Now What?By Drowgoddess · · 4 Comments
The Rock has returned to the WWE.
I jumped up from the couch and screamed, just like you did. Yes, you did. You know you did. Almost all pro wrestling fans can agree that the Rock’s appearance reminded us of why we were fans in the first place, shifted the drive down “the road to Wrestlemania” into high gear, and actually gave us a good reason to watch the show this year. Like several other writers on these here interwebs, however, once the euphoria died down, I realized that I have serious concerns about what will happen after the Rock finishes his business. The ending of this past Monday Night RAW was truly awesome. Now what?
The reaction to the Rock’s return was in an off-the-chart class by itself. No one else receives that sort of response. Instead of accepting this as the way of things, the question that we should all be asking is, why not? Fans know why not, even if they can’t quite put it into words. Vince McMahon and the WWE have almost gone out of their collective way NOT to make new stars that can rise to level of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock. Sure, new guys have been pushed. Alberto Del Rio has been glorious in every way. The Miz has been a great heel champion. Yes, the “Youth Movement” is very real. However, the powers that be seem absolutely intent on keeping the true main event level as some variation of John Cena, Randy Orton, and an HBK or Undertaker type of name. The idea that ANYONE, however electrifying and beloved he may be, can stroll into a WWE ring, deliver the exact same schtick that he was doing a decade ago, and STILL be far and away the best thing in the company should be cause for alarm amongst Vince McMahon and the powers that be about the current state of the business.
It won’t be. It should be.
Much like Stone Cold Steve Austin and HBK, the Rock is not and cannot be scripted. A team of television writers with (at best) no knowledge of or (at worst) disdain for the pro wrestling product could never in a hundred years have created what happened with the Rock at the end of RAW. Never. PG rating be damned, the Rock went full speed ahead, and the energy was palpable through the television set. No gay jokes. No poop jokes. No fat and ugly jokes. The Rock had the audience in the palms of his hands every minute, and worked a crowd like no one else. This is because the Rock was allowed to go out, do his own thing, and if he crashed and burned, then he would do better next time. He’s comfortable with his persona because it’s one that HE, not a team of television writers, created. It’s an aspect of his real-life personality cranked up to 20. Today’s talent is cast as characters that have already been designed by someone else, rather than allowing them the opportunity that the Rock took. If the Rock were entering the WWE today, he’d be crammed down our collective throats as the Rocky Maivia persona, then future endeavored when he didn’t get over. That’s terrible.
Main eventers are all about legitimacy. Do you believe that this man is or could be the top guy in the company? Can you accept the idea that he can beat anyone else on the roster at any given time? Giving the rub to a new guy is nice, but the bulk of creating a main eventer has to come from the guy himself. In so many cases, WWE has either not allowed potential main event superstars that opportunity, or have placed them in hopeless situations where success is not possible. As critical as I am of WWE for their narrow image of what talent should be, look like, and wrestle as, plenty of people currently on the roster could have been the “next big thing” if properly supported. Let’s look at specific missed opportunities.
Drew McIntyre: Few potential main eventers have been undermined like Drew McIntyre. He started out so well! The man is a fantastic physical specimen, his mic skills have improved each week, and his wrestling style is simultaneously insanely brutal and ruthlessly calculating. He was on a major roll. Then Vince got involved. Instead of allowing McIntyre to garner his own heel heat for his despicable actions against popular babyfaces, Vince stole the heat for himself by overturning any negative decision involving McIntyre. Without even being physically present, Vince ruined a hot act. What was this, “Welcome Back, Kotter?” I have a note, Mr. Kottah. By many accounts, McIntyre was originally slated to bury the Undertaker alive in that match, which would have been tremendous. Instead, the entire group of Nexus got to do it. Considering how the Nexus/Corre situation currently stands, was that really the best idea? Did that truly help anyone? Not really. A huge new main event superstar could have been created in Drew McIntyre, and now he’s reduced to pining for Kelly Kelly, Vince’s favorite Diva and the only one whom he believes to be marketable. Yay.
Kofi Kingston: Kofi has been hugely popular from the beginning, and while race may have been the primary reason for his original push, he has earned every bit of praise that he gets. Kofi seemed poised for greatness when he destroyed Randy Orton’s customized car, a gift from Orton’s then-stablemates in Legacy. A temper tantrum from Drama Queen Orton over one slightly out of position RKO completely derailed Kofi’s main event push, and he has yet to get it back. The decision to ignore Kofi’s obvious popularity leaves a huge amount of money on the table.
Wade Barrett: Make no mistake, Barrett has done quite well for himself this year. Moving him to the Corre after CM Punk stole Nexus from him set him back. Barrett being forced to stand on his own after leading Nexus would have been much more compelling. A true main eventer has to stand alone.
CM Punk: Punk himself has survived remarkably well, considering everything that has happened since his first main event title shot. He’s the sort who doesn’t NEED a title, but keeping him out of the title scene is shameful to the highest degree. Punk/Hardy was a brilliant World title feud. More please (obviously with someone else).
Kaval: That he no longer works for the company, and left almost immediately after winning Season 2 of NXT speaks volumes. WWE never even tried with Kaval. The idea that creative had nothing planned for him after NXT ended is pathetic. Even though the concept is insulting, Kaval could have taken the “perpetual underdog little guy” mantle from Rey Mysterio. Letting that level of talent walk away is inexcusable.
Sheamus: You’d never know that Sheamus had been a world champion. He came in as an absolute beast, and has gotten quite comfortable on the mic since then. He’s just been languishing, for no clear reason, since losing his title, and is plainly out of favor. He was pushed much more strongly when he was less good, if that makes sense.
John Morrison: He’s exciting to watch, but something is still missing. His rock star persona requires a level of mic skill that he just doesn’t have. The more aggressive, intense side that he has shown lately is a definite plus, but Morrison needs
Daniel Bryan: Now that he has finally been freed of the ridiculous Bella twins gimmick, perhaps there is salvation for Daniel Bryan. WWE sorely needs a Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit sort of technical wrestler, and the only other one that comes even close is Jack Swagger. Bryan could do great things for the E if they would just ALLOW him to go out and wrestle.
Jack Swagger: Speaking of Jack Swagger, what happened??? He goes from the sort of “out of nowhere” World title win that fans don’t see coming and talk about for years afterward to…nothing.
I want Wrestlemania to be special, a true thing of beauty for wrestling fans. Right now, it isn’t. It’s certainly not worth the price tag. Most of us don’t want to sit through Orton/Cena for the millionth time, and even HHH/Undertaker doesn’t sound like a show-stealing match. While all of the wrestlers mentioned may not be ready to headline Wrestlemania this year, all of them should definitely be being groomed to do so next year, and believably so. The appearance of the Rock essentially highlighted everything wrong with the current WWE product, and now it’s up to Vince to realize that and do something about it. Perhaps I should say take a step back, do absolutely nothing about it, and let “it” find itself. Loosen the reins, Vince. The gold mine you uncover will be worth it. Just ask the Rock.
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