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ASK TITO: Bryan/Nakamura, USA Networks & WWE, More
Submitted by Mr. Tito on 01/22/2021 at 11:49 PM


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The weekend edition of the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING is here and I'm answering your questions as generated from Twitter, Email, and the Comments below. Regardless of your politics, I hope that you've had a good week... At the end of the day, remember this: you control you. Politicians hardly ever have absolute power in our divided government but even if they did, they can't stop how hard you work or the potential earnings power that you can achieve. Focus on yourself and your family, you'll be fine in the long run.

It's Royal Rumble season, baby! My favorite Pay Per View of the year, by far. Usually, the WWE has a horrible 4th quarter following SummerSlam and their programs are difficult for me to watch without cringing. But then, January arrives and it's all good. Furthermore, did the 2020 Elections upset you? That's OK because he's the awesome 2021 Royal Rumble Pay Per View to enjoy and it's conveniently placed on the week before the NFL's Super Bowl.

This needs to be said... The WWE Network is freakin' killing it right now. With COVID-19, the WWE Network had an opportunity to get more eyeballs on its streaming service and they haven't let us down with amazing documentaries. Undertaker's stuff was amazing as was the many "Untold" shows. I recently watched AJ Styles's Rumble Debut and Goldberg's Streak and I was like a little kid in complete admiration of what I was watching. IF ONLY the WWE could bottle up the feelings you get from these documentaries and somehow create great moments on live television...

Usually with me, I buy the WWE Network for Pay Per Views that I specifically want to watch and then I binge on everything that I've missed on the previous months. It ends up that I pay maybe $40-$50 per year for a metric ton of content and big events without wasting time on the smaller worthless WWE Pay Per Views (which I can binge if needed). It's a pretty good deal for me.

Onto your questions.

ASK MR. TITO - Your Questions, My Answers

Who would you rather see Roman Reigns wrestle at Wrestlemania 37: Shinsuke Nakamura or Daniel Bryan?

May I select "none of the above" if someone like Brock Lesnar, the Rock, John Cena, or CM Punk are available? Without a full crowd, the WWE might be holding off on those big names against Roman.

I'd go with Daniel Bryan and then try to relive some of that 2013-2014 babyface magic against a very strong heel with Roman now. If you look at their past 2 matches from 2014 and 2015, I believe, they were quite good and Bryan sold like a champ for him. Back then, however, both were babyfaces wrestling each other. Now, the tables have turned as Roman is a full blown heel.

I'd pass on Nakamura. FINGER OF SHAME to the Internet Wrestling Community for overhyping this guy. We went through this same crap during 2018 when Nakamura won the Royal Rumble match and then had an underwhelming match with AJ Styles at Wrestlemania. Who has bad matches with AJ Styles? And Nakamura has wrestled AJ Styles many times before, he should know him! Because Nakamura is from New Japan, he's the internet darling and the mob is pushing for the WWE to try him in the Main Event again.

Nakamura is 40 years old with a ton of tread worn off of those tires. He's just not that good and he'd have a terrible match with Roman Reigns. You don't want that. What Roman Reigns needs right now is to begin compiling GREAT Pay Per View matches because he only rarely had them from 2015 through early 2020. Daniel Bryan made Kofi Kingston look like a complete star by dropping the WWE Title to him and he rarely has a clunker of a match.

But pass on Nakamura. Keep him in the midcard because that's where his older skillset can still have some value. We already tried him as a main eventer during 2018 and it bombed. Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana, 1905)

*****

What could the end of NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) mean for the WWE?

In case you haven't heard, news broke on Friday that the NBC Sports Network was shutting down at the end of 2021 and much of their live sports programming was going to migrate to the USA Networks. In my opinion overall, this is a GOOD thing for the WWE. Simply put, the USA Network is a failing channel. WWE is their only show that is breaking 1 million viewers, let alone flirting with 2 million at times. Netflix and other streaming channels have killed USA Network's rerun market and USA struggles to create any original content. HENCE why they willingly paid $200 Million per year to retain Monday Night RAW.

Now, it could change a few things... I would suspect that NXT being on Wednesday Nights may end, particularly during NHL Hockey season. I could see RAW getting pre-empted a few times during NHL Playoffs a time or two.

HOWEVER - Let's be very reasonable about NHL Hockey: It doesn't draw well nationally. Regionally in some markets with traditional teams, yes, it does OK. But on a national basis, regular season games draw LESS than 500,000 on average per game. NXT actually outdraws them by a few hundred thousand per Wednesday show. However, because wrestling is wrestling, it probably has lower advertising rates than hockey. Many sports fans tune out the regular season and care a little more about their playoff games.

I don't see this programming change bothering too much... WWE RAW still draws, at worst, 1.5 million viewers consistently and at $200 Million per year, that is a BARGIN to Comcast. Are you guys ready for a good laugh? Guess how much they are paying to air NHL games? $200 Million pear year too! And keep in mind that the WWE uses their own camera work, producers, and pays for their own employees. That's NBC cameras, producers, and employees working NHL games.

Maybe NXT will get moved, maybe not... Some are suggesting that RAW might lose 1 hour, but I think that USA Networks is perfectly fine with RAW consistently drawing at least 1.5 million per show. I just don't see USA Networks becoming a full blown sports network. They'll probably adopt the model set by TNT or TBS that has both sports and TV/movies. In my opinion, this change is a direct results from NBC creating the Peacock streaming channel and it just further strained the need for USA Networks to be what they are. Thus, Comcast simply consolidated channels. Simple as that.

WWE has a guaranteed contract for $200 million per year until 2024. They're good and USA Network is making lots of money off of that deal. Now, they'll have sports content to help bring more viewers between NASCAR, NHL, and Premiere League to help cross promote the WWE shows. WWE will be just fine and I believe that they will benefit by being surrounded with other sports content. Don't be surprised if FOX follows suit and merges FOX Sports 1 content with the FX channel. With cord cutting ramping up as Netflix, HBO MAX, and Disney+ are absolutely killing it, these older television companies have to become more efficient in their offerings.

*****

What are your thoughts on Jason Jordan's potential in-ring return?

I'm excited. For one, kudos to the WWE for keeping Jordan employed as a producer. I'm sure that they knew, at some point, that he'd try to wrestle again... Still, he could have been part of those massive job cuts that occurred last year.

Jordan was an athletic BEAST and you could see that within NXT... But at the same time, he also showed character. Just watch that initial Tag Team win in NXT. Jordan is crying after that match, as he was overwhelmed with emotions. To me, that shows someone who is passionate about the business and someone who cares deeply about the traditions of pro wrestling.

And what does WWE do to him? Oh, he was made to be Kurt Angle's illegitimate child. *face palm*

How WWE Creative Team members kept jobs after that decision is beyond me. What a bunch of losers. All anyone has to do is perform an internet search to see that Jason Jordan is NOT Kurt Angle's son. Jordan has to shake that Creative damage if he comes back, as that is a stench that will never leave him unless he squashes it like a bug.

A few years ago, someone asked me who could be potential Main Event stars and the names that I provided were Luke Harper, Braun Strowman, Apollo Crews, and Jason Jordan. To me, Jordan looked the part, could wrestle the part, but he just didn't have the mic skills or the confidence in his character yet. That's probably why the Kurt Angle angle (that sounds weird) happened to attempt to compensate for that weakness INSTEAD OF trying to fix that weakness. If you watched Jordan in the ring, he had that Main Event style down... Hopefully, he's fully healthy to make a comeback because the WWE could use a new breakout star right now.

*****

Thoughts on Priscilla Kelly being hired by the WWE?

This could just be for the recent tournaments, but I bet that WWE likes what they see with Kelly. I laughed initially at it, as Kelly has the infamous "tampon incident"... But then I realized that was 2 years ago... Time to move on. She debuted during March 2015 and thus now has almost 6 years of experience. She has a great look and say what you will about the tampon incident, but it's bold and unique and it pretty much set the internet on fire 2 years ago.

WWE not only needs talent, but they need UNIQUE talent.

Now, can they do that with "Gigi Dolan" which is a different name. Obviously, the WWE PR machine doesn't want little kids looking up "Priscilla Kelly" on Google or YouTube. Plus, that is actually her real name and the WWE would rather trademark a new name instead.

Honestly, she could be a diamond in the rough if working in NXT helps her polish a few things inside the ring and then her unique character can be pushed to set her apart. She is ONLY 23 years old and will turn 24 later during 2021. Priscilla still has her PEAK years ahead of her.

Let's give her a chance... Everybody deserves a second chance and at the end of the day, all she did was a wrestling angle in a bar wrestling scene that enables that kind of stuff. Ever see Joey Ryan? He had everybody touch his junk and everybody laughed at that for years. Get over it. I'll root for her to succeed.

*****

What are your thoughts of Jim Cornette "unfriending" Chris Jericho and FTR?

That's beef between Jim Cornette and FTR/Chris Jericho. On one hand, Cornette is upset at Chris Jericho for his handling of COVID-19 and his political donations to Donald Trump on a personal matter while on the other hand, he's disappointed in FTR's performance as wrestlers in AEW.

At least with Jericho, Corny had over 25 years of a relationship with the guy and helped really get his career started with Smokey Mountain Wrestling. Jim could forgive what the older Jericho was doing because of that relationship. Jim Cornette is a diehard Democrat and really hated President Donald Trump. On top of that, he's a germaphobe and gets disgusted with how people handle safety precautions or having the virus itself. Thus, the one string keeping Jim from unleashing on Jericho's wrestling ability has been cut.

For me, I don't honestly care about your politics unless you attempt to shove it down my throat forcefully. If Cancel Culture on both sides weren't trying to mine everybody's donations to expose celebrities, we wouldn't have heard Jericho's politics. Jericho's Podcasts suggest that he might be right-leaning but he does have both sides on his shows. It seems like his carefree COVID reactions combined with his exposed political donations have painted Chris as a full blown MAGA. Other than that, you really wouldn't know his political affiliations because it never came up until this year. For Jim Cornette, anyone associated with Donald Trump becomes an enemy to him and he'll block anyone on Twitter who mildly shows support for Donald or MAGA. It's a lot to throw away a friend of 25+ years, in my opinion... I probably wouldn't have done that.

For FTR, there were promises made by both wrestlers on Jim Cornette's own podcast that I believe Jim feels were broken. They haven't fundamentally changed Tag Team wrestling in AEW, in my opinion, and have become just another team for the Young Bucks to defeat. I agree 100% about any serious wrestlers selling for barely 5 foot, less than 120 pound Marko Stunt. As a wrestling fan, FTR has been disappointing to me. They should have traveled to New Japan or elsewhere, like AJ Styles did after his TNA career, to boost their names and their abilities before making a bigger splash later. They are sadly ruined as a team. Remember how everyone ripped the WWE for having to "pay dues". Well, the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

In other words, I disagree with Jim's beef with Jericho because you don't ditch friends of 25+ years unless they do something very personal against you but I agree with Cornette's beef with FTR because they've been disappointing in AEW. But, if FTR would start putting their foot down and take more responsibility with how they are booked in AEW, things can turn around for them.

*****

Do you think that recent events will prevent Donald Trump from ever appearing on WWE Television?

If you read my Mr. Tito's PHAT 2021 Wrestling Predictions from 12/31/2020, I actually predicted that Donald Trump would appear on WWE television during 2021 at some point. Keep in mind the date on that prediction, as I called it 12/31/2020 without knowing the Capitol events that happened on January 6th. My 12/31 prediction actually called Twitter and Facebook banning him during 2021 but I didn't expect it to be so soon.

Here's what you have to understand about a Publicly Traded Corporation: they are mostly about Public Relations.

When a corporation gets bigger and bigger, they start hiring marketing folks who are extremely image conscious. Those guys are in Vince McMahon's ear right now which is why we see the PG Era, more Women's wrestling, diversity, and much more involvement with corporate sponsors. It's also why Vince McMahon's politics are kept quiet even though he's a known donor to Republicans and Donald Trump. WWE Corporation also tries to distance itself from Linda McMahon's political activities, too. I believe that Vince McMahon wants ALL of your money and doesn't want something like politics to scare fans away. I also believe that Vince knows that his WWE programming is an "escape" for many wrestling fans from reality.

Right now, the media environment and public relations for Donald Trump is at its lowest... He just got impeached by the House again, Banks are dropping him as a customer (that will hurt him bigtime), most Social Media platforms have banned him, PGA Tour has moved an event formerly at one of his golf courses, and several stores are dropping his brands. Maybe having Donald on WWE television during 2021 might be too aggressive, but we'll have to see how the Senate Trial of his Impeachment goes in about 100 days. It all depends on what happens there, as if he does end up seeing 67 votes by the Senate in favor of impeaching him, nobody will touch him. We're also just at the tip of the legal iceberg, as the State of New York has many, many cases, lawsuits, and other legal challenges to throw his way.

In other words, it would depend on how the next 6 months go for Donald Trump and if the public can forgive any involvement he had encouraging the Capital insurrection. But if Trump comes out of 2021 unscathed and improves his image with the public, I could see Vince wanting to make a quick buck by involving Donald somehow. But if that Senate Trial goes wrong and if the New York court cases reveal anything, Vince McMahon won't risk bad public relations by having an old friend on his television shows. Right now, there would be a threat of losing sponsors if WWE were to have him on television.

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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