The Excellence in Column Writing is back to answer your questions here on the 4th of July. That’s right, I often pride myself in pumping out and posting a column on holidays for my many great readers. Usually for family holiday get togethers, everyone has a big meal or just completed opening presents, and are thus sitting around on couches or on chairs outside. In this modern era, everyone has a Smartphone and are scrolling around for something to catch their attention on a holiday. “Hey, a Mr. Tito column was just posted”… It’s just one of those things to do for your readers and captivate a wider audience. For years, I used to consistently write on Tuesday or Wednesday because that’s when most eyeballs were on wrestling websites and it established a schedule of when to expect my columns.
Anyway, I just have to laugh about my last column in which I reviewed AEW: Fight Forever. Once again, the clown marks labeled me as “Anti-AEW” over this simple video game review even though I have been HAMMERING the WWE for decades now, especially the last decade under Triple H’s rule (which I heavily disagree with, particularly on his talent choices). As I have also stated in other columns, Pro Wrestling, like politics, has become tribal. According to the idiotic Internet Wrestling Community, you cannot equally like (or in my case, hate) WWE or AEW. You must choose one! Wait a second, didn’t the Monday Night Wars cause massive growth in the business because wrestling fans loved BOTH WCW and WWE?
I gave Fight Forever a “C+” grade, primarily because of performance issues because the action wasn’t clean and glitched up too often. Yes, I played on the Nintendo Switch version, which did the WWE 2K18 game wrong, but other Third Party ports have performed quite well (NBA 2K series, Mortal Kombat 11, Fifa games, etc.). However, if you look at reviews of the Playstation 5, Meta Critic has an average score of 65 while the user scores are actually lower at 6.0 (assuming 60). Huh, imagine that… Critics and gamers are actually on the same page for the Playstation 5 review, while many of them are literally citing the SAME THING with performance issues on the Playstation 5 version. Yeah, your Nintendo hate is getting you no where on this.
BUT if you read my review, I stated heavily that if THQ applied some patches to clean up the performance issues, there exists a good foundation to be a solid wrestling game. It’s called reading, folks… Words become sentences, and sentences become paragraphs. Read my entire review, next time, and you’ll see the full context of what I said including how this game could improve, how I actually studied how others were playing the Playstation/Xbox versions, etc. Geesh.
Again, you cannot say anything about either the WWE or AEW without causing massive outrage. You guys belong to a Cult, just like many do in the political spectrum. It’s either your way (or the Cult’s way), or no way. Furthermore, you are too often seeking vindication for what you like and shaming people for how they think. However, my review is very consistently scored and assessed like many other’s online. Are you going to take the time and attack all of those critics and users, too? Be consistent, go for it!
The REAL FACT is that AEW fans know that this game isn’t groundbreaking, and their broken hearts are the reason why they are attacking me for this game review. You were expecting a game that either captured the chaos of an AEW show or something like a high-tech version of WWE No Mercy from the early 2000s. Instead, you received a hot mess because one of your heroes, Kenny Omega, isn’t a good project manager for a video game. Instead of focusing on quality control, Kenny repeatedly took the THQ into different directions by adding new match modes and trying to make them create Mario Party like mini-games. Seriously, have you seen those things? As I progressed further into the story mode, I uncovered more and I was laughing hard at what they tried.
Again, my review was highly consistent with reviews everywhere. AEW Fight Forever is NOT and I repeat NOT a good game in its current state. Fix performance issues, patch out glitches, and make the menu screens operate a bit faster (Create a Wrestler is brutal). Simple changes that a competent video game company could make.
As for me, I equally HATE both promotions, so don’t tread on me for being anti this, or anti that. Now that we know where I stand, onto your freakin’ questions.
ASK MR. TITO – Your Questions, My Snappy Answers
Do you think that Roman Reigns lost anything by losing in a tag match at WWE Money in the Bank 2023?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the Usos considered one of THE best tag teams of all time? They are high up there on many lists by now, correct? They just held both the RAW and Smackdown titles for long, long time, correct?
Also correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Roman have limited experience as a Tag Team wrestler throughout his career? Furthermore, he doesn’t have much experience or chemistry with Solo as a tag team partner, right?
And also correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Roman had issues when wrestling against an Uso brother? And don’t the Usos, by traveling with Roman, know his weaknesses more than anybody?
It’s a TAG MATCH, with different variables and allows for wrestlers to get rest on the outside. One-on-one is a different animal because there is no rest and thus either one of the Uso brothers have a lesser chance of defeating Roman. Are we not allowed to have any psychology supporting the Tag Team division? For years, many of you have BITCHED that the Tag Team division wasn’t credible, yet when the Usos score a win over a tag team consisting of the current World Champion, you are all complaining.
But I know why you are complaining… “But but but but what about Cody beating Roman”. As I’ve said repeatedly now and only few are now listening (hi Virtue), Cody is NOT ready to be the WWE World Champion. He’s still fresh on his goodwill of returning to the WWE last year, along with the heroic performance against Seth Rollins during their Hell in a Cell match. Without those 2 specific events, he’s just Cody Rhodes and a guy who wasn’t that spectacular in All Elite Wrestling (AEW). He has that “AEW stench” on him, still, and needs to kick it into an extra gear to be a true draw. You will NOT draw when your promos start with “so what would you like to talk about” or whatever. Wrestlers at the top need to be interesting, larger-than-life, and something above and beyond what normal human beings are. He’s not, as he was a midcarder in WWE previously and didn’t impress much (besides Double or Nothing 2019) in AEW. Those are just facts…
I know that many of you tribal AEW fans want to see an AEW founder in Cody capture the WWE World Title to justify your favorite AEW promotion… But it’s his AEW experience that is holding him back from capturing the WWE Title. So he wins the WWE World Title and then what? After he finally captures what Dusty couldn’t capture, what’s next? He’d wrestle the same old tired WWE roster. With Roman Reigns remaining as champion, look at how much the post-Wrestlemania business has grown because of his Bloodline drama. Smackdown is seriously pushing 3 million viewers right now. Anyone care to debate that? Do you think that Cody Rhodes, as WWE Champion, could push Smackdown to get near 3 million viewers? HELL NO HE COULDN’T and anyone would be a fool, or a complete mark, if they thought he could. Cody just isn’t a big draw… Great wrestler, but there are many great wrestlers who lack those intangibles to create mass appeal not just to retain loyal fans, but to pull in former or casual fans as well.
That’s the issue… Usos pinning Roman makes you worry that Cody’s potential win over Roman won’t be “special” anymore because the Usos pinned Roman in a freakin’ tag match. THAT is why there is “outrage”, but there shouldn’t be. Logical wrestling fans KNOW that the Usos are an all-time great tag team and would have the edge to steal a win from Roman. Now, we’ll get more Roman versus Usos greatness to enjoy throughout July which is usually a boring month for the WWE. Instead, they’ll keep up that march to 3 million viewers on a freakin’ Friday. Could you imagine if this was a regular weekday other than Friday? They’d probably be pushing 4 million.
What if AEW Rampage scores better viewership than AEW Collision?
Not a “what if”, as I believe it will happy. In the current landscape fo Pro Wrestling, watching weekly weekend wrestling shows just is no longer the norm. Yes, 30 years ago, we had WWE weekend shows on USA Network or syndication while WCW had their own morning and evening shows. Once all of the eggs were place into the Monday Night Wars and then WCW died, the weekends were only saved for Pay Per Views.
But I also think, as I stated in THIS COLUMN, that we have TOO MUCH wrestling right now and that will ultimately hurt AEW Collision’s attendance and viewership. AEW is demanding that you watch 2 hours on Wednesday and then 2 hours on late Friday, so how are they going to convince you to watch 2 more hours on a Saturday Night? That’s prime date night, along with Friday Night. How could AEW be so stupid to take those television times? Well, an additional $50 million was added to their deal, but spread that over 3 years, and it’s nothing. Additional hours of wrestling is just going to burn their fans out, which has already been proven by the 2nd week of Collision dropping 200,000 viewers already.
Here is my take on the AEW fanbase… I believe for AEW shows, there is a pool of 1.2 million that could, at maximum, watch AEW shows. 600,000 of that are loyal diehards of AEW who like the Elite and the chaotic style of the brand. If you’ll notice, for example, AEW Rampage does about 500,000 per week. The other half of that 1.2 million, which equates to 600,000 as well, are wrestling fans who want to watch more wrestling and are likely a mix of diehard wrestling fans, WWE loyalists, and some casual fans. When AEW Dynamite has a good show that was hyped in advance, maybe 400,000 of these folks will watch and Dynamite pushes 1 million in viewership. Bad shows or a string of bad shows causes maybe 200,000 of these fans to show up. Hence 800,000 Dynamite viewers.
This where I’ll get controversy, but I just don’t think this 2nd CM Punk run is going to perform well, especially on Saturday Nights. That 600,000 loyal AEW base, just described above, are willing to protest watching AEW Collision because of Punk attacking the company at the All In 2022 Media Scrum. Thus, the viewership of Collision may rely on the other 600,000 group mentioned above and many of them are exhausted by CM Punk, too. While I agree that the Elite, particularly the Young Bucks, are terrible influences backstage and should never be placed in charge to manage a kid’s Lemonaide Stand, let alone a wrestling company with many moving parts, what CM Punk did at the Media Scrum was awful and caused a lot of trust to be lost with him as a performer. Plus, now there is a pattern of behavior that seems to follow him from promotion to promotion.
Furthermore with Punk, besides being exhausted by the backstage drama, I just don’t think he’s as good of a performer as he once was. Not just in the ring, as being age 44 is older than 10 years ago during his prime working years with the WWE… But his promos are lacking in imagination, too. However, maybe it’s him being a bland babyface that is holding him back and flirting with a heel turn is the solution. Still, the backstage issues are weighing down his potential and I worry that if he’s truly happy about joining AEW (besides the money). He wouldn’t be back in AEW if it weren’t for that contract and it probably wasn’t worth another long legal fight to protect that money. Unless he can restore the faith and trust in him as a consistent worker who won’t suddenly disappear (or stay healthy too), I just don’t see him drawing for TNT on Saturday Nights.
Who is the best Pro Wrestler turned actor?
If you go by total box office earned, particularly when billed as the top star, it’s obviously the Rock. That said, he has quantity over quality. I honestly don’t have a go-to Dwayne Johnson film out there and I have many, many to choose from. Maybe “The Other Guys”, and he’s only there from the beginning.
For me, it’s Batista because he crushes it and shall be forever remembered as Drax for various Marvel films. Guardians of the Galaxy was highly successful and I believe Batista was a major part of it with his character. It’s a great ensemble, but I laughed hard at the many great lines that James Gunn could get him to say. “It won’t go over my head because I’ll catch it”, and onward. Then, Batista is a big part of the Infinity War movie and returns at the end for End Game, two of the top drawing movies ever. Granted, he again was a bit part, but he doesn’t earn lines or spots in those big movies without being very successful in Guardians.
Plus, Batista actually stands for something… When James Gunn was fired for vulgar Tweets of the past, Batista refused to be Drax for any more films unless Disney reversed course. I respect that move a whole lot, because Cancel Culture is not only stupid, but he stood up for a friend. I just don’t see that backbone with the Rock, who seems to be just maximizing any dollar he can earn. Fact is that the Rock is getting ripped hard right now for his recent box office issues, his NBC show getting cancelled, and the XFL losing lots of money on his watch. He’s over-exposed right now, whereas I think there is demand to see what Batista could do next.
But let’s give some credit to John Cena. For the past 10 years, he’s done well for himself. That Peacemaker series was soooooo good on HBO Max. On top of that, he’s actually hilarious in comedy films like Trainwreck and Blockers while adding some much needed spice to the Fast & Furious series. His different variations of characters are proving to me what a great WWE talent he once was and it makes me sad that maybe he stayed in Pro Wrestling for a few years too many. He’s 46 years old and probably has another good 5 years left of prime before everything starts to really hurt.
Rock wins this argument financially, but for quality purposes, give me Batista and John Cena. Quality always exceeds quantity for me.
Do you agree with Kevin Nash about LA Knight being a “Rock Ripoff”?
Considering the Rock was one of the biggest stars in the WWE and left a permanent impression there, yeah… I see the Rock influence there. So what? Aren’t most wrestlers over-confident and cocky? Wear expensive clothes, have nice haircuts, and wear shades? Isn’t that a stereotypical wrestler these days?
This stuff with Kevin Nash ISN’T the lead story… The lead story is how wrestling fans are channeling their anger about LA Knight not winning the Money in the Bank match through Kevin Nash’s comments. If Nash said this while LA Knight was wrestling in NXT, nobody would care. HOWEVER, because the WWE opted to have Damian Priest win the MITB briefcase, many WWE marks are using Kevin Nash’s comments to RAGE about the WWE’s decision.
THAT is the issue. For the past few weeks, we were hearing many online fans being upset at the possibility that Logan Paul could win the MITB briefcase. We heard that nonsense every single day… Then, and entirely different wrestler, other than Knight or Paul, wins the briefcase. Kevin Nash delivers his “Rock ripoff” comments and suddenly, there is nuclear heat on Kevin Nash. No, Nash is a patsy for where the real anger is truly directed and that’s on the WWE Creative Team for not awarding LA Knight the briefcase.
May I help inject some logic into this conversation? Which would you rather win, the Money in the Bank briefcase or a Royal Rumble match? History shows that winning the Royal Rumble match typically makes you a bigger star than these cheap MITB briefcase cash-ins. Now, the MITB briefcase could mean something if wrestlers, like Rob Van Dam in 2006, made their challenge weeks in advance of a match. Instead, all of these MITB briefcase winners cash-in after the World Champion has fought a hard and grueling match. The end result is that most MITB briefcase cash-ins don’t result in a new Main Eventer being made. CM Punk cashed in TWICE but he didn’t become a major star until he did it more organically during 2011, for example. I’ll understand your complaints about possibly not winning the Rumble, if the moment is truly right for LA Knight, but the MITB briefcase is a JOKE.
Weren’t we just ripping the WWE for having Austin Theory cash-in the MITB briefcase over the US Title last year? And so you want LA Knight to follow-up that crap?
Kevin Nash said stuff that most of us were already thinking… LA Knight has an obvious Rock influence, so what? I remember seeing handlebar mustaches on Superstar Billy Graham and Jesse Ventura, too, along with wearing bandanas. Did anybody complain? No, they said their prayers and took their vitamins.
My issue with LA Knight is that he’s NOT READY to assume a World Title contender role. He just returned to the LA Knight character after being a manager of models. Furthermore, he has too much “TNA/Impact stench” on him for me and needs more WWE scrubbing to establish himself more as a WWE asset. Plus, that Bray Wyatt feud was DAMAGING to his career. Have we forgot about that? The Mountain Dew Pitch Black match?!? That was seriously just a few months ago… He needs time to further build on his character while gaining more credibility through scoring many victories over the WWE roster. LA Knight is clearly not ready to be a WWE World Champion, so relax and let him continue to build momentum. If he’s more over by the Royal Rumble, then he can win that.
Online wrestling fans need to realize that the Money in the Bank briefcase SUCKS to win and history shows that winners of that briefcase aren’t made into stars. Edge and Rob Van Dam remain the best winners, because Edge should have been World Champion already and it fit his heel character to cash it in. Rob Van Dam challenged Cena weeks in advance and created the coolest “hometown advantage” ever seen in pro wrestling. Could y’all show me how it helped Jack Swagger, the Miz, Dolph Ziggler, and other underwhelming winners? LA Knight fans should REJOICE over him not winning that loser briefcase and be hopeful of winning the Royal Rumble instead.
However, I really don’t see LA Knight versus Roman Reigns ever happening on a big show… So count that Rumble win out and maybe look forward to Money in the Bank 2024! (LOL)
What are your thoughts on Shayna Baszler turning on Ronda Rousey?
I liked it, especially with the turn being totally unexpected for the Money in the Bank Pay Per View. Furthermore, we’re getting into the Swan Song period of Ronda Rousey, as her WWE contract reportedly expires after SummerSlam 2023. I have been reading reports of Rousey wanting to return to UFC and this sets up a great exit strategy to work across the company at Endeavor. Ronda can try UFC for a bit and after that, she can return to the WWE. WWE and UFC can work together to build up her brand.
The problem, though, is that nobody will cheer for Ronda and will actually root for the heel in this scenario, Shayna Baszler.
While Ronda made a great impression with wrestling fans during her mixed tag debut when teaming up with Kurt Angle to take on Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, it has been all downhill ever since. It’s easy to go against Stephanie McMahon, as it’s rare to see Steph “get hers”, but it’s harder to follow that up with other less-than-stellar performances to convince wrestling fans to cheer for for you. I really think that Ronda has been over-exposed in the WWE, as they are pushing the Roddy Piper stuff too hard, she has the Joan Jett expensive theme while others get table scrap themes, and Ronda’s in-ring ability hasn’t improved. Watch Lesnar work, as he was a fully trained wrestler, and then see Ronda. Ronda gets hurt repeatedly because she doesn’t know how to land right and lacks psychology because again, lack of training.
Now that she’s feuding with Baszler, a trusted friend, they can carefully put together a great match as a final send-off for Rousey. I’d recommend workshopping match ideas during houseshows or even behind the scenes in a ring somewhere before their big match. That way Ronda leaves in a thriller, does her UFC thing, and then wrestling fans will welcome Ronda back to the WWE with the Baszler vs. Rousey match fresh in their minds.
Have a great 4th of July, everyone! Let freedom ring…