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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN PRO WRESTLING COLUMN WRITING that you can only fine exclusively here at LordsofPain.net and mostly no where else for the past 20 years (hi Top-Rope readers!). I’m feeling pretty good… For me, writing columns is not just a hobby, but an art form. I take great care into constructing each and every column. Everything is structured in a manner that it has a purpose and opinions are presented to get maximum reaction. As much as many of you hate me (get over it, I’m a guy named after a Jackson 5 character giving you wrestling opinions for free weekly), there are not many people like me and you’ll miss me when I’m finally gone. Where else will you vent your frustrations as a wrestling fan? Sending them to the Doc…
Speaking of the good doctor, fellow LordsofPain.net Columnist “The Doc” Chad Matthews, he will be releasing his next book entitled Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the Wrestlemania Era which debuts tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this Wednesday) August 1st, 2018. Please check it out… I had a preview copy to read and enjoy, and let me say this honestly (not getting paid to say this)… You’ll get your money’s worth! The electronic copy that I had was 290 pages but the good doctor uses single-space throughout his book. Typically, books are double spaced our uses 1.5 spacing. Not the doctor… Thus, you’re getting major “bang for your buck” and are effectively getting what should probably be a 580 page book because of the font choice.
Tons of content to read here, folks, from Chad. He presents a Top 100 list of matches that covers the last 34 years of the “Wrestlemania Era”, but not only that, the Doc gives you tons of honorable mentions BEFORE that Top 100 list to get through before you even start the list! And then you get into the Top 100 and you get tons of content regarding the matches, the history leading into the match, and lots of information about the wrestlers themselves. Where I think that this is a GREAT for many younger fans is that Chad isn’t just a fan of wrestling from his era or childhood, but he’s very fair on today’s wrestling. If I wrote this book, chances are that only a handful of matches since 2006 but not the good Doctor. That and mine would probably have heavy NWA/WCW bias since I liked that promotion a tad better than the WWE before about mid-1997 (aside from Macho Man Randy Savage in the WWE). His picks are far more even in terms of spreading evenly between promotions and time.
Do I agree with his list? Mostly, although I have my own personal favorites that I’d rank higher and a few matches that he has listed high that I may rank lower… It is all about tastes & preferences, which is why I think the ranking system is getting out of hand lately on star ratings of matches. But if you ignore that this is a Top 100 list and just a collection of mini-columns about 100 matches, that is where the book shines. It is LOADED with information on many of the best matches for the past 34 years. I think that it’s a perfect book for both older and newer wrestling fans. If you’re an older fan from the 1980s and 1990s who casually follows the current WWE scene, this book is informative regarding recent great matches. If you’re a newer fan since the 2000s, this book is very informative about many of the great matches and storylines of the past that built this business.
This is from my heart and not a paid review… BUY THIS BOOK. A+ To purchase said book 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.
In honor of the Doc, I’m going to pose an opening question like him to start my column:
10 Years Ago, if I told you that Vince McMahon would let a World Champion have 3 months off with zero appearances or defenses and openly promote Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on WWE television… Would you believe me?
Seriously… Would you believe that Vince McMahon would do the following:
(a) Promote a Mixed Martial Arts promotion on his channel, especially as he was suing Brock Lesnar during the late 2000s for participating in UFC.
(b) Allow his World Champion to not appear, at all, for 3 months?
(c) Disregard the “30 day title defense” rule so much in his life? Any other wrestlers needing time off, despite being World Champion, were stripped of the title.
Yet, Vince McMahon is changing his ways because he is incredibly desperate to get Roman Reigns over as the #1 babyface of the WWE. I’m sure that after putting in over 4 years of effort plus the last 3 months of trying to turn fans against Brock Lesnar, Vince was extremely proud of that faint “We Want Roman” chants heard after Lesnar attacked Kurt Angle, chased off Baron Corbin, and intimidated Paul Heyman. The cost of that mega push since early 2014? Over 1 million American viewers lost for RAW and fewer attending live shows in 2018 (especially houseshows) by the thousands at American arenas. But what I’d also argue is how “poisoned” many of the wrestlers who put Roman over become after their match with him. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Undertaker, Triple H, and John Cena have not been the same since losing to Roman. It’s kind of “insulting” to lose to the guy.
CM Punk no longer wanted to be a WWE wrestler after losing to Roman during early 2014… Daniel Bryan’s return from injury momentum was ceased when Roman beat him cleanly at a Pay Per View. Randy Orton has been completely going through the motions since SummerSlam 2014. Undertaker has been mocked as “old” since his Wrestlemania match with Roman and I believe Taker’s various return appearances have been trying to erase that bad match with Roman. Triple H got in tremendous shape and had a fantastic match with Dean Ambrose at WWE Roadblock 2016 before that Wrestlemania 32 awful match. Hasn’t been as motivated as an in-ring wrestler since. Cena’s draw had several nails driven into it based on the bad match he had with Roman at No Mercy 2017.
See, that’s the thing folks… Because Roman Reigns CANNOT get over and become popular on his own due to his lack of in-ring ability, lack of charisma, inability to talk without a script, and a personality that doesn’t translate well as a babyface… The WWE has to then resort to destroying everyone else’s drawing ability instead. If Roman’s drawing ability cannot rise up, then everybody else has be brought down instead. NOBODY else is over on the WWE roster because for the past 4 years, the WWE has used either Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar to destroy and demoralize them as wrestlers.
I have watched Vince McMahon closely as a WWE fan since late 1988, heading into my 30th year… I have NEVER seen him be so infatuated with a wrestler and try so hard to make him a top guy. We’ve seen him try to push “All American” Lex Luger, Jinder Mahal, Sheamus, and Alberto Del Rio but not as hard or as long as Vince has pushed Roman Reigns. Luger was less than a year when Vince decided to go back to Bret Hart as champion through 1994. Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio were pushed for a little bit then sent to the midcard… Then Vince would try again, thinking the timing was better. At least you had breaks. Vince tried with Jinder Mahal hard last year but has since pulled back with Jinder now on RAW.
The Roman Reigns MEGA PUSH has been going on since early 2014 and hasn’t stopped… Defeats CM Punk on RAW during January 2014 and then finishes runner-up at the 2014 Royal Rumble. Gets the victories for the Shield against Evolution and then receives 2 immediate WWE Title shots following the Shield’s break up. Beats Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2014 but gets injured after that and is out for months. Somehow wins the 2014 Slammy for “Superstar of the Year” despite that time off from injury and working tag matches for a chunk of the year. Wins the 2015 Royal Rumble and that begins his 4 straight years of headlining Wrestlemania (Lesnar, HHH, Undertaker, and Lesnar again). Multiple title reigns between 2015-2016 that didn’t draw, in fact ratings declined at a faster pace when he was champion. He has owned the more over Daniel Bryan in matches, made a mockery out of Kevin Owens’s Universal Title reign with many non-title wins over him, and as mentioned, beats John Cena cleanly in their big No Mercy match. SummerSlam 2018 will be the THIRD time that Roman will be wrestling Brock Lesnar during 2018.
Vince McMahon is willing to DEPUSH the entire WWE roster to make Roman Reigns stand out. Then, he’s willing to create an exception for Brock Lesnar to hardly appear with the WWE as World Champion and not defend the title at all, breaking the “30 Day Defense” rule that has been imposed on any other wrestler.
But to openly promote Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on WWE television… Man, that is desperate.
We have to hand it to Vince McMahon… He has pissed off many fans regarding Brock Lesnar and has FOOLED fans into think that Lesnar just doesn’t want to show up. Seriously, I have seen fans believe that Brock Lesnar just doesn’t want to show up… His lack of appearances is HIS fault, not the company paying him! That is quite the con job or wool placed over the fans’ eyes conducted by Vince McMahon.
Again, the expense is harming the rest of the WWE roster which has pissed off fans for the past 4.5 years of enduring this Roman Reigns MEGA PUSH. Facts show that over 1 million viewers have been lost and thousand of fans from American live events are no longer attending when WWE appears. Those are legitimate facts… Fewer eyeballs on televisions, fewer butts in seats since Roman’s big push began.
You’ll probably tell me about the Comcast $1 Billion for RAW and the FOX $1 Billion for Smackdown that was just invested in the WWE television products for the next 5 years. And then you’ll tell me how much other countries are willing to pay WWE to have Pay Per View like events hosted on the WWE Network. And then thanks to that and other stock market conditions, the WWE share price has never been higher.
However, Mr. Tito is ready for that silly argument.
You do realize that Comcast was attempting to purchase Time Warner Cable for around $45 Billion, right? And they were willing to pay $65 Billion for 21st Century Fox, right? And how about this? If you think that the WWE $1 billion over 5 years is a big deal, consider that NBC pays $1 billion PER YEAR to the National Football League (NFL) to air just about 20 games. Seriously… They are only paying $200 Million per year for the WWE to air 52 weeks of content.
And then there is FOX. They just received $71 Billion from Disney for their 21st Century deal. Talk about FLUSH WITH CASH! Then, they not only pay over $1 Billion annually for NFL coverage, they just agreed to pay $3.3 Billion to air Thursday Night Football games over 5 years for the NFL. And I could get into other sports rights deals that FOX pays such as Big Ten, MLB, etc.
ESPN just paid $1.5 Billion over 5 years to air UFC events that don’t occur weekly… Look at how much harder the WWE has to work for their $1 billion over 5 years on shows that they HAVE to air weekly.
I’m just saying, be careful about bragging on these television deals. These big corporations have lots of money around from selling their content or price gouging their customers (like on Cable). With the fear of “cutting the cord” continuing to grow, channels like USA Network and FOX Broadcast Channel are DESPERATE for lower cost content that can draw reasonable viewership. Believe it or not, but operating a WWE event in a large arena weekly is cheaper than a Hollywood television production. By a margin!
And everybody’s stock price is up and has been since Interest Rates were cut super-low during 2008. Right now, a Bank can borrow Federal Funds through the central banking system at or just below a 2.00% interest rate. Compare that to 5.25% interest paid through mid 2007. It is still cheap to borrow money right now and roll the dice in the stock market. The Dow Jones industrial average is at an absurd 25,000 with many considering its peak during mid 2008 at 14,000 to be “inflated”.
Good for WWE that Comcast and FOX are willing to hand them a combined total of over $2 Billion, along with Foreign countries seeking the WWE Network to help them promote their countries with “special” Pay Per View like events.
But imagine if the WWE had Steve Austin, the Rock, or even John Cena in their primes. LOOK at that infrastructure that the WWE has right now between Television, Internet, Social Media, Live Event touring, and the WWE Network. WWE would be HUGE right now if they had a better #1 babyface on top of the promotion. That is my argument and obsession over the numbers. WWE COULD DO BETTER but instead, pushes Roman Reigns as hard as they can to force him to become that #1 babyface.
“Brock Lesnar has to be the worst Universal Champion of ALL TIME”, said Kurt Angle on RAW this past Monday. They actually said that about a title that has only been in existence for 2 years and hasn’t had a good track record beyond Lesnar. Again, the game is to DESTROY EVERYBODY surrounding Roman Reigns to make Reigns standout amongst the destruction. Daring to mention the UFC stuff, too…
The funny thing about Roman mocking Lesnar about being in the UFC just underlines how WEAK it makes Roman appear. By admitting that Lesnar is in the UFC, it validates him as a legitimate fighter. Hey Roman Reigns, when will you try to compete in the UFC? But I thought that your character was so tough… The desperation of trying to get Roman Reigns over just created FREE advertisement for the UFC on WWE television. Worse yet, it openly admits that UFC is the superior brand if your WWE Champion is joining the UFC while he is WWE Champion.
Just get SummerSlam 2018 over with already… Let Brock Lesnar fully walk away and we’ll be permanently under 3 million viewers. Did y’all see the average viewership this week? Under 3 million DESPITE Brock Lesnar having multiple appearances and Ronda Rousey also being on the show. The Lesnar/Angle/Heyman/Corbin segment main evented the show and viewership dipped from the 2nd hour to the 3rd. What happens when Brock Lesnar is gone forever? We have already proven that Roman Reigns can’t draw and the rest of the roster has been depushed in favor of the “Roman Empire”.
But hey, you have Scrooge McDuck money to swim in, WWE… But you may not get my money soon in just under 3 months.
MR. TITO – FLASHBACK
As we continue the Magical Mystery Tour towards my 20th Anniversary as Mr. Tito at LordsofPain.net on October 26th, 1998, I have been posting previous comments as a look back at my lengthy time as a columnist.
This time, we’ll venture to 2004 for an August 3rd column (I wrote weekly back then)…
THE WRATH OF TITO – 8/3/2004
Welcome to the Wrath of Tito. I had an idea… maybe I’ll go back to my old columns (the Phat Daily Columns) and change them up a bit. Maybe spruce them up with some HTML magic or maybe add extra images. Yeah, that would be great. Then later, after you read those columns, I’ll go back and insert new opinions over my old opinions. You know, it would be like George Lucas screwing over the Star Wars Trilogy when he releases them on DVD in September. Ok, I won’t be editing my old columns, but the crime George Lucas is performing by replacing old actors (like on the Return of the Jedi, when Luke sees visions of the Old Anakin, Obi Wan, and Yoda… Lucas replaced the Old Anakin with the newer one as seen in Episode 2 and 3). Sorry, this has been pissing me off lately and I had to get it off my chest. (Tito 2018: Nerd Alert! I became a bitter Star Wars fan after Episode 2, which I thought was terrible! The worst of the franchise and still is, in my opinion.)
-What could be seen as a first step in many, Bruno Sammartino actually met with the McMahons recently to discuss possibly using Bruno for the WWE 24/7 project. This is good and for a rare instance, Vince is recognizing the past of the WWF. Yeah, the WWWF didn’t dominate the market under Vince McMahon Sr. as it did later with Vince Jr. took over, but the WWWF did pretty well in the Northeast. Bruno is a big part of the old WWF’s history, namely with giving credibility to the World Title belt. Bruno held the title for a little under 8 years from 1963 until 1971, and this was big because it came quickly after Vince Sr. broke away from the NWA. Bruno also had a nice reign from 1973 to 1977. He’s a big staple of the whole WWWF-WWF-WWE organization and without him, it’s hard to say where the title credibility would be today and where the WWE would be today as well.
I actually called into a talk show with Bruno on it one time. Bruno was on a local radio show in my area because he was in the area to speak at a local festival. Since I really have no feelings on Bruno (I wasn’t even alive when he was in his prime, as I was born in 1980), I asked him “if the WWE came to you to honor you in some way for their federation, would you do it”. Bruno’s reply was “first, Vince wouldn’t come to me” and later ranted on how Vince would use footage of his matches without telling Bruno. He finished up by saying that Vince probably wouldn’t approach him and that Bruno wouldn’t accept it anyway. (Tito 2018: Looking back, I should have appreciated actually speaking to Bruno LIVE on a radio show instead of asking a tough question. Oh well.)
Welcome to 2004. No matter how sleezy the product has become, wrestling follows trends. It attempts to present what the fans want, and in the 1980’s, wrestling fans wanted more cartoonish characters. That’s what Vince gave them. In the late 1990’s, fans wanted a more sleazy product, and that’s what Vince wanted. I’m sure the WWWF followed trends outside of pure wrestling, too, during the 1960’s and 1970’s that Bruno rolled his eyes at. I know Bruno is upset because his legacy was suddenly overshadowed by Vince Jr. and Hogan’s success in the 1980’s, among other things (Bruno was disgusted by the steroid use). But, no matter how much a federation has evolved, it still has ties to its past. Guys like Superstar Billy Graham have come to this realization, and so should Bruno. It’s not like he has to watch the current WWE or be a part of it. But it would be nice for longtime fans to see him every once and a while in the WWE’s honor, such as Hall of Fame ceremonies or with the 24/7 project, it would be nice to see him discuss his old matches. You know, DVD’s are popular for having the actual people discuss what they’ve done in the bonus features. (Tito 2018: Well, not so much now for Superstar Billy Graham. Times do change… )
-ESPN has been very much into Brock Lesnar’s attempt at becoming an NFL player. Just last night, they had a feature on Lesnar on NFL Countdown, and Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski ripped Lesnar to shreds, saying he won’t make it in the NFL. Well, they did play the game, so take it at face value. I hope Lesnar makes it. Not to prove analysts wrong but to give a good name to professional wrestling. Wrestlers ARE athletes and it would paint a good picture for wrestling.
-The WWE has a lot of work to convince me that Randy Orton versus Triple H will be a good match at Wrestlemania 21. Just getting there will be a bore, for the best RAW champion ever, Chris Benoit, will suddenly get lost in the fold. I mean, Triple H winning the 2005 Royal Rumble? Does anybody want to see this? And secondly, what says HHH vs. Orton will be any good for a WRESTLEMANIA match? HHH’s performances in 2002 and 2003 against Chris Jericho and Booker T were very shady, and in 2004, he had HBK and Benoit to work with (which is currently 2004’s Match of the Year). Don’t get me wrong… I WANT to see Orton vs. Triple H become successful. However, given HHH’s work outside of Benoit/HBK and Orton’s weak performances, I’m not so sure this will be anything special. (Tito 2018: You can obviously see what a big Benoit fan that I was during 2004.)
-Roddy Piper has apparently made overtures to the WWE about a return to the WWE. In my opinion, Piper just needs to make amends with the WWE. He didn’t add much to Smackdown while he was back in the WWE, and he probably wouldn’t again upon returning. He just needs to be in good graces with the WWE for use of his video libraries and for his WWF fans (like at Hall of Fame stuff, fan fests, etc). That’s it. No need to dig deep into the WWE again, for Piper got burned when his pre-taped HBO comments about wrestling aired and got him fired.
-I bought the Chris Benoit DVD… I don’t have time for a full review, but I’ll briefly discuss it here. It’s VERY WELL DONE, especially on the documentary part, which is over an hour long of Benoit, family, and friends talking about Benoit’s career from his childhood until Wrestlemania 20. Just awesome! It clearly shows Benoit’s passion for the business and he gets pretty emotional on parts. The DVD is highly recommended for this… but then you get extras.
I liked the choices for the matches, for the most part. I thought one of his Dean Malenko matches should have been featured, in addition to the great Edmonton Chris Benoit vs. Steve Austin match that was on a Smackdown. Otherwise, a fine choice of matches. This video collection shows what a great performer Benoit is and he’s one of the best in-ring performers of the last 25 years, easily. It’s very hard to get a bad match out of Benoit and he’s more than made wrestlers look good (like Sid Vicious).
By the way, has any WWE DVD released that Benoit vs. Steve Austin match from an Edmonton Smackdown in 2001?
-The Smackdown highlights look somewhat exciting, with Teddy Long now the commissioner (he filled in great for Bischoff one time) and Angle now wrestling full time again. I hope to watch this Thursday.
On to the RAW review!
RAW is TITO
RAW started off with a pissed off Triple H coming to the ring in anger over what happened last week, calling out Eugene. However, William Regal came out and bashed HHH. Regal even mentioned their WCW alliance, as Regal mentioned he took HHH under his wing back then. By the way, HHH tagged up with Regal back then. Funny thing was is that WCW gave HHH a contract offer back in 1994 or 1995 to remain a tag team wrestler, while the WWE gave him a smaller money offer but a chance to become a singles wrestler. The rest was history… This is a set up for a match later. Well done segment. Why is Regal so cool as a face, yet very lame as a heel? The face commissioner Regal was a great character, especially when he was pals with Tajiri.
Rhyno and Tajiri defeated La Resistance in a very, very short non-title match. I love the team of Rhyno and Tajiri. Rhyno’s music seems to be perfect for an oddball tag team like Tajiri and Rhyno, and it usually generates a good crowd pop when they come out. I found their houseshow match to be pretty good, so the Summerslam tag bout shouldn’t disappoint…
Now, the WWE has Matt Hardy going from being angry that Lita might be carrying Kane’s baby to wanting to marry her, soon. Oh no, not another RAW wedding. NOOOOOOO! Really, the last thing I would want to do is to marry a female who agreed to have someone sleep with her based on a threat. (Tito 2018: One of the WORST angles ever. Christ…)
Next, we had Tyson Tomko vs. Rosey… ugh, bad match. I’m not sold on Tyson Tomko yet, and without Christian, it forces Tomko to wrestle more on television instead of being just a body guard or “problem solver”. How can you believe Tomko is a “badass” when he looks to be a poor performer? Tomko won and I didn’t care. Who hasn’t pinned Rosey?
The Highlight Reel was next with Chris Jericho, and his guest was Edge. Jericho reveals that Jericho vs. Edge vs. Batista has been booked for Summerslam (that could quietly become a great match), and Edge and Jericho quickly have problems with each other. If the WWE pushes this new rivalry like Rock and Jericho in late 2001, this could get good. We’ll see.
Triple H vs. William Regal was NOT much of a match, only lasting a few seconds when weapons got involved. Regal had the brass knucks and HHH eventually got the sledgehammer. Regal was brutally pounded with the sledgehammer and is eventually hauled away. Good hype for HHH vs. Eugene, although I’d like to one day see Regal and HHH get to work a match together.
Thank God for ESPN on my other television, for baseball and NFL Countdown were on to save the day from the Divas Search segments. I seriously don’t know the names of these “divas”, nor do I care. The only time I cared was when each contestant basically mooned the camera in their bikinis by adjusting their bottoms. That’s it, but I’m not finding any substance in this contest worthy of taking up this much time. (Tito 2018: This sleaze was during 2004 and when Stephanie was in charge of creative. NOW she announces a Women’s Pay Per View? Come on…)
Backstage, Kane yells at Lita, somehow stating that he has a match with Matt Hardy at Summerslam. It’s not just a regular match, though, but a WINNER GETS TO MARRY LITA MATCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh man, that creativity of the WWE. Gotta love the WWE… where your personal freedoms are thrown out the window and your life can change, based on a stipulation in a match. (Tito 2018: Proud of my 24 year old self calling out this BS.)
Kane vs. Maven was a squash. What happened to seriously pushing Maven? Not that I care, for I’m not that high on Maven… What’s the point of having a squash match on RAW?
Very well done main event 6 man with Chris Benoit/Edge/Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair/Randy Orton/Batista, with a well done finish with Orton giving the RKO to Benoit out of the Sharpshooter. You couldn’t ask for a better televised main event, and Smackdown needs to take note, as their televised matches have been weak. Great chemistry between the teams and any weaknesses were hid by great opponents. (Tito 2018: Look at the talent in that match, holy cow!)
LAST WORD: Not much on the midcard, but the 6 man match was pretty killer. But most of all, this was a great show to hype Summerslam and that’s what is important right now. Summerslam is probably tied for the #3 show of the WWE’s (tied with Survivor Series, while Wrestlemania is #1 and Royal Rumble #2) and it needs to kick off the fall season of television. I’ll give this show a [ B ] mainly for a great main event and good Summerslam hype.
I’ll be honest, I really disliked RAW from mid 2001 through early 2005. Just messy and it left readers with a bunch of rage-filled columns on Tuesdays. Luckily, the Smackdown brand from 2002-2004 kept me interested and then 2005 was a damn solid year. Then, by the end of 2005, the wheels of quality were beginning to fall off again.
I hope that you enjoy these Mr. Tito Flashbacks!
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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