Welcome back to the weekend EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING where I take your questions from Twitter, Email, or the Comments below and formulate my answers into a column. My "weekend chill column", as I call it, as I try to give readers something to do on the weekends when the news is usually slow. Now, I must admit, I may need to give my "Excellence in Column Writing" slogan to the entire NoDQ Opinions Section, as we have a handful of writers right now who are KILLING IT! Once you complete my column, give Justin Watry, Virtue, Alyx, Andy Sullivan, or Damn Fine Wrestling's a try.
This is a good reason why I joined NoDQ... There's a strong variety for everyone. Aaron Rift takes his News section very seriously and carefully constructs news, from legitimate news sources, to inform the general public. Aaron also takes care of results and usually has a post-show video review on YouTube to enjoy. Then, the Opinions section is now LOADED with Columns, NoDQ video reviews and PPV predictions, Podcasts, and other content to enjoy. And then we have the Features section which is there to entertain fans with extra content such as Memes, flashbacks, and pictures of hot female wrestlers that they post themselves.
I always laugh when people on Social Media go after NoDQ for posting "(Insert Female Wrestler) appears in exotic bikini" or something like that, as if that is supposed to be news content. NO, that's in the FEATURES section of the website. And 9 times out of 10, Aaron is only posting what the Female Wrestlers themselves are posting on their own Instagrams! Seriously, if you think that NoDQ is exploiting women, then ask yourself why all of the females are posting scantily clad pictures on their own Social Media? Besides, why are we even debating this? Don't normal guys full of hormones want to see MORE hot women as opposed to less? Have we become such big nerds that we cannot enjoy wrestling and hot women at the same time, let alone conveniently on one website? If what NoDQ does offends you, then avoid wrestling from 1996 through 2009 when there were hot women everywhere in the WWE and barely wearing anything. Just don't look up "Sable" or "Torrie Wilson", as that might offend you. Nerds!!!
I seriously believe that we've gone completely nuts as society. Aside from grown men not wanting to conveniently see hot women in bikinis, everyone these days just has a lack of understanding between "right or wrong" or just refuses to demand quality. Right now in the world, we have laws being broken but as long as you have politicians backing you, getting punished can be avoided. Pro Wrestling right now is in utter shambles based on how both Vince McMahon and Tony Khan manages their companies AND has put complete buffoons around them for help. Vince has his family, Hollywood writers, and yes-men not challenging him to be better while Tony Khan made the big mistake of making 4 pro wrestlers as the company's Executive Vice President. Yet, we have loyal fans still throwing money at both companies to enable profits to happen for both.
I could continue ranting on this, but we have questions to answer!
ASK MR. TITO - Your Questions, My Answers
Does Chris Jericho's revealing of being infected of COVID-19 "sometime in September" mean anything?
Well, for one, Chris Jericho did the Sturgis Concert during the first week of August... So if you do the math, if he was infected there, he'd have weeks to recover from it before September hits. Thus, let's rule that out...
What I really want is Taz to apologize for calling WWE as a "sloppy shop" from July. Multiple AEW wrestlers have been infected with COVID-19. Remember, wrestling is a CONTACT sport where performers are breathing on each other and rubbing their sweaty bodies against each other to create a match.
Everyone needs to realize how contagious COVID-19 really is... All it takes is for someone to cough or sneeze and that airborne virus can linger in a store, post office, or on a surface for hours. All of us are receiving mail, buying goods that were made in other countries, and each of us need to breathe actual air. Last time I checked, the Coronavirus was microscopic and can make its way through the tiny fibers of any mask and can actually infect you through your eyes as needed.
I guarantee you that the majority of the country has been infected by COVID already... What you see in the overall CDC numbers is numbers confirmed from TESTING... Many have been infected and have never been tested. Most people show zero symptoms if they catch this virus at all.
I'm not here to accuse any promotion or organization of being careless, nor am I going to criticize any wrestlers for their behavior. Jericho has a contract to uphold with AEW and once a week, he has to travel to Jacksonville, FL for the show. I believe that Jericho lives somewhere in Central Florida right now... So even the drive to Jacksonville could get him infected. That's a 3 hour drive... You'll have to take a piss, get a meal, or use the bathroom somewhere heading to the AEW show or driving back. That's likely where he got infected.
The real question is whose test did he actually fail... If it was AEW's test and he was allowed to still perform, then yeah, we have a problem but that's Tony Khan's problem. If it was Jericho's own decision to get tested on his own and he didn't reveal that, that is definitely his problem and the criticism is justified.
Looking through Internet Wrestling Database, he wrestled throughout September consistently for AEW. Every single AEW Dynamite show, he wrestled... If anything, maybe he tested positive after September 24th because he took a break and wrestled again on October 7th. Maybe Jericho has his dates mixed up, as that October 7th match was the only time he wrestled in AEW during October? Maybe he did get infected in August at the Sturgis event? He only wrestled once that month during August 12th.
What I'm saying here is don't bury Chris Jericho immediately... Everyone is piling on the guy lately for every single thing and we're on extreme high alert for COVID. Sorry, but I don't believe that a 50 year old guy could be that irresponsible after knowing he tested positive for COVID. That would go against YEARS upon YEARS of the code for being backstage with fellow wrestlers. Sorry, but I just don't believe that he purposely returned to the ring with a positive COVID test to potential infect his brothers. I don't buy it... Let's put the spears down and thing rationally... And just because Chris Jericho donates close to $20,000 to a political candidate that you don't like, doesn't mean that he willingly returned to wrestling early after a positive COVID test. I just don't believe that a 30 year wrestling veteran would do that to his friends and brothers.
What do you think of the "Wrestling Empire" game for the Nintendo Switch?
In word: Hilarious!
Now, let me say this... I'm STARVING for a good Pro Wrestling Game on the Nintendo Switch. Right now, the system is 0-3 in its system offerings with the cheap Chiki-Chiki Boxy Pro Wrestling and the 2 WWE games disappointing. The Boxy Pro Wrestling game is your typical Minecraft graphics sports game, as we have every sport covered with these kinds of graphics and probably the same company making them (I enjoy the Rugby one, but that's it). It feels like M.U.S.C.L.E. wrestling for the NES... Just sloppy 2D wrestling action. The 2 WWE games have been major disappointments. WWE 2K18 is the poorest running Switch game to date, as the game runs at a snail's pace and it can glitch and freeze. Just awful. WWE Battlegrounds is NOT a wrestling game, as it is a repetitive button mashing type fighting game.
All I'm asking for a wrestling game is to somewhat resemble the N64 games or GameCube's Day of Reckoning. Is that hard for a fan to ask?
And then you have Wrestling Empire.
Now, if you were FIX the in-ring gameplay and make it a bit tighter, this would be an amazing game because of the features and options that surround the game as a shell. The in-ring gameplay is seriously insane. There will be times when you're knocked out on the ground and then you get up and throw your opponent over the top rope like he was a feather. Then, when you get near the ropes, the ropes clip through your body... The punches and kicks are as if Orange Cassidy's weakest stuff was programmed into the game. However, when you do standing punches to someone's face, it creates pools of blood.
The in-ring gameplay hurts this game, as it's incredibly sloppy with wrestlers sliding everywhere and just button mashing can make you pull off some weird counters. THAT SAID, the insanity that the gameplay has can actually make it fun. Like I said, "hilarious", because I'll pull off maneuvers out of no where that will baffle me as I'm playing it. Then, when you ramp up the insanity by changing the gaming modes, more magic can happen. You can seriously have a match with up to 20 on screen characters involved (including 1 referee) and it's insane without interruption. Because the Graphics are kept simple, you don't have any framerate drops and the action can just wildly happen with 19 wrestlers in the same ring at the same time. And then you can add weapons and I recommend "Inside the Ring" settings. Damn game has Dynamite that not only blows up wrestlers but also sets tables and other wooden furniture on fire. Just crazy.
The sound of this game is awful, particularly if you have more action going on in the ring. The game gets confused on multi-person matches. That said, I'm enjoying a wrestling game WITHOUT repetitive commentary by announcers. I can easily forgive this one.
But then when you get outside of the in-ring gameplay, there are a ton of neat features packed into this game. There isn't a Create-a-Wrestler BUT you can edit any wrestler's slot to your liking. Thus, if there is a wrestler whom you don't recognize as a clear knock-off from another promotion, you can just take over that spot and make your guy. All kinds of modes to make any kind of Exhibition match of your choosing. You can use a cage, have no ring, have weapons inside or outside of the ring, stipulate rules of the matches, schedule multi-person matches, etc. You can even adjust the crowd or arena size. Lots of cool features to choose from, though the Menu's functions will feel weird at first.
This game does not have any WWE, AEW, or New Japan licenses but like the Fire Pro games, it makes incredible close knock-offs. As you can see from my Tweet recently, many top names were built in to the game with many more that you can unlock in Story mode. They are all there... Sting, Goldberg, Hall & Nash, Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Kane, Brock Lesnar, and many more but just under different names. You can edit those names to your liking, which is cool. You may adjust their looks, as Wrestling Empire couldn't be completely exact on some but they do a damned good job. For example, Kane's knock-off is purple... But you can turn that into red.
The game does have a decent Story mode, as you work your way up from the Wrestling School and then join promotions to grow as a wrestler and eventually become champion. That's solid, though it's all reading text boxes... If you're used to voice acting, you'll have to get over it... But keeping this game so compact without strong graphics and sound allows for a 20 person match to happen smoothly. That said on the Story mode, there were times that it took an onslaught of offense to beat certain opponents. It can be a grind times, particularly with Wrestling Empire's loose wrestling engine.
I'll say this... It has the components of a great wrestling game. The in-ring action is a tad too sloppy for me, though I can have fun with it when I'm not trying to grind through story mode. If they would just patch the rope clipping and improve upon the grapples and strikes, this would feel more closer to the Nintendo 64 games than most have tried. Maybe if this game is purchased heavily at first, the game producers could commit to some patches?
Honestly, at $15.99 on sale in the eShop, that's not a bad deal for a decent attempt at a wrestling game compared to what else is out there. Full price, it would be $19.99 and that's not bad either for some fun. Battleground at $39.99 and WWE 2K18 still at $59.99 is certainly not worth your price. The customization is damn good with this game and you won't have any framerate drops or slowness here with Wrestling Empire. You just have to come into this thinking that the in-ring gameplay is a bit chaotic... Eventually, you'll begin to embrace the chaos as the computer has the same controls too.
I'll leave it up to you, the consumer, on whether to buy this or not as a wrestling fan. There are pluses and minuses to this game... It's just a matter of how much you enjoy the positives and how much you can be OK with the negatives. At least you know that the game won't run slowly, freeze, or glitch non-stop like the WWE 2k18 JOKE given to us a few years ago and Wrestling Empire feels like a true wrestling game, unlike Battlegrounds. The wrestling engine for the gameplay is just a tad too sloppy for me to play it non-stop... But if Wrestling Empire improves on the striking and grappling system, they've got a solid game here. Then again, many might like the insanity that the controls present in the ring.
What did you think of Sports Illustrated's Top 10 Wrestlers of 2020 list?
If you haven't seen the list yet, it's from Justin Barrasso and was posted on January 7th at Sports Illustrated. Now that I have properly linked the column, let's talk about it.
For one, Barrasso is proving to be another one of those "kiss the rings of Dave" guys as he has heavy New Japan appearances on this list. The ironic thing is that Justin mentions that New Japan "halted live shows for three-and-a-half months until returning in June" yet he questions himself for placing Roman Reigns at #9 on his list. Huh??? Because the New Japan Wrestlers had 3.5 months off, shouldn't that be an issue for them appearing on your list too?
Aside from that comment, I don't have too many issues with his list... 2020 was a very limited year in terms of top performances and the male wrestling scene in the United States being weaker justifies several ladies appearing on the top 10 list. I agree with Sasha Banks at #1, as she had a tremendous year and helps Smackdown's brand along with Roman Reigns right now remain at or above 2 million viewers.
I'd put Roman Reigns higher on the list, though. Yeah, he was out much of the year but he is the single most talked about wrestler during 2020. His impact in just 4 months is stronger than everyone's entire year. 2020 finally made him into a real star and it took turning him heel, which I believe he naturally wants to be anyway (seems to be disgusted by people at times, personally), to prove that. Smackdown was seriously flirting with dropping under 2 million viewers consistently but Roman returning as a heel has kept that show stable at 2 million.
Justin did alright, aside from trying to be a Dave Meltzer wannabe with this list. You can't criticize Roman for taking time off when you clearly stated that New Japan took 3.5 months off and yet you placed 3 New Japan wrestlers on your list. Come on, man. Be consistent.
Who is to blame for AEW Dynamite's viewership declines?
Oh, we're back under 800,000 viewers, are we?
It's very simple. Kenny Omega is NOT the major superstar that he was hyped to be. Yes, he thrived in the New Japan environment or at least that's what the Star Ratings from one guy said... After all, Kenny Omega's star matches couldn't fill a 10,000 Cow Palace event despite him main eventing. Now that he's out of that ecosystem and now wrestling against guys who aren't as tight or snug with their abilities like the NJPW talent, he's exposed. It's quite proven that he's the one who gets carried and is not the carrier of talent.
He's the Champ, the "buck stops here".
But I believe that both AEW and Impact have blown the angle already. It should have been more organic with Don Callis trying to invade or harm AEW by getting in the ear of AEW's champion. Instead, we're treated with Tony Khan and Tony Shiavone speaking at each Impact show. Those segments right there tears up any credibility of Callis working with Kenny Omega as a "shoot".
And I believe that reforming the Bullet Club was a desperate attempt to salvage things, but in truth, the Young Bucks just don't feel right joining this Impact invasion angle. On top of that, AEW is going to learn that the Bullet Club was just a popular thing with New Japan fans only and not of the majority of wrestling fans. Unless you can somehow call yourself "Bullet Club", which New Japan owns and I highly doubt that NJPW will lend out after Omega bolted on them (among other talents who joined AEW), it's just not going to work.
AEW needs to realize that its top star is Cody Rhodes and we want to see him as a strongly pushed AEW Champion. Until they figure that out instead of having him job to midcarders, they'll remain under 800,000. And then they should try to button up the Miro character and make him a serious badass again. He should be mowing through their competition and forcefully right now. Those are your top potential stars and not someone that 1 writer overhyped for his New Japan matches. That simple.
What did you think of the Alexa Bliss fireball thrown at Randy Orton?
Just more garbage. Everything surrounding Bray Wyatt and/or his Fiend character is the absolute worst for the WWE right now. And everybody will give me the "butwhatabout" Undertaker stuff. Well, as I've argued before, when he was doing the silly stuff with being buried alive, wrestling another Undertaker, or other special effects during the early to mid 1990s, the WWE was at its worst in terms of declining business. Need I say anymore?
What do most people remember from the Undertaker besides the gimmick? GREAT FREAKIN' MATCHES. Undertaker has AMAZING matches with everybody. Period. Kane, Rock, Undertaker, Steve Austin, Triple H, Steve Austin, Edge, Batista, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, and onward... THAT is why the Undertaker is one of the greatest of all time. He has great matches DESPITE the goofy special effects.
That is why Bray Wyatt/Fiend is failing... His matches SUCK and then that causes us to look much more closely at the goofy stuff tried. Because he cannot collect good matches, his non-wrestling actions get placed under the microscope much more. That's why setting himself on fire, having Alexa throw fireballs, the goofy "match" with John Cena, Firefly Funhouse, entering an ambulance as Bray Wyatt and coming out as the Fiend get mocked heavily. His matches SUCK and that puts the focus on the events leading to the match instead. Thus, why that character is not drawing business no matter how hard the WWE tries of this 2nd generation wrestler (whom they won't acknowledge is a 2nd generation wrestler, technically 3rd generation with his grandfather).
The Alexa fireball is just more stupidity that won't draw business because the next Orton vs. Bray Wyatt match won't be good. Period. Maybe they should send Bray back to the Performance Center with Keith Lee and Otis to help him figure out how to properly work as a big man?
What is your opinion of Val Venis's recent Tweets regarding politics and calling out other wrestlers?
I'm not going to present what Sean Morely posted... But I'll say this. Usually when someone posts outrageous stuff online and directs those comments at people who should be friends to him from the business, those are cries for help. Either something is wrong or the guy is getting too high off the cannabis lately. Take your pick, probably both. That, or he's just "in too deep" with a political side.
I wish him the best... He's been out of the wrestling business since 2010 (or at least anything mainstream, as TNA was his last stop) and maybe some bitter feelings from how he exited and haven't been brought back have upset him. In my opinion, when that Val Venis gimmick was rolling, he had real potential. Anyone hating on Vince Russo needs to watch how cool that gimmick was during 1998, especially that entrance. That gimmick alone from 1998 made him into a star and he endured bad gimmicks after that. The Right to Censor joining really hurt him, in my opinion... You can't play an adult film gimmick and then go to a straight laced guy and then go back to the adult film gimmick. Just doesn't work that way and that's why Steve Austin from 2001 failed... He joined Vince and then tried to return to his "Austin 3:16" roots after Survivor Series. He lost too many fans by being inconsistent about his gimmick and characters.
Usually when people say outrageous things online it's because they are either too wrapped up in political ideology (like a religion or cult like experience to them) or they are real cries for help or attention.
Either way, I wish him the best... Many of the wrestling fans who loved watching Val Venis from 1998-1999 are still around and would welcome him back to making wrestling appearances if he was serious again. Calling out your former co-workers at WWE won't get you back into that door, however. You had great times with those wrestlers... Why bother upsetting those who could get mad enough at you that they'd block your return? The wrestling business and its fans have forgiven a ton of stuff from the past, trust me on that.
Are you excited for Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble?
Ugh. You know, I was starting to warm up to the idea of Roman vs. Adam Pearce. After all, Adam is the one that the WWE trusts to do "corrective" training to multiple wrestlers sent back to the Performance Center. He's 42 years old and he wrestled from 1996 to 2014 various indy promotions, WWE as an enhancement talent, international promotions, Ring of Honor, and a variant of the NWA. While he never made it super big in the business, he has years upon years of working and making other talent look strong. As I thought about this, someone at 42 years old with almost 20 years of experience could have put together a great match with Roman Reigns and tell a good story.
But nope, we'll get Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns again. With it being a "Last Man Standing" match, we're guaranteed that Kevin Owens will do some ridiculous high spot that we'll all forget about the next day. Seriously, can someone compile a highlight video of Owens taking big dives of at least 10 feet high and onto a table set-up below? That has been his WWE career. I laughed at the Wrestlemania 36 documentary where his single focus of his match was doing that high spot.
Roman isn't losing the WWE Universal Title, period. That's not happening, as he's headlining Wrestlemania 37 as champion. Why not try something new? As a thought about this, this Roman vs. Pearce match would put tremendous heat on Roman for thrashing a WWE official and get Pearce over as a respected authority figure for trying to stand up to the top heel.
But no, we'll get more hardcore wrestling instead that we'll forget about during the next day.
Many were pushing for Nakamura to get this spot. Why? Anyone wrestling Roman at the Rumble is LOSING. If you believe in Nakamura's momentum, let it keep building... Let Nakamura be a Roman opponent AFTER Wrestlemania, as the WWE likely has set-in-stone plans for Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 37 that can't be changed (Rock, Goldberg, or Brock, I predict). That's why Kevin Owens is getting this Rumble match because he has no chance to win the title here unless the WWE wants to surprise people.
Honestly, what am I arguing about? The Rumble is about the Rumble Match and since 2018, we have 2 Rumble Matches to enjoy.
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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