Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING brought exclusively to you here at NoDQ.com, the weekend CHILL edition known as "Ask Mr. Tito" where I take your Questions (from Twitter, Comments, or Emails) and Answer them in a column form. Many of you are like... "wait a second, you have produced 2 columns already this week". Yep... I did my typical column spot earlier in the week with the Kenny Omega column but then I felt the need to pounce on the Jim Ross podcast quote for another column. Recent history has shown that when I'm motivated, I tend to write more often...
To start today's column, I want to express how much I LOVED the 2nd Season of Star Wars: The Mandalorian on the Disney+ streaming service. It was amazing from start to finish, especially the finish... But I'm not going to get into any spoilers for those who haven't completed the series yet. What is taking you so long?!? No, but what I want to do is compare STAR WARS with PRO WRESTLING. They are so similar that it's ridiculous.
So my buddy John Taylor on Twitter made a great point about the Season Finale of the Mandalorian: "After the season 2 finale, feeling like 35+ years of being a Star Wars fan finally paid off".
Think about this from my perspective... My very first theater experience was in 1983 with Star Wars - Episode 6 - Return of the Jedi and from there, Star Wars was part of my obsession as a kid. The original trilogy had to hold everyone over for 16 years until the Prequel Trilogy was released starting with Episode 1 - Phantom Menace. That film was met with very mixed reviews and then the sequel to that, Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones, saw even worse reviews. Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith was mostly praised but there are some glaring flaws in the Star Wars canon (like how Leia knew her mother even though Ep 3 shows that her mom died giving birth). After the Prequel Trilogy, most fans were bummed out and had to rely on the Extended Universe with books and the Clone Wars animation for their fix. THEN, Disney spends $4.2 Billion to acquire the franchise and we're promised a new Sequel Trilogy. Holy cow, and Episode 7 - Force Awakens was mostly really good, particularly thanks to Han Solo and Chewie returning and I enjoyed Kylo Ren as a villain. And then Episode 8 - Last Jedi arrived, the Last Jedi, which allowed a director to go rogue and rewrite everything that we thought on Star Wars. Episode 9 was a Hail Mary to fix the damage done by Last Jedi... Somehow, the Emperor survived!
In other words, if you did NOT like the Prequel Trilogy (I liked 1 out of 3) and did NOT like the Sequel Trilogy (I liked 1 out of 3), then you've pretty much been waiting until 1983 for a TRUE sequel to Return of the Jedi. The Mandalorian was what every longtime fan wanted, particularly the finale... 37 years of waiting for the Star Wars franchise to feel "right" again instead of taking it into a direction too reliant on CGI effects (the Prequels) and bad storytelling and disregard for canon (the Sequels). The Mandalorian made all of that wait since 1983 worth it... They crushed it out of the part and that little nostalgic kid inside you is feeling great today after your childhood favorite series is back on track.
I feel that the same feelings exists for wrestling fans, particularly the older ones... We witnessed Ric Flair in the NWA, Hulkamania in the WWF, the NWO during WCW Nitro, and Steve Austin vs. the Corporation in the WWE... Those were AMAZING eras and nothing today compares. WWE has morphed into a company that aims to please corporate sponsors more than its wrestling fans and Vince McMahon no longer has the right supporting cast management around him to help him remember what made WWE great. Instead, he has family in key management positions and they just don't have the expertise on how to recruit & groom talent as Jim Ross did or how to lay out matches like Pat Patterson once did. The declining results speak for themselves.
I actually feel that Vince McMahon is George Lucas just after he finished his Prequel Trilogy... It's probably a matter of time before we hear that the WWE is sold to some major corporation and that will be the day that Vince McMahon steps away. The new WWE owners will probably retain Stephanie and Triple H but that's exactly what Disney did by retaining Kathleen Kennedy as LucasFilm's President. Without George Lucas around to respect STAR WARS's canon, Kennedy started running wild by declaring the Extended Universe (books, games, etc.) were null & void and would have zero long-term plans for how the Sequel Trilogy would play out. Kathleen also tried to inject identity politics into the film. WWE without Vince McMahon will have Triple H in charge of the Talent and Creative. GOOD LUCK with that, as you can see his efforts on the DULL NXT show on Wednesday Nights.
Vince McMahon is definitely George Lucas after the Prequel Trilogy ended... Now that Cena and Lesnar are done with his company, he's completely lost and not satisfied with the weak talent sent to him from NXT and the Performance Center.
BUT THEN, Star Wars brought in Jon Favreau for the Mandalorian. Favreau started the Marvel Universe rolling with Iron Man, he also created one of the best Christmas films ever made with Elf, and he also made a pair of solid Disney cartoon remakes with Jungle Book and Lion King. With the studios don't mess with him (see Iron Man 2), the guy can get stuff done. He's brilliant and for Star Wars, he respects the canon and look and feel.
When the WWE sells to someone else and Triple H (Kathleen Kennedy) remains in place, they are going to need to find another creative mind to help him. Who, in wrestling, is like Jon Favreau who has a creative mind for new ideas but also knows how to perfectly tap into nostalgia? Sadly, pro wrestling hasn't bothered to groom anyone to help with creative, as the WWE has employed a bunch of failed Hollywood writers to work terrible hours on scripts that Vince McMahon demands to be rewritten.
I hope that rant made sense... If not, here are some questions to enjoy instead.
ASK MR. TITO - Your Questions, My Answers
Do you believe in the stories that USA Networks is upset at RAW's viewership declines?
Do you notice how all of the WWE stories this week are very anti-Vince as posted in the Wrestling Observer newsletter? I keep telling you, folks... You never hear about how USA Network is upset at how poorly NXT is drawing. NOT ONCE. Nor do you ever hear about how the Talent Relations guy (Triple H) is dealing with everyone's lack of payouts from their downside guarantees.
No, USA Networks is NOT upset at the WWE. It's someone stirring the pot by sending feedback to Dave Meltzer and that guy will report anything that a WWE employee says to him. And he should, as that is a valid news source. But if I were in Dave's position, I'd demand what talent think about their payouts right now and how their Talent Relations department is handling their complaints.
USA Network is a FAILING Cable/Satellite channel, period. Netflix and other streaming services killed its rerun market and Comcast, itself, drove further nails into USA Network by creating its own streaming service called Peacock. For USA Network, they are OK paying $200 Million per year to sell ads on a 3 hour show that still draws 1.5 million viewers. Most of their other shows do well under 1 million viewers and that is despite being in 85 million homes.
Someone backstage is upset at Vince and may want him to retire... That is who is feeding the wrestling insiders news these days.
What are your WWE TLC 2020 Pay Per View match predictions?
You just know that I love making predictions... I've had a pretty good track record lately, so let's see how I do this time around:
- AJ Styles defeats Drew McIntyre (Drew might be indicted for the ratings drop as champ)
- Bray Wyatt defeats Randy Orton
- Asuka & whomever (I see "TBD" on the card) defeat Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
- Hurt Business defeats New Day to become new Tag Team Champs
- Sasha Banks defeats Carmella (though I sense a title change may occur here)
- Roman Reigns defeats Kevin Owens
If I'm wrong, I'm wrong... Don't care. I really don't care about the RAW brand and YouTube clips is how I'm keeping up with that hot garbage of a 3 hour show.
Does AEW's recent 18-49 Demo defeating WWE RAW's performance in that same demo matter?
Doesn't matter. RAW still scores around 600,000 more viewers when it does 1.5 million. The only thing that it paints a picture of is something that we already knew. WWE appeals to older fans, AEW appeals more towards younger viewers.
According to my ratio math, 0.45 in the 18-49 demo for AEW Dynamite translates to roughly 520,000 fans. Honestly, that is good especially considering that the lower half of that demo does not subscribe to Cable/Satellite. However, you gotta look into the details of the viewership. Reportedly, the Shaq segment and Sting's promo with Cody were the segments that pushed them over 1 million viewers while the other segments did not. Thus, the overall viewership of 995,000 was influenced by Shaq's NBA star power (everyone loves Shaq) and 61 year old Sting.
And if ou look at the ratings this week, AEW Dynamite came back down to 0.32. Back to normal. More on the viewership in a moment.
I just don't see AEW ever growing much as a company with that 18-49 demo which are increasingly becoming cord cutters. If they really want to cork the bottles of bubbly, they need to convince longtime WWE fans to stop watching WWE and watch their show more. Numbers wise, the older WWE fans want nothing to do with AEW Dynamite and that is why they remain consistently under 1 million each week (mostly under 850,000).
We'll talk more about this later in the column with another question.
Why don't you apply for the WWE's Lead Writer position?
Look, WWE knows how to find me if they are interested in employing a 30+ year fan who has been writing about Pro Wrestling for 22 years. I've also worked for Corporation and have education and experience in finance. They have YEARS upon YEARS of columns to review where I openly speak about the Creative direction that I'd take the company if the opportunity were granted to me. If they are so interested, they can contact me at email@example.com and we can go from there.
But they wouldn't hire me... Also in those YEARS upon YEARS of columns are sharp criticisms about WHY the WWE has declined since peaking during the Spring of 2000. I've held no punches back which is why I've commanded such a loyal audience for so long.
My offer is this... I'll work for FREE as long as I can (a) work remotely and (b) when needed, they pay for transportation and room & board. I have a family, roots in my community, and I like where I work. If I were single, the demanding WWE schedule could be easily absorbed... But I'm not single and I want to watch my kids grow up and I want to stay married to Mrs. Tito. I can easily sit in on meetings, provide emailed notes about shows, and be present, on occasion, as needed. That's a pretty good deal and a bargain to the WWE.
Again, I have decades of being a critic towards the WWE and I would have to be extra careful where I walked in that WWE locker room for some of the critiques that I've written.
Because of my columns, they wouldn't hire me... That's fine. My role is to continue writing my columns and hold their "feet to the fire". Younger wrestling fans who are single and willing to work 16 hour days should seriously apply for that WWE writer job. When applying, make sure that you write an extensive report on Creative ideas on how to fix the WWE right now.
I'm very confident that I could fix the WWE if they ever employed me. If you read my 9/16/2020 - My Job Application to Join WWE Creative column, you can see a simple plan that would help the WWE short-term but also long-term. And I would also present my ideas on Talent Development if employed as well.
All they have to do is ASK and just slightly give into my accommodations of needing to work remotely... Again, I'd do it for FREE because fixing the WWE's creative direction, I feel, would be a public service to wrestling fans. I'll be your Jon Favreau...
If Matt Riddle's contract truly expires during in August 2021, do you see him leaving the WWE?
Matt Riddle will re-sign with the WWE, I predict. Simply, Riddle has had legal issues and yet the WWE has been by his side, 100%, through it all. That's the kind of loyalty that will build up over time and reportedly, Vince McMahon likes the guy's in-ring work.
I just wish that he'd ditch the "Bro" stuff and push that he's a serious former MMA fighter. THAT is he wrestles barefoot and not because he's some hippie trying to make it as a pro wrestler. The amazing part is that this former MMA fighter has translated into being a great in-ring worker. Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock, and Cain Velasquez all had their issues translating to becoming effective Pro Wrestlers. Not Matt Riddle.
I'd ditch the "Bro" stuff, or at least reduce it, and push that he was a former MMA fighter. Just make him appear a little tougher than he's advertised and they'll hit his sweet spot.
Thoughts on Brandi Rhodes's pregnancy?
I'm so happy for those two. They are a GREAT couple and I wish perfect health for not only their baby, but Brandi throughout the pregnancy. That's GREAT news.
Kids change everything for you, they really do... When you hold your first newborn in your arms and look into their eyes... That is your impact made onto the world, as your bloodline will grow up and potentially do great things... And then when they become old enough, they'll have children too to extend your footprint onto the world.
Brandi is so beautiful... She is a perfect 10 on looks and from the interviews that I've heard, she's highly intelligent with a great personality. I just don't think that attempting to be a Pro Wrestler should be her thing. She needs to use her MIND to help AEW, as she has a Master's Degree and has been around the Pro Wrestling business for 10 years now herself.
And Cody man... We're all proud of you. I'm sure that the journey was fun and now you get to see the fruits of your labor. You had a great Dad who acted like a father figure to many, many people within the wrestling industry. I'm sure that you'll take lessons learned from him and apply the best parts to your child.
Both of you are very blessed. Congrats!
What does the lower viewership for Impact Wrestling and AEW Dynamite mean for the Kenny Omega storyline?
I'm trying to remember if I wrote a Kenny Omega Column recently or not? Here's the deal, folks... In New Japan, he was pushing "Match of the Year" candidates. In AEW, he was not... In fact, I believe that part of AEW's decline is that wrestling fans just aren't that impressed with Kenny Omega or the Young Bucks as talent despite the major hype.
Now, what I do like is how Omega reunited with Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows. If I were Tony Khan, I'd try to strike a deal with Impact to use Anderson and Gallows to work with Omega as much as possible with Don Callis as their manager like figure. That's a start...
I think with AEW, we just need to realize that they are just about to turn 2 years old during early January 2021. On top of that, AEW Dynamite just turned 1 year old just a few months ago. They are going to have spikes in viewership, here and there, when they wheel out surprises like Sting appearing, Shaq appearing, or the Impact relationship. But if you don't keep that same energy week after week, fans will tune out.
What AEW needs to realize about Kenny Omega is this... American fans do NOT care about New Japan Pro Wrestling. Dave Meltzer, though he does well for himself, does not send out newsletters to the majority of wrestling fans. If I were guessing, probably a few hundred thousand worldwide and I'm assuming that based on the counts that I saw for the recent Hall of Fame votes and given the monthly rates to subscribe. Therefore, they don't know about his great matches in New Japan nor do they care about his Sweeper gimmick. And if they knew about his 6 or 7 star matches, then they'd be disappointed by what they have seen in AEW thus far.
If I were booking Kenny Omega, I would THANK Jim Cornette for his constant criticisms and push Kenny as a heel in response to those criticisms (but not naming Jim, of course). Do more ballet like moves in the ring to spite him and your critics. Star cutting promos on how much you hate wrestling fans and the good ol' boy system. That simple... Take every opportunity that is presented to you and run with it.
I wouldn't panic yet... But with this Impact angle, I would seriously consider Omega and Callis taking over Impact and using that as leverage to invade AEW. When I say that, I really mean that Omega becomes their World Champion right now and then appears on Dynamite flaunting 2 title belts. This would upset the rosters on both Impact and AEW to rise up and challenge Omega... And that is where having Anderson, Gallows, and Callis on your side is needed along with a few more additional members to the stable. This Omega faction would have to fend off challengers in both promotions.
I don't know... But what I do know is that I'm still waiting for a 5 star match from Kenny Omega as a singles wrestler, let alone a 6 or 7 star match.
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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