ASK TITO: Responding to Brandon Thurston, WWE Backlash France Predictions, WWE Re-signings, and More

The EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING has returned, as I’ll answer your questions submitted recently with a current events preference on the questions. Lots of big news coming down the pipeline and it makes column writing that much easier.

But first, I need to deliver receipts. Our good friend Brandon Thurston, who operates Wrestlenomics, called me out by retweeting my last column. Now, if he would have actually clicked and opened the actual column, he’d realize that it wasn’t a full fledged attack column. Instead, he got snarky and posted “False Premise” while posting many of his confusing graphs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand his graphs as a statistician by trade, but he has TOO MUCH data on his graph that it lacks any clarity. I guarantee that any Board of Director or senior management would LAUGH at a report with messy graphs like his.

Furthermore with Brandon, he’s an ex-associate of AEW’s Senior Vice President Chris Harrington and still friendly with him to this day. Brandon is one of the many who peddles the nonsense of the 18-49 Demographic for AEW, even though their total viewership is declining. Obvious AEW bias aside, Brandon does have some value such as doing the legwork and digging up regulatory or court documents that most have zero time or patience to obtain.

To easily refute Brandon’s little petty attack, let’s just present real data:

RAW since Wrestlemania 40:
4/8 – 2,360,000
4/15 – 1,806,000
4/22 – 1,597,000
4/29 – 1,683,000

2024 Average for RAW: 1,750,611

Smackdown since Wrestlemania 40:
4/12 – 2,499,000
4/19 – 2,333,000
4/26 – 2,143,000

2024 Average: 2,396,706

Looks like viewership is down, Brandon, both since Wrestlemania 40 (where the number spikes), but ALSO below 2024’s average.

The most recent numbers are also below 2023’s average numbers.

See what I did there, Brandon? Kept the numbers simple to make an easy point. Didn’t need to make a graph with 30 different data points on it.

Then, Brandon literally posts exactly what I described by WrestleTix by posting a chart of WrestleTix’s numbers:

Monday Night RAW’s Ticket Sales
4/1 – 13,545
4/8 – 18,846
4/15 – 12,709
4/22 – 9,385
4/29 – 10,152

Smackdown Ticket Sales

4/5 – 17,509
4/12 – 14,659
4/19 – 12,787
4/26 – 13,110

Looks like ticket sales have come down since Wrestlemania 40, too. To Brandon’s credit, I’m likely to have been looking at RAW’s ticket sales more closely with numbers getting close to 10,000. Still, it’s coming down to earth from Wrestlemania 40, which was the point of my column.

AGAIN, if you actually READ my damn column, it was NOT a hit piece on Cody Rhodes. There have been others criticizing Cody and my only point is without Rock and Roman Reigns, Cody is left without strong opponents. Hence why numbers have come back to earth from being absurdly high on viewership and attendance, to returning back to 2023-like numbers.

That’s ALL that I was saying… And as you’d see in my column, I clearly state that my expectation is that numbers would go back up once Rock and Roman Reigns return.

But Brandon, like most readers, just read the column’s title or the way Aaron hypes it on Social Media and just ASSUME what the column is about. But when you break down the word “ASSUME”, it’s “ASS” “U” and “ME”, but in this case, I was mostly correct about my numbers. They have come down since Wrestlemania 40 and RAW/Smackdown are not only below 2024 averages, but below 2023 on viewership.

And as I argued in my column, the REAL DRAW is Roman Reigns and life without Roman isn’t as exciting for the WWE since Wrestlemania 40. 2.1 million for the most recent edition of Smackdown versus the 2.4 million average for the year, that’s a big 300,000 difference. Cody is the featured guy on Smackdown right now and not Roman.

So, instead of trying to show me up on Social Media, why not talk with me? Because your graphs are just noisy and could be easily simplified. For example, instead of showing every week on your graphs, why not average them by month or by quarter? That will smooth out your ups and downs to understand whether something is truly increasing or decreasing. Furthermore, your labels at each data point are intersecting and just adds too much noise to the graph. You don’t have to label everything if your axis is detailed enough to the left. There are many things that I could help you with regarding the presentation of your data, if interested.

My point of my last column was that the WWE success since 2020 was based on Roman Reigns and the Bloodline, but it’s growth since 2022 has been due to supporting cast members rising up to complement Roman/Bloodline, which includes Cody AND the Rock. That was the point that I was trying to make and not trying to attack Cody, which you clearly missed by NOT READING THE DAMN COLUMN.

Nice try, Brandon, but I can compute numbers too and I refuted your little snarky attack. Did you enjoy those apples?

Onto your questions.


Thoughts on WWE re-signing Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre?

Congrats to both and I guarantee that both got paid well to stay. For Seth Rollins, he worked the entire Wrestlemania 40 show with a torn knee in which he worked 2 matches and participated in the main event of night #2 (so painful to see Rollins struggling to enter the ring, poor guy). For Drew, he’s been on fire for 2024 and he’s become the perfect opponent foil for CM Punk. When both guys return to the WWE roster as healthy wrestlers, they are going to pump up the RAW numbers that you see above.

Let’s make no mistake… AEW’s recent free agent shopping spree likely gave both guys better contracts than expected, and now the attention goes towards if Becky Lynch will re-sign with WWE or not. She was just made RAW Women’s Champion just before her contract expires and that makes me wonder if WWE is sweetening the pot for her to return or giving her one last run to put someone over. I cannot imagine her leaving, as Becky has major value in her post-WWE career as a trainer and mentor for other women.

Great news for both guys and both wrestlers helped contribute to the successful Wrestlemania 40 weekend. Drew finally found his character and that should pay the WWE dividends for years to come.


Do you have predictions for WWE Backlash France?

Y’all know how much I enjoy making predictions…

• Randy Orton/Kevin Owens vs. Bloodline – I could see Jacob Fatu interfering here, but I could also see Orton/Owens winning here and then Fatu debuts during the rematch held on Smackdown.

• Kabuki Warriors vs. Bianca Belair & Jade Cargill – Bianca and Jade, all the way. They’ll win the titles, have a few successful defenses, and then break-up to begin feuding.

• Bayley vs. Tiffany Stratton vs. Naomi – Bayley retains. Just don’t see Naomi winning it, still paying some dues upon her return, and Tiffany is still too new.

• Damien Priest vs. Jey Uso – Probably Priest thanks to the Judgment Day, but I could see WWE boldly making Jey Uso a brief champion and then dropping it back to Priest.

• Cody Rhodes vs. AJ Styles – Cody should retain. AJ just lost at Wrestlemania, so why would he win the WWE Title?


What do you make of the reports of the Rock being late or difficult at work?

Remember this… When you’re on the mountain top and plenty of people are trying to climb that same mountain, you’ll have a target on you. Rock is a major movie star and celebrity. When you’re that big and surrounded by an entourage, some of the staff members on films may expect to get some time with the big star instead of just focusing on their jobs. If the Rock wouldn’t sign something or take a photo with someone on the set, they could get mad and leak stories, made-up or not, to the press.

For example, it’s hard for me to believe that the Rock was 6-8 hours late daily for a film and that cost them $50 million. If he’s not showing up for work timely, they can dock his pay like any other job. The Screen Actors Guild isn’t going to cover for someone being late to work… Then, that claim where he’d piss in bottles…

If Rock was truly that difficult to work with, why does he keep getting Hollywood jobs? Why would his former agents at Endeavor give him the opportunity to ruin their company as a $30 million paid Board Member?

Just gossip… As far as I know, TKO and WWE enjoyed him and Wrestlemania 40 lived up to its extreme hype.


Do you think Matt Hardy will return to the WWE to join the new Wyatt Family?

Is that why he returned to TNA?

The answer is no. The only person you’ve heard about Matt joining the Wyatt Family has been Matt himself. He’s floating that idea simply to make someone in the WWE think “yeah, that would be a great idea”.

With due respect to Matt and I’ve enjoyed him as a performer for over 25 years now, he’s 49 years old and with a lot of mileage on that body. Furthermore, he’s coming off of YEARS of praising AEW as the greatest thing ever while discounting his most recent experience with WWE. Now, AEW isn’t the best place to be? Working with Sammy Guevara probably changed his mind.

He returned to TNA under a night-by-night agreement, but is keeping himself open to another WWE run. I would be willing to bet that WWE would take Matt Hardy back if and only if he teams up with Jeff Hardy one last time.

And you know what would be a cool idea? Having the Hardys on NXT once it debuts on CW Network and letting them work with younger tag teams.


Thoughts on John Laurinaitis joining Vince McMahon to push back on Janel Grant (the accuser)?

Par for the course with Johnny Ace. That man will do anything Vince McMahon tells him to do. It’s very likely that Janel lacks evidence on John compared to what she may have on Vince, so hence the stooge can support his old pimp buddy. Quite interesting how their responses are alleging “false accusations” were made.

The funny thing to me is that Vince McMahon claims that Janel began leaking stories to the Wall Street Journal during April 2022, hence why he quit making NDA agreed settlement payments beyond the initial $1 million paid. Instead of getting legal involved, Vince wanted to keep this matter out of the court system and just stop paying her. Completely idiotic move by Vince, as her lawsuit filing would reveal said details anyway.

Stupidity all around, including Johnny boy now rejoining Vince after initially throwing Vince under the bus when the allegations initially arrived during January 2024.


Thoughts on Kenny Omega being attacked by the Bucks/Perry/Okada?

Kenny needs surgery, so why not capitalize on that with an injury angle. I’m 100% for that, although when considering a new Authority Figure, I would have been OK if Kenny Omega was that. From his streaming discussions, the guy appears to be intelligent and able to articulate points about wrestling. That, and he’s an EVP…

As for getting another Kenny vs. Okada match… While we appreciate their battles during the late 2010s, do we realize that both of these guys are older and we’ve already seen the best humanly possible match that they could do together? Can they start wrestling other wrestlers to have great matches, too? AEW lacks foresight to realize that it’s the build up to the match that draws, and not just having matches only.

This stable and storyline sucks so far, and there’s ZERO excuses for it drawing barely over 700,000. Nobody wants to watch the toxic Bucks, the immature Jack Perry who instigated a fight with Punk, or Okada being saddled with these goofs. The promise of more on-screen stuff by Tony Khan is just going to make this worse.

But hey, they get a GREAT 18-49 demographic, eh Brandon? That lovely 0.24 number they obtained from the 5/1 AEW Dynamite, which is around 300,000 viewers? OH BOY, how many advertisements can we sell with that MASSIVE number?

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