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Another day, another Mr. Tito column exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. We’re about a month away from the 20th Anniversary of myself starting at Lords of Pain and I cannot wait. Meanwhile, this column will pull no punches on its way to the series finale. Funny, too, as there “appears” to be so much going for the wrestling world right now. Why walk away?
Well, placing Attitude Era veterans and an overpaid Brock Lesnar does not automatically create “Must See Television” for me. Sure, I enjoy seeing my old favorites such as Undertaker, Triple H, Kane, and Shawn Michaels appearing for possibly 2 shows together in Australia and then Saudi Arabia… But what happens after that? What can the current FULL-TIME roster of wrestlers present that is equivalent of their drawing power?
Nothing… Which is why the Attitude Era and Ohio Valley Wrestling “Class of 2002” is constantly relied on by the WWE to draw for bigger shows. The current crop of WWE main eventers such as Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Jinder Mahal, Randy Orton, etc. are not drawing. WWE business in the last 5 year has lost over 1 million viewers for RAW, over 500,000 for Smackdown (wasn’t really drawing anyway), live attendance in the United States, and merchandise sales at live events and retailers are down. Those are FACTS that nobody can deny.
What also CANNOT BE DENIED is the fact that Saudi Arabia and Australia are paying top dollar and doing so by requesting that top Attitude Era or OVW Class of 2002 wrestlers appear on the shows! Seriously, Saudi Arabia is demanding to have both Brock Lesnar and Shawn Michaels appear on their “Crown Jewel” shows and the money may legitimately get Michaels out of retirement! Think about that!
But do you know what I don’t notice?
There is now a LACK of chatter to insider sources about how the “part-timers are taking our jobs!”. Remember that from about 5-6 years ago, specifically when the Rock appeared to host Wrestlemania 27 and then went on to headline Wrestlemanias 28 & 29. Remember that? The wrestling insiders were reporting repeatedly that the “locker room morale was down” because all of the full-time wrestlers were upset at former Attitude Era superstars taking big spots on major shows. Then, when Brock Lesnar was signed for millions despite having a few dates during 2012, that backstage chatter ramped up once again.
But it is quiet now… Why is that?
Well, you can thank the WWE Network for one… That absolutely crushed Pay Per View payouts, as there was no Comcast, DirecTV, and Dish revenues coming the WWE’s way. That and for the first 2 years of its existence, the WWE Network struggled to turn a profit as having 1,000,000 subscribers was the reported “break even” point where the Revenues from customers paying $9.99 per month began to exceed the Expenses of operating the network and its bandwidth. Within that 2 year period of time, the WWE could easily justify to its wrestlers “we have nothing to pay you”. However, before February 2014, if someone like the Rock suddenly appears on a Pay Per View along with Brock Lesnar, they are both going to get a big slice of those Revenues forwarded to the WWE by major Cable/Satellite companies.
However, I believe there is another reason why complaints about the WWE constantly bringing in part-time wrestlers… CM Punk has not been on the WWE roster since January 2014.
CM Punk was the main guy openly complaining backstage about part-time guys taking full-time wrestler spots. Instantly after the Rock appeared to announce that he was hosting Wrestlemania 27, the attacks through insider sources began. Then, when Punk did his famous “Pipebomb” speech and several promos afterward, he pretty much confirmed himself as the main source of the backstage gripes. WWE “showed him” by killing his momentum and then having part-time Triple H defeat him at WWE Night of Champions 2011. Many will try to counter “but what about that year-long WWE Title reign?” and I’ll counter by asking how many episode of RAW and Pay Per Views that CM Punk actually headlined as the final match. Boo-yah!
When Brock Lesnar rejoined the company during 2012, the backstage venom towards that part-timer began especially as Brock Lesnar signed a $5 million deal to work around 15-20 nights of RAW for appearances only (not wrestling) and 4-5 Pay Per View matches. I wonder who the source of that was? Oh yeah, the same CM Punk during 2013 that lost to part-time Rocky twice, part-time Kane, part-time Undertaker, and then part-time Brock Lesnar all while being denied any opportunity to headline any Wrestlemania show. Come 2014, it was time to put over Roman Reigns to kick off Roman’s push to steal the spot that CM Punk desired.
Since January 2014, there is ZERO chatter about part-timers stealing full-time spots.
Even right now… You have a locker room full of women who worked HARD through the NXT developmental system to earn their WWE spots and they are all paid under $1 million dollars to work a full-time WWE schedule. Meanwhile, the WWE signs Ronda Rousey to millions with the promise that SHE will work a full-time schedule, unlike that dastardly Brock Lesnar who barely worked during 2018 and didn’t appear for months as WWE Universal Champion. Rousey has disappeared for weeks at a time and hasn’t been as active as a full-time wrestler as promised.
Yet, not a word…
Bella Twins have returned after disappearing for many, many months… Oh, by the way, they were the runners-ups to the FIRST EVER Women’s Royal Rumble that featured all of the full-time wrestlers and even all-time greats (Lita, Trish Stratus, Beth Phoenix). Reportedly, the WWE wants them to work with Ronda Rousey in some sort of program. Huh? They have BARELY worked during 2018 and yet they can suddenly appear in the WWE to take everyone’s spots. Most of the women on the roster would trip over themselves to work with Ronda yet the stars of Total Divas and Total Bellas, WHICH ARE DECLINING IN VIEWERSHIP (!!!!!), come in and take their big spots.
You know, the same Bella Twins who have multiple merchandise lines yet Bayley when working in NXT from 2015-2016, OUTSOLD them despite having fewer merchandise options and being on NXT.
For the Australian super show, Triple H vs. Undertaker with Shawn Michaels and Kane at ringside is headlining this show while the company’s WWE Universal Champion and #1 contender GET wrestle in a six man match. Awesome. Then, Brock Lesnar returns for the Saudi Arabia show to headline a Triple Threat match with Braun and Roman but this Saudi show may feature Triple H/Shawn Michaels vs. Kane/Undertaker. Hey, can anyone tell me if there are any GOOD Smackdown roster matches on this show? Yes, rehashes from WWE Hell in a Cell that nobody asked for.
Not a peep from backstage at WWE events and nothing fed to the insider news outlets.
Those very same insider news outlets are reporting that for ONE NIGHT in Saudi Arabia, Brock Lesnar is set to return something in the “seven figures” to wrestle 1 match. WWE paid Lesnar about $3 million base salary per year to work from 2015-2018 and now he is going to make close to that for ONE NIGHT. And the funny thing is that he could “dog it” and completely half-ass the match, if he chose to. Now, to ensure future ridiculous WWE payouts, Lesnar will put in the effort, but this is ridiculous.
Why are there NO WWE wrestlers upset about that? If I were Roman Reigns, for example, the guy who has headlined the last 4 straight Wrestlemania shows, I’d have a discussion with Vince McMahon. “Where is my money?!?”. If the entire WWE roster was unified and wanted to do something for the greater good, they would all threaten to walkout if their Saudi Arabia payouts weren’t higher. How about the Women wrestlers who are not going to appear on this “Crown Jewel” event? I am well aware that they have their own WWE Evolution show, but that’s in a smaller arena in New York which has not even come close to selling out. I could go to Ticketmaster.com right now and pretty much buy any seat in that arena. Point being is that this event doesn’t have a rich country paying for that event to happen.
WWE lacks anyone with courage backstage who would DARE to criticize their own company. When CM Punk left during 2014, the amount of “yes men” to wrestlers looking out for themselves increased. They believe that receiving WWE paychecks represents their best financial opportunities possible in pro wrestling yet Cody Rhodes has reportedly earned more as an independent star than his tenure in WWE. Granted, Rhodes has to work a tad harder to earn it, but look how HAPPY he is (and his beautiful wife too!). You have guys like Dolph Ziggler who will just take the WWE money and accept the bad booking that they give him return. Daniel Bryan has been repeatedly screwed with since his major return from post-concussion syndrome and yet the WWE Corporate money will keep him around. See my note about the Bella Twins getting pushed.
If you keep taking that WWE money without having any convictions, you will help to keep the WWE in a stagnant situation. WWE is engaging in an economic term called “Limit Pricing”… In economics, limit pricing is truly defined as a monopolistic producer setting prices low enough to make it appear to competing firms that the market is unprofitable to enter. WWE pays their wrestlers just enough to make it appear that wrestlers cannot earn more elsewhere. But, if you consider that the WWE will now be earning $400 million+ per year for the next 5 years from Comcast/FOX, getting paid $20 million or more per International shows, and being a publicly traded company that will forever feed the WWE capital that it needs… Wrestlers are UNDERPAID!
WWE has made almost $25 Million in Net Income just in the first 6 months of 2018 (Net Income = Revenues – Expenses). Their asset size has increased on their Balance Sheet to about $669 Million, which is up from the prior year’s $615 million.
The WWE will repeatedly tell its wrestlers “viewership is down, attendance is down, merchandise sales are down”. Sound familiar?
Wrestlers should see those Comcast/FOX television deals and International show money and GET MAD ABOUT IT. They should be furious!
But yet, maybe there is a “method to the madness” of using the older, veteran stars from the Attitude Era and Ohio Valley Wrestling “Class of 2002”? By constantly bringing them back and disallowing fans to LET GO of their old favorites, they aren’t as accepting of the newer wrestlers? And it’s a training issue, too… The older wrestlers are allowed to freely cut promos on their own while the newer wrestlers are fully scripted. It’s no wonder why these older wrestlers make the current roster look silly by their appearances. By constantly bringing back the older veterans and getting quick short-term “pops” to the numbers, it allows the WWE to keep their thumbs on the current full-time wrestler salaries from going up.
Vince McMahon wasn’t born yesterday… As frustrating as WWE is to watch from a creative standpoint, he knows what his company has become (virtual Monopoly as being the strongest firm and a virtual Monopsony as being the main buyer of labor) and he is also taking full advantage of entities who are desperate for content or wrestling shows. Right now, FOX/Comcast were in a bidding war to acquire European television network Sky TV and Comcast won that bidding war by paying $40 billion. Earlier in the year, Comcast was willing to pay upwards of $70 Billion to acquire 21st Century FOX from FOX’s Media Corp. Both Media Corp and Comcast are trying to gobble up outlets and “stream proof” content. They’ll gladly pay $400 million per year to air RAW/Smackdown because that is PENNIES to them. But it’s money to Vince McMahon and it is higher than their reportedly $175 million to $200 million per year that they had previously with Comcast.
Countries like Saudi Arabia want to attract more bigger sporting events to their country because their wrestling fans demand it but also airing their country’s event on the WWE Network is like advertising for them. Saudi Arabia is attempting to change its image on the world stage and they are flush with cash thanks to years of being one of the top energy producers in the world. Once again, Vince McMahon is there to take their money.
This is independent of what is actually happening to the WWE’s product… Viewers are down, attendance is down, and merchandise sold at retailers/live events are also down. On top of that, their primary competitors are Ring of Honor and Impact wrestling who have much weaker television deals in place (laughable because Ring of Honor is owned by a TV company). Despite its high praise, New Japan is on a limited Satellite channel and their July Cow Palace show wasn’t able to sell out a 10,000+ arena. Ring of Honor, New Japan, and even some help from Impact wrestling has FINALLY figured out that if they pool their resources together, they could be a decent competitive threat to the WWE. But how many wrestlers are willing to work between Japan and the East Coast as Cody Rhodes can? It’s not easy… Until I see a big Cable/Satellite deal happening that provides capital to a rival wrestling, I’m not ready to consider them as competitors. It is expensive to be at the Madison Square Garden event and you JUST KNOW that NXT Takeover will pull out all of its stops to challenge that event on Saturday Night before Wrestlemania.
With Viewers, Attendance, and Merchandise Sales ALL DOWN… It doesn’t matter when the WWE is the #1 wrestling promotion in the world and by a margin. They act as a Monopoly by getting the best television deals while its competitors get awful deals by comparison. And since they are the clear-cut #1 wrestling promotion in the world, they can act as a Monopsony by being the main buyer of talent and use “limit pricing” to pay talent just enough to scare off any competitors. Meanwhile, if you happen to attend a LIVE WWE event, enjoy those higher prices because the WWE is engaging in price gouging. They are banking on you wanting to see a WWE show on a whim and I fell for that trap twice this year with the Smackdown before Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules in Pittsburgh.
WWE has the money to keep paying its veterans top dollar because their Monopoly/Monopsony positions as a company allows them to be “flush with cash” while taking advantage of FOX/Comcast who are desperate for live sporting event content and International markets who want to use the WWE has infomercials to display their countries. WWE also fully realizes that they can now make more money on ONE NIGHT with a bigger show than most of the year. Wrestlemania and Saudi events are extremely lucrative for the WWE and that is just 3 nights this year. Brock Lesnar is laughing to the bank right now and will continue to command higher salaries for each “special” event that the WWE tries.
The Undertaker will keep coming back even though his body is probably telling him to “retire”. After Triple H legitimately injured him in their Wrestlemania 27 encounter, he should have walked away. He has come back for non-stop 1 night payoffs that have padded his bank account. Sure, enduring a few concussions and hip replacements have been taxing, but money talks… Money keeps talking, as the Undertaker’s presence looks great on a WWE poster hyping an event.
Shawn Michaels returning to the ring? WOW… He retired after Wrestlemania 26 during 2010 but 8 years later, big piles of money will speak to his 53 year old arse to get back into the ring.
Didn’t Kane just win an election to become a Mayor in Tennessee? Money is talking to him, as well, just as it did repeatedly to former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura to referee at SummerSlam 99 and to commentate on XFL games. Enjoy that short career in politics, Glenn! Maybe Kane can go around the country after his Mayor stint to talk about various conspiracy theories?
The current roster should be PISSED at the payouts and attention going to these older Attitude Era/OVW Class of 2012 wrestlers… But I imagine that the WWE is paying Roman Reigns just enough (between $2-3 Million reportedly in base salary) to plaster on a fake smile and keep him pushed strong enough over the rest of the roster to keep their salaries down too. Plus, Roman gets to defeat those Attitude Era/OVW Class of 2002 wrestlers in matches. He’ll keep very quiet, just as John Cena (2005-2014) and Triple H (2000-2010) kept quiet as top guys when they were paid “just enough”. Brock Lesnar doesn’t care at all about wrestler salaries as long as you keep those Millions for limited dates coming.
Mr. Tito’s Top 10 GREATEST Wrestling Entrance Themes
Note that it says “Mr. Tito’s” because it is MY LIST. Just an ongoing continuation of Top 10 lists of my all-time favorites before I leave…
#10 – Stone Cold Steve Austin
Not the best themesong in the world, but when I hear that glass shattering, you knew that it was one. Perfect theme song for Stone Cold Steve Austin and you knew that complete trouble was arriving to the ring when you heard it. This song deserves a place on the list based on how well it fit with Steve Austin and caused many explosive reactions by fans when heard. Just go watch those early 1999 RAWs when Austin interrupted the Rock vs. Foley title match and then the Corporate Royal Rumble. The roof came off those nights!
#9 – The Sandman – “Enter Sandman” by Metallica
This ECW wrestler’s name was “the Sandman”… So why not use “Enter Sandman” by Metallica? Better yet, you could enjoy the entire theme song playing because the Sandman will take his time entering the ring by smoking and drinking multiple beers with the fans. Sandman would pour beer into his mouth, spit it into the crowd (they loved it!), and then smash that beer can into his forehead multiple times before starting a match. It was great… I actually have the distinct honor of having the Sandman spitting beer in my direction at an ECW houseshow that I attended. This entrance plus Sandman’s antics were an easy explanation on how a character can get over independent of their in-ring ability. Once in the ring, though, the Sandman was equally as crazy as those many beers consumed probably helped numb the pain about to be had.
#8 Hulk Hogan – Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo Child”
The NWO themesong almost made this list… But the leader of the NWO, “Hollwood” Hulk Hogan picked a theme song for himself that was more badass. Time Warner probably paid out a mint to use that theme song but it just added to Hulk Hogan being a serious deal as WCW World Champion.
#7 – The Gangstas – “Natural Born Killaz” by Ice Cube & Dr. Dre
Man, when you heard that gunshot and the bullet’s scream go off in an arena, you knew that trouble was arriving. Late 1996 and early 1997 ECW saw the perfect villain tag team created with the Dudley Boyz which allowed for the Gangstas to become clear cut babyfaces. The Dudleys, as heels, would be working over someone and you’d heard that bullet go off. Suddenly, New Jack has a big Rubbermade trashcan full of weapons that he’d throw into the ring and then go on the attack with anything in that trashcan. The theme would play throughout the match, too, which just added to the chaos in the building. Sometimes, it would lead to New Jack jumping off a balcony.
#6 – Degeneration X
Are you ready? *Thump, thump* So cool and it came at a time when the WWE needed something “hip” or “new” to net in more younger fans. Combine this theme with the raunchy heel personas of Triple H and Shawn Michaels, it was gold. I remember getting the first WWE theme music CD and playing this full blast repeatedly.
#5 – Triple H – Motorhead’s “Time to Play the Game”
Anytime that you get Lemmy to do your theme music, it’s gold. Granted, I really liked Triple H’s “Our Time” theme, but he blew things out of the water with that theme. On top of that, it’s a really good Motorhead song. Triple H enjoyed working with Lemmy so much that he produced multiple Motorhead like themes.
#4 – Mark Henry – “Some Bodies Gonna Get It” theme by Three 6 Mafia
Mark Henry was quite a project by the WWE. Signed after his 1996 Olympic performance and they gave him multiple chances to become a star. After about his 10th year with the company, he had the in-ring experience to be ready to shoulder a heavier load and possibly as a main eventer. He just needed something… Then, Three 6 Mafia gave him a gift of an amazing theme song that created a tougher persona for his character. The song is amazing, too, as I’m constantly blasting it out of my car (love their Rocky Balboa song, too).
#3 – Ultimate Warrior Theme
When this song hits, you KNOW who it is… Fit the Warrior perfectly, as he ran to the ring and would usually quickly demolish his opponents. I really don’t know what else to say other than it just fits perfectly with the character and got him over before fans realized what a terrible in-ring performer that the Ultimate Warrior truly was. The theme pushed image and got him over… But once Warrior had to work longer matches as WWE Champion, it was over for him. The theme made him into a big star.
#2 – Ric Flair – 2001 Space Odyssey theme
If you want to appear “elite” to your wrestling audience, pick this as your theme song. The “Dawn of Man” from the 2001 Space Odyssey film was perfect because it featured orchestra music at a time when other wrestlers chose theme music that played on the radio. This made Ric Flair feel different and special but the theme gives you the impression of something “big” is about to come out. It has a certain prestige about it that was needed to make Ric feel more “elite” than the rest of the roster and to create instant heat with the fans. Completely over the top and that’s what wrestling should be to get a star over.
#1 – Chris Jericho – “Break the Walls Down”
In WCW, Chris Jericho was treated as a midcarder even if his promos were getting over. WCW had zero intentions of pushing Jericho as a top star. Then, Jericho joins the WWE and in ONE NIGHT with a killer theme song, he is instantly a big deal. Many will cite that promo, but that theme song combined with the Titantron got him over instantly. Many forgot that the Rock completely destroyed Jericho afterward with his promo and Jericho had a few bad months to end 1999. However, that theme song always hit and gave Jericho a fighting chance in popularity. Fact is that Jericho has NEVER changed the “Break the Walls Down” variation of his theme song for almost 20 years now. That song is identified with him and is pure badass.
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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