MR. TITO: WWE is an Unorganized Hot Mess Submitted by Mr. Tito on 08/04/2020 at 10:38 PM
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Allow me to start off this week's rant with a funny story... 80s Rock Band called W.A.S.P. was your typical "hairband" from that era that glammed it up and had many on-stage theatrics to sometimes mask what wasn't a classically trained band. Many bands of the 1980s pushed heavy pyrotechnics as a means of competing with each other to have a bigger and better stage show to impress fans. Pro wrestling would take that model during the 1990s with the Monday Night Wars when RAW/Nitro arenas would explode with fireworks...
Anyway, the lead singer of W.A.S.P., Blackie Lawless, decided the up the ante by placing a fireworks shooting device on his crotch area. In other words, he wanted the grand finale to appear to be coming from pants! Well, things went horribly wrong and that crotch fireworks device malfunctioned to cause him severe burns down there (OUCH!!!). When he got backstage, Blackie Lawless told the rest of the band "I wouldn't have to do this if we wrote better songs!!"
Well, by comparison, the WWE wouldn't have to rush short-term storyline ideas if they had a better Creative Team in place.
Hell, they wouldn't have to rush things if they had any Long-Term vision for the company in place. Maybe better Talent Development? Maybe consistent management backstage instead of shuffling chairs on the Titanic with 2 Executive Directors already gone (Bischoff, Heyman), many new writers hired and fired, and creatively inept and biggest Vince McMahon brown-noser Bruce Prichard overseeing creative of both RAW and Smackdown.
Look what the WWE had to do this week JUST to obtain an additional 100,000 viewers from last week's ridiculously low 1.6 million viewers... On the day of the show, WWE announced that Shane McMahon would be making a special appearance and that a "new faction" would debut. WWE threw out 2 big bones for WWE fans to crew on and yet it only gave them an additional 100,000 viewers. This 1,715,000 average viewers number for this past Monday is still among one of the worst viewership numbers that they've had this year and since the very early days of Monday Night RAW during the early to mid 1990s when WWE was in decline and households with Cable connections were fewer.
It would be an entirely different thing if we saw Shane McMahon appearing weeks in advance and suggesting that he wanted to "shake things up" a bit on RAW. For weeks, we would ponder "what could Shane be up to?". Then, when it was revealed, then maybe we'd ease up on it a bit because a story was at least being told. Furthermore, if the WWE had Shane teasing it for weeks, they could gauge how fans might feel about this new idea and adjust accordingly. Instead, Shane just appears on RAW and here is his version of Fight Club with very green wrestlers performing in it. Yikes.
And then the promised new faction or stable... The "Retribution" stable featured a bunch of guys dressed in black clothing and with hoodies (maybe they were the Ninjas in that tag match segment a few Pay Per Views ago?) and they were seen throwing something to set fire to a generator outside.
Exactly what does that have to do with Pro Wrestling where competitors are portraying a living sporting event to achieve the fame and glory of winning the company's World Championship?
Anyone want to take any bets on how long this angle will last? Here we are in 2020 and the WWE is in bed with much more Corporations than they were during the mid 2000s. If you'll recall during July 2005, WWE Smackdown featured an angle where Muhammad Hassan ordered guys with military clothing and ski masks to attack the Undertaker inside the ring. To push the stereotypes and xenophobia even further, the guys with the ski masks were choking the Undertaker with piano wire! UPN, then owned by the Viacom Corporation and who hosted Smackdown, ordered the WWE to keep Hassan off of their channel. After the Undertaker dispatched of Hassan on Pay Per View, we never saw Hassan again.
Fast forward to 2020... WWE is deeper into the sheets with more Corporations, as they've obtained more networks since (Comcast, FOX) and have obtained relationships with corporate sponsors as well. Meanwhile, they have maintained a PG Rating for their content and try to proudly boast being a safe and family experience.
And again, if the WWE was just a little more organized and prepared as a company, they wouldn't have to dip their toe into Attitude Era like shock value for a quick pop. Then, weeks later, they are advised by their sponsors or internal management to bring the product back to being a family oriented show. This creates for an inconsistent WWE image.
You just know that the current WWE product is a HOT MESS when Paul Heyman had better attention to detail and wrote a show that was more organized than Bruce Prichard and whomever else assumed Heyman's old RAW duties. At least Paul was trying to push some of the younger and unused wrestlers who were probably called up too early from the NXT promotion. While Paul Heyman didn't present a perfect product, he did his best under the circumstances of having Vince McMahon with VETO power over everything.
What WWE needs to realize is that given their current infrastructure and short-term planning, they are flat out screwed... NXT is not untraining bad Indy habits, talent isn't being as recruited like it used to be, communication isn't being taught on technique but only how to memorize lines, nobody is allowed any form of creativity backstage besides Vince, and that women's wrestling might be a bit overvalued. Before anyone gets mad on my latter point, does anyone really care about Women's wrestling beyond its top stars? After you get past Becky, Charlotte, Sasha, Bayley, Asuka, and Alexa... The talent dropoff is severe.
The WWE model is broken and it won't get fixed as long as Vince retains family (Triple H, Shane, and Stephanie) and close friends/kiss-ups (Kevin Dunn, Bruce Prichard, Michael PS Hayes) as his trusted associates. I've said it many, many times... Shane and Stephanie, thanks to their dad, have grown up in the life of luxury and went to nice colleges... Then, they had ready-made jobs for them upon graduating. Triple H was stuck as a Tag Team wrestler in WCW before WWE gave Triple H a chance to be a singles wrestler. 4 years later, Triple H is making millions and headlining Wrestlemania. Meanwhile, Vince gave Triple H his daughter's hand in marriage. Why would Triple H ever get mad at Vince?
Compare that to the 1990s where Vince Russo, head of Creative, and Jim Ross, head of Talent, had zero fears about openly disagreeing with Vince McMahon at production meetings. And was the end result again? Russo's creative direction changed the way wrestlers and storylines were presented in the WWE while Ross's key free agent signings (Austin, Foley) and wrestlers of the future (Rock, Edge, Christian, Hardys, Lesnar, Cena, Batista, etc) presented the WWE with stars for many years to come. Vince McMahon gutted that braintrust and promoted his family to their roles. End result? WWE Monday Night RAW once had 6-8 million viewers through late 1999 but declined all the way down to just over 4 million viewers during early 2015 and it now resides at 1.7 million through today.
The guy who has overseen much of this 2015-2020 collapse has been Triple H, as he was EVP of Talent Relations since mid 2012 and EVP of Creative since late 2013. Because he's scared to challenge his Father-in-Law to make the WWE better which would end up making everyone more money, he enables him... Much of his NXT call-ups come up to the main roster and are belittled, jobbed, and repackaged in an embarrassing way. What does Triple H do about it? Absolutely nothing... He just shrugs his shoulders and tries more crops of wrestlers at NXT.
Meanwhile at NXT, he's not training them to be well rounded wrestlers. He lets them continue their Indy high risk style and while that might result in a fun Takeover show on occasion, it's not making for as exciting 2 hour weekly NXT shows on the USA Network. Additionally, many of his wrestlers are getting injured easily due to that higher risk style. Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks appear to be made of glass while injuries to the top male stars are routine in NXT. Instead of training wrestlers on the concept of "LESS is MORE", he's allowing high risk Ladder Matches or War Games where wrestlers are performing daredevil stunts instead of wrestling holds. Then, when those wrestlers are called up to the main WWE roster, they are clueless on how to work a shorter and safer match style that Vince requires.
BUT - Triple H enables these bad Indy habits to remain because he wants to be loved... Seriously, he talk up the wrestlers to their faces but say NOTHING about them in Creative meetings backstage. Ask FTR about that, formerly the Revival of NXT and WWE. Trips was constantly trying to smooth over things, suggesting that things would improve. Nobody backstage can go to Triple H and receive any trusted advice. Why? Because he's NOT in charge. He runs his vanity NXT program and gives Vince warm bodies to work with. Meanwhile, Vince is too nice to his Son-in-Law to tell him that the NXT call-ups aren't exactly what he wants for his main roster.
Things weren't like that when Jim Ross managed the WWE's Talent Developmental program. Ross scouted athletic talents of all varieties and indy promotions and then placed them with trusted hands such as Dory Funk, Les Thather, or Danny Davis/Jim Cornette. On Wrestlemania 36, we saw the talents of Edge, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, and John Cena appearing and performing on that show and in major spots on the card. All 4 of those guys were recruited and placed in extensive training programs by Jim Ross. Not only are all 4 talented, but all 4 guys worked safe enough in their career to STILL be healthy enough to work 20 years later. Think about that, too, with Edge... He worked those TLC matches and had several neck surgeries. Could you imagine how badly injured he would be without being fully trained? Watch those TLC matches and see how he's cleanly landing for many of those big impact bumps.
For Creative, Bruce Prichard is NOT the right man for that job. For years, everyone was trying to tell me to listen to his Podcast "Something to Wrestle"... While I'm sure that he and Conrad work hard on it weekly, I was always like "nah"... Why? Because I've heard Bruce Prichard enough on shoot interviews and read enough of his revisionist history on things to NOT desire enduring 2 hours of Bruce's Snake Oil salesmanship (though I might find a great new way to refinance my home!). I've heard him make excuse after excuse on bad Vince McMahon decisions to know better... If you want a really good laugh, find the clip of Bruce trying to explain how the "Red Rooster" gimmick should have made Terry Taylor a big success in the WWE. It is breathtakingly funny!
If Bruce Prichard is such a great creative mind, why was he demoted from the Creative Team during the mid 1990s in order to freshen things up? With the revolving door of creative team members during the 2000s, why wasn't he relied on as an old hand? Why did the WWE let him go during 2008 in order to join a competitor, TNA? Why didn't the WWE give Bruce Prichard an initial Executive Director job instead of Paul Heyman or Eric Bischoff?
With that resume of not consistently being a Creative force in the WWE, why is Bruce trusted to run creative on BOTH RAW and Smackdown now during 2020 when storyline innovation is badly needed?
Oh yeah, he kisses up to Vince McMahon and is a total enabler. The Bruce is loose!
The EASY BUTTON to press is to "Blame Vince". You do realize that since 1982, Vince McMahon built this wrestling empire into what you see today. Yes, business has declined severely since the Spring of 2000, but they still remain the #1 wrestling company in the world and by a margin. On a weekly basis, WWE consistently delivers 2-3 hours of wrestling per show to the USA Network or FOX and shall make over $2 billion here in the United States over the next 5 years. The WWE Network is fantastic and how he remade Brock Lesnar into a big deal has helped sustain that WWE Network's Pay Per View selling point.
What Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, Kevin Dunn, and Bruce Prichard don't realize is that they have POWER over Vince McMahon... Do you really believe that Vince would terminate his own children and son-in-law? Who else would Vince trust on the Production of his WWE shows other than Kevin Dunn in that truck? Vince knows that if he asks Bruce Prichard to run into a burning building, he'll do it... So why can't all 5 of them combine their efforts together and have an intervention with Vince McMahon? If all 5 walked today, investors would barf all over the stock and Vince would have to rebuild trusting relationships all over again. At his later age, do you really believe that he wants to do that?
Unless Shane/Stephanie/Triple H/Kevin/Bruce take charge of the WWE backstage, Vince McMahon is going to operate things as a senile dictator who is out-of-touch with today's product and talent. Furthermore, Vince's feelings are impaired because he doesn't want to tell his own children (Shane & Stephanie), son-in-law (Triple H), or his 2 best friends (Bruce & Kevin) that they are doing a POOR JOB themselves. Look at how hard and demanding Vince is with Paul Heyman. When was the last time that Vince was EVER tough on Stephanie, Shane, Triple H, or Kevin Dunn? Heyman has been demoted at least 3 times by Vince (Smackdown 2004, ECW 2006, RAW 2020). Eric Bischoff didn't even have a chance to try his job before Vince McMahon became too demanding on him.
Because the WWE's Creative Team consists of Vince McMahon and everybody else in the room being scared of him, we get the WWE that we see today. Vince McMahon changes his mind frequently and has zero patience... As RAW gets further and further below 2.0 Million viewers, he'll do anything to pop that rating for just 1 week. Bring back Shane McMahon for 1 week? Sure, we'll announce it on Monday. New "faction" to arrive? Announce it on Monday. That equals just 100,000 viewers.
I've already seen many putting off the "NBA Effect" but remember, the NBA games happening right now are REGULAR SEASON. The Playoffs draw differently. Ditto for the NHL, which is going straight into the Playoffs. After 60 games, Major League Baseball will be doing their Playoffs in the fall. Oh, the NFL Season will be back and in full force.
1.7 Million for RAW will seem like a GREAT number once September/October emerge.
And we're not factoring in the potential BACKLASH from this "Retribution" group. Many within the Black Lives Matter group take pride in peacefully protecting and really dislike the stigma that all of them are rioting and setting things on fire. WWE better be careful on who they reveal is behind the generator explosion. Just a few weeks ago, WWE was sending test balloons to news reporting agencies about potentially bringing back the militant Nation of Domination stable for MVP, Lashley, and other black wrestlers.
Is the WWE just tone deaf? They do realize that they are a company who portrays an athletic competition between two wrestlers in a ring and wrestling over championships... Right? Exactly what does burning up a generator do to fit in with that business model?
Having fight club matches... Why can't that be performed in an actual wrestling ring instead of some goofy set-up elsewhere?
I'm all for trying something new, but be logical about it AND plan things out ahead of time.
WWE is NOT and I repeat NOT going to improve if their intellectual infrastructure is not repaired. Right now you have Vince McMahon surrounded by enabling family/friends and a bunch of writers who only write whatever this weakened system desires. Meanwhile, wrestlers aren't being taught psychology, promo cutting skills, and are given awful names within the bland NXT system.
This are NO overnight fixes for the WWE's problems... Just more kneejerk reactions and more crap thrown at the wall in hopes for something to stick.
WWE doesn't have the braintrust backstage or in their Board room to get better. This is a sick patient with about 4 more years of a TV deal to survive.
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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