ASK TITO: Zelina Vega's WWE Release, Bellas, More Submitted by Mr. Tito on 11/14/2020 at 09:41 AM
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Welcome back to not just the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING, but also the cutting edge of political predictions. In column after column with regards to WWE Hall of Famer Donald Trump's Presidential Election, I kept telling you repeatedly to (a) watch Georgia and (b) Pennsylvania will see legal challenges. Of course, I didn't see Arizona coming, but I can't get them all when focused on covering RAW, Smackdown, and AEW weekly.
It's time to come clean, folks... WWE Smackdown is the BEST wrestling show on television and it's the one that I'm mostly watching live in this COVID-19 era. The other shows, RAW or AEW Dynamite, are watched later in either condensed forms, fast forwarding, or YouTube clips. WWE Smackdown, however, has my full attention. IT'S GOOD.
No, it's great!
The WWE Draft exported that show's TOTAL CRAP to RAW and I couldn't be happier. Bray Wyatt/Fiend made Smackdown look so silly for the past year as did Retribution. Somehow, RAW drafted both of them and it's a huge win for wrestling fans. Also as a huge win, much of the weaker Women's wrestlers from Smackdown were also exported to RAW. We no longer have to watch the Miz on Smackdown, either, as that man has diminished since the 2017 Superstar Shake-up. Yeah, so we still have Otis, whiny Seth Rollins, and older Rey Mysterio... But without the briefcase, Otis returns to being a midcarder. Even the "Freak" Lars Sullivan is tolerable. He looks odd, but you can see how well trained he is as a big man. It might work out.
I know that all of the Roman Reigns fans will tell me "see, see, see, we told you he was a draw". Wrong. HE'S A HEEL. He was FAILING as a babyface draw from mid-2014 through early 2020. Go look at the thousands lost in attendance, over 2 million American television viewers lost, and merchandise declines. He wasn't working as a forced babyface and he needs a Road Agent, like Paul Heyman, to help direct him better. And that is OK. Every wrestler receives help from a veteran mind at some point in their career and not everyone can be a great babyface. Just look at the Rock... He failed hard as a babyface initially and it took making him a heel for over 2 years to get his character fleshed out.
Smackdown is working for me, baby... We're good.
As for the rest of Pro Wrestling right now... RAW has the WWE crap that I don't want to watch and it's 3 hours long. Pass. NXT is just dull and boring while pushing too many members of the 5'10" 180 Pound Club. Pass. AEW Dynamite is weekly hot garbage who also has an odd thing for 5'10" 180 Pounders who will never draw. That FULL GEAR Pay Per View will prove to do more long-term damage to AEW's early life thanks to FTR already being jobbed out, Jon Moxley not being stopped from working backyard matches, and Cody Rhodes, clearly the top star of AEW, losing to a 5'10" LESS THAN 180 pound guy who should be carrying his bags and not winning his title.
But that's OK... The rest of those other shows and/or promotions can SUCK as long as Smackdown is good. I'm a consumer with income to spend... I don't HAVE to watch your shows as they air on live television.
Before I begin my column, SHOUT OUTS to Jeff Meacham and Robbie Vice for CRUSHING IT on NoDQ.com's Great Debate show regarding AEW's Full Gear Pay Per View which you can enjoy by Clicking Here. Also props to Aaron Rift for being a great host and referee of these debates. Jeff is a loyal and longtime wrestling fan and he tried his best to defend AEW while Robbie disliked it. They went at it well, just as myself and Virtue held nothing back... You can stay for the debate but also enjoy Robbie Vice's one-liners that thrashed AEW for good comedy. He missed out on a stand-up career, as I was laughing heavily at some of the bold stuff he said.
Onto your questions...
What did you think about Zelina Vega's release from the WWE?
I'm going to boldly say this and most of you know this is the 100% truth: IF Zelina Vega was released by the WWE and it was NOT announced by either WWE or Vega... Would you notice?
I wouldn't... To me, her role was insignificant within the WWE. Female manager that didn't add much to matches or smaller female trying to work in the larger WWE ring. Of course, she's very beautiful but the WWE hardly markets beauty anymore. Maybe she could have benefitted from a different era, like the Attitude Era, where the WWE knew their male audience better and what buttons to push.
And if her release was truly about being upset regarding her Twitch account, then enjoy being a Twitch streamer. If that is where you want to focus more of your creative energy, then the WWE did you a favor by releasing you. For a while, I was talking to several Speedrunners on their paydays from Twitch and several of them actually received way more viewers and followers than Zelina Vega's channel. However, the paydays from Twitch would go up and down and lately, there is a threat of content striking from gaming publishers and if anyone dares to play copyrighted music on their streams. It's a good reason why most Twitch streamers have Patreons on the side. If you stream or place videos on YouTube, the ad revenue is very tight right now and they are becoming demonetized due to many gaming publishers on the attack right now. Twitch is owned by Amazon and YouTube is owned by Google and both are huge legal targets as hundreds of billion dollar corporations.
So good luck with that Twitch streaming career... Hey, if it makes you happy being out of the WWE grind, more power to you... But while you're streaming video games, you might want to maybe obtain a college degree on the side? Something as a contingency plan while you have time? You can try AEW but they'll pay you way less than WWE did.
Wrestlers need to make a choice as to WHO THEY ARE and WHO THEY WANT TO BE right now... Your WWE contract owns your media appearances and likeness for the entirety of that contract. YOU SIGNED THAT DEAL! I can easily argue that your appearances on Twitch, YouTube, or other media negates the character that the WWE is trying to promote. I'm 100% in agreement with the WWE and I would take it a step further that wrestlers should come to the WWE with more ideas how to promote their product and character rather than going rogue to do their own thing on Streaming services or Social Media. It's in WWE's best interest to promote their product and characters on all platforms possible... Why not try to work with them instead of upsetting your major source of income?
She's married to Aleister Black, which could be a problem with this release... However, WWE has recent experience of working with married or engaged couples working within AEW and WWE. WWE no longer sees AEW as a threat, at all, and no longer cares where your spouse may work. But I'll say this about Black... If the WWE released him and neither he or the WWE announced it publicly, would you notice? Nope... His Main Roster WWE run has been insignificant as well. Overall, I think he's a good worker but I just don't relate or get attached to his character. Oh, he's a big guy with a bunch of tattoos on his body... AND?!? They tried to change up his ring attire recently and people made fun of it...
What wrestlers need to realize is that they need to DO MORE with their characters than what the WWE is handing them. Now, I don't mean to go attempt to promote yourself on Twitch instead of WWE television. Many people get handed bad gimmicks or bad booking. Go watch that "Untold" show with Kane and Daniel Bryan. Both guys were just slapped together as a tag team and forced to do Anger Management sketches that could have buried their careers. Instead, both guys made the BEST OF IT. Ditto with Wade Barrett who received that goofy "Bad News" gimmick. He made the BEST OF IT instead of being down on himself or making excuses. That could have been a big star if injuries didn't tear him up.
If you do not believe that your are being creatively fulfilled within the WWE, either talk to their management about improving opportunities, take the initiative to polish a turd of a creative decision, or leave. Simple as that.
And remember, nothing lasts forever... These streaming services are NOT lucrative, especially in the long-term. I've seen the numbers... One of the best speedrunners that there ever was used to pull 10,000 live streaming viewers per show and had thousands of followers, too. His best year was pulling in $80,000 that included Twitch Ad revenue, Followers, and PayPal donations. And then Twitch's ad revenue was cut in half on him.
Good luck with that Twitch career, Zelina. I hope that it works out, although I would heavily recommend seeking additional training, education, or certifications while you have some brief time off to reset yourself.
Should the Bella Twins make one more run in the WWE?
Well, has the Tag Titles been relevant in the Women's Division? And they are the ultimate tag team in WWE history for the Women's division with their "Twin Magic", though you can easily tell them apart with Nikki's obvious cosmetic changes (which she has fully admitted to doing on Total Divas or Total Bellas). Couldn't be worse to what the Tag Titles are today, right? Are they any worse than the Iconics? Hardly.
But my question is for Nikki's health... For one, she has a bad neck and she has a cyst on her brain that forced her to fully retire. There is just no way that she'd risk death if that cyst were to pop during the impact of a wrestling match, nor does she want to aggravate that neck injury. They could probably let Brie Bella do most of the work but there is too much risk out there for Nikki.
Just let Brie and Nikki continue to do Total Bellas... The show works for the E! Network's content offerings and keeps them out of the WWE. I'm not that to bash the Bellas, but I don't want to see Nikki Bella get harmed. She has 2 major issues with the neck and the cyst. Nikki just had a child and I wish for her to be a mother to her son for many years. Total Bellas will always be there for her, as E! really needs content right now with their top dog Kardashian show retiring soon.
Total Bellas on the E! Network is drawing more TOTAL Viewers than AEW Dynamite does in the 18-49 demo, so why not stick around?
BUT if they did come back to win the Tag Titles, I wouldn't have that big of a problem with it because the WWE Women's Tag Team division is a complete joke and only Sasha/Bayley made the titles slightly relevant. The only way I could see Women's Tag Wrestling being relevant is if Beth Phoenix got out of retirement to re-team with Natalya to dominate any challenger that came their way, Bellas included.
Any favorite memories of Eddie Guerrero who passed away 15 years ago?
This sort of takes me to a dark place... I can't cover Eddie's positives without feeling the pain of his death 15 years ago. Bringing things into context through late 2005, many younger wrestlers were dying back then and no wrestling promotions put any efforts towards saving wrestler lives. There were 3 clear killers of pro wrestlers back then... (a) Prescription Drugs, (b) Performance Enhancers, and (c) Recreational Drugs. Right now, there is a big political push to reduce Prescription Drug abuse but it was rampant throughout wrestling during the late 1990s and early 2000s... Much of it was as a result of the WWE testing harder for Recreational Drugs and that caused many wrestlers to swallow pills to get their highs instead.
Eddie had many known demons and was even released by the WWE following his 2000 debut with the company. He was brought back after it appeared that he was done abusing Recreational Drugs but he was clearly pushing that 5'8" body to its limits on muscle mass. And sadly, it took Eddie's death for the WWE to finally create a Wellness Policy and then a year and a half later with Chris Benoit snapping on his family + online pharmacy busts, a Wellness Policy with actual teeth.
Eddie's death depressed me as a wrestling fan and I began watching much less wrestling during 2006 as a result of that. How could I support a wrestling promotion who was careless with its athletes for a quick buck? Eddie's death helped contribute to my initial retirement as Mr. Tito during mid-2006 and when Chris Benoit did his thing, I didn't watch WWE content from mid-2007 through late 2009 as a total boycott of its product. When I read into their new Wellness Policy, I could then come back as a fan someday...
Honestly, his death brings me a lot of pain as a wrestling fan and that is sadly my biggest memory of him. So many wrestlers died at an early age through 2005 and Eddie was the cherry on top of that.
If I had to give a wrestling moment, I find that Eddie's victory over Brock Lesnar at No Way Out 2004 was amazing but I really liked his match with Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania 20 as well. That tag stuff that he did during 2002 was quite sick, too, as were his many Cruiserweight bouts during WCW. That Lesnar match, though, was his biggest moment in my opinion. Sadly, WWE lost all faith in him as champion just right after Wrestlemania 20.
What did you think of Sasha Banks's acting role in "The Mandalorian"?
She spoke like one line in Season 2, Episode 3 of the Mandalorian? But it's an early acting gig and a great opportunity for Sasha and that's what mattered. Disney featured her in the Mandalorian's trailer for a reason and that was to convince 2 million wrestling fans to talk about their trailer. It worked. She didn't do too much, as she was like the 3rd wheel of that Mandalorian group that Mando finds on that water based planet.
Sasha is the most talented WWE female performer out there and also the best looking, in my opinion... In a world where Hollywood needs more female action stars, I can easily understand that Sasha is getting a few looks right now. That is why the WWE should take her on-screen character seriously right now and push her strong as a champion (let her smash Carmella in the end). Otherwise, she'll get bored and maybe seek more Hollywood opportunities on her own.
Think about this one for a second... We just had Zelina Vega released and WWE made ZERO effort to convince her to stay. Meanwhile, Sasha Banks has openly complained about her role in the WWE and reportedly had a hissy fit at one Wrestlemania, even staying at home for a few months... Yet, the WWE wants her to stay. NOW you are starting to see the difference between who is talented and sought after and who is not. When Sasha Banks was gone from the WWE, fans were wondering where she was... Just saying.
Did you enjoy the Paul Bearer special on WWE Network?
Ohhhhhh YESSSSSS... Of course I did. I had an appreciation of Paul Bearer from the start thanks to World Class's airing of older television shows on ESPN. There, I saw the dastardly Percy Pringle on a regular basis and loved his work as a heel manager. When he appeared on WWE television, I instantly knew who he was and appreciated that WWE had hired him. He was perfect as the Undertaker's manager. From that special, we also found out that Percy travelled with the Undertaker on the road and helped managed his finances, hotel rooms, travel, and other things as Mark grew up in the business. Meanwhile, Paul Bearer's love of the wrestling business probably influenced the Undertaker's appreciation of it as well.
That's the thing with Paul Bearer or William Moody... He was a HUGE wrestling fan as a kid and dreamed of joining the business. However, unlike many younger guys today, Moody would work for low paydays and did whatever it took to help their promotions despite the low paydays. Many of the wrestlers from the past worked for very little money and travelled to many territories to learn more about the business and to get attention. Now, it's just to impress the WWE enough to join their Developmental Center or to get outright hired by AEW to wrestle weekly. The business has changed and that has caused fewer dedicated and hungry guys like Moody to participate.
I loved how Hawk of the Road Warriors just randomly came up with his name... That's fantastic.
The WWE Network special on Paul Bearer made me appreciate how much he not only helped shape the career of the Undertaker, but Mick Foley and Kane as well. Bearer legitimized those guys in their early days, as they could have been just one-off opponents for the Undertaker. Instead, Paul Bearer's heat with the Undertaker helped extend their feuds. Think about this for a second... Kane was a NON-SPEAKING character... Thus, he needed a mouthpiece to explain his actions and Paul Bearer was perfect for that role. From Badd Blood through Wrestlemania 14, Bearer helped shape Kane's character and Kane was a made man instantly after years of turmoil in the WWE system as a Dentist or Fake Diesel.
The current Wrestling environment with WWE as a virtual monopoly and AEW being a glorified Indy promotion wouldn't create a Paul Bearer character that could help draw as a non-wrestling character. Instead, they could become Twitch streamers...
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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