MR. TITO: Where Are The “Adults in the Room” to Manage Professional Wrestling? (WWE, AEW)
I’m just LAUGHING at the CM Punk drama that continues in All Elite Wrestling right now and how adults are completely unable to get in a room together to hash things out. We’re talking MILLIONS of dollars to be potentially thrown away not just by CM Punk’s deal being wasted, but any possible match-ups that could have alluded to real life heat. AEW just created a miracle by filling Wembley Stadium yet those British fans may be completely disappointed by the lack of CM Punk on that show and possibly facing the Elite (Punk/FTR vs. Bucks/Omega is the ideal match-up to headline that show).
Meanwhile at Endeavor, they have incorporated World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) into a single corporate entity called “TKO“. Clever name, but also ironic provided that UFC President Dana White is on video slapping his wife at a sporting event. Where are the punishments for that public incident? Completely swept under the rug by Endeavor. Meanwhile, Endeavor has helped give the WWE’s management back to Vince McMahon per their acquisition as a “job for life” just after Vince McMahon was revealed to payout around $20 Million for sexual harassment/abuse claims made by several women over the past few decades along with recently settling a “rape” allegation made by a female referee over 3 decades ago.
My simple question is this: Where are the freakin’ adults at in the Pro Wrestling business? Hell, where are they in any business or government matter? Have you seen the economy lately? Have you seen how our government operates lately? What a bunch of dictators who always wants their way and have their own stooges, unable to collaborate, and makes decisions that harm the greater good for everyone.
If you log into your Peacock account for the WWE Network and watch the WWF vs. WCW Monday Night Wars from 1996-1999, you’ll notice that it took TEAMS of qualified people and adults to make both WCW successful through 1996 and the WWE returning to becoming successful through 1998.
On WCW’s side, you had a laser focused Eric Bischoff who made tough business decisions to make WCW actually profitable through 1994 or 1995. While Bischoff was working on the business and production side of things, he put together a creative team of wrestling veterans and retirees to support him there. Then, he stumbled on the best creative idea of all time, the New World Order (NWO) and for the second half of 1996, WCW dominated the WWE and that momentum carried into 1997 and through early 1998.
However, Eric Bischoff made a major mistake during November of 1996 when he joined the NWO as a personality. Instead of remaining behind the scenes to manage people, he opted to lower himself to his employees’ level and become “one of the guys”. Soon, he was hogging up television time and was seen often partying with the boys. By no longer appearing as the adult in the room, the wrestlers could easily manipulate and take advantage of him. A reasonable adult would have booked and enforced a better Starrcade 1997 show, but Bischoff was too busy keeping Hogan happy and focusing on his match with Larry Zybszko. That’s right, Eric WRESTLED on this show as if the ego couldn’t inflate any further. And he wrestled more during 1998 to emphasize that he’s “just one of the guys” instead of being a boss to fence in the talent. End result was that WCW began to decline during 1998 and Bischoff lost his job in 1999. WCW was dead by March 2001.
For WWE, believe it or not, but Vince McMahon always surrounded himself with wrestling veterans for advice, helping him with talent relations, and attending creative meetings through the late 1990s. Look at this superteam that he formed through 1997:
– Vince McMahon (himself)
– Pat Patterson (Creative, Agent)
– Gerald Brisco (Agent, Scouting)
– Jim Ross (Creative, Talent Relations)
– Jim Cornette (Creative, Agent, but eventually Talent Development)
– Vince Russo (Creative, eventually Creative Lead)
– Bruce Prichard (Various Roles, Creative Team member)
If you look below Vince on that list, all of those guys were veterans of the business whether the actually wrestled or they were DEEP into the backstage areas and operations of a past wrestling territory. The end result was a WWE that revamped its roster during 1996-1997 that could afford departures like Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Bret Hart. WWE made great talent and creative decisions that started to really bloom through 1997 so that by 1998, they were ready to burst onto the scene and began winning the Monday Night War again. Collectively, this team wrapped their arms around Stone Cold Steve Austin and created an environment to allow Mick Foley, Kane, the Undertaker, and others to thrive.
So what happened? WWE burned out Cornette (late 1997, but he began the OVW talent developmental system) and Russo (Fall of 1999). Jim Ross did a tremendous job, working with Cornette and Danny Davis, to stock and develop the Ohio Valley Wrestling territory. However, the growing corporate climate convinced Vince McMahon to replace Ross with John Laurinaitis unexpectedly during 2004. Developmental has eroded ever since, though Johnny Ace has created more Main Event stars, by a margin, compared to Triple H. Father Time caught up with Patterson and Brisco, but their roles were reduced during the early 2000s even when they were still capable of contributing. Bruce eventually left and joined TNA.
But what replaced all of that? Well, the WWE opted to begin pushing Triple H as a main eventer during 1999. He revamped his look, put on many pounds of additional muscle, but was failing to convince fans that he was “The Game” with completely awful promos. To save this Main Event push from falling into a Grand Canyon, especially with Steve Austin needing neck surgery, they created an angle where Triple H would marry Vince McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon. It did help Triple H’s perception and when combining that with HHH’s personal motivation to have great matches, it somewhat worked throughout 2000. However, by late 1999 and throughout 2000, the WWE houseshows began losing attendance and following Wrestlemania 16, viewership peaked as well. Triple H, nor the Rock, were as popular as Steve Austin (FACT!), but Triple H was now firmly locked into the main event scene.
The problem with Triple H as a main eventer during 2000 was that he began attending WWE production meetings, thanks to his real life relationship forming with Stephanie McMahon. Then, during pillow talk, Triple H could began discussing the WWE product with the eventual Creative Lead that was promoted during late 2000. Stephanie McMahon’s creative ideas kept Triple H completely dominant, as everyone remembers those AWFUL 2002-2003 RAW brand years, while also giving Triple H influence on how OTHER TALENT were assessed. Meanwhile, Stephanie opted to agree with the corporate influences around her and began to install FAILED Hollywood or Comedy writers to be on her Creative Team. This caused an EROSION of Attitude Era backstage hands and placed a lot of power into the hands of Stephanie McMahon, Kevin Dunn (producer), and eventually Triple H like a dictatorship instead of a larger collaborative effort that was once in place. Furthermore, Triple H and Stephanie are very guilty of wanting “Yes-Men” or to be politically correct, “Yes-Women” too. Ever notice how the Observer and Torch NEVER wrote negative stories about HHH or Stephanie in their Creative or Executive roles? Yep, the snitch culture built by them would root it out. Instead, lots of convenient “Vince is senile” stories instead.
WWE has been limping around ever since and should be grateful that the competition against them SUCKS… Seriously, if you want to talk about a LACK of ADULTS in the room, Dixie Carter for TNA… *Face Palm* Then, Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan join them through the early 2010s and just use the Carter money as their own personal ATM machine. They made things WORSE and proved that they learned NOTHING from the WCW experience. Ring of Honor could NEVER get their backstage act together and caused them to sellout to Sinclair. Then, Sinclair’s corporate stooges took over and helped bury that promotion after 10 years. The Indy scene is full of ECW wannabe clones who are just pushing immaturity across the nation with these hardcore matches that are causing not just legitimate harm to wrestlers, but DISCOURAGING real athletes from ever trying to become a valid wrestling prospect. WWE and AEW have to use this awful Indy scene as a feeder system for their rosters.
And then you get to Tony Khan and AEW. Complete clown show.
People often say that Vince McMahon was just “handed” the WWE business from his father. No, he actually raised money and took out loans to BUY it from his Dad. Big difference. But over a decade before Vince bought the WWE, Vince Sr. made Vince Jr. humble by making him work up the WWWF ladder with the smallest of jobs. The reason why Vince Jr. was so successful was because he learned the wrestling business and was humbled to make him hungry to succeed. Tony was given AEW as a playground for him to play after being fed with a silver spoon all of his life. Nothing was earned by Tony, which is causing him to lack any spine or balls to manage people in this promotion well.
Look what you have? Wrestlers doing high risk crap and hurting each other. Meanwhile, they can go on any show and openly talk about the backstage happenings of AEW. Hell, they can even do it when Tony is on screen with them!
This CM Punk situation is a complete JOKE. While the WWE mishandled him (hey, Triple H did that!), at the very least, Punk DID NOT publicly attack Vince McMahon or any other WWE officials while under WWE contract. He only spoke out MONTHS after the WWE terminated his contract during November 2014 (Colt Cabana’s Podcast) and the WWE, not willing to take badmouthing of their medical doctors, encouraged its medical personnel to sue CM Punk and Colt Cabana for slander. So what can CM Punk do in AEW? He’s allowed to do a shoot promo on Adam “Hangman” Page and then completely rip the AEW company with vulgarity, with Tony present, following the AEW All Out 2022 event at the media scrum. Since then, Punk has been under contract and collecting millions while Tony is still fumbling the ball on handling that situation.
But what caused CM Punk to go nuclear is hilarious… Tony foolishly made current pro wrestlers as his Executive Vice Presidents (EVP) of AEW. HUGE mistake made during early 2019 when setting this company up, as Omega/Cody/Bucks did nothing but make Creative blunder after Creative blunder while making the WORST decisions on talent that Tony is still dealing with to this day. The maturity of the EVPs, however, was never called into question as they did stupid things like the Nightmare Collective, the Dark Order, the AWFUL Women’s Division, the “Exploding Ring”, and the awful highly planned matches put on by the Bucks. I’m still waiting for those 5-6 star matches that Kenny is hyped to have delivered for New Japan to also be in AEW.
The EVPs FAILED to provide Tony Khan with a good supporting cast to help him with production, talent, agenting matches, and creative. Instead, he hired current wrestlers who only want to benefit themselves and their friends, while having ZERO managerial experience or experience dealing with people. Add a highly paid CM Punk, who is also older and jaded thanks to his WWE experience dealing with THAT system, and it explodes. The EVPs were jealous of the success and numbers Punk brought to AEW, so they worked to sabotage him. Thanks to Adam “Hangman” Page being a stooge of the Elite, he was convinced to go unscripted on a promo to taunt CM Punk about Colt Cabana. Punk and Cabana had a falling out after the WWE physician lawsuit and the Bucks & stooges were spreading lies to many dirtsheets who’d agree to publish their lies. Page took it to television and everything exploded after that.
It’s very likely that CM Punk brought this Page promo to the attention of Tony Khan. Tony did nothing to punish Page or reprimand the EVPs who likely put their stooge in harm’s way. Thus, CM Punk returned from his injury and went unscripted on Adam Page during the Dynamite promo. Again, Tony did nothing about this situation, not punishing Page nor did he reprimand CM Punk for going off script. If you give someone an inch, they’ll take a mile. Punk had enough of the “children” in AEW going unpunished, so he burnt the damn house down at AEW’s media scrum following All Out 2022. Why? Because Tony refused to punish Page for going off script and did nothing to the EVPs who put Page up to it, along with the Bucks continuing to feed lies to dirtsheets and other media outlets (which Tony confirmed at the All Out 2022 media scrum). What Tony proved, however, is that there are NO guardrails in AEW, so an angry and bitter CM Punk took advantage of the situation to punish the Bucks himself with words.
And then we had the backstage brawl after the media scrum in which the Bucks, Kenny Omega, and a pair of stooges reported entered Punk’s locker room for a confrontation. Punk was there with his dog and Ace Steel’s wife, and as one of the Bucks approached Punk instead of just keeping their distance, Punk threw a punch. And then Ace Steel enters the picture, pulls hair and bites Kenny Omega.
Again, where are the adults in AEW for both management and talent?
The ONLY person terminated from this incident was Ace Steel, who was actually defending his wife who was around that physical confrontation and she had a leg injury as well. The EVPs and the stooges were briefly suspended, but soon returned and the Elite immediately began mocking Punk and the backstage incident on screen. Meanwhile, Tony Khan responds to this EVP situation by elevating Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho for higher backstage positions in addition to them remaining wrestlers. Great, more current wrestlers with impaired judgment. Moxley slices and dices his forehead for every match, while Chris Jericho is the same guy attacking Hotels and Airlines on Social Media instead of simply picking up a phone and calling their management to remedy situations. Again, more lack of maturity within the AEW management positions to assess and assist a highly emotional and immature roster of talent.
Now, we have the current drama of the Saturday AEW show on TNT. Reportedly, Executives got the ball rolling on bringing CM Punk back due to their demands of wanting him featured on this Saturday show. Now, however, there are reports that CM Punk wasn’t exactly communicated about returning to AEW to be featured on this Saturday show and there is a conflict about Punk wanting Ace Steel to return. Remember, he was the ONLY person terminated from this whole incident. Furthermore, the “Elite Leakers” are pushing propaganda to the Observer Boys and other willing participants that the AEW locker room doesn’t want CM Punk to return. Oh yeah, that locker room filled with stooges brought in by the EVPs.
Funny how that works? You have these little dictatorships built into wrestling now, as everybody has to be beholden to Triple H in the WWE, kiss the ass of Vince McMahon or Kevin Dunn in the WWE, or Tony Khan/EVPs in AEW.
And just like Eric Bischoff during late 1996 through 1999, Tony Khan also parties with the boys. Instead of being the adult in the room and the manager of people, Tony has lowered himself to be an equal to the employees and exposes himself through partying with the talent that he is supposed to manage. While Triple H does NOT party with his talent, he only wants talent who will bend the knee to him. Hence why CM Punk and Daniel Bryan didn’t work out well with Triple H, as HHH always hated Punk (called him “skinny fat” at Production meetings, per Jim Ross confirming that) and was mad that Daniel Bryan got upset with Triple H following HHH calling off a match too early on RAW due to an apparent injury that Bryan sustained. Hence why Randy Orton was shoved down our throats for the rest of 2013 and why Orton vs. Batista was tried for Wrestlemania 30. Thankfully, the fans overwhelmingly changed the booking on that and Triple H ate a pin at Wrestlemania 30 against Bryan as well.
And then we have the wrestling fans, who are complete enablers. DEMAND BETTER of your wrestling promotions, guys. Complete enablers, you are… All 2 million of you for the WWE and 900,000 of you for AEW. Both companies KNOW that you are LOYAL TO A FAULT as a wrestling fan, and thus give you enough nostalgia to keep that younger wrestling fan inside you happy enough to fork over money for shows, networks, merchandise, and live events. Reason why the WWE can somehow survive a LOSS of 2 million fans from early 2015 through now is because they are ripping more money, per wrestling fan, than they could 10 years ago. You THINK that paying $9.99 is a great deal, but it’s just a Trojan Horse entering your home to keep you as a fan longer. What they want is for you to keep appearing to watch 3 hours of RAW on Monday and 2 hours of Smackdown on Friday. Thus, your loyalty is going to get them more Television Deals.
You are all still here after the CM Punk debacle in AEW, while you’re also still here after Cody Rhodes got screwed at Wrestlemania 39. Both AEW and WWE are playing hard off of your loyalty and know that you refuse to change your habits. Thus, they’ll exploit it and keep doing what they want for themselves and not for you.
There are NO adults in Pro Wrestling right now, and the crap starts at the top and flows right down to the talent and its loyal fans. Triple H and Vince McMahon have weaklings surrounding them as direct reports, while employing yes-men/women to agree with everything that Triple H and Vince McMahon want. There is no disagreement from anyone on Vince or Triple H’s awful wrestling takes or creative/talent decisions. Everybody just nods and remain happy when that payroll deposits twice a month. For AEW, Tony Khan is completely in over his head and has surrounded himself with current pro wrestlers who are incapable of managing a McDonald’s, let alone a roster of wrestlers. The show is barely hanging onto 850,000 viewers on a TBS network available to 75 million households during a prime time slot.
But but but but but but Wembley Stadium. Well, when you once-in-the-blue moon give England a Pay Per View slot, they’ll appreciate that and try it out. However, Tony Khan still has to execute having a well booked show. He could blow it in one night by doing his own fantasy booking or listening too much to the EVPs, Jericho, or Moxley like we’ve seen lately on the recent awful AEW Dynamite shows. And if there is no CM Punk on that show, kaboom! This could be a big disaster that could ruin future international opportunities for AEW if the show isn’t great.
And if AEW releases CM Punk, where would he go? Back to the WWE? Yeah right… Triple H hasn’t changed… He’s loyal to anyone who has flowed through that NXT system that he was overseeing, as he made each of them into bots to be forever grateful for his services and mentoring of them. Punk came from the indies, signed by John Laurinatitis, and arrived before the NXT promotion was created. Triple H buried Punk for years before they wrestled in 2011 where he buried him in a match. Punk quit the WWE before Triple H could do it to him again during 2014 and then like the reasonable adults that Vince McMahon and Triple H (then EVP of Talent Relations), they terminated CM Punk’s contract on his Wedding Day. That’s the kind of sick adults that we’re dealing with in the WWE and nothing has changed. Triple H re-hired many of his yes-men that Vince thought to terminate, as Vince finally realized that his doofus son-in-law was NOT the adult that his Talent Developmental System and Creative Teams needed during the early 2020s… So Vince brought back John Laurinaitis and Bruce Prichard to head-up those departments, respectively. *face palm* Only these NDA scandals for Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis has brought Triple H back.
There are NO adults in the room for Pro Wrestling right now, and haven’t been for over 20 years in the WWE. Furthermore, the Creative Teams lack REAL MEN to assess a product that can not only draw other REAL MEN to attend wrestling shows, but female fans too. There’s nothing appealing to either gender’s fantasies or desires to be an escape from reality. Women USED to enjoy wrestlers as sex symbols. Though Roman Reigns does have a good female following, the rest of the industry’s rosters lacks this kind of appeal. Male demographics have never been stronger within this decreased wrestling audience. Meanwhile, for men, the male wrestling fans get OFFENDED when Mandy Rose shows a few body parts when the likes of Sable, Torrie Wilson, Chyna, and others used to be featured in Playboy! Idiot male wrestling fans online AGREED that Mandy should have been terminated for displaying nudity but went nuclear when Zelina Vega wouldn’t give up her Twitch streaming account. THINK ABOUT THAT!
And the complete wimps in the WWE would rather care about what Mattel thinks than what YOU, the wrestling fans, may possibly want. Remember how good we had it with Jakks figures, as they pumped out toys without a care what was happening on Monday Night RAW? They were perfectly fine with the content back then, as everyone watching it now keeps saying “you can’t get away with that now”. Yeah, because the WWE management, its talent, and wrestling fans are afraid of offending everybody including themselves.
And GET OFF Social Media, wrestlers. Why Pro Wrestling succeeds is because there is a mystique over the talent who wrestles in the ring, as if they are “larger than life” characters that you cannot see on an everyday street. Now, they get on Social Media and tell everyone about their feelings… Worse yet, they expose the wrestling business repeatedly as being scripted and how to perform the moves. Meanwhile, they aren’t realizing how their exposure of their characters and their employer is going to reduce their paydays in the future. Social Media is for teenagers for complaining and keeping up with long-lost relatives when you get older. If you’re an adult and talking about your workplace on Social Media, you’re an IDIOT because it diminishes your work and makes a fool out of your employer.
Could you imagine if CM Punk was in the locker room during 1997 for the WWE? For one, NONE of those wrestlers would go off script for any in-ring promos. Two, CM Punk would act and say things accordingly for WWE press events. If he did anything out-of-line, like go off script, he’d be punished… You know, like Triple H following the Curtain Call incident during the Spring of 1996. Triple H came out and celebrated with the departing Scott Hall and Kevin Nash at Madison Square Garden in an unscripted and unplanned fashion to defy management. The entire WWE management group jumped down his throat because of this and HHH was inches away from being terminated. Instead, he was allowed to stay but was repeatedly putting other wrestlers over for the next year. His 1996 planned King of the Ring win was scrapped and given to none other than “Stone Cold” Steve Austin who cut the famous Austin 3:16 promo at that event.
Times are different now, though… You can either be a yes-man to Vince or Triple H in the WWE, always following their dictatorship lead… Or you can go to AEW to be led by complete goofs who allow their wrestlers to take dangerous high risk maneuvers or let their wrestlers shoot on each other during AEW events without punishment. You can only be terminated in AEW for MeToo sex scandals or protecting your wife backstage when EVPs are attacking your top superstar.
And it’s not just wrestling… Same thing with businesses and governments. Everyone either wants yes-men or they just lack the skills & abilities to be the adult in the room. Businesses are falling apart due to complete mismanagement, while our government has run up about $27 Trillion in Debt since the late 1990s with both parties wanting to get theirs while appointing nothing but yes-men to keep a politician on top instead of performing the will of the people. And then you have their followers becoming loyal to them, insomuch that they’ll go along with whatever corrupt party or leader wants (which includes breaking the law!).
What a shame… Years ago, I wrote a column during October 2020 on how 1998 was the PEAK of Pro Wrestling and Politics, which you can read by Clicking Here. Many of you thought that I was crazy or that I was a mad man when I wrote it… Well, almost 3 years later, wrestling has become worse and politics have actually worsened, as debt is higher, inflation is punishing us, and pro wrestling has sucked even more than it did just 3 years ago. If we didn’t have the Bloodline, wrestling would be embarrassingly awful.
Many logically thinking adults need to STEP UP and lead our country, businesses, and our government. Quit being obsessed with greed and money, while also creating opportunities to collaborate from within to present the best ideas and products to benefit all humanity. Furthermore, quit rewarding kiss asses and guys who have legitimately harmed women. The TKO company that represents WWE and UFC employs guys who either sexually harass/abuse or violently strike women. How can the rest of your WWE and UFC rosters act, accordingly, if their upper management can act that way and get away from it? Just like how can an older and bitter CM Punk act in a company that is run by children?
I know, the loyal WWE/AEW fanbase doesn’t want to read a column like this because it’s 100% the truth. But unlike that fanbase, I don’t contribute my time or money watching that crap any longer.
Peace out. Call me when the adults come back to put on a good wrestling product. And if they have any mature adult friends, send them over to business and government to straighten them out, too.
WWE is doomed, long-term, with Vince still in charge and Triple H around. WWE cannot grow with those two stubborn guys in place who refuse to collaborate with people who aren’t below them. Tony Khan refuses to surround himself with intelligent people and has current wrestlers doing things in their own best interests. Meanwhile, the entire Indy scene thinks that ECW was the greatest promotion and wants to keep pumping out backyard-like matches.
But don’t worry, many loyal fans in their late 30s, within their 40s/50s/60s fans cannot undo their loyalty to Pro Wrestling and will thus keep financially supporting wrestling. Meanwhile, TV Networks are desperate for content and will financially prop up wrestling because getting 800,000 or 2 million fans feels successful today.
The joke is on you, not me. We’ve lost the makers of rules and now we’re dealing with fools.