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Welcome back to Mr. Tito‘s Excellence in Column Writing exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. After the feeling of DOOM & GLOOM that I felt after last week’s announcement of the returning XFL following what I felt was a poor RAW 25 effort… And that followed what I considered a bad 2017 year for the WWE over all…
The Royal Rumble 2018 Pay Per View, particularly the booking of it, was a pleasant surprise… Regardless of how you feel about these specific wreslters, but it’s quite historical for the WWE to have a show that heavily features not ONE but TWO Japanese wrestlers in big spots. Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka won their gender based Rumble matches to become the #1 contender for a World Title spot at Wresltemania 34. Considering that during this time LAST YEAR, both Nakamura and Asuka were STILL in the NXT developmental system, having both win the Rumble in less than a year on the main roster is quite remarkable!
But the pressure is on.
Historically speaking, Vince McMahon doesn’t feature Japanese wrestlers. Don’t give me Yokozuna, as that guy posed as a Japanese wrestler but he was Samoan. Mr. Fuji and Tajiri are really the more prominent talents that the WWE or Vince McMahon Jr. has featured… Members of Kaientai? Ehhhh… They tried to castrate Val Venis for Christ’s sake!
Vince has been financially successful for most of his 4 decade span of ownership in the WWE. With his wealth and/or WWE Corporation’s finances, he could have purchased ANY of the top talents from ANY of the Japanese promotions. Yet, Vince has avoided signing any of their talents until recently. It wasn’t until Triple H, EVP of Talent Relations since late 2012, began to consider Japanese talents as legitimate free agents to acquire or American wrestlers who worked for Japanese promotions (Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Anderson, Gallows). Before Triple H’s recent signings, Vince McMahon could have signed ANY of their talents and made even easier since late 1999 when WWE became publicly traded. But he hasn’t… Had someone like Tajiri not been featured in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), who knows if WWE would give that guy a chance.
For Vince McMahon to agree to let Shinsuke Nakamura win the 2018 Royal Rumble and earn a World Title shot after Nakamura has spent less than 1 year on the main WWE roster is amazing and different for Vince. Nakamura won the same Rumble match that features Roman Reigns who is reportedly Vince’s “chosen one” to slay Brock Lesnar? Holy cow… Then, for the FIRST EVER Women’s Royal Rumble match, he lets a Japanese wrestler win the Rumble after spending less than 1 year on the main WWE roster. WWE has spent a few years of capital backing the likes of Carmella, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax, Becky Lynch, and others yet Asuka wins the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match. MAJOR veterans were in that female Rumble like Trish Stratus, Lita, Beth Phoenix, Michelle McCool, and other big names from the past.
Insane… Either Vince McMahon is evolving and/or listening to fans… OR Triple H influence backstage is growing.
Now it is up to Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka to not only execute great matches at Wrestlemania 34, but to deliver convincing performances where fans are willing to spend more TIME & MONEY to see them. That’s the key, folks… There have been many good in-ring wrestlers to hold the WWE’s World Titles… BUT, what else do they have to offer besides consistently good in-ring performances? Do they have personalities that relate to fans or captivate fans to want to see more? In particular with Nakamura and Asuka, can they work a style that holds up at about 200 live events per year? Not just for their own health or consistency, but for other wrestler’s as well. WWE doesn’t want a stiffer style of wrestling because they want workers to perform at those 200 live events AND make appearances on behalf of the WWE (autograph signings, etc.).
And here’s where I piss off the readers…
IN MY OPINION… Now, I say this having watched 100% of their careers in NXT for both Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka. I have also seen a handful of Nakamura’s best New Japan matches as recommended to me by my readers.
It is my opinion that Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka‘s performances on the main WWE roster have been WEAKER than their performances of the past. In my opinion on Nakamura in particular, his best match was against Sami Zayn at his first NXT event and hasn’t came anywhere near that match since. I liked his matches against Joe and Roode but I really haven’t liked any of his WWE main roster matches. It just almost seems that since he’s not allowed to deliver stiffer shots to his opponents, he’s not as creative with executing other moves. With Asuka, it is my opinion that he debut was terribly flawed over the Emma matches. For weeks, the WWE hyped Asuka as a dominant force coming in and yet Emma gets the best of her for much of the match. Following that, the WWE was real careful on who Asuka would wrestle and who she could defeat. In NXT, she was allowed to compete and beat the top names in that promotion (Bayley, Nia Jax, Emma, Ember Moon).
I just haven’t seen Nakamura‘s best, yet, in the WWE… I have not been impressed with Asuka on the bigger stage… Yet.
But at Wrestlemania 34, both can deliver performances that can prove worthy of their top spots.
However, I think that Nakamura and Asuka have bigger shadows casting over them at Wresltemania…
Roman Reigns is set to defeat Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 34. Just because Roman didn’t win the Rumble doesn’t mean that he’ll avoid receiving the #1 contendership for the Title. Nakamura chose to wrestle AJ Styles for Smackdown’s WWE TItle… Therefore, Brock Lesnar as WWE Universal Champion is available. Furthermore, Lesnar’s 3 year contract is set to expire after Wrestlemania 34 happens. It COULD be Lesnar’s last match in the WWE for the time being. As excited that we could be about Shinsuka Nakamura vs. AJ Styles, the hype on if Roman Reigns can defeat an exiting Brock Lesnar might be too much.
For Asuka, she may have to share the Wrestlemania 34 stage with Ronda Rousey. I joked the other day that where the WWE Corporation spent their Corporate Tax Cut was all on Ronda’s WWE salary and paying music royalty rights for her theme. Joan Jett is gonna get paid for her “Bad Reputation” song! Rousey is a major signing as she was a dominant UFC women’s champion for a while and was widely known in the mainstream media. Whatever Rousey does at Wrestlemania 34, which will likely be her first match, will be a bigger deal than anything Asuka does. Rousey was once a big star in MMA and is still a big household name. No way that she came cheap and one thing that Vince McMahon does is push individuals that he’s paying excessive amounts of money. He needs to justify the cost!
Which, again, puts higher pressure on Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka to put on a great match at Wrestlemania 34… Going to be hard on that 5 hour show…
However, one cannot deny the amazing position that the WWE has placed both Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka to succeed. I’m in SHOCK to see what Vince McMahon has allowed. Even if you ignore where Nakamura and Asuka came from, the fact is that WWE is pushing 2 brand new individuals on the main WWE roster to #1 contender spots… That is different and in my opinion, a breath of fresh air.
I’m going to refrain on commenting on Ronda Rousey and her Royal Rumble debut… I want to see how she performs in the ring and then comment. Certainly, she’s a big mainstream star but as I speculated in my Pros & Cons of Ronda Rousey in the WWE column from January 17th, she could be “damaged goods” after the 2 UFC losses. Being honest here, if given the choice between seeing Ronda Rousey in the WWE or having Trish Stratus back in the WWE as a full-time wrestler… I’ll take Trish. Stratus felt like she fit in great with the rest of the ladies and was “ahead of her time” back in the day. Now, the WWE women’s roster is loaded with athletic talent to match Trish.
But I want to see Rousey wrestle… I hope that my initial worries about her are wrong… But pro wrestling isn’t as easy to learn as one would think.
That, and I really like the grouping of Women’s Wrestlers currently in the WWE… I would kind of hate to see Rousey take up all of the attention for herself.
That, and you just KNOW that Stephanie McMahon will attach herself to everything Rousey… God help us.
Like I said about Braun Strowman… If he can lift production stages, in addition to ambulances and semi-trucks… He should be able to TOSS any wrestler across the arena for like 100 yards. Furthermore, the force of any move hit by Strowman would kill any wrestler IF HE WAS THAT STRONG.
Just more stupidity by the WWE.
This is what happens when you have a PG era. Instead of doing something real like busting a wrestler open or violently attacking someone, you have to perform stupid stunts in order to “impress” fans.
THE LAST WORD
First of all, it is 2018 and we’re heading into my 20th year as Mr. Tito. I’m to the point where I’m really stubborn and don’t want to change my ways… When I see recent trends of pushing for “political correctness”, I just want to vomit. Now, am I vulgar with my columns? No… I never curse in my columns (LoP policy now), I avoid gross out humor, and I try to be respectful to the profession of wrestling as I can.
But for me to get hammered on a SIMPLE opinion on MATCH PLACEMENT on the Royal Rumble 2018 was ridiculous.
If you read my Royal Rumble 2018 Review, I was legitimately questioning the placement of the Men’s Royal Rumble as opposed to the Women’s Royal Rumble. The Men’s Rumble was THIRD on the event whereas the Women’s Rumble was the MAIN EVENT of the Pay Per View. I suggested that the novelty of the first ever Women’s Rumble was nice but the Men’s Royal Rumble is what MADE the Pay Per View and helped draw for that event since 1988. The fact that the Men’s Rumble was freakin’ THIRD on the show was insulting, in my opinion.
That’s NOT to slight the Women’s Rumble Match. I thought that it was a great moment in WWE history, particularly for the amazing collection of female talent. It was a legitimate who’s who of Women’s wrestling for the WWE for the past 2 years. Based on the physical limitations of a larger ring versus shorter female wrestlers, I did suggest that the match quality of the Women’s Rumble was less than the Men’s… Simple matter of physics when (a) using strength to lift opponents over the ropes and (b) height of wrestlers relating to the ropes. There were some rough looking exits in the female wrestlers particularly of some shorter female wrestlers and a few veterans who haven’t been in the WWE for a long time. Kelly Kelly and Torrie Wilson come to mind on rusty veterans.
Plus… Who were the remaining wrestlers of the Women’s Rumble match? If you want to hurl insults at me, tell me who the FINAL 3 were again? It was Asuka, who won the Rumble… Well, umm… The Bella Twins! That’s right, folks… The twins that you CLAIM that the WWE heavily favors were the remaining ladies in the Rumble beyond Sasha, Trish, Lita, Beth, Nia, Bayley, Becky, etc. So if you want to rip me for questioning the Women’s Rumble spots, then YOU need to be consistent on your Bella Twins hatred of being the Rumble’s finalists. They are not even full-time wrestlers!
Women’s wrestling in the WWE is still a NEW BRAND, as the WWE began taking Women’s Wrestling seriously again thanks to Triple H pushing hard for it after he took over Talent Relations during late 2012. Go watch NXT from 2014-2016… Amazing stuff that Triple H was cooking up with a great collection of talent. Before this influx of talent, the WWE was riding on the fumes of the Divas Search competitions of trying to morph models, based on looks, into wrestlers. However, those wrestlers would wrestle 2-3 minute matches and weren’t cared for as a legitimate midcard act.
Hey, before Wrestlemania 32 during 2016, could someone tell me what the female WWE title was called?
Oh, it was called the WWE DIVAS Championship?
That’s right… Between 2008 through 2016, female wrestlers in the WWE were called “DIVAS”. And what is the definition of “diva”? A self-important person who is temperamental and difficult to please (typically regarding a woman). Wow… That doesn’t sound nice.
It is INSULTING to me to see what the WWE did to the foundation that Trish Stratus, Lita, Jackie, Jazz, Victoria, Mickie James, Molly Holly, and Ivory built. Their title was called the Women’s Title, by the way, and it was a big deal when Trish and Lita headlined RAW. Following that great group of talent who never received much exposure on RAW, the WWE introduced the Divas Search contest where they introduced many, many non-wrestling models into the WWE for eye candy purposes. While it was visually appealing to male wrestlers, it was legitimately downgrading to female performers. It was this influx of non-trained female performers that prompted them to be called “divas”.
And could someone tell me who was EVP of Creative during that time?
Oh yeah, it was Stephanie McMahon! SHE was OK with women in the WWE to be called “Divas”. SHE was OK with how the women in the WWE were presented! She was also presiding over several domestic violence, necrophilia, and love triangle angles in the WWE. How on earth is she getting any credit for Triple H’s NXT call-ups again?
Spare me on the Social Justice Warrior stuff… Women’s wrestling in the WWE is still a growing and blossoming brand. The Men’s Rumble is what made the Pay Per View and as you witness from the Pay Per View, the Philly fans weren’t the same after the Men’s Royal Rumble match. By placing it THIRD on the show, it killed momentum for the tag match and Braun vs. Brock vs. Kane match that followed. Also, the Rumble match would have been better if Kane and Braun Strowman could have appeared in both.
Makes me wonder if Ronda Rousey said “no” to the WWE, would the Women’s Rumble get the Main Event slot?
Just my opinion… I’m happy that the Women had the top spot, but the Men’s Rumble Match is the draw of the show. Always has been. To put it on THIRD is rather insulting.
And my last point is this… What has been headlining Wrestlemania events again? Again, it’s all about ESTABLISHED BRANDS. Women’s wrestling has only been taken seriously since 2014, maybe 2015 when Sasha, Charlotte, and Becky joined the main WWE roster. It’s still a midcard act. Until you can show me that Women’s wrestling can consistently be in the main event slot AND draw money for the WWE, the main event spot is not ready for them… YET. With time, their fanbase will expand and simple things like merchandise sales will grow. But men’s wrestling in the WWE is still the top draw and by a margin. It’s all about ESTABLISHED BRANDS and the men’s brand has years…
Male wrestlers didn’t have to endure being called “Divas” and mixing it up with non-wrestlers from a Divas Search contest. They didn’t need their division renamed during 2016 to something more politically correct.
The Men’s Royal Rumble match being placed THIRD on the card was a joke… And I stand by that opinion regardless of where the Women’s Rumble was. Come on…
If you don’t like what I say, then “get off my lawn”.
SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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