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Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas from the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING which is exclusively here at LordsofPain.net and no where else. As I stated in my Thanksgiving Column posted last month, I always try to pride myself in posting a column on or around a holiday. As a columnist, you want to make yourself to be of service to your readers…
Lately, in case you haven’t noticed, I have pretty much given up on the current wrestling product. WWE unbearable to me and has somehow become worse during 2019 compared to 2018. 2018’s LACK of quality from the was what drove me into “retirement”. When Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt wearing a goofy mask are your top stars, it’s time to rethink your promotion or pay Brock Lesnar for more appearances. Complete disaster. NXT is fun but you know that it’s only a matter of time before the WWE main roster raids them. I was excited for AEW initially but outside of Jericho, Cody, MJF, and a few good performances in the tag division here or there, it’s a tire fire. The midcard is inconsistent, women’s wrestling in AEW is awful, and I believe that New Japan masked deficiencies of Kenny Omega that we’re now just seeing without a filter. Maybe WWE did the same for Dean Ambrose? NWA gave us brief nostalgia but then you realize that you’ve already seen many of the wrestlers already in TNA/Impact.
Pro wrestling has become a big disappointment to me as a wrestling fan during 2019. Feels to me that we have too much QUANTITY and not enough QUALITY. This feels like the Video Game Bust of the early 1980s when Atari and other video game producers flooded the markets with consoles and games yet most were poorly made. In the end, stores had lots of unsold merchandise that was pushed back onto the video game producers. It would take Nintendo debuting their groundbreaking NES system and fantastic Mario & Zelda games that salvaged the industry. I *thought* that AEW would be the new promotion to “rattle the cages” of the wrestling industry…
It’s still too early for AEW… They would need some major shake-ups of talent and management during 2020 to help right the ship into the right direction.
For today’s Christmas Column, I’m going to break out one of my traditional columns that I normally save for New Year’s Eve. Normally, I post a Top 15 Predictions Column on that date which involves (a) reviewing the previous year’s predictions, (b) brief recap of the year that we just had, and (c) revealing my new slate of predictions for the upcoming year. Honestly, with my disgust of the current wrestling scene, the Predictions Column gives me “something to write” to ensure that I post a column on Christmas.
To give credit where credit is due, the Predictions column style was hatched from Market-Ticker.org‘s Karl Denniger who used to make financial predictions about the United States economy. I basically translated his style to making wrestling predictions.
The LAST time that I did my predictions column was actually on October 1st, 2018 instead of my normal December 31st posting. THEREFORE, when I review my 2019 Predictions, keep in mind that my predictions were made about 15 months ago. When I wrote my predictions on 10/1/18, I didn’t know how serious Vince would become about the XFL nor could I predict how the Khan Family would get involved with pro wrestling for AEW.
That said, I was quite surprised at how I did on some of my 2019 predictions.
2019 PREDICTIONS REVIEW
#1 – Roman Reigns will wrestle a part-time wrestler at Wrestlemania 35. Nope… Roman wrestled Drew McIntyre. There were rumors that he’d wrestle either Brock Lesnar again or maybe the rock. His illness derailed everything.
#2 – Brock Lesnar wrestles for the WWE during 2019 at least once. Hit… Remember, there were many UFC rumors during late 2018. I didn’t believe it. Lesnar is currently the WWE Universal Champ.
#3 – CM Punk will NOT appear at the Madison Square Garden show. Nailed it. I just didn’t get the vibe that Punk wanted anything to do with Ring of Honor or New Japan.
#4 – NXT will get a television deal of some sorts. Crushed that one out of the park. Thanks to AEW, it caused WWE to acquire a timeslot on USA Network for NXT.
#5 – Kenny Omega signs with the WWE but Cody Rhodes/Young Bucks resist. 3/4 correct… Again, my prediction was made before I knew that AEW would form. WWE was negotiating with Omega as his contract with new Japan was expiring during January 2019.
#6 – Chris Jericho joins Impact Wrestling. Miss! There were rumors swirling at the time, especially since he appeared done with WWE. Again, I didn’t know that AEW was about to form.
#7 – WWE creates two sets of Women’s Titles: Midcard title & Tag Titles. I’ll claim 1/2 points with the Tag Titles being created but not a midcard singles title.
#8 – WWE will spend lots of money on a non-wrestling entity, past or brand new. I can’t claim this one… I can’t remember what I was thinking when I made this prediction.
#9 – AJ Styles re-signs with the WWE. Nakamura, Anderson, and Gallows do not. Yikes, only 1/4 correct. All 4 re-signed with with the WWE.
#10 – The Miz will win the 2018 Royal Rumble. Hell no he didn’t. Miss. Tea leaves during late 2018 was that Miz was going to get a babyface push.
#11 – Dean Ambrose will break up the Shield this time around with a heel turn. I made this prediction on 10/1 and then he quickly turned a few weeks later following Roman’s health exit. Now, I’ll take this point because the turn was supposed to happen during 2019 but Roman Reigns announcing he was ill rushed things.
#12 – Stephanie McMahon is named CEO/President of the WWE, Vince McMahon remains Board Chairman. Why do I keep making this prediction each year? Miss…
#13 – XFL will not happen and will be canceled by Vince McMahon. Stupid ESPN and FOX Sports… It’s happening, Miss.
#14 – Braun Strowman moves to the Smackdown roster. Sure did, point!
#15 – John Cena makes a comeback to the WWE, breaks World Title record. If only… Complete miss.
6.5 points out of 15… Not bad considering that I made these predictions during early October and missed out on any news & notes for WWE preparing for Royal Rumble.
2019 was a crazy and unique year for Pro Wrestling, all thanks to the invention of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and the beginning of new television deals for the WWE. AEW “rattled the cages” of the wrestling business by keeping Kenny Omega/Young Bucks away from the WWE as free agents, signing Chris Jericho, signing Dean Ambrose after Dean announced that he would not re-sign with the WWE during early 2019, and convincing the billionaire Khan family to financially back it. Even though it takes YEARS to establish a legitimate pro wrestling promotion, let alone competing for the #1 spot nationwide, AEW made themselves appear legit in just 9 months before their TNT show began. Yeah, TNT… The same network that used to air the famous WCW Nitro actually signed AEW to a television deal to air on Wednesday Nights.
And then the WWE countered with NXT obtaining a 2 hour deal to air their shows LIVE on USA Network…
2019, in my opinion, will be the year of the “Alternatives to the WWE” even though NXT is technically a WWE promotion. At first, people wanted to support AEW as the alternative promotion… Then, after a few Pay Per View or Free Streaming events later, wrestling fans began to observe the Ponzi Scheme. Beyond the seriousness of storylines involving Cody Rhodes and Chris Jericho along with a few other talent signings (MJF, in particular, as a rising star), AEW was full of bad talent signings, a horrible Women’s division, and Kenny Omega appearing to be a much different wrestler than what we saw in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Much of the talent signed by the EVPs were friends that they had on the Indy Circuit who were either undersized, had goofy gimmicks, dependent on a hardcore style, or just appeared to be bush league by all standards. To be in charge of a wrestling business, you need actual experience in management of financials and talent.
NXT, however, just provided a legitimate wrestling product that most resembled a sport. As luck would happen, the “Plane Ride from Hell 2019” happened that kept wrestlers overseas following a WWE Network special event. NXT wrestlers were called upon as fill-in wrestlers for WWE Smackdown and helped pop a few weeks of ratings versus prior weeks. Since then, they have been beating AEW often in the ratings.
WWE has something in NXT and if you’ve been watching the promotion for the last 5-6 years, they’ve had something for years. However, instead of letting the promotion itself become the true brand extension of the WWE, Vince McMahon will raid the roster and poorly push the wrestlers on RAW or Smackdown. Now, however, we might see a real chance for this promotion to grow on its own with a few talent defections here or there. WWE will also return call-up wrestlers to NXT wrestlers as seen by Kevin Owens and Finn Balor making their returns.
WWE needs to realize that fans DO NOT WANT 2 bloated WWE shows as seen by the terrible RAW and Smackdown shows but 1 Vince McMahon style WWE show and NXT. RAW and Smackdown are struggling to fill 5 hours of content each week and they lack Creative Minds. That, or WWE is paralyzed to let anyone but Vince make a creative decision. Ask Eric Bischoff, former Executive Director of Smackdown, or ask Paul Heyman and Bruce Prichard who are getting scapegoated for the poor quality TLC show that Vince McMahon booked.
Also in the wrestling world… Ring of Honor had a bad year of talent defections, internal problems with talent, and issues working with Sinclair (or Sinclair continuing to not care). Impact Wrestling was all about Tessa Blanchard and then trying to create shock value elsewhere on the roster. When Tessa’s contract comes up in 2020, she should really consider her options to become paid quite well. New Japan also had talent defections thanks to AEW BUT NJPW has a system and a talent development program in place to allow them to continue their business as if nothing happened. Plus, Omega looking like an entirely different wrestler in AEW just has to make them laugh.
NWA tried a comeback but they’ll learn quickly that (a) YouTube.com doesn’t pay much on their ads and (b) people tuned in to see Jim Cornette back on television. It’s roster consist of guys whom the WWE and AEW doesn’t want… Sorry guys, but we’ve seen many of you working in Impact already. If that promotion didn’t grow with you there, how should we expect you to help NWA to grow on a studio based show? NWA’s management fell on their sword by allowing Cornette’s “bucket of chicken” comment to air despite having taped that show weeks in advance.
I worry about the pro wrestling industry having TOO MUCH QUANTITY but NOT ENOUGH QUALITY. In an earlier column, I compared the current wrestling scene to the Video Game Crash of the early 1980s. After Atari debuted their cartridge based system during the late 1970s, other companies tried to create their own Consoles and many tried to create their own games to get that quick buck. Atari even tried to debut 2 additional consoles themselves with games specific to play on those consoles. So many crappy game consoles and many, many bad games out there burned out the consumer. Soon, shelves were filled with unsold video game systems and games that it killed the market.
Unless QUALITY increases during 2020, it’s going to be a long year and in 4 years when the WWE’s television deal is up, things may begin to circle the drain for pro wrestling. Until another Jim Ross on talent development rises from the ashes along with new creative minds who can do “more with less”, pro wrestling is doomed. While Triple H is doing a decent job, he has YET to produce a top drawing Main Event star. It’s much easier to make wrestling look great in a smaller arena with loyal fans than to present it in a 10,000 seat arena. WWE’s stranglehold on the wrestling business and its Creative process has disallowed anyone to “rise up” as the next creative mind or talent assessor. Vince controls everything and nobody else in the wrestling industry has the resources to financially compete with Vince’s monopoly. Until the loyal WWE fans either walk away or spend less money than they normally do, nothing will change.
AEW, though it’s early, needs to grow up in a hurry or NXT will potentially become the real alternative to the WWE that AEW seeks.
Could be a difficult year ahead of us if AEW can’t fix their early issues…
Onto my 2020 & Beyond Predictions…
Mr. Tito’s PHAT 2020 Predictions for the Pro Wrestling Industry
1) CM Punk will wrestle at least once during 2020.
Whether it is Saudi or Wrestlemania/SummerSlam money, it will be there for CM Punk if he wants it. WWE is desperate for star power right now and Vince McMahon will be the driving force to bring him back. With Vince remaining on top of the company for another 1-2 years based on his age, health, and the XFL looming, now is the time to financially bank it for Punk.
2) Steve Austin will wrestle at least once during 2020.
Austin just turned 55 and he is seeing his fellow legends make huge paydays for wrestling 1-2 matches per year. I still believe that he has a sour taste in his mouth for the way things ended during 2003. Give him a match against CM Punk or John Cena, maybe even the Undertaker, and he’ll take it.
3) AEW will shake-up its management staff by adding, subtracting, or changing someone’s current role.
From all that I’ve heard for the past year, I believe there is a backstage divide between Chris Jericho/Cody Rhodes and Young Bucks/Kenny Omega, especially with Omega. Bucks and Omega have been the primary talent recruiters while also booking the Tag Team and Women’s division. Tag matches, as Jericho recently spoke out against, have been wildly inconsistent while the Women’s division is a dumpster fire. I also believe there is major resistance with the Bucks/Omega regarding Jim Ross’s role as both an advisor and an announcer. If push comes to shove, I believe that we’ll see something happening in AEW if viewership cannot get above 1 million viewers per show on AEW Dynamite.
4) Ring of Honor will get sold or closed by Sinclair, possibly merged with NWA, Impact, or AEW… Maybe acquired by WWE?
2020 is not looking good for this promotion. The formation of AEW completely caused this promotion to lose its top stars while the shoestring budget offered by the Sinclair Corporation has never helped matters. The Madison Square Garden joint venture with New Japan failed to get people to care. There is some brand value to merge assets with another promotion but also the value of the video tape library. I could seriously see the WWE acquiring them to (a) have their video library but also (b) to make Ring of Honor become their new Developmental territory as NXT becomes a legitimate brand by the WWE.
5) WWE will create a new Developmental Wrestling Territory as NXT continues to grow.
As I was just alluding to… NXT is becoming a bigtime brand, especially as it begins to distance itself from AEW on Wednesday nights. That said, I could see the WWE opening up another territory as it begins to deliver NXT to a more nationwide audience. By creating another Developmental Territory, it advertises that NXT is no longer the Developmental Territory. Simple as that… Might have to be Florida based again, as a “Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW)” could re-emerge because of the WWE’s training facility in Florida.
6) Vince McMahon will step down as President/CEO but remain Board Chairman of the WWE, Stephanie McMahon will become President/CEO.
I keep predicting this each and every year… With the XFL starting, I could see Vince giftwrapping the CEO job to his daughter Stephanie. Her title right now is “Chief Brand Officer” which is very much a corporate title of “CEO in training”. It will happen one day and it’s just a matter of Father Time catching up to Vince or if the XFL consumes him. If not a 2020 prediction, it shall happen in the years to come. Stephanie becomes CEO while Triple H acts like Vince backstage at WWE events. If NXT continues to grow, then Vince’s confidence for Triple H to assume his full-time duties backstage will grow.
7) Tessa Blanchard will sign with All Elite Wrestling.
Tully works for AEW… WWE let Tessa go in the past. Two simple facts. I also believe that Tessa probably knows what a dumpster fire that AEW is with their Women’s division and that she can “save” it by joining them. Tessa will be instantly pushed as their #1 star of that division whereas in the WWE, it’s the usual “get in line” behind their usual favorites.
8) John Cena win his 17th WWE World Title on the Smackdown brand.
FOX is going to soon hammer the WWE for removing Brock Lesnar from the Smackdown brand and also questioning why a guy in a goofy mask is their champion. The pressure will be on for star power or FOX can simply threaten to put the show on FS1. And that’s where John Cena returns for a brief while and gets a mega push to carry the WWE Universal Title for a short while on the blue brand after Wrestlemania 36.
9) NWA will have to reconsider its business model for 2020, may have financial trouble due to a lack of revenue.
I know a handful of YouTube content creators and they’re struggling right now because of how YouTube lowballs them on ads and hits them with copyright strikes. While TNA has no copyright issues, the ad revenue is a major issue. On top of that, they aren’t making much money at the gate for those smaller studio shows. There is just too much wrestling quantity in the marketplace right now and NWA just doesn’t have anything unique to offer to differentiate itself besides the Studio Wrestling gimmick. Financially, I just don’t see their investors willing to take losses and things must change in order for this promotion to survive.
10) Charlotte Flair will not leave the WWE and will sign a big deal to ensure a major push.
I don’t believe it for one second that Charlotte Flair is leaving the WWE despite the rumors suggesting that she’s “unhappy” or filing trademarks for her real name. WWE has taken care of her financially and pushed her to the moon. After the WWE gets tired of Becky’s act, they’ll push Charlotte hard again. Just a matter of time… I believe that Charlotte saw what Randy Orton did by flirting with leaving and then receiving a major 5 year deal. WWE wrestlers have leverage right now and more will use it to score higher paying deals. And screw the WWE right now, they are making $400 million+ per year right now on television deals along with about $25 million per Saudi show.
11) TNT will adjust its television schedule with AEW, good or bad, during 2020.
As AEW Dynamite remains below 1 million viewers, TNT will begin to question why they are dedicating 2 hours of Wednesday Prime Time to a show that refuses to improve. TNT remains one of the top Cable channels and can virtually air any type of re-ruin or other shows instead to draw equal or actually better ratings. If AEW does good, however, I could see them giving them another hour of content somewhere… If not, I could see an upward shift in its timeslot or moving it to Friday or Saturday instead. AEW needs to improve, as this isn’t the TNT of the past… TNT was part of AOL/Time Warner that cancelled wrestling during 2001 with WCW and they were just recently purchased by AT&T.
12) FOX will move WWE Smackdown to FS1 permanently by the end of 2020 or 2021.
We’re barely above 2 million viewers for a show that over 100 million households could watch, if they so choose. Fridays are just a bad spot for pro wrestling when up against High School sports which primarily are on Friday Nights. Also, Friday night is a date night for many couples as well. DVR numbers aren’t showing any booming growth, either. As already seen by the World Series, FOX has the ability to move Smackdown to FS1 if they so choose. If the ratings continue to disappoint, I could see FOX trying to use the WWE to help FS1 instead and taking losses trying to help out that struggling cable channel.
13) WWE stock will remain under $70 by year end 2020.
Live attendance declines, merchandise sales weakness, video game problems, WWE Network hitting a plateau, and XFL struggles thinning out Vince might spell bad things for the WWE. And if FOX decides to push Smackdown to FS1, problems will really begin. The only thing that would disagree with my prediction is if NXT booms during 2020.
14) The Revival won’t be the only WWE tag team to leave to join AEW.
I won’t say which one, but I believe there at least 2 known WWE tag teams who are unhappy and are potentially free during 2020 to leave the WWE. It is obvious that the Revival will jump, so thus I won’t make that prediction.
15) WWE’s deal with Saudi Arabia comes to a close during 2020.
Something happened at the last event, WWE Crown Jewel… While the WWE insists that nothing was wrong and flight troubles was the cause, the facts suggest otherwise. I believe that the WWE is becoming too greedy with this deal and that Saudi officials are sensing that the usefulness of this deal is gone. Total worldwide WWE Network subscribers is just under 2 million and that’s not exactly the large exposure that Saudi Arabia wants to show their attempted evolution of their country. Before and after Crown Jewel, there was a reported debate over money that caused delays in the airing of the show and potential heat with the plane ride home. During 2020, I figure that several WWE wrestlers leaving the company will spill the beans on that trip and that will be bad PR for the company. I’m curious to see how many wrestlers refuse to attend the next event and what consequences the WWE would impose about that. If NXT really takes off as a brand on Wednesday Nights, then the need for the Saudi deal goes away.
THE LAST WORD
That’s all I have for now… I’ll be honest with you, my many many longtime readers…. Wrestling, in its current form of “Sports Entertainment” with WWE and “Friends of Young Bucks/Kenny Omega” show with AEW, is doing nothing for me. I haven’t watched much wrestling in a while besides the occasional NXT show. Not even the YouTube.com do anything for me and those can be viewed for FREE and they are in short clips.
WWE sucks and that was the genesis of my “Retirement” from October 2018. Their terrible Creative beat the joy out of me as a wrestling fan and I thought that I was legitimately done as a wrestling fan.
Then, All Elite Wrestling arrived and it rejuvenated me… Add Jon Moxley, Jim Ross, and Chris Jericho to the promotion, and I became really excited. If you’ll recall, I gave AEW Double or Nothing an A+… But I did so without seeing the Pre-Show that included the #1 contendership Battle Royal which was pure hot garbage. Shows only got worse from there and the past few weeks’ worth of shows to end 2019 have been complete disasters.
Therefore, I want to deliver a FINGER OF SHAME to Tony Khan, you little “money mark”. That’s what they called him at Tony Shiavone’s birthday party and he became reportedly upset by that. Delivering that Stunner to Shawn Spears. Hey Mr. Spears, did you really expect to be made to look foolish in AEW following your WWE departure? Oooops! Khan gets in petty fights on Twitter and doesn’t hold his EVPs accountable for the lower viewership and attendance already seen.
The FACT is that All Elite Wrestling, the Khans, and the EVPs doubling as wrestlers have NOT learned from WWE’s mistakes. Taking the midcard for granted, taking titles for granted, half-assing the Women’s division, pushing the wrong talent, and trying to be a comedy show instead of a show that represents a sport. Tony Khan needs to promote Jim Ross as CEO effective immediately and then Tony needs to spend time with Jim Ross for on-the-job training to learn the wrestling business. Didn’t Jim Ross work around Bill Watts and Vince McMahon? Didn’t he work for Mid South Wrestling, NWA/WCW, and WWE? Doesn’t he have 4+ decades of freakin’ experience? If Ross was brought on as not just an announcer but as an advisor, why isn’t Khan and the EVPs listening to him?
We deserve better as wrestling fans… We dedicate HOURS of our time and lots of MONEY in hopes that Pro Wrestling will return to glory years again. I was able to live through the late 1980s with WWE booming and NWA’s in-ring product being absurd. WCW/WWE Monday Night Wars were amazing and seeing the Ohio Valley Wrestling’s “Class of 2002” debuting was great to see. But since the mid 2000s, wrestling has gone downhill.
Where are the new Creative minds? Where are the new talent scouts who can find the next stars in pro wrestling?
Today’s wrestling product is NOT for me…
“In Chess, the Pawns go first” as Magneto explains in the 3rd X-Men film. I let everyone else endure the hours spent while I just chill on the sidelines, awaiting the next Cena/Austin/Rock/Hogan to arrive. I’ll still maintain my relationship with LordsofPain.net and maybe write columns here or there for fun. I still want to tap into the YouTube.com market and maybe do more with my wrestling political cartoons. I’ll just do whatever I want for fun…
Funny thing for 2019 is that I’ve had money offers to do more online with wrestling… Several offers to join Podcasts or go on Streaming Video as well. But my answer has been “no” repeatedly. I just don’t have it in me, folks, and that is despite 2019 having very strong numbers for yours truly… WWE wore me out through 2018 and AEW got my hopes up during 2019 only to disappoint.
What needs to be understood is that being a Wrestling Fan AND being Mr. Tito is my hobby… It’s never been about the money and I’ve never received a paycheck for what I do. That’s right… The haters have been attacking a volunteer the entire time! How about them apples? Several people have suggested that I obtain a Patreon… No thanks. I don’t want my readers’ money. All I have ever asked for is their TIME and I try my hardest to make a compelling column to be worth their time.
I’m tired of writing columns where I just bash wrestling, the form of entertainment that I’ve enjoyed for years. Gets tiring… I’ve tried for YEARS to advise on how to fix things and the promotions won’t listen. That’s fine. I don’t need you, pro wrestling. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, Nintendo Switch, and YouTube keep me entertained enough. I have income to spend, if you want it, but you have to earn it. Ditto for my time.
I’m not going anywhere… Just continuing my 2019 trend of writing much less than prior years. With AEW sucking, there really isn’t anything exciting to write about.
HOWEVER – If you enjoy watching the current wrestling products, continue to enjoy it. Don’t let this old man upset you. If you like what WWE and AEW presents, have at it.
But I’m done supporting pro wrestling promotions who constantly disappoint me as a longtime fan of the wrestling business since the late 1980s. Both WWE and AEW need to significantly improve for me to return as a wrestling fan.
THANK YOU to my longtime readers and thank you to Calvin/LordsofPain.net for having me. You are truly the best. My status remains “part-time”, as the way I should have designated it during late 2018.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
So just chill… Until the next episode!
Play my Pro Wrestling themed Mario Maker 2 courses on the Nintendo Switch:
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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