MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – WWE Royal Rumble Hype, Why New Japan is Growing, and LOL @ Balor Club

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Welcome to the column that isn’t afraid to tell you “GET OF MY LAWN” if you’re a hater and is exclusive to / Been Mr. Tito since late 1998 and damn, I’m heading into another WWE Royal Rumble season. Even when you have a down year in the WWE, like 2017, the start of the year always brings the Rumble… To start 2018, I wasn’t into it… Then, I watched a few highlight videos of past Royal Rumble moments and I’m back on board with the WWE. For now. You know, until we’re shoved Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 34 where Roman ultimately puts the nail in Lesnar’s WWE career. Can’t wait.

What’s great about the Royal Rumble match is that it’s (a) once a year, (b) has a “sense of urgency” to it because the #1 Contendership at Wrestlemania is on the line, (c) and has a real feel of “anticipation” to it as each entrant arrives. In my opinion, the Rumble match is the closest thing we’ll ever see Pro Wrestling resembling an actual sport. In a regular match, it’s obvious the wrestling is scripting because of the many breaks between moves and nobody would try a regular Suplex or Frankensteiner in a real fight. However with the Rumble, the simple objective is to toss someone over the Top Rope. That’s it… It’s like a sport and the wrestler can simply sell that struggle to avoid getting tossed versus portraying an actual wrestling match. The “Luck of the Draw” comes into play as wrestlers are “randomly” selected between 1 through 30.

I LOVE the anticipation of the Countdown for the next wrestler to arrive… That, in my opinion, is the absolute best. The more surprise entrants, the better. John Cena returning from injury early, Edge returning from injury early, AJ Styles debuting, Mr. Perfect & Goldust returning to the WWE, and the curiosity of who will get spot #30. It is legitimately exciting no matter what the state of the WWE is through that event. Mid 1990s WWE were rough but the Rumble was still fun. Even in the past few years where the objective was to promote Sheamus, Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, or Randy Orton while screwing Daniel Bryan… It was STILL the Rumble match. In my opinion, since 1992 when the BEST Royal Rumble happened (when Ric Flair won the vacant WWE Title), the Rumble match has been the absolute presentation possible by the WWE. Yeah, Wrestlemania is usually great, but Rumble match is consistently there and usually good. We’ve had bad Wrestlemanias.

Now, we have the Women’s Royal Rumble… At first, I was worried that Rumble match would be “watered down” because you’ll get 2 of the same thing at once… But then I soon realized that the WWE doesn’t quite have have a large roster of active female wrestlers to choose from. Between NXT and WWE, yeah probably… But we’re cutting it close on the main WWE roster. Well, that means that former greats like Trish Stratus, Victoria, Lita, Molly Holly, Ivory, Eve Torres, Kelly Kelly, and many others could return! And you just KNOW that the Bella Twins will be in that! You know it! And I will enjoy the internet burning when that happens. How can ya’ll hate Twins? And would you turn down the money and fame that the WWE just hands them? Come on…

I’m still a little worried about my WWE outlook for 2018… BUT I’m excited for the 2018 WWE Royal Rumble. I’m still here, suckas!


NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING – Why it is growing

Now, now, now… If you’re expecting me to troll the handful of readers constantly hating on me because I’m not covering New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), think again… Personally, I have nothing against New Japan Pro Wrestling. Never have… It’s not my cup of tea with the language barrier and the in-ring style, but I’m not going stop anyone from disliking it. I’m personally happy that NJPW is growing because that means MORE OPTIONS for pro wrestlers and that’s good for pro wrestling as a whole. It’s great to see Kenny Omega blossoming into a superstar and it is NOT happening on the WWE’s watch. Furthermore, I’m very happy for Chris Jericho joining New Japan and growing his legacy. Very happy for him.

But it’s obvious to me WHY New Japan is growing.

Certainly, Dave Meltzer deserves props for actual news and results reporting on NJPW for years upon years. While many of the American magazines were just WWE, WCW, and ECW friendly to American wrestling fans, Meltzer reported what he wanted and was singing New Japan’s praises for years. Since Meltzer is the primary news reporter for WWE and other American wrestling promotions, you just happen to be receiving New Japan news as well. Eventually, people give New Japan a try based on Meltzer’s news coverage and fans are made. New Japan should send royalty checks to him or at least sit him ringside at an honored guest for their big events.

However, I think that the recent New Japan growth has something else… And it’s fairly obvious to see.

Simply compare what New Japan HAS and what the WWE no longer has since the PG Era begin during 2008:

– New Japan allows foul language
– New Japan allows blood
– New Japan allows headshots
– New Japan allows wrestler creative ownership of their characters and in-ring matches

What’s that sound like to you? Kinda of sounds like WWE’s Attitude Era to me…

In other words, what New Japan has simply done for the past few years is FUSED what made NJPW great locally (longer physical in-ring bouts) with what made the late 1990s WWE great. As you saw with Chris Jericho cursing like a sailor, they didn’t care what Jericho said on the microphone. NJPW didn’t have Standards & Practices or multiple corporations scrutinizing what happened on their shows. Attitude Era was full of blood… Ever see Wrestlemania 13 with Steve Austin PASSING OUT due to excessive blood loss? Pretty important moment in the history of the WWE. How about Royal Rumble 1999 when the Rock and Mick Foley wrestled? Foley took headshot after headshot! Violent match! What made Foley, Rock, and Austin great is that they had some creative say over their characters. They weren’t fed scripted lines of what to say word-for-word and their matches weren’t as controlled.

Those are nice Titantrons, New Japan… Events are looking quite nice with production.

But so what? Why not use what works? Wrestling fans are mostly adults now over the age of 30… Why not cater to them? We all grew up as teenagers when the WWE was pushing the Attitude Era with foul language, blood, hot women, and characters who were cool and unhinged. Thus, we grew up on that stuff and yet we have to endure what the WWE pushes out in its PG Era. So you watched an adult based WWE when you were a teenager but you’re now watching a kid friendly WWE in your 30s? Doesn’t make sense… In my opinion, Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) grew quickly during the mid to late 1990s due to the promotion catering towards older wrestling fans hungry to get away from the mid 1990s WWE.

New Japan is smart to fuse what made New Japan great with what made another wrestling promotion great. Hell, now they’ll take a key wrestler of that Attitude Era in Chris Jericho. Why not?

And New Japan wouldn’t be the first who borrowed ideas from another promotion. ALL OF THEM DO IT! Don’t believe me?

1980s WWE – Hulkamania – First of all, look at the talent… WWE purchased from many territories… But the biggest raid was American Wrestling Association (AWA) when the WWE ripped Hulk Hogan away from them and put their babyface push of Hogan on steroids. Furthermore with Hulk Hogan, the WWE basically relived the film Rocky 3 to build up Wrestlemania 3. After all, Hulk Hogan AND Mr. T were both in that film.

Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) Borrowed heavily pop culture to developed its R-rated style program but imported many different styles fo wrestling from various foreign promotions. Suddenly, Lucha Libre was presented in the Northeast as was a smaller wrestler brand when well traveled guys like Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Dean Malenko arrived. It was different and fresh… And then WCW and WWE both raided ECW’s ideas and wrestlers.

World Championship Wrestling since 1994 When Eric Bischoff became the company’s manager, he created a real “melting pot” in his promotion. First and foremost, he signed Hulk Hogan during 1994 along with a few other classic late 1980s former WWE wrestlers. Then, Bischoff raided ECW for the same Lucha Libre and Malenko/Benoit/Guerrero wrestlers… And then, Bischoff stole from WWE’s New Generation by signing Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Oh, that takeover angle called New World Order? Bischoff borrowed that idea from New Japan!

Late 1990s Attitude Era WCW stole ECW’s wrestlers but WWE stole its creative ideas. Throughout 1997, WWE began testing the addition of adult themes and by late 1997, they were completely onboard with the new creative direction. Suddenly, you had more sex, violence, foul language, beer, and crazy storylines that were only seen on a smaller scale in ECW. WWE was now led by Steve Austin who waved middle fingers, drank beer, and used foul language. Degeneration X… Need I say more? And how about Sable and her many jaw dropping moments. Val Venis.. And then the violence in matches was stepped up via Mick Foley. It’s no secret that ECW’s decline was fueled by WCW stealing its talent and WWE stealing its creative ideas.

You have to evolve in pro wrestling or try new ideas. For New Japan, they have a goal to grow beyond their home country. Therefore, if an American wrestling fan tries Wrestle Kingdom 12 for the first time and just the presentation impresses them, New Japan is already successful. Pretty obvious why NJPW would be interested in Chris Jericho… He’s the gateway to get more people to try New Japan.

However, you cannot talk about New Japan without speaking about Kenny Omega. That guy is a real superstar that is pulling in American fans in droves along with the cool stable of the Bullet Club. Omega is getting over naturally and doesn’t have to be forced like what WWE has tried manufacture repeatedly with Miz, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Jinder Mahal, and Roman Reigns. Even their established guys are forced… Just count the # of World Title reigns that both Cena and Orton accumulated in just over 10 years. And if the WWE were to sign Kenny Omega, they’d poison him! He’s not a WWE homegrown talent that the WWE got over and therefore he’d have to put over Roman. As successful as AJ Styles has been, Vince still makes him eat non-title losses and Styles has had to put over many top WWE stars. How has Shinsuke Nakamura been going?

Guys who get naturally over in the WWE, like CM Punk during 2011 and Daniel Bryan during 2013, are destroyed by a McMahon management group who has their own personal tastes and preferences contrary to the fans. Vince McMahon, since getting Cena over as champion during 2005, has had a weird taste in who should Main Event scene. Since Cena became champion during 2005, much of Vince’s trusted advisers were gone or took reduced roles (Patterson, Briscoe, Ross).

Now, we’re at the peak of the WWE Creative Team stupidity when they will, once again, try to force Roman Reigns as the #1 guy. Wow… After defeating CM Punk, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Triple H, Undertaker, and John Cena 100% clean, the guy should be packing arenas. Headlining 3 straight Wrestlemanias and gets the honor of wrestling TWO Wrestlemanias against Brock Lesnar (soon)? Geesh.

Kenny Omega, on the other hand, is not technically the top guy… He has yet to hold the top heavyweight title and New Japan has been dominated by Okada for the past 2 years. He doesn’t need booking support as his match quality, itself, does the talking for him. He’s freely allowed to carry on a personality that is natural and not manufactured by New Japan. What has greatly harmed Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Miz, and Jinder Mahal is the fact that they are manufactured entities and didn’t naturally get over by the fans for the top spot. As you can see with Omega, he has yet to obtain the Heavyweight Title… The WWE wrestlers mentioned were forced into becoming World Champion when they clearly weren’t ready.

Kinda sounds like the WWE should borrow some ideas from New Japan? Or borrow some of their older ideas, technically.


LOL @ Balor Club

I just wonder what wrestling fans see in Finn Balor. Sure, he’s talented… won’t deny that. But he’s billed at 190 pound and 5’11”. Last time I checked, the WWE had a “Cruiserweights Only” show called 205 Live which has wrestlers under 205 pounds. Anytime I even DARE to mention Finn’s name, I have the same 5 fans screaming at me for being unfair. Huh?

Especially at that Kane burial from that episode of RAW, delivering the receipt for Balor’s little Bullet Club signals… WHICH I WAS RIGHT ON because Finn Balor lost his Royal Rumble match-up against Brock Lesnar. By the way, who is wrestling Lesnar now at the Royal Rumble?

If you actually think that the Balor Club (Finn Balor, Anderson, and Gallows) beating Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, & Jason Jordan meant something, think again… First and foremost, don’t forget what just creatively happened to Finn Balor… “Not over”, Vince said… But what about Anderson & Gallows? What have they done since their early 2016 debut? Seriously, at one point, they were hanging out with Dana Brooke and wearing doctor’s outfits.

YES, they are getting somewhat of a push because of New Japan‘s recent success with Wrestle Kingdom 12. But remember who is running the show, Vince McMahon. Vince is the SAME guy who relived the Monday Night Wars to bury Sting during that guy’s first official WWE match. Vince is petty and he’s likely building up Balor Club just for a major downfall later. It wouldn’t surprise me if Roman Reigns beats them in a handicap match or something stupid like that.

Remember – The WWE is owned and operated by Vince McMahon. NEVER forget that. You are best to hope that Balor, Anderson, and Gallows have contracts coming up soon so that they can begin using a return to New Japan as leverage.

But y’all tell me that I’m wrong until you see it for yourself when Balor Club gets officially buried.


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