MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – For Pro Wrestling, LESS = MORE and QUANTITY Does NOT Equal QUALITY

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Back in your face from the Retirement Home, it’s the Excellence in Column Writing that is exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. So, I’m sitting in my recliner with the rest of the retired columnists here at the home and I was laughing at the latest edition of TV Guide… And I’m like DAMN, that’s a ton of Pro Wrestling to watch during the Fall. In addition to 3 hours of RAW and 2 hours of Smackdown, we now get 2 hours of AEW and 2 hours of NXT… And NXT is talking about adding more Takeovers and AEW will have their own Pay Per Views.

Yikes… That’s too much wrestling.

Let me give you the old “back in my day” speech and let’s go back to the late 1990’s for the Monday Night Wars between World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). WCW went bold during the mid 1995 when it announced that it would go head-to-head with Monday Night RAW on Monday Nights.

Thus, if you were a wrestling fan through 1997…

-2 hours of WWE Monday Night RAW on Mondays
-2 hours, eventually 3 hours of WCW Nitro on Mondays
-LATE night on the weekends, ECW’s 1 hour infomercial came on for the East Coast.

Basically, as a wrestling fan, you gave up Mondays from 8 to 11pm to pro wrestling and if you got home from a hot date on a Friday or Saturday night, ECW’s 1 hour was there to enjoy.

So, may be 2 nights of your week was dedicated to pro wrestling.

And when did WCW start hitting the wall on Nitro viewership? During 1998 when, among several reasons, they added a 2 hour WCW Thunder show on TBS during Thursdays (eventually moved to Wednesdays).

And when did WWE start hitting the wall on RAW viewership? During late 1999, they began airing 2 hour Smackdowns on UPN.

Oh, and you had monthly Pay Per Views for BOTH WWE and WCW… Not only is that your Sunday Nights taken over, but twice a month and big hits to your wallet.

Obvious over-exposure is obvious. Oh, and by late 1999, ECW tried to air on Friday Nights with its TNN show. And they tried Pay Per Views on Sundays, too.

And what do you know? By March 2001, both ECW and WCW were both dead and WWE’s viewership was quickly shrinking.

Do you have all of that?

And what’s the phrase that I have repeatedly quoted in this very column for years?

“Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.” -George Santayana 1905-1906

Currently, if you are a diehard wrestling fan and are watching everything on Network television:

-WWE Pay Per View between 3-5 hours on the WWE Network for Sundays
-3 hours of Monday Night RAW on USA Network
-2 hours of WWE Smackdown on USA Network for Tuesdays
-1 hour of NXT on the WWE Network on Wednesdays
-2 hours of Impact Wrestling on Fridays
-Sometimes, AEW and NXT Pay Per Views on Saturdays
-New Japan on AXS, Ring of Honor on Sinclair Stations, MLW if you wish

That is a metric ton of wrestling to watch. When I wrote columns covering that schedule, it wore me out especially going 3 straight days when the WWE had Pay Per Views.

And then, with the addition of NXT and AEW shows on Wednesday nights… Yikes!

-WWE Pay Per View between 3-5 hours on the WWE Network for Sundays
-3 hours of Monday Night RAW on USA Network
-2 hours of AEW on TNT during Wednesdays
-2 hours of NXT on the USA Network on Wednesdays
-2 hours of WWE Smackdown on FOX for Fridays
-2 hours of Impact Wrestling on Fridays
-Sometimes, AEW and NXT Pay Per Views on Saturdays
-New Japan on AXS, Ring of Honor on Sinclair Stations, MLW if you wish

Seriously, folks, if you boldly tried to watch ALL of that… Where is your time to spend with friends and family? Maybe you have free Tuesday and Thursday Nights?

Who has time for that?

And most of all, and here is the kicker that many modern wrestling fans REFUSE to admit… WWE and AEW’s rosters are either TOO THIN or LACK QUALITY to entertain for at least 2 hours a week, let alone piling on 2-3 more hours of Pay Per View.

Go back to the late 1990s again… World Championship Wrestling (WCW), in my opinion, had the most STACKED roster of ALL time with their 1996-1998 roster. Just LOADED. Great midcard, Cruiserweights, strong Tag Team Division, and packed at the top with Main Event talent. Yet, they struggled when WCW moved to 3 hours per week during the summer of 1997. Then, when they introduced 2 more freakin’ hours with WCW Thunder (or “Chunder” as I called it back then), that STACKED roster seriously struggled to fill 5 hours per week. And the Pay Per Views suffered bigtime during 1998, as that was 3 additional hours of television time for that company to provide.

WWE’s 1999-2000 roster was STACKED, too… Yet, when the WWE added Smackdown, by mid-2000, RAW‘s viewership began to decline and continued its decline until mid-2005 for arguably the biggest erosion of fans in WWE’s history until the 2015-2019 continued decline began. WWE tried to take all 4 hours of WWE programming seriously between RAW and Smackdown and it burned out fans. Then, when you add a monthly Pay Per View for 2 more hours…

WWE’s roster got thicker with the WCW/ECW additions in 2001 and then the Ohio Valley Wrestling “Class of 2002” in the following year. Yet, they even struggled to entertain for 4 hours of television per week at times. Even when the WWE split the rosters during the initial Brand Extension split of 2002, one or the other brand struggled to compel fans with top level talent. As WWE’s top names left the WWE, retired, or (sadly) died, the rosters by the last 2000s and early 2010s couldn’t sustain the RAW and Smackdown shows with entertainment. Pile on the ECW brand and the WWE made things even more over-exposed.

Didn’t everyone complain when RAW recently went to 3 hours and then placed Smackdown on Tuesday nights to force everyone to watch back-to-back nights of WWE content?

I have to be honest here, I don’t blame the WWE right now… If I had IDIOTIC Comcast and FOX channels desperate for live sporting event content, I’d create more hours of it too. They are paying $400 million+ per year for RAW and Smackdown shows and now USA Networks just paid more for NXT on Wednesday nights ($$ not disclosed yet). In this era of Streaming with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and many others about to begin theirs (Disney+ is going to be HUGE), television networks are desperate for “stream-proof” sporting content. Hell, even the XFL received television contracts from ESPN and Fox Sports. The SAME Football League that failed badly during 2001 and lost over $70 million is getting a chance on top level sports channels to air. THAT IS CRAZY.

What is more crazy is if anyone tries to watch all 11 hours of WWE, AEW, and Impact wrestling during the week and then tries to watch Pay Per Views on the weekends.

Sorry, but these rosters aren’t strong to sustain this. Having warm bodies in place doesn’t exactly guarantee quality programming. WWE RAW and Smackdown are completely awful as it is… Imagine how bad their products will look when the NXT wrestlers are over-exposed, too. NXT had the luxury of just having a 1 hour taped show on WWE Network that never guaranteed that all wrestlers would appear. Now, with a 2 hour weekly show and the desperate need to compete with AEW, their top stars will have to appear and wrestle often. NXT might have to burn through unique match-ups that they THOUGHT were going to be saved for Takeover shows. Nope, gotta hotshot those matches to beat AEW on a given week.

And will RAW/Smackdown still be able to raid NXT for talent? Wouldn’t that impair NXT to succeed on Wednesday nights against AEW?

Lucky for the WWE, the All Elite Wrestling (AEW) roster has a lot to be desired. From what I understand in discussions from a few independent sources close to AEW, it’s the Young Bucks who have been the main talent recruiters for the male division while Kenny Omega has been responsible for the women’s division (notice all of those Japanese imports?). While I’d argue that the Main Event scene looks pretty good for AEW, it’s their midcard that suffers. Too many comedic acts who speak openly on Social Media on how wrestling is staged with their fans. Just watch that AWFUL Battle Royal from Double or Nothing and that was seriously for the #1 contendership to the brand new AEW World Title. Yikes…

Thus, we’re watching 4 products (RAW, Smackdown, NXT, and AEW) who have to air at least 2 hours of weekly content with thinner rosters of wrestlers who aren’t over to draw in casual fans.

Good luck.

Haven’t we seen this before where TOO MUCH WRESTLING has crashed the market?

Yeah, we have… And it seems to occur around Economic Recessions in the United States. A recession is when you have an across-the-board decline in economic numbers such as Consumer Spending, Production, Employment, Income, etc caused by a variety of reasons. Typically during a recession, the Unemployment Rate goes upward and many lose their jobs when producers start to cut back on production. Thus, with people losing their jobs or SCARED to lose their jobs, they’ll spend less on extracurricular things… Such as attending Pro Wrestling events. That Cable Bill is also the first to be allowed to reject payment for insufficient funds… Gotta pay for the house first, bro.

Why Vince McMahon Jr. could attack the Territory system during the 1980s is because many of the Territories took a haircut during that early 1980s recession. Many promoters were thin on cash and needed to sell fast. Then, during 1990-1991, we had another economic recession. That weakened the WWE and WCW substantially for some very rough years ahead while it drove the final nails in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) promotion. We had a recession during 2001. Can someone name what happened that year? WCW and ECW died… AOL/Time Warner probably saw early economic numbers back then and it helped convince them to not even give WCW a chance for a comeback. We had a recession during late 2007 through mid-2009. How did TNA wrestling and Ring of Honor do during the early 2010s? TNA piled up a bunch of debt and the Carters were no longer willing to subsidize it (possibly couldn’t afford it, thank you recession). If Ring of Honor wasn’t bought by Sinclair, they’d would have closed as a company.

It’s very similar to the Atari video game crash of the early 1980s… They created too many games and couldn’t control other Third Party companies from making games. Thus, you had too many games in the system and in Atari’s case, too many BAD games out there. Consumers had enough of that over-exposed company and stopped buying… Or was it also related to that early 1980s recession? Too much product yet not enough income to buy it.

Why do I say that now?

Well, we’re about to embark on an era with TOO MUCH wrestling product out there and maybe the economy is weakening.

-4th Quarter 2018 GDP was at 1.1%, 2nd Quarter GDP was at 2.1%
-Inverted Yield Curve, as short-term bond rates are higher than long-term bond rates. What this suggests, as a schedule, is that something you buy NOW will lose its value over time.
-Tariffs are being employed on imports from certain countries. That especially hurts when most of the United States manufacturing base has outsourced to China.
-European and China’s economies are struggling… They are either our top customers or top countries relied on for imports.
-United States deficit is soaring to record levels.
-Industrial production levels are already being cut.
-Downward fluctuations in the housing market.
-Stock market is fluctuating too much, lots of uncertainty.
-Our Federal Reserve just cut interest rates, usually performed to help economic growth, and may cut more.

Now, things could turn around… But if the wrestling industry is shoving too much product out there and expecting the economically strained customer to support ALL of it… Good luck.

Part of why the WWE’s attendance has been struggling lately has been their drastic increases in their ticket prices. Right now, attendance is down due to a lack of quality in their product… But if the economy tanks, that will strain consumer demand to pay those higher WWE ticket prices and would likely force WWE’s hand to cut prices or have more Buy 1, get one Free or Half Off sales that they are already having.

WWE with 2 brands (RAW, Smackdown), now NXT going nationwide, AEW, NJPW, Ring of Honor, MLW, and Impact wrestling…

Just too much to watch.

And not enough quality stars to make you WANT to watch.

See, I tolerated watching 3 hours of WCW Nitro and then 2 more hours of WCW Thunder because that 1997-1998 WCW Roster was LOADED. Additionally, you had the New World Order storyline that was compelling!

I also tolerated the WWE’s Attitude Era spanning across RAW and Smackdown for a combined 4 hours per week. Steve Austin, Rock, Degeneration X, Vince McMahon & his Corporation, and the Tag Team division were ALL GREAT. Thus, I gladly wanted to watch that content.

Today’s WWE… No thanks. Rosters are too thin and the Creative Sucks. Vince McMahon seriously begs Brock Lesnar to stick around by paying him millions for just a few appearances because the rest of the roster isn’t drawing.

Today’s AEW… Worries me before their 2 hour show starts. Questionable booking and a bunch off comedy acts on the midcard. However, the promotion is still VERY NEW… They have a great deal of buzz surrounding a promotion that isn’t a year old. That said, the expectations may be too high.

Today’s NXT… Great for a 3 hour show for about 4 times a year but can that roster of signed Indy wrestlers (with a few exceptions) sustain a weekly 2 hour show plus more takeovers? And again, what happens when Vince wants to increase the talent rosters for RAW and Smackdown? Any breakout stars on NXT are going to get moved!

If only one of those companies had a PROVEN Talent Relations or Creative guy… You know, one that has done it before in the past.

It would be pretty cool if Paul Heyman, Eric Bischoff, and Jim Ross were available for advice and given more power in one of these wrestling companies instead of being handed a paycheck to keep them away from their competitors. You know, Heyman took a tiny Indy promotion based out of Philadelphia and made it into a sensation that changed how wrestling was booked. Eric Bischoff took over a WCW that was losing money repeatedly and changed the business forever with Nitro, guaranteed contracts, and the NWO. Jim Ross was the steadying hand with Midsouth, NWA/WCW, and WWE by having the absolute best eye for talent that the business has ever seen.

If I were Vince McMahon or Cody/Young Bucks/Omega, I would hold regular meetings with those folks and take their advice seriously. Don’t give them bogus titles of “Executive Director” or “Advisor”… Make them part of your management group AND give them direct responsibilities, with full creative freedom, to help manage your promotions.

FURTHERMORE, start putting Heyman, Bischoff, and Ross in positions to TRAIN YOUNGER EMPLOYEES to learn the business. That is where pro wrestling is SCREWED right now. We haven’t had an innovative mind enter the business since Heyman, Bischoff, and Ross were on display during the late 1990s. Nobody is coming up with innovative ways to present wrestlers or train wrestlers. The McMahons are creatively depleted and nobody outside of them are changing the business. TNA/Impact and Ring of Honor had YEARS upon YEARS to come up with fresh alternatives and both came up short. AEW feels fresh but their mistakes in their first 3 televised shows are very obvious and some of their EVPs are acting stubborn to change.

Since the WWE became Corporate and the dominant force in the industry, there is a major lack of passing on knowledge to the next generations of wrestlers and promoters. Many of the older wrestlers are still holding on, wrestling into their 50s, while Vince McMahon holds a stranglehold on Creative and Talent. Nobody is getting trained properly like they used to… Too many wrestlers resort to rehearsing and memorizing match layouts instead of being taught how to properly work and how to listen to the audience when you’re in the ring.

Sorry, but there just isn’t enough quality out there to justify watching at least 9 hours of televised WWE/AEW…

Quantity does NOT equal Quality.

LESS is MORE with pro wrestling.

—————————————————————-

THE LAST WORD

Can we eliminate political correctness from Pro Wrestling? We deal with it in our everyday lives on being too careful on what to say, how to act… We’re placing pages of our Dictionary in the shredder and censoring people or shows that many found entertaining in the past. Sure, there are obvious racial slurs associated with darker times in our past that should be censored, but there is so much scrubbed from our society that is deemed to be “associated with” racism. Right now, the American Flag is considered offensive. Sure, we were once a country that allowed slavery, but we’re also a country that fought to end it.

Pro wrestling for many of us is an escape and acts as an altered reality that depicts the epic battle between Good versus Evil characters over title belts. Many wrestling fans work hard all day and then they turn on the news to see how polarizing politics has become or what group got offended today. Many people are losing jobs because of what they said not just in the present, but in the past as well. If you Tweeted something 10 years ago, it can be seriously held against you now. What, you can’t evolve? You’re not allowed to joke about anything?

Since the PG Era took over the WWE during the late 2000s, everything is offensive now in pro wrestling. Wrestling fans, particularly the younger ones who didn’t live through wrestling’s past that was much more fearless, have taken the WWE’s lead.

Let’s take the most recent case… On Twitter, Jim Cornette was upset at how female wrestler Jordynne Grace would rather classify pro wrestling as “performance art” instead. Cornette is from the older school where pro wrestling was kept from the public as being scripted and wrestlers themselves protected the industry. Even when it became widely known that pro wrestling was scripted, thanks in part to Vince McMahon beginning to openly admit it, many wrestlers from the 1980s and early 1990s didn’t admit it themselves. That way, when the NWO began attacking WCW during 1996, fans questioned whether or not it was real. You didn’t have Kevin Nash and Scott Hall going to openly talking with fans on how scripted those attacks were. No, they kept quiet and kept the act going when they were in public to PROTECT THE BUSINESS.

Right now, wrestlers take to Social Media and openly admit how scripted that pro wrestling is and speak with fans regularly. They’ll feud with wrestlers and then post tourist pictures of themselves hanging out with their opponents. Meanwhile, many of those younger wrestlers were “trained” within the last 20 years where Corporate WWE exists with poor storylines and cheap comedy along with the many, many ECW clones out there.

^ That’s what Jim Cornette takes major exception to… Cornette started speaking out on Jordynne Grace’s “performance art” comment and in replying to a commenter on Twitter, Cornette called Jordynne a “butterface”.

Now, in case you aren’t on 1990s lingo, a “butterface” is defined as a female who “looks great but her face”, with “but her face” sounding like “butterface”. Your head is 1/4 of your body, so technically speaking, it’s a compliment to your other 3/4 of your body… I’m kidding. Sure, it’s mean and I know that we’re in the hyper-sensitive era of #MeToo, but there are WORSE things that Jim Cornette could have called her. As Cornette said on his own podcast, some of the stuff said about the NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch was far, far worse. I didn’t hear Cornette saying that Jordynne Grace was “souless” or “lives on blood of children” among many other filthy words associated with female anatomy.

Recently, I mentioned my favorite Podcasts that I listen to and I suggested that I make sure to listen to every Grilling JR (Jim Ross), 83 Weeks (Eric Bischoff), and Jim Cornette Experience/Drive-thru (Jim Cornette). Suddenly, I was attacked for the nerve that I had listening to the “racist” and “homophobic” Jim Cornette. Huh? Because he called Jordynne a “butterface”? Because he said a few salty things from the past? Because he suggested that Sonny Kiss came straight from a drag queen contest? And many are really salty over Cornette’s recent comment over “working in a kitchen”, which was a direct quote from Andy Kaufman from the 1980s.

Take a joke, people… There’s a difference between being a troll with comments or being legitimately hateful. Cornette being a troll to Jordynne Grace hurts nobody and in fact props Jordynne Grace up. I now know who she is and I checked out a few matches from her because of all of this… There’s some talent there and she has quite a physique to present as a pro wrestler (that 3/4 that Cornette complimented on). Then, she took the highroad and created “butterface” shirts to sell to charity. That’s cool…

But where she took the LOWROAD was trying to question why anybody would employ Jim Cornette over words, specifically aiming at Major League Wrestling (MLW) as many tried to do that over the Sonny Kiss comments as well. You question his comments that were mostly jokes, but you fail to hear his political rants on the Jim Cornette Experience which are very PRO women’s rights, PRO LGBTQ rights, and he’s heavily against white supremacy. Not many people have the courage to speak out about the President of the United States regarding those issues, let alone in a very vulgar way as he does.

In case you haven’t noticed it lately on Social Media, lots of “#boycott” trends are being pushed because of something deemed offensive by 1 member of that company said or did something. The CEO of the Jimmy Johns subs restaurant chain is pictured with an Elephant game that he just shot and immediately, everyone is like “#boycottJimmyJohns”. What about all of the employees working at Jimmy Johns? CVS made a controversial decision about refilling birth control for some of their customers and suddenly “#boycottCVS” trends. What about all of the employees who work at CVS? Many companies who were sponsored by the NRA also had boycott movements. Anybody who is a big personality on television has been fired because their sponsors were attacked after something was said. What about all of the producers, camera men, and other members of the crews who worked on that show?

Many of these decisions are caused by political differences… Gun Rights, Birth Control, and Protection of Animals are all hot button issues… But there are many innocent victims of cleaning up things for political correctness that many aren’t aware of.

Getting back to pro wrestling, anytime a wrestler even DARES to question the sexuality of another wrestler, they have to issue public apologies. Both Michael Cole and John Cena had to post public apologies because they questioned the sexuality of their opponents or adversaries. Meanwhile, the Rock returns and can freestyle about it without any apology whatsoever.

Dave Meltzer got major heat by the Social Justice Warriors online when he said that female wrestler Peyton Royce “looked better in NXT” because she was “a lot lighter” back then. Most immediately took it as fat shaming but to anyone with eyeballs attached to their heads, we knew what he meant. Before joining the main WWE roster, Peyton and her friend Billie Kay took significant time off. Both returned with what appears to be larger bra sizes… If anyone just looked at BEFORE and AFTER pictures, it is clearly obvious. The internet attacked Dave Meltzer and despite his many apologies issues, they kept on attacking and tried to push everyone to cancel their subscriptions to the Wrestling Observer newsletter. Huh? Meltzer has written millions of words for his newsletters for the past 4 decades and you are allowing 1 comment to crash his business?

Where’s the outrage in the WWE requiring that their female competitors get Breast Implants?

If you want to push female rights at the workplace, how about them apples? You don’t see male wrestlers being required to have surgery to appear cosmetically more appealing on television. And those implants aren’t safe. Just ask Charlotte Flair who had one of those implants rupture a few years ago. Why can’t the media question why the WWE would rather have female wrestlers with large chests instead of the opposite? Hell, one of their own EVPs is a proponent of that surgery as well.

But no, let’s attack Dave Meltzer because we THINK he was fat-shaming. Tell everyone to cancel his subscriptions.

Just ridiculous.

Real “fat-shaming” is when the WWE has Alexa Bliss taunting Nia Jax for her weight. Someone in WWE Creative wrote that and Vince McMahon approved it.

Meanwhile, WWE gets a free pass on actually calling Booker T the N-word on live television by Vince McMahon himself or how they market all of their black tag teams in a specific way. How is THAT OK and everything else is offensive?

You cannot be selectively offended by things…

To me, pro wrestling is an escape from reality. Reality now, sucks… We have a country well over $20 Trillion in Debt and nobody cares about that. Colleges and healthcare providers are price gouging. People are getting shot when they simply try to shop at Walmart or attend schools. Meanwhile, nobody can say anything, past or present, without offending someone out there.

Can we escape that BS through our entertainment, please? After all, the WWE proudly calls it “Sports Entertainment”. We should have looser rules on that as long as it fits within the context of Good vs. Evil. Getting back to that Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss feud as a prime example. The fat-shaming worked there because Alexa Bliss GOT HERS. After weeks of taunting Nia as being “fat”, once Nia got a hold of Alexa in the ring, Alexa was very afraid.

Now, compare that to the Wrestlemania 19 match between Booker T vs. Triple H. Triple H taunted Booker T for weeks with racial overtones on how “people like him” shouldn’t be champions. The end result? Triple H won the match at Wrestlemania. Hence, why that feud is a STAIN on the WWE versus Alexa vs. Nia Jax.

Pro wrestling has some flexibility of reality because the Villains can do or say things that are offensive YET they should get their asses kicked for it. Sgt. Slaughter can become an Iraqi sympathizer during 1990 but in the end, he got his ASS KICKED by Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 7. Remember when CM Punk and Paul Heyman were taunting the Undertaker over Paul Bearer’s death? Yeah, CM Punk GOT HIS at Wrestlemania 29.

HOWEVER – When you scrub your promotion of anything offensive through political correctness, pushing a PG rating, and letting your wrestlers break kayfabe openly over Social Media… It hurts the effectiveness of the business.

And when wrestling fans join in this political correctness scrubbing as well, it limits opportunities to create heat for the business.

And taking things out of context or completely being unable to take a joke sucks too.

So just chill… Until the next episode!

LordsofPain.net’s YouTube Channel

Play my Pro Wrestling themed Mario Maker 2 courses on the Nintendo Switch:

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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