MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – Some ALL IN Thoughts, Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania?, & Top 10 Greatest Wrestlers of ALL TIME

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The EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING is back here at LordsofPain.net to entertain you with contented from the demented mad scientist, Mr. Tito. Many of you keep asking “why leave now?”, as I’m heavily leaning towards retiring following my 20th Anniversary at Mr. Tito here at LordsofPain.net on October 26th, 2018. With WWE’s new television deals, Ring of Honor/New Japan’s MSG show, the ALL IN event’s success, and whatnot, it feels like we’re in a potential “boom” period. Why leave?

Because I can.

Now, I do want to speak specifically about one of those topics right now. First and foremost, congrats specifically to Cody Rhodes, Young Bucks, and anyone else behind-the-scenes who were responsible for putting on the ALL IN event. It was an amazing moment to see Cody Rhodes winning the NWA Heavyweight Championship and it being a close replica of the NWA title that his father, Dusty Rhodes, won. Cody deserves it, as he was a talented guy whom the WWE made zero effort to ever sniff the Main Event scene. I wish nothing but the best for Cody as he continues to prove the WWE wrong.

Yet, I’m equally disturbed by something that happened on that ALL IN show.

Before the “All In” event, I have never seen Joey Ryan. Some people have described a particular “move” of his, but I just didn’t believe it was possible. At the ALL IN event, a bunch of guys dressed up in “costumes” lined up before the entrance way for a particular wrestler to appear… That was disturbing, but they were just a bunch of guys in odd looking costumes. Then, Joey Ryan appears, back from the “dead” I suppose. He has an interesting look and personality, at first glance, and I could imagine that he gets a ton of heat. In fact, I was mildly amused at the persona… You don’t see wrestlers that bold with their characters during 2018.

But then, he hit the “move”. Now, to abide by LoP’s policies, I need to be careful with my language. Joey Ryan has a particular “Suplex” that I’ve heard about for a while but I wasn’t specifically sure how it was executed… Or I didn’t want to believe it. Joey takes his opponent’s hand and places it it on Joey’s crotch area. Yes, that’s right… And then he sort of moves his hips while working the opponent’s arm which is still attached to the crotch area. Then, the opponent suddenly gets “lifted” as if he was selling a hip toss. In other words, the crotch area performs the suplex… *Facepalm* For lack of a better term to use (or not getting in trouble here on LoP), the Crotch Suplex.

For ALL of the goodwill that this event provided, boldly selling 10,000 tickets for an Indy event to having Cody Rhodes become the NWA Champion, having a “Crotch Suplex” kind of subtracts from that. As goofy as Vince Russo‘s adult storylines were, along with the continued Attitude Era pushed stuff that happened through 2007 (before the PG Era), there was never an instance were private parts were not only forced to be touched within the ring but also executing an actual wrestling move with said private parts.

FINGER OF SHAME to anyone at the ALL IN event for allowing that to happen.

The thing is that Joey Ryan, just at the initial glance before the Crotch Suplex, looked just fine as a performer. He was unique from what I could see… But to proudly force an opponent to grab his privates and then to have his privates suplex someone… No thanks.

DO NOT MISQUOTE ME… I’m proud of what Cody Rhodes and company accomplished and from what I could see, I liked the personality and presentation of the Joey Ryan character. Having other wrestlers grab each others privates and then acting like the crotch suplexed them? Come on… That’s not entertaining. It is disgusting and it also insults pro wrestling based on the physics of that move.

I couldn’t show that event to my Kids with that match… THAT SAID, if you’re going to go into adult themed territory, go “All In”. Many of us are tired of the WWE’s PG Era and would welcome something more age appropriate… Just no Crotch Suplexes, please.

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Monday Night RAW averaged UNDER 3.0 Million once again… Sigh. That is with a “fighting” WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns now in place, the week following the Braun Strowman turning heel, and the hype of Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker appearing…

And you cannot get above 3 million? Come on, WWE… I thought that Brock Lesnar being a part-time WWE Universal Champion WAS the problem?

NFL Monday Night Football + Season Premieres of many Network shows begin next week (or soon)…

THAT SAID about RAW… I really enjoyed Undertaker and Shawn Michaels confronting each other. Loved it… If RAW could guarantee me a 15 minute segment of just Taker and HBK cutting promos on each other during each episode of RAW, I’d tune in every night and wouldn’t walk away as a wrestling fan. They are THAT good. Think about this… Both guys have barely been on RAW this year, yet their old arses can just randomly appear on RAW and cut promos that blow the entire full-time roster away. But guys can talk and both wrestlers 100% believe in their characters.

Everybody on the existing WWE roster is very synthetic, controlled… Yes, Undertaker was given that gimmick, but he had a ton of creative leeway on how he performed in the ring, cut promos, and evolved as a character. Look at how many different versions of the Undertaker that we had. With Michaels, he had full creative control over his promos and his performance in the ring.

Oh, and another thing… Both had experience, lots of it. Both wrestlers started in 1984 with Michaels joining the WWE during 1987 (left and rejoined during 1988) while the Undertaker joined during 1990. Michaels was a Tag Team wrestler with Marty Jannetty through late 1991 when Michaels became an Intercontinental Title contender for a long time. Undertaker had the initial WWE Title win but he was made into a sideshow attraction for many years before ever considering another WWE Title run. By the time Michaels and Undertaker had their late 1997 feud, both were about 13 year veterans.

Both Michaels and Undertaker are EXCEPTIONAL because they trained through the last legs of the Territory system and that gave them all of the tools needed to succeed. IN MY OPINION, today’s wrestlers are getting trained by few sources or 100% by the WWE. Many are also joining the WWE too early into their careers and the inexperience shows. Roman Reigns, in particular, struggles to speak on a microphone. He is too reliant on the scripted lines to carry him while his in-ring ability lacks any psychology to connect fans properly to his matches. Just seems like he waits around until he can hit the Drive-By, put wrestlers through the announcer’s table, Superman Punches, and then a Spear. Nothing else… He just wasn’t trained right nor did he get seasoned by a territory system.

There were probably a few times where Undertaker and Shawn Michaels worried about their paychecks moving from territory to territory. Both guys had many promoters overlook their talents. It caused both guys to become hungry and push them to levels of superstardom that guys like Roman think they’ll achieve with the WWE spoonfeeding.

Today, I was listening to TALK IS JERICHO and Chris Jericho was describing how his 1999 debut went. Specifically, he said that himself, the Rock, and Vince Russo all went to a room together to hash out what was going to be said during Jericho’s debut and Rock’s rebuttal. Just 3 guys went into a room beforehand and discussed the general direction of what was supposed to be said. Vince McMahon, at least according to Jericho, had no idea on what Jericho and the Rock were about to deliver. He trusted Russo to “handle it” and he trusted Rock and Jericho to act as professionals to cut good promos on their own. They didn’t need a team of 20 writers and a Corporate Marketing team sending ideas to Vince McMahon on how to run HIS company. No, he had faith in his wrestlers and trusted in 1 guy, Vince Russo, to put on a good show.

Looking at Shawn Michaels, he appears to be in tremendous shape. I’m well aware of his 53 years of age, but he has 2 fully grown kids who can now see him perform 1 more time to appreciate the lives that his wrestling career has given them. 10 years from the famous Wrestlemania 25 bout, I believe that Undertaker and Shawn Michaels MAY wrestle at Wrestlemania 35 as a “retirement” match for the Undertaker. Undertaker owes Michaels that, as HBK put over Taker at Wrestlemanias 25 and 26 and has stayed retired following that Wrestlemania 26 match.

I wouldn’t doubt that Shawn Michaels screws the Undertaker out of his match against Triple H in Australia and that sets up Wrestlemania 35.

Because I think that with Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling coming to town on the night before and being at Madison Square Garden, the WWE might pull out all of the stops that weekend… What better way than to give us HBK vs. Undertaker one last time.

I’m up for it. These old Attitude Era veterans can keep appearing for all I care. When the current WWE roster can’t to it for you (looking at you, ROMAN), then bring on my old favorites!

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Last column or so, I wrote about the Top 10 Wrestling Matches of ALL TIME, in my opinion. This week, I’ll give you another Titoland Delight with my Top 10 Greatest Wrestlers of the Wrestlemania Era (or since 1985).

And why not? If I’m leaving for good soon, why not put it all out there? Plus, this beats adding HTML coding to my older columns which I was getting bored of doing.

MR. TITO’s PHAT Top 10 Greatest Wrestlers of the Wrestlemania Era

This list combines their Drawing Power, In-Ring Ability, Promo/Personality, and Influence on the profession.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Bret Hart for longevity but not drawing (WWE Champ during the worst financial times) and Roddy Piper for being great when he wasn’t “retired”. I’m a big fan of Hall and Nash for what they did during their 1996 return to WCW. Chris Jericho is a very close addition to this list but more often than not in the WWE, he was a midcard wrestler. I love me some Sting, but he was on top during some rough patches. Kurt Angle was fantastic in the ring but had durability issues following 2002. Without Mick Foley as a punching bag, who does Austin, Rock, and Triple H wrestle during 1998-2000? It is a SHAME that Mick Foley didn’t join the WWE earlier in his career.

#10 – Triple H
Had Triple H not blown out that quad muscle during mid 2001, who knows where Triple H would be on this list. From early 2000 through mid 2001, who else had a hotter 1.5 years in their career? HHH was amazing in the ring during this period of time. After that, he came back slower and lost his hunger because he already proved himself in the ring and began settling in as a McMahon. HHH has many great matches that I can name off the top of my head, as he usually steps up on big spots if the opponent is reasonable.

#9 – Shawn Michaels
Best in-ring performer, period, and I’d argue best HEEL promo, period. Not the best babyface, however… I loved how he essentially had 2 careers… Everything through 1998 and then the returned during 2002 to continue on an amazing career. He was just not a top drawing wrestler, specifically as a babyface, to get higher on this list.

#8 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage
The Hulkamania Era of the 1980s hit its peak when Randy Savage (and Miss Elizabeth) got involved and helped to hype Wrestlemania 5 with the MEGA POWERS exploding. Macho, in my opinion, was the MVP of the first 10 Wrestlemanias. The guy pushed a great match out of the Ultimate Warrior even though Warrior kicked out of taking 5 straight Macho elbows (how Roman Reigns of him!). Then, he went to WCW during late 1994 and continued to be awesome. Ohhhhhh yeah!

#7 – Brock Lesnar
Explain to me why Brock Lesnar (a) only had matches on the WWE Network and (b) was paid between $3-5 million base salary each year for a part-time schedule? Enough said, as he was a DRAW that kept the WWE relevant from 2012 through 2018. His 2002-2004 run was pretty good, too.

#6 – “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
Remember, this list is of the “Wrestlemania Era” which means from 1985 and beyond. Thus, the first half of the 1980s is not included for Ric Flair here. After that big Dusty Rhodes match, the NWA Mid Atlantic era had some struggles until Ted Turner bought the promotion from Jim Crockett. Then, he went to the WWE and numbers weren’t drawing with him on top between 1991-1992. I think his drawing ability just wasn’t as strong as people suggest, though many in the South loved him…

#5 – Undertaker
Longevity is on this guy’s side, but I would also say being able to evolve with time is as well. During 1997, a lightbulb went off in his head to become more serious as a wrestler and it showed. For the next 2 decades, we were given many great matches by the Undertaker. Who could forget “the Streak”?

#4 – The Rock
I’d rank this guy higher, but where would the Rock be without Mick Foley and Steve Austin? They were perfect foils to the Rock. On his own, Rock was a draw but with Rocky on top for much of 2000, the WWE did decline following Wrestlemania 16. I cannot deny his success in movies, but as a wrestler, he needed Foley/Austin to elevate him and once that move career started, his availability diminished as the early 2000s wore on.

#3 – John Cena
Longevity is on this guy’s side but I’d argue that he lacked dance partners following the 2000s. He never that arch enemy besides CM Punk during 2011 and Lesnar during 2012 and 2014. Fact is that Cena moving to RAW stabilized the viewership free fall that occurred from mid 2000 through mid 2005 and my statistical testing proved that he draws when WWE Champion.

#2 – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
From 1997-1999, nobody was as white hot as this guy. His “Austin 3:16” stuff saved the business while consistently delivering great Pay Per View matches as the top guy. Had Austin’s durability been there, he would have been higher on my list.

#1 – Hulk Hogan
The biggest draw in pro wrestling, as he helped the WWE boom during the 1980s and then WCW during the late 1990s with the NWO. His return to the WWE during the 2000s wasn’t too bad, either. Not the best in-ring wrestler and his promos were goofy… But the buy oozed personality that drew fans to him like a magnet. He was the face of the expanding WWE which changed pro wrestling and then his heel turn was so good during 1996. His drawing ability outweighs any other issues he had as a pro wrestler.

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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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© Mr. Tito and LordsofPain.net – 1998-2018

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