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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING that is exclusively featured here at LordsofPain.net and no where else, period. Folks, everytime that I try to walk away from the sport of pro wrestling OR being Mr. Tito, something always pulls me back in… I’ve tried to walk away from both, repeatedly, but the gravitational pull of both keeps yanking me back into the door. Last year, I tried to walk away but then All Elite Wrestling formed during early 2019 and peaked my interest again…
And now, my column is really getting noticed by some big names in the business. During August, I posted an random column about how AEW should sign CM Punk… My longtime hero in the pro wrestling business, Jim Ross, goes out of his way and Tweets my column to all of his followers with ZERO prompting from me (sounds like he also wants AEW to sign Punk?). For last week’s “Top 10 Takeaways”, I wrote a paragraph about Chris Jericho on amazing promo cutting skills and he calls me out on Twitter for one word, “deteriorated” in that paragraph. And now, after I posted a column about Vince Russo, he has invited me to attend his video podcast to discuss it.
Folks… I’m not trying to get attention with my recent. In fact, I’m shocked that some of my 2016 columns, where I was in a bad place personally that year, didn’t get attention from the wrestling business for how brutally negative they were (I needed a place to vent). In the cases of Chris Jericho and Vince Russo, the majority of what I wrote about both guys was POSITIVE… Both guys are looking into the details too closely and selectively picking out what they perceive to be negative comments.
Take the case of Chris Jericho…
#7 – Chris Jericho still cuts the best promo.
Wow, man… People wonder why I keep banging the drum for CM Punk to return. Punk hasn’t wrestled since 2014 but can he still speak? YES HE CAN. Jericho keeps getting older and maybe his in-ring ability has deteriorated… But put a microphone in front of him, he’s still every bit as great as his WWE debut 20 years ago. This is why guys in their 40s can still thrive in the Pro Wrestling business while other sports are quick to terminate anyone who hits the age of 40. The promos keep the wrestlers alive, as the speaking ability is maybe 50% or more of how wrestlers get over. If you can’t cut a promo and effectively connect with the audience with your words, then why would they want to see you wrestle?
Look at that specific quote, “maybe his in-ring ability has deteriorated”, but then I praise the living crap out of Jericho for his promo cutting skills and why that keeps his 48 year old self relevant in the business. Sure, he’s having amazing matches that are highly rated, but he’s also wrestling FEWER matches. And, he’s using his character traits and promo cutting skills to hype those matches ahead of time. Everybody loses something physically with age. I can’t do the same things physically as I could 20 years ago, let alone 10 years ago. I played pick-up rollerhockey a few years ago after not playing since my late teenage years. Little did I know how much your legs utilize every muscle and ligament in your body because I was hurting in my 30s for multiple days. And putting into context my column writing, I could stay up all night and spend hours writing DAILY columns… Can’t do that now without abnormal effects on my health or insomnia.
In the immortal words of Toby Keith, I Ain’t as Good as I Once Was… But the point that I was making with Chris Jericho is that his promo cutting skills and character abilities were STILL STRONG and that keeps him relevant in pro wrestling.
Where were you when I defended you during the Wrestlemania 18 storylines when Stephanie McMahon tried to make your match-up with Triple H about their dog? How about when I praised you for joining New Japan? Or how about the praise I showered you on for the Kevin Owens stuff, especially your work on the night that Owens turned on you? Read THIS column from February 19th, 2017 which was FULL of Chris Jericho praise.
And you want to call me out for 1 word? Really? I’ve been praising you (mostly) for 20 years and have many posted columns to prove it!
For Vince Russo, my column was mostly positive about you. I gave you credit for your WWE successes and provided context for why WCW (especially) and TNA didn’t come close. You worked for complete dysfunction in WCW and at times, that way in TNA. You won’t hear that from Jim Cornette, Bryan Alvarez, Dave Meltzer, Wade Keller, Eric Bischoff, or many many wrestling fans who just outright bash you and try to discredit your WWE work. For a good bit of our conversations for the past few days, you were polite and I respect that… But bro, you really want me for that video debate? I’m a little camera shy, but I’m willing to compromise with you by calling in with Audio for your show or allowing you to write a rebuttal that I’ll gladly post in my column… But again, I wrote mostly POSITIVE things about you!
I’m almost scared yet curious to see what in this week’s Top 10 Takeaways will cause with my column. Who will I somehow offend next?!?
What all of you need to realize is this: I’m a passionate wrestling fan. I GIVE A DAMN about the wrestling business and I want it to improve. As I’ve repeatedly said throughout the years, when Pro Wrestling is hitting on all cylinders, there is NOTHING more entertaining. When I’m watching the Double or Nothing Pay Per View and Dean Ambrose shows up, I got chills down my spine (I gave that show an A+, by the way). I repeatedly watch the WWE from January 1999 until Wrestlemania 15. Seeing the Rock, Foley, Steve Austin, and the McMahons all interacting together was freakin’ amazing. I LOVE the New World Order stuff from WCW Nitro and can’t get enough that stuff. And of course, seeing Chris Jericho morph into different character types throughout the years… His WWE debut still makes my jaw drop.
And I wrote with that same passion… Russo and Jericho, I GAVE YOU CREDIT for your wrestling geniuses. Christ man… You nitpick small parts and take words out of context.
Anyway, enough about me… Let’s see who we can offend next. Damn this NEW ERA of tons of wrestling content with AEW, WWE, NXT, Impact, NWA, and whatever else. You’re putting too many eyes on internet sites and the competition is getting fierce. That or there aren’t too many opinionated writers anymore and I’m the target just because of attrition? Or maybe I need to stop trying to “retire” and get over it already?
The week that was…
MR. TITO’s TOP 10 TAKEAWAYS
#1 – AEW’s Viewership is “Deteriorating”
See, THAT is how you get attention in a column. I’m kidding, Chris. As I’ve said repeatedly now in my prior Top 10 columns, DO NOT PANIC over lower viewership. You are STILL A NEW PROMOTION. 9 months as a promotion and you are only 1 million viewers from catching RAW on Cable viewership? That’s not bad, as the WWE has existed for many decades now just under Vince McMahon Jr.’s rule…
CONSIDER THIS… Here are WCW Nitro’s Ratings for the first 6 months… Note that what I’m about to post is a television rating and does not represent pure number of viewers. As you can see, they started off with a 2.38 average for September 1995 and improved slightly during October 1995… But then they dropped during November 1995. What happened? Was something different? That was steep drop. Ah, but don’t worry, things picked back up during December 1995 and kept growing and growing. Then, WCW signed Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to form the New World Order and the rest was history.
9/95 – 2.38
10/95 – 2.44
11/95 – 2.25
12/95 – 2.55
1/96 – 2.86
2/96 – 3.00
The FACT is that AEW is right on the doorstop and they are such a young company. Just stay relevant and things will click.
#2 – Eric Bischoff Deserved Better
Notice how a lot of bashing is leaking to the dirt sheets about Eric Bischoff? Oh, he wasn’t into wrestling… He didn’t know the WWE product. Eric spent too much time at catering. Huh?!? How about Vince McMahon won’t release his firm grip on Creative? To call Bischoff “lazy” is ridiculous. The guy aged like a President when he worked in WCW from 1993 to 1999 as Executive Producer or EVP. He has worked hard for years trying to get whatever shows over that he could in Hollywood and has a damn good podcast gig right now. Bischoff moved across the country to take this WWE job and the WWE didn’t give him a say. Ridiculous.
And now, Bruce Prichard becomes the Smackdown creative scapegoat. Things won’t improve unless Vince McMahon surrounds himself with guys who aren’t afraid to disagree with him. Why the late 1990s worked well is because he had guys like Jim Ross and Vince Russo openly disagreeing with him at creative or production meetings. And do you notice how Vince McMahon treats both with disrespect at times? Listing to total enablers, like Kevin Dunn or your family members, will NOT help the WWE improve.
#3 – I had no problems with Marko Stunt
Man, people are just brutal about Marko Stunt. My thing with uniquely sized or shaped wrestlers is that as long as Marko Stunt isn’t physically dominating someone who is significantly taller or heavier than him, it can still be fun. Rey Mysterio and Lio Rush are both tiny guys yet their high impact moves can outsell their shortcomings on height/weight. Rey only looked weak when he beat a wrestler much larger than him. It’s all about the offense presented and who is actually selling it. Control those two factors and things are OK. Marko was entertaining AND he was a last second replacement for the injured Luchasaurus (whom I wish a speedy recovery, as I liked what I’ve seen from him so far.
#4 – Roman Reigns is featured heavily on Smackdown… Should he get the blame if viewership keeps declining?
If you watch Smackdown’s intro, Roman is featured prominently… The past 2 shows have opened with that Shield music hitting and out comes Roman first for his matches. Last week, though, Smackdown lost 1 million viewers… So should the guy starting off the show receive any blame? We’ve had over 5 years of sample data on Roman NOT drawing viewers on RAW and we’re thus going to keep this experiment going? Or, not change Roman for the better if you are going to keep pushing him?
If only someone wrote a column on how to improve Roman Reigns… Maybe something from last week?
#5 – NXT needs to change its environment
It just looks smaller and darker in the Full Sail arena by comparison to the bigger arenas and brighter lights seen on the AEW shows. IN MY OPINION, NXT has the best in-ring product but everything besides the in-ring product doesn’t look good in that arena. Question is this… Would NXT draw in bigger arenas? Yes, they draw for Takeovers, but most of those are attached to the “Big 4” WWE Events that help draw for those shows. With an ever-changing roster thanks to the WWE raids, I’m not sure show strongly NXT could draw in larger arenas by themselves. We’ll never know unless the WWE tries.
#6 – The WWE Draft was a Joke
I just laughed hysterically at the WWE Draft as it continued through Monday Night. For one, groups of wrestlers weren’t available for the Smackdow roster leaving to that show’s picks seeming very strange. Then, no real moves happened on RAW. Just a few reshufflings of the deck chairs on the Titanic and the rosters were somehow set. Smackdown seems to have the more established male names while RAW has a younger rosters of guys for Heyman to possibly get over and the top female stars.
#7 – Let Bayley go unscripted, please.
Her promo on Smackdown tonight was just not authentic. She has no real rage or psychology to her heel turn. Thus, when she cuts a promo against the fans, it doesn’t feel real. For example, when Steve Austin became “Stone Cold” and Rocky Maivia became “The Rock”, both guys were legitimately pissed off about their previous characters and how the fans reacted to them. The result? Both cut killer promos that felt legitimately real… Because they were real. Bayley is venting at the fans YET it wasn’t the fans who turned on her. In fact, the fans supported her. It’s the WWE that screwed her from the time she joined the WWE roster. Bayley from 2015-2017 was the TOP seller of WWE merchandise for females and she only had a few products on the market (compared to the Bella Twins). WWE can script the lines all they want, but it’s just not going to work if Bayley isn’t feeling it.
#8 – Good to see Aron Stevens (formerly Damien Sandow) in NWA
I was so happy that the man formerly known as Damien Sandow in the WWE, Aron Stevens, has joined the NWA. To me, he was talent that the WWE took for granted… Things just didn’t work out. I liked his work with Cody and I really liked his work with the Miz. He was a decent worker, had charisma, and could cut a good promo. He’s MADE for the studio wrestling format because his promo cutting abilities can be showcased. Nice hire, NWA.
#9 – WWE wrestlers should revolt if Tyson Fury is getting $15 million for Crown Jewel
Several news outlets have reported that Tyson Fury will receive around $15 million to wrestle Braun Strowman at Crown Jewel… That’s crazy. With the success of Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey translating their MMA experience to pro wrestling, the WWE may be trying to pull in MMA and boxing fighters to work in a scripted payday as their new policy moving forward. While that will create some short-term gains, as you can already see by Ronda Rousey, they don’t stick around long-term. Hell, Brock Lesnar should have been gone by now but the $ amount keeps increasing… WWE should invest more money into teaching their wrestlers in developmental how to cut better promos or use their character traits to get over rather than overpaying MMA/boxing fighters for 1 night paydays.
#10 – Could be worse things to be called than “Shorty”
“Shorty” Gable. Could be worse things that you could be called like “The Ringmaster” or “the Stalker” or “the Red Rooster”. For one, it positions Gable into a spot where he can overcome adversity and the odds. Gable is short but he’s VERY strong and has a legit amateur wrestler background. He is seriously a smaller Kurt Angle, though his mic skills aren’t quite as strong as Angle’s. But Gable is a freak in the ring and I believe that he should put up a fight against most opponents. If “Shorty” is what keeps Vince McMahon amused, then why not? This will probably push Gable to work harder if he hates the name. I’m just glad that he’s on a main WWE roster instead of locked into 205 Live.
THE LAST WORD
From my discussions with Vince Russo, I’m getting mocked for my use of “Fame Monster”. See, I’ve been watching a ton of Big Mouth on Netflix lately where the kids on the show see imaginary hormone monsters that run their lives. I was trying to come up with an image for what causes a non-wrestler to get too much in to their character, like a “taste of fame”. Suddenly, Lady Gaga’s “Fame Monster” term came into mind… So thus, I phrased it as if someone was bitten by the Fame Monster…
I don’t know… Sounded good at the time.
My point is that it wasn’t just Vince Russo who maybe became too involved with their on-screen characters that they took their eye off the ball for providing creative for other wrestlers.
Eric Bischoff, in my opinion, was ruined when he became an on-screen character during late 1996 by joining the NWO. Before, he was an announcer and the known EVP of WCW. All business… But then, he joined the NWO and became intoxicated with his role. He began focusing all of his creative abilities on his character and keeping his group, the NWO, strong. Bischoff took his eye off the ball when the Time Warner carpet was being pulled from under him and he foolishly began delegating his authorities to other people and even wrestlers (putting DDP and Nash on the Creative Team).
Stephanie McMahon definitely became intoxicated with her on-screen character during late 1999 and throughout 2000. Then, she became head of creative during late 2000. What did she do? Put lots of creative resources into keeping herself and Triple H strong. The “Authority” was just awful and made awful by Stephanie bullying the entire roster on-screen.
Shane McMahon will legitimately put his body on the line for a pop and he can’t get enough of it. In his late 40s, he should be chilling with his beautiful wife and kids. Nope, he’ll fall off cages and go through tables. He is CRAZY. If ratings keep declining, will he come back to “save” viewership?
Vince McMahon was great during 1998-1999 and was great when he sold fear… But eventually, he was taking up too much camera time as a personality. Let the wrestlers wrestle and cut promos… Just look at that bloated Wrestlemania 16 show headlined by all 4 McMahons supporting a wrestler.
And of course, Vince Russo, who was on-screen often during his 1999-2000 WCW role, especially during 2000 when he eventually made himself win the WCW Title. My point of my last column is that he was working harder to draw more attention to himself than the wrestlers. Maybe I’m wrong, as that WCW roster was weak by 2000 that maybe he was getting the most heat? Either way the promotion was sold by March 2001.
What we’re talking about is PRO WRESTLING. Let the WRESTLERS do the work and heavy lifting. At the end of the day, all conflicts are resolved with a MATCH in the ring. Non-wrestlers aren’t fully trained to perform, nor do they often look the part. And we’d like to hear the wrestlers cutting promos, not “authority figures”. Wrestlers of the past got over because they could speak. On today’s wrestling shows, specifically the WWE, non-wrestlers were hogging up the attention on the show (notably McMahons) and the wrestlers were marginalized because they couldn’t talk. Well, they aren’t allowed to or they are forced to read scripted lines.
It’s kind of like Football… Often, the Quarterback will try to run out of the pocket and that fails because most QBs aren’t fast enough to escape an Linebacker. But if they can run fast, usually they attempt to think like a runningback and run more often than they should. Meanwhile, the best quarterbacks stay in that pocket and get their runningbacks and wide receivers involved. Tom Brady is a statue and yet he sits in that pockets to throw darts at his backs, tight ends, and receivers. He has SIX Superbowl rings…
If there is a POSITIVE that I can see right now in the WWE, it’s the LACK of authority figures on-screen right now. We wouldn’t want to create any more Fame Monsters, eh?
Trust in your trained in-ring performers… And if you don’t like the promos that they are cutting, then train them better at the Performance Center.
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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