ASK TITO: MJF’s AEW Dynamite Promo, Stephanie McMahon Leaves WWE, CM Punk Wins AEW Title, Sasha Banks/Naomi, and More
The EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING has returned for a one-time thing, as I’m STILL RETIRED and chilling here at the “Retirement Home for Internet Wrestling Columnists”. My email is getting bombarded with long-time fans asking me many, many questions about recent wrestling events. I keep wanting to reply in a Vince Russo tone of “bro, I’m retired”, but the demand is there folks. You have the questions and you want answers from the longtime Pro Wrestling columnist that you knew since October 1998 who wrote thousands of columns for Lords of Pain and No DQ.
You wanted the best, well, you’ve got the best… But for one-time only. I’ve moved on from being a regular wrestling fan and my creative energies once used for Tito columns is being fulfilled with other personal projects.
But I do want to throw the FINGER OF SHAME at many within the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) who just don’t know how to express their wrestling opinions. Just in the past few weeks, you’ve been handed MAJOR wrestling topics on a silver platter yet you sound like a wrestling mark in your coverage of said topic. You’re lacking reality and are just shills for a particular wrestling promotion. For example, Sasha Banks and Naomi. At your own workplace, what would be your response if a pair of well-paid employees just walked out in the middle of a shift? Yeah, I thought so… You’d be PISSED and blame them directly, even if you believed management was a nuisance in some way. But here within the Internet Wrestling Community, Sasha and Naomi have been made into martyrs.
Old Man Tito is also here to put all of you wrestling marks online to shame… You don’t know what you’re doing when you present yourself or speak your opinions on Pro Wrestling. Watch how it is done, kiddos, and in a few weeks, you’ll likely steal what I just wrote about today and call it your own.
I’m sick of many of your pathetic wrestling opinions and internet marks, all you do is annoy me so I have been sent here to destroy you! Because I’m the REAL Mr. Tito and all of you other wrestling marks are just imitating. With this brand new column, the real one is about to stand up.
Since it is the weekend, I’ll give you my old ASK TITO format to allow me to cover many topics in an organized fashion. How about them apples?
ASK MR. TITO: YOUR QUESTIONS, MY ANSWERS
What are your thoughts on MJF’s recent actions and AEW Dynamite Promo?
First of all, can I just praise a bunch of things before getting into the long-term implications of this promo? This whole MJF scenario where things are leaking online about him being upset about his current pay and 2024 expiring contract, no-showing an autograph signing, buying new airplane tickets, and then possibly no-showing Double or Nothing was brilliant… It is creating mystery and doubt with wrestling fans, and that’s how reality-based wrestling works. It worked like a charm and “set the table” for the AEW Dynamite “nuclear bomb” promo conducted by MJF.
This has been my criticism for YEARS about 21st Century Pro Wrestling. All wrestlers go to their Social Media accounts and advertise how scripted wrestling really is by revealing its secrets. Wrestling promotions are NOT buttoned up and fail to keep any storylines, wrestler transactions, or any other secrets close to the vest. It’s like a Magician who reveals how he does his magic tricks. Why on earth would you pay money to see him again if you knew how he did his tricks? Makes zero logical sense… Thus, it was a breath of fresh air to see AEW and MJF creating disbelief among wrestling fans on how disgruntled he was with AEW and the possibility of him no-showing to AEW’s Double or Nothing.
MJF’s “nuclear bomb” promo on AEW Dynamite was brilliant and again, a breath of fresh air. He had pure raging emotion and you believed in what he was saying. While I believe the creative direction and many talking points were scripted beforehand, MJF was likely given creative freedom here and his executive of it was perfect. BEST PROMO IN YEARS. Was it better than CM Punk’s 2011 “Pipe Bomb”? Nope, because had no storyline dictating the direction of that promo and he just went out there and did it. Punk was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have creative freedom on the mic and he killed it. MJF is working within a known storyline. Plus, Punk’s came before MJF’s promo and likely inspired it… But let’s stop comparing it. MJF’s promo was GREAT and it was the best spoken word that we’ve hear from a wrestler since, well, CM Punk’s “pipe bomb” speech.
Before I go further, let’s recap… I have (a) praised how AEW & MJF fooled the fans and (b) praised how MJF executed his AEW Dynamite promo. Do you got that? Don’t run to the Comments section and say that I am an “AEW hater”. I just heavily praised something and it might have me tell the nurses at the Retirement home to change the channel from CNN to TBS on Wednesday nights to see what happens next… Do you got all of that?
Here’s the problem with the “MJF vs. Tony Khan” storyline… NOBODY wants to see Tony Khan as any type of authority figure on-screen. He’s already over-exposed as AEW’s Owner/President and Creative Lead by openly putting himself out there with post-show press conferences and with other on-screen appearances. Trust me, MJF isn’t going out there on AEW Dynamite without Tony Khan’s blessing to call him a “f***ing mark” or other things without Tony signing off on it creatively. We’ve seen enough of Tony Khan on-screen and we actually don’t want more of that, especially involved in a storyline.
Compare this to Vince McMahon during 1997. There was still a ton of mystery as to who Vince McMahon really was. Sure, the 1994 Steroid Trials exposed him as the REAL owner of the WWF back then, but he never openly acknowledged it in public and always hid behind the announcer’s desk to fool fans. It wasn’t until Bret Hart started confronting him on RAW that things came to light about who Vince really was, but even then, with Vince as an announcer, he didn’t present himself as “the guy”. Then, the Survivor Series 1997 Montreal Screwjob happened where Bret Hart was double-crossed to lose the WWF Title that it ripped the lid off about who owned the WWF. Overnight, everybody KNEW who was officially the owner of the WWF and wrestling fans were PISSED at Vince McMahon for legitimately screwing Bret Hart at Survivor Series. Then, for 1998, you combine the Montreal-based hatred for Vince McMahon with a rising babyface named Stone Cold Steve Austin, and sooooo much money was about to be made.
You just don’t have that “mystery” about Tony Khan. You know who he is, you know what he does, and you know that he’s still somewhat of a kid at the Candy Store when it comes to handling wrestling professionals. While Vince McMahon did work for his dad Vince Sr., Vince Sr. made Vince Jr. work his way up the WWWF ladder for years with many odd jobs and didn’t just hand the WWF to Vince Jr. Vince McMahon had to actually take out loans and BUY the WWF from his father. That’s a HUGE difference between Vince and Tony. Vince bought the WWE and had to make it financially successful or else default on loans. Tony has been financially backed by his father from day one and has no executive experience prior to running any entity other than jobs handed to him by his daddy.
If the Creative for AEW moving forward is “MJF vs. Tony Khan”, it’s an uphill battle because there’s NO mystery about Tony Khan. We know who he is and we 100% know that he’s in charge of creative. That’s where I think this MJF promo could fall short, long-term. Plus, MJF was a heel and this promo turned him babyface in the fans’ eyes. That’s fine and dandy, but your AEW Champion, CM Punk, is a babyface too.
(NOTE: This was written before knowledge of CM Punk’s injury) Attempting to put on my prediction hat, if I were to guess, maybe CM Punk turns heel and becomes a corporate kiss-up to Tony Khan. Then, Punk surrounds himself with a stable of Ex-WWE wrestlers (call them “XWE”, Ex Wrestling Entertainers) to go after MJF and perform a hostile takeover of AEW with Tony Khan pulling strings in the background? Honestly for CM Punk, it’s a breath of fresh air to change-up his first-half of 2012 WWE character into a new direction and then Punk can lay down harsh promos on fans. Meanwhile, this would give something for Miro, Christian, and many other former WWE wrestlers to do. And then AEW originals can attempt to “storm the castle” against that faction. Someone like Wardlow could further build on his momentum and act as a peer to MJF for trying to rid AEW of this Ex-WWE wrestler faction commanded by Tony Khan.
BUT, you need to keep things real… Look what happened with Double or Nothing. There were LEGITIMATE worries that MJF would no-show that event. From the leaked anger about MJF’s contract, no-showing the autograph signing, and buying plane tickets… Everyone thought that MJF wouldn’t appear at Double or Nothing and they all fell for it hook, line, and sinker. WE NEED MORE OF THIS IN PRO WRESTLING…
Listen to me, Pro Wrestlers and Pro Wrestling Promotions. You fanbase does NOT need to know everything. That includes your real names, who you are in real life, who you are dating or married to in real life, any losses of pets, or anything contrary to the CHARACTER that we see on-screen. Put down your damn phones and stay off Social Media other than to promote shows or appearances. Ditto for wrestling promotions. Button things up and hold ANY wrestler accountable for exposing the business or ruining their characters by advertising a completely opposite person on Social Media. Pro Wrestling will NOT grow until you make wrestling fans second-guess what they are seeing on-screen about storylines or characters. If everything is revealed to them on Social Media, they won’t spend time or money on your wrestling promotion. Again, think of my Magician analogy on revealing his tricks. Why spend money on something that you know too much about? There needs to be a MYSTERY about Pro Wrestling and its on-screen characters, DAMN IT!!!!!!!!!
Did you get all of that? See, that’s the difference between Mr. Tito and the other wrestling marks online trying to express opinions. I give you the hard truths while the rest are complete shills for a promotion and won’t.
What do you think about Stephanie McMahon needing time off from the WWE?
For one, I think it is well deserved. Say what you will about her performance, especially as Creative Lead from late 2000 through late 2012 (or 2013), Stephanie has been within this WWE grinding world since 1999 on a full-time basis and was working various jobs with the WWE before that. For at least the last 23 years, she has worked a job that demands more than 40 hours a week and often works 7 days a week. That is BRUTAL, as the WWE is a very demanding job and is lead by the most obsessed workhorse around, Vince McMahon, and everybody has to attempt to follow his lead or lose favor.
I believe that it is definitely FAMILY RELATED… For one, his kids are growing up… They are becoming teenagers and there’s a lot going on with your kids at that age. I believe that her role as becoming Chief Brand Officer was to work more closely at the WWE Offices was to serve that, but maybe she needs more time at home?
But I believe there may be marital issues with Triple H. Hear me out on this one.
Have you ever worked somewhere when 2 managers happen to fall in love by working together so much? A man and a woman work long hours and therefore because they are spending more time with each other than their existing families or spouses, they just happen to fall in love? It happens all the time… HOWEVER, have you ever been around that couple socially after the fact? They CANNOT stop talking about work! What brought them together was WORK and now that they are together or even married, they keep talking about work. THAT is what brought them together. I’ll say this, it’s annoying… And I’ve seen a handful of those relationships crumble once one of them takes another job or begins to have conflicts with each other at work.
And I believe THAT is what is going on with Stephanie McMahon. If you ever listen to Stephanie and Triple H together, they just talk WWE stuff non-stop. They never talk about their personal lives, what brought them together, or what they love about each other besides their insane work ethics working for the WWE. With Triple H having his heart attack, which the WWE downplayed but appears to be much worse than initially thought, it’s very likely that Triple H was at home more and obviously not working at WWE while he recovered. Therefore, when Triple H and Stephanie would interact, they were probably LACKING any topics to discuss and conversations became awkward.
I also believe that the many demotions of Triple H seen since 2019 have caused some friction between Triple H and Stephanie. Before, both would speak positively about their roles in the WWE… Now, Triple H lost his Creative to the Executive Directors, lost his Talent Developmental to John Laurinaitis, and saw his NXT promotion dismantled from the ground up… It’s very likely that Triple H has been expressing his gripes about these events to Stephanie and it has ruined conversations between these two. After all, the man making the decisions to DEMOTE Triple H has been her father, Vince McMahon.
What brought Stephanie and Triple H together, the WWE, is ultimately what could be driving a wedge between them in their love life. After all, WWE consumed them and their personal lives for the last 23 years together as a couple. But if HHH and Stephanie don’t have WWE workplace stuff talk about OR if there’s any negative topics brought up by one side, then the conversations are awkward and they have nothing else in common other than their kids.
With things being VERY obvious that Nick Khan is taking over the WWE, Stephanie sees that writing on the wall and is taking time off to probably save her marriage and see if she and Triple H can rekindle what they had and love each other for who they are and not their WWE work ethics.
And Stephanie will be fine. She’s a millionaire, WWE corporation Board of Director, has lots of WWE shares still, and will inherit Vince McMahon’s empire once he passes or retires. She deserves time-off anyway, regardless of her performance, because working for the WWE is so demanding of your time.
There we go, once again… Did you hear that kind of analysis about Stephanie McMahon anywhere else online? No, you didn’t.
Thoughts on Sasha Banks and Naomi walking out of the WWE during Monday Night RAW?
Read what I said above… If you’re at work and suddenly 2 employees walk out in the middle of a shift, how do you feel about that? Yeah, you’re pissed about it especially if those employees are well compensated and their gripes are very minor things with management.
FACT is that Sasha and Naomi are IN THE WRONG HERE!
In real life, Sasha Banks’s real name is Mercedes Justine Kaestner-Varnado or just Mercedes Varnado while Naomi’s real name is Trinity Fatu (formerly McCray before marriage). Before Sasha joined WWE, she worked for Independent shows and did OK… But when she joined the bigger stage with the WWE, she took off in the NXT promotion to become a star. NXT built her stage name up and made her a drawing talent for the WWE. Then, she joined the main WWE roster… Now, while Creative hasn’t been consistent for her, she has become a household name and made lots of money on the main roster. WWE even gave her a long extended break when she was burned out after a Wrestlemania and then pushed her harder than ever. Being Sasha Banks has opened up opportunities for Sasha outside the WWE, such as being in the Disney+ Stars Wars: Mandalorian Season 2. She was in the same scene with Luke Skywalker!!!!! Would that have happened with WWE fame? NO!
For Naomi, she hasn’t had the major WWE success like Sasha. She’s done well, don’t get me wrong… She’s been more part of the roster of women rather than being the top featured player of it. In my opinion with Naomi, her big entrance with the lights and dancing overshadows her performance inside the ring to create an awkward mismatched view from fans on how they perceive her as a character and wrestler.
And I understand Sasha’s grief about losing the Wrestlemania spot to Ronda Rousey. But that is Ronda Rousey. While WWE fans don’t entirely like her, WWE is shooting for casual fans or even UFC fans to buy into Wrestlemania to see Rousey. Besides, even if Sasha did wrestle Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania this year, she still would have been second fiddle to an older Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Question for Sasha Banks – Did you NOT enjoy Wrestlemania 37 from 2021 where you HEADLINED Night #1 against Bianca Belair? Most awarded this match as the BEST MATCH of Wrestlemania 37. That was HUGE, as both yourself and Bianca looked and performed great. You nailed that as a major Wrestlemania moment. Two black women headlining a Wrestlemania night… That is MASSIVE and will forever be enjoyed by generations of wrestling fans.
So both you and Naomi are upset about who you didn’t wrestle at Wrestlemania or who you might wrestle in the future. So what? Both of you are under contract, it’s paying you well… JUST MAIL IT IN. If the WWE wants you to be the punching bag of Ronda Rousey, then just go out there and be a professional. If anything, pop-in SummerSlam 2005 and perform like Shawn Michaels did by over-selling for Rousey in the ring. What can they do to you? Your job is to put over Rousey, so flop in that ring as if everything killed you.
What both Sasha Banks and Naomi should have done was arranged a meeting, together, with WWE officials on a NON-WRESTLING SHOW DAY to discuss creative and how they will be used long-term. Simple as that… What did Sasha and Naomi do? While Monday Night RAW was on the air for USA Networks, they walked into John Laurinaitis‘s office, gave him the Tag Titles, and left the show. HIGHLY UNPROFESSIONAL, as the WWE had to rewrite the show on-the-spot and wipe out what they had actually advertised. Both Sasha and Naomi were in the MAIN EVENT of RAW that evening and both walked out on that.
Sasha and Naomi should have handled things differently and professionally… Instead, they took their balls and went home. Do you really think that Tony Khan would want something similar to happen to him if he hired Naomi and Sasha Banks? This is the second time that Sasha Banks left the WWE in protest over creative happens. Seems like a pattern is building up here. For Naomi, she has a husband working in the same company and he’s actually been receiving a major push. While anyone who hangs out with Roman Reigns is bulletproof, as Naomi’s husband actually proved that, it could still put his position in a bad light.
It was a completely BAD idea for both women to walk out of the WWE as Monday Night RAW was happening. BOTH had plenty of time BEFORE RAW to raise concerns about their Creative, along with months, weeks, and days before that RAW show to raise them as well. Nope, they left as RAW was happening and caused the show to be rewritten on-the-fly.
Sasha and Naomi are 100% in the wrong here by walking out as RAW was happening. Completely unprofessional and their suspensions are justified, period. While I like both as talents, they messed up bigtime and this will have long-term consequences. For anyone reading this column and is a manager or supervisor of staff employees, you know what I’m talking about. If someone walks off the job, there are consequences for that action especially if their exits harms the current workday greatly. You need to take action to ensure this doesn’t happen with other employees while not showing any favoritism towards the ones who walked out.
And yet, the Internet Wrestling Community were PRAISING Naomi and Sasha Banks for walking out during a live airing of Monday Night RAW. *facepalm* How can all of you be so obtuse? It’s very obvious that you haven’t managed people before or had to discipline anyone, along with setting a precedent to curb future bad behavior.
I don’t care how bad WWE Creative is… If it’s that bad, just MAIL IT IN until your contract expires. Don’t burn those bridges because as many are finding out, “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side”. WWE is still the best paying game in town and AEW is still a newer company with a bloated roster of wrestlers. Impact and NWA are going no where, while WOW is having creative and internal problems.
Sasha and Naomi need to publicly apologize to the WWE and its wrestlers for walking out. Period, end of story. Then, return to the WWE and finish up your contracts to rebuild their good names when they formally leave the WWE or actually sign another contract with WWE instead. They were in the wrong by improperly exiting the WWE during business hours.
Once again, I’m there to put things in real perspective. Quit being a flunky for wrestlers that you THINK are close to you because you happen to follow them on Social Media.
What do you think of CM Punk becoming AEW Champion?
UPDATE: At the Retirement Home last night, the nurses refused to change the channel to watch AEW Rampage and I don’t necessarily check out wrestling news sites as I used to… Therefore, I did not hear about CM Punk‘s potential injury news that was breaking from AEW Rampage last night. Keep that in mind when you read the following… However, it wouldn’t surprise me that this is part of a big reality-based angle where CM Punk attempts to relinquish the AEW Title to Tony Khan only for MJF to hit the ring afterward to attack Tony Khan to steal the title… Then, CM Punk turns on MJF in favor of Tony Khan to reclaim the title. Look, if AEW can fake no-showing an autograph signing and contract issues with MJF, it can fake injury angles too. We’ll have to wait and see…
I’m happy for CM Punk. As a wrestling fan, I’m still bitter with how the WWE screwed him creatively for the “Summer of Punk” and during 2011, I was the main columnist calling the WWE out for “burying” CM Punk from SummerSlam 2011 through Night of Champions. If you don’t believe me, just read this September 20th, 2011 – 5:00pm CM Punk Tweet where he responded to a fellow Lords of Pain columnist bringing up my comments about CM Punk being “buried” in the WWE and Punk’s reply was “buried in money, I’ve got a snorkel”. I was a bigtime Early Adopter of what was happening with CM Punk in WWE and then he fully realized what was happening to him by 2013 and then exited the WWE by January 2014. By the way, CM Punk actually requested a meeting with Vince McMahon and Triple H BEFORE Monday Night RAW to air his grievances and since CM Punk and Triple H/Vince could not agree, CM Punk left hours before RAW and it at least gave Vince a heads-up to rewrite RAW before it aired instead of while it aired (unlike Sasha & Naomi).
It’s a great story of redemption for CM Punk, who was RED HOT during July 2011 and should have been the next big star. The biggest shame is that CM Punk took 7+ years off to lose many PEAK pro wrestling years and we’re now seeing a much older, grayer Punk out there. Still, I support him and I’m among the many merchandise buyers since his AEW debut. I wish him well, but maybe a Hulk Hogan-1996 level creative change might be needed to give his wrestling career a boost. The babyface character that he had during the first half of 2012 as WWE Champion did OK, but it wasn’t largely appealing which is why Paul Heyman was brought in to covert CM Punk to a heel again.
But I also think that AEW isn’t a good environment, yet, to nurture what CM Punk needs as an older wrestler. With Punk being a tad slower at his older age and not being to bump as well as he could during his younger days, he needs fellow AEW wrestlers to complement him inside the ring. He just doesn’t have the quality of workers in AEW to help him out. Instead, he has many self-trained Indy performers who didn’t have wrestling veterans around them to teach psychology or how to “work by doing less”. At least in the WWE Performance Center, they attempt to teach wrestlers how work safely without accumulating injuries (but the fools take risks on NXT PPV shows anyway). AEW is littered with wrestlers who didn’t have bad habits filtered before joining a Cable televised wrestling promotion. THAT is what CM Punk has to work with nightly and it’s just not complementing him inside the ring as it should. Nobody is bumping for his stuff while selling it like a champ… Everyone is trying their usual daredevil spots and not selling like they should.
Environment matters… Look at Cody Rhodes in WWE now. He looks like a major star because he’s not only presented as such, but he’s working with professionals who are bumping and selling to put him over! Cody has had nothing but great match after match with the WWE upon his return. Compare that to CM Punk in AEW and the matches have been just OK. Cody is still in his prime and working with well-trained wrestlers in their prime. CM Punk took 7+ years off from wrestling and became 7+ years older and he’s lacking well-trained bumpers and sellers to help him inside the ring.
That’s why I believe that a major Hulk Hogan-esque storyline, like Hogan joining the NWO as a heel during 1996, is needed for CM Punk to creatively boost him. If the storyline is just right, then the matches won’t matter for Punk at his older age. “Hollywood” Hogan’s matches SUCKED from 1996-1998 but nobody cared. The NWO storyline was compelling that you’d buy it anyway. It’s funny because CM Punk is 43 years old, set to turn 44 in October. In 1996, Hulk Hogan turned 43 in August… Fancy that. Many called Hogan “old” back then and then the Hulkster turned into “Hollywood” Hogan to join the New World Order.
Yeah, that blows your mind, doesn’t it… CM Punk is actually older than what Hulk Hogan was during 1996 when he joined the New World Older for WCW.
I love CM Punk, as he’s one of my favorite wrestlers of all time… Go re-read my columns from 2011 where I was spitting truth about the WWE ruining him. However, I can see that 7+ years out of the business has harmed him and AEW just isn’t the right environment, yet, to help mask that older age. BUT this MJF storyline could change things…
Where do you think that Bray Wyatt will end up?
It doesn’t matter… Honestly, it doesn’t. I haven’t been impressed by Windham Rotunda’s performances since the Shield vs. Wyatt family feud. The wrestling fans and even the WWE wanted him to become the “next Undertaker” with his character. I never saw it, as he never captivated me with his in-ring work and often needed No Disqualification based brawling matches to look good. Only times he looked great was when Daniel Bryan bumped for him or that 1 Hell in a Cell match with Roman.
As I said in the October 17th, 2020 NoDQ Great Debate, Bray Wyatt just hasn’t had good matches in the WWE and that is why he failed to become a major WWE star. Undertaker has a LARGE portfolio of great matches and that is why, even with goofy and supernatural storylines, he was always a star. When that bell rang, Undertaker ALWAYS put on a performance and had some brutally difficult opponents to work with… But when you put Undertaker with Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, Triple H, Edge, Batista, Randy Orton, CM Punk, and many, many others, the Undertaker ALWAYS looked great. Bray Wyatt struggled to pull off matches with many great stars and within many great opportunities. He was injured often and following that, not often in the best cardio shape.
If I were advising him, I’d return simply as Windham Rotunda and push the fact that he has bloodlines for both Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda. Or just go back to being Bray Wyatt in the WWE and keep it simple. The Fiend stuff was pure hot garbage and not entertaining in the least, often exposing how scripted the WWE truly was (watch Wrestlemania 36 please). BUT AGAIN, as the Fiend, he NEVER and I repeat NEVER had great matches. Every match he did as the Fiend was subpar to awful. Once again, the reason why the supernatural stuff worked with the Undertaker is because he had GREAT MATCHES. Fiend struggled to have great matches consistently…
I believe that Bray Wyatt, the Fiend, or Windham Rotunda returns to the WWE and returns as Bray Wyatt and reboots the character as it was about 7 years ago. Hopefully, his character stays far away from Alexa Bliss, too, to not ruin her character again. It’s good to have Alexa Bliss returning to what she mostly was before, though she still needs to sell that large inventory of unsold WWE dolls and that’s probably why she still carries that around. The Bliss from the mid-to-late 2010s where she was showing off her beauty, giving other wrestlers attitude on the mic, and was allowed to be as charismatic as she could be was the best Alexa Bliss. The Fiend stuff ruined that.
What are your thoughts about Tessa Blanchard reportedly leaving Women of Wrestling (WOW)?
I actually have some insider news on this one… I have a few Indy sources who are “in-the-know” about Tessa Blanchard and I’ve relied upon them to inquire why Tessa hasn’t joined either the WWE or AEW since her Impact Wrestling departure. From what I gathered, WWE was lowballing her on salary and wanted her to work NXT while AEW didn’t want to sign her out of concerns brought up by other talents who either worked with her or were supporting those who made allegations about her.
With Women of Wrestling, from what I’ve been told, there is a TON of creative meddling from the company’s upper management but also from ViacomCBS. With WOW airing on the CW Network, I’m told that the in-ring stuff is secondary and that things are heavily scripted. From what I understand, AJ Lee has been highly professional with the ownership group and ViacomCBS and is deemed to be a very “positive team player”. It is believed that AJ Lee has aspirations beyond Pro Wrestling and being a writer here, in front of ViacomCBS executives in particular, will open up doors for potential Television or Movie projects.
As a proud in-ring performer, this kind of environment just might not be a good fit for Tessa Blanchard. My sources told me that there were no blow-ups backstage, but just disagreements on lengths of matches, storylines, promos, and outcomes. What Tessa is looking for is just not what WOW wants. Tessa wants to wrestle and have bigtime showcased matches, whereas WOW’s management and ViacomCBS want to have a controlled television show that keeps costs as low as possible. It’s just a mismatch of ideas and they have mutually agreed to part ways for the time being. I’m told that the door is still open for Tessa to return to WOW at anytime, as they were professional with each other.
If you want my opinion on Tessa Blanchard, just take the best offer that WWE gives you and work your way up through NXT 2.0. Think that’s a bad idea? Look at Gigi Dolin in NXT. Fans LOVE her… She has revitalized her wrestling career after working under her real name Priscilla Kelly. If you’ll recall, she worked at an Indy show where she force-fed another wrestler her bloody tampon that Priscilla pulled out of her tights. It was a shocking viral moment that disgusted many… BUT, she joined NXT and worked her way up. Gigi Dolin is a valuable player for NXT as a sidekick for Mandy Rose and has established herself as a sex symbol as well.
The allegations will always be there, but they are allegations… If Tessa would just a tad humble and admit that maybe she didn’t give everyone backstage the positive experiences, then it would be easily erased. Fact is that like her Dad, Tessa is intensely passionate about the wrestling business and takes it very personally. With working environments becoming more about being positive, relationship building, and NOT being confrontational, Tessa has to conform or remain unemployed as a pro wrestler. She has to realize that at age 26, soon to be 27, she’s just about to enter the PRIME years of her wrestling career. Get with it, girl, and recognize that you actually have the time to work your way up to become a major star in a few years.
And finally… And I’ll put this last topic as my “Main Event”…
What do you predict will happen with Roman Reigns as dual WWE Champion and moving forward?
First and foremost, let’s just be honest here and use facts. Yes, Roman Reigns is the #1 draw in the WWE. It’s obvious and I cannot deny that since his SummerSlam 2020 return as a heel. The Bloodline and Paul Heyman’s involvement have been great support systems to make Roman appear as the #1 star.
THAT SAID, Roman Reigns is the #1 guy of a DIMINISHED WWE roster.
Did you hear that? That was a mic drop.
It’s like that old Ole Anderson quote that he used to say to a younger Jim Cornette: “I used to think that you were a dumbass but this company has hired so many idiots lately that it has made you look smart” (paraphrasing, obviously)
The HARD babyface push of Roman Reigns from early 2014 through early 2020 had major consequences. While the WWE pushed Roman and Brock Lesnar to the moon, it had consequences on the rest of the roster. While Roman & Brock were overpushed, guys like Braun Strowman, Cesaro, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Cody Rhodes, Rusev, and many other NXT Call-ups were laying their shoulders down for those guys. Nobody else was allowed to become a major star with Brock and Roman commanding high percentage win-loss records.
So what remains of the WWE roster losing MANY potentially good talents is that Roman is the #1 star among a much weaker roster.
Yes, Roman is the #1 merchandise seller… But overall WWE Merchandise is significantly down from years ago and was declining before COVID.
Yes, WWE Smackdown is doing just over 2 million viewers. But FOX is available to 115 million households and Monday Night RAW drew just over 4 million viewers when Roman’s babyface push began during early 2014.
But let’s talk WWE attendance. Yes, COVID-19 has affected it… Don’t get me wrong. But WWE was cancelling Houseshows BEFORE 2020 even started and that was with a returning Roman Reigns being pushed hard as a babyface. The WWE Smackdowns that Roman headlines are NOT selling out or even coming close to 2/3 capacity. Many Pay Per Views, excuse me, “Premium Live Events” are drawing poorly and are causing lots of tarping and unsold tickets. Wrestlemania 38 struggled badly to sell tickets in Dallas for their 2-night Wrestlemania, which was headlined on the 2nd night by Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (terrible match, once again, by those two by the way). Don’t give me that it was a “Dallas Issue”, because Wrestlemania 32 nearly sold that 100,000 seat stadium out and that was actually driven by the addition of Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker added to the card to boost its ticket sales from a show headlined by Roman Reigns vs. Triple H. Tickets went from maybe 60,000 sold to getting close to 100,000 by adding Shane vs. Undertaker. Seriously?
And how about Money in the Bank? That was moved from a stadium into an arena. If Roman Reigns was such the great WWE draw as Dual WWE Champion, then why aren’t fans tripping over themselves to see this “great big draw”?
Because he’s not a big draw. He’s the #1 guy among a diminished roster, FACT.
By the way, WWE Smackdown has been inching below 2 million viewers since Wrestlemania. Does anybody want to talk about that FACT? Roman Reigns became Dual WWE Champion YET fewer viewers are tuning in…
That doesn’t sound like a BIG DRAW to me, but a #1 guy of a diminished WWE roster.
Yeah, Roman Reigns will probably wrestle The Rock at Wrestlemania 39 and that will probably be exciting… But what else is there to do with the #1 guy of a diminished WWE roster? That roster is so thin and weak right now, thanks to NOT pushing many legitimately talented wrestlers, and NXT wasn’t providing WWE any good stars anyway under Triple H’s direction of hiring smaller wrestlers, Impact Wrestling veterans, or putting in trainers, like Prince Albert, who didn’t filter out bad highspot habits that wrestlers learned from the Indy scene.
Maybe Cody Rhodes vs. Roman is exciting, but what is there for Cody to do once he beats Roman? Not much because after he chews through the same veterans that Roman has already defeated repeatedly, Cody will be without opponents too. WWE’s hope and prayer is that someone will connect from NXT 2.0 and so far, there are some good talents cooking there but not great ones as seen by its weekly NXT television product.
For now, Roman will remain the #1 guy on a diminished WWE roster and if Roman decides to leave the WWE, someone else will become the #1 guy on a diminished WWE roster and likely present the SAME results.
When you’re a SYSTEM GUY and don’t get over naturally, as guys like Austin/Rock/Cena did, you’re NOT going to expand the business. The WWE machine has abilities to sustain business and that’s what it is doing under the leadership of Vince McMahon and Nick Khan to keep stealing money from Television channels. Roman is truly another brick in the WWE wall and until he can draw elsewhere outside the WWE promoting machine, I’ll always be right in my assessment of him.
Roman is the #1 guy on a diminished WWE roster, period.
LAST WORD: Ladies and gentlemen, THAT is how you write a Pro Wrestling column. I’m real, my opinions are based in fact and authentic, and it’s presented well to easily consume.
That’s all I have for you, unless y’all piss me off to write another column to destroy you.
Otherwise, THANK YOU for the many well wishes. I’m doing fine in my “retirement” life, and cutting out Pro Wrestling from my daily life has made me a lot happier. I do miss my many fans and sometimes feel lonely, as I was interacting with many of you daily on Twitter and built some good friendships.
This isn’t a comeback, but just a bitchslap to many wrestling marks who are poorly assessing current wrestling news headlines. You’re welcome.