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Welcome back to the columnist who makes his bed and sleeps like a baby with no regrets as a wrestling fan. It’s Mr. Tito exclusively here at LordsofPain.net and has been since October 26th, 1998. Only 3 months to go until the 20th Anniversary of Mr. Tito beginning his 2,500+ wrestling column portfolio and the best part is that every single wrestling column that I have ever typed has been posted on LoP. How about that? Nobody but me can actually say that over a 20 year period.
First and foremost, I am GLAD that the WWE gave Triple H a chance to address all of the wrestlers and notably the female wrestlers on RAW. HHH deserved that moment instead of just having his wife, Stephanie McMahon, come out as just a WWE corporate spokesperson. As you witness, Triple H was legitimately emotional as he talked to all of them at once just before the big “All Women’s Pay Per View” announcement was to happen. Since mid-2012, Triple H salvaged what was becoming a deteriorating developmental system under corporate stooge John Laurinaitis’s reign. Not only did he fix a broken developmental system, but he actually gave the WWE an extra asset in return with a much needed new midcard and sometimes main event act with GOOD Women’s Wrestling.
During the Jim Ross days, he recruited some good talents who became decent in the ring… Victoria, Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Jazz, Jackie, Ivory, and Lita. They were solid competitors but the WWE never gave them a consistent spot on the card. You’d see them one week wrestling on RAW and then disappear the next. Or the WWE would just use them in non-wrestling capacities. Where things changed was with Lita, in my opinion, incorporating herself more into the Hardy Boyz matches. She added a level of excitement that was possible for Women’s wrestling. Lita was not just beautiful but very athletic, had a unique personality, and was actually enjoyed by both genders of wrestling fans. Then, with time, the fitness model named Trish Stratus got bit by the wrestling bug and got addicted to become a better in-ring performer. Her beauty and charm got her over as a character but then the fantastic in-ring ability complemented both with time.
Both Lita and Trish Stratus peaked at the same exact time and fans enjoyed their feud… It became so popular that the WWE made a bold move to have both Trish and Lita actually headline an episode of Monday Night RAW. Lita got injured and then Trish moved onto other feuds, such as Mickie James (if my timeline in my head is correct). Lita and Trish, two unique personalities and talents, peaked at the same exact time and that warranted them big spots by the WWE.
The rest of the roster, well… Not really. Seemed like the WWE producers had their eye on some of the Tough Enough contestants more than the veteran female talents. And then that led to a full blow reality based Divas Search in which 1 winner was supposed to win a WWE contract. The result? Most of them got contracts. And then multiple Divas Search Contests after that, more non-trained females got contracts. Soon, the veteran core that Jim Ross recruited were washed out in favor of a bunch of beauties hired for the Divas Search contests trying to learn wrestling on the fly. It produced some decent talents, to be honest, but Women’s Wrestling… EXCUSE ME, “Divas” wrestling during the late 2000s and early 2010s never really materialized. Matches were kept well under 5 minutes and they actually became shorter as the 2010s wore on. Hence those “Give Divas a Chance” hashtags. WWE had an infatuation with the Bella Twins there for a while too.
Then, one man took over the developmental system during mid 2012 and thought “WE COULD DO BETTER”. That man was Triple H.
I could imagine that Triple H probably has a “chip on his shoulder” to make his workplace seem more respectable as a father of 3 girls with his wife Stephanie. That, or he’s an absolute genius because female athletes have few options professionally after College compared to male wrestlers. WWE has to pull athletes from a pool of males who could play football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and mixed martial arts and from leagues that pay legitimately well. Also, retired players have plenty of opportunities as commentators or coaches to keep earning big dollars. Female athletes? Well, there is the WNBA which kinda struggles… And… Well… Female tennis? Female Golf? MMA, I suppose, although Ronda Rousey is proving to be a one-time draw there for UFC.
Triple H took the existing recruits of the early NXT developmental territory combined with a few signees of his own and, get this, TAUGHT THEM WRESTLING. Shocking, I know. The ladies were taught fully on how to work, use psychology, cut promos, develop characters, and were placed on NXT cards in important spots. In fact, women’s wrestling is one of the biggest staples of the NXT brand and the Takeover events. When I saw Sasha Banks vs. Bayley at Takeover: Brooklyn 2015, I was shocked… I couldn’t believe how good the storytelling was and then the in-ring work between the ladies was impressive. Sasha was a legitimate heel and drew heat with her character that was not only nasty towards her opponents, but hated the fans at ringside. She had a swagger that great heels had… Then, Bayley was a fan favorite babyface who you knew was a legitimately good person outside of the ring. The perfect mix… Then, as a new NXT viewer, I go back and see how awesome Charlotte and Becky Lynch were in NXT. Oh, during 2015, Lynch, Banks, and Charlotte were in the WWE?
Do I have any problem with an ALL WOMEN’S PAY PER VIEW? Hell no… In fact, I’m excited for it. And I’m not one of those “Social Justice Warriors” who are trying to force diversity onto the WWE. I believe in the Women’s Division THANKS to how Triple H made me believe in his process and talent that he was developing. Given how large that the female roster has become yet their use is still limited on RAW/Smackdown and only Women’s titles get shots on Pay Per Views, I think it would be cool to see expanded matches of other talents and not just those chasing the Women’s Title. If you book Lita and Trish Stratus on those shows, I will definitely watch it. Also, if Women aren’t allowed on the Greatest Royal Rumble Pay Per View from Saudi Arabia, then why not let women have their own Pay Per View?
MAKE NO MISTAKE, however… The Creative Team for Women’s Wrestling on the WWE brand has been TERRIBLE. Yes, Triple H is “EVP of Talent, Creative, and Live Events” but Vince McMahon and members attending the television production meeting operate RAW and Smackdown‘s shows. Aside from Ronda Rousey, who is a worldwide star that commands great attention (cannot deny that), the Women’s Division since 2015 has endured bad booking:
(a) Confusing characters of Bayley and Sasha. Bayley has lost her babyface energy and is just “aw shucks” about everything while Sasha Banks hasn’t been pushed as the cocky heel in NXT that drew well.
(b) Title inflation. Charlotte has many titles already, ditto Sasha Banks. Ditto Alexa Bliss. Too many title changes.
(c) Nia Jax. Is she a heel or a face? Is she dominant or can anyone pin her? She is legitimately “Female Big Show”.
(d) Asuka was an amazing performer in NXT and had an undefeated streak. I am 100% OK with her losing to Charlotte at Wrestlemania 34, but she has been made into a losing joke ever since.
(e) Carmella’s growth as a wrestler has taken backseat to getting James Ellsworth over.
(f) Charlotte joined Smackdown during the Superstar Shake-up during 2017 and did nothing.
(g) WWE Executive Producer Kevin Dunn reportedly doesn’t like Becky Lynch’s accent and thus rendered her useless for most of 2017.
(h) Still in love with the Bellas. Nikki and Brie were 2nd and 3rd place finishers for the first ever women’s Royal Rumble.
(i) Total Divas commands too much of an influence.
(j) Despite such in-ring talent that have come from NXT, WWE still tries to push lesser trained wrestlers like Lana or Eva Marie (no longer there despite heavy resources poured into her character).
(k) Hot and cold booking for many performers, such as Naomi. They’ll push Naomi to the title and then quickly change their minds.
(l) Only Ronda Rousey has been able to intimidate Stephanie McMahon. One would figure that trained wrestlers could intimidate a non-wrestler. Yet, Stephanie commands a presence and can intimidate any female wrestler on the WWE wrestler.
That is why I have worries that beyond this WWE Evolution event, can Women’s Wrestling draw multiple times by itself? I’m skeptical about that based on the WWE Creative Team’s positioning of female wrestlers as stars. Aside from Ronda Rousey, who can pack a 10,000 arena to see a big wrestling event from the female roster? There are problems with the Women’s Titles on both brands and lots of 50/50 booking going on to keep everyone equally weak.
And truthfully, and this is where the “Tito is sexist” cries will begin…
Let me use a basketball comparison. Which would you rather watch? Men’s basketball (NBA and College Basketball) or Women’s basketball (WNBA and College Basketball)? Working on the same dimensions of the basketball court, male players are bigger, stronger, and faster and can not only move up and down the courts faster, but present a more physical version of basketball. Ratings and live attendance are good proof along with NBA helping to subsidize part of the WNBA.
Same goes with Women’s Wrestling. They operate in the same wrestling ring than Men. You saw that in the 2018 Royal Rumble where there were some struggles tossing women over the top rope just based on height. It was a real struggle for some just to reach that top rope to toss someone over. Not only that, but Women’s Wrestling in the WWE is still in its infant stages from the 2015 NXT call-ups and being taken more seriously by the WWE. Aside from Rousey, it could take a while to find a break-out star. In my opinion, Trish Stratus was ahead of her time and could be a huge draw if she existed at her same age now. Maybe Lita too. Based on how most of the current talents cite Lita and Trish for getting them into wrestling, those two ladies were exceptional. I just don’t know if anyone now has their drawing ability. In-ring talent, oh yes.
Take, for example, Asuka vs. Charlotte for the Women’s Title at Wrestlemania 34. Just 3 months later, where are both? Well, Charlotte is out of the Women’s Title scene and doing promotional stuff. Asuka was involved in a feud with Carmella in which James Ellsworth antics were featured and caused Asuka to look foolish multiple times. There was NOTHING promoting Women’s Wrestling during that feud and everything towards getting a laugh out of Ellsworth. That is DESPITE Asuka vs. Charlotte earning “match of the night” by several big publications (I went Rousey/Angle vs. HHH/Stephanie).
Do we need to get into Alexa Bliss‘s character calling Nia Jax “fat”?
It’s one thing to be booked by Triple H and having a more older school approach in NXT and on a smaller stage at a university with repeat customers. It’s another to tour with the WWE brands under the watchful eye of the WWE Corporation and its television production crew. Executive Producer Kevin Dunn can bury you if he tells Vince that a wrestler does sound or look right on television.
I believe that WWE Evolution will do well as an all-women’s Pay Per View. After that, well, unless you’re headlining each female only Pay Per View with Ronda Rousey, you might have some struggles drawing consistently without the male wrestlers tagging along.
5 years from now, as the Women’s Division matures further, I could be suggesting otherwise.
SUMMERSLAM 2018 – So Far, So Good
Here is the SummerSlam 2018 card so far (with some rumored matches):
– Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Title
– Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Ronda Rousey for the Women’s RAW Title
– AJ Styles (c) vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Title
– Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
– Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Seth Rollins for the Intercontinental Title
– Carmella (c) vs. Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Title
– RUMORED: John Cena vs. Undertaker
– IN PROCESS: Bludgeon Brothers vs. (winners of mini-tournament)
Not bad, not bad… It is funny to me how two former TNA castaways, Styles and Joe, get to wrestle over a World Title at a major WWE Pay Per View. Would you have believed that 10 years ago?
Yeah, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns are wrestling AGAIN… Are you really surprised at this point? WWE has tried to keep Lesnar away on purpose to gain sympathy from fans to get Roman “over”… But it is not working. Monday Night RAW did UNDER 3 million viewers and only 2.7 million (less than hours 1 and 2) for the 3rd hour headlined by Reigns vs. Lashley for the #1 contendership. I fully expect that the SummerSlam fans will CRAP all over the Lesnar vs. Reigns match, specifically aimed at Reigns.
I believe there exists a strong possibility of Braun Strowman cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase immediately after Lesnar vs. Reigns. Hell, it might be worth having Reigns quickly disposing of Lesnar in order to deliver us a full Strowman vs. Reigns match. Reigns could hit a spear early and maybe a mid-air Superman Punch out of the F5 finisher.
If WWE wanted to put any heat on Lesnar, they should have him do an interview with ESPN where he rips the WWE fans… Have Brock suggest that he’s there to “take the fans’ money” and they are “idiots” for letting him appear when he wants.
Still, convincing fans to like Roman Reigns is a challenge. WWE is 4.5 years into that project and have fewer United States fans because of it.
MR. TITO – FLASHBACK
Continuing the “Magical Mystery Tour” towards the 20 year anniversary of Mr. Tito at LordsofPain.net, let’s go back to the year 1999 for July 25th, 1999. Looks like I was bored of discussing RAW and Nitro and did a pair of Top 10 Lists. SEE, I did these lists well before you had websites today that just do non-stop Top 10 Lists.
Mr. Tito’s Phat Daily Column – July 25th, 1999
Welcome back to the one and only Phat Daily Column. Good old Fully Loaded comes to us live tonight, so you better get ready. Ha. Hopefully, something new, shocking, exciting happens. We’ll see tonight, and on to the PDC.
Note: Yesterday, I had an error in my column. I think I spelled disgruntled wrong and I listed Stone Cold as winning the match tonight instead of who I thought would win, Undertaker(that was later corrected on LoP). Anyways, that, once again, proves that I’m only human.
-Alright, since most of the WWF news is centered around tonight’s Pay Per View, and most of WCW news is centered around Nitro, I figured I would shake things up a bit. Many readers have requested that I should do a Top 10 wrestlers in each federation column. Hey, that’s a great idea! My ratings will be based on wrestling skill, crowd heat, and their successes recently.
WCW’s Top 10 Wrestlers
10. Rick Steiner – Geesh, how can I not leave the television champ over a few months off of this? Of course, who has he fought..which is why he is #10.
9. Buff Bagwell – Real potential here, but he shouldn’t get such a big head about success. It’s killing him. If his willingness to be patient for a push was bigger than his ego, than he would be dangerous.
8. Hollywood Hogan – Since I was surprised at the crowd response, and since he’s the world champ, I was like “what the heck”, and put Hogan at 7. I hope this run, in his 40’s is better than the run back from the retirement.
7. Ernest “the Cat” Miller – I’m surprised at how many people love him, but hey, what’s not to love? He’s funny, and he’s always makes a match interesting.
6. Ric Flair – Although way past his prime, the Nature Boy is still one of WCW’s greats. Great mic skills along with his trademark cheating still make him one of the best in WCW. I wish he was about 10 years or so younger, just so he wouldn’t frequently get hurt.
5. Macho Man – Although I don’t like the angle with the spousal abuse, I have to say that Macho is still a draw in WCW. He was originally supposed to be a badass type character like Stone Cold, but he ended up WCW’s top heel.
4. Kevin Nash – Although a bit slower, heavier, and sometimes annoying, Kevin Nash is still one of the top wrestlers in the sport today. One good thing I noticed, is that he can interchange between heel and face. I wish he would book a little better though.
3. Goldberg – Easily, what WCW really needs to put together a much better show. Goldberg is one of WCW’s biggest draws, and he has great energy in his matches. I’m glad he’s back.
2. Diamond Dallas Page – I really like what he is doing with the Triad, and I think he’s molded nicely into a heel, which he originally didn’t want to be. He can draw heat, and he is a great wrestler now. Great job DDP.
1. Sting – Geesh, couldn’t you have predicted this already. Ok, I believe that Sting is still the man in WCW, and I think he should be pushed like never before. He can still wrestle, unlike some of the other older wrestlers. The crowd still loves him. Since he doesn’t sleep with the booking crew, he won’t get any titles soon. (Tito 2018: What the hell am I implying there?)
WWF’s Top 10 Wrestlers
10. Hardcore Holly – What can’t you say about him? Ha. I think Holly deserves this spot because of all of the lame gimmicks he’s went through, only to get over as being Hardcore. I love the angle with Big Show.
9. Big Show – Big Show is a very powerful wrestler, but he really hasn’t proven himself greatly in the WWF. He will continue to grow, but he needs a new look somehow to make him fresher. I still see him as the WCW former champ that never got a chance.
8. Edge – Edge has come a long way since I caught first glimce of him. I saw him first wrestling in a dark match before a RAW I went to before he debuted, and he was good then. Edge has the talent to become great, and now he’s receiving the push to make him great.
7. Kane – I do mark for Kane, but you have to respect him and his character. He too, has come a long way since he first arrived in the WWF, and his gimmick works! I just hope, someday, that the WWF pushes him to become a lengthy World Champion, instead of a Main Event jobber.
6. Mr. Ass – Billy Gunn is molding nicely into a good main event heel wrestler. It takes time, but he is really proving that he has what it takes to go to the top. Yeah, he’s not just a tag wrestler. (Tito 2018: That brief Rock feud absolutely killed his singles push.)
5. Jeff Jarrett – If you would have told me a year ago that Jarrett would be over, I would laugh at you. Well, Jarrett, with a little help of Debra, has catapulted himself into superstardom. He’s doing great now, and he just might become a World Title contender now. Great work Jarrett. (Tito 2018: Then Steve Austin decided not to work with the guy. Soon thereafter, Jim Ross let his contract expire and Jarrett bolted to WCW.)
4. Undertaker – Undertaker has been pure evil lately, but it seems that he’s a tad slower and less mobile than he used to be. I don’t like what he stands for now, as I prefer the taker that actually acts like an Undertaker. (Tito 2018: Wow… Little did I know that he had many great years to come. Undertaker was battling injuries throughout 1999 and would exit that year with surgery to repair a groin tear).
3. Triple H – This man has also come a long way, and it will finally pay off! I have been a Triple H fan for a while now, and I’m glad that he’s getting the world title coming up. I think his wrestling skills are better now than ever as well. (Tito 2018: Look how positive I am of Triple H before his major push. His 2002 return from quad injury is where I really began to sour over him being too powerful as a wrestler in the ring and backstage.)
2. Stone Cold – Still gets great crowd reactions and puts on good matches in main events. I wish he would wrestle a little more on RAW, but oh well. He will always be in the title hunt, and it doesn’t seem like he’ll be taken out of the spotlight soon.
1. The Rock – It was close between the Rock and Stone Cold, but I’ll give my props to the Rock because I think he’s the best all around wrestler in the WWF. He, by far, puts on the best matches. I’m not a Rock fan, but I do respect how entertaining he is. (Tito 2018: Rock was red hot following Wrestlemania 15. Of course, I would sour on the Rock during 2000 based on how he relied too much on repetitive catchphrases as a babyface and throwing like 40 punches per match).
(Tito 2018: Wow, no Mick Foley? Maybe he was taking time off from the WWE following Wrestlemania 15? )
@Wow, that was fun. I’ll be back tomorrow with some previews of the Monday Night shows, as well as other goodies that are part of the Phat Daily Column. I hope you have enjoyed my OPINIONATED top tens, as I enjoyed doing them. Thanks for reading, and just chill…till the next episode. This is Mr. Tito, keeping the streak alive because he’s defining daily, signing off! (Tito 2018: I soon realized that I wasn’t taking days off when writing the “Phat Daily Column” and since I kept a nice archive of my columns, I could easily count how many columns in a row that I did. I can’t remember the number, but it was 400 and something in a row between 1999-2000. Of course, little do people know that I often wrote 2 columns during a day to “pre-tape” a column to be posted the next day. But hey, whatever kept people tuning in to each column… All about how you market yourself, folks.
Interesting to see what the 19 year old Mr. Tito thought of the wrestling landscape back then. Funny how I’m supporting Triple H back then as an in-ring performer and now I’m coming back full circle to praise him as an executive of the WWE. If I posted a column from 2003, it is likely to not be as favorable towards him…
During 1998-2000, it was easy to fill a Daily Column because you had WWE, WCW, and ECW providing you endless news bytes. After the WCW/ECW Invasion of 2001 and the nWo’s return of early 2002, material became very thin and that was a contributing factor as to why I cased doing the “Phat Daily Column” by late August 2002. Then I wrote once or twice per week until mid 2006 when I retired. I disappeared until early 2010 when I joined LoPForum’s Blogs Forum to write non-wrestling content for LordsofPain.net. On a random night during early 2010, I reviewed RAW for the “hell of it” and it received a big reaction. Soon, I started trying more wrestling columns on that Blogs Forum and it grew from there. Here I am during 2018 and I’m staring down my 20th year anniversary as Mr. Tito with LordsofPain.net.
I’m amused that I have yet to come across a column where my 19 or 20 year old self just ripped the WWE and certain wrestlers a new one… Maybe I was just chilling during July during those years? Because I could be quite immature back then…
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