MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – Braun Strowman Should be WWE’s Top Star, 205 Live, and WWE Hall of Fame

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Welcome back to Mr. Tito Strikes Back which is a permanent fixture here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. In fact, it’s where I plan to permanently write columns if the good folks at LoP will have me… And of course, since October 1998, I’ve been a permanent part of everyone’s week her online.

You know what I SHOULD HAVE said during 2016 following the RAW/Smackdown Brand Split in which I suggested that a RAW brand led by Stephanie McMahon as its authority figure and Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins as its Main Eventers would push WWE Monday Night RAW permanently under 3.0 Million average viewers weekly? I should have said “permanently under 3.2 million viewer”. My bad folks… I feel like such a sinner! You got me on this 200,000 viewer difference.

Congrats… You win this round.

Oh, by the way, RAW viewership during early 2015 was actually just above 4.0 Million viewers…

Yeah…

So the FACT remains that since the WWE began pushing guys like Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins as its Main Event stars or even making Kevin Owens WWE Universal Champion and then making him lose multiple non-title matches… Monday Night RAW is barely above 3 million viewers. However, it only goes above when it’s Rumble to Wrestlemania time or when Brock Lesnar returns for July/August/September.

1 million RAW viewers have evaporated in just 3 years. FACT.

I was analyzing the 2017 Financials… Yes, the numbers popped over 2016 but that year only had HALF of the year affected by the Brand Split… Thus, fewer live shows and the USA Networks deal for Smackdown LIVE only affected half of the year. But if you crunch the numbers and just do a little math… Such as dividing Total # of fans attending WWE live events divided by total # of live shows held by WWE…

600 fewer fans attending WWE live events at arenas. FACT.

DVR numbers were 400,000 to 500,000 about 5 years ago… Last I checked, 300,000 to 400,000 for delayed viewership. Can’t blame that!

But but but YouTube. On a Tweet, Meltzer said up to 70% of YouTube’s viewership was actually International. A good segment of RAW might do 1.5 million… Doing the Math again, maybe 450,000 YouTube viewers? But that’s just for the Main Event segments. Most of their stuff does under 750,000 and that is being very generous (225,000 as 30%).

But but but Hulu. Hulu only has 17 million subscribers. RAW doesn’t show up on their top viewed lists, so thus they aren’t being used primarily to watch RAW off-Cable. If you do ratio analysis of their current TV ratings and assume that as a sample, maybe 500,000 at best. I’m betting less than that, as from what I’ve read, Hulu’s demographics are mostly female! So….

When I made my BOLD 2016 prediction following the RAW/Smackdown Brand Split, RAW was hovering around 3.3 million on a few nights just after Wrestlemania 32. Then when I saw the results, nothing changed for RAW. Stephanie and her screeching were still in charge and the “ratings killers”, which I statistically proved, were still the top guys in Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. When I blame Seth Rollins, by the way, I’m talking about the crybaby heel who couldn’t overcome Corporate Kane or the guy who had his CURB STOMP censored just after winning the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 31. THAT GUY, the wrestler that WWE neutered. So, don’t get me wrong on Rollins… I like him as a talent but his character was terrible from 2015-2016 and his feud with Triple H did him no favors.

MY POINT was, along with my ongoing fondness of the Ohio Valley Wrestling “Class of 2002” developmental call-ups (John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Batista, Shelton Benjamin) and how WWE still relies on their star power to this day, was that the WWE lacks top drawing STAR POWER and lacked it with the majority of OVW/FCW/NXT developmental call-ups and free agents signed since that “Class of 2002”. Sure, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan could have been huge, but WWE Management took a complete dump on both and I question if Bryan’s body would have held up if he was pushed to his fullest potential. Don’t know. The best thing that we ever saw from WWE Developmental since 2002 was the Shield but they are better as a group and not individually. That’s a fact. The reunited Shield was a JOKE because it was 100% dedicated to Roman while the other 2 guys were not co-equal members any longer. That, and Kurt Angle and Triple H were temporary members… Ugh.

WWE is just not creating NEW STARS that can DRAW (a) viewers and (b) butts in seats at arenas.

Again – RAW has lost 1,000,000 viewers in 3 years, FACT… Live attendance for WWE shows has lost 600 fans per show over the past year. FACT.

The MEGA PUSH of Roman Reigns isn’t working… It’s just not. The WWE done nothing but favor him despite Roman having no lengthy experience as an in-ring singles wrestler. He wrestled mostly tag team matches from 2012-2014 and then suddenly he’s thrust into the Main Event scene to chase the WWE Title. It’s no different than the mega pushes handed to other wrestlers before him from the developmental system. In the case of Roman, we have FOUR YEARS of data to look at and the numbers are a disaster. Despite actual numbers (viewers & butts in seats) declining, the WWE ignores everything and has Roman beating CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Triple H, the Undertaker, and John Cena 100% clean. What does he have to show for it? And what will beating Brock Lesnar do for his career if those other wins didn’t “elevate him”? Honestly, I don’t blame Roman for letting the push happen but his inability to draw new fans to the WWE product is hurting the company long-term.

I say to Roman Reigns“Roman, I watched John Cena. I saw numbers of John Cena drawing. John Cena was a fan favorite of mine and many other wrestling fans. Roman, you’re no John Cena!”

He’s just not… No matter how much favorable booking Roman receives, big names that he beats, or how much the WWE propaganda machine promotes how “great” and “awesome” that the Roman Empire is… Roman is just another inexperienced guy that the WWE rushed too fast to the top. He joins Miz, Jack Swagger, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Jinder Mahal, and even the early days of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan where they cashed in Money in the Bank briefcases for awful World Title runs… You HAVE to draw first in the midcard and then naturally get promoted to the Main Event. If Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Rock, Triple H, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and John Cena can do it… SO CAN ROMAN! But the genie is too far out of the bottle now and Roman has beaten every big name thrown at him. What win would impress you? Seriously? Who could he beat now that would legitimately impress you and be in awe of him as a wrestler?

As we head into Wrestlemania 34, just know that the WWE had the next big thing on their roster and BLEW IT during 2017. He was up and coming and still needed a little more seasoning. This hoss came out of no where as he didn’t appear in NXT and just appeared one day in the WWE as a new member of the Wyatt Family. Damn did he look like a beast… But could he wrestle? Could he present the intangibles of a WWE superstar such as talking, having charisma, and showing a magnetic personality that is impossible for fans to resist? Furthermore, could he do it naturally and make it appears as if he wasn’t saying memorized scripted lines?

And then this big guy picked up his Cello on Monday Night RAW…

Braun Strowman IS that “Larger than Life” wrestler that the WWE has been seeking for a long time now. He’s big, he’s improving in the ring, and is natural about his actions. You saw a completely different side of him on Monday Night as he tried to compete musically against Elias. Full of personality yet he maintained that natural killer instinct. To top it all off, he gave us a real “larger than life” moment when he smashed that Cello over the corpse like body of Elias. That segment will be replayed for years…

Before I go any further, credit goes to Elias for equally making the segment great. He’s a legitimate talent has the characteristics of a real superstar, too… Improving in the ring and the personality is there. Potential is unlimited with him.

I’m just so PISSED OFF at the WWE No Mercy 2017 event… Why did the WWE blow their load on this specific event? Oh wait, I know why… It was the September event to end the 3rd Quarter of 2017 and the WWE wanted to pad their WWE Network subscription numbers by featuring not just Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman but also John Cena vs. Roman Reigns. TWO blown matches on the same non-Big 4 Pay Per View. Braun Strowman was NOT ready for that match. Yes, he looked great at SummerSlam 2017 but that was a Fatal 4 Way which involved multiple bodies. Wrestlers could take breaks in between spots and remain fresh throughout… But when you’re one-on-one with Lesnar, you have to be ready. Strowman never worked with THAT aggressive of a wrestler before in a one-on-one match. He was used to tossing around lighter wrestlers instead of a heavier wrestler who could legitimately kill him if he desired.

As I stated in other columns, the REAL PLAN should have been (a) Braun Strowman wins the 2017 Royal Rumble Match, (b) Braun then defeats Brock Lesnar 100% clean at Wrestlemania 34, and (c) Strowman becomes a dominant babyface WWE Universal Champion who holds the title for a lengthy period of time.

But now… we had to pad those 3rd Quarter 2018 WWE Network numbers for the short-term gain but destroying things long-term. In my opinion, those No Mercy 2017 matches should have headlined Wrestlemania 34. But no, we need the short-term investor high five and then we need to keep pushing Roman Reigns to the moon.

I don’t get it… But what I do get is that I’m doubling down on my UNDER 3 Million call following Wrestlemania 34 if we’re getting a “Summer of Roman” with Roman Reigns as WWE Universal Champion and Brock Lesnar leaving the WWE. We’ll lose that extra 200,000 fans that are barely beating my prediction and then some. Guarantee it.

And no, I won’t shut up about television ratings… When the WWE doesn’t see a big “pop” in the next Television Deal, you’ll see why I keep mentioning it. Almost 34% of their Revenue comes from television deals which dwarf what they’re getting from YouTube other streaming services (besides WWE Network).

Don’t like me mentioning that stuff, then “GET OFF MY LAWN!”.

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205 Live is Still 205 Live

So far, 3 weeks into the Triple H booking of 205 Live I’m like “meh”.

Now granted, it’s early… Too early. But the level of talent and/or its chemistry together just isn’t there. In my opinion, the first problem that needs immediately addressed is culture. Hard to get energy when you’re wrestling after 2 hours of Smackdown Live. Keep the damn “205 Live” and sell it like it’s live… So what? Taped Monday Night RAW during 1997-1999 used to claim that it was airing live and nobody cared.

The talent… I don’t know… Many were in awe of the Cruiserweight Classic and I just wasn’t that impressed. Hitting spots and having zero psychology does nothing for me. Never has.

That’s why I believe that Triple H has to look deep into the pro wrestling world for his Dean Malenko. If you watched the Cruiserweight wrestling from 1996-1997 within World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Dean was the ring general who was able to sell and absorb moves of aerial wrestlers from Mexico. Watch those early Rey Mysterio matches against and carefully observe how Malenko is absorbing Mysterio’s moves. It’s perfect. Malenko did the same thing with everyone including Juventude Guerrera, Chris Jericho, and Ultimo Dragon. It was a thing of beauty… Everybody’s flashy moves looked AMAZING against Dean. In return, the wrestlers had to learn how to sell Dean’s moves as well… By learning his more technical style, it helped teach each of the more spotty wrestlers something new.

You don’t have that within the 205 Live roster. No veteran presence the caliber of Dean Malenko who can (a) carry the title like a champion and (b) sell perfectly and teach other wrestlers how to work. Not only that, talented wrestlers with personality who can complement someone like Dean Malenko.

I’m trying with 205 Live, folks… Yes, I do see a few changes but at the same time, it still appears to be a show airing after Smackdown to save costs and in-ring wrestling that isn’t exciting a tired crowd.

I want Triple H to succeed at 205 Live so that he gains more power within the WWE’s main roster products… But 205 Live is a product built within a company that wants to market larger wrestlers. On top of that, Vince McMahon gets bored easily. He just walked away from 205 Live and will toy with Triple H to run it for a while… Then, Spring Cleaning will occur and that entire division and show disappears.

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THE LAST WORD

Can we stop telling the WWE how to run their Hall of Fame? Geesh.

This week, Ivory earned a spot and may be the 1 automatic female nomination. For whatever reason, Ivory was bashed for not being a great choice or worthy of the Hall. Huh? Koko B. Ware and midcarders are in the WWE Hall of Fame. But Ivory has credentials. For one, she was a 20 year veteran by the time she left the WWE. She was actually a performer in the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) and worked multiple places before joining the WWE during 1999. Remember, women’s wrestling wasn’t even mainstream in the WWE let alone anywhere else in the world. Hard living… Ivory had to then wrestling in a women’s division that had yet to see Trish Stratus, Victoria, Molly Holly, and Lita blossom into superstars. This was BEFORE that era, folks… Then on top of that, Ivory had to do the honors for Chyna at Wrestlemania 17.

That said… Who are we to judge whom the WWE puts into THEIR Hall of Fame?

With who is remaining out there for female wrestlers, who is worthy of joining the Hall? I argued 3 female personalities/wrestlers should join with Miss Elizabeth, Chyna, and Sable. Well, 2 out of 3 of them are deceased and Sable’s relations with WWE hasn’t been always great. Everyone else within female wrestling has practically been inducted.

At the same time, not every ex-WWE employee is (a) willing to work with the WWE on anything or (b) is a public relations risk. WWE legend Bruno Sammartino had legit hatred for Vince McMahon and has been openly vocal about the accused steroid use of the 1980s WWE roster. Ultimate Warrior had major issues with the based on his 1991, 1992, and 1996 exits and money disputes. Both were eligible to join the WWE Hall of Fame for many years yet it wasn’t until Triple H intervened and brought both wrestlers back to the WWE. Before Chyna‘s passing, chances of her even being mentioned in WWE lore was low let alone WWE ever considering her joining the Hall of Fame. He comments about WWE stiffing her on payments and problems with Triple H were things to obviously blacklist her from the WWE Hall of Fame. She’s still not into the Hall of Fame and is just now beginning to be mentioned on WWE television again.

Then you have legends like Demolition, arguably the most popular WWE created tag team, who are participants in the Class Action lawsuit against the WWE regarding head injuries. WWE is not going to induct wrestlers who are suing them… Pretty obvious.

I don’t understand the Ivory hatred… She has a 20 year career which started with GLOW and ended with WWE at a time before Women’s wrestling wasn’t desired to become mainstream in wrestling.

SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!

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