ASK TITO: Andrade and Mark Henry in AEW, Booker T’s Comments on Aleister Black, More on WWE Cuts, and More

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Your weekend Excellence in Column Writing has returned to for Question and Answer column based your Tweets, Emails, and Comments below. I’m telling you, folks… Whether you like All Elite Wrestling (AEW) or not, what you have to respect is how much more fun it is to follow wrestling news right now. Before 2019, it was WWE and a bunch of smaller competitors that current WWE wrestlers didn’t want to join. Now, however, AEW is in place and is paying a higher dollar to ex-WWE wrestlers and they are TNT (soon to be TBS) for greater exposure.

While the quality of the product isn’t there yet, as AEW is still new and WWE has lost their way a while ago… AEW is at least presenting OPPORTUNITY which we didn’t have before 2019. And this isn’t like WWE versus TNA Wrestling during the 2000s. WWE was much stronger back then, with a deeper roster and John Cena in his prime on top. RAW was doing between 4-5 million viewers back then compared to TNA that did around 1.5 million. Now, RAW does between 1.5-2 million viewers per week and AEW is just under 1 million. That GAP is much smaller for AEW to make up against the declining WWE.

WWE feels a lot like NBA to me than ever… NBA’s regular season is long and sometimes a chore to watch, as I enjoy the NBA playoffs. But its OFFSEASON of hyping up trade and free agency is much more fun to follow than the actual games. Talent moves between WWE and AEW are actually more fun to follow than the actual wrestling shows.

On the WWE front, everyone is wondering if they are going to be FOR SALE or not… As I assessed in my LAST COLUMN, I just don’t see it quite yet. WWE has a ton of CASH hanging around on their balance sheet and that tells me that they are an active BUYER for something. Now, whether that is saving more money to get Cena, Rock, or Brock Lesnar there more often (man, I’d love to see CM Punk returning) or maybe Nick Khan wanting to dabble in MMA, Boxing, or another Combat Sport… Take your guess.

WWE is terminating Labor and is not selling off large parts of their company. If they were to shutdown NXT today and close the Performance Center, that could be an indicator. If production of the E! Network shows suddenly shuts, that could be an indicator. If the WWE drastically tours less as a promotion for their weekly TV shows, that could be an indicator. If they suddenly stopped moving their offices to a bigger space across town, that could be an indicator. If they are getting out of their Debt owed to banks as quickly as possible, which they currently are not, that could be an indicator. In my line of experience in working with corporations, companies like to get leaner on PHYSICAL CAPITAL such as buildings, leases, equipment, or if they get rid of things that fund things like that, such as Bank Loans and other Debt instruments, that’s usually a sign of selling. Loading up on cash and/or Debt are usually signs of buying.

WWE is getting leaner on the Labor Costs because that will help boost profit margins but they are also realizing that they aren’t getting great bang for their talent bucks. Take Braun Strowman. I guarantee you that there are analytics measured on him, such as quarter hour ratings and merchandise sales, that suggest that he’s not worth the reported $1 million contract per year that they signed during 2019. If he’s not truly drawing based on their analytics and WWE could sign a younger wrestler in his place who is willing to take less $$$, WWE will take that risk. WWE is realizing that their BRAND of wrestling is keeping fans loyal to the cause and they can make most of their money during the year from Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, and SummerSlam along with taking easy money from desperate Broadcast/Cable/Streaming companies. Why have expensive labor if they money will flow in anyway?

THAT SAID – I’ve seen very profitable companies sell, too, even with all of their Debt and Physical Capital still in place.

Folks, we don’t know if the WWE is selling or not… I can do my best guessing based on my personal experience with working with corporations and enduring multiple mergers or acquisitions… However, I cannot read what the McMahon family wants to do because they still hold a distinct number of WWE shares. Both Shane and Stephanie have made millions with the WWE, along with Triple H.

Based on the signs that I can see today, it appears that WWE is rounding up Cash to BUY something and it appears that Nick Khan is ascending to become the next WWE President/CEO. That’s my opinion based on what I can see from their Financials and other corporate personnel moves. While the WWE offices are seeing layoffs, those laid off employees are being replaced with Khan’s own hires. If they were selling, then why would they be hiring more executive managers who are not only paid in salary, but in WWE stock options?

Until I see signs of WWE shutting down large portions of their business, they will remain open under McMahon rule and ownership and Nick Khan will be the man fully in charge soon. If I’m wrong, well it’s a simple matter of me not being behind closed doors with the WWE. Based on my experience observing corporate activity and their financials, along with personnel moves at the executive level, the WWE is ready to BUY something and Nick Khan is going to become the President/CEO soon.

Either way, just like I discussed with AEW existing and signing former WWE talent… It is EXCITING to speculate!

Onto your questions.


ASK TITO: Your Questions, My Answers

What are your thoughts of former WWE wrestler Andrade joining AEW?

Like I said above, it’s interesting… Now, will Andrade himself become the difference maker? No, he’s a 5’9″ Cruiserweight spot machine who cannot cut promos. HOWEVER, he’s an experienced hand added to the roster… And that’s the difference. Remember what I said about Jon Moxley joining AEW during 2019. It’s not that Moxley would be a major draw himself, but it’s him opening the door to other former WWE wrestlers to join to pad this roster. It’s the sum of parts. Just look at how the WWE truly started growing again through late 1997… Former WCW stars like the Undertaker, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and Triple H started clicking and hitting their primes at the same time and each guy was underutilized within WCW. Yet, in the WWE, they were granted another opportunity shine.

In other words, instead of relying on the Indy talent that the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega pushed Tony Khan to sign, with time, AEW can begin to replace some of that underperforming talent with former WWE talents that were unfairly treated in WWE.

The REAL STORY is who Andrade is dating, though… He’s engaged to Charlotte Flair and if it weren’t for COVID-19, she’d be married to him already. In case you haven’t noticed lately, WWE just cleaned house on many talents who have spouses or partners elsewhere. Peyton Royce, Mickie James, Lana, Aleister Black (still unsure if Zelina Vega resigned with WWE?), and Chelsea Green… Why has Adam Cole remained on the NXT roster?

WWE has lots of capital invested in Charlotte Flair but she hasn’t been as reliable lately as before with lots of time off, though her Wrestlemania 37 absence wasn’t her fault. WWE doesn’t want her to go, but could they eventually start measuring her with metrics like Braun Strowman? As Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley get better and Charlotte continues to be unavailable, that Salary of Charlotte’s will fall under scrutiny. I don’t believe that the WWE would ever want Ashley Fliehr appearing for AEW, though, but her contract will run out sometime soon. Honestly, too, what could AEW do with her that WWE hasn’t already tried? She has 10 women’s Championships on the Main WWE roster… What else is there to accomplish and she’s 35 years old?


Thoughts on Mark Henry joining AEW?

I’m sad that we won’t ever hear the Three 6 Mafia theme song again…

It’s another 25 year or so WWE veteran signed to the AEW roster. Like Paul Wight, they say that he’ll be an announcer, but he’ll wrestle at some point.

Here is my thing with signing Sting, Mark Henry, Christian, and Big Show. Why isn’t Tony Khan listening to THEM instead of his Executive Vice Presidents who are just failing him repeatedly? On top of that, you have Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Jake Roberts, DDP, Dean Malenko, and other veterans backstage along with Jim Ross being on the roster. SO MUCH combined experience.

The thing with Mark Henry is that he was starting to help recruit people to join the WWE developmental system to become wrestlers, as Bianca Belair was one of his finds. He is actually the kind of guy that WWE needs right now, as Triple H prefers to have WWE Developmental Center tryouts instead of recruiting athletes from other sports to become wrestlers.

I’m happy for him to get some sweet AEW cash and I’m sorry that the WWE treated him poorly on screen recently to upset his pride. Mark Henry should have some administrative role for his 25 years worth of experience whether that is with training, recruting, or creative. WWE prefers to be surrounded by writers and corporate types instead who know nothing about pro wrestling.


Do you agree with Booker T’s assessment of Aleister Black?

Basically, Booker T suggested that Aleister Black just wasn’t exception enough from the others on the WWE roster… And I agree with him. The Triple H Developmental System is basically making Triple H clones… The are all tall and jacked up guys who are brooding and hardly ever leave the ground during their matches. They are all the same and nobody is doing anything flashy that would draw attention to them. Nope, just wrestlers with weird gimmicks, the same look, and acting like they are pissed off at the world… Like Triple H.

Look, this is what I tell every entry level employee who walks into any company that I’m working for… If you want to succeed, you have to stand out from the rest of the pack and differentiate yourself from your fellow co-workers as well. If you’re just “another brick in the wall” and just go along with the flow, your pay will be stagnant and promotions won’t come your way. However, if you are an entry level person at any company, what you have to learn is that you need to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.

Just take a look at Aleister Black… He’s a long haired guy, lots of tattoos, with dark hair and a beard… Yeah, I just named half of the roster. Is he a good promo? He’s ok… Is he a good worker? He’s not bad. But is he exceptional to warrant a major push? I just don’t see it on that level, at least not yet. One could argue that he never got a chance on the WWE roster, but you don’t see what happens behind the scenes or how much other wrestlers like or dislike working with him inside the ring. You don’t know what has happened behind the scenes since his wife was terminated from the WWE.

I wish him the best… But I’m with Booker T here. I recognize that he’s a decent worker but is he exceptional? No, he’s just another Triple H clone created from Triple H’s NXT Clone Factory. Guys like Karrion Cross, the newer version of Drew McIntyre, Damian Priest, Baron Corbin, and even Keith Lee, who has been criticized by WWE officials for not working for a man his size, are all Triple H clones in terms of working style and gimmicks.


What do you think happened with Braun Strowman?

Analytics are heavily in place for the WWE, as they have many statisticians working for them in the company along with outsourced marketing reports. WWE’s marketing team probably assessed that for $1 million per year, he’s not showing the drawing capacity as other superstars making that wage.

Smackdown’s viewership dropped hard with him as WWE Universal Champion, as they dropped under 1.9 million multiple times after Wrestlemania 36 and before SummerSlam 2020. Granted, he wasn’t supposed to be champion, as it was planned for Roman Reigns to defeat Bill Goldberg.

I just wonder with Braun if there is more to his story than what we know when it comes to who he is backstage. Remember his quote about Indy wrestlers complaining about being unable to find work during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic? This is what he posted on his Instagram during March 2020: “Here we go with more of the somebody pay for my bills stuff. If you can’t afford to pay your bills maybe you should change professions. That’s why I quit strongman. I loved it, but I couldn’t afford to live so instead of making a go fund me or a Patreon wanting someone else to take care of me I went out and worked harder than I ever have in my life to get to where I am. What happened to being accountable for your own actions????!!!”

You never know…

But what I think that I know is that WWE is micromanaging everything right now and their analytics suggested that at $1 million per year, Braun wasn’t cutting it any longer as a top guy earning that salary and maybe not worth the drama if any exist. If he were more successful as a top guy, the WWE would have kept him.


Do you think that the Ultimate Warrior was an all time great WWE superstar?

For me as a kid and now looking back, the guy was exceptional from 1988 through 1991… If you go from SummerSlam 1998 through SummerSlam 1991, there’s some fun moments there… Great matches, too, for a guy that everyone considers to be “horrible in the ring”. Sure, the efforts of Rick Rude, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, and others should be commended… But if Jim Hellwig was so untalented, then why can’t anybody try that same type of “manufactured gimmick” with another wrestler? Oh that’s right, WCW tried with the Renegade and everyone laughed (may he rest in peace).

And people who saw the hype video of him returning to the WWE during 1996 were hyped… And people who saw that entrance on Nitro where Warrior confronted Hogan were hyped too.

The fact is that Jim Hellwig was the perfect guy for the presentation of this character who ran full speed to the ring with incredible muslc and got kids all hyped up with the insane promos that he cut.

Was he crazy? Did he put his foot in his mouth often? Yes… But at the end of the day, his 1988-1991 character made many people happy and he was a major part of the WWE’s success back then, manufactured or not.


What is your favorite wrestling video game beyond the Nintendo 64?

WWE Day of Reckoning for the GameCube for me. It just felt right with the GameCube controller, the action was smooth, the Create a Wrestler was great, and the storyline mode was excellent. I poured hours into that game and it remains the PERFECT Pro Wrestling game to me, besides Wrestlemania 2000 for the Nintendo 64. Day of Reckoning 2 was solid as well, but just a few graphical improvements here and roster improvements there.

I really liked WWE RAW for the SNES, though, just because I played that heavily with friends and going 4 player mode with the Hudson Multitap. Going 4 player mode was unheard of back then for a home console and yet Super Nintendo pulled it off well with several of its games. Plus, you got to wrestle as Owen Hart and hear his awesome music…

I REALLY liked WWE Superstars 1 for the Gameboy, though. Did you know that freakin’ RARE produced that damn game? Seriously, the guys who made Donkey Kong Country, Banjo, Conker’s, Killer Instinct, Golden Eye/Perfect Dark, and other elite SNES/Nintendo 64 games make that freakin’ game. As a kid, I poured hours of spare time into that one and it was fun to play despite it being a smaller game. You could really master that gaming engine that RARE made and dominate. I loved the cover, as it has Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, and Randy Savage on it. The game had Mr. Perfect and Ted Dibiase, in addition to those on the cover… Just 5 wrestlers? No problem…

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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