ASK TITO: Follow-up on Okada in AEW, Logan Paul/PRIME in WWE, Dominik, Sting, and Much More

The Excellence in Column Writing is back in your face and delivering answers to your recent event questions via email (mostly with many of my longtime readers) and the comments section below. By the way, you’ve clicked into an actual column with BALLS that is going to give you a completely unfiltered opinion without any direct WWE or AEW bias. Hell, I get called both “anti-WWE” or “anti-AEW” all the time, as I am truly an equal opportunity hater.

Right now, I’m catching heat for merely suggesting that the Rock is hogging too much of the spotlight and subtracting from what Roman, Cody, Triple H, and much of that roster have built up for the past year. Furthermore, I took a metric ton of heat by the minority of wrestling fans, aka AEW diehards, for suggesting that Kazuchika Okada was instantly “buried” from night one by turning heel and joining the extremely toxic Young Bucks. Nobody wants to see a heel stable because the Bucks being EVPs of a wrestling company is irrelevant.

But let me provide this comparison… Mike Awesome was ECW’s World Champion during 2000 and suddenly, WCW takes advantage of ECW’s napkin deals and lures him away from ECW. The joke was on Mike Awesome because he joined an extremely toxic working environment that made him the “Fat Chick Thriller”, “That 70s Guy”, and later had him join Team Canada even though he was born in Florida and never lived in Canada. During 2000, Mike Awesome was a tremendous talent and was the last true drawing piece for ECW. His exit crumbled that company who was about to lose their TV deal anyway to WWE.

Okada joined an AEW company who was so toxic that one of its EVPs walked away for a “personal issue” (Cody Rhodes), its prized female developmental talent Jade Cargill opted to leave, and CM Punk was sabotaged by the Young Bucks EVPs leaking false information to the Observer Boys and other dirtsheet clowns. On top of that, you have a highly inexperienced guy named Tony Khan who is spineless to impose discipline, terrible at managing people, and is not good at producing television or creative storylines. Sure, AEW has some good workers who can create barn-burners of matches, but what’s the story getting to those matches? THAT is the issue.

FACT is that many of you diehard AEW fans know that I’m right and that pisses you off… You WANT the Young Bucks to be major draws and accepted as “world’s greatest tag team”, but they just aren’t. Their in-ring work isn’t as good as it once was, and their backstage decisions are even worse. This new gimmick they have makes complete fools of themselves, and them reminding everyone that they are EVPs is just a reminder of the BAD decision that Tony made giving them those titles.

But let’s not leave the WWE out of this one… As the year started, things were going just fine… Then, TKO Corporation (with Endeavor’s 51% pulling the strings) went into panic mode, thanks to Vince McMahon’s filthy lawsuit, and pushed the EASY BUTTON by injecting the Rock into the Wrestlemania picture. For months and then the Royal Rumble match, Cody was projected to wrestle Roman Reigns in a rematch. Fans were 100% fine with that, as Wrestlemania 40 sold out easily in Philadelphia for both nights. Those long-term plans were shredded when the Rock forced his way in and caused the Wrestlemania 40 main event to change to Rock vs. Roman early. Then, after online fans went nuclear, WWE foolishly changed it back.

The bigger problem is how the online hatred has gone to the Rock’s head. After 10+ years of appearing as the squeaky clean actor and personality, he has micro-managed himself into a heel and believes that what the fans want. No, that’s what the online marks want… Majority of wrestling fans were fine with Rock vs. Roman, as we understand that it’s a “once in a lifetime” match and Rock’s time and availability are very limited. Instead, Rock is foolishly listening to the minority of wrestling fans who were upset about the match switch and harassed his daughter online.

It’s like in politics, we’re always listening to the loud minority for their extreme wishes but most everyone else here in the middle doesn’t want that nonsense.

The Rock has cast a major shadow on Roman Reigns, the former #1 heel, the Cody vs. Roman rematch which was already drawing, and now it has ruined the Rock vs. Roman match forever.

When Rock calls Cody’s fans as “crybabies”, says things like “f*** your story”, and calls someone being born a “mistake”, you’re going too far especially when the Rock is 100% unscripted when he says it and Cody has to be beholden to the script that he’s receiving. Why not just have Rock straight-up call him a “B+ Player” as Stephanie McMahon did repeatedly to Daniel Bryan to cool down his babyface momentum? The Rock thinks that he’s helping the WWE and maybe he’s adding an additional layer for Wrestlemania, but the WWE was growing already in spite of him. These short-term gains will be translated into long-run damage for Cody and Roman.

Rock is leaning into it because his Movies aren’t selling as well, his XFL acquisition has already failed and was forced to merge into the USFL, and his television show was cancelled. And no, it wasn’t “cancelled” for saying anything appropriate, but it was cancelled due to low viewership because fans weren’t tuning into the ego-trip that Rock was being interviewed about his life while on a campaign trail to be President of the United States.

See, there you go… I just tore into BOTH AEW and WWE equally with time. And if TNA or NWA were relevant and gave me reasonable topics to discuss, I’d shred them too.

THIS is the only column that holds the Pro Wrestling business accountable and you, the faithful readers, know that and that’s why you keep returning. You can keep crying the Aaron to “cancel” me and attempt to ratio me, but in the end, my thought are being read by thousands and yours aren’t. Furthermore, I always win the “ratio war” after the initial AEW/WWE mark surge because most of YOU are reasonable thinkers about the pro wrestling business too. It’s these fringe minority of diehard AEW and WWE marks who buy into the wrong types of propaganda and are quick to attack people like me for simply having an opposite opinion to theirs.

On to your questions… Actually, I should say onto the questions of my loyal readers whom I enjoy conversing with via email daily. Thanks for everything.


ASK TITO: Your Questions, My Answers

What are we to make about Okada’s reported AEW contract?

Well, to somewhat quote the movie Airplane, I could make a paper hat, a paper boat, a paper airplane… No, the details are a reported $13.5 million over 3 years which translates into $4.5 million per year. That’s impressive, and is a direct result of a bidding war between AEW and WWE. WWE reached out and had negotiations with him, but it appeared that Okada wanted money after apparently being severely underpaid in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

That’s right, Dave Meltzer… All of your 6-7 stars awarded couldn’t get Okada paid!

The emphasis is that AEW had to overpay to acquire Okada, which is likely the case for Will Ospreay and Mercedes Moné (Sasha Banks) too. I’m willing to assume that these 3 talents are costing AEW about $10 million per year. Excluding Bucks & Omega, who are EVPs, and Moxley and Jericho who have advisory duties backstage as well, the rest of the roster aren’t being paid anywhere near that. I’m willing to bet that the rest of the roster, combined, may equal $10 million itself or at least less when you add Jericho/Moxley to it.

I would hope that Ospreay, Okada, and Moné bring in top dollars because if they retain the less than 850,000 viewership and barely 3,000 fans attending Dynamite. I also worry that Moné could get frustrated with the toxic AEW environment and the lower drawing crowds. She walked out on the WWE twice, ya know, citing toxic environments and bad creative both times. While Tony is paying her well, Tony also paid CM Punk well, too. Bad creative or jealous EVPs will sabotage anything in their path.

But the real story with Okada, I feel, is that the WWE wanted him and forced AEW to pay more for him. That’s good news because once those 3 years are up, there’s a chance Okada has a run in WWE (though he’ll be 3 years older and probably more banged up when he gets slammed through glass panels).


Thoughts on WWE signing a promotional deal with Logan Paul’s PRIME energy drink?

Ever see the South Park special where they parodied Logan Paul and his energy drink (calling it “CRED”)?

Let’s just be honest here… The Pauls are geniuses when it comes to business. Both guys, simply being themselves, have grown financial empires that are the envy of every influencer online. The fact is that many wannabes have tried to act like the Pauls, but none of them are seeing anywhere close to the same financial results. There’s a reason why WWE acquired Logan Paul and why they are pushing him to the moon. Furthermore, they know that Paul’s PRIME brand is selling well, as I see kids everywhere drinking this crap and it being available in every supermarket.

I don’t begrudge him one bit, though and he’s a component that has helped WWE grow for the past year.

And did you see that Jake Paul landed a boxing match with Mike Tyson on Netflix? Holy cow… Seriously, that platform may have over 100 million people watching that at once when it airs live during July.

While I can suggest that the Pauls are over-exposed, I can also say that they are effective and they are successfully using others as ATM machines. Logan Paul is now going to get paid MORE by WWE adopting his energy drink as a sponsor.


Do you think that Dominik Mysterio’s wedding photos will harm his on-screen character with Rhea Ripley?

No… While I agree that it exposes his character, their relationship has been mostly a business affair and Rhea’s role was to lure him to the dark side to join her stable. Since Dominik joined, they’ve been much less lovey dovey and more about cheating to win matches. Plus, it’s well known that she’s engaged to Buddy Matthews from AEW (Buddy Murphy in WWE) and that was known when she began persuading Dominick to the group.

If you keep it mostly business, then it still works… Flirtation happens at work, but doesn’t go all the way. Many people go to work and literally act as a character, but then act differently when they come home. I’ve seen this for YEARS. There’s this term “work wife”, as a male employee and female employee have great working chemistry but take it no further, while going separate ways when they clock out.

No, they’ll be fine and both will keep receiving great reactions to their characters. Just a shame that the rest of the Judgment Day weren’t as cool as those two.


Thoughts on Ole Anderson passing away recently?

Always sad when anyone passes away… For me as a wrestling fan, I began heavily watching during late 1988, so thus I didn’t see the older version of the Four Horsemen (Ole, Arn, Tully, Ric) and saw the tail end of the (Barry, Arn, Tully, Ric) version of the Horsemen. Then, Ole Anderson returned during 1990 as part of that Horsemen iteration… By then, he was like 47-48 years old.

Much of my experience with Ole was seeing his creative ideas on display for both 1990 and 1993, as the Black Scorpion and the Shockmaster are ideas that he pushed and got successfully on television. Funny thing is that both used his voiceover, too.

Hearing backstage stories about him, though, are hilarious on how he didn’t take crap from anyone and wasn’t afraid to tell off anyone too. When Vince McMahon bought out his territory’s partners, he straight up told off both Vince and his wife Linda without flinching.

Rest in peace… But I really don’t have much attachment to Ole by only really seeing 1 year of him as a performer live, while suffering through his bad creative ideas during 1990 and 1993 for WCW.


Why did Sammy Guevara get suspended from AEW?

Oh, you’re looking for a conspiracy theory with Mercedes Moné about to debut, eh? That Sammy was suspended just before Mercedes was about debut? This stems from immature Sammy from 2016 getting caught on audio saying he wanted to “rape” Sasha Banks.

Nah… I believe that Matt Hardy probably raised legitimate hell backstage to Tony Khan and the EVPs about this guy injuring both of them (Matt multiple times), and there has been other maturity issues with Sammy (remember the stuff with Andrade?). It’s likely that Tony is suspending Sammy to send a message to the locker room about being less careless with 3 free agents coming in who are very expensive acquisitions to him.

No, I think Sammy’s suspension was because he injured people on top of showing a pattern of immaturity that won’t let him focus on tightening up his wrestling ability. What Tony doesn’t want is for someone like a Sammy to injure Ospreay or Okada, and that’s the message.


Are you OK with Jim Ross re-signing with AEW?

Personally, I’d like to see Jim Ross return to the WWE and act as a consultant for the WWE’s developmental system and scouting. He’d be perfect in that role, as his past role as EVP of Talent Relations through 2004 speaks to that. That said, I don’t think Triple H wants Jim Ross in the same building as him as they have differing opinions on how talent are shaped or molded.

But I’m happy that Ross signed with AEW, too, because it’s likely for more money and LESS WORK HOURS. So if you ever get a chance to MAKE MORE MONEY by WORKING LESS, then you’re in an interesting spot, my friends. Time is the most valuable commodity and you can’t spend that money if you have no time. Now, Ross can life comfortably and thus we get to enjoy MORE YEARS of him rather than WWE taking more years off his life from their work schedule.

And he’s calling the matches just fine, folks. Same with Shiavone… The issue isn’t with Jim or Tony, but with the ridiculous things that Tazz and the goof in the mask say beside them.


Where does Sting rank on the all-time list now that he’s retired?

Oh man… I think he has longevity on his side and that’s his main asset. Problem with me is that he never tried to join WWE earlier and make it there. He’ll be forever know as the guy who was great for WCW, at times, was a stable figure in TNA, and had a fun run in AEW. But damn, that WWE run was terrible and short-lived.

So if I were to rank the wrestlers in the last 40 years, as I’ll purposely exclude guys like Bruno Sammartino or Lou Thesz, while also sticking to North America (though I don’t think Japanese wrestling truly draws), here’s how I’d rank them. We’ll go the online style of different tiers that you see on YouTube from time to time.

S-Tier or “Superior” Tier
The absolute best and top drawing talent.
Hulk Hogan, Andre “the Giant”, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the Rock, the Undertaker, John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Brock Lesnar

Among the best of all time, but often a complementary player to an S-Tier performer.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage, Bret “the Hitman” Hart, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Mick Foley, Randy Orton, Batista, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, STING, Kane, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Bill Goldberg, CM Punk, etc.

And onward, as I could spend hours listing B-Tiers, C-Tiers, etc.

Point is that I don’t think Sting is in the superior drawing class. While he was a great babyface sensation for WCW during the early 1990s, each of those years lost money for WCW. It wasn’t until he literally began being the Crow that he truly helped draw but was complementing the NWO. Once the Starrcade finish was botched, the wheels came off for the rest of his WCW career.

Sting and Chris Jericho are very similar to me… Both are steady and reliable hands for wrestling companies and can also reinvent themselves as needed. But they weren’t always the top drawing person and when times they were, they were quickly replaced by someone new rising up. And there is nothing wrong with that. Being dependable and available for a longer period of time is an asset to ANY wrestling company. But neither are to be compared to the Undertaker, who drew stronger money than both guys over a long period of time.


Thoughts on WWE’s recent Hall of Fame announcements?

I’m with Jeff Meacham from NoDQ Review (or at least I think it was him that said it) on how special the Hall of Fame announcements used to be while announced on RAW or Smackdown. THAT SAID, each of these announcements are being pumped through news organizations first and are getting major buzz throughout the day rather than late at night. WWE is smart and knows that releasing these through the media will catch a wider net of fans.

LOVED the Paul Heyman announcement. He’s sooooo worth it, and fans in Philly are gonna go bonkers. In my opinion, and I’ve stated this for years in a few columns, he has eclipsed Bobby Heenan as the #1 manager of all time. His work with Brock Lesnar and now with the Bloodline has put him over the top.

I just don’t know on the Bull Nakano announcement… Sure, you’re honoring the past and she was a former 1-time champion, but women’s wrestling drew nothing back then and was literally a division of just 2 people (she and Alundra Blayze). That said, she’s a very accomplished performer throughout the world.

The U.S. Express tag team of Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda is an interesting one… Don’t get me wrong, I’m VERY happy for both guys and they are very deserving of this role not just as a 2-time tag team champion, but as singles performers as well especially Barry Windham. But come on, can we get Demolition in already? Both guys are NOT getting any younger and are, in my opinion, among the best ever tag teams in the WWE. Ax and Smash were amazing and were the most successful in a division that consisted of Hart Foundation, Rockers, Tully & Arn, British Bulldogs, and many other strong teams. They dominated against those teams!

BUT again, I’m not mad because I LOVE me some Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda. Mike was a very reliable hand for both WWE and WCW for 20 years, while peak Barry Windham is among the best to ever do it. I do love that they are getting in together, as they are related via Mike marrying Barry’s sister and together, they produced the late Bray Wyatt (RIP) and Bo Dallas. If you watch the video, Mike and Barry got very emotional when talking to Triple H about their induction.

I just want to say this right here… IRS is among the best gimmicks of all time, especially with Rotunda wrestling in a suit. Just one of those once-in-a-lifetime gimmicks and I’m sure that he’s a personal hero of many IRS agents out there. Sadly, WWE did Barry wrong multiple times with the Widowmaker, Stalker, and Blackjacks gimmicks. Come on, guys!

But damn it, get Demolition in this year too. Why not? And I don’t care if Barry and Mike are this year’s only group addition. Why not have 2 great tag teams inducted? Why not?


Have a great weekend! Thanks for reading!

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