What Makes a Champion?By Drowgoddess · · 2 Comments
A recent telephone conversation with my brother went like this:
Drowgoddess: Tyler Black? You mean ROH World Heavyweight Champion Tyler Black? He’s a good wrestler and all, but why would Vince sign him? He’s just not the sort that WWE even likes. He’s tall by indy standards, but he isn’t a big guy. He has never been known for talking, he’s actually pretty bad on the mic. He hasn’t got legions and legions of fans that will follow him everywhere, and even if he did, WWE disdains them. He’s a pro wrestler, not a sports entertainer. Why is Vince even looking at him, let alone signing him? Is it just because he’s the ROH champ, and Vince gets off on stealing another company’s champion? Seriously, why is Tyler Black being signed by WWE?
Drowgoddess’s Brother: Well, Vince really doesn’t have much of a choice. JR and Jim Cornette both kept saying for years that WWE really needed to focus on recruiting solid talent and actually positioning them to be future main eventers. It’s WWE, so they never really did, and now they’ve been caught with their pants down. Most of the main eventers they have are going to be done soon, whether they want to be or not. Who do they have to replace them? They’ve pushed some guys, yeah, but they really haven’t got anyone who has been presented to fans as a legit main event contender to guys like Orton and Cena. There’s a huge difference in pushing a guy and making him look like a true main eventer. Vince has to scramble to sign whoever he can now.
That last bit sparked a thought train. Whether you agree with the above statements or not, let’s look at the big main event WWE players now.
Edge: Has publicly stated that he wants to retire in two years or so, as well he should.
Chris Jericho: Has lots of non-wrestling options, and very well may decide to take them when his contract expires.
Undertaker: Does not have much left in the tank. Age gets us all in the end, and as iconic as The Dead Man is, he’ll be hanging up the boots sooner rather than later.
Kane: Has given the best mic work of his career, but he’s another one not getting any younger.
Triple H: Despite the fact that we all know that he will be doing what he wants in the ring for as long as he wants, the man recently had surgery and became a father for the third time. He’s in his 40s now, and even The Game’s body won’t last forever. He seems smart enough to get out while he’s on top.
Shawn Michaels: Retired, and rightly so.
Rey Mysterio: Is physically a shell of his former self. Sure, he’s hugely popular with kids and the Hispanic markets, but his battery is running out of juice.
The old guard just can’t realistically keep going forever. What will the new one look like? The next list covers “new” wrestlers who at some point in the recent past have gotten main event pushes, but for one reason or another, have simply not been presented as credible main eventers.
Sheamus: How and why Sheamus got in the main event scene doesn’t matter. He proved himself an absolute beast in the ring, and has gotten much better on the mic. “Fella” may be my new favorite catchphrase. He has also been one of the weakest champions ever. A guy who looks like Sheamus should not be the chickenshit heel. He doesn’t need to. Destroying guys like Jamie Noble was all well and good, but Sheamus needed victories that decisive over bigger-named stars. Clean victories over John Cena when Sheamus was first going for the World title would have made everything great. Apparently, that was not allowed. Why is Sheamus the only one visibly terrified of Nexus? The entire roster should react to Nexus as Sheamus did the other week when Wade Barrett told him that the truce was off. Sheamus has never looked credible as a main eventer, and it is not at all his fault.
Jack Swagger: His victory in the Money in the Bank match was completely out of nowhere. His run as champion was fantastic. He loses the title in a completely clean match against Rey Mysterio. Why? What good did that do? Supposedly, Rey wanted time off to deal with nagging injuries, and WWE essentially put the title on him so that he couldn’t have time off. Swagger was doing amazing work as the heel champ who knew how good he was, and proved in in the ring. His title run needed to be longer, with solid wins over bigger names, before a clean loss. Swagger was basically kicked back to square one.
CM Punk: We’ve all had this discussion before. Punk comes off a white-hot feud with Jeff Hardy, forcing one of the most popular stars in the business out of the company and holding on to the title. Then, out of nowhere and for no real reason, Undertaker shows up, makes Punk his bitch, and takes the title with no trouble. Had this feud been drawn out over a longer time period, it may have worked out well, but Punk lost the title on the second match. Ever since then, he has been nothing. Oh, but the Straight Edge Society is great, I hear you cry. Yes. Yes, it should be. The SES should be doing what Nexus is doing, and be in that position. Punk was the single most hated man on the WWE roster. Orton and Jericho and Edge get all the credit from most wrestling websites for being the greatest heels in the company, but they were never as reviled and despised as Punk. Had Punk been the guy leading the group trying to take over the company, awesomene3ss could have ensued. Instead, no one buys CM Punk as a legit main eventer.
MVP: His stop-start push killed any momentum that he had. While the original MVP persona was a complete heel, the babyface version could still have been something, as his popularity is tremendous.
Drew McIntyre: Little on this list is more outrageous than the destruction of Drew McIntyre’s push. The guy has everything: a great look, decent-to-good talking skills, an absolutely brutal moveset, and a sly ring psychology that no one else employs. That he was personally signed by Vince McMahon was great. That he referred to himself as “the Chosen One” and “Your future World Heavyweight Champion” was great. What was NOT at all great was when a monster like McIntyre was completely neutered by having Vince steal his heat. When McIntyre started going to Vince to get his match losses overturned, that was bad. When McIntyre started bringing notes from Vince to force Teddy Long to do his bidding (insert your own “Welcome Back Kotter” joke here), that was bad. Instead of letting McIntyre be a monster heel main eventer on his own and get his own heat by destroying popular babyfaces (a method which usually works very well), Vince decided that he wanted to be the real bad guy. People weren’t booing McIntyre for being a horrible person. They were booing Vince for helping McIntyre break the rules. What was the payoff here supposed to be? If McIntyre had been left alone, he would have been fine. Now, he’s viewed as nothing more than a Vince proxy.
Kofi Kingston: Kofi gets better all the time, but he won’t be allowed anywhere near the top title picture. The Intercontinental title is probably as high as he’ll climb. Much has been made of the idea that Vince needed a black babyface champion holding the second-highest title in the company in order to draw the black audience, and that may well be true. Kofi’s feud with Randy Orton, which should have rocketed him to main event status, was cut short because Orton had another tantrum about someone not him ruining a match by being slightly out of position for the RKO, and Kofi was done. Kofi could have been a true contender, but Orton, and through him, Vince, have seen to it that he won’t be.
John Morrison: Oh, John Morrison, what has happened to you? He seemed on the cusp of main eventer status several times, but hasn’t gotten there yet. His persona is better suited to being a heel, but popularity is popularity. Morrison is another one on whom the ball seems to have been dropped for no real reason. He almost reaches the point where he could get some clean wins over big names and enter the world title picture, and then someone in power says, “Oh, never mind.”
Wade Barrett (and anyone else in Nexus): Nexus has been made to look like complete losers ever since the initial beatdown. Super Cena is in large part responsible for this. When seven guys can’t get a clean win over one, that helps nobody. When one guy mocks and belittles a group of seven guys with no fear of retaliation, that helps nobody. I personally wanted to see the Nexus beatdowns consist of all seven guys hitting their finishers on a victim, and generally more than stomping. The pathetic ways in which the Nexus won their singles matches in previous weeks did not help them look legit at all. Much like Sheamus, this group does not need to be portrayed as chickenshit heels. If they are that green that they can’t wrestle convincing clean wins over big names, then they never should have been on tv in the first place. No one respects Nexus now. Thanks, Cena.
Who does that leave? The Miz? Everything seems to be going well for him, but if he does the same thing that everybody else has done with cashing in the Money in the Bank title shot, he’s going to fall flat. Alberto Del Rio? He just came in, and it’s too soon to tell. Dolph Ziggler? Not with the Vickie Guerrero angle holding him back. Clearly, WWE needs to create new main eventers in whom fans can actually believe, and soon. I’m fairly certain that Tyler Black will not be one of them.
Thoughts? Opinions? Comments? Complaints? Death threats? Worshipful adoration? Let’s hear ’em!
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I enjoyed your analysis and article Drow. I am not sure I agree completely with all of it, however, as some of it is subjective. On the same token, you hit the nail on the head with the old guard…. with one exception. Chris Jericho. He may very well take another hiatus, and honestly expect him to. Jericho's current storyline is familiar to the one he had with Cena just prior his first departure (and coincidently in the fall as well).
As for the list of "new guys" or whatnot, I think you are fairly on spot as well. Although I don't think CM Punk's value is as diminished as you point out… he has achieved enough heat that he clearly does not need to be in the title picture to be over. That's where I see him. Punk is far from finished. There is some hope for some of the others in the list, but you're right, none are going to be positioned in the main event like the old timers anytime soon.
I don't know if this is necessarily a bad thing, or something to panic about as a fan. Without competition, the WWE has not found itself in desperation mode for a long time. The last time they were, they conceded creative control of the characters to a few guys, two of which went on to create the SCSA and Rock personas. If going downhill brings out the best in some of the new guys, perhaps this is just what the doctor ordered… even if the odds of that happening being slim in the year 2010.
You're wrong about Nexus, you're right about Sheamus. The WWE has actually got Sheamus and Miz with the exact opposite pushes to what they need and would work best for them. I buy CM Punk as a maind eventer. Drew McIntyre should be fired, he bring nothing to the table.