What’s up wrestling fans? It’s later than usual, and yes it’s a Sunday, but it’s time for the latest FATP exclusive to the good folks here at PWMania.com! Thanks for the tremendous feedback you guys gave me last week about the Randy Orton column I posted. It got some great reviews and earned me some brand-new followers, which was a bonus! I might not reply to every tweet or e-mail I get, but I do read them and appreciate you guys getting in touch!
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you’ll know that WWE are hurtling towards this year’s WrestleMania at break-neck speed. It’s always their biggest show and more eyes watch their product at ‘Mania than at any other point during the year. I don’t know any wrestling fan who doesn’t get excited around WrestleMania season. It feels like a big deal and you know that you’re almost guaranteed to see something special.
Having said that, WWE have a severe problem on their hands right now: their reliance on part-time wrestlers. Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing the likes of Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, HHH and The Rock as much as anyone else, but the fact that WWE keeps using them to sell the biggest show of the year is a huge problem. I understand why WWE use these guys. They’re big names, they’re established stars and people know who they are. But… They’re not around for the long-term. We rarely see them after WrestleMania. WWE need to start building newer stars at the level of those guys to make sure that casual fans stick around after ‘Mania, instead of tuning out until the next year.
Let me explain what I mean. If you take Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, HHH and The Rock out of the equation, who is WWE’s biggest full-time star? Randy Orton? No. CM Punk? No – not yet. It’s John Cena. Everyone knows the issues I have with Cena, so I won’t dwell on, or mention, them. John Cena is a huge star because he had a massive push and WWE stuck with him. They pinned their hopes on Cena being a massive draw, and did everything in their power to make sure it worked. For the most part, it’s worked. As much as it pains me to say it (and it really does), you can’t argue with the sheer amount of money that Cena makes for WWE. It’s incredible, and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the work he does.
However, WWE haven’t done that with anyone else. Nobody else has had the sustained push that John Cena has had in the last 10 years and it’s created a problem. WWE have no genuine, bona-fide main-eventers at Cena’s level. Yes, CM Punk is getting there, but he’s not there yet or else he’d be main-eventing WrestleMania with The Rock instead of Cena. WWE have no full-time stars at Cena’s level yet, and they’ve got nobody else to blame for that than themselves.
WWE are to blame for the situation they’re in. They have no long-term stars, because they use old guys for short-term runs instead of building for the future. Just look at how many stars have had stop-start pushes over the last decade or so. Guys like Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, The Miz and Drew McIntyre are just a few examples that come to mind straightaway. Guys who all have the ability and look to be main-eventers, but backstage politics and bullshit have meant that WWE hold grudges.
Kofi Kingston “botched” (I fucking hate using that word by the way!) taking an RKO from Randy Orton 4 years ago… That’s 4 years ago… and since then he’s been stuck in mid-card purgatory because Randy threw a bitch-fit in the ring. So he mistimed taking a move… so what? Nobody was hurt and everyone could see he (Kofi) was going to lose the match anyway, but no… WWE punished Kofi and instead of being at Orton’s level or higher, he’s now struggling to get anywhere. Listen to the crowd when Kofi was feuding with Orton. They were in to everything he did. I won’t say everybody liked it, because they didn’t, but to me, it felt like we were seeing the birth of a new star. Someone else was breaking out, but before it went too far, WWE pulled the rug out from under him because of one mistake.
Jack Swagger is exactly the same. If you can believe the “news” you read on the internet, Swagger had “an attitude problem” during his brief run with the World Heavyweight Championship in 2010, so ever since he’s lost the title, Swagger has basically been a jobber, putting over lower mid-card babyfaces. That’s a joke. OK, his mic work isn’t great, but Swagger is a fantastic worker who has the ability to have tremendous matches with anyone on the roster. With the greatest of respect, Swagger (or someone like him) shouldn’t be used to put over the likes of Santino Marella. Swagger is a legit beast who should be higher up the card than he is. I just hope that his return over the last few weeks actually leads to something, because he deserves so much more. He’s probably learned from the mistakes he’s made and deserves a second chance.
Drew McIntyre is another guy who’s just floundered around since making his debut. I’m biased because he’s a Scotsman, but I think McIntyre is an amazing talent. He can cut decent promos and he’s able to draw heat from the crowd with his mic and in-ring work. McIntyre deserves far more opportunities than he’s had. Yes he’s had some “reported” backstage issues in the past, but so have others, yet McIntyre is reduced to playing air guitar with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal. It’s a complete and utter waste of his talent at a time when WWE are crying out for new main-event stars. McIntyre has it all, and he had the perfect gimmick when he debuted, but because WWE management have a tendency to hold grudges, but he’s become such a joke that WWE will have to work hard to make him look credible again.
The final guy I mentioned on that list is The Miz. Miz is a star just waiting to happen. I haven’t always been a fan, but since he broke out on his own as a singles star on Raw, I’ve become a huge fan of his. A MizFit if you will. Miz is marketable. He has charisma. He’s decent in the ring. He might not be a technician like Punk or Bryan, but Miz is no worse in the ring than the likes of Hogan, Warrior, Rock or Cena. Miz does a hell of a lot of promotional/PR/media work for the WWE across the world and doesn’t get the credit he deserves for how well-rounded a performer he is. Miz could easily be a main-event star, but for some bizarre reason, WWE have decided to, once again, job him out after an initial main-event push.
All of the guys I’ve just spoken about have suffered from one thing – a stop-start push. WWE wants these guys to be an immediate success straight away, but it doesn’t work like that. Wrestling’s changed. They need to give us, as fans, a reason to care about these guys and give them a chance for Christ’s sake. There’s no point in pushing them for 3-4 months and then jobbing them out. Why should we care about them after that?! It’s a joke. WWE need to show the same patience, and persistence, with guys like Kofi, Swagger, McIntyre and Miz that they showed with Cena, otherwise they’re gonna be fucked for years. Seriously…
You’re probably asking how WWE solve that problem. Well from what I can tell, it’s quite easy. Use the established wrestlers to put over the younger guys. That doesn’t mean job out the older wrestlers, it just means use them to make the younger guys look credible. For example, the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton and Chris Jericho (yes, I count him as a full-timer. He’s more full-time than others) do not need to be WWE/World Champion at this stage in their careers. They should be used to build new main-eventers, instead of jobbing out the guys who will be there long after they’ve gone.
WWE have no main-eventers in waiting who are established enough other than CM Punk. Punk is the only wrestler on the entire roster who’s had anything like a sustained, main-event level push in the last few years. Punk worked his way up from the indys just to get to the WWE, and since he’s been there, he’s been the one to watch. His matches are consistently great, if not excellent, and he makes people care about what he does. Whether they’re cheering him or booing him, fans are never indifferent to CM Punk. WWE need to do that more with other wrestlers too. They seem to be hesitant to pull the trigger on Dolph Ziggler, which is a huge mistake in my view. Along with Punk and Bryan, Ziggler’s matches are always the best to watch. He’s amazing and has been for years. Ziggler is ready to be that guy. A main-eventer. A headliner. Yet WWE never give him a clean pin over a huge babyface. It has to be a dirty finish, or a cheap finish in a gimmick match.
A lot of my friends say to me that WWE are just making us wait for it. Well I’m sick of waiting. Who’s the next main-eventer? Maybe other people are sick of waiting too. It’s not his fault, but I’m sick of seeing John Cena main event again, and again, and again, and again, and again. It’s too repetitive and it doesn’t mean anything. It’s nothing new and that’s what I think people are crying out for. Something new. Something different. Try it and stick with it.
I’m gonna finish this post off by making a plea to WWE management. Whether it’s Vince McMahon, Stephanie or Triple H. Please, please, please think about the long-term effect that your short-term fixes are having on your product. It’s fine and well having legendary wrestlers come back for a short program or a match because they’ll draw more people in, but you have to give people a reason to stick around once they’re gone. And right now, you don’t. By having newer main-eventers, you take the strain off guys like John Cena and CM Punk. Instead, you’re running the risk of those guys getting serious injuries, and you have nobody to step up in their absence. It’s time to think long-term and do what’s best for the future of your business. Before you know it, Cena and Punk will be too burnt-out, or gone, and you’ll be up shit creek without a paddle. When that happens, you’ll have no-one else to blame but yourselves.
That’ll do it for today. As usual, let me know what you think by sending a tweet to me @george_sltd or leaving a comment below. I’ll be back later this week with another FATP, so until then, thanks for reading.