water. NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB have been experiencing attendance declines as well. Big Colleges have been seeing more students opt for taking courses online, though their campuses remain full for the partying aspect about it. Now, with Social Distancing becoming a permanent reality, staying on big campuses might see some reduction.
But what I really want to pound the desk about is the PRIOR attendance declines BEFORE COVID-19 hit. Why can’t fans of WWE, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL hold those leagues ACCOUNTABLE for PRICE GOUGING on Ticket Prices? WWE has been repeatedly jacking up prices because they know that their extremely loyal YES-MAN fanbase to the McMahons crap sandwiches will pay over $100 per ticket whenever the WWE tours live for Television or Pay Per View events. Vince McMahon could care less if the lower priced tickets don’t sell as long as the lower bowls of the arenas sell and he knows that those fans will pay $35 per t-shirt at the merchandise table as well.
The NFL is the most successful sports league on the planet and there is zero debate about that… But look at what they do their live event fans. Anyone daring to buy Season Tickets are required to buy licenses for their seats. Seriously, “Personal Seat License” or PSL that is charged and costs thousands per seat in addition to the Season Ticket package prices. And the NFL wonders why their audience is starting to skew older and why younger generations aren’t that big of NFL fans… MLB has been jacking up prices on tickets, parking, and food prices for years after paying those ridiculous salaries. NBA actually gouges fans based on the opponents… It’s cheaper to watch the Memphis Grizzlies than it is to watch the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s not only gouging but price discrimination and should be illegal by our Monopoly laws on the books (Sherman Act or Clayton Act, one of the two). I could also get into the Price Gouging that major Colleges and Universities perform on their students or the ticket/snack prices imposed by Movie Theaters as well.
Yes, the COVID-19 could absolutely crush industries where large gatherings of people happen… BUT THEY WERE IN DECLINE ANYWAY.
Until those industries figure out how to solve the ROOT of that pre-2020 problem, they’ll never recover. The FACT is that those industries SCREWED fans for years with HIGHER PRICES and also didn’t revolutionize the live experience compared to what the viewer can get at home. I don’t even bother going to the Movie Theater any longer… I just wait for the Blu-Ray to arrive and I’m paying the same $$ up front yet I get repeat viewings for life. The television experience watching WWE, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL is better anyway and way cheaper. I don’t know why College students today don’t riot for how bad their institutions are gouging them… I guess they see it as a down payment for how much they are getting laid in dorms?
When everything seems to be safe, the FIRST thing that I would do if I were Vince McMahon would be to announce PRICE CUTS on Live Events and Merchandise. Simple as that… If that causes the WWE to break even, FINE… Take it like a man, as those TV Deals, as you’re witnessing right now, will carry you anyway. What the WWE needs is MORE FANS and they cannot gain more fans if their damn Event Prices are too high.
It’s the same argument that I made with Pay Per Views and I wrote a column where I statistically proved that HIGHER PRICES was the main cause of lower and lower buyrates experienced by the WWE. Yes, Piracy was a major problem… But those higher prices caused many fans to jump at the opportunity to steal a Pay Per View. WWE wanted $44.95 for non-big event shows and ran Pay Per Views monthly. Their solution? Create the WWE Network for $9.99 and fans have LOVED THAT. 2 Million fans jumped at that chance and it’s also allowing many Foreign fans an opportunity to conveniently watch WWE Pay Per Views for the first time. And what has Vince McMahon been doing lately? Shopping around his big WWE Pay Per Views (Wrestlemania, SummerSlam, Rumble) to Pay Per View outlets or other streaming services for top $$$. Once again, he’s about to screw the fans with higher prices.
Hello… Law of Demand, anyone? Increase Prices should result in Decreased Quantity Demanded. Decrease Prices should result in Increased Quantity Demanded. This Law only changes if the Tastes/Preferences to watch Pro Wrestling change or if something like our Incomes increase to where we want to watch and attend more wrestling events. Well, scratch the Tastes/Preferences thing… Viewership of pro wrestling has not only declined since the year 2000 but rapidly declined since early 2015. Incomes? Well, have you seen the news lately? 30 Million people have applied for Unemployment Benefits in the last 5-6 weeks alone.
For industries reliant on large gatherings… You better think about the PRICES that you are charging your Consumers if you want your fans or customers back. And then think long-term about why you shouldn’t be screwing fans with price gouging for live events, on college tuition, and movie tickets or snacks.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just a guy who has been around for 4 decades now, has a graduate degree in a relevant field to speak about the topics above, a wrestling fan for 3 decades, and has been covering Pro Wrestling for LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com for over 2 decades. I guess my problem is that I say “I told you so” too much.
Onto your questions…
ASK MR. TITO – Your Questions, My Answers
Do you believe that the WWE is really for sale?
In the immortal words of the Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase… “Everybody’s got a price”. Let’s make something very clear: EVERYTHING is “FOR SALE” in this World. Just name the price that any owner of an asset wants and the sale will happen. If someone offered me $5,000 to takeover my spot as Mr. Tito, I’d consider it… Why not? I do this voluntarily anyway and I’m confident that I could return elsewhere with a new name. Sure, the Tito brand took years to build up, but I’m confident in my abilities to be successful elsewhere. The tycoons who invented great brands and invention are confident too. When they sell out, they just move on to the next project. FOX just sold their entire Movie/TV outlet to Disney and didn’t blink an eye… Disney offered over $70 Billion and FOX couldn’t get rid of it fast enough!
So if a company were to offer Vince McMahon $1 Billion right now to sell his WWE Shares of Stock, he’d do it in a heartbeat and also facilitate the WWE Board to sell as well. The real question would be if the WWE is actively shopping but we don’t know… As far as I know, it seems to me that both ESPN and FOX are thirsty to increase their content offerings on their multiple Sports Channels and their streaming services. Both have held WWE Events from the past lately and they had decent numbers. I would imagine that both companies are realizing that owning ALL of the WWE’s Video Library, which spans decades and has multiple promotions, is worth owning the WWE outright instead of paying monthy content fees that can add up. I believe that this is the genesis of the rumors. That said, I don’t see ESPN buying it because they are bleeding cash right now without the NBA and the Disney Corporation itself is reportedly losing $30 Million PER DAY with the parks closed, ESPN’s problems, movie theaters closed, and consumers economically strained.
If Vince McMahon is really pushing for the sale of his company, then re-starting the XFL was the final nail in his promotional coffin. What a stupid move. Vince cashed in millions of his WWE stock when it was at its peak price to invest into the XFL along with borrowing money (reported at $300 million?!?) to start up this operation. 2020 revenues became shot thanks to this virus and now, he’s screwed legally for the many contracts that he breached by terminating all XFL employees. Oliver Luck had a GUARANTEED contract of $20 Million that Vince McMahon owes him and that court battle will cost Vince if he tries. Meanwhile, Vince made the choice as CEO & President of the WWE Corporation to also invest into the XFL. Fatal mistake… Vince is not only personally ruined financially by the XFL, but his earnings as the #1 shareholder of the WWE stock is also taking a hit. WWE Stock closed at $43.92 on Friday and its high for the past year was $87.81.
But I believe two things have happened recently:
(1) XFL 2.0’s failure along with recent struggles drawing with the WWE product.
(2) Being invited on Donald Trump’s special task force to re-open the economy.
I believe that Vince is frustrated with his current WWE product and how he feels that he is no longer in control. Vince cannot control talent like he used to and he really can’t control fans. He’s also frustrated with what Creative and his Talent Developmental system has been bringing him. Vince is a man who obsesses over his work and is controlling of every aspect of his business. Yet, he can’t stop his wrestlers from badmouthing his company on Social Media and yet he can’t improve Creative/Talent Development to his liking.
However, I also think that by being invited to President Donald Trump‘s special task force on re-opening the economy, which included other sports league owners or commissioners, that it may have opened Vince’s eyes to something… For the last 4 decades, Vince has 100% dedicated himself to the WWE’s business and other side ventures of that company. The only time that he dabbled with public service was for Linda McMahon‘s 2 Senate runs YET it was his WWE business that actually hurt her chances at being elected (also gave her a chance at a tune of $100 Million).
I just wonder if Vince McMahon believes that he stayed in the wrestling business for too long and has regrets on not using his talents as a businessman elsewhere or getting deeper into politics. I wouldn’t doubt that if Donald Trump gets re-elected during November 2020 or whenever they hold the Election, Vince McMahon might take a more active role in Trump’s administration. In my opinion, he should have began to transition power to Shane, Stephanie, and/or Triple H by the year 2010 to enjoy the rest of his life… But, he stayed around and burned 10 years of his life in the wrestling business when he could have done something beyond wrestling.
I still don’t see anyone buying the WWE… Too risky of a business to get into… I believe that my repeated predictions of Vince stepping back to let Stephanie McMahon become CEO will come true instead. But hey, I laughed when FOX offered the WWE $1 Billion for the next 5 years to air on Smackdown. FOX has so much money from that sale of their Movie/TV division to Disney that they need something to buy.
My buddy on Twitter, George Garden, made a GREAT point about the recent WWE talent and personnel releases + scaling back the WWE developmental systems… WWE could be cutting back costs to make the WWE Corporation more attractive to buy. If they let Brock Lesnar go, too… WWE could be making themselves lean before a buyer swoops in. Part of the problem during 2001 for WCW was that their contracts and debt scared away all buyers (along with AOL/Time Warner cancelling Nitro and Thunder)… WWE only bought the promotion and its library when AOL/Time Warner agreed to assume WCW’s debt and contracts. WWE has learned from that lesson… Why do you think that in the recent earnings call, Vince was boasting that they company didn’t have any major debt obligations? Yup…
As long as there is a buyer with the right price, Vince will convince his Board to sell and Vince will use his votes as the #1 Shareholder as well to sell. In case you haven’t noticed lately, Stephanie McMahon is pretty active outside of the WWE and just joined the Ad Council’s Board of Directors.
I could see an arrangement like Disney had with George Lucas’s production company where Disney outright purchased the Star Wars franchise but had to retain the management company. Now, whether or not Triple H/Stephanie/Shane become the Kathleen Kennedys of this new WWE operation within Disney or FOX, that remains to be seen… Operating a wrestling business is HARD WORK and I could easily see FOX/Disney wanting a workaholic who learned from Vince McMahon, that being Triple H, to remain with the company to resume operations.
Should I buy or sell WWE Stock if the company is for sale?
Let me be very honest here… I’m terrible at evaluating the WWE Stock. I tried it for years… During the early 2010s, the WWE stock was always below $20 and it was a game of trying to guess the price range between $5 and $20. Just ridiculous. Then, during 2014, the WWE Network goosed the price up to above $30 or so… But then the disappointment of the 2014 Television Deals caused it to drop… Then, during 2018, the hype of the new Comcast/FOX television deals jacked the price up to new heights (above $90 at one point) only to come crashing down once investors actually read the WWE’s financials and realized that Attendance and Merchandise were dropping at an alarming rate. Oh, and Vince recreating the XFL.
Problem with WWE Stock is that it has too much shock value… All it takes is a minor newsbyte to cause a rapid swing in its price. Those who owned stock during 2007 when the Chris Benoit killings happened could tell you that.
The plus side of the WWE Stock is that the company has between $300-$400 Million of guaranteed revenues coming in from Television deals from the United States and Foreign countries and those are locked in for next 3-4 years. This is why the WWE is ensuring that RAW and Smackdown shows still happen each week. WWE can remain quite profitable if they can continue to scale down expenses (sorry wrestlers) while still hosting these Television shows and Pay Per Views. The problem, however, is the WWE’s complete dependency on these television deals. WWE’s Comcast/FOX deals expire during 2023… What if both companies choose to walk away? WWE would have to hope that another buyer is out there and can give them increased terms.
Problem with the WWE is that their Television Deals are their only growing sources of revenues… And that money is coming only because Television Channels are desperate for Sporting Content that streaming services cannot replicate. Cable/Satellite providers have lost over 10 million subscribers in the past 5 years alone and seem quite content with WWE still having 2 million viewers per show. Netflix has obliterated USA Networks’s once profitable re-run market, for example, and thus they need Monday Night RAW to sell something to advertisers and to sell other USA Networks content.
Until the WWE can prove that they can rejuvenate Live Event & Merchandise revenues and find ways to boost revenues from their WWE Network offerings (I believe that the tiers and hosting other promotions would sell), I’d be cautious of the WWE’s stock unless it gets really cheap (like under $20 again). With Vince McMahon and the WWE being strong owners of the shares, it’s hard to also see how much of a Stock Split ratio that could be given to existing WWE Shareholders. In other words, an investor just has to make an offer to Vince and the WWE alone with a specific price and the slim minority of other WWE shareholders might be left out in the cold.
Personally, I would avoid the WWE stock because it’s too volatile… I’m looking at things that people are still using in a crisis (see COVID-19 recently) and new products that people are jumping towards. Who knew how valuable ZOOM would be for video conferencing before COVID-19 sent everybody home?
I also don’t see the next “Stone Cold”, “Rock”, or “John Cena” on the horizon or even the next “Brock Lesnar” or “Batista”… That remains the #1 issue and I believe is the primary frustration that Vince McMahon has with the WWE. Nothing from Developmental is presenting talent who are ready to draw from Day 1, nor is there anyone allowed on the Creative Team to mold wrestlers into successful talents. Paul Heyman could possibly do it, as he has a long track record of making top drawing stars both in ECW and during his Smackdown tenure… But Heyman does not have full control and is constantly overruled by Vince McMahon. I’d have more confidence if I saw that kind of star on the horizon… I just don’t see it with Drew, Seth, Roman, or Braun and the Velveteen Dream is having major issues online right now.
For the WWE Stock, do what you want to… Your guess is as good as mine on where the stock price could go and I seriously tried to study it for years. It is completely unlike any other stock that I tried to evaluate and that frustrates me.
What do you think that Kevin Dunn’s sale of his WWE shares means?
Means nothing, honestly… Executives for publicly traded corporations are selling shares of stock often, as they have financial needs too. Being an EVP of a company rewards shares of stock as compensation and those EVPs can do whatever they want with that stock AS LONG AS the information is disclosed to the public.
Many are thinking about the TIMING of Dunn’s sale, as if maybe the WWE “for sale” dam is about to break… Nope… And so what? WWE has the right to sell as a company at any time and for most of the time, a sale has benefits to shareholders. WWE disclosed Dunn’s sale in accordance to the Security Exchange Commission’s rules and they are good. For all we know, Dunn might be selling because his financial advisor recommended that the 2nd Quarter Economic numbers (GDP, Unemployment, etc) might be brutal and it might tank the overall stock market in a few months. Thus, selling when the stock is between $40 to $50 price is good timing if the stock tanks below $30 per share.
Again, we don’t know Kevin Dunn’s position financially… He might have a few side projects to pay off, college tuition for his kids, home loans to pay off, etc… If you’ll recall, Vince McMahon cashed in millions of his shares… Why? To begin funding the XFL. As long as the WWE Corporation discloses any Sale or Buying of the WWE Stock to the public timely, the WWE Corporation is compliant with the rules of providing information to the public. Sure, it can cause wonder and that could have an effect on the WWE’s price. It’s very likely that Dunn met with WWE Executives to advise on his wishes to sell 33,000 shares to earn around $1.5 million. What many aren’t mentioning, however, is that Dunn still owns 125,000 shares of stock. It’s just likely that he needed $1.5 million for something right now. If the “WWE Sky was Falling”, he’d sell all of his stock and leave the company.
What are your thoughts on the recent WWE releases? Curtis Axel, Cain Velasquez, and Gerald Brisco?
Didn’t someone predict how Cain Velasquez would fail? If I only knew that guy… Oh, that’s me! When he arrived on that first WWE Smackdown on FOX, I was like “who?”. If it weren’t for Michael Cole having an orgasm and screaming about who Cain was, I wouldn’t have known who this was… I still didn’t care because I don’t like UFC and Brock Lesnar being in UFC caused me to still avoid their shows. Nobody cared about his match with Lesnar in Saudi Arabia and as it turns out, the WWE just wanted to give Lesnar his UFC loss back.
Brock Lesnar is the exception to the MMA rule because he was a fully trained WWE wrestler AND an athletic freak. Ronda Rousey was good at first but clearly flamed out because she was emotionally not ready to play a role in the business. Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn were just OK for the business. Others with MMA experience have been just OK too… Being a Pro Wrestler takes complete dedication to earn YEARS of experience and then you have to understand the intangibles like cutting promos, psychology, charisma, personality, and doing whatever it takes to protect the business from being advertised as scripted. Ronda Rousey lacks so much of my latter points and that is why she is so bitter now after fans started booing her.
Curtis Axel just didn’t have intangibles (charisma, personality, psychology, promo cutting ability, etc) mentioned above. It’s sad to say because his father, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, is an all-time great who had those. Hennig came from the territory era that could teach and amplify those intangibles. Axel comes from a developmental system who just trains people the in-ring basics and then hands workers scrips on what to say and how to act. Big difference… The WWE Culture failed Joe Hennig… Just remember, Curt Hennig wrestled for 6 years before his big WWE return in 1988 as “Mr. Perfect”. Joe wrestled 1 year with an independent promotion before joining the controlled WWE developmental system.
The name is terrible… Just does nothing for a marketing point of view. Should have been called Joe Hennig from the start. Randy Orton is using his dad’s name… Charlotte Flair… In my opinion, what has hurt Bray Wyatt from being effective is by never acknowledging his legitimate bloodlines with the Rotunda and Windham families. Creative matters, man…
As for Gerald Brisco’s release… It’s sad but he has earned 36 years of WWE paychecks and was well paid by the WWE Corporation as a top official. At age 73, he should just chill and look back at what he helped to create. Brisco was a great backstage official that everyone relied on and was an amazing talent scout who helped discover big names. He’ll be OK… If Brisco still has some juice left in him, then another smaller promotion could seek his advice or help.
Who should become the first TNT Champion for AEW?
I’d have Cody Rhodes win the TNT Title. I know that many are calling for Lance Archer to win it, but he’s still a new property… I could envision that TNT television executives would like for Cody to be shopped around at appearances with the TNT Championship around his waist. Cody could hold that championship for a while, build it up, and then drop it to a heel who is ready to become champion.
If I were booking Lance Archer versus Cody Rhodes, I’d log into the WWE Network and watch that Survivor Series 1995 match between Bret Hart and Diesel. The way that Kevin Nash acts as he loses the title is 100% how I’d have Lance Archer react to his loss. Losing that title and acting the way that Nash did actually improved his character for the rest of 1995 and then throughout 1996. I believe that this character attitude change helped cause WCW to be really interested in the guy and how well Nash translated to becoming a serious threat to WCW. Just watch Nash react to getting rolled up in a schoolboy pin by clicking here to watch the WWE’s official YouTube clip. Lance Archer should lose in a close finish and then attack Cody afterward.
Archer is just too new of a commodity. If we have learned anything about the WWE is that Title Belts DO NOT make wrestlers get “over”.
What “Dark Side of the Ring” topic would you like to see Vice cover?
There’s only 1 that I believe that they haven’t covered and it should top their list… Vince McMahon’s steroid distribution trial from 1994 and the events & accusations leading up to that. That would be the topic that I’d go after, as there were many facts presented in that case that overshadowed by poor and inconsistent testimony by ex-WWE wrestlers that helped cause Vince to be found “not guilty”. Things, for example, that came up during Linda McMahon’s Senate runs for her involvement, for example.
Other than that, I believe that Vice has covered many of the main topics so far with the inclusion of the 2nd season. Von Erichs, Owen Hart, New Jack, Fabulous Moolah,Chris Benoit, Jimmy Snuka, Bruiser Brody, Dr. D, Montreal, etc…
Maybe other ideas like the Plane Ride from Hell from 2002 could be interesting? When many WWE wrestlers decided to party hard on they way home from a European tour… I believe that Sable or Sunny’s stories would be interesting, maybe Missy Hyatt? Maybe Extreme Championship Wrestling as a whole? Maybe WCW’s downfall?
I believe the folks at Vice are doing a great job on the topic choices so far and I applaud them for their efforts. Sure, they’ve stretched a few things and excluded a few relevant people from certain topics, but they’ve checked most of the boxes and the shows have been very entertaining.
Phew! I’m winded… And yet, I have one more last rant to go…
I always receive complaints that my columns are “too long”… Meh, writing these columns are FUN for me and it’s like an open canvas. Sometimes, I just want to keep painting on it forever and ever. Nobody can ever accuse me of half-arsing columns, ever. Besides, my longtime readers are perfectly fine with the longer content that I provide and that’s OK with me.
THE LAST WORD
So I’m enjoying ESPN’s The Last Dance documentary about the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls, which has heavy involvement of Michael Jordan, and it helped me realize something about the NBA… 1998 was the peak of that league.
Now, you’ll probably send me financials of how the league makes so much in Television revenue and is a Worldwide league now. Does that sound familiar?
You know, like the same things that can be said about the WWE?
Both the NBA and WWE had WAY MORE television viewers and fans packing the arenas per show or game during 1998 than both promotions have had for the last 2 decades. FACT. If you look at television data, alone, viewership was off the charts for the NBA Finals with Michael Jordan on top and WWE RAW viewership was off the charts with Stone Cold Steve Austin feuding with Vince McMahon. Meanwhile, WCW’s business kept growing through 1998 with the NWO and Bill Goldberg (though it was about to fall, but it makes my point). Even ECW’s relevance was peaking through 1998 and they were about to endure some hardships during 1999-2000 that led to their company closing during 2001.
The NBA has NEVER been able to replace Michael Jordan in terms of being the GREATEST OF ALL TIME by dominating both sides of the ball and going Undefeated in the NBA Finals… Kobe Bryant is a close 2nd but he lost a few NBA Finals and Lebron James has lost multiple NBA Finals while also disappearing for certain games. In terms of significance towards pop culture, however, neither guy even comes close to Jordan. Lebron James wears #23 and even suggested that the entire league should retire that number. Kobe acted and talked like Michael and often sought MJ’s advice on things. Meanwhile, nobody has ever captured the magic of Stone Cold Steve Austin in the WWE… Rock did OK in Austin’s absence as the #1 babyface and John Cena stabilized the company during 2005, but they weren’t Austin.
It starts to make you wonder WHY… Did we peak as a society during the late 1990s?
Just take a look at everything…
Last time the United States balanced its budget was the 2001 Fiscal Year but the surpluses began during 1998. Since 1998, we’ve had nothing but a LACK of cooperation between the Republican and Democratic parties in Congress and with the Presidents.
I’d argue that Music has done nothing but deteriorated since the late 1990s… Many of the Rap greats either lost their edge or were tragically killed. Grunge Era only has Pearl Jam as a remaining bad with their lead singer. Rap Rock and Boy Bands began to rule the scene and everything became cleaned up during the 2000s.
We could debate on movies… I love the Marvel films but when was the last time that we saw a transcendent movie like the Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, the first Matrix, and whatnot that that receives praise forever and has inspired others to join the film business?
Society has changed significantly since the Chicago Bulls won their last NBA Championship and when Austin vs. McMahon began during 1998.
Just take Michael Jordan, for example… He started in the NBA where the league was barely paying its players and Shoe Companies were hardly the billion dollar industries that they are today. Meanwhile, he had multiple Dynasties to defeat on his way to earning his 1st NBA Title. Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons were loaded with Hall of Fame talent and they were physical at a time where NBA rules were much more relaxed than they are now. If you drove the lane during the 1980s or 1990s, expect a clothesline to come your way. Players could also push off and control your directions with their hands (known as hand checks). Now, you can’t touch any NBA players without a foul getting called. Thus, when a talent like Lebron James joins the league, he doesn’t have a “Bad Boys” Pistons team doing physical harm to him and keeping him out of the NBA Finals repeatedly as they did Jordan. Furthermore, when Lebron joined the NBA during 2003, he already had a Nike shoe contract worth millions lined up. Jordan had to make that brand lucrative to offer Lebron that shoe contract.
Then, look at Steve Austin. He worked his way up to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) but was mostly used as a midcarder. Then, when he started receiving something of a push during 1994, Hulk Hogan was brought in and changed WCW’s direction. Austin was terminated by WCW during early 1995 and Austin worked briefly through ECW as some of his injuries healed and until WWE would give him an opportunity. When the WWE hired him, he was called the “Ringmaster” and had Ted Dibiase speaking for him. It wasn’t until that gimmick failed that WWE management allowed Austin to have some creative freedom to come up with the “Stone Cold” gimmick. Then, the “Austin 3:16” gimmick happened.
Let’s look at Roman Reigns by contrast… He joins the WWE with ZERO wrestling experience and is trained by WWE’s developmental… Rushed to the main roster early during late 2012 and is challenging for World Titles by mid 2014. You don’t see the problem yet?
The culture has changed in both the WWE and NBA… Both have lots of corporate and sponsorship money coming their way and the wrestlers/players are earning more guaranteed money than ever before. Meanwhile, players are traveling by Private Jet or have their own Bus… If you watched the “Last Dance” documentary, the Bulls were still flying on commercial jets together. Before 1998, pro wrestlers also flew on commercial and had to pay for most of their freakin’ tickets. Meanwhile, on shorter trips, wrestlers had to pile into cars and live in hotel rooms together. They didn’t get their own hotel rooms like many wrestlers do now to play their video games through the night.
The generations through the 1990s were thicker skinned, hungrier, and did things IN SPITE of the money… Listen, if you were working for Vince McMahon during the 1990s, you barely had days off. 300 nights a year back then in addition to many personal appearances. But those wrestlers were hungry to succeed and learned from each other when being piled into a rental car to drive 400 miles to some remote location. Today’s wrestlers are isolated from each other, as they have their own private buses driving them from event to event and they remain in their private hotel rooms to play video games all night. What’s missing is the closeness of the WWE lockerroom and also learning about how to work in the ring on those long road trips with many piled into a car. The motivation to be the top guy isn’t as there as it once was because everybody’s money is guaranteed now.
With everything being corporate now, players and wrestlers can’t do this, they can’t say that, they can’t wear this, they can’t act like that… Everything is controlled to protect the image of the leagues or promotions.
And with that, it just imposes a Politically Correct society that is making everybody miserable.
Everything is offensive right now to today’s younger generations. Jim Cornette can’t make hunger jokes about Ethiopia. Jerry Lawler can’t make food product jokes about someone’s moonsault. Daniel Bryan cannot choke an announcer with their tie during the Nexus invasion angle during 2010. Nobody is allowed to mock someone’s looks or hint at sexuality.
And that is just Pro Wrestling… We’re getting to the point where the American Flag is actually deemed offensive in some areas. Anything that remotely offends someone is getting scrubbed from society. Sure, I’ll agree with the outright racial or bigoted terms, but anything that alludes to the past is getting wiped out from history books, statues are getting torn down, and people are losing their jobs based on what they said during the past (as if they can’t evolve) or something remotely offensive based on today’s standards.
I was seriously worried about posting last week’s column, as I wondered that my Nia Jax “Last Word” rant would be taken the wrong way. In case you missed it, I discussed the lengthy injuries or close to injuries caused by Nia’s carelessness inside the ring with her fellow wrestlers. Because I was speaking on a female wrestler, I was wondering if I would be attacked next by the Twitter Mob. That is despite my columns actually being PRO-Women’s Wrestling and me speaking positively about Nia when she was with NXT. But in today’s society, everything is offensive… I had to be extra careful on how I worded my argument… But should I be?
Society has changed since 1998 in that the work ethics are disappearing with more guaranteed opportunities and everything is about protecting the corporations’ images. Every basketball player or potential wrestler who joins the NBA or WWE now has a sense of entitlement… They didn’t have that during the 1980s and 1990s when every single dollar was earned and when the management had much more power over players or wrestlers.
Michael Jordan is the GREATEST OF ALL TIME because prior greats said so (Magic & Bird) and because he worked hard to become champion because winning is what made Jordan financially set… If he wasn’t considered the best player, NIKE wouldn’t have put their entire business on his back… Ditto for Gatorade for that matter. Jordan was hungry to keep winning because he didn’t have financial guarantees and he didn’t have to worry about pleasing a corporate image until later. He could just take out his anger on the NBA court to make him great. Lebron joins the league and is already anointed “the King” and is earning millions of guaranteed money from day one. Steve Austin had to earn his WWE spot. Roman Reigns did not… Roman was signed based upon his look and relations.
It’s like anyone daring to compare today’s wrestling era with the Monday Night Wars/Attitude Era. Sit down, kids, it’s not even a debate. Steve Austin, NWO, DX, Mick Foley, the Undertaker, and the Rock are 1,000,000 times better than anything in today’s wrestling. Pure numbers of fans watching or sitting their butts in seats proves that.
Sad part is that Vince McMahon keeps repeatedly forgetting what made the late 1990s WWE great despite having the WWE Network to watch it all over again.
If Vince truly is selling the WWE, he wouldn’t be selling a “growing” product.
So just chill… Until the next episode!
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Play my Super Mario Maker 2 courses on the Nintendo Switch:
Die Hard (themed after the Bruce Willis Film): 2YH-48W-HMG
Die Hard 2 – Die Harder: QQ1-MHW-YTF
Die Hard with a Vengeance: 5MB-2YG-VRG
Hoarding the Toilet Paper: 43G-S79-TVG
Star Trek 2 – The Wrath of Khan: 1LV-L7L-KDF
Inside Her: FC1-TW9-7YG
Star Wars vs. Star Trek: N3X-R6M-Y9G
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
BEST OF TITO’s POLITICAL CARTOONS
– Alfred E. Vince McMahon on Wrestlemania 36
– WWE’s “Developmental System”
– How Triple H views CM Punk’s physique
– How Pro Wrestling Controversies keep pulling me out of the Retirement Home
– Seth Rollins cannot resist the Internet!
– Truth About WWE’s “Executive Directors”
– More Truth About WWE’s “Executive Directors”
– Jim Cornette as Godzilla against Indy Mudshow Wrestlers
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