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Welcome back to the Excellence in Column Writing exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. So much hitting the fan here in my final week that I felt the need to write ANOTHER column for y’all. I’m just getting bombarded with emails, private messages, and Tweets this week wondering if I’ll stick around because Roman Reigns is out and the WWE landscape is set to change.
Nope. Since my 2010 return, I have witnessed WWE Creative blunder after WWE Creative Blunder in selecting the top guy. Just because Roman Reigns is out doesn’t mean that they’ll push the right guy behind him. This is the same promotion who thought that Sheamus, Jinder Mahal, Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, the Miz in 2010, and Randy Orton repeatedly would be great headliners for the company. They have also fumbled HARD on the careers of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Cesaro, and many many countless others. Soooo… What makes you think that WWE Creative will find the next great wrestler to headline the company? Have you seen the NXT buzzsaw that has mowed through almost every call-up? Hell, even on the women’s side too.
SAME OLD WWE. Vince McMahon is CEO/Board Chairman. His 3 main officers are his daughter Stephanie McMahon, his best friend Kevin Dunn, and his son-in-law Triple H. After that, you have yes-men like Michael “PS” Hayes and a whole bunch of ex-Hollywood writers who are terrified to challenge Vince McMahon on ideas. Then, you have the corporate structure of other Executives, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, etc. who keep the WWE corporate and disallow for any creative growth of the comapny. Then you have Comcast and their corporate interests. You can thank them for the PG Era, by the way. Now, the WWE gets to deal with FOX although I believe they’ll be a tad more leniant with content. Corporate sponsors to also deal with. Oh, and big countries now willing to cut you a check. Everything is 100% controlled and scripted now…
^^^ It is this infrastructure which will never allow pro wrestling to grow again, particularly with the talent depth being lower with fewer people trying to become pro wrestlers than ever in the United States.
Let’s just look at Roman Reigns from Monday Night RAW… He came out to the ring, as himself, and cut an unscripted promo. Yes, it was about his health and he was potentially saying his “goodbye” to the fans (man, that final Shield salute was hard to watch), but it was the human being behind the Roman Reigns character talking. Instead of reading a script or acting the way that WWE Creative wants him to, he just spoke from the heart as himself. See, he can connect with fans… Roman is well liked backstage with his fellow wrestlers as well. For the past 4+ years, we’ve seen the WWE push a fully scripted character named Roman Reigns and wouldn’t allow him to put his personal touch on the character.
Many are trying to insist that “if he recovers from Leukemia, he’ll return and finally be over!”. Huh? So it takes recovering from cancer to get over? How about letting Roman be a REAL human being instead of a scripted one? We hardly know anything about Roman aside from his WWE character. Honestly for me, this announcement was the FIRST TIME that I was aware that he even had Leukemia in the past! WWE has to let Roman be more of a human being and less of a scripted character. Unfortunately, we saw this on the last possible promo that he cuts in the WWE (I hope not!!).
Just go back to 1995-1996… Steve Austin was the “Ringmaster” and was managed by the Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase. Then, the WWE ditched that gimmick and manager to allow Steve Austin to become “Stone Cold”. Austin brought an exaggerated form of his own personality into that character and being unscripted, he created magic. Suddenly, he was the next coming of Hulk Hogan and significantly grew the WWE business from 1997-1999. The Rock was “Rocky Maivia” during 1996-1997. Completely controlled by the WWE as a vanilla babyface and the fans rejected it. When Rocky returned from injury, he joined the Nation of Domination as a heel and had free reign to speak on the microphone. The Rock was born. John Cena was just another call-up until he was granted freedom to keep doing 8 Mile like raps following the Halloween 2002 edition of Smackdown.
WWE, unfortunately for Roman Reigns, controlled his every move. The end result? Well, he’s no where near as popular as John Cena. Under 2.6 million viewers right now and we were above 4 million viewers during early 2015.
So if you believe that other wrestlers will instantly benefit with Roman unfortunately on the sidelines, you do NOT know your WWE.
I figure that Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins will be given valid chances to succeed… But I worry that Vince McMahon will get impatient with both as draws and just randomly push someone else hard to the top. Maybe Braun Strowman, but he was turned heel… Drew McIntyre has size and looks like a million bucks, but WWE let him go a few years ago for a reason. Bobby Lashley isn’t over and WWE tried hard to push that guy recently.
If only the WWE had a proven babyface on their roster to push really hard… You know, maybe someone who had a long road of a recovery themselves from a health issue. Nah, WWE doesn’t have that guy. If someone could show me a valid former babyface who just came back from a health issue, I’ll tell them “yes! yes! yes!”. Until you find that guy on the WWE roster, I don’t know what to tell you…
I think that Braun Strowman can be rehabbed although his promo skills are TERRIBLE! Otherwise… Apollo Crews and Jason Jordan are tremendous athletes and talents. Those are the 3 guys whom I have always said have potential to “click” as top guys if the circumstances were right. The talent and look are there but it’s the connection to the fans and needing psychology is where they were lacking.
Being honest here, we’re just 1 day removed from Roman Reigns announcing that his Leukemia has returned and already, everybody is making the WWE’s plans on how to move on. Geesh…
I pray he gets through it… Some have asked me if I have any “guilt” from criticizing for the past 4-5 years… I feel terrible regarding his circumstances and absolutely wish him the best, but it still doesn’t negate how the WWE misused him and overpushed him for the past 4-5 years. It was never anything personal and it was actually MORE critical of the WWE than Roman. As you can see above, I’ve been critical at the other attempts by the WWE to make a top guy in the past 10 years. Over the last 20 years, there have been various wrestlers who have passed away whom I’ve been critical in my columns. Sure, I felt terrible when they passed away, but nothing was ever personal. Sports athletes, actors, musicians, and politicians have critical things said about them daily but you don’t see those writers blamed for something happening.
I know what I wrote about Roman Reigns and I stand by the OPINIONS on how the WWE used him and some of his in-ring work over the years. I cannot erase anything said before October 22nd, 2018. But I stand by it because this is more of a WWE issue than a Roman issue. WWE’s infrastructure has overpushed many wrestlers in its day and has taken away the star making power from the fans. See the names of overpushed wrestlers above.
But damn, I really do worry about Roman Reigns with the Leukemia returning. As I stated in my last column, I had a cousin pass away from Leukemia when it came back with a vengeance. He was cancer free for almost 2 years and then it came back with a vengeance. Roman has about 10 years of spacing between his fights with Leukemia and I pray that his body and blood stream has rebuilt itself in the past decade to be ready.
The damn WWE has 3 hours of RAW, 2 hours of Smackdown, and several Pay Per Views to put on… The “show must go on” as Paul Heyman put. That’s why the Dean Ambrose heel turn was probably rushed and placed shockingly on the same night as Roman’s announcement.
As I want to keep repeating, though… The WWE machine is broken and hasn’t proved since the “Class of 2002” Ohio Valley Wrestling call-ups, which were Jim Ross’s wrestlers trained by Jim Cornette/Danny Davis, that they can create new top drawing stars. The CULTURE and the MANAGEMENT needs changed or we’ll get the same old corporate stuff.
In a corporate structure or at most workplaces, you need to have an organizational charge and contingency plan in case something goes wrong. In my opinion, the WWE has done well with that for their company’s managers because it’s pretty clear that Triple H is being groomed to replace Vince McMahon on the road with the wrestling product. But the WWE doesn’t have that with their wrestlers. They put all of their eggs into the Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar baskets for the past 4-5 years and yet the rest of the roster endured 50/50 booking… Win some, lose some… Oh, and lose many non-title matches, too. The WWE has taken their midcard for granted and that should be the breeding grounds for your next top superstars. It is NO SECRET that Macho Man Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, the Rock, and John Cena were ALL Midcard Champions before getting promoted to the World Champion. You need that built-in organizational chart so that when the top guy has to step down for whatever reason, the “next man up” can easily take his spot. Especially if something unexpected happens. WWE, however, doesn’t have that next guy to instantly promote to be the top guy.
But hey, maybe I’m wrong… And I won’t care in a few days.
Mr. Tito’s PHAT Top 10 – Monday Night RAW Moments
Watching RAW on Hulu right now… Pretty good show! After the Roman Reigns announcement, it seemed like the wrestlers were inspired to work a little harder tonight on executing matches and angles.
One of my favorite columns during the “Blog is Tito” era was producing a Top 10 RAW moments column. Now, this is specific to “moments” and not matches.
#10 – Brock Lesnar returns to the WWE (2012)
Honestly, I could put Lesnar’s debut on here and it would work, particularly how he murdered Spike Dudley in his first official WWE appearance. Lesnar’s health got the better of him in UFC, forcing an early retirement. The speculation was on that Lesnar might give pro wrestling a try again as long as the schedule was limited. Following Wrestlemania 28, Cena came to the ring and it was a forgone conclusion that Lesnar would probably appear. Didn’t matter… Crowd EXPLODED anyway! He appeared and delivered the F5 to John Cena to begin a very successful 2nd run with the WWE.
#9 – Chris Jericho/Chris Benoit defeat Triple H/Steve Austin for the Tag Titles (2001)
This was a FIVE STAR match featured on RAW it was a battle. This match was LOADED with talent with Jericho, Benoit, and Triple H all peaking as wrestler and Steve Austin hitting his groove again as an in-ring performer after the previous year’s neck injury recovery. HHH and Austin were heels and Jericho/Benoit were trying to break the glass ceiling that the heels installed. It was about finally overcoming that great team of Austin/HHH and start to make names for themselves. In this match, Triple H tore his quad muscle but he kept going on with this match despite that. In my opinion, he was never the same as an in-ring performer. Huge moment for Benoit/Jericho to win those tag titles. Possibly the best RAW match ever.
#8 – Triple H turns on Shawn Michaels after fooling us with a Degeneration X reunion (2002)
The last we saw a Shawn and Hunter version of Degeneration X was through Wrestlemania 14. Since then, Shawn Michaels had to recover from his back injury and also a pain killers addiction. By 2002, he was of sound mind to begin appearing on WWE programming regularly. However, Shawn wasn’t wrestling just yet… On one night, Degeneration X was hyped to return and they did… Both HHH and HBK went into the ring with DX shirts and did their old salutes… Then, Triple H turned on him! Just heartbreaking for many fans who loved the oldschool version of DX during 1997-1998. However, this heel turn by Triple H spawn an AMAZING SummerSlam 2002 match that is well worth your time to watch.
#7 – Nexus attacks! (2010)
When I was just starting back as a wrestling fan after a self-imposed boycott of the WWE from 2007-2009, I had no idea what NXT was and how the WWE’s developmental system worked. This collective group of wrestlers invaded a CM Punk vs. John Cena match, of all things, and attacked everyone in the ring and around it. Trashed everything! Nothing was safe… Sadly, corporate WWE didn’t like Daniel Bryan choking out an announcer with a necktie and a few things done to John Cena (spitting in his face, I think). It was all downhill after that as Daniel Bryan was briefly terminated by the WWE and none of the wrestlers could get over any of the top WWE superstars at all.
#6 – Sean Waltman (X-Pac) returns to WWE to join Degeneration X (1998)
“Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”. Sean Waltman jumped to WCW during 1996 to join the New World Order. However, he had a neck injury that kept him from action during 1997 and that caused some issues with Eric Bischoff for missed work. Eventually, the friction grew to the point where Bischoff terminated Waltman from WCW. Big mistake… It just so happened that Degeneration X needed some new blood to continue after Wrestlemania 14. His WWE return was stunning and his promo cut on WCW and Eric Bischoff was brilliant. It kicked off the WWE’s charge to defeat WCW and end Nitro’s dominance for good.
#5 – Mick Foley wins the WWE Title from the Rock (1999)
This show was actually taped and WCW tried to reveal results on their LIVE WCW Nitro. The end result was something like over 300,000 fans instantly changing the channel to witness Mick Foley win the title as Mankind from the Rock for the very first time. When Steve Austin’s music hits, the crowd erupts… But to see Foley win his first World Title was something special. Years upon years of enduring beatings and bad relations with other wrestling promotions were finally paid off with this amazing moment.
#4 – Chyna Wins the Corporate Rumble (1999)
Back-to-back January 1999 RAW moments here… Following Foley’s WWE title win, the Corporation and the Rock were pissed and put forth a few changes to the 1999 Royal Rumble. The Rock received his rematch in a “I Quit” match but also set up that night was the first ever Corporate Rumble. It was a mini-Royal Rumble with the Corporation going up against Degeneration X to determine spot #30, as DX was feuding with the Corporation at the time in addition to Foley/Austin. Both stables unloaded their wrestlers and it appeared to ending with Triple H and Big Bossman fighting it out… But then Vince McMahon appears as the next entrant, completely unexpected. Vince enters the ring and tosses BOTH Bossman and Triple H who were hanging over the ropes anyway. McMahon flexes his muscles and tears off his shirt to celebrate when the bullhorn goes off. It was Chyna as the next entrant! Pat Patterson and Gerald Briscoe tried to beg and intimidate Chyna not to join but she fought both off. As she entered the ring, Steve Austin’s music hit and the place exploded! Distracted Vince didn’t realize that Chyna had hit the ring. You HAVE to see the sick bump that poor Vince took when getting tossed… He eats that bottom rope bigtime! It was Chyna’s finest hour, in my opinion…
#3 – CM Punk Pipebomb speech. (2011)
During the Summer of 2011, CM Punk’s contact was set to expire. For Money in the Bank 2011, Punk was just a throwaway opponent for WWE Champion John Cena as before he heads into SummerSlam 2011 to reportedly wrestle Alberto Del Rio. One night on RAW, Cena wrestled R-Truth in a Tables Match which saw CM Punk interfere and help R-Truth win. As Cena was recovering in the ring, CM Punk walked up to the entrance way with a microphone. Reportedly, Punk received a blessing to cut an unscripted promo to help boost interest in the Money in the Bank 2011 event that wasn’t drawing much interest. Punk got on the mic and tore it up… He shot HARD on the WWE corporate machine, Vince, Laurinaitis, Stephanie/Triple H, and the fans. It was beautiful… Punk became redhot and WWE Title plans were quickly changed to make Punk champion at Money in the Bank 2011.
#2 – Chris Jericho’s Debut (1999)
Chris Jericho was quickly getting over as his own in WCW yet they wouldn’t elevate him at all. When his contract was up, he jumped to the WWE with the hopes of becoming a bigger star. Give him an amazing theme song, a countdown, and the ability to interrupt the Rock’s promo… Solid gold. That entrance, to this day, give me chills. And then Jericho’s promo actually brought out the best in the Rock, as he then cut a killer promo against Jericho.
#1 – Steve Austin flips off Mike Tyson (1998)
This is the moment that made the entire world take notice of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Yes, “Austin 3:16” made Austin into a famous WWE star but outside of the WWE, not as well known. Then, he shoves Mike Tyson to end an episode of RAW. And you have to realize that this is the same Mike Tyson who just got banned from Boxing after biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear. Austin made the bold move of flipping off Mike Tyson and Tyson responded back by shoving him back. Complete chaos in the ring between WWE people and Mike Tyson’s entourage. This moment was aired on many news programs and sports channels. In my opinion, this single moment caused many non-wrestling fans to give the WWE a chance and they got hooked shortly. Austin’s star power grew and grew after this and thus it made Mike Tyson’s big payoff worth every penny.
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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