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The EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING is back from the retirement home to answer more of your questions in an “ASK TITO” column exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. I only planned to write these maybe once a month, as my tender old age allows, but after last week’s column, I now have many more topics to answer!
No need to extend this introduction, let’s get right into the questions!
Who do you believe will win the 2020 WWE Royal Rumble match? Who should win it?
The real question is this… Who is either worthy of wrestling and defeating either Brock Lesnar or the Fiend? As seen from last year with Seth Rollins, defeating Brock Lesnar means nothing for your career. Because Lesnar was a former UFC Champion, everybody knows that he’s just “acting” in the WWE if someone beats him. Thus, you need someone credible to beat him and that’s why Cain Velasquez is sought because he actually beat Lesnar in UFC. However, he is highly inexperienced as an in-ring worker though his athleticism is helping him hide his lack of experience.
Seems like the signs are pointing to possibly Cain vs. Lesnar and Roman Reigns vs. Fiend happening at Wrestlemania 36.
Question is whether WWE wants to have Roman or Cain win the Rumble…
Now, does the WWE fear fans booing them as a result of Roman or Cain winning? They shouldn’t… As the great Jim Ross always said, “you can’t be half pregnant. You’re either pregnant or you’re not”. If WWE wants to push Roman Reigns as their #1 star, then they cannot be reluctant. Look, I disagreed with the WWE’s past pushes on Roman Reigns, but their hesitation during 2015 and then 2018 made Roman look very ineffective as a top guy. Things were made worse during 2019 when Seth Rollins beat Lesnar not once but twice. Sorry, but I have zero belief that Rollins could ever defeat Brock in a real fight and many other fans agreed… Rollins was not a good champion during 2019.
There’s not much else to push on the WWE roster unless you wanted to try Braun or Orton against Brock Lesnar or Fiend again… Been there, done that… Ditto with Roman Reigns vs. the Fiend, but that’s the route I’d take. If I were booker right now with this existing depleted WWE roster, I’d have Roman Reigns win the 2020 Royal Rumble Match and then go into Wrestlemania 36 to DEFEAT the Fiend. Sorry, but the Fiend is a tired act… We overpushed him in 2019 thanks to the Internet Wrestling Community using him as their latest darling to troll the WWE into changing their creative. The end result has been nothing but disappointing matches and more confusing booking for the character. That mask is God damn ugly, too. FOX could do a lot more on marketing Roman than they can the Fiend.
I like Edge and would be happy if he came back… But WWE needs to learn from 2014 when they tried to have Batista win the Rumble match on his first night back.
What the WWE needs to do is to work harder on selling WHY Roman Reigns should be their #1 guy to the internet. What they should NOT do is listen to a select group of internet marks who only like a specific subset of wrestlers or back wrestlers just to troll the WWE. Sorry, but Rusev, Becky Lynch, Kofi Kingston were NOT over for the past few years. They were just wrestlers in a specific place and time that wrestling fans backed just to protest other WWE creative decisions. Becky, for example, was cheered by fans because they were sick of seeing Charlotte pushed too hard. Ditto for “Rusev Day”. Wrestling fans do this quite often, as seen by the 2014 Royal Rumble when Batista won the rumble but Roman Reigns was actually the runner-up. Because fans were unhappy with the prospect of Batista vs. Randy Orton headlining Wrestlemania 30, they cheered for Roman to win it in desperation.
No matter who the WWE chooses to win the Rumble match, it will be disappointing. This is the weakest WWE roster EVER. Nobody is drawing and the ecosystem in place won’t let anybody develop into a star. Whatever “Hail Mary” is thrown at the Rumble this year, it won’t create anything special at Wrestlemania 36. This is a long-term problem that the WWE failed to address years ago by promoting the wrong people and letting the right ones go. If you put Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman in the development system or the territory system of the past, they’d probably be capable of cutting promos correctly or actually using in-ring psychology for their matches. However, because the developmental system lacks good teachers and is too controlling over wrestlers, WWE gets what they deserve. Nobody is over and now the only thing drawing is the Rumble match and the Wrestlemania event for 2 nights a year.
Why can’t NXT defeat AEW in viewership and grow as a company?
Because NXT is a WWE company and is seen as the Farm System of the WWE. Simple as that. NXT’s demographic numbers on USA Network proves that the same demographics watching RAW and Smackdown are the same ones watching NXT but by 2/3 less of the audience. In other words, WWE fans are the ones trying it out and just 1/3 of them. Reason why AEW’s numbers are more compelling than NXT is because AEW is actually drawing a younger audience each and every week. When NXT won a few weeks in a row, they did so with more older wrestling fans tuning in. AEW still won the younger demos.
WWE kills NXT because whenever a NXT wrestler gets promoted to the main WWE roster, they look like chumps. The only exception to this role is Baron Corbin whom the WWE Creative Team somehow loves. Other than him, they’ve been hot and cold on everyone called up. When another promotion can raid your roster, you’re a farm system whether you like that term or not.
Right now with NXT, they have Undisputed Era as their top stable who has all of the title belts. However, if you stood by those guys in regular street clothes, they look exactly like you. I believe that Triple H’s recent recruiting of smaller Indy wrestlers has hurt this product’s marketability long-term especially as they try to appear in a WWE ring on occasion. NXT is Ring of Honor but with WWE production on the shows. Many of the wrestlers used to work for ROH, too…
Until NXT becomes completely independent from WWE as its farm system, they’ll keep losing to AEW. With AEW, you know that they are completely separate from the WWE and are, in fact, a true escape from the WWE. NXT could be cancelled, today, by Vince McMahon if he wanted. After all, NXT is delivering losses to the WWE with the Performance Center and lack of revenues that the smaller touring show provides.
Who is going to be the leader of the Dark Order in AEW?
To me, it’s going to be Luke Harper or “Brodie Lee” as he’ll be called when he joins AEW. Seems like the best fit… The Dark Order or the “Dork Order” or even “Dork Odor” as Jim Cornette calls them have been an absolute mess. Just makes no sense how they operate or ambush other wrestlers. In my opinion, they were at their best at “Double or Nothing” when they made a human throne for their top guys to sit in after they ambushed everyone in the ring. After that, pure hot garbage now that we’re seeing them often… But if Brodie Lee is introduced as their leader, he can sit in that human throne and let those flunkies do his bidding.
Honestly, I have no idea who it could be… The Young Bucks, who brought in the Dark Order and have been booking the tag division, need to be called out by AEW President Tony Khan for this storyline. Pure and simple, it’s another reason why active wrestlers should NEVER be booking within a promotion. Wrestlers and creative needs to be separate. Bucks are clearly inexperienced in their jobs as EVPs and have a poor eye for talent, especially.
Have you ever considered obtaining a Patreon account?
Nope. Don’t need one. Being “Mr. Tito” and writing columns for my loyal readers is a hobby for me. Since October 1998, I have not taken one red cent from LordsofPain.net and have not asked for payment. It has been 100% voluntary. The second that I start taking money to write columns or whatever involving wrestling, it shifts from a HOBBY to a JOB for me. When it becomes a job to cover wrestling, it no longer becomes fun. Hobbies are fun.
As for Patreon, for one, I don’t want your money. I don’t need it… I’m doing well professionally and financially to not need my reader’s hard earned cash. Maybe if I was hard-up for cash myself, that could change… Thinking back over the last 10 years when I was either writing daily or reviewing Pay Per View events on my own time and dime, yeah, I probably should have sought payment for that. But I’m not doing either now, so what’s the point? And I don’t want to review 4-5 hour WWE events ever again. Furthermore, I don’t have any “exclusive” content to provide my readers. My heart and soul is placed in each and every column that I post here on the all-access LordsofPain.net, free of charge.
Furthermore, the fact that I’m not attached to money gives me (a) creative freedom to write whatever and whenever I want and (b) doesn’t let the money influence what I write. Right now, many accuse Dave Meltzer of being an AEW homer because he has Newsletters to sell. I don’t have newsletters to sell… I have nothing to sell you because again, I don’t want your money. What you see in a “Mr. Tito” post is 100% real and controlled by only me. The only thing that I cannot do is curse or post anything vulgar… Which, I mostly wasn’t doing anyway… Other than that, I can speak my mind with no filters. As long as I’m willing to keep posting, they’ll keep having me.
I’ve had financial offers thrown at me from bigger sports websites but in return, they want to control what I write… And for what? Usually a low offer per column. And if you were bold and tried to write multiple columns to push that $ price up, the rate per column posted somehow changes. Ask many who used to work at What Culture’s Wrestling division about that one. This website, as well, has made offers too… But I’m just not interested. For one, I’m loyal to an old friend here in Calvin and two, I just don’t need it at the moment. If someone else from here has a different view on the world than me, they can have that. For me, however, following Pro Wrestling and being Mr. Tito is a HOBBY… All I want is our time and not your dimes.
Besides, Patreon should be reserved for people who are operating a LEGITIMATE online business. I know a handful of content creators for YouTube.com who are struggling because Google has either cut ad rates or has been very selective on where ads are used. Google is also forcing YouTube.com to be more aggressive on the Copyright strikes and more recently, videos marketed to children. Thus, if you are a YouTube.com content creator and that has been the nature of your business for years, I’m OK with you asking for Patreon donations to help pay employee salaries. I’m good with that. However, if you’re asking for Patreon dollars to buy goods and services for yourself or even unnecessary surgical procedures (like breast implants, something cosmetic like that)… Eat my shorts. Let Patreon or GoFundMe remain with those who legitimately need the funds.
Which match should headline Wrestlemania 36?
Right now, the current WWE roster is weak and really lacks any top headlining wrestlers. Therefore, they need to think “outside of the box” and try to do something that put eyeballs on the product SHORT-TERM that can benefit the existing roster LONG-TERM.
Here’s what I would do if I were the WWE Management… I’d fly in Stone Cold Steve Austin and CM Punk with private jets, set them up in the best hotels, and give them great accommodations. Then, I’d meet with them in the WWE Board Room with 2 suitcases of pure cash for $2 million each… Oh, that’s too little? OK, suitcases with $5 million each and offer them the MAIN EVENT of Wrestlemania 36. On top of that, I’d offer both men 100% creative control over their hype leading up to that match for February and March. The only provision I’d state is that there has to be a 100% Clean winner at Wrestlemania, meaning that someone has to lose in the match.
In the meantime, during February and March, both CM Punk and Steve Austin must attend each and every RAW or Smackdown event and while not on camera, they must make themselves available to answer ANY questions that existing WWE wrestlers have. In other words, I’d invite both Austin and Punk to act as Road Agents to TEACH existing wrestlers on how to work, psychology, cutting promos, etc. In addition to that during March & February, I’d invite Punk and Austin to attend Production and Creative meetings. Then, after Wrestlemania 36, if all goes well, I’d invite both men to join the WWE on a full-time basis as part of the Creative or Production teams.
Austin vs. CM Punk at Wrestlemania 36 would be a dream match… That match would pack that stadium alone. But what I’m offering is for Punk and Austin to be present and available for other wrestlers to learn from and maybe moving forward.
If not Stone Cold vs. CM Punk, I’d try to have John Cena vs. Steve Austin.
Reason I keep mentioning Austin is that he’s said openly that he’d like to try to have at least 1 more match… Punk and maybe John Cena are perfect opponents to bump for the older Austin but to also help hype it up to be huge.
Thank you for the great questions this week, folks… With the questions out of the way, it’s time for my little rant known as…
THE LAST WORD
With the latest STAR WARS episode 9 movie coming out and Disney+ mini-series, I recently posed a question to my Twitter followers: Which fanbase is worse? Wrestling Fans or Star Wars Fans?
And by “worse”, I don’t mean quality of human beings. Listen, I have my own entertainment tastes and preferences… Just because I love to play Nintendo games and not Xbox/Playstation doesn’t make me a bad human being. Just because you prefer AEW over WWE doesn’t make you one either, or vise versa.
What I mean by “worse” is how spoiled, cynical, irritated, and picky that BOTH Wrestling and Star Wars fanbases have become, with time, yet they still consume the products no matter what or it takes something extreme to cause fans to stop viewing. Wrestling fans are loyal to the McMahons and Star Wars fans can’t give up on their childhood.
Let’s evaluate both…
On one hand, Wrestling Fans are 50/50… 5 years ago, the WWE had 4 million viewers for Monday Night RAW… Now, they are barely hanging on to 2 million. Half of the WWE’s fanbase had enough of the post-Cena era with overpushing Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar while the other half is insanely loyal and accepting of current wrestlers and storylines. In fact, the remaining loyal WWE fans are actually willing to PAY MORE for WWE merchandise and live events than ever. The “$ per fan” metric has sharply increased. Even though most wrestling fans, including the loyal ones, suggest that WWE’s Creative Team is awful and the talent development could be better, over 2 million fans nationwide plaster on a smile and keep supporting the WWE.
If you want my opinion as to WHY older WWE fans are so loyal… Well, as I’ve said before, when Pro Wrestling is clicking on all cylinders, there is nothing more entertaining. They are just waiting for that next great moment or match… It has somehow kept me hanging on for years and for 2019, I was wishing that AEW would create that kind of excitement for me. For a brief while, they did, but then they forgot how to book wrestling shows…
On the other hand, STAR WARS fans… I’m more baffled by this one because, in my opinion, the Star Wars movie franchise was in AWFUL shape after George Lucas gave us a very weak Prequel Trilogy. For me, Phantom Menace has its moments like Dark Maul, the Pod Race, and, well… Those two things. Attack of the Clones is completely unwatchable to me. Just a bunch of acting stiffs, thanks to the poor writing and direction, speaking in front of a green screen. Just MEH… Revenge of the Sith is the best out of the 3 but if you take out Emperor Palpatine, this movie has the same problems as Attack of the Clones with acting, writing, directing, and speaking in front of green screens.
And everybody HATED George Lucas for letting fans down with a bad trilogy… And following the prequels, he was DONE with Star Wars.
So when Disney initially bought Star Wars from Lucas for a cool $4.2 Billion and they were the only buyers willing to do that price, everyone applauded. Star Wars Episode 7, The Force Awakens, was applauded by audiences and remains the #1 grossing film of all time in North America. HOWEVER, with time, people began to nitpick at this film… “Too much like a New Hope”, “another Death Star”, “Rey is a Mary Sue”, etc. And then Rogue One comes out and while the movie was another hit, more nitpicks about that. However, most people do not nitpick that ending with Darth Vader thrashing the Rebellion’s soldiers. Good God!
Then, The Last Jedi came out with a new director in charge, Rian Johnson. Remember the criticism about Force Awakens being too much like New Hope? Well, Rian tried something entirely different and changed the entire conventions on how the force was used, Luke’s character, using flashbacks, and Princess Leia’s Mary Poppins moment. The reaction? The fans HATED IT and in fact were insisting that they were “done” with the franchise. Last Jedi underperformed expectations at the box office and subsequent films such as Solo and Rise of Skywalker have both underwhelmed at the box office. Meanwhile, Star Wars merchandise is actually having trouble moving merchandise. Many loyal fans have given up.
But here’s my argument… Without Disney purchasing the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas, we’d have no more Star Wars films. Ever.
It is a fact that George Lucas wasn’t filling to part with his franchise unless the asking price was right AND that his Lucas Film division would be retained under Disney with his hand picked successor, Kathleen Kennedy, in charge. That would be like if the WWE sold their company and requested that Stephanie McMahon remain in charge. THINK ABOUT THAT! No other buyer BUT Disney was (a) willing to pay $4.2 Billion and (b) willing to keep the Lucas division in tact with Kathleen in charge. By the way, Disney has to deal with her in charge of the division until 2021…
Again, without Disney willing to take on the financial and administrative burdens, there would be NO STAR WARS.
I enjoyed Force Awakens and Rise of Skywalker very much, please and thank you, while Rogue One had its moments. Solo was OK at best but a messy production schedule and expectations of doing a prequel to Harrison Ford’s character was too much. Last Jedi is like a poorly booked wrestling event with terrible creative direction of its characters but many action scenes are pretty good. In other words, like most recent WWE Wrestlemania events.
Sorry, Star Wars fans, but I’ll enjoy the Disney Star Wars based films more than I’d ever want to see the Prequel Trilogy again. Attack of the Clones is unwatchable to me and I know many out there who absolutely hate Phantom Menace. In my opinion, Disney succeeded in giving Star Wars fans MORE content to enjoy. You now have 11 live action films to choose from and an amazing mini-series called The Mandalorian to enjoy. So what if Last Jedi and Solo were swings and misses to you… But damn, those other movies are pretty good. Look how captivated we are with Baby freakin’ Yoda right now. Disney made that happen because they purchased the franchise for $4.2 billion to give us MORE Star Wars.
Star Wars fans need to stop holding everything up to Original Trilogy standards. Look, George Lucas was young, hungry, and out to prove a point as a director that would change the movie landscape permanently. And here’s the beautiful thing about he Original Trilogy. Return of the Jedi, episode 6, gets crapped on by so-called “loyal” Star Wars fans. Huh? That movie is awesome. The Han Solo rescue, the staredown of the Emperor with Luke and Darth Vader, and the battle to blow up that second Death Star (independent contractors, RIP). How could you not enjoy that? OK, the Ewoks are lame… But hold my beer as I introduce you to Jar Jar Binks. Do you like them apples? And how about those “Special Editions” of Star Wars, too. You “loyal” fans should have seen the Prequel stuff coming with the way Lucas butchered his own classics up with unnecessary special effects. ESPECIALLY Return of the Jedi… Ugh at that new dance routine!
In my opinion, Star Wars fans are spoiled… Disney has provided you quality offerings when no one else could or would. They were willing to put up the financial capital and have actually given their directors, JJ Abrams, Rian Johnson, and now Jon Favreau, some good freedom. It has come to light that JJ Abrams and Disney were butting heads on Rise of Skywalker but after the Last Jedi reaction, I believe that executives at Disney were in “panic mode” to put in fan service to please the disgruntled “loyal” fans. Seriously, Emperor Palpatine somehow survived being thrown down a shaft and his body being burned up in an exploding Death Star… Who knew? But that’s my point… Because Last Jedi didn’t give you what you wanted, as fans, Disney stepped it up to make an entire film full of fan service. Han Solo even appeared again!
Meanwhile with wrestling fans, they are willing to eat Vince McMahon‘s turd sandwiches and then admit that they like the taste of it.
Seriously… 2 Million of you here in the United States are willing to pay $60 or more per Live Event, pay $35 per shirt at the merchandise table, buy those expensive title belts each time the WWE redesigns them, pay for awful 2K WWE games that are full of glitches, and endure 3 hours of commercial filled wrestling on Monday Nights with an expensive Cable/Satellite package. Vince McMahon can keep overpushing Roman Reigns and you’ll take it like men! You’ll complain that “part-time” Brock Lesnar is too dominant yet you pop each time he comes out. Even though the current WWE roster lacks any top draws, you actually get pissed when a WWE legend arrives and takes the spot of a younger wrestler.
And we can get into All Elite Wrestling.. Look at some of the goofy stuff that they’ve tried as a young company. Every match is a non-stop spotfest with not much psychology to offer. Look at that Dark Order… Come on. I’m not sure what Brandi Rhodes is trying right now. Yet, despite my criticisms of what AEW has become, they have 900,000 loyal viewers each week that are tuning in to see if this company can grow into a strong challenger to the WWE. Anytime I even remotely criticize AEW, I seriously get attacked EVEN THOUGH it was me who (a) came out of retirement to support AEW and (b) gave an A+ rating to the “Double or Nothing” event. I put in the time to try to enjoy this organization and some dips in quality have let me down. But that’s just me… Many love AEW and how it is a valid alternative to WWE.
Point being… Wrestling fans are either two ways… They walk away from the product entirely OR they remain 100% loyal. No in between, besides me who tries to walk away but keeps getting sucked back in.
Right now, Star Wars fans are actually showing loyalty to George Lucas again. Think about that… The man who gave them the disappointing Prequel Trilogies is something that Star Wars fans are longing for and maybe didn’t appreciate while he was around. After all, what Disney and Kathleen Kennedy did by suggesting that all Books and other materials were “not canon” to the Star Wars Universe really annoyed many loyal Star Wars fans. As the folks from Wisecrack argued, loyal fans could tolerate the Prequel Triology as long as the books and other extensions of the Star Wars Universe existed because their imaginations were allowed to participate in the process.
Just think about that for when Vince McMahon finally decides to retire or unfortunately, passes away. Will loyal wrestling fans stick around for the Stephanie McMahon led regime? Because all Corporate tea leaves suggest that she’ll become the next CEO/President of that company. If not, they’ll sell the WWE to another corporation in my opinion. As much as maybe the current Vince McMahon led WWE disgusts us, it’s still led by the founder of the modern WWE. Look at how much he allows us to participate with many fan events, WWE Network, and actually bringing back talents who had a prior beef with the WWE. Vince has provided wrestling fans with MANY MANY great moments in his WWE rings that we kind of feel a sense of loyalty to him.
The Vince McMahon and George Lucas comparison, I feel, is legit and probably a road map for how WWE will be perceived without Vince.
Question is this… Are wrestling fans OK with getting a WWE anyway without Vince? If the choice was New Ownership for WWE or No WWE… Which would you take?
For Star Wars, I am GLAD that Disney bought them because I can enjoy at least 3 out of 5 films from them that I enjoyed while the Mandalorian show is pure badass. I see more quality there than letdowns.
In my opinion, Vince McMahon’s current techniques on Creative and Talent Development are outdated and Triple H isn’t proving himself beyond a tiny Full Sail arena. They have made their Prequel Trilogy and most fans don’t like it. It’s time for someone else to try something new with WWE’s assets.
And when someone else owns the WWE, we’ll be excited at first and then be letdown when the new regime tries something different. Rinse and repeat.
That’s all I have for this week… I hope that you’ve enjoyed these newly branded “ASK MR. TITO” columns. Comments are welcome below as well as Questions that I could possibly use for future columns (if I feel like getting out of the rocking chair at the Retirement Home). You have been a great audience as usual and if you follow me on Twitter, @titowrestling, we can continue the discussion there or you can send me Questions there as well.
So just chill… Until the next episode!
Play my Super Mario Maker 2 courses on the Nintendo Switch:
Die Hard (themed after the Bruce Willis Film): 2YH-48W-HMG
Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time Wrong Warp: 2RX-QCV-N9G
Super Link Bros: HBD-H5C-QRF
Santa Bowser Came Early: GL8-F48-3XG
Super Wrestling Bros: 0H6-9HT-S5G
WWE Royal Rumble: SDH-JC2-HFG
WWE Elimination Chamber: P3B-5DJ-91G
WCW World War 3: BT4-W1Y-HRG
Extreme Championship Wrestling: 42J-4GT-W3G
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