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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com and no where else. As we head into year #20, just thinking back at who as possibly created more wrestling columns than me. Obviously, the news writers with Meltzer, Keller, and Scherer and then my good Netcop buddy, Scott Keith. Of course, foolish me… I’ve been doing this for free since October 1998… To put in the hours (hell, days and maybe years) that I’ve put into being Mr. Tito, you need to have (a) passion for the wrestling business and (b) passion to create content. Believe it or not, I consider carefully putting together a column as an artform and the creativity in putting together a good weekly column on a regular basis has actually kept me around as a wrestling fan. As much as the WWE can frustrate me, it’s providing content for you,l the readers, that keeps me going.
Obviously, the non-stop MEGA PUSH of Roman Reigns is frustrating to watch. It has been non-stop since early 2014 when he was the only Shield member to defeat CM Punk and then placing runner-up in the 2014 Royal Rumble match. 4 years and many HUGE names defeating in his path (CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Undertaker, Triple H, & John Cena)… What does he have to show for it? He has improved somewhat, I’ll admit, but for all of the resources used to get the “Roman Empire” over, we’re 1,000,000 RAW viewers short since early 2015 and we’ve lost over a thousand live attendance fans per show.
Thankfully, the WWE Network has sold well, with time, particularly since late 2015 when it began to grow beyond the 1,000,000 subscriber “break even” point. But has Roman Reigns been selling that?
Hey, could someone tell me WHICH WRESTLER is 100% exclusive to wrestling ONLY on Pay Per Views on the WWE Network?
Oh yeah – Brock Lesnar.
But let’s get back to Roman Reigns for a second. I’ll admit that he had a GREAT promo on Monday Night RAW, one of his best yet… He tore Brock Lesnar apart for no-showing RAW, possibly caring about a future UFC career, and ripping him for being a part-timer. It seems since John Cena burned Roman to the ground during their No Mercy promos, he’s improved on his confidence and his character. Is it great and groundbreaking to draw money? Well, no… In fact, I’d argue he mostly recycled John Cena’s “part-time” promos against the Rock during 2012 which Roman Reigns actually used against John Cena. That said, one good night doesn’t erase 4 mostly bad years.
It’s the same argument that I just had over Seth Rollins last week when he lasted over 60 minutes in the Gauntlet match where he beat both Roman Reigns and John Cena. The Follow-up? Kinda looking insignificant in the Elimination Chamber match-up. Granted, the story was about building Braun Strowman, but why have Rollins score HUGE wins over John Cena and Roman Reigns and then follow it up with, well, nothing? Hard to repair YEARS of damage with 1 great night. You need consecutive nights and then months and then years of great nights to become a star. With Roman Reigns and his promos, he’s 100% scripted. One good night of WWE Creative will likely be followed-up with something bad as they have 6 television hours to write per week. That and Roman has to execute the speech… Is he that confident with that kind of scathing promo when Brock Lesnar is there? I don’t know…
Let’s talk about Brock Lesnar… His WWE contract is reportedly going to expire immediately after Wrestlemania 34 with that event being his last scheduled in-ring match. During the Monday or Tuesday before Wrestlemania 31 during 2015, Lesnar re-signed with the WWE for 3 more years at about $3 million guaranteed per year. There were rumors about Lesnar returning to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) during 2015 and it was an actual shock that he returned to the WWE. In fact, his return caused Wrestlemania 31‘s booking to be changed. Originally, Roman Reigns was going to defeat Brock Lesnar 100% clean and become the WWE Champion. However, with Lesnar rejoining the WWE for another 3 years, the ending of the match was changed to Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to join the match and steal the WWE Title. In my opinion, that sudden change in booking plans ruined the Summer of 2015 for the WWE and the Creative Team was clueless on how to book Seth Rollins as World Champion.
Fast forward to 2018 when Brock Lesnar‘s WWE contract is about to expire… What are we hearing? Well, Lesnar seems interested in maybe returning to UFC once again. Gee, that sounds familiar. Flirt with returning to UFC and maybe secure a nice deal with WWE again. Then, do the one-time UFC fight once again. Fact is that Brock Lesnar was talking with UFC President Dana White during late 2014 and early 2015 about a UFC return. Then, Lesnar suprisingly signs a 3 year, $9 Million extension with the WWE and the WWE let UFC borrow him for one night. It is very likely that Lesnar, WWE, and UFC are in this together.
(a) WWE needs Lesnar to sell WWE Network subscriptions.
(b) Brock Lesnar wants to fight occasional MMA fights, but not all the time.
(c) Dana White would love to have Brock Lesnar but doesn’t need him.
BUT, will the WWE actually re-sign Brock Lesnar? I believe that there is more to this Ronda Rousey signing than what is believed. WWE (especially Stephanie & Triple H) are smitten with Ronda right now and for the next few years, we’ll get a large dose of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. Unlike Lesnar, however, she has signed a full-time deal to appear much more often than Lesnar has… Could that cause Rousey to become over-exposed? Brock Lesnar, in my opinion, was successful because he wasn’t over-exposed. You only saw him wrestle 4-5 times a year and maybe 20 dates per year on RAW.
Does the WWE *NEED* Brock Lesnar?
If you study the RAW viewership data as I have and actually test it against Brock Lesnar’s appearances, the data shows you that he appears to be a “draw”. Lesnar appearing on RAW adds approximately 100,000 to 400,000 viewers, depending when he appears and who he is feuding with. HOWEVER – Lesnar’s appearances are tightly wound around January to early April and then mid-July to mid-September. That’s the Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania season and then the Money in the Bank to SummerSlam season. WWE has been using Lesnar for September shows, too, in order to pump up those 3rd Quarter subscription numbers. Thus, Lesnar appears during the PEAK timeframes when the WWE may draw higher viewership anyway. He has also helped out Survivor Series during November when he’s appeared there, too, although moreso with Goldberg than AJ Styles.
WWE Network, I believe, is where he has drawn the most. Lesnar has NEVER wrestled on Monday Night RAW or Smackdown for his entire second WWE career since 2012. Not once. Everything has been 100% on WWE Network and he wrestles at the top events such as Rumble, Wrestlemania, and SummerSlam with a side Pay Per View here or there. The WWE paid Lesnar a whopping $24 million from 2012-2018 in base guaranteed salary along with special travel provisions for just 4-5 Pay Per Views and 20 RAW dates per year. Considering that Lesnar does NOT wrestle on RAW, it is very much a deal to sell the WWE Network.
After Roman Reigns dispatches of him at Wrestlemania 34, what is there left for Brock Lesnar to do or wrestle? Braun Strowman rematch? I guess… We’ve seen those two wrestle 3 times against each other and I wouldn’t suggest that match is unique. The one match that I’m still upset over is that Randy Orton SummerSlam match. Why was that match cut short by the STUPID blood angle? Other than that… WWE is seriously lacking star power to even challenge a former NCAA Heavyweight Champion, UFC Champion, New Japan Champion, and longtime WWE superstar… Oh, and former member of the Ohio Valley Wrestling “Class of 2002”. You didn’t think that I’d forget about that, would you?
Maybe it is time to let him go? Maybe it is time to let him really become a part-timer and just appear at Wrestlemania once a year like Undertaker or Triple H have?
But BE CAREFUL if you do let him go… Having Roman Reigns rip on him as a part-timer and wanting to return to UFC seems like a great way to draw heat now but if Brock Lesnar gets pissed about anything said, he could deliver you a BAD MATCH at Wrestlemania 34. DO NOT forget what happened at Wrestlemania 20 when he gave zero craps about being in that ring against Bill Goldberg. TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE match! Nothing stipulates that Brock Lesnar HAS to have great matches… His contract says that he just has to wrestle “X” amount of dates. Certainly, he has had personal pride but when he doesn’t like his opponent or is upset at the WWE, he shut it down. Ask Dean Ambrose about his match against Lesnar. Ask WWE officials when they wanted him to wrestle Shane McMahon at a Wrestlemania (I agree 100% with Lesnar, which is why the Goldberg program happened).
If Brock Lesnar is REALLY leaving the WWE following Wrestlemania 34, a piss poor effort against Roman Reigns could be very detrimental to Roman’s career. Don’t believe? Then go re-watch that awful Wrestlemania 33 match against the older, broken down Undertaker. Just terrible. RAW Viewership went down the tubes in the Summer following that “big win”. If Lesnar doesn’t bump around to make any of Roman’s moves look convincing, it is trouble for Reigns. Chances are that the New Orleans crowd is going to troll Roman HARD knowing that he’s likely to win. If Lesnar feeds off of those chants and begins to make Roman look bad…
Then again, Brock Lesnar learned the HARD WAY on what happens when you burn bridges with the WWE. After he left the WWE during 2004, he was stuck with a no-compete clause through 2010 to prevent him from joining another wrestling promotion or fighting MMA. Lesnar obviously broke that by wrestling in New Japan and then joining UFC. Several legal bills later and being forced to settle financially with the WWE, I don’t think that Lesnar EVER wants to deal with WWE’s tough legal team ever again. That and if his UFC return fails, he might need a backdrop.
In summary – I believe there is a chance that Lesnar rejoins the WWE for another 2-3 year extension with options to fight MMA on occasion. However, with Ronda Rousey around, he might become expendable…
If the WWE feels comfortable with their WWE Network subscription, they could use that $3 million per year that was going to Lesnar to invest in a handful of new wrestlers that could become the stars of tomorrow… Or use part of that $3 million to pay for Ronda Rousey’s deal.
RAW ratings were just a bit under 3.2 million viewers, down slightly from last week’s average. This was following a Pay Per View and with Ronda Rousey in the last hour (that went under 3 million).
If WWE doesn’t re-sign Brock Lesnar, watch out for those dark “under 3 million” clouds to return to this column following Wrestlemania 34.
Gotta have star power, folks. This PG Era doesn’t have much. Thick roster of good wrestlers, but personalities with charisma who can draw in more casual fans. No.
If John Cena vs. Rey Mysterio happens at Wrestlemania 34, I’m OK with that. Both guys have something to prove for a WWE that hasn’t appreciated their talents over the past 4 years. WWE has tried to replace Cena as the #1 babyface while the WWE has tried to replace Mysterio as a masked Luchadore with various wrestlers. Problem is that both guys are unique and legitimate drawing stars.
So far, here is what Wrestlemania 34 APPEARS to look like:
– Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss (c)
– John Cena vs. Rey Mysterio
– Triple H/Stephanie vs. Kurt Angle/Ronda Rousey (I wonder if Nia Jax replaces Stephanie?)
– Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar (c)
– Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles (c)
That looks OK… However, I wonder a shake-up on the Smackdown roster will occur during WWE Fastlane. Attendance numbers for Smackdown related events, houseshows AND television, have been extremely poor and have actually become worse since Royal Rumble 2018. And who won that Rumble match?
I don’t know, folks… I REALLY liked what I saw from Shinsuke Nakamura when he first wrestled Sami Zayn at the NXT Takeover event before Wrestlemania… Kinda soured on him ever since. He just cannot work the safer WWE style and his matches since joining the WWE have been very subpar. You’ll try to point out that he was “over” as he won the Rumble match… Yeah, do NOT forget WHO he eliminated to win that Rumble match. It was either trying Nakamura or another feather in Roman Reigns‘s overpushed cap. DO NOT forget that wrestling fans were cheering for Roman Reigns to win the 2014 Royal Rumble, too, instead of the returning Batista. How has the last 4 years gone for Roman? 1 Million fewer RAW viewers and live attendance is down by thousands. Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton, and Sheamus have won recent Rumbles, too… How have their careers been?
I like, so far, what the WWE is doing with Ronda Rousey. In just 2 nights, the WWE has restored her has being the “toughest lady on the planet” after some tough losses in the UFC knocked down her brand.
WWE has to get someone over from that 2015-2017 crop of superstars, BESIDES the women. Someone has to stand out on this card and have that “Wrestlemania” moment that makes them a bigger star afterward. Because if you don’t, you’ll rely on the same old guys to draw at the top.
Check out this week’s Pachter Factor by Michael Pachter which is featured on SIFTD.net and also on YouTube.com weekly. On this week’s show, check out 13:50 and you’ll see a familiar Twitter handle asking Mr. Pachter a question on video games:
SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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Bookmark Mr. Tito’s Column Archive to read the current and past columns.