ASK TITO: WWE Wrestlemania & Hall of Fame Edition: HOF Review, Post WM 40 Plans, and Much More

The BEST DAMN pro wrestling columnist on the planet is back and you all know that to be true… I have returned with more awesome answers to the reader questions via social media, email, and comments below columns and for today, we’ll focus specifically on Wrestlemania based content. Wrestlemania 40 could be the biggest Wrestlemania of all time because the WWE roster is STACKED and the Main Events could create all-time great moments for wrestling fans.

I just need to say one thing… I’m exhausted, dudes… I’m actually hoping that the Rock goes off to film a movie or that Roman Reigns takes time off… May we have a few months off, because from late December until now, I’ve pumped out over 50 columns, most of which were actually during January and February were I was almost daily. We’ve had major, life-changing events occurring that are typically spread over years that were happening daily. Complete insanity, this wrestling has become and I’m 100% for it.

To me, Wrestlemania 40 is going to depend on how everything is executed or timed. I’m expecting that the Bloodline cheats during the Tag Match on Night #1 to cause “Bloodline Rules” for Night #2 of Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns. There, Cody is going to take a whooping until either (a) Rock accidentally hits Roman and/or (b) we get an Avengers-style babyface rush of Steve Austin, John Cena, and maybe even the Hulkster to fight off the Bloodline to allow Cody to win. Part (b) would be highly ironic, given how Cena/Austin/Hogan just praised the crap out of Roman Reigns for his A&E biography.

Usually a GREAT Wrestlemania needs the Midcard to give us at least 3-4 good to great matches, and then the Main Event has to crush it. The BEST Wrestlemania is #17 from 2001, as its midcard was LOADED and the Main Event was another great Rock vs. Austin encounter until that terrible heel turn. I always personally enjoyed Chris Jericho vs. William Regal, but then you get Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit, Chyna obliterating Ivory (needed to happen, based on the storyline), Shane vs. Vince was bonkers, TLC #3 was insane, gimmick battle royal was entertaining, and then Triple H vs. Undertaker was amazing. Then, you get to Austin vs. Rock. THAT is the BEST Wrestlemania.

Just looking at the Wrestlemania 40 card, here’s how I rate the matches before they happen:

• Cody Rhodes vs. Roman Reigns
• Rock/Roman vs. Cody/Seth
• Becky Lynch vs. Rhea Ripley

• Seth Rollins vs Drew McInyre
• Logan Paul vs. Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens
• AJ Styles vs. LA Knight
• Jimmy vs. Jey
• Sami Zayn vs. Gunther

Everything else.

Now, you could have a match like Iyo Sky vs. Bayley prove all of the haters wrong and outshine with their match. Always possible… I’m eyeballing that Rey Mysterio/Dragon Lee vs. Santos Escobar/Dominik Mysterio match being a surprise match-up. Who knows what will happen with Jade Cargill in that 6 female match?

And I could see Seth vs. Drew being fantastic, and who knows what may happen with that Money in the Bank cash-in. I really think AJ Styles is going to unleash and give us a huge match with LA Knight. Logan Paul is always entertaining and the Jimmy/Jey match is their time to shine. I figure Sami Zayn will go all out for his match with Gunther.

What WWE wrestlers need to realize that THIS IS THE TIME to bring your A-game. Last year, Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair didn’t get the Main Event spot on Night #1, but they more than made up for it by putting up a “Match of the Year” candidate.

On to your questions.


ASK TITO: Your Questions, My Answers

What are your thoughts on the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony?

I got legit emotional watching it… Not going to lie one bit.

One would think that having Paul Heyman up first, it would have caused the rest of the ceremony to feel down… After all, Heyman is the #1 marquee name of the group, besides Muhammad Ali of course, yet the rest of the ceremony was great.

Obviously, Paul Heyman was GREAT. But before he spoke, Roman Reigns introduces him and just has amazing genuine words to say about the wiseman. I can just hear the confidence and personality in the words that Roman now says, and that’s from that Heyman influence. Loved Heyman putting over his kids, but the really moving moment was Paul putting over another Paul named Triple H. The thing I really like about Triple H doing media appearances and appearing at WWE events is that the fans adore Triple H now. Many have had criticisms of his past work BEFORE 2020, but like Triple H has matured as a professional, fans have matured their opinions on him. Heyman put HHH over huge and the crowd did as well.

Did you notice how emotional Stephanie was not just for the HHH love and also the Heyman note about her (hoping his daughter would be half as great as Stephanie is), but throughout all of the speeches. She was happy to be HOME for the first time since she resigned from the WWE during early 2023. Stephanie has been through a lot for the past 3 years as her dad’s stuff was bubbling up, but regardless of your opinion about her prior work, she cared about her family’s company.

Heyman’s speech was so good and I could have listened to him for HOURS speaking… So humble, speaking fondly about how he wished his Mom and Dad were there but then he turned around the microphone to look at Cody and said “I wished Dusty was here to see this”, as Dusty was a major influence on his early career. Then, he kicked into ECW Paul and just an amazing speech about how Heyman has been repeatedly cancelled and yet he only returns stronger each time. That was such a strong message because as I’ll agree with Virtue, Paul Heyman is one of the few people on this planet who could fix AEW and make it truly competitive with WWE. WWE is going to repeatedly give Heyman his flowers, moving forward, because they don’t want him going anywhere else.

So many great things said by Heyman… WATCH THIS SPEECH, as it’s among one of the best promos cut on the history of this earth.

How do you follow that?

Well, Bull Nakano and I enjoyed her speech. Holy cow, she is so beautiful with age and she did great by speaking English, as 30 years ago when she was in the WWE, she couldn’t speak a lick of English.

While I love me some Muhammad Ali, it was peculiar to me to have a boxer honored in the middle of a wrestling hall of fame… Intersting to see the Undertaker introduce him before Lonnie Ali, Muhammad’s wife, made a speech. I did like how Lonnie tied Ali’s career to the pro wreslting business, particularly putting over the Rock with the awarded title. How about that? Lonnie Ali kind of saved that segment and made it fit instead of it just being a random celebrity into the Hall (though Ali was at Wrestlemania 1).

Loved seeing Mike Rotunda’s kids introducing Mike Rotunda and Barry Windham. I love those 2 guys from late 1980s Mid-Atlantic NWA (which became WCW). Good stories and am grateful for both of those guys to get their flowers because both are severely underrated. Very emotional with the Bray Wyatt.

Before this Hall of Fame, I didn’t not really know Thunderbolt Patterson… When he was announced, I was like “who?”, so I did some research and watched some videos. I briefly remember him from a few appearances with WCW back in the day. I enjoyed his speech, considering the man is 82 going on 83… He’s a wise old man and had lots of words of wisdom to provide. I enjoyed it and am grateful for the WWE Hall of Induction to get to learn more about him.

Lia Maivia was the MAIN EVENT of the Hall of Fame, and it was essentially Rock telling her story and then cutting a promo on Cody Rhodes. Rock was brief, realizing that this show was going on for 3 hours after 2 hours of Smackdown.

I was fine with the Hall of Fame, as I tend to be a night owl, especially on the weekends…

GO WATCH the Paul Heyman speech, is all I need to say. We’re so lucky to have Paul Heyman in our lives and the WWE is especially lucky to have him in the promotion right now. Furthermore, Rock/Roman will be LUCKY to have Heyman influencing their tag match on Night #1. Heyman will likely get creative and help mask Rock’s age and ring rust, much as he did for Bill Goldberg wrestling Brock Lesnar.


If Rock and Roman Reigns both take time off after Wrestlemania, what direction does the Smackdown roster go?

The Draft. It’s definitely coming after Wrestlemania 40, I predict, and the rosters will be reshuffled. Cody will remain on Smackdown, but I figure that RAW will start getting a little more padding as the television contracts get closer to expiring.

As for who will wrestle Cody, assuming he is still champion… I just don’t see a feud with the Rock after Wrestlemania, as I see Rock feuding with Roman instead once they split up after Wrestlemania. Being honest with all of you, I don’t see Cody having a lengthy reign and could see him feuding with someone like AJ Styles or something like that.

But WWE is going to shift priority to RAW here soon, with the FOX contract expiring and Smackdown becoming an immediate B-Show while on Friday Nights on the lesser seen USA Network.

What would I do, if I were booking WWE? If I could get Rock vs. Cody after Wrestlemania, that’s where it should go. If not, see if John Cena vs. Cody Rhodes is a possibility instead and possibly turn Cena heel in the process as he lusts after getting that 17th World Title.


What is the BEST Wrestlemania match of all time?

Easy answer and should be the ONLY answer: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin – Wrestlemania 13

Yes, I understand that Wrestlemania 13 isn’t the best Wrestlemania of all time… This match was groundbreaking and perfectly set the WWE table up for growth for the rest of 1997 and then onward. It was a well worked match, but they slowly were building Bret to turn heel and Austin to switch as babyface. Perfectly executed, as the fans wanted to cheer Austin and boo Bret, and the WWE gave them exactly what they wanted. That ending with Austin passing out due to the loss of blood was done perfectly and that image of Austin howling in pain with a bloody head is legendary.

Nothing better…

Honorable mentions would be Kurt Angle vs. HBK (WM 21) and HBK vs. Undertaker (WM 25). I give more love to Rock vs. Austin from Wrestlemania 15 than most people.


Who is the MVP of Wrestlemania?

I have to go Hulk Hogan on this one… He was on the first 9 shows and I’d argue that at least 8 of them were purchased because of Hogan.

Michaels had the best matches, but he wasn’t the drawing force to the show like Austin was.

Undertaker obviously had the streak, but there’s a ton of bad matches within that streak. Maybe 50/50 on good matches versus bad.

I’ll tell you a sneaky GREAT Wrestlemania performer and that has been Triple H. That guy has lots of great matches under his belt and that doesn’t get mentioned. 3 huge battles with Undertaker, putting over Batista, putting over Cena, and easily, the best mixed tag match of all time with Ronda/Angle vs. HHH/Stephanie.

Hulkster is the MVP, though. He built Wrestlemania to be the biggest event and then later returned to build on that legacy starting at the EPIC Wrestlemania 18 match-up with the Rock. By the way, that match with Rock was freakin’ 22 years ago… Ya feeling old yet?

Roman Reigns needs to pile on more great Wrestlemania matches to start getting into the argument. His 2010s matches weren’t that good, but his 2020s matches have been. Let him build up that 2020s resume and we’ll have a better argument about who the MVP is…

Hard to ever top when the Mega Powers collide, or when you’re facing Andre the Giant…


Which is the WORST Wrestlemania?

Seriously, Wrestlemania 9. That event just didn’t work. WWE lost all of their momentum after Wrestlemania 8 and the roster was different. Being outside just felt way different than previous events, so the match lacked energy. Then, you give the crowd Giant Gonzalez vs. the Undertaker and yeah…

Honestly for me, the Main Event of Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart and then the quick Hulk Hogan switch doesn’t offend me that much. Most of the midcard does with it being very subpar and lacking any real energy.


What do you feel is the most overrated Wrestlemania match?

Wrestlemania 12’s Iron Man match between Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels. That match is very overrated and ridiculous that they couldn’t at least score 1 fall each before hitting overtime. This match gets too much praise, whereas I remember everyone in the room watching this PPV was completely bored out of their minds. Watched it several more times after that, just doesn’t excite me as future Iron Man matches have.

I also don’t rate Wrestlemania 17’s Austin vs. Rock match as being as great as the Wrestlemania 15 Austin vs. Rock match. I don’t hold the WM 17 match in high regard, but maybe I’m overrating the WM 15 match-up?

I always thought that both Rock vs. Cena matches didn’t live up to the hype, in terms of match quality. Rock had ring rust for both, which I hope someone like a Paul Heyman accounts for when preparing this tag match match for everyone on WM 40.


What do you feel is the most underrated Wrestlemania match?

Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels was good and never gets any love because it didn’t main event the show (Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor did). Both guys were in their prime and Nash works extremely well with Michaels, as he sold a ton of stuff himself as an agile big man.

I also think that Triple H’s 3 matches against the Undertaker don’t get the love that they should. WM 17, WM 27, and WM 28, all equally great matches.


Should Wrestlemania remain a 2-day event?

Oh hell yes! To me, this a world of difference… Rather than a LONG night of 14-15 matches that wear you down, 2 nights of 7 matches each feels so convenient. Plus, it seems to enhance quality because each night’s wrestlers try to compete with each other.

Plus, the added benefit of multiple Main Events of Wrestlemania. Yes, I know that Night #2 matters more, but Night #1’s Main Event has felt equally special lately.

Now, as long as WWE has this strong demand for this show, it should remain a 2-day show. If business declines, they may want to rethink it… But if you can fill a stadium with 60,000 each night, go for it.


Why hasn’t (INSERT WRESTLER) been inducted into the Hall of Fame yet?

Doing the Hall of Fame ceremony is a two-way street… WWE has to want you in the Hall of Fame, while the wrestler inducted has to agree to play nice. Take last year, as there were lots of worries about Scott Steiner yet he came and played nice. Ditto about the worries in the past about Warrior or Bruno. Once things were smoothed out, both had great induction speeches.

Demolition is a prime example of who SHOULD get in, but might not ever based politics. Fact is that Ax was bitter about getting pushed out of Demolition and replaced by Crush, and then the WWE sued him for using the Ax gimmick elsewhere. Then, both Ax & Smash were on the concussion lawsuit against WWE.

It’s a political game and what WWE wants are wrestlers who won’t embarrass the company if they get on that hot mic. Hence why Sable hasn’t been inducted yet, and hence why Chyna wasn’t getting that shot when she was alive.

Someone like Bray Wyatt, I’m guessing it was too early, but I don’t know.

But trust me on this, these Hall of Fame inductions are highly negotiated and the inductees have to agree to fit within WWE’s parameters.


Will Vince McMahon get into the WWE Hall of Fame?

Yes – After his passing. Endeavor/TKO does not want an open mic for Vince McMahon. When Vince passes, I expect Stephanie and Triple H to induct him posthumously. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because of the WWE company that he built into this empire that Endeavor may have purchased before it truly peaked.

What Vince did is not what Chris Benoit did. No charges have ever been pressed on Vince, as those signing the NDAs realize that they could (a) press charges and (b) file civil suits against him. Nobody has pressed charges, so thus there is an admission of some foul play or some consensual stuff that happened. With the NDAs signed and nobody going to the authorities, we can only assume that it was a workplace policy issue that was heightened. Until we know the full details of what Vince did to these women, it’s not even in the ballpark of what Benoit did to his wife and child.

2 people don’t exist on this planet because of Chris Benoit, that’s why he’s not in the Hall of Fame or ever will be. Vince will get in unless he gets indicted and jailed for any past sexual behavior, but he’ll get in after he passes away. Not right now when the ink on that lawsuit is still too fresh.

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