ASK TITO: Triple H as EVP of Creative, Vince McMahon Prosecuted?, WWE Stock, Max Dupri, Ring of Honor, and SummerSlam 2022 Predictions
Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING brought to you exclusively from NoDQ.com and the Retirement Home. I keep getting asked questions whether I have “come out of retirement” or not. Let me count on one hand how many wrestling events that I’ve watched this year… Yep, still under one hand. For the year, I have only produced just 7 columns as seen by THIS LINK as you explore those columns, they are very specific about the McMahon Family DRAMA (Vince’s issues & retirement, Stephanie briefly leaving WWE), WWE2K 22 Review, and an Autograph signing that I attended with past wrestling legends. The only column that looks or feels like an older Mr. Tito column on NoDQ, which I would have produced at a 2 column per week clip, was my column about wrestlers getting political on social media.
So yeah, I’m “still retired”. 7 columns for the entire year of 2022. Compare that to producing 2 columns per week for most of 2021. This McMahon stuff is appealing to me and I feel that due to me covering the McMahon family since October 1998, I feel the need to speak on it to book end all that I have written. Make sense?
Today’s column is returning to the “ASK TITO” format and is just a SEQUEL to my LAST COLUMN on 7/23/2022 about Vince McMahon retiring. This column was not only my highest viewed column to date on NoDQ, but it was one of the highest drawing opinionated pieces posted on NoDQ from what I understand. THANK YOU for that and it goes to show you that the “old man still has it” but also that that CURRENT EVENT subject matter draws when you are a columnist. Vince RETIRING is arguably the biggest wrestling story to hit the fan besides the ground-shaking murders of Chris Benoit. Vince’s retirement could fundamentally change the wrestling business for the BETTER or for the WORSE. Time will tell wish way we are going.
Following my 7/23 column, I was FLOODED with emails to my email inbox from many of my loyal readers… Thus, I feel the need to answer those and place them in the classic “ASK TITO” format for mass consumption. Usually after a successful column, I’m always feeling compelled to do a follow-up…
Again – I’m not watching wrestling right now. Neither company does anything for me and it has only been WWE drama regarding the McMahons that has brought me to make a few columns for this year.
Onto your questions.
What are your thoughts on Triple H being promoted to EVP of Creative?
Let’s get to the underlying story, first. Bruce Prichard is no longer the “Director of Creative” or whatever his stupid title was and he’s no longer being in charge of creative for RAW, Smackdown, and NXT. In my opinion, that should have NEVER happened. Bruce is a good idea man BUT he’s not a lead writer. He’s a good member to have on the team, but not leading the team. In other words, he’s a good role player on an NBA Team who can get you a few buckets and plays per night but he’s not “driving the bus” as a top superstar would. If you look back on Bruce’s role on the Creative Team, he was just a team member and he came up with ideas such as Undertaker having a little brother named “Kane”.
That’s the more important part of the “Triple H becomes EVP of Creative” story, in my opinion, is that Bruce Prichard’s role has been REDUCED. That’s a win for the WWE because (a) Bruce cannot handle the workload of being lead writer and (b) that’s one less Vince McMahon loyalist in charge. If he remains on the team to pitch ideas in a comfortable fashion, as he’d draw from nearly 50 years experience in the wrestling business (started as a kid selling merchandise), that’s also a benefit.
Now, onto what you really clicked into this column for… Triple H becoming EVP of Creative. Same argument applies for the EVP of Talent Relations. Who are you going to hire in his place? You need someone who is willing to work the ridiculous WWE hours to serve in this role and Triple H, despite his heart condition, has shown the capacity for that dedication.
BUT, we have seen this story before. It is a FACT that Triple H was EVP of Creative from LATE 2013 through the Fall of 2019. That was officially his title (along with Live Events, Talent) from that period of time. You can give me all of the excuses of “Vince McMahon was in the way”, but I never heard those excuses when NON-WRESTLER Vince Russo was lead writer from 1997-1999 and Russo can point to most of that Attitude Era stuff as stuff that he wrote and prepared for Vince McMahon, even storylines he fought and won the argument on with Vinnie Mac. Triple H was a wallflower in those 2013-2019 and was lacking BALLS to speak up against his Father-in-Law who has made him very rich, gave him Stephanie, and is the Grandfather to his 3 daughters. Thus, when any of his NXT guys came up and got mowed down by Vince’s critical eye, Triple H stood back and did nothing. And why would he? Vince is family to him…
THAT is the real question that needs answered here… Is Triple H a better Creative guy WITHOUT Vince McMahon in place or was he always this complacent?
Everybody points to the NXT Takeovers from 2014 through 2018 as great events… And I’ll agree. But it is EASY to prepare for 4 big events per year than to write weekly television. The older NXT had 1 hour TAPED shows on WWE Network and the only time that you saw NXT talent on full display for shows above 1 hour was those Takeover events. The concept of “LESS IS MORE” really worked in NXT’s favor, as Triple H and the NXT wrestlers could save up their energy for the Takeover events and rehearse them in advance at the Performance Center. However, during the Fall of 2019, NXT went to a LIVE 2 hour wrestling show and it completely exposed that business model. Suddenly, the Creative was LOUSY and that was proven by the many losses against a bad and overhyped AEW product.
I know, I’m the anti-Triple H guy… No, I just look at FACTS. He was complacent as EVP of Talent relations during late 2013 through the Fall of 2019 because he didn’t want to challenge the Vince who made him a WWE star, millionaire, and a son-in-law while Triple H’s NXT success from 2014-2018 was likely due to the concept of “Less is More” by not getting over-exposed weekly with a 2 hour LIVE wrestling show. The awful Creative from 2013-2019 resulted RAW losing 2 million viewers while NXT on USA has been generally awful or dull from 2019-2022 (Triple H being Creative for most of that, besides last year’s 2.0 change).
Thus, I have legitimate worries… It’s all a matter if Triple H was just being a good Son-in-Law to Vince McMahon from 2013-2019 or not. That said, Vince McMahon LOVES to make money and if Triple H had good Creative ideas from 2013 to 2019, he’d use them. REMEMBER THIS… Triple H reportedly wanted Sheamus to win the 2012 Royal Rumble and HHH did so as a member of both the Creative Team and Production Team (Stephanie was still in charge then). How did that work out again? HHH was fully behind pushing Randy Orton during late 2013, when he became in charge, and having the Evolution Main Event for Wrestlemania 30. How did that work out again?
I’m just saying, I have legitimate worries about HHH being totally in charge of Creative based on the FACTS that have presented themselves.
And that’s not getting into how he’s rubbed many talent the wrong way. There’s a reason why Brock Lesnar only dealt with Vince McMahon directly and never dealt with Triple H as EVP of Talent Relations. There is some heat there and Brock remembers Triple H, the politician, from the 2000s. Obviously the CM Punk issues, as Triple H is a major component of Punk’s exit and Punk was critical of HHH in later years. As I’ve seen it, Triple H is loyal to the guys that HE signed or developed in NXT and not so much anyone else. However, Triple H wasn’t THAT loyal to his NXT call-ups during his 2013-2019 Creative Team leading, was he? Look at all of those NXT call-ups who failed with Creative upon them being called up. Many former NXT champions arrived and were immediately shredded DESPITE Triple H being “EVP of Creative”. Once again, there is that LACK of balls to stick up to Vince McMahon because again, Vince made him rich, gave him Stephanie, and is the grandfather to Triple H’s 3 daughters.
Triple H as EVP of Creative only works if (a) HHH isn’t afraid to upset Vince McMahon (who is still the #1 shareholder of WWE Stock) and (b) he places legitimate wrestling minds on the Creative Team with him. If Triple H leads the team and has Bruce Prichard AND Paul Heyman pitching ideas to him, while allowing both to help agent wrestlers and storylines… That could work. However, if Triple H is afraid of the WWE Corporate culture and lets the 50 writers, mostly consisting of people who don’t know the wrestling business, still exist and present garbage scripts… Then we are getting no where. And we’re really getting no where if Vince McMahon is still in charge from his couch at home.
In my view, Triple H has a lot to prove based on his prior role as “EVP of Creative” from 2013-2019, history being afraid to upset Vince McMahon, and his NXT product suddenly sucking when it went live for 2 hours on USA Network starting in 2019.
BUT – If he surrounds himself with good wrestling minds (Bruce Prichard & Paul Heyman as idea guys, for example, maybe add clique buddies Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman, and/or Shawn Michaels?) and if he just adds SIMPLE reforms to the WWE, it could work. As I addressed last week, if he makes TAG TEAM WRESTLING work again in the WWE, that’s a big win. In my view, NXT’s Tag Team Division was fun and if HHH can recapture that fun spirit, that’s a win for HHH. Women’s Division has AWFUL storylines and passes the Women’s Titles around like Vince does with paralegals. If Triple H just adds logic and heat to storylines, as he did with NXT especially from 2013-2017 with Women, that’s another win. The BIG PROBLEM with the WWE is that their MIDCARD really sucks and it gives you ZERO desire to endure 2-3 hours of RAW or Smackdown to see anything in the Main Event. Make Tag Wrestling, Women’s Wrestling, and the IC/US Titles worthwhile, and things will start being consistent with your viewership.
Definitely fix those US/IC Titles. The problem that I have with the last 15 years of wrestling is that WWE made their wrestling environment like socialism where everybody has an equal shot at the World Heavyweight Titles. NO, that’s NOT how Pro Wrestling works! You need to DESERVE to be World Champion through actual drawing ability. Only a select few guys should even be chasing that World Title, let alone winning it. THAT is why you have the US/IC Titles so that wrestlers who are NOT ready can practice for the bigtime by chasing those midcard titles. Guys like Macho Man Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, the Rock, Triple H, Randy Orton, and John Cena won those titles and it helped them prepare for the bigtime. They were solid guys, but not just ready for the top title just yet. Holding the US or IC Title helped groom them to eventually be World Champion.
AM I MAKING MYSELF CLEAR?!? Geesh… I present FACTS regarding my “Triple H to Creative” argument and I get attacked as an “anti-Triple H” guy. No, it’s from a bunch of 20 or 30 something year old marks who grew up with Triple H as their primary main eventer OR they are just too loyal to the McMahon family that they cannot hear logic or valid criticism.
It’s a FACT that Triple H was complacent as “EVP of Creative” from 2013-2019, he was afraid to challenge his Father-in-Law, and his NXT product got exposed when it became a live 2 hour show in 2019 (and got SPANKED by AEW).
BUT Triple H can prove me wrong by building the RIGHT Creative Team with the RIGHT PEOPLE on it, along with making very simple reforms to the Tag Team division, Women’s Wrestling, and making clear separations as to who wrestles for the World Title and who doesn’t (they’d chase the US/IC Titles). Also, consider incorporating WEIGHT CLASSES into the WWE, as it works really well for UFC and Boxing. That is why pushing Finn Balor always fails in the WWE because he’s barely 200 pounds soaking wet and doesn’t make sense for him to defeat someone who weighs 250 pounds and has a height advantage.
I figure that we’ll get a mix of the older Triple H with a few new ideas presented from what I just listed…
Without developing a BABYFACE Main Eventer, WWE will be stuck in limbo. WWE hasn’t been the same, in my opinion, since they destroyed John Cena at SummerSlam 2014. Since then, they kept overpushing Brock Lesnar and the babyface experiment of pushing Roman Reigns failed for 6 years since then. While Roman is doing better as a heel, they aren’t drawing with him as they should and that is due to Roman having a major lack of babyface dance partners. I hate to say it, but the WWE needs to find the “next John Cena” quickly in order to ever grow again. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of dudes who look similar to each other or lack personality.
Thus, if Triple H were to ever succeed, he needs to hire the right talent as EVP of Talent Relations and groom them correctly (problem with a weak Head Trainer in Matt Bloom at the Performance Center), while pushing them correctly on the WWE Roster as EVP of Creative. That is a very difficult task to accomplish and I just don’t see anyone from NXT 2.0 being that person. Now, we’ll have to see how Cody Rhodes‘s return from injury does while also seeing if any former Triple H signings, who have left the WWE and joined AEW, ever come back. If Triple H resigns Karrion Kross, removes his dark & brooding character and replaces it with something more flashy, and adds “smokeshow” Scarlett as his valet… You could get somewhere. Sasha Banks returning could be big, too, though I worry with this being her 2nd walkout, she may be damaged goods.
What are your WWE SummerSlam 2022 Predictions?
Didn’t I just mention that I’m barely watching the shows?
I’ll be quick with my predictions…
– Miz defeats Logan Paul (Maryse will nutshot him, Logan loses cheaply to build heat for the rematch and boost sympathy for Logan Paul as a babyface)
– Liv Morgan somehow defeats Ronda Rousey (maybe Ronda’s final match in WWE)
– Austin Theory defeats Bobby Lashley (smokescreen for what will happen later)
– Pat McAfee defeats Happy Corbin (Pat just signed a lucrative 3 year deal)
– Judgment Day defeats the Mysterios (Dominik turns on his daddy, big mistake in my opinion)
– Usos retain against the Street Profits
– Bianca Belair defeats Becky Lynch (done as fan service to avenge the SummerSlam 2021 match)
– Roman Reigns retains against Brock Lesnar (Austin Theory will either act like he’s cashing in or will cost Lesnar the match).
Again, I’m just totally guessing based on the wrestling news or results that I still read.
Should I buy or sell WWE Stock?
First and foremost, my financial opinions are for entertainment purposes only. Anyone acting upon these opinions are doing so at their own risk.
In my opinion, I recommend that most people stay away from WWE’s stock. Unless you are really good at buying low and selling high, Stocks are truly LONG-TERM investments. It’s something that you buy and possibly sell, at a higher price, MANY YEARS LATER. Buying stocks at what you think is a low price now and then selling a few weeks or months later at a higher price is a difficult task to do. You have to realize that major companies and financial institutions are running computer algorithms on daily news, trends, times of the year, political moves, and other current events that pretty much crush the human factor that once dominated the stock market and made many people rich.
WWE Stock is too reliant on Television Revenues right now with sagging Live Event and Merchandise revenue. Right now, the WWE is staring down the barrel of a gun with the FOX/Comcast TV deals expiring during 2024 (just 2 years away). On top of that, there exists uncertainty on how well the WWE could operate without Vince McMahon or if Vince McMahon has any other NDAs out there that we’re not aware of or other violations that could have entities like the Securities Exchange Commission poking around.
I’d just AVOID buying the WWE Stock, if I were you. There are better stocks to buy than the WWE Stock at $69.31. In my opinion, that’s probably TOO HIGH for a company that is worth $1.2 Billion in Assets and makes between $40-60 Million per quarter in profit that is very reliant on 1 specific revenue stream. Do the MATH, folks… From WWE’s 1st Quarter, they made $278 Million from “Media” or television and equates to 83% of the Company’s $333 Million revenue stream.
Don’t play with fire in the stock market… You’re competing against computers who dictate the prices of literally every stock. Right now for the WWE Stock, you’d have to determine if the current price of $69 (huh huh) is a low price and if the WWE will improve its Television Rights deal in the United States for 2024. And all of that depends if Nick Khan, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H can convince corporations like FOX, Comcast, or others to pony up those dollars. Keep in mind, too, that Cable/Satellite has lost even MORE viewers than they did since 2019.
Go look into other stocks… They are better for you, they make more money than the WWE stock would, and present much less long-term risk. And be careful on betting if the WWE gets sold or not. That doesn’t always boost the stock’s value and then you get into stock splits, etc.
Money could be well spent in other places, is what I’m attempting to say.
What are your thoughts on Ring of Honor’s recent events and champions?
I have none… Ring of Honor is an AEW entity now and just contributes to the idea that we have “too much wrestling” to follow. It’s just another thing spreading Tony Khan thin and that guy needs help to manage just the unorganized AEW product.
Then, you look at the ROH champions and see Cesaro, Mercedes Martinez, Samoa Joe, and FTR as champions there and wonder why they aren’t in AEW as champions or competing for those belts?
Seriously, as a wrestling fan and if you tried to follow EVERYTHING that the WWE and AEW presents, look what you have to follow:
– RAW Brand (3 hours)
– NXT Brand (2 hours)
– Smackdown Brand (2 hours)
– AEW Brand (4 hours between Dynamite & Rampage, plus YouTube show)
– Ring of Honor
GOOD GOD… And if you’re an Impact Wrestling and NWA fan, there is more time there. And I’m not including Pay Per Views or “Premium Live Events” into this equation.
AEW needs to refine its roster, as there is a severe lack of quality going on there while Tony needs to quit thinning himself out by pushing another wrestling brand. It’s not all fun and roses for the WWE by trying to push RAW and Smackdown as both draw 2 million or less viewers as individual shows.
Go back to my NXT argument with Triple H above. Why was NXT perceived as successful from 2014 to 2018? Because what mattered was the 4 Takeover shows and you could actually watch them without the very light 1 hour taped show on WWE Network. “LESS IS MORE”, Tony.
What is killing the WWE is that it is over-exposed and burns out its fanbase by TOO MUCH content.
What is your opinion of Max Dupri and the Maximum Male Models?
It’s a bad Vince McMahon idea that Triple H and his new Creative Team have agreed to carry out.
Yeah, Max Dupri SHOULD BE LA Knight… That’s a cool name and he had a cool look. THAT SAID, LA Knight/Max Dupri/Eli Drake was another one of those former TNA/Impact wrestlers that Triple H signed who were in their late 30s or early 40s. That was part of the problem with WHO Triple H was signing as EVP of Talent Relations from mid 2012 through early 2020. HHH signed smaller guys or older veterans from failed promotions.
Let’s not get our hopes up for the “return of LA Knight” because he’s a 39 year old guy with a TON of mileage on that body, as he has been performing since 2003 and those TNA/Impact years really the hurtings on him for the matches he wrestled back then.
If Triple H agrees to carry on with the Maximum Male Models while keeping LA Knight as “Max Dupri”, then it would be up to Triple H to present that group accordingly and then up to the talent that exist in that group to make the most out of that opportunity. Remember, people once thought that the Rock being added to the Nation of Domination was a bad idea, too, as if it were something the WWE settled on because Rocky Maivia was black. Look how bad of an idea “Bad News” Barrett was for Wade Barrett but then he 100% bought into it and made it a fun character. Hunter Hearst Helmsley is a TERRIBLE name but Triple H made it work with the character and kept evolving it.
Honestly, I don’t care… If you hire a former TNA/Impact wrestler in their late 30s, you know exactly what you’re getting. Someone around 6 foot tall with a ton of mileage on their body.
And by Triple H agreeing to carry on with this Creative, it is telling me that he might not really be in charge of it. Someone from their couch in Stamford, CT might still be calling the shots and being the #1 shareholder affords you that kind of power.
Do you think that Vince McMahon will be prosecuted for any crimes?
If Vince McMahon is prosecuted, at all, it would be due to something like Taxes… All of his actions were covered under the WWE Corporation and thus any penalties would likely go to that company instead of him. If WWE didn’t report expenses due to Vince McMahon’s issues, that’s the company’s problem with the Securities Exchange Commission. The NDAs were prepared and signed by WWE’s Legal department and agreed upon by the WWE employees.
As long as Vince McMahon has the right legal Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) in place and the female victims agreed to be paid a sum of money, he should avoid any legal trouble as long as any sexual relations were consential. Having an affair, though immoral, is NOT illegal. Unfortunately, people cheat on their spouses all the time and they aren’t getting arrested. Where Vince might have some problems was with the female wrestler that he harassed for sexual favors, but those actions weren’t followed through and she signed a NDA with a sum of money agreed upon by the parties.
Unless Vince McMahon screwed up BEYOND the workplace with his actions, I believe that he’ll be protected under the WWE Corporation and it shall be the WWE Corporation that will endure the true pain possibly by shareholders, Securities Exchange Commission, or maybe State/Federal Governments investigating a TOXIC environment. And THAT, my friends, is why Vince McMahon retired and why anyone associated with Vince’s bad behavior will be GONE from the WWE (hey, John Laurinaitis!). By ridding themselves of the bad actors, the WWE Corporation is showing “no tolerance” and moving in the right direction. WWE is displaying Organizational Chart changes and announcing the $15 million impairment charge for Vince’s past discretions on their next financials. WWE has “cleaned house” regarding this situation and that could be enough to keep feds away.
Unless Vince had bad behavior outside of the workplace, where he is protected especially with NDAs in place, he won’t be prosecuted or risk any jail time unless it somehow impairs how he reported his Taxes. Now, he could face additional lawsuits by other women, but unless it can be proven without a reasonable doubt that he did something illegal, he won’t be seeing any jail time. This is more of a corporate policy thing than a legal one and as far as we know, the affairs were consential and the harassment were just inquiries and not actions.
WTF? I’m a wrestling columnist and talking about this stuff in a wrestling context. What a messed up year 2022 is…
Back to the Retirement Home, I go!
By the way, some of you asked about me on Twitter. Since I retired, I moved it to “Private”. I just want to stay out of the Social Media game, as it is irritating and takes up too much time. For much as I enjoyed speaking with my loyal readers, it was also a pain dealing with the Trolls. Comment below for any feedback regarding this column or email me. That’s right, baby, because I’m an oldschool columnist, I’ll make you communicate with me using the older ways!