MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – Braun Strowman is a WWE Draw, John Cena vs. Undertaker, and Shinsuke Nakamura

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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at / I feel pretty good now… Sometimes, you just need an outlet and in my past few columns, I let the WWE have it… I legitimately worry about the company’s future with how bad the “Superstar Shake-up” has failed, pushing Roman Reigns, Lesnar’s departure, and how bad Smackdown has become… Felt good doing some venting.

Oh, I know… Another week in 2018, another viewership week ABOVE 3 million viewers. You got me… Just remember the context of my original 2016 prediction as RAW’s viewership was going in the tank following that awful Wrestlemania 32. Once the 2016 Brand Split DRAFT happened, I argued that RAW will go permanently under 3 million as long as Stephanie McMahon is the authority figure and with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins as RAW’s Main Eventers. Brock Lesnar seemed to be hitting the wall at that point as he had an awful Wrestlemania 32 match against Dean Ambrose that year.

Yep… Let me have it… I’m wrong…

But maybe I wasn’t wrong. See, during 2016, I did not anticipate the rise of a legitimate draw and potential WWE superstar. Neither did any of you. And no, I’m not talking about Bill Goldberg‘s unlikely return.

Braun Strowman

That THIRD HOUR of Monday Night RAW has been the true drag on the WWE’s viewership. If you look at most of 2018’s viewership data, the first and second hours are mostly above 3 million but the 3rd hour is often below. This week? ALMOST 3.3 million viewers!

Folks, that is 500,000 more viewers during the 3rd hour this week than last week! And what was the Main Event again?

Was it Ronda Rousey appearing to hype the mixed tag match involving herself, Kurt Angle, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon? NOPE

Was it Brock Lesnar appearing to hype his WWE Universal Title match against Roman Reigns? NOPE… By the way, to Roman Reigns‘s credit, he’s had a few good weeks of promos and I’ve enjoyed the storytelling to cover for an absent Brock Lesnar (out of contracted RAW appearance dates).

No, it was headlined by a Battle Royal to determine the #1 contendership for the RAW Tag Titles. Contendership the tag titles! I guarantee that if you added up the salaries of ALL of the wrestlers involved in that match, you probably wouldn’t get close to the combined salaries of Lesnar and Rousey. Seriously. Hell, if you double or triple that total, you might get close.

Braun Strowman does it again for that 3rd hour. Since 2017 when he’s been featured in the Main Event, he has “popped” that number. There is something special about him. He’s a legitimate hoss with a badass look and good athletic ability to sell a “larger than life character” that the WWE truly desires. The beauty of Strowman is that he doesn’t need the WWE’s marketing machine or major wins against top names to get over. Roman Reigns has headlined 3 Wrestlemanias in a row, has several World Titles, and has beat the biggest names in the company including Strowman (Cena, Undertaker, CM Punk, Bryan, Orton, & Triple H)…

When Roman Reigns defeats Brock Lesnar, it is going to be met with boos and I believe that the post-Wrestlemania 34 RAW shows will fit my “under 3 million” prediction if Brock Lesnar is officially gone. However, I wonder what the deal was with the Elimination Chamber Pay Per View finish where Braun Strowman attacked Roman after the match. That, and Strowman eliminated everyone but Reigns.

But for now, Braun Strowman is going for the RAW Tag Titles.

The RAW Tag Titles…


I will contend that my “Tito Plan” that I fantasy booked during 2017 should have been put in place by the WWE. It involved building up Braun Strowman during the second half of 2017 and then having him win the 2017 Royal Rumble match to become #1 contender at Wrestlemania 34. There, Braun would defeat Brock Lesnar 100% clean. WWE would then push Strowman as their dominant World Champion and sell him as a “larger than life” guy whom you can only see in combat within the WWE ring. Simple as that.

Instead, WWE disposed of Braun Strowman in a short match at No Mercy 2017 against Brock Lesnar. Damage done.

But don’t worry, that Tag Title match will repair Braun as a Main Eventer…

If the Undertaker wasn’t possibly returning, I’d book Braun Strowman vs. John Cena at Wrestlemania 34.


I’m LEGITIMATELY excited for John Cena vs. Undertaker. There is NO WAY that Undertaker backs down after that rough promo that Cena cut on RAW. Why would Cena mock the Undertaker appearing on his wife’s workout videos? Match has to be happening.

What I don’t get is how the cynical Internet Wrestling Community is now BASHING this match. Huh? Before Wrestlemania 33 JUST LAST YEAR, you were rejoicing at the thought of FINALLY seeing this match. Then, you BASHED the WWE hard when plans were changed and the Undertaker was now set to wrestle Roman Reigns instead.

This is the match that most everyone has been begging for the WWE to do for YEARS… Why are you so sour now?

(a) Do you dislike John Cena now that he’s part-time?

(b) Do you believe that the Wrestlemania 33 match quality was his fault?

Who cares? Wrestlemania 34 is a freakin’ 5-6 hour show now. Plenty of room for everyone! And again, just last year, you were 100% in favor of this match. So what if the Undertaker is OLD? Do you honestly believe that John Cena won’t show up? Please… He has made everybody look GREAT in the past 6 years and gone out of his way to make those other wrestlers look great. The best Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, CM Punk, and Kevin Owens matches that I have ever witnessed have been against, coincidentally, against John Cena.

What bad matches do both the Undertaker and John Cena have in common?

Against Roman Reigns… Undertaker struggled against him at Wrestlemania 33, John Cena struggled against him during No Mercy 2017.

Trust me on this one… John Cena is looking at that Wrestlemania 34 card and everybody, but him, is getting heavily hyped for this show. Cena knows that he has done more for this company than Brock Lesnar or Ronda Rousey could ever dream of. I believe what you’ll see is something VERY similar to what CM Punk did for the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29. He’ll bump for Taker like a champ… I bet that John Cena is studying that match closely on the WWE Network and he’ll want to show-up the rest of the WWE. And he should… It has been my opinion that the WWE has mostly wasted John Cena‘s star power since SummerSlam 2014 in order to rush Roman Reigns to the top as his replacement. RAW has lost 1 million viewers and attendance is down by the thousands ever since.

Undertaker vs. John Cena is the #1 match that *I* want to see and that SHOULD be the show’s MAIN EVENT. There is nothing on that show that features the combined star power of those two wrestling against each other.



I just had to laugh at the reaction to my WWE Fastlane 2018 Pay Per View Review… First and foremost, if you look at other website reviews, message board posts, and social media, the show was mostly negatively received by wrestling fans. Lots of hate thrown at this event.

But yet when it came to my review of WWE Fastlane 2018, I was labeled as being “negative”. Huh?

See, this is what I’m noticing with my view on the wrestling as someone in their late 30s versus younger fans with different Tastes & Preferences. We all can agree that the WWE Creative Team is full of crap and a bunch of “yes men” to Vince McMahon. Hell, most of us can agree that Vince is “out of touch”. We can agree on that…

But where we disagree is how WWE Creative should operate or push instead…

Case in point, Shinsuke Nakamura.

Let’s get this straight… I mostly like Nakamura and wish him well in the WWE. It is a FACT that I awarded Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn my 2016 “Match of the Year” award from their bout at NXT Takeover Dallas. I loved that match. I gave good reviews for Nakamura’s NXT matches against Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode. Furthermore, I was excited that Shinsuke Nakamura would get the call-up to the Main WWE roster.

THAT SAID, several facts to consider. WWE Network has about 1.5 million viewers but not everyone watches the NXT weekly shows or even Pay Per Views. I would assume that less than 1/3 of RAW/Smackdown’s audience actually tunes into NXT each week, if that. The early “Top 10” viewership lists that WWE did publish had NXT low on the list quite often. AND not every WWE fan watches New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). I have yet to see any viewership numbers on AXS TV let alone how New Japan rates on that network. If any American growth in NJPW has occurred in the past few years, credit should be given to Kenny Omega who has done more to bring that promotion to the mainstream wrestling fans in America. Most WWE fans didn’t know who Nakamura until he arrived in NXT.

So when Shinsuke Nakamura debuted on the main WWE roster, most WWE fans in place didn’t have any idea who he was.

But yet the WWE tried to push him as a Main Eventer from day one:

– Feuded with Dolph Ziggler immediately upon debut
– Entered into the Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the #1 WWE Title Contendership
– Beat John Cena on Smackdown 100% clean
– Beat Randy Orton on Smackdown 100% clean
– Had 2 WWE Title Matches on Pay Per View (although both against Jinder Mahal)
– Winner of the 2018 Royal Rumble Match to become #1 contender at Wrestlemania 34

ALL OF THAT IN 9 MONTHS upon his WWE main roster debut!

It’s TOO EARLY… Again, let me repeat myself… All of the greats put YEARS into developing into top drawing superstars before even sniffing a World Title shot. Nakamura has already had 2 Pay Per View matches for the WWE title! Yes, fans were happy about Shinsuke Nakamura winning the Rumble Match, but was that for him or the “Never Roman” fans breathing a sigh of relief? Since the Royal Rumble, attendance for Smackdown LIVE and house shows has actually worsened. Nakamura has been pushed HARD as a top guy from day one which goes against the traditional formula that has made many other top level superstars “get over”. Get over in the midcard, chase the midcard title, win the midcard title… If you draw as a midcard champion, start to wrestle Main Eventers to test the waters. If that is well received, then said wrestler joins the Main Event scene full time and begins the chase for the world title. LISTEN TO YOUR FANS to understand when the right time and place will be for that official crowning of the World Title.

The formula works… Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, the Rock, Triple H, Mick Foley, John Cena, and Bagista have all started as midcarders and worked their way up with 100% buy-ins from the fans. They weren’t forced! Shinsuke Nakamura being pushed towards the WWE Title too early threatens to place him in the company with Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Jinder Mahal, Jack Swagger, the Miz, Finn Balor, etc. for guys who were artificially rushed to the Main Event and/or World Title. Then you have a guy like Randy Orton who was pushed well as a midcarder but his World Title crowning was botched and subsequent title wins were also screwed up.

So I worry about Shinsuke Nakamura being pushed too early… I have history on my side.

However, here’s where I’ll argue with the Internet Wrestling Community: Match quality.

In my opinion, Nakamura has yet to have a great match in the WWE. If you watch Nakamura’s New Japan matches versus NXT, you see a difference… Then, when you see Nakamura from NXT to WWE, you see more changes made. There has been a major reduction in stiff kicks and other offensive moves that Nakamura did in the past. Also, WWE seems to be making Nakamura sell much more than before. If you watch that match against Rusev, Nakamura looks like he takes a real beating… Rusev has thrown everything at him and yet it takes 1 finisher at the end for Nakamura to finish him off. Just didn’t make sense from a psychology standpoint because Rusev did all of his offensive moves while Nakamura barely hurt Owens.

Am I happy that AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura is happen at Wrestlemania 34? Of course I am and I hope that it puts many stars on the board. But I worry that Shinsuke Nakamura‘s in-ring style does not fit with what the WWE expects from him. The WWE environment is hard because you’re working at least 250 nights a week plus autograph signings. In order to accomplish that, the WWE is very controlling of in-ring actions and moves taken by its wrestlers (I mean “independent contractors”). Those kicks and knees that Nakamura once did are getting watered down or removed. When that happens, the wrestler needs to creatively change their in-ring style to abide by the WWE environment. Nakamura has to figure out how to incorporate more of his personality and charisma into a slightly altered moveset that doesn’t involve as many strikes.

Folks, we’re more on the same page than you think… I’m just not in “awe” of Nakamura’s matches, thus far, on the WWE main roster. If the Quality was there, I’d agree with you and disregard that 9 month timeframe to say that his push is “too early”. But it’s not… Lots of pressure placed on Shinsuke Nakamura to “fix” everything in one match. That’s dangerous because Vince McMahon can control the time in which Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 34 receives. Nakamura vs. AJ Styles at Wrestle Kingdom 10 had 24 minutes to develop… What if Vince gives them 10-15 matches for their match?

I hope that Styles and Nakamura blow the roof off that Superdome at Wrestlemania 34… But I have my worries about thinking that just 1 night will “fix” Nakamura. And if the match doesn’t feel special or unique, the heat that both wrestlers could receive… Yikes!


JOIN Mr. Tito’s PHAT NCAA Tournament Challenge by joining the Yahoo! Sports Public Group by CLICKING HERE. Winner, should you beat me, can win a chance to write my column for 1 day. How about that for a prize? BEAT ME IF YOU CAN, SURVIVE IF I LET YOU!



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