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MR. TITO: How WWE Can Use Nostalgia to Grow Again
Submitted by Mr. Tito on 01/13/2021 at 08:06 AM


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Back during 9/16/2020, I posted a column titled My Job Application to Join WWE Creative and many of you panned my specific idea of bringing back iconic WWE intellectual properties like NWO, DX, Evolution, 4 Horsemen, the Shield, etc. Here is what I specifically wrote in case you missed it:

--------------BEGINNING FLASHBACK--------------------

Bring Back the Top Brands (Four Horsemen, DX, NWO, Evolution, the Shield) like NASCAR Owned Teams
WWE has amazing brands... From the past. And yet, most of those brands are on ice right now including the greatest stables of all time from Four Horsemen to NWO to DX to Evolution and even the Shield. To this day, those brands still sell lots of merchandise even though those stables are completely inactive. I propose bringing ALL OF THEM back but have its structure similar to NASCAR with owners having multiple racers within a team.

What I propose is to have "owners" of each Brand, such as Ric Flair and Barry Windham for the Four Horsemen, Scott Hall & Kevin Nash (maybe Hogan, maybe Sean Waltman) for the New World Order (NWO), Road Dogg & Shawn Michaels & Sean Waltman for Degeneration X (DX) with Triple H being conflicted, and Evolution with Batista (maybe Triple H, maybe Ric Flair)... And those NASCAR owners can recruit up to 4 team members... Active WWE wrestlers can wear the Horsemen, DX, NWO, and Evolution brands and their older owners can make periodic appearances to support their teams. The prestige of being a Horsemen would elevate any wrestler and it gives Ric Flair's appearances a purpose. I would LOVE to see Kevin Nash and Scott Hall appearing to give pep talks to their "new" New World Order. You could also create storylines based on "conflicts of interest" if Sean Waltman has ownership interests in both DX and NWO or if Ric Flair is part-owner of the Horsemen and Evolution... If Triple H is involved with both managing the WWE and owning DX and/or Evolution teams partially, it plays great in the storylines.

And you could go further... If Hulk Hogan wanted to come back and have a "NASCAR" like team of 4 wrestlers to call it "Team Hogan" or "Team Hulkamania", that's possible. Sting could appear and have 4 wrestlers called "The Stingers". "Team Angle" could reform under Kurt Angle. Paul Heyman could reform the Dangerous Alliance. John Cena could form his own team to allow him to make various WWE appearances, "Cenation"?

It's a perfect way to re-use past old brands (Horsemen, DX, NWO, Evolution), putting current or new wrestlers in the spotlights under major brands, and incorporating stars of the past in mentor roles.


--------------ENDING FLASHBACK--------------------

Many of you were like "why would you do that" and "those brands are old". And what have we seen lately?

(a) WWE Legends Night netting 500,000 more than they have recently drawn for RAW.

(b) Bill Goldberg's return.

Sorry, but in case you haven't noticed for the last 5 years, the WWE has lost more than HALF of its viewing audience for WWE RAW. They used to average just over 4 million viewers through early 2015 and now they draw under 2 million. DVR numbers are down, Hulu numbers are insignificant, and YouTube numbers are 70% International Viewers. If the WWE were allowed to do live shows, much of the stands would be empty and/or tarped off.

Because the WWE consistently FAILS to get new talent over and FAILS to get new gimmicks or brands over, what consistently draws short-term pops? Oh, bringing back the old guys... Granted, it only works a week or two because the WWE Legends that are brought have no attachment to the current storylines. Most people tune in because they are happy to see their old stars remaining alive...

What if the use of WWE Legends was much more than a one-time thing? What if they were used regularly in a NON-WRESTLING ROLE and they were there to help mentor and manage the current roster of wrestlers?

That is exactly what I proposed with my 9/16/2020 idea... The older wrestlers would be like NASCAR owners and they would form teams based on their old stable names. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall would be owners of the New World Order (nWo) team. Shawn Michaels and Road Dogg could be owners of the Degeneration X (DX) team. Ric Flair and Barry Windham would own the Four Horsemen team. You could have WWE producer D'Von Dudley reform the Dudleys with younger wrestlers! Hulk Hogan forms Team Hulkmania or he could get in on the NWO action. Get Steve Austin to make more appearances to occasionally lead "Team 3:16". And then, you get into great conflicts of interest with wrestlers like Triple H who is corporate, former member of DX, and former member of Evolution. Ditto with Sean Waltman who belonged to both NWO and DX.

You would use these old, established brands to get current talent over. These older, iconic brands still sell a ton of WWE merchandise and bringing them all back would sell even more merchandise. It puts more older eyeballs on the WWE roster and the classic brands will attract younger eyeballs by getting the younger talent over.

If you think that Mr. Tito is absolutely crazy, then please watch Disney+'s show Star Wars: The Mandalorian and Netflix's (formerly YouTube Red) Cobra Kai and get back to me.

Both of those shows PERFECTLY having older, iconic names and characters existing in a universe where their contributions to society are still relevant while introducing and putting over an entire new cast of characters.

Take Cobra Kai for example... The show is centered around Danny LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence's lives 30 years after their famous Karate Tournament showdown from the first Karate Kid movie. That rivalry is still hot and both guys go at each other constantly. However, Johnny looks after a local neighborhood kid named Miguel whom he trains and Daniel looks after a kid in his auto dealership whom he eventually trains. Meanwhile, Daniel has a daughter Samantha who plays a big role. Meanwhile, Miguel and Samantha have lots of friends in high school whom they get involved with the Cobra Kai and the Miyagi-Do dojos. This show succeeds because it (a) makes Daniel & Johnny very relevant while (b) introduces new characters who are involved directly with Daniel & Johnny.

And then Cobra Kai just milks your nostalgia by introducing more and more characters from the extended Karate Kid universe. I'm a nice guy, I won't reveal spoilers, but damn this show FEELS like it links to the older movies by honoring the past so well and using that as vehicle to introduce new stars. This show even effectively puts over a cast member who is no longer with us, Mr. Miyagi (actor Pat Morita died during 2005). Miyagi's spirit is very present in this show and spoken about positively.

Compare that to the trainwreck known as the Star Wars Prequels, the Force Awakens, Last Jedi, and Rise of Skywalker. Now, for the record, I liked Force Awakens but that was primarily due to nostalgia of Han Solo and Chewbacca being back. Love those guys... The trailer of them getting back on the Millennium Falcon and proclaiming "we're home" probably sold at least $500 Million in tickets alone. But then, what does Force Awakens do? They have Solo killed by his own son, Kylo Ren, despite NEVER being in any scene previous to their encounter where Solo gets killed. Huh? And then on top of that, we barely see Luke Skywalker until the very end. Fine, we have something to look forward to on Last Jedi, right?

Oh, you're very wrong... Luke is a bitter, bitter old man in the Last Jedi and flashbacks are shown that Luke tried to execute his own nephew Ben Solo (who turns out to become Kylo Ren). This goes 100% against the Jedi way and the wholesome character that Luke becomes by Return of the Jedi. That's on top of the negativity of Luke's character throughout the Last Jedi and then somehow using the force to project himself lightyears away... It was all CRAP. Meanwhile, Last Jedi tried to poke the nostalgic bone by bringing back Yoda. Loved seeing that but what does he do? Somehow, if Yoda he can summon lightning, why can't these Force Ghosts be able to attack the Sith Lords that they oppose? Makes zero sense... And that's on top of the many plot and character problems that Last Jedi had. By Rise of Skywalker, they tried to use duct tape to repair the damage done but it was too late. They brought back an old name in the Emperor but his return was ridiculous and made no logic (his body was incinerated in Return of the Jedi).

The Star Wars franchise that Disney bought for $4.2 Billion could have been ruined... But then you had the Mandalorian... This show figured out how mix in the nostalgia perfectly with new characters. Obviously, you have the Mandalorian or "Mando" who looks very much like Boba Fett. It's a new character but he looks like an older character. Then, you have Baby Yoda or "the child"... He looks like Yoda and the mysterious surrounding him inquires viewers to keep watching to see who he really is. They are constantly moving to and from iconic Star Wars scenery and encountering groups of Stormtroopers. It FEELS like Star Wars and doesn't rely heavily on CGI like the Prequels and Sequels did before it.

But then for Season 2 of Disney+'s Mandalorian... They really tickled that nostalgic funny bone. Oh my... I'm not going to get into spoilers here, but there are 3 significant characters who make their Mandalorian debut that will BLOW YOUR MIND as a long time fan of Star Wars. If you've watched Season 2 of this show, you KNOW what I'm talking about.

And then the Mandalorian made 2 very simple casting decisions... They have Carl Weathers as a recurring character, as he was Apollo from the Rocky movies. Then, as the lead villain, you have Giancarlo Esposito from Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul fame who was the Gustavo Fring character. To me, that is mind blowing because I'm already connected to those actors and I'm so happy to see them in the Star Wars universe.

Jon Favreau (got the Marvel Universe started with Iron Man) and Dave Filoni (Clone Wars animated series) are killing it with the Mandalorian. This FEELS like Star Wars and something that would take place in the same universe as New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. These guys aren't killing off top names as the Sequel Trilogy did... No, they are honoring them and giving older names a bigger role. Meanwhile, they are using those older names to interact with new characters. Favreau and Filoni are taking a step further by incorporating actors who played Apollo from Rocky and Gus from Breaking Bad into this universe that you love so much. Hell, they'll even make comedy fans happy by incorporating Bill Burr!

Do you see where I'm getting at, folks?

I am NOT saying that the older names should be brought back in full force and actually wrestling. No, what I'm saying is give them a presence as non-wrestlers and make them leaders of top level brands (NWO, DX, Four Horsemen, etc.) that incorporate younger wrestlers. What the younger wrestlers LACK is what the older wrestlers still HAVE: personality, character, charisma, and timing.

And by having the older names around, they can help re-teach the wrestling business and how to work to the younger stars. WWE needs that right now, as the NXT training system is proving to not be the best training grounds for wrestlers and the backstage agents at WWE shows are proving to not give the best advice.

Pushing these older brands will certainly work towards the WWE's reported median age of 54, as reported by Forbes magazine during 2016. WWE is already thick on that demographic but weak on the younger one. But the WWE doesn't understand its own business model.

How did the WWE make money for YEARS at live shows? Well, from tickets purchased and merchandise sold... Oh, and who bought those tickets and who buys the majority of merchandise at events? Oh, that's right, DADS do!

See, the WWE doesn't realize is that Pro Wrestling grows when families get heavily into it... The Dad who brings their kids to events, forces them to watch on television.

WWE's existing programming has scared away most young viewers because the shows' quality isn't "hip" to younger viewers. However, the shows have also been insulting to the latter half of the 18-49 Demographic and the 50+ year olds as well. WWE has lost a ton of those fans in their 2 million viewer+ decline over the last 5 years. They've lost DADS with lots of extra disposable income at their peak earnings to (a) buy tickets, (b) buy merchandise for their kids, and (c) keep paying for Cable/Satellite to keep watching Monday Night RAW live as it happens.

These older brands (DX, NWO, Horsemen, etc) will tap into the nostalgia of the older fans and give them some comfort in seeing old names. However, it's the interaction with the older wrestlers + incorporating them within the iconic brand that will get younger talent over and thereby begin to attract younger fans. Could you imagine if Scott Hall and Kevin Nash walked up to Retribution and said "hey yo, you guys are doing this all wrong. Take off those stupid masks, change those stupid outfits... Here is a NWO shirt, you're working for us now". The next week, the entire group comes out with NWO gear on and that music plays... Rockhouse from Frank Shelley hits and it is badass. Nash and Hall are there and they help the team cut promos and they are advising WHEN to make attacks of other WWE stars.

Could you imagine if D'Von Dudley grabs a pair of guys from NXT who just aren't cutting it... Maybe they lack the ability to intrigue fans or they are a little thicker with their look. Then, imagine if they put on bibs and wore glasses with tape in the middle? They are introduced as the "next generation of Dudleyville" and they are able to use the 3D as their finisher. Holy cow, if done right, that would be wonderful. And you could use D'Von as their manager and promo guy to make them feel like the Dudleys. OH TESTIFY!!!!!

And then you have Ric Flair... I said this when the League of Nations stable formed (Del Rio, Sheamus, Rusev, Wade Barrett). Have them hold up the 4 fingers and you're set. We have not had a stable called the "Four Horsemen" since the late 1990s when it was limping along during the NWO era with WCW. Ric Flair and possibly Barry Windham could be their "NASCAR owners" and encourage 4 new younger talents to work as a group. I was suggesting this with Hurt Business, as they could be the new Horsemen as they were already assembled as 4... However, I like the Hurt Business and love that stable name.

It would be a better use of Ric Flair than being a "Sugar Daddy" to Lacey Evans. During last year's Rumble, didn't the WWE display her family ringside? You know, her HUSBAND and her DAUGHTER? And doesn't she display her family often all over her social media? So what is the deal with her and Ric Flair? It would be odd if they pushed a weird love relationship between the two. Secondly, we know that Ric and Charlotte are actually related and are on great terms in real life. So why on earth would we believe that they are actually feuding in a wrestling arena? It's just stupid...

UNLESS, this whole Lacey-Charlotte storyline is just an early gateway for introducing Tessa Blanchard into the WWE. Lacey is just the pawn in Ric Flair's scheme to get revenge on his disrespecting daughter. And again, as I keep saying with that column, Tessa being brought in makes sense because she's a princess of one of the original Four Horsemen in Tully Blanchard. If Charlotte won't listen to Ric or require the help of her dad, then fine... He'll utilize someone who is LIKE family to him in a former Horsemen teammate's daughter. Then, we'd just let the money roll in for Charlotte Flair vs. Tessa Blanchard. It would work so well by pushing older nostalgia of the Four Horsemen with Ric Flair and with newer characters in Charlotte and Tessa. Money, money, money...

USA Network has talked about letting the WWE push some Adult Themed boundaries again... Well, bring back a newer version of Degeneration X and let them be like the late 1990s version, not the family friendly mid to late 2000s version. Crotch chops, hot women, foul language, disrespecting authority... All of that good stuff.

WWE has all of these unused intellectual properties that they are paying top dollar to remain as registered copyrights with the United States Patent Office. Why not use them? If your current gimmicks SUCK and nobody is getting over, then use what your 40-65 year old audience knows. Let the nostalgia really flow and use the older brands to help get the younger talents over.

And then, you can have wrestlers who rebel against older brands like Roman Reigns... Right now, he's starting to get over on his own and his stable is technically his family by being the "head of the table". What if he runs into the new NWO, the new Four Horsemen, the new DX, or what if the Usos have to deal with a newer version of the Dudley Boys? All I see is dollar signs.

Hell, you could push that Shield nostalgia with Roman, too... Right now, you have Seth Rollins who is completely lost in the WWE. Put him with Roman Reigns and have him act as Roman's enforcer. I can imagine Roman just sitting in the corner while Seth Rollins does his dirty work by Curb Stomping everyone in sight. Seth Rollins has been a major victim of the bad Creative Team giving him awful gimmick and storyline ideas. Just let him be a member of the new Roman family stable and it gets over instantly because Seth and Roman have history. Seth's career in the WWE is heavily damaged and him laying down at Survivor Series was embarrassing. Put him with Roman as his enforcer, and we're good... You'll get "Shield like vibes" from the Roman family stable but Roman is clearly in charge.

And I'm sure I'll get criticized for my ideas of pulling out the ICONIC brands of the WWE and using them as vehicles to get current wrestlers over... My stance is "why not"? Because until any of you present a better idea, this is obviously better than what the WWE is doing right now. Gimmicks aren't sticking, new stables created aren't capturing fans' attention, and there aren't established brands right now that sell merchandise. Yet, if you look at the WWE Shopzone, all of the older merchandise is still there... NWO, DX, Four Horsemen... Just saying.

Cobra Kai and Mandalorian are doing AMAZING business right now and both shows honor the past while simultaneously using that to get newer characters over. Why can't the WWE do the same in a much grander way?

Very simple idea... Older wrestlers are like NASCAR Team Owners. Nash & Hall oversee the NWO team, Road Dogg/Shawn Michaels oversee DX, Flair & Windham oversee the new 4 Horsemen, D'Von Dudley creates a new Dudley Boys Tag Team and manages them, maybe Ron Simmons creates a pair of Acolytes or APA team members?, while Triple H and Sean Waltman are conflicted over multiple stables. Triple H would be really conflicted because he's a WWE Official and a part owner in the DX or Evolution stable?

And then you could have Vince McMahon reviving the Corporation stable to fight against all of them, too...

Older brands WORK when the majority of your fans are highly nostalgic for the past. Right now with a median age of 54 (according to Forbes from their 2016 study), the older fans would be welcome to the nostalgia that is done right. That's why Cobra Kai and Mandalorian are working so well. Both are bringing back iconic characters that everyone loved from the 1980s and not embarrassing them like the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy did with Luke Skywalker, Emperor, and Han Solo and then using the older characters to introduce newer characters. Mandalorian had a good season 1 and had an explosive season 2 with the nostalgia that they pushed... Cobra Kai has been great from DAY ONE and have 3 full seasons of greatness where you follow the lives of Daniel and Johnny who pull in a bunch of younger talent into their feud. It's magical...

You have to play to what your audience wants... Males care most about nostalgia (besides women). What was COOL during their childhood and teenage years is still important to them now. That is just the way that males are wired and it cannot be undone. WWE doesn't know their audience and that is why they keep trying to shove newer characters and storylines down their throats. They always reject it unless a wrestler reminds them of someone. That's why CM Punk got so over during 2011 because his rebel attitude towards WWE management reminded them of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Then, when the WWE pulled the rug from underneath of him, many older WWE fans began leaving. Brock Lesnar, also pushing nostalgia, brought them back here and there and same thing with the Rock, but those fans never stuck around. WWE has lost over 2 million RAW viewers since early 2015, FACT. And it wasn't just younger fans, as many older fans finally gave up on the WWE.

RAW's highest demographic, still, is 50+... Just saying...

So just chill... Until the next episode!

Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.

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