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Hey, hey, hey, it’s PHAT Tito delivering more Excellence in Column Writing this week exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. It’s my final week here and I’m still productive! Several columns this week and I have also wrote on Saturday as well… Honestly, on Sunday Night, I was going to write a column and possibly title it Mr. Tito’s Phat Daily Column and see if I could go daily. But I was honestly “shot” as a writer and wrestling fan on Sunday. I guess that it takes a big news event to shake things up in the wrestling world, although I WISH that this news event (Roman Reigns) would not happen. I’d rather have Roman Reigns still healthy in the WWE than seeing what the WWE world can do without him.
When was heading into this week, I had 2 columns in mind… (1) An advice column to the WWE and (2) my final column. I was shot mentally on Sunday, so #1 didn’t get written… But I’m feeling good right now, as I see the light at the end of the table.
In other words, what this column is going to be is my uncensored and unfiltered advice to the WWE on how to greatly improve their company.
“But but but but what about the TV deals?!? But but but but what about the Stock Price? But but but what about that international money?”
What about it? A more successful WWE should earn more for their TV and international deals and if they had a bigger audience, their stock price would be might higher.
How about them apples?
Now, let’s get onto business. On my way out, this will be my last piece of advice for the WWE. I’m going to post this list and the WWE can use any suggestion freely if they so choose. Instead of paying millions of dollars in consulting fees to a firm, they can just read this brutally honest column for 100% free of charge.
Mr. Tito’s PHAT WWE Advice to Improve the Product
I’m approaching this as if Vince McMahon hired me for consultant or I have become his #1 advisor.
#1 – Demote Stephanie McMahon
Since 2000, nobody has performed more damage to the WWE brand than her. Yes, I’m off to a wonderful start… Her tenure as WWE Creative Team head from late 2000 through late 2013 has led to a major reduction in television viewers and live attendance here in the United States. She should have been demoted when the 2001 WCW/ECW Invasion bombed… On top of that, her mistreatment of female performers by enabling the Divas Search contest and a lack of concern for real female wrestling was insulting to that gender. Stephanie is best at public speaking, thanks to Communications Degree… We can put her in charge of charities and do some public relations as well. Stay away from the WWE’s creative direction as a company and also live events, please. This includes your character who has been nothing but a unscripted bully for the past 19 years.
#2 – Retain Triple H, but place focus on NXT as a separate brand.
Triple H should be commended for building the NXT brand as an Indy-like promotion, great tag team wrestling, and Women’s wrestling. Those talent raids, however, hurt NXT fro 2015-2016 and yet many wrestlers called up to the WWE main roster are struggling. NXT should be granted more resources and a chance to acquire a TV deal. That, and talent raids should be less frequent and we can accommodate that by paying NXT wrestlers more. We’ll use NXT growing further to prove that maybe HHH can one day takeover everything.
#3 – Figure out something for Shane McMahon, as he has great energy.
First and foremost, Shane is not allowed to wrestle. He’s a non-wrestler and makes the other wrestlers look silly when they sell for him. That and I have similar health concerns with Shane, as he sweats heavily within moments and his body gets really red when performing in the ring. Something is off there… After he receives a physical for his health, we need to put him in a non-wrestling role of sorts… Maybe in the announcer’s booth? Maybe retain him as an authority figure but less frequently appearing like Jack Tunney. Behind the scenes, figure out where that energy can be used to start grooming him as a future leader of the company.
#4 – For Vince McMahon – WWE or XFL, must pick one.
If you observe the last time when XFL occurred, it thinned Vince McMahon out and WWE suffered because of it. Well, now Vince is in his 70s. He has to choose one and walk away from the other. Personally, I believe that the XFL will be a major failure, particularly with the NFL rebounding in growth… But also sports fans remember what Vince did with XFL number one.
#5 – Retain Kevin Dunn but he has no creative say whatsoever.
When Kevin Dunn gets involved with the Creative and Talent decisions of the WWE, he is hurtful. However, the WWE television product looks great and those video packages always look fantastic. By focusing Dunn 100% on the TV product and away from creative/talent decisions, he can improve the quality of the TV product even further.
#6 – Change the Creative Team, remove all writers.
The current WWE Creative infrastructure of former Hollywood writers writing what Vince McMahon specifically wants is gone… In its place, we have a Creative Team with the following members:
(a) Paul Heyman
(b) Mick Foley
(c) Gabe Sapolsky
(d) Triple H
(e) Shane McMahon
(f) Steve Austin (if possible)
(g) William Regal
(h) Maybe Vince Russo, if he’s just a contributor…
(i) Jim Cornette or Shawn Michaels specifically for NXT to teach wrestlers how to cut promos.
#7 – Add Jim Ross to the WWE Board of Directors
Ross joins the Board to help in the key decision making of the WWE’s wrestling product. I want Ross to work closely with Triple H on the development of talent and also for the company’s overall creative direction.
#8 – Change RAW’s Third Hour to a Rating of PG-14 or above.
Monday Night RAW’s 3rd hour always drops in the ratings… What to improve that? Let the gloves come off. WWE goes from being PG in the first hour to being PG-14 or even MA for the third hour. Now, I’m not suggesting that we go to the extreme of what was seen during the early to mid 2000s… Oh no. But wrestlers can swear a little bit and things are allowed to get a little more violent. After 10pm, that’s when adults watch and that’s the audience that you are catering towards. This makes the 3rd hour unique and could help it draw again.
#9 – Smackdown on FOX has to be different.
Reportedly, FOX wants to make Smackdown look like a real sporting event. I applaud this and hope that the show is uniquely different than RAW. There should be 2 separate creative heads of each show, much like we saw during 2002-2004. Smackdown thrived with Paul Heyman in charge because he made the product much more different than RAW. And hey, the WWE still has the services of Paul Heyman on their roster right now.
#10 – Kayfabe returns, wrestlers need to protect the business.
A magician never shows how he does his tricks… So why should wrestling? No more behind-the-scenes shows from the WWE to expose the business. The public cannot hear it, directly from the WWE, that wrestling is a scripted form of entertainment. There needs to be something that challenges the disbelief of wrestling fans as if what they are watching is legitimately real. Any wrestlers caught exposing the business should be fined.
#11 – Crackdown of insider sources.
How the WWE lets their production meeting decisions get out to the insiders is beyond me. They need to tighten up on the information sent to the “dirt sheets” in order to protect surprises from being ruined. This decision might put all of us out of business here online, btu it will make wrestling greatly improve.
#12 – Create a Legends Brand
In the light of the Cruiserweight Classic or Mae Young Classic, create a “Seniors Tour” of the WWE for guys 50 or older. The matches must be kept basic and simple without any ridiculous gimmicks to protect the health of wrestlers. You could call it the “Vince Sr. Classic” or something and it would cause all of the older fans to want to see their old favorites again. Remember, that WWE Legends House was one of the most successful WWE Network shows (back when they’d publish the top 10 viewership numbers) but that was just wrestlers hanging out. Imagine a full blown tournament with all of your old favorites.
#13 – Unscripted Promos
My new creative team would just give a general direction as to where they want storylines to go and the wrestlers, themselves, would cut the promo to their liking on how they get there. Use your following week’s booking to punish any wrestlers who get WAY off script, like the older days. Austin, Rock, and Cena got over because they had creative freedom of their promos. The current crop of wrestlers are suffering because they have to play characters reading scripts instead of showing any realism as a sports competitor.
#14 – Full Time wrestlers should be stronger than Part-Time Ones
How is that part-time wrestlers can just wrestle 1-3 times a year and cause the full-time wrestlers to sell for them? Or how can Shane McMahon only wrestle a few times a year and full-time wrestlers have to sell for them? The damn Bellas can take 8 months off and have zero ring rust (well, I mean in terms of winning and losing matches, the real ring rust is there). Part-time wrestlers, besides a trained lethal fighter like Brock Lesnar, should struggle badly against a full-time wrestler at the top of their game. And for the most part, the part-timers are mostly older too. The full timers should dominate them to a degree. By having the part-time wrestlers coming back as they wish and dominating the full-time wrestlers, it makes the full-time wrestlers look weak.
#15 – Creating Full Title Divisions, World Titles vs. Midcard vs. Tag Titles
After the Great Depression hit, the Banking industry saw the Glass Steagall Act of 1933 which separated the banking industry from underwriting loans, securities, or insurance policies. Before 1933, they could engage in all 3 and commingling those industries caused a loss in loans, a loss in securities based on those loans, and the insurance policies covering loan/security losses to created a triple threat effect on the banking industry. After 1933, there were separations between the Loan, Securities, and Insurance Industries and that held until 1999… What is my damn point?!? If you are a main eventer going for the World Title, then ONLY go for the World Title. If you are a wrestler competing over the United States/Intercontinental Title, only go for that. If you’re going for the Tag Titles, stay away from singles competition unless it is against other tag wrestlers to hype a feud. If you go back to the Hulkamania and Attitude Eras, it worked because the Tag Wrestlers, Midcarders, and Main Eventers were CLEARLY segregated. Through 1989, Demolition/Hart Foundation were clearly tag wrestlers, Ultimate Warrior/Rick Rude were clearly in the Intercontinental Title division only, and Hulk Hogan/Macho Man were clearly main eventers. Then, when the timing is right, you can promote the Intercontinental title holder to the main event when he has exceeded his role.
#16 – Create Weight Divisions
I really don’t like the Intercontinental Title and US Titles, while I’m also amazed at the size differences between the women. Seriously, when should Alexa Bliss be able to defeat Nia Jax or Charlotte Flair in a real fight based on size? WWE should adopt a Heavyweight and Junior Heavyweight divisions to replace the IC/US Titles and also create divisions in the women’s division. If someone smaller can compete in the Heavyweight division, so be it. But by having weight divisions in the WWE (excluding the joke 205 Live show), you can allow someone like Finn Balor/Bobby Roode or Alexa Bliss/Sasha Banks remain strong as smaller wrestlers in a larger wrestler world.
#17 – Bring Back Fireworks
Come on… Endure some fire risk in that arena, WWE. Remember how exciting it was when the beginning of RAW exploded with Fireworks? It was so awesome…
#18 – DITCH the Gimmick Pay Per Views Already
I’m looking at YOU Extreme Rules, Hell in a Cell, and TLC… It is IDIOTIC to think that when it is October, wrestlers suddenly crave working cage matches. Or when December happens, wrestlers want to wrestle in matches involving tables, ladders, and chairs. It kills Cage and Ladder matches because it strips those matches of meaning when they need to settle the score between 2 wrestlers. For both October and December Pay Per Views, why not bring back the old WCW names? Halloween Havoc and Starrcade? Or if not those names, make the Pay Per Views themed based on SEASONS instead of gimmicks. Halloween has become a HUGE industry and honestly keeps Christmas from invading October. Why not embrace that? Save the Cage and TLC matches for when the time is right.
#19 – Trademark Finishers and Submission Holds
Here is where wrestling gets really ridiculous… If the F5, Stone Cold Stunner, RKO, and other finishers are so lethal, why haven’t all wrestlers adopted those moves? Why has the Stunner been unused as a finisher? Each wrestler should be able to trademark 1 move as a “finisher” and 1 move as a “submission”… And if another wrestler uses one of those specific moves, disqualification occurs.
#20 – Instant Replay to be used for Title Matches
There are cameras everywhere in a WWE arena. For title matches, the losing wrestler has to answer to a 10 count in order to challenge the referee to review the instant replay of a match. Think about the dramatic possibilities of this… For one, it adds some realism and seriousness to the title matches. Secondly, it can create drama if the wrestler was clearly screwed but cannot answer to the 10 count. However, we could get into screwy camera angles, loose referee interpretations, errors made by referees, and controversies if a referee gets knocked out. Go watch how much drama Instant Replay causes in the NFL and get back to me. Thanks!
#21 – RAW and Smackdown should be treated like sports franchises
From day one of the RAW and Smackdown split of 2016, I advised that both brands should be treated like sports franchises. Both have Salary Caps that each general manager must abide by, they can trade with each other, and each year after Wrestlemania, there is a WWE Draft of Developmental Wrestlers ready to join the WWE rosters. Better yet, the brands can trade draft picks for wrestlers. Instead of having the “Superstar Shake-ups”, you could have a credible developmental wrestler Draft each year and big trades between the brands could make headlines when needed.
#22 – Invest in Tag Team Wrestling
Hulkamania and Attitude Eras had strong tag team divisions and NXT’s growth during 2015-2018 were partially built by strong tag team wrestling. Take it more seriously than just a filler match on RAW or during the pre-game show of a Pay Per View. History suggests that a strong tag team division helps the WWE’s overall ratings throughout the show.
#23 – Push guys like Kevin Owens as babyfaces because they relate with the older fanbase.
Demographic shifts in the WWE shows a median age in the early 50s versus being in the early 20s about 20 years ago. What that means is that Attitude Era wrestling fans are older and are DADS now. Who do we relate to? Kevin Owens who is a proud family man. Yet, what have we seen from Owens for the past 3 years? A cowering heel. Huh? WWE needs to push wrestlers whom the fans can relate to and Owens is that very guy. Based on his upbringing and how he can split time as a dad, he can be pushed like “the American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Hell, call him the “Canadian Dream” Kevin Owens. Point is, that the WWE should take pride in wrestlers who can balance family and wrestling and embrace it with their characters.
#24 – Push Mandy Rose
Just watch this.
#25 – Return to 2 person announcer teams.
Non-wrestler as a play-by-play analyst and a former wrestler as color commentator. Just two people. If there has to be a third, that third is another former wrestler. Too many broadcasters on the shows now and it reduces from the actual “sports” feel of wrestling.
#26 – Bring back post-RAW and post-Smackdown shows.
From my #25, you were wondering “where does Renee Young go?”. Well, she returns to her post-RAW/Smackdown interview shows on the WWE Network and she can host the pre-game shows of Pay Per Views for all I care. REMEMBER, if “Talking Smack” didn’t exist, Miz would have never cut that amazing career-changing promo on Daniel Bryan.
#27 – Take your time with Velveteen Dream.
This kid is special and he is only 23 years old. Let him build up his resume in NXT and let him eventually become long-time champion in that brand. While he is there, let him work on his promo skills and in-ring psychology. Create a 3 year plan that sees him build towards the NXT title and then has a nice reign when champion. Have him retire as NXT champion and then join the WWE roster after that as a made star. Start him slowly in the WWE, too… Let him challenge for the US/IC titles, then win a reign, and if that title reign draws, then start the Main Event push. This kid is legit and could very well be Triple H’s first top drawing main event star.
#28 – Offer special ticket prices to WWE Network subscribers
WWE ticket prices are inflated and in my opinion, that is hurting attendance bigtime for houseshows and Smackdown television shows. Simple resolution is to link WWE Network subscribers to their Ticketmaster accounts for discounts on tickets to WWE shows, limit the discount to just 4 tickets per person. For someone paying $9.99, give 25% off or more to your loyal fanbase. Maybe more…
#29 – Lower merchandise sales at WWE Events
$35 for a t-shirt at WWE events? Really? On top of the overpriced tickets? Ridiculous. See my point #28 about if you are a WWE Network subscriber. Take your phone to the WWE merchandise table and they’d scan the QR Code from your phone. The more you buy, the greater the discounts. You just have to pay $9.99 for that WWE Network. See, the WWE Network wanted to be the “Netflix of wrestling” but if you push merchandise with the WWE Network subscription, you’ll have the “Amazon Prime of wrestling”. Someone going to a LIVE Event and buys Merchandise at that same live event should see amazing discounts by being a WWE Network member.
#30 – Let Roman Reigns act more like a human being (if he returns)
Now, I didn’t really want to add him to this list, but many are suggesting that because he has Leukemia, he’ll “finally be ‘over’ when he returns”. Huh? Daniel Bryan just came back from post-concussion symptoms… Granted, he didn’t have life threatening cancer, but it was a serious health issue. His comeback hasn’t boosted Smackdown’s growth that much or at all. What will draw is the connection to Roman Reigns as a human being, not a character. His announcement that he had Leukemia was the first time that I EVER heard that he had before in the past. Seriously, we didn’t know that… From 2012-2018, he could have been an inspirational wrestler who came back from cancer. Not a mention by the WWE, however. Roman was a damn good football player, too. Barely a mention by the WWE. We just keep getting a scripted character instead of knowing anything about the guy or “Joe” playing the character. When Roman comes back, he needs to start speaking like a regular human being and we need to know the man behind the character a little better. We don’t right now and that’s why he failed to draw for the last 5 years.
THE LAST WORD
Hey, the WWE 3rd Quarter 2018 financial results came in… You may read the report yourself by Clicking Here.
Well, first of all, when it is all said and done, the WWE should crown President Donald Trump the “Greatest Hall of Famer of All Time” because the tax benefit from the Corporate Tax cut earlier this year was seen and boosted the WWE’s Net Income significantly. Because otherwise, the 3rd Quarter would look weaker by comparison. THAT SAID, it’s not just about a single quarter but what is the overall trend. 9 month numbers so far for 2018 versus what they were during 2017 for the same time period. The 2nd quarter had that big Greatest Royal Rumble “bump” in total revenues.
But I like to look at the numbers within the report… The “Tale of the Tape” is that the WWE is killing it on TV Deals while BOTH Live Events and Merchandise Numbers are GOING DOWN. WWE has earned $6 million less on LIVE Events for the first 9 months versus last year and almost a $15 million decline in merchandise.
Attendance is down EVERYWHERE but for this 10-Q report, the online sales of WWE merchandise started to decline. Before, it was just Live Event merchandise and retailer sales seeing declines while WWE ShopZone and other vendors showed growth. Now, however, online merchandise sales are going down. That is huge. WWE is going to become more reliant on the TV Deals and WWE Network more than ever at this rate.
WWE Network still has a nice grouping of subscribers but its growth has hit a plateau.
The attendance and merchandise struggles are something that I have beat the table on for years now… I know that more people are staying home and enjoying their electronic devices, but there just isn’t much incentive for the HIGH PRICE to attend a WWE event live. Prices are too damn high. I should know, as I attended TWO shows this year in Pittsburgh, PA. I attended the Smackdown LIVE show before Wrestlemania and then Extreme Rules. Ticket prices DOUBLED for the Pay Per View show and I’d argue that they were way too high for the Smackdown LIVE show. Prices at the merchandise stand were absurd on top of PPG Paints Arena getting their cut on concession stand prices.
A few years ago, I did some statistical testing on what KILLED the WWE’s Pay Per Views. Their repeated price hikes absolutely killed the Pay Per View market. $44.99 was brutal for non-big 4 Pay Per Views and that adds up when you have split branded shows. In my opinion, it was the price hikes that ruined the Pay Per View market. Sure, it was a smart idea to try the WWE Network as a gamble that is paying off, but the WWE played a poor game of economics with prices back then to ruin that market.
If attendance and merchandise sales continues to decline, how do you fix it without reducing prices? Not like you can invent something new replace people in seats unless something like VR could be used? I don’t know… Merchandise sales are declining because nobody is drawing. That simple… If there is a popular wrestler, fans will trip over themselves to buy their shirts. As bad as business was during 1996, that “Austin 3:16” shirt sold really well.
But don’t worry, those TV deals will keep the WWE afloat. I just looked at Wednesday’s ratings numbers and they were celebrating 0.9 ratings as “good” in a report that I read. RAW did a 1.7 as their rating this week. Everything is declining in Cable/Satellite, hence why the WWE received major TV deals because they are drawing something even if it has declined in the last 4 years.
Yikes at those attendance and merchandise numbers… Numbers don’t lie, folks…
If the WWE would just read my above advice, they could boost those attendance and merchandise numbers again.
1 more column to go, baby… October 26th (maybe October 27th) take me away…
THANK YOU for reading, as always. I wouldn’t be writing these columns if it weren’t for you, the readers. I appreciate the time that you put into reading and discussing my columns. Tweet me anytime if you want to chat, as even after I retire from writing wrestling columns, I’ll still be lurking there. Just follow @titowrestling and you’re set.
And if you want an arse kicking on the Nintendo Switch online system, you can receive that too. Ice Hockey and Tecmo Bowl are a TON of fun to play online from the NES Classics, but if you want to play some Rocket League, Mario Kart, Splatoon 2, Street Fighter 2, Bomberman, Runbow, etc., just let me know.
I’ll still be around on Twitter and I’ll loosely follow pro wrestling news, maybe pick and choose YouTube segments to watch to remain current. I’m just choosing not to dedicate my Sunday Nights to Pay Per Views, watching RAW/Smackdown, or spending 2-3 hours (sometimes more) per column dedicated to wrestling. I just don’t have that in me any longer…
And remember… To purchase the Doc’s book Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the Wrestlemania Era via Amazon.com in the United States, GO HERE. To purchase this book via Amazon.com in the United Kingdom, GO HERE. If those don’t work, please inquire Doc via Twitter through his handle @TheDocLoP.
BUY THE BOOK!
So just chill… Until the next episode!
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