The Retirement Home has unleased me for yet another Excellence in Column Writing… Actually, I made a rare on-screen appearance on the 200th Episode of NoDQ Review during the 3rd hour, though I’m limited with connection issues (StreamYard doesn’t play well with Apple devices), you can see and hear me in my usual masked glory.
Just to show you how OLD I am, I recently downloaded Windows 11 to place on this laptop that I’ve used to write about the last 5 years worth of columns. When I started out in October of 1998, I was using computers with Windows 95 installed on them and connecting through a phone modem at 28K or if you were lucky, 56K. You’d have to go to libraries or universities to get that higher speed Internet. They were attempting to install Windows 98 back then, but it was very buggy back then and shortly thereafter, they were about to unleash the TURDs known as Windows 2000 and Millennium Edition (ME). Thankfully, Windows XP came out soon thereafter and gave the entire world some consistency for a few years before Windows 7, 8, 10, and now 11 have given us crap that has to be patched weekly.
Following up on what I said during the 200th Episode of NoDQ Review, I mentioned how there is a major issue of wrestling fans FAILING to “live vicariously” through scripted and manufactured wrestling characters in the WWE. Nobody could relate to Roman Reigns when pushed heavily as a babyface from 2014 through early 2020 because there was nothing to relate to… He wasn’t allowed to bring any elements from his personal life or struggles into that character and thus nobody could attach any of their emotions to him. The end result was 2 million LOST RAW viewers, thousands LOST in attendance, and LOST merchandise sales.
Wrestling fans could relate to Steve Austin because they lived vicariously through him when Austin would attack his own boss, Vince McMahon. They couldn’t do that at their own workplace, so they lived through Austin’s journey doing that. Hence why the Wrestlemania 17 heel turn was a complete disaster. On the flipside, fans WANT TO BE like walking superheroes such as Hulk Hogan or the Rock. Those guys are “larger than life” with their big personalities and obvious size. Everyone loved the New World Order because they were invading WCW and flipping over that bland brand of wrestling. Everyone wanted to be in the New World Order and later, act cool with the crotch chops in DX. Later, John Cena and his cool raps against other wrestlers was a skill that wrestling fans wanted to emulate and kept following Cena when his character shifted to being Hogan/Rock-lite (though not as much).
If you look at the real world, remember those “Be Like Mike” campaigns regarding Michael Jordan? It’s not just that he was a winning player, but Jordan was COOL and every athlete and kid wanted to be just like him. They bought his products heavily and the Jordan shoe still outsells most. On the political side, look at Donald Trump. On the debate stage, on campaign trails, through Social Media, and on interviews, Trump is openly speaking his mind against Democrats and the Left Wing. Many like that, as politicians before him have been squeaky clean. Many are “living vicariously” through Trump through their perception of him being anti-authority (which gets ironic in itself). Trump is successful because his followers are living vicariously through him, though many things like January 6th went too far (but some deepened their roots with him because of it, too).
Both WWE and AEW have NOBODY that FANS want to live vicariously through… That’s just a fact. WWE wrestlers are too scripted and AEW, for lack of a better word, are either too normal or too nerdy. Who can relate to the Young Bucks or Kenny Omega who have done weird stuff inside the ring or act immaturely outside of it? Furthermore with the Bucks, those are smaller guys. While their athleticism from years of working matches would wear out most fans in fights, their issue being pushed as top wrestlers is that most fans believe they have a winning chance of defeating both Bucks in a fight. With Kenny Omega, his in-ring personality is just odd and his in-ring work just appears too rehearsed and not natural.
WWE lacks babyfaces for anyone to care about. Drew McIntyre… Guy who cannot speak and is just a hulked up guy who carries a sword to the ring. SO WHAT. Finn Balor? Another guy who cannot speak, but also someone who flips between heel and babyface too much and a guy who ISN’T “larger than life” due to his smaller size and looking odd when painting himself up. If there was a Lightweight Division in WWE that was legitimately pushed, Finn Balor would probably thrive in that. THIS was my issue with Triple H running WWE Talent Developmental from mid 2012 through early 2020… He just wasn’t developing wrestlers that were “larger than life”, had personalities that fans could attach themselves to, wasn’t teaching wrestlers psychology (instead, relying on spots), and wasn’t teaching wrestlers how to cut promos without a script. You combined that BAD system with the WWE’s BAD Creative Team, and you have a recipe for failure.
So now, the WWE is bringing in celebrities to hopefully fill that void. How? Who can relate to Logan Paul who is so damn rich that he can purchase a $5 million Pokemon Card? While I love myself a Pat McAfee, I don’t want him to wrestle… I relate more to him as a “Yinzer” speaking into a microphone about sports rather than in a pro wrestling context. Why not just hire his trainer, Rip Rogers, to work at the WWE Developmental Center to produce better trained wrestlers? After all, Rip was one of the trainers at Ohio Valley Wrestling who produced greats like John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar. And Bad Bunny. Remember when everybody told me this his WrestleMania match would draw in more viewers? It didn’t… His music fans do NOT want to watch wrestling.
And for these celebrities, they are rehearsing matches in advance with their WWE opponents… It’s one thing to execute spots inside the ring when rehearsed many times, but it’s another when you have to work MULTIPLE matches and then have to improvise or use psychology instead. That’s what Ronda Rousey found out after her WrestleMania match teaming with Kurt Angle to wrestle Triple H/Stephanie. She looked great there, yes, but her spots were rehearsed well in advance and Stephanie, to her credit, sold fear so well. Then after that, imagine that, the untrained celebrity struggles in matches where more is expected of her and it cannot be rehearsed well in advance.
There is a REAL LACK of good wrestling training right now that teaches wrestlers to use psychology, personality, and how to cut good promos. Instead, everybody is self-trained or lacks training… The end result is wrestlers either performing bad matches or are relying too much on scripts or rehearsed spots. Thanks to the lack of good training, wrestlers are getting hurt too often and wrestling fans cannot find a way to live vicariously through wrestlers.
You know that I’m right, wrestling industry and wrestling fans.
Onto your questions.
ASK TITO: Your Questions, My Answers
Thoughts on the possible CM Punk drama in AEW?
Well, as it turns out, AEW is a toxic workplace with weak management in place. I wonder if anybody reported that? Oh yeah, I have… Tony Khan is a WEAK manager and the idea of surrounding himself with current wrestlers as Executive Vice Presidents was a STUPID idea. The BEST of those 4 EVPs left and joined the WWE, too, in Cody Rhodes leaving the rest of the AEW locker room to suffer with the immature Bucks and Omega. Who wants to take advice from those guys? Bucks ruined the tag team division while Omega was not only an awful AEW champion, but he ruined the Women’s division with poor recruiting and creative.
CM Punk joined what he thought was a better working environment than WWE but as it turns out, there are cliques sucking up to management in AEW too. Imagine that.
CM Punk was ruined as a wrestler thanks to the “Summer of Punk” being sabotaged during 2011 and then his awful experiences with the WWE for the rest of 2011, 2012, and 2013. That bitterness and anger at ignorant wrestling management has never left his system and it remains with him, as a human being, as he works through AEW. Punk is seeing right through Khan’s BS and he has nobody else within that management group to seek for any resolutions. Adam Page is a suck-up to the Young Bucks, hence why they made him AEW Champion without any real fan attachment, and when Page reportedly went off script during a promo, it obviously pissed off Punk. With nobody in AEW management even flinching at Page for his actions, CM Punk then went into business for himself to deliver the receipt.
Sadly, the bloom is off the rose and it took less than 1 year with CM Punk in AEW. It’s a mixture of CM Punk being older but still bitter thanks to WWE ruining pro wrestling for him along with the toxic workplace that AEW really is. Making matters worse is that the main insider wrestling publication, Wrestling Observer, is biased and covering up the backstage problems of AEW or how truly ineffective Tony Khan is as a manager. Instead, they give him “Booker of the Year” awards and give out 5-6 stars for all of their matches. This is why Sean Ross Sapp at Fightful is running laps around those goofs and making himself rich by reporting on what the Observer refuses to report.
I sensed these very issues with CM Punk, early on, based on how he was being used following his return last year. Just the booking was off, as he was wrestling midcarders and being made to look like their equals. Back in 2021, I sense discourse among the EVPs which is why I not only predicted one would leave for my 2022 Predictions (ended up being Cody Rhodes), but I predicted the following for CM Punk:
Something is off with him… Body language wise, he doesn’t seem to be as excited to wrestle inside the ring as he used to. He’s older, I don’t think AEW was as good as he expected, and his body still has a ton of mileage on it despite the 7+ years off. On top of that, being a straight edge guy disallows him from self-medicating any pain away. At an older age, he’s at risk for injury particularly as he tries to wrestle as his younger self. Keep in mind that during 2012-2013, he received multiple injuries and now we’re 7+ years later. I just don’t see him lasting and he’ll soon realize that his past life of trying acting and making money as a local Chicago celebrity did him just fine.
I think that I nailed it… But we’ll see how things bubble backstage and what happens with the Title vs. Title match on Dynamite. That match seems rushed to me, possibly due to Punk’s recent actions… But we’ll see.
Have you rewatched Triple H’s promos against CM Punk from 2011?
Yes I have. Many of NXT-bots, who adore Triple H because they liked the NXT Takeover events that he provided before NXT became over-exposed with the USA Network, are trying to point out a snippet where Triple H verbally thrashes Punk during their post-SummerSlam 2011 feud. If you’ll recall, Punk was supposed to wrestle Kevin Nash at the follow-up Pay Per View but somehow couldn’t get “medically cleared” so the match became Triple H instead. For the in-ring promos, CM Punk had to then read scripted lines while Triple H could go off script and that’s when he started “shooting” on Punk about the wrestling business. This was the clear sign that the BURIAL was soon going to happen and I called it weeks in advance before Triple H pinned his shoulders at the Pay Per View.
People don’t realize what a JERK Triple H was through September 2011. He just got through a decade where he buried every opponent for the first half and then tried to rehash the DX gimmick for the latter half. He was supposed to retire after 2009 to become an advisor to Vince McMahon and become a WWE executive. Nope, Triple H kept returning to the ring. Some of my sources, at the time, were telling me that everyone backstage in the WWE were cringing at CM Punk calling Triple H the “doofus son-in-law” and making fun of Triple H’s WWE Films movies because they knew that Triple H’s rabbit ears would be burning from that. From my dealings with WWE sources during the 2000s, they said that both HHH and Stephanie were extremely sensitive to any criticism or gossip and had a handful of snitches backstage to listen in on wrestler conversations and complaints. I had a reliable source tell me that Shelton Benjamin once went off about his creative plans and ripped the team to shreds one time. The end result, he was depushed hard and it was leaked to insiders that he was “in the doghouse”.
The Triple H that CM Punk dealt with had yet to become that NXT darling that everyone would come to love. No, Triple H didn’t become EVP of Talent Developmental until mid-2012. The guy that Punk dealt still was a competitive wrestler and HHH had the power to go off-script against any wrestler, which he used to do regularly. Thus, what you hear from Triple H is him shooting on Punk… Yeah, it seems to sound good in hindsight, but many of you don’t realize how WHITE HOT CM Punk was from June through August 2011. His merchandise went through the roof, attendance briefly grew, and ratings were popping. Then, jealous factors backstage took over and so did Vince’s hard-on for Alberto Del Rio and thus, SummerSlam 2011’s disaster of an ending was born and it was all downhill from that.
Difference between Triple H’s rise to the top versus CM Punk’s rise was that HHH had major political advantages for his whereas Punk’s was fan-driven. Fact is that HHH was riding Shawn Michaels coattails for 1997-1998 and was mostly a midcarder without him. That Main Event push of 1999 was quite lame and Houseshow attendance was dropping with Triple H as the World Champion replacement Main Eventer without Stone Cold Steve Austin in place. So what he do? He joined Stephanie McMahon in the storylines and then began dating her, married her by 2003. Well, what do you know? Triple H dominated the booking of most of the 2000s and it took a very over John Cena, which nobody could deny, to cool down Triple H overpushing himself. Just go look at 2002-2003 for the many wrestling burials performed by Triple H and then see how quickly RAW’s viewership dropped with HHH dominating the RAW brand of the split back then.
So yeah, Triple H’s speech, in hindsight, seems to sound reasonable… But that is mostly due to CM Punk’s mindset changing after being purposely sabotaged by WWE’s management through SummerSlam 2011. The CM Punk through Money in the Bank 2011 was freakin’ legendary and could have took the WWE to new heights back then as John Cena finally had a legitimate rival and threat to his throne… But then WWE disposed of Punk and then made him a lame WWE Champion from late 2011 through early 2013 that barely main evented RAWs or Pay Per Views (turned him heel, midway through, too). Triple H was always pushed strong as a champion, no matter what. As a heel, he beat many babyface wrestlers cleanly which was different and didn’t draw.
What are your thoughts on Jon Moxley’s match with Effy?
Tony Khan needs to cease allowing his wrestlers, especially his champions, working with other independent wrestling promotions. Period. End of story.
The ONLY way Tony should allow his wrestlers to work with other promotions is IF AND ONLY IF they have a financial deal with AEW. For example, when AEW was working with Impact Wrestling, that made sense for AEW wrestlers to appear there. Ditto for the association with New Japan Pro Wrestling. Nothing wrong with that… But Kenny Omega working for AAA and many other talents working with Independent promotions, come on. If AEW is getting NOTHING in return with the exception of injured wrestlers, why are they even bothering?
For the GCW wrestling promotion and other adult-themed Indy promotions, they can tarnish the image of their wrestlers. The GCW clip that everyone has seen was Jon Moxley holding Effy in a chokehold while Effy takes it upon himself to start jerking off as he’s being choked. Seriously, that happened and other goofy antics occurred in that match that Jox Moxley DOESN’T do on AEW television. See, it’s that consistency that is lacking… How can your wrestlers act one way for a wrestling promotion and then act another way for a different promotion? Of course, fans of GCW are calling anybody who didn’t like this Moxley vs. Effy match as “homophobic” but if you could show me ANY WWE or AEW match that involves a wrestler jacking off while in a chokehold, to apparently enjoy that choking experience more, then I’ll say that I’m wrong criticizing this stuff. But I’m right… Jacking off in the middle of an athletic contest, scripted or not, is inappropriate regardless of one’s sexuality.
Remember, when AEW formed, they were the ones who REFUSED to let Joey Ryan be himself and wanted a much watered down version of himself to join that promotion. THINK about that before you criticize any wrestling fans who are calling out Moxley’s match with Effy. AEW doesn’t want anything sexual happening within their matches, either, or else they would have let Joey Ryan be Joey Ryan as seen with the “All In” Pay Per View of 2018.
Keeping things VERY SIMPLE here… The issue with AEW wrestlers working elsewhere, particularly in places where AEW does NOT have a financial interest, is that the AEW workers perform and act differently elsewhere than they do in AEW. Moxley wrestles either in extremely violent matches in GCW or wrestles guys where sexual acts are being performed in GCW, but he doesn’t none of that sort in AEW. It’s brand confusion, at the very least, and that hurts the credibility of the wrestlers that Tony Khan is cutting checks. You can then argue on the merits of how violent or sexual these Independent shows can get afterward.
In my view, Jox Moxley hasn’t been the same wrestler since his great run with the AEW Title and in my opinion, he was the best AEW champion that the promotion had as its 2nd champion. He was lost without that title and has resorted to his pre-WWE days style of wrestling. We need Dean Ambrose back, which is the guy we all rooted for in the WWE to overcome back booking and then screw the WWE by joining AEW to prove us right as fans back him. We were right from 2019-2020, for sure, but it’s been downhill since.
What is your opinion of former Triple H signed WWE wrestlers returning after they were released?
Nothing, really… It’s not like he’s bringing back anybody groundshaking or anything. Dexter Lumis? Karrion Kross? Several women’s wrestlers that nobody cared about who were here before?
Honestly, the best return was Scarlett because you can push her in unique ways to draw in more horny wrestling fans. That girl is a pure smokeshow and nobody would care about Karrion Kross without her at ringside. Seriously. Reason why Karrion Kross failed in the WWE is because Vince McMahon purposely debuted him WITHOUT Scarlett’s hot arse at ringside. Well, what do you know? Nobody cares about Kross without THAT at ringside.
And now, Triple H is seriously going to attempt to push Kross as an equal to Roman Reigns or even Drew McIntyre? You’ve got to be kidding me.
Reportedly, there are former WWE wrestlers whom Triple H signed and groomed that are trying to get out of their AEW deals and rejoin the WWE. That, once again, only proves my point… Those former Triple H guys are FAILING to make it or draw in All Elite Wrestling.
For the many flaws that Vince McMahon has and potentially being more out-of-touch with age, he also has a history of seeing and pushing guys whom he feels could be top Main Event stars. He saw than in Roman Reigns and where he was out-of-touch was pushing him as a babyface but where he was right was eventually pushing him as a heel. WWE would be screwed on Friday Nights without Roman Reigns ruling that show. The FACT is that nobody has burned the WWE, yet, from all of those 2020-2022 WWE talent releases.
Go back in history… WCW released or let the contracts expire for the Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Sean Waltman, Jim Ross, and others… Each of those guys BURNED WCW hard with what they could do in the WWE, especially Undertaker/Austin/Foley/Ross who pulled the WWE from the ashes and built an empire that defeated WCW in 1998. Those decisions by WCW management became future problems for WCW. None of the talents released by the WWE during 2020-2022 have burned the WWE, which maybe the exception of Jon Moxley but he’s now out of the question with his Indy antics. In contrast, AEW has been burned by Cody Rhodes leaving and looking instantly better in the WWE. Watch what happens with Brandi Rhodes, too… She’ll do much better in a WWE setting than taking direction from Kenny Omega or working with Omega’s recruited talent.
None of the WWE releases coming back will matter… What will matter is if Triple H can repair the Tag Team division and make the Women’s division more interesting, which were some of his successes in AEW. Then, firing all of the WWE Creative Team’s writers and being less scripted would help out as well. Also, hiring better trainers at the Developmental Center for MALE wrestlers (female ones have a great trainer, actually). Simple changes like that will matter more than re-signing any wrestlers that Vince released who weren’t going to draw anyway and them struggling in AEW or Impact has proved that to be a fact.
What is the difference between working at Lords of Pain versus NoDQ?
For those who didn’t know, I worked for Lords of Pain from October 1998 through July 2020 while I have worked with NoDQ ever since. Both websites are similar in terms of allowing creative freedom to create content whenever and for whatever. I would say that LoP relies much more on its established brand from the Attitude Era and the reputation from that with many longtime readers whereas NoDQ has that as well, but has a more significant presence on Social Media.
I’d say the surrounding staff is where there are bigger differences. While the webmasters of both are similar (Calvin for LoP, Aaron for NoDQ), it’s who you work with that is much different along with the readers. At LoP, it was a less unified team in terms of what to accomplish together compared to NoDQ. LoP was driven by its Forums to present content creators, be that columns or podcasts, and that usually formed cliques who ran those forums and helped made decisions on who became content providers. That always caused conflicts with me because I didn’t start out from those forums and a lot of jealousy spurned from that, insomuch that they tried to cancel me a few times (never worked).
NoDQ’s culture is unified, but there seems to be a lot of trolling going on or allowed. I expected to do more projects with its members but I literally did like 2 videos with other people. It wasn’t due to a lack of participation or availability, but you’d just get messed with all of the time with manufactured drama. That goes against my grain because I’m dead serious in everything that I say or post, including these columns or what I posted on Social Media.
I would say that both websites operate the same way, but are far different in how they are marketed, the communication between staff, and the reader base. Both websites are doing quite well with or without me, which speaks volumes about the webmasters in charge of both who know what they are doing.
What do you expect is going to happen next with Sasha Banks and Naomi?
Naomi’s husband works for WWE and she’ll be returning shortly. She was a company wrestler for many years and I suspect that she’s just going along with Sasha. Sasha has “quit” on the WWE previously.
As I said before, Sasha Banks is one of Triple H’s successes from the Women’s Division and I full expect her to be pushed if/when she returns. I could see Triple H making a point of pushing Sasha/Naomi as Tag Champs again and making a real effort to get those titles over.
However, for the rest of her career, she’ll have to operate as a heel. Her days as a babyface are over, at least for the next 1-2 years. From Sasha walking out again plus her forced distancing with fans at an autograph signing, fans are pissed at her. Thus, if the WWE attempts to push her as a babyface, it will quickly backfire. With time and as she regains fans’ trust, then maybe she could return as a babyface. However, HELL boss is the best boss.
I liked the idea that was pushed by someone on the NoDQ Review recently and have the 4 Horsewomen formed on WWE television with Sasha, Charlotte, Bayley, and Becky and let them dominate the division as a heel group to any younger challengers. And let them proudly hold up those 4 fingers, too. All 4 are in a good position where they need something cool to do, too.
I believe that agreements have been made with both Sasha/Naomi and it’s only a matter of time before they are used again. Sasha’s issues, in the past, were with how Vince McMahon was booking her. She never had a problem with how Triple H pushed her and the best year of NXT, 2015, was when she was featured on that brand and actually main eventing shows.
That’s all I had for today… Got lots of great feedback from my 200th Episode of NoDQ Review appearance along with many wanting to know my thoughts on CM Punk’s reported issues with AEW. Things like this keep bringing me back as a part-timer, even when I claim that I am “retired”. Everything is out of my basement for the time being, so we’ll see what brings me back again in the future.
For now, back to the Retirement Home for Internet Columnists I go!