World Wrestling Entertainment, a multimillion dollar corporation that survives on fresh, new, and original content needs to better mortgage its future, rather than rely on its past for momentary glimpses of its former glory.
Professional wrestling has always been about interesting characters. Fans turn out in droves to the shows to watch the product they passionately love. A part of that love stems from the proper balance and promotion of all the wrestlers in the company. From the main event to the beginning of the show, the program needs a diverse roster with flexible capabilities.
Enter the attitude era.
At the top of WWE, a slew of top names such as The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Triple H and The Undertaker steered the WWE ship. But, it wasn’t just the top names helping build the company. Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit and Big Show were all capable main eventers who helped form the strongest supporting cast in wrestling history.
Fast forward to 2014, and John Cena is the face of the company. A 15 time World Champion, pop culture icon and detested character in his own universe. Cena has been the man 10 years and despite his accomplishments and the adulation of young fans, Cena lived long enough to become the villain. Despite his good guy routine, the audience is fed up with him. The problem isn’t Cena the worker, the man or entertainer, the problem is WWE treats him like he is the only worker, man and entertainer.
The company has gotten so complacent that they’re afraid to test the waters. In the shark infested world of WWE, The Great White Shark John Cena is always smelling blood in the water, clinging onto his spot. There have been more than one instance of WWE building up a character, only to have Cena ruin it.
Enter Bray Wyatt.
Wyatt entered the WWE universe after a successful transformation and stint in the WWE’s developmental program, NXT, as the leader of the The Wyatt Family, a deranged stable of bearded men on a mission to rid the world of lies. The audience embraced and fell in love with Wyatt. Until John Cena entered the picture. The two men faced off at Wrestlemania 30 in a good match, but an encounter Cena won. Wyatt did pick up a win during their next match, albeit in controversial fashion. Cena ended up defeating Wyatt and less than two months later in a rematch, Cena destroyed Wyatt on live television. It looked so bad that Wyatt was taken off TV soon after and just recently returned.
It’s a shame because Wyatt has every tool a bonafide superstars needs to be successful. A unique look, a great entrance, connection with the audience and most importantly, a fresh character. In many ways, he’s a this generation’s incarnation of The Undertaker. That is the potential that this talented and third generation superstar possesses. But at the moment, it’s all being wasted.
Last year, Damien Sandow was the Intellectual Savior of the Unwashed Masses, and the Money in the Bank contract winner. Cena, just came back from an injured elbow to win the world title and Sandow assaulted Cena and cashed in his opportunity. The problem was, Cena with one arm defeated Sandow, sending him plummeting to irrelevancy. The win devastated Sandow so much he now tries to act like The Miz, just to feel like a former WWE Champion.
If Cena were the only problem, it would be manageable. But, what about the roster not facing Cena? The part of the roster WWE that was rushed to their failure.
Enter Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio.
Both men are talented wrestlers with below average microphone skills. The audience enjoyed their ability but weren’t invested in the characters. In blind ignorance, the WWE attempted to make fans like them with rushed world championship reigns. A poor attempt that hindered both mens growth permanently. Del Rio was never embraced by the audience and Swagger simply wasn’t mature enough for the spot.
Finally, the WWE likes to have talented young wrestlers work with respected veterans, only to halt their momentum.
Enter Fandango and Dolph Ziggler.
Fandango’s first career match was at Wrestlemania 29 against Chris Jericho. He won. It was the ultimate sign of confidence to have this newcomer defeat a legend on the biggest stage in wrestling. It was also a steep drop as Fandango is now nowhere to be found.
Dolph Ziggler, the Intercontinental Champion is working his way back up, but he too worked a program with Chris Jericho that he won. The result was being dropped down the card. The fans are what keep Ziggler afloat, but WWE needs to better mortgage the future.
First and foremost, the WWE needs to utilize the Intercontinental Championship. In the early ’90s, legends such as Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect used the Intercontinental Championship as a stepping stone to greatness. The title’s been ignored so long that its meaning diminished. It helps fans get acclimated to a character and is a good barometer in seeing if an athlete can carry a championship. Rushing title reigns helps nobody.
Second, the WWE needs to correctly utilize their part-timers. Brock Lesnar can hold the WWE championship and appear infrequently, but he needs to face somebody besides John Cena. When someone defeats Chris Jericho, one of most respected wrestlers of his era, it should mean something, not be just another victory. If they focused on the future more, The Rock wouldn’t be the last resort to selling Wrestlemania.
The most important thing is having a direction, a long term plan in place is crucial. Writing shows five minutes before showtime helps nobody. With a thin roster, it’s important to build from the ground up, not the sky down.