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“I Know What The Fans Want Better Than They Do”

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WWE Roman Reigns Fans

“I know what the fans want better than they do”
~ Inner Squared Circle

Have you ever heard this quote?

Hang on… here it is:

“I ALWAYS give the fans what they want! It’s just, sometimes, I know what the fans want even BETTER than they do.”

Does it sound familiar? This is a quote from Vince McMahon, and while I MAY be paraphrasing, the spirit of that message remains the same.

“I, Vince McMahon, know my audience sometimes better than they know themselves.”

Let me ask you a question – how does that make you feel?

Or better yet, WHAT does that make you feel?

Think about it for a second. Are you angry at him? Do you think he’s out of touch? Does it make you hope for the day he finally turns the reigns over to Triple H?

Here’s another interesting question – can you imagine a scenario in which he actually might be RIGHT?

Now I know what you might be thinking, “What do you mean, right? How can he POSSIBLY be right? That quote is the embodiment of everything that’s WRONG with the wrestling business! Here’s this guy thinking HE knows what’s best for ME! That doesn’t even make sense!”

I know! And I can agree with you in principal! … sometimes…

But again… what if he’s right?

This is a question that’s FASCINATED me for a very long time. Because in my opinion, love him or hate him, you don’t get to Vince McMahon’s level by being “wrong” very often. Does that make sense?

So here’s what I’ve been interested in… even if at the surface level, the average wrestling fan, or even better, the average independent professional wrestler doesn’t agree… what is Vince McMahon’s primary psychology, and what about it works?

Because like him or not, can we at least both agree that:

  • Vince McMahon, as a human being and as a company, has been INCREDIBLY successful?
  • In the United States, the WWE is the longest running, consistently highest producing wrestling company?
  • From a BUSINESS perspective, Vince McMahon and the WWE is the most successful wrestling/sports entertainment product on the market right now?

So what I’m asking you: Just for a moment, is to take emotion out of this. I’m not talking about your favorite flavor of wrestling. I’m talking about dollars and cents, consistently being on top, over the span of decades.

That makes sense right?

So when Vince McMahon says, “Sometimes, I know the audience better than they know themselves,” I know that at first glance, that can be a pretty polarizing statement. But my question is, “What’s his reasoning behind that statement, and what’s the kernel of truth in it?””

Now, I know people have their favorites–especially in this day and age with the internet. And that’s fine. And I used to be that way too! You know what I found though?

The only problem with that is, sometimes when you’re giving the fans EXACTLY what they want, the chase is the only thing that interests them.

Have you ever really really wanted something? And then you GOT IT! And you liked it… but then in like a week or two, you were like, “Eh, okay, is this it?”

Yeah! It’s kind of like that.

So sometimes when giving the fans EXACTLY what they SAY they want, interest for the company as a whole actually goes down on a massive scale. The fairy tale champion that the internet prefers sometimes – long term – isn’t good for the health of the company.

There’s an awesome quote from the TV Show, Westworld. Anthony Hopkins character goes, “Sometimes when you’re playing God, you must be familiar with the devil.”

In wrestling, I always took that to mean, “In order to give the fans what they really want, you need to also know what they DON’T want, so you can upset everything, only so you can heal it all again.”

I actually learned that the hard way while I was booking a wrestling television company out of Las Vegas. If I gave the fans what they wanted TOO MUCH, they’d actually get bored and I’d lose attendance and viewership. So I could only keep things in “Wrestling Utopia” for so long until I had to throw a monkey wrench in everything and have a villain win or make an unpopular choice to shake things up again.

You know what else is interesting? And it’s even more interesting to me to see all the comments and  how polarizing a guy like Roman Reigns is–where seemingly the entire internet hates him, yet Vince is still pushing him to the moon. “He’s force feeding Reigns!” “He thinks he knows better than us!”

I’m fascinated with Why.

Now, you might not agree with the way they BOOK Reigns. You might not agree with how they’re physically using him. And that’s okay since that’s all opinion based. But when you look up and down at the criteria of what makes a WWE star, and someone who you want to put in the ANCHOR position–Reigns meets WAY more of the qualifications than he misses.

Speaking of, “Sometimes I know what the fans want better than they do,” I’d like to point out this, as well.

Do you remember this?

The year before Vince got REALLY behind Reigns and went for his Mega Push, there was a Royal Rumble where everyone KNEW Batista was going to win. Remember that?

While the fans are booing Reigns NOW, back THEN they were booing Batista EVEN WORSE! Because they KNEW Batista was “Vince’s Chosen Guy.” The fan’s just wanted to boo anything that Vince wanted. They wanted anything BUT what Vince Wanted, because they preferred Daniel Bryan that year.

The Royal Rumble that year came down to Roman Reigns and Batista.

If you remember correctly, the fans were BOOING BATISTA OUT OF THE BUILDING! They were cheering for Reigns like CRAZY! They wanted anything OTHER than Batista! Because “Batista was chosen.”

As a matter of fact, I guarantee you, if Vince would have pulled an audible that year, and put Reigns over, Reigns would have gotten the reaction Vince INTENDED for the year later. And it would have been easier for the crowd to accept him and the push would have worked.

Why? Because the fans would have perceived “Reigns is OUR GUY.” See, it’s not the fact that Vince pushes someone or not. It’s the fact that the fans have to think of them as “THEIR guy.”

You know who else is Vince’s guy?

Braun Strowman.

The crowd LOVES HIM. He’s STILL “Chosen by Vince.” Who do you think is using him? He just doesn’t have the PERCEPTION of being Chosen by Vince.

Does that make sense?

So it’s actually NOT that you hate Roman Reigns. The fans just hate that Roman Reigns because they see him as Vince’s “pick.” As a matter of fact, when they thought Batista was Vince’s Guy, they preferred Reigns quite well actually.

But is being Vince’s “Pick” really a bad thing?

If I were Vince McMahon, and I knew John Cena’s time was limited as a full time performer, and AT THE TIME (When Reigns was Picked) had to look up and down my roster, I had to make an educated bet.

I had to bet on the racehorse that would do a few things for the company:

  • Be a recognizable mainstream celebrity
  • Be consistently dependable
  • Have a marketable look and size
  • Be able to carry the WWE banner and have the intangible “It Factor” that a WWE star has always represented
  • Bet on someone with a large upside

And most importantly–step up into that role convincingly NOW!

And then I have to look up and down the roster, and take my best educated guess. So you have to ask yourself, “Who can be the company’s ANCHOR for the next 5-10 years?”
And most importantly, as a BUSINESS OWNER, when you make an educated decision like that, you’ve GOT to get behind it. Wishy washy business owner’s aren’t successful.

Who do you go with?

Lets take a look at this – not from a WRESTLING perspective, but from a BUSINESS perspective.

Who is Roman Reigns?

  • Impressively Large but not freakishly gigantic.
  • Great spokesperson for the company and for children
  • Has a unique, exotic look that captures peoples attention
  • Has a family pedigree related to The Rock & the Samoans
  • Has been brought up IN THE WWE SYSTEM and doesn’t have a question of loyalty.
Reigns, whether the fans personally like it or not, for the LONG TERM HEALTH OF THE COMPANY, checks off more boxes than he leaves empty.
The company’s GOT to have a face.
And after all, is it really that bad?
People were 50/50 for most of Cena’s career too and it didn’t hinder his ability to draw massive audiences one bit. And now people LOVE Cena. Why? Because “Well, looking back at it, John Cena’s a star and he’s always been consistently good at a high level.”

That’s my take on it.

Anway, I’m looking forward to being a regular contributor to this site and getting to know everyone here and reading your comments!

Also, if you’re currently IN the business as a wrestler or something else, check out my FREE online community that supports wrestling talent create massive breakthroughs in your career! It’s at Facebook.com/Groups/InnerSquaredCircle, and you can check us out on Instagram @InnerSquaredCircle. It’s exclusively for people in the business, so as I’m sure you can understand, we screen the members before their accepted.

Otherwise, I’ll be back on here every Thursday!


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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Opinion

Building The NWO In 2018

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NWO Logo

On May 27, 1996, Scott Hall shocked the wrestling world when he waltzed into a WCW ring (during a match) and cut the promo that would change everything. Initially pitched as an “invasion” angle, Hall would later be joined by Kevin Nash as The Outsiders. When the “third man” was revealed, it was much bigger than Mabel, it was none other than the biggest star in the history of the business, Hulk Hogan. The NWO was born and wrestling was never the same again.

Eric Bischoff turned a fan question around to his Twitter following, asking who could be used to build a new NWO in 2018. Sounds like a great time to me!

In order to build a proper NWO, certain elements are needed, and in a certain order. So let’s start with the Scott Hall role.


The Initial Invader: Cody Rhodes

Scott Hall kicked off the angle, entering from the crowd and getting an immediate reaction. The Initial Invader needs to have a chip on his shoulder regarding WWE, and needs to be able to cut a scathing promo to get this over in 2018. The man for the job is none other than Cody Rhodes.

Cody Rhodes requested his release from WWE while working the Stardust gimmick. After a promising initial run, he realized he needed to leave and reinvent himself. Scott Hall initially left WCW under his Diamond Studd gimmick, gaining (then) WWF fame as Razor Ramon.

The first man needs to get the people talking, and no one is better for that than Cody Rhodes. Cody is hot, and he can set the world in fire as the Initial Invader.

Others considered: NONE.


The Back-Up/Muscle: Pentagon Jr

Kevin Nash made his WCW debut (as Kevin Nash, anyways) walking up to the commentary booth. He would go on to, at times, take the lead for the NWO. And he has absolutely zero similarities to Pentagon Jr. He, of course, gained his initial WWF fame as Diesel, former bodyguard to Shawn Michaels and eventual WWF Champion.

This is about building a 2018 NWO, and Pentagon Jr is perfect for this role. He’s an ass kicker, can be any type of enforcer needed, and he’s intimidating. He speaks better English than anyone ever gives him credit for, and we all know what he’s capable of in the ring.

Even in 1996, we had enough access online to easily make the connection from Scott Hall’s debut to Kevin Nash’s. Pentagon Jr would be more of a surprise, which is needed in 2018. He’s not a “former WWE talent” in the mold of Hall and Nash (or Rhodes), but he doesn’t need to be. In fact, it’s better that he’s not.

There’s one more reason to include Pentagon as the second guy: he’s OVER. Like crazy over. Like one of the Top 5 most over wrestlers in the entire world.

Others considered: Kenny Omega (too obvious), John Morrison, and Brian Cage.


The Third Man: John Cena

You can’t have the NWO without the third man, can you? Listening to 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff, you’ll learn that Sting and Hulk Hogan were under consideration to be the third man in the NWO. The modern day equivalent is basically Randy Orton and John Cena. In that time, Hogan was the obvious choice, and Cena is that here.

Randy Orton would be totally fine as the third man, but he’s just like Sting in the fact that if he’s the big reveal, it’s not being talked about 20 years later.

John Cena is the Modern Day Hulk Hogan. He would have to deal with the same issues as Hogan in turning heel: the kids, the families, Make-A-Wish, merchandise sales, etc. It’s not an easy call to completely turn your back on who made you.

But if this were to actually happen (and I don’t see it ever happening), it has to be Cena. There is no other performer that can turn and make such an impact as John Cena.

Others considered: Randy Orton, Kevin Owens, and Sasha Banks.


Expanding the Crew

The NWO didn’t stay at three members all that long. In total you had 45 members in WCW. You had tribes such as the Elite, the B-Team, Hollywood, Wolfpac, and 2000.

I’m not going THAT far, but we do have the chance to add some members that are of interest…

  • Kevin Owens  – the second turncoat (The Giant)
  • Shane McMahon – the office (Eric Bischoff)
  • The Young Bucks – the pest(s) (Syxx/X-Pac)
  • Andrade Almas – the mid-card guy (Buff Bagwell)
  • Zelina Vega – the manager (Elizabeth)
  • Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre (the later additions)
  • Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins (the “now this is too much” guys like when Sting and Lex Luger joined)

What do you think? Tweet @ChairshotGreg and @theCHAIRSHOTcom using the hashtag #UseYourHead to share your three founding members of what would be the 2018 NWO!


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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Opinion

Is Shinsuke Nakamura Right Where He Belongs In WWE?

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Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the top stars working in the pro wrestling business today. That’s due in large part of course to his proven track record in New Japan Pro Wrestling. But it’s also due to his time in WWE. But some fans are wondering where he stands today.

Nakamura is a born entertainer, there is no denying that. He has the ability to turn on his charisma at the push of a button and it may very well be that he never turns it off. Shinsuke looks and acts like a star because he is one. He has a full understanding of how to play the game and very few play it better than he does. So is he right where he belongs?

Many would argue he’s not and that’s understandable. He was so hot in New Japan that imagining him as anything any less was impossible when he left the company. He was the rockstar of New Japan and he embraced that role like no one before him ever had. It was logical to assume that his success would directly translate to WWE’s main stage.

Of course that assumption was perhaps not rooted in reality. WWE didn’t exactly have the best track record when it came to promoting Japanese Superstars. Then there was the fact that many independent talents were often encouraged to change their gimmicks upon arriving in Vince McMahon’s company. But there was reason to hope for the best.

This is not the same WWE that so many indie stars encountered in the past. This WWE embraced the independent scene and used that fact to its advantage. WWE does not force a guy to change who he is, merely for the sake of trying something new. In fact many Superstars are now extensions of their former selves. WWE allows them to bring what they have to the table so they can expand upon it.

It’s true that WWE’s treatment of Japanese talents has been less than stellar but Shinsuke Nakamura is an exceptionally gifted athlete. There was just no way that WWE, or any other company, could ever look at him and not see him for the star that he is. So if he’s allowed to be himself and if he’s given an opportunity to impress on the main event level, then what would stop him from excelling in WWE?

Shinsuke Nakamura came in like a star and that’s exactly how he was booked. WWE did right by him and much to everyone’s surprise, Shinsuke did get the red carpet treatment. He conquered NXT, just as many knew he would. But he also received an impressive amount of spotlight when he came to the main roster. 

Nakamura was presented as a respected athlete known around the world because that’s exactly what he is. The company knew what it had with him and any doubt as to WWE’s ability to properly book him was gone. This was the Shinsuke Nakamura that everyone wanted. He was the real deal.

But somewhere along the way, things began to go a bit south. Nakamura’s heel turn at WrestleMania 34 was shocking and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it was completely out of character for him. Yes, Nakamura had been a vicious heel in New Japan. He was fully capable of turning on anyone at any time and he would do it with a smile on his face. However, that was The King of Strong Style. 

This Nakamura is The Artist. His canvass is the WWE ring and his artwork is beyond compare. Shinsuke was popular because he was different. He was over because he was unique. His flair for the dramatic set him apart from everyone else and it made him a must-see WWE Superstar. He was indeed an attraction.

But the moment he turned on AJ Styles was the moment he put the WWE Championship above his art. Nakamura was no longer an exceptional character capable of wowing an audience of millions. Now he was just another heel with an agenda. What made him special was overshadowed by what made him typical. Shinsuke was just like everyone else. But is that really the case?

Nakamura has thrived in many respects since WrestleMania 34. He was able to use a different side of his personality and he learned to get over in different ways. Instead of using his crowd-pleasing character to make the fans smile, he now uses it to make them recoil in confusion. What’s wrong with him? Why does he act like this? What happened to the lovable guy we once knew?

Now his character is more enigmatic than ever before. Was The Artist persona merely just a mask he wore to fool everyone and now he’s finally showing the world his true self? Is he now Batman when he previously had everyone believing he was Bruce Wayne? Shinsuke Nakamura is fully immersing himself in this twisted version that WWE fans didn’t even know existed. But most importantly, he’s loving every minute of it.

There’s a reason why Shinsuke Nakamura is the United States champion. That belt could have landed on any number of SmackDown Live Superstars but it currently sits on Nakamura’s waist. Why? Because he can wear it like no one else can and because he’s a Japanese Superstar that came to WWE with dreams of doing great work on the worldwide stage. That’s exactly what he’s doing and he doesn’t need the main event in order to do it. 

Would fans love to see him as WWE champion? Yes. Could he wear that title and add value to it? Absolutely. Does he need it in order for fans to consider him successful? Absolutely not. Shinsuke Nakamura may not be the top guy and he may not be the face of WWE but he is an important piece of the presentation. But is that enough?

The fact is that Nakamura will probably leave WWE one day. He will likely return to New Japan and reclaim his throne as The King of Strong Style. But until then, fans have a chance to enjoy one of the most colorful and capable characters that WWE offers today. He may get a run at the top eventually. If he does, then everything that came before will merely be just another chapter in his story. With any luck, that story is far from over.


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Opinion

Who Is The Villain? Charlotte or Becky?

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Becky Lynch

One of the biggest stories coming out of SummerSlam was the complete disintegration of the friendship between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch after Flair seemingly stole the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Lynch when Lynch seemingly had the match won, but hitting Lynch with Natural Selection for the three count. A furious Lynch knocked out her former friend and left her in a heap. Now, the surface narrative has been Becky turning heel, but the WWE Universe hasn’t been cooperating with that narrative, preferring to cheer Becky as the hero of this tale and boo Charlotte as the villain. Are they right or is this another example of fans hijacking the narrative?

Heel!Becky. This is the WWE narrative: Becky was so outraged by Charlotte stealing her moment again, she turned on Charlotte and has repeatedly attacked her former friend from behind, which is certainly what a heel would do.

The pros of this has been Becky’s new attitude and her more ruthless approach in the ring. The way she turned was very heelish. To hug your best friend and congratulate her and then slap the taste out of her mouth and beat her up is extremely heelish…or it should be.

The problem is that Becky’s reaction is perfectly understandable. Pretty much everyone knows a Charlotte Flair, the favorite that always gets the breaks, whether or not they’ve really earned it. For Becky, who had worked so hard to earn that title shot, to have Charlotte basically get a shot just for showing up and then stealing the title from her, would’ve been hard to swallow, especially knowing that you had the match won and your ‘friend’ not only cost you the title but attacked you and pinned you to win that title.

Heel!Charlotte.  This is the fan narrative: Charlotte is the heel because she didn’t have to work nearly as hard as Becky to get that SummerSlam title shot, all she did was show up for work and win one match, while Becky had to beat every heel in the division. Charlotte also seems to have made the decision to attack and pin Becky rather than Carmella. That’s an extremely shitty thing to do to someone you consider a friend, especially knowing how hard that friend worked to get the opportunity you stole from her.

Charlotte doesn’t help her case by acting like an entitled princess who can’t understand why people  don’t get why she deserves to always be champion, even when she doesn’t. Her derision of Becky as ‘insecure’ and saying that Becky didn’t deserve the title because she didn’t win, even though Becky HAD the match won and basically derided and insulted the person she used to call a friend, shows a level of narcissism that’s just shy of being a serial killer. It shows that in Charlotte’s mind, it’s ALL about her and that she’s the only one who deserves to be champion and if you’re not going to cheer for her and support her, you’re nothing to her. This is a woman who will not tolerate her flaws being pointed out, even when she deserves to be called out. That’s not much of a babyface.

However, Charlotte’s reaction to Becky’s comments isn’t that uncommon with how other babyface champions have reacted to insults, justified or not. John Cena has been infamous for having similar reactions to being called out, and a lot of women would probably have had similar reactions during a fight with a good friend.

If there is a defense for Charlotte’s behavior, it may be that her path to WWE was SO different from Becky’s which makes it hard for her to understand why Becky was so upset, but at the same time, she doesn’t seem to really want to understand or care. To her, Becky is just jealous and insecure, not someone with a legitimate reason to be angry.

So, who is the real heel here? Well, in the words of Obi-Wan-Kenobi, it depends on your own point of view. Both women have a real claim to be the righteous party in this argument, but it’s pretty clear that, at least to most fans, Becky is the hero who struck back at teacher’s pet, Charlotte. It remains to be seen if WWE will get on board or stick with their chosen narrative.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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