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The EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING that is exclusively featured here at LordsofPain.net has returned! I’m getting good feedback on these Top 10 summary columns of the week that was and it’s working out for me as well. Usually, I have been preparing these early Saturday morning which is an amazing adjustment for me as a columnist. Usually, 10:30pm was the earliest staring time for my columns in the past… But now, I wake up early after a great night sleep and put together a column without my eyes watering from being tired.
However, I’ll say that there is TOO MUCH WRESTLING to cover right now. And with that incredible amount of hours to watch per week, the QUALITY just isn’t there. The only promotion that I truly enjoy each week is NXT because they have quality in-ring matches and logical storylines. The other promotions either have thin talent rosters, questionable wrestling styles, or ignorant creative teams. It is honestly a chore to get through a WWE show while promotions like AEW and NWA are way too young to be thrust into the spotlight.
Since 2001, the wrestling industry lost its way with the Corporate WWE dominating the scene and denying the trade of learning to be a legitimate professional wrestler to occur. Things were OK during the early 2000s when the WWE had the Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental territory as operated by Jim Cornette and Danny Davis. There, wrestlers were trained the correct way on how to work and cut promos… But changes, with time, have evaporated that learning culture in the developmental system and Triple H’s stronghold of his spot in the WWE Corporate structure has denied many great veterans from becoming members of the WWE Creative Team. Why haven’t Steve Austin or Mick Foley been staples of the WWE management structure? Why isn’t the Undertaker transitioning into a backstage role? How about Edge or Christian?
We don’t quite have that learning structure to teach wrestlers how to properly work with the simple concept of “less is more”. Instead, wrestlers who are in their 20s are emulating the Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) promotion that they saw growing up and that the WWE incorporated into their product. All wrestlers take excessive risks as regular moves. Look how many suicide dives occur per event now. How many tables are destroyed per show? Who is looking out for the safety of wrestlers?
The ironic thing is that each promotion has tried to make an honest effort to bring back a veteran wrestling mind to help out… Jim Ross for AEW, Paul Heyman/Eric Bischoff/Bruce Prichard for WWE, and Jim Cornette for NWA. The wrestling business is a tough one, especially for individuals in their 50s and 60s to be required to put in many hours and feel the strain of a heavy workload. What SHOULD have been done is that the WWE should have recognized the talents of Jim Ross and Paul Heyman through 2002 and gave them the ability to hire their own staff to support them. That way, Ross and Heyman could still make executive and creative decisions while training future generations of minds on how to operate a wrestling company. Instead, both were marginalized for their talents and we lost more than a DECADE of input from both guys.
The result of WWE’s monopoly is that the pro wrestling industry is Creatively bankrupt and not training wrestlers properly. Sorry, but wrestling is NOT taking repeat high risk moves to create shock value moments. When you see a suicide dive, a moonsault, or a table spot multiple times a week or multiple times a month, it no longer feels special. Someone in the developmental system and also via road agents backstage needs to teach the simple concept of “less is more” in the ring by using psychology and selling rather than relying on high spots. Furthermore, cutting promos and having a strong personality is what truly draws in pro wrestling. A few weeks ago, I was praising Chris Jericho‘s promo cutting ability and my argument was that this kept him vibrant and relevant in his older age. Just the simple HYPE that Jericho puts on all of his matches causes fans in attendance to be excited heading into the his matches. Hot crowds can often influence how to workers perform but ALSO how viewers perceive the match. When a reviewer hears how hot the crowd is, it probably adds an additional star or two to the match rating…
The promotion that figures out how the concept of “Less is More” in the ring while focusing better on promos/personality will be the one who wins this latest “war”. But I think that we’re YEARS away from seeing that happen, as AEW and NWA are still young promotions… It takes time to figure things out and to sign the right talent to execute a strong drawing promotion.
On another front, there won’t be a one-on-one discussion between yours truly and former WWE/WCW/TNA creative guy, Vince Russo. We agreed to do an Audio discussion but because of work related issues (I can show you remote access system logs, if you’d like), I wasn’t available this week. Upon a private message discussion later this week, he opted to cancel. If Mr. Russo wants to revisit doing something together, he can inquire. He’s also more than welcome to draft a written response that I’m willing to place in my column. From our private discussion, I know specifically what bothered him about my column now (which he can speak about himself, as I won’t reveal private message content). I respect that he has reached out following my column and it was nice chatting with him.
Back to business here… Let’s get to our Top 10 Takeaways for the week that was…
Mr. Tito’s Top 10 Takeaways for the Week in Wrestling
#1 – WWE made a HUGE MISTAKE by airing Smackdown on Fox Sports 1
Do remember during the WWE and FOX Network announcement when it was suggested that this deal was for FOX only and that WWE could not be moved to Fox Sports 1 (FS1)? Remember that? Well, during the 4th week, the WWE was already pushed to FS1. If I were the WWE, I would have REFUSED to air my show on FS1… That sets a precedent, moving forward, for how FOX treats WWE programming. Now, at any time, FOX can pre-empt them and shove them on to FS1… From what I can see, FS1 is somehow available in 84 million homes but its viewership is really low. What happens when viewership gets below 2 million on FOX? Just saying, they can move the WWE now whenever they want thanks to Friday’s precedent that was just set. I guess as long as that $200 million+ per year check clears, all is good?
#2 – Joey Ryan makes an Impact
Come on, Impact… In my opinion, if booked and controlled correctly, Joey Ryan could be a unique talent to book. He has what I described above… He brings a unique character and personality to the business. Ryan looks different than other wrestlers. If booked like a “Ravishing Rick Rude” or even like a “Nature Boy” Ric Flair without even trying the crotch suplex move, it could work… Ryan, however, refuses to be censored and Impact appears to be accommodating that wish. The result was a whole chain of guys holding each others crotches on the latest Impact Wrestling’s Pay Per View… I’ll pass on that. It’s not just that I’m offended by that, but it just makes pro wrestling look too phony. And you can’t air that on television, either, and sponsors will freak out when they hear Impact has a guy with a crotch suplex on their roster. If you don’t believe me, then why hasn’t WWE or AEW signed the guy? AEW wanted him badly, too, but he refused to alter his character.
#3 – WWE 2K20 is Glitchy, dog…
As a Nintendo Switch owner who got BURNED on WWE 2K18, I’m not surprised by the dumpster fire known as WWE 2K20. If you want a great laugh, just watch Glitch highlight videos on YouTube. WHAT A MESS. WWE should be ashamed at the 2K Sports company that represents them. That game is completely broken, just as the Switch 2K18 game was broken. 2K Sports and WWE had ONE JOB a few years ago and that was to get a working game on the Nintendo Switch to hook that growing fanbase. Instead, they tried to shove a much larger game onto a lower powered console. WWE 2K20 is further evidence that 2K Sports is half-assing WWE’s games and that should NOT be acceptable.
Remember, back in the day, when a WWE released game felt special and each game was unique from the next? These annual releases are a big mistake. WWE could potentially make more money by releasing QUALITY games on occasion and then keeping those games alive through DLC packages. Times were great when WWE released different games per system, too.
#4 – Give AEW more time… Still too early.
Everyone is making a big deal out of being UNDER 1 million. Remember, they just formed their promotion during early January and had their first official event during June. Let’s be patient as everyone figures out their role in the wrestling industry and how to please fans. What we need is for them to remain until next year when multiple WWE contracts expire. For example, the Tag Division for me is “hit or miss”. Some matches are great, some are trainwrecks… But if you added the Revival to that mix… And so on. Should the ratings be higher? Of course… Could their creative be better? Absolutely. Should the promotion involve Jim Ross MORE OFTEN on talent decisions? No doubt about it… However, the promotion is still too damn new. AEW is like a blind man at an orgy, as they are going to have to feel things out.
#5 – Ditto for NWA… Still too early, give them time.
I’ll be honest, after watching the first NWA show, the nostalgia of watching studio shows has worn on me… BUT, the shows are mostly entertaining and just good to casually put on the television when you’re working on something. In my mind, the talent roster for NWA is just a little too thin but the promotion seems to use their wrestlers well to mask any deficiencies that could have. Also, I like now NWA presents itself as serious and as a sport. Them being on YouTube for a free viewing works well for me, someone who can watch them anywhere on a phone (Hulu, Netflix, and other streaming services don’t work as well on non-Wifi connections).
#6 – AEW needs to sign Tessa Blanchard ASAP
I tried to ask Dave Meltzer yesterday about when Tessa Blanchard’s Impact contract expires. She is the BEST female worker, period. Not even a debate for me… But, she’s a big shark swimming in a small pond. Sorry, but I’m still waiting on that “growth” that AXS promised to do for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Besides the love showered upon them by newsletters, New Japan didn’t have that booming growth in the United States from having weekly shows there. If I were Tony Khan, I would contact Anthem about a talent sharing deal with Tessa. AEW’s Women’s Division needs her BADLY. The quality of that division is wildly inconsistent and is often the worst parts of AEW’s shows. Adding Tessa instantly boosts that. And if AEW got bolder to throw a big wad of cash at CM Punk, I’d aim towards signing AJ Lee next. Could you imagine a Women’s division headlined by Tessa Blanchard and AJ Lee? Take my money, please.
#7 – Jim Ross takes the gloves off on Seth Rollins
I loved every second of it… Rollins has been the WWE cheerleader for the year, getting into open Social Media battles with other wrestlers and other promotions. Him suggesting that AEW was a “minor league” set off Jim Ross. To be fair, Kenny Omega said similar comments about NXT though, technically speaking, NXT is actually WWE’s minor league show full of wrestlers signed to “develop” into WWE stars. But it’s good to see some FIRE burning here between both sides. Sorry, but you cannot have the attitude that both promotions can “peacefully” exist. Part of being competitors is to actually compete. During 1995-1996, Eric Bischoff was breaking beer bottles and as ready to cut the WWE’s throat to win that battle. And he did… Do you think that Vince McMahon Jr. was a nice guy during the 1980s as he was stomping the territory system? No, the NWA convention meeting that he reportedly attended went the wrong way and it pissed him off.
#8 – XFL Already in Trouble
Reportedly, the annual pay to be an XFL player isn’t what it seems… Agents of potential XFL players were promised an annual salary of around $55,000 plus bonuses for winning. However, the real salary is actually around $27,000. Ouch. Here we are again, folks… Everything that I’ve seen shows that XFL is running “on the cheap”… Of course, they should given the epic losses seen following their 2001 disaster of a season that the WWE, NBC, and Viacom ate. But just as we just discussed at wrestlers putting down other promotions as “minor league”, the XFL is legitimately a lesser quality football brand that has players who couldn’t make it in the NFL. And if they are lowballing players to join their league, the opportunity of playing football again won’t be worth the risk endured.
I just wonder if the XFL would ever get bold and throw money at a big name, like Antonio Brown. If AB wants to dominate like a Tecmo Super Bowl players, the XFL would be his league… But Vince McMahon better pay the man bigtime money for that to happen. Ditto for someone like Colin Kaepernick. Can’t offer guys like them $27,000.
#9 – Back to Tag Team action, Kofi Kingston goes
Just like that, after the debut episode of WWE Smackdown on FOX, Kofi Kingston is back to his midcard role. And I’m not here to argue against that. History is going to show what a disaster Kofi’s WWE Title reign was and it wasn’t even his fault. How Kofi operated during 10/25/19 was exactly how he was to start 2019. Full circle… He was rushed to the WWE Title because the WWE foolishly thought that he was “over”. Nope. Fans used him as a vehicle to troll the WWE out of protest for their other Creative decisions. Kofi was a last second replacement for a bigger Pay Per View match and bored WWE fans got behind him for trolling purposes. It made for a good story, but real New Day member who should have been pushed as a singles wrestler was Big E. He’s a legitimate heavyweight who has benefited most from being in New Day for the way it brought out his charisma, personality, and mic skills. What is the WWE waiting for on Big E?
#10 – Still don’t care about WWE Crown Jewel
Sorry, but Tyson Fury and Cain Velasquez do nothing for me and I don’t care to see them competing in matches against Braun Strowman or Brock Lesnar. I wasn’t drawn to them performing in boxing or MMA, so why should I care about them instantly joining the WWE to face top competitors in the WWE? Why, also, should I care about Team Hogan versus Team Flair? Match and wrestlers participating in it seems thrown together. Could have made a fun Survivor Series elimination style match but instead, it’s just a gimmick to present Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair overseas. These overseas events are money grabs by the WWE and nothing more… But the way that RAW and Smackdown have to hype these shows that nobody here in the United States actually wants to watch is getting ridiculous. If they are going to pay for top names anyway, then why do we have to suffer through that event’s hype anyway? Remember when England used to have special Pay Per View events that only they saw? We didn’t have weeks of RAW hyping up storylines for a show overseas that most wrestling fans can’t attend.
The bigger thing for me is how MMA and potentially boxing fighters are now invading pro wrestling… Does nothing for me and without proper training, the matches will suffer. Remember during the mid 1990s when both WWE and WCW experimented with incorporating existing (not retired) NFL and NBA stars into matches? Didn’t exactly boom the business, did it? Both promotions figured out quickly that it was in their better interests to push trained wrestlers.
THE LAST WORD
I want to expand on point #7… Can members of WWE and AEW take off the gloves already and stop apologizing for punching each other? It was refreshing to hear Jim Ross shooting from the hip. He really tore into Seth Rollins, particularly with that Becky Lynch line. While I didn’t agree with when he said it, but Kenny Omega mocking NXT as being “minor league” a few months ago helped set the stage for AEW’s easy ratings wins on Wednesday nights early on. When you look at NXT’s smaller arena setting, the presentation appears to back Omega’s comments.
Think back to 1995. Owner of WCW, Ted Turner, and EVP of WCW, Eric Bischoff wanted to BEAT the WWE and become the #1 wrestling promotion in the world. That drive led to both men doing things and saying things to make that happen. Ted wasn’t afraid to spend money and sign big name talents while Eric Bischoff did things on WCW Nitro to advertise to wrestling fans what WCW was and what WWE wasn’t. From 1995 through early 1997, the WWE was an hourly show and they taped 4-5 shows in advance. WCW, however, was a LIVE television show in contrast. To mock the WWE, Eric Bischoff would actually read spoilers of the taped RAW shows on the air during Nitro!
Reportedly, Eric Bischoff held meetings backstage where he said that he wanted to “put the WWE out of business”. As ridiculous that that seems, that was the competitor in Eric Bischoff that was driving his WCW promotion to excellence in the 83 straight weeks that it dominated RAW in the ratings battle. Bischoff did other things like offering better guaranteed money opportunities to make it more appealing for wrestling free agents to join.
Look how competitive Vince McMahon Jr. was during the 1980s that pissed off many of Vince Sr.’s old friends. Vince Jr. placed the WWE on Cable and purchased syndication in order to make his product more national. Then, he’d use the idea of being a “national promotion” to sell to top wrestlers in territories to sign with the WWE. When the Pay Per View market was growing, Vince kept adding new events to sell to providers. Meanwhile, he’d strongarm NWA/WCW by threatening companies to NOT get Wrestlemania if they chose to air NWA/WCW Starrcade instead of WWE Survivor Series. Vince McMahon Jr. put many, many territory promotions out of business and the NWA only survived because Ted Turner decided to buy it.
If AEW wants to succeed, it must advertise themselves as being a legit alternative to the WWE… And no, I’m not suggesting that you should feature wrestlers with hands in their pockets, under 100 pounds in weight, or having sloppy hardcore matches. And GOOD GOD, not those awful creative and talent decisions for their Women’s division. AEW needs to be a safe haven for wrestlers under-utilized by other promotions, specifically the WWE. As history shows, the growth periods of both the WWE in the 1980s, WCW in the 1990s, and the Attitude Era for the WWE, it was fueled by key signings away from another promotion. WWE stole Hulk Hogan away from AWA and made him their champion, WCW signed Hall & Nash away from WWE after WWE refused to pay them more, and WWE signed Austin/Foley/Triple H/Undertaker + Jim Ross off of WCW’s scrap heap.
I LOVED IT when Dean Ambrose joined Chris Jericho’s Podcast and just nailed the WWE on their BS. LOVED IT! I love it when Cody Rhodes doesn’t pull back punches… Sadly, he apologizes for it shortly there after. *face palm* Kenny Omega calling NXT “minor league”… Cool by me. In fact, I’m OK with Seth Rollins calling AEW that. And now Jim Ross punching back on Seth Rollins and shooting on him about how Becky Lynch is likely to be more popular than him.
AEW needs to openly speak about how WWE is letting down their fans and how they are the alternative. But don’t suggest that “both can co-exist” or that there is “plenty of pie for everyone”. There’s not. It’s competition. Both WCW and WWE became better promotions during the 1990s because the competitive spirit and fear of losing business drove them to the brink.
More importantly for AEW, they need to lure more WWE fans away and they need to create an environment where future WWE exists like Luke Harper, Cesaro, the Revival, and maybe even Randy Orton can join. Dean Ambrose was going to leave the WWE anyway and was willing to just work the Indy scene… But if there is a highly financed opportunity out there to catch more disgruntled WWE wrestlers, AEW has to present themselves as that. However, they also need to present themselves as a promotion that is willing to FIGHT for wrestlers and wrestling fans.
Take the gloves off, stop being politically correct, and call out the WWE for being a shell of its former self.
On the WWE’s end, I wouldn’t acknowledge that AEW exists at all… But they just need to internally improve. Their promotion SUCKS right now and it’s all due to the developmental system not providing Vince McMahon of the talents that he wants and also due to the poor Creative Team put in place. Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff/Bruce Prichard, along with Triple H, cannot do their jobs or put in any place long-term if Vince McMahon changes his mind randomly or gets impatient. Furthermore, Heyman/Prichard/Triple H need to GROW SOME SACK and actually disagree with Vince McMahon from time to time… And do so in a big meeting in front of producers and corporate types. What made Vince Russo effective during 1996-1997 on his way to becoming Lead Writer is that he actually stood up to Vince McMahon and disagreed with him. Jim Ross did the same thing… Grow some balls and stick up to the old man!
WWE will not improve until Vince McMahon feels challenged… If it’s not internally at the WWE, then it has to be AEW being that challenge. Being under 1 million viewers on TNT is not going to accomplish that. Being more aggressive as a competitor, however, will… And then, when Vince McMahon sees a real threat, that’s when he’ll look around and find a new creative mind. That’s what happened during 1996 when Vince McMahon was frustrated with his Creative Team and took a chance on a WWE Magazine editor named Vince Russo to join that team. The rest was history.
Cody Rhodes, Dean Ambrose, Jim Ross, and Chris Jericho were ALL THERE recently in the WWE. They know the weak spots and what frustrated them as talents there. Thanks to the internet, fan frustration is easily read and documented about the WWE. Use that against them… Break that beer bottle and cut them! It should be a fight!
So just chill… Until the next episode!
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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