MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – WWE, AEW, and Other Wrestling Promotions Should be Thankful for its Loyal Fans

WWE

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING from the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. As a columnist for LoP for over 21 years now, one thing that I always tried to do was produce a column on Thanksgiving AND Christmas. Why? Well, I considered it a present to my longtime readers (big “thank you” for staying with me) but also thinking about the holidays themselves… Once you’ve devoured a turkey or opened up all of your presents, there might be some downtime before you go to the next home… In this day and age where everyone is mobile with Smartphones, finding “something to do” on their phone is needed… Thus, you have one of my columns to read and to fill time if you so choose.

Honestly, I really didn’t know what to write for this year’s Thanksgiving columns… I thought about writing the 2nd part of my “The Day That (Promotion/Era) Died”, but I didn’t have the time this week to research the next topic, let alone writing about it. I may save that for Christmas. The next topic that I’ll focus on is when the Hulkamania Era of the WWE (1983-1991) “died”, as there was a specific event that crushed all momentum following Wrestlemania 5. It shall be good and it will be pretty obvious when I spell it out in a column.

Usually for Thanksgiving, I wrote columns about “things to be thankful for” as a wrestling fan.

Well, I’m not really thankful for much about today’s wrestling products.

In fact, I’m not really thankful for being a wrestling fan these days… I’m not much of a fan now. I really like the NXT product but I don’t like it mixing with the WWE roster. WWE is a creative tire fire with ZERO captivating main eventers that I want to follow. Then you have Seth Rollins and Corey Graves creating drama on Social Media and that just grinds their appeal on television to a hault. I want to support NWA but they feature guys that didn’t impress me much in Impact/TNA, so why should I care now? And honestly, Jim Cornette on commentary was one of the draws there and now that he’s gone, I really don’t care. AEW has such a split personality on what it wants to be… Anything Jericho, MJF, or Cody makes for fantastic watches… The rest? Wildly inconsistent or downright insulting. You either get great tag matches or complete messes. Women’s wrestling in AEW is awful. Dean Ambrose was better than Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega/Young Bucks haven’t impressed me.

It all boils down to Creative, folks… We don’t have that next Dusty Rhodes, Paul Heyman, Jim Cornette, Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff, or even Vince McMahon in the pipeline anywhere that can “shake up” the wrestling business creatively and give fans what they want. Instead, an older Vince McMahon controls the WWE creatively with hopes of an older Bruce Prichard and an older Paul Heyman to help out. They tried an older Eric Bischoff and that didn’t work. AEW has wrestlers doing double duty of being wrestlers and EVPs of the company… Just too much on their plates and none of them know how to scout talent… They could inquire about Jim Ross but he’s older too.

It baffles me why no new creative minds have joined the business… Of course, it’s difficult to join the WWE and then get in Vince’s ear when there’s a line of corporate and production types already waiting. The WWE monopoly since 2001 has caused a real recession on creativity and talents that want to join the business. It could be easily argued that wrestling NOW has better pound-for-pound athletes… BUT, they are used so poorly from the creative end of things.

And do we HAVE to do Women’s Wrestling everywhere and over-expose it in the WWE?

Seriously… WWE’s “Divas Revolution” happened during the middle of 2015. 4 freakin’ years to establish a new brand of wrestling and to sign talents to fill that roster. WWE’s women’s division is by far and away the BEST in the land but they don’t have a full roster of strong workers… Yet. Go beyond Becky, Charlotte, Asuka, Alexa, Bayley (at times), Sasha Banks, and maybe a few others… The pool gets rather thin. Then, the best ones wrestle each other over and over again to overexpose their division. Furthermore, they are wrestling in a larger WWE ring built for men 6 feet tall and above to fill. I agree 100% that Women’s wrestling is a nice attraction to the WWE but “less is more” when you don’t have a stronger roster fo workers. And if you’re going to do Women’s wrestling in the main event, make sure that it will be a quality match-up that delivers.

And remember what actually drew for Women, too… Sunny, Sable, Trish Stratus, and Torrie Wilson. Gee, why were they so effective again with wrestling’s male demographics again? It’s not because they wrestled, either (only Trish did of the 4 mentioned).

AEW’s Women’s wrestling division is AWFUL. Things were just made worse by Dr. Britt Baker appearing at the NXT event and getting caught on camera. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!? Britt Baker was their only hope to get any kind of mainstream appeal towards that division, as Kenny Omega’s talent scouting and booking of that division deserves a massive FINGER OF SHAME for low quality. Once Tessa Blanchard‘s Impact contract comes up next year, AEW better drive that BRINKS truck up to her house. Then again, her star might be ruined by the Impact wrestling is seriously pushing her to maybe be their World Heavyweight Champion there. Come on, guys… Unless you are Ronda Rousey and have years of Martial Arts training behind you, it’s just not credible for women to physically overwhelm men in any combat setting. Weight and strength are real factors…

But hey, maybe it’s just me… Maybe I’m just a negative wrestling fan and am getting too bitter for my old age.

Wait, it’s not just me?!?

NWA Powerrr 10/08: 568,000
NWA Powerrr 10/15: 329,000
NWA Powerrr 10/22: 231,000
NWA Powerrr 10/29: 240,000
NWA Powerrr 11/05: 217,000
NWA Powerrr 11/12: 225,000
NWA Powerrr 11/19: 192,000
NWA Powerrr 11/26: 80,000

WWE Backstage 11/05: 49,000
WWE Backstage 11/12: 100,000
WWE Backstage 11/19: 180,000 (CM Punk Debut)
WWE Backstage 11/26: 121,000

WWE RAW 09/30: 2.571 million
WWE RAW 10/07: 2.334 million
WWE RAW 10/14: 2.287 million
WWE RAW 10/21: 2.342 million
WWE RAW 10/28: 2.133 million
WWE RAW 11/04: 2.136 million
WWE RAW 11/11: 2.058 million
WWE RAW 11/18: 2.128 million
WWE RAW 11/25: 2.109 million

WWE Smackdown 10/04: 3.888 million
WWE Smackdown 10/11: 2.877 million
WWE Smackdown 10/18: 2.418 million
WWE Smackdown 10/25: 888,000 (aired on FS1)
WWE Smackdown 11/01: 2.520 million
WWE Smackdown 11/08: 2.610 million
WWE Smackdown 11/15: 2.309 million
WWE Smackdown 11/22: 2.544 million

WWE NXT 09/18: 1.179 million
WWE NXT 09/25: 1.006 million
WWE NXT 10/02: 891,000
WWE NXT 10/09: 790,000
WWE NXT 10/16: 712,000
WWE NXT 10/23: 698,000
WWE NXT 10/30: 580,000
WWE NXT 11/06: 813,000
WWE NXT 11/13: 750,000
WWE NXT 11/20: 916,000

AEW Dynamite 10/02: 1.409 million
AEW Dynamite 10/09: 1.018 million
AEW Dynamite 10/16: 1.014 million
AEW Dynamite 10/23: 963,000
AEW Dynamite 10/30: 789,000
AEW Dynamite 11/06: 822,000
AEW Dynamite 11/13: 957,000
AEW Dynamite 11/20: 893,000

Numbers don’t lie. Viewership is DOWN across all promotions in just a few months.

WWE’s attendance is down and their 10-Q and 10-K financial reports show that. Many pictures are posted often on social media regarding low attendance and the lengths at which the WWE tarps off the arena.

Recently, AEW has seen the same trend. The promotion went from BRAGGING about sellouts to being very quiet about attendance lately. Same trend with them… Shows are NOT selling out and pictures shown online prove that they are tarping off sections of seats. The worse part about AEW is the fact that they are using SMALLER arenas for their shows and yet they have to tarp seats off. It’s one thing to tarp off a 10,000-15,000 arena, it’s another to tarp off a 5,000 arena.

Impact wrestling is poorly viewed and has low attendance. Ditto for Ring of Honor who is collapsing as we speak.

But remember, I’m the ONLY negative fan…

Numbers don’t lie.

I equate the Pro Wrestling Industry RIGHT NOW to the Video Game Crash of the early 1980s. After the success of the initial Atari console from the late 1970s, many companies rushed into the market place to create their own games and even their own consoles. Atari made things worse by rushing newer models of their consoles the market place while having ZERO quality control on the games made for it. In other words, any company could make games for Atari’s consoles and they were usually half-assed. Years later, Nintendo went to lengths to prevent companies from making games for their console with a special ship in place. So many systems and so many consoles to choose from, but the quality wasn’t there. Following the poor Pacman port and the infamous E.T. game being complete busts, consumers began to reject the industry due to TOO MUCH QUANTITY yet POOR QUALITY. It wasn’t until the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) arrived as a singular system with a firm grasp over what games could play on its system that fixed the video game industry years later.

Sound familiar? We have too much quantity of wrestling and not enough quality.

Look what the wrestling industry asks of you right now:

RAW = 3 hours
NWA Powerrr: 1 hour
NXT: 2 hours
AEW Dynamite: 2 hours
Impact Wrestling: 2 hours
Smackdown: 2 hours
Ring of Honor: 1 hour

And if there exists a Pay Per View, there goes your Saturdays or Sundays with 3-5 hours of wrestling to consume.

Yikes.

If you want to see WWE live right now, saw off your arm and leg. WWE has lower attendance and yet price gouges their loyal fanbase. Their 10-Q and 10-K openly talks about lower attendance and higher prices… Why are loyal fans still paying those higher prices. When I attended ringside for Smackdown last year in Pittsburgh, (a) I was shocked at the high prices and (b) they wanted fans to pay $35 per shirt at the merchandise stand.

Thus, here is where we arrive for this wrestling column: Why isn’t the wrestling industry more thankful for its fans?

Where is our THANK YOU for our loyalty?

No matter how bad things get with quality, we always hang around. For me, I have fond memories of NWA/WCW and WWE during the late 1980s and early 1990s and then the Monday Night Wars that I keep hanging on for more moments like that… I’ve tried to walk away, many times, and yet my memories of how good wrestling can me keeps me hanging on… As I’ve said repeatedly in my columns: when wrestling is hitting on all cylinders, NOTHING is more entertaining. There are moments in wrestling history that still put chills down my spine… Savage and Elizabeth reuniting at Wrestlemania 7, Austn 3:16, Jericho’s Debut, Brock Lesnar staring down Hogan/Nash/Hall/Flair in the ring, etc. I just have to bring up one of those memories, among many, and the goosebumps arrive.

WWE RAW had just over 4 million viewers during early 2015… Now, just barely above 2 million… 2 million people are still loyal to the WWE despite their cash grabs and not giving fans any return for their money. Higher ticket prices, more Ads on their shows, more Ads on WWE Network shows, poor quality video games, and not changing their Creative to improve quality.

Where is our THANK YOU for spending our hard earned cash on your products? Not just that, but a THANK YOU for our time spent?

Why can’t any of the promotions actually LISTEN to its fanbase? When was the last time that any promotion directly listened to fan complaints… Well, Kofi Kingston but the fanbase was trolling the WWE to push him.

If you look back at the last big creative minds just mentioned, Heyman, Cornette, Russo, Bischoff, Prichard, and I’ll add Jim Ross… Each of those guys were fans who took various jobs in the wrestling history and did not wrestle. Yet, their passion for the wrestling business each led them to joining the Creative Teams for their respective promotions and they did well. Ex-Hollywood writers are NOT wrestling fans to begin with and didn’t have to eat or sleep wrestling like the names mentioned above. Those names were FANS of the wrestling industry who gave a damn about its quality.

Vince McMahon doesn’t care about quality, as he cares only about money right now.

I seriously question AEW’s motives and worry if Tony Khan is the right guy to be President of a wrestling company. Do you really want your top executive to be trolling the WWE and its wrestlers on Twitter let alone getting butthurt about getting reportedly called a “money mark” at a roast? Seems like there is a ton of hiring at AEW of EVPs getting their friends jobs all at the expense of the Khan’s billions.

Sinclair doesn’t care about wrestling anymore and has just let that ROH promotion limp along until someone buys it.

NXT is the best promotion for QUALITY right now but everyone knows that its time is coming. Vince McMahon will raid that promotion as soon as he realizes that the Wednesday Night Wars don’t matter. Jury is out for me on Triple H as the “future” of the WWE as he has yet to groom a Main Eventer from NXT that is a legitimate draw (Shield guys were Laurinaitis hires).

We endure SO MUCH as wrestling fans and give up our precious TIME and MONEY to line the pockets of wrestling promoters and corporations. What do we get in return? Satisfaction? Sometimes, but the quality just isn’t there right now.

We deserve better. All of the promotions need to better at Creative and Talent Development right now or wrestling will BUST just like Atari and other video game companies did during the early 1980s.

Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana)

But where is our THANK YOU?

Huh, Vince? Where is it?

Quit being so damn addicted to that Television money and try to put out quality just as you did during the 1980s and the late 1990s/early 2000s. Doesn’t take much effort, either… Just look for a creative mind who loves wrestling.

If only there was someone in the trenches who has been calling you out for years…

Oh well.

So just chill… Until the next episode!

LordsofPain.net’s YouTube Channel

Play my Pro Wrestling themed Mario Maker 2 courses on the Nintendo Switch:

Super Wrestling Bros: 0H6-9HT-S5G
WWE Royal Rumble: SDH-JC2-HFG
WWE Elimination Chamber: P3B-5DJ-91G
WCW World War 3: BT4-W1Y-HRG
Extreme Championship Wrestling: 42J-4GT-W3G

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