The Hart Grapevine – WWE Spring Cleaning
I’d like to offer my perspective on this week’s spring cleaning efforts by WWE. It’s never pleasant for anyone to be fired, especially from their dream job. Sure, many in the internet wrestling community will condemn WWE for their booking, politics or choices of who was fired and I know from a creative perspective many of these talents will have much more creative freedom now that they are available on the independent circuit. But the negative is that with WWE being the only viable game in town right now, the ability to make a living will be much harder without job security. So before getting too detailed I’d like to wish all the men and women the absolute best in the next steps of their respective professional careers.
AKSANA: With all due respect to the lone diva terminated this week, her careless act this past February where she badly injured Funkadactyl Naomi may have been a precursor. With 6 years in the company, 5 of which were on the main roster, she has little to note of accomplishment in a positive sense aside from her brief relationship with perennial superstar Antonio Cesaro, it could be argued that she did little to improve or learn. Perhaps if she had a more sound foundation and John Laurinaitis not rushed her to the main roster prematurely she may have had a better chance. Since the debut of Lana this year, her role has been greatly diminished as Lana is a younger and perhaps more attractive version of the Eastern European diva. Aksana will likely be returning to her modeling and competitive fitness roots.
BRODUS CLAY: I take great pride in the fact that Brodus originally opted for my Cambridge based school to begin his journey in the business. I have long since thought WWE officials missed BIG on Brodus Clay. In an era where the only super heavyweights on the roster include the 42 year old Big Show, the 41 year old Great Khali, the 47 year old Kane and the 43 year old Mark Henry that surely the 33 year old much healthier and much-more agile Brodus Clay could have been a tremendous asset in the WWE for years to come. But much like other stars of the past such as Junkyard Dog, Akeem, Dude Love and Rikishi, rather than promote Brodus as the monster he was, he was converted into a dancing fool for the kids. For a man that was at one time the personal bodyguard to Snoop Dogg who is one of the most prolific gangster rappers on the planet, promoting this monster should have come with relative ease. Brodus whose real name is George Murdoch is destined for greatness in Japan.
CAMACHO: This one was shocking if for no other reason than he had recently been given a push in NXT. Although his tenure in WWE was lackluster as the bodyguard for a man primarily perceived as an enhancement talent, he is the son of WWE legend Haku and perhaps like many second generation stars could have been given a better look. One Idea I had was that considering his father’s 2001 return to the WWE came as the tag team partner of Rikishi, he could have been an often 3rd man in the corner of the Uso’s themselves 2nd generation sons of Rikishi. The two families have a long-storied history. With his release, I foresee Camacho ending up in New Japan tag teaming with his younger brother Tama Tonga. For those that have yet to see Tama in action, he is himself a tremendously talented young man. Perhaps the 2 may someday return to WWE in the future as a tag team.
CURT HAWKINS: To be honest, of the two Majors Brothers, I actually thought Zack Ryder would have been the first to be released based on how he has been treated by WWE. Hawkins had been with the company for 8 years and really had not been seen much in at least 2 years since the departure of Tyler Reks. I think Curt will find a lot of success on the independent circuit. Living in the Northeast, I foresee him being a regular on many shows, especially Pro Wrestling Syndicate. With his new school which he opened recently it’s clear to see Curt is a lifer in this business.
DREW MCINTYRE: Its almost laughable at this time to think that 5 years ago, Vince McMahon went on RAW and proclaimed that Drew McIntyre was The Chosen One and in effect would be a main event superstar for years to come with the company. When I went to Wrestlemania 26 to induct my father in the hall of fame, Drew McIntyre was the Intercontinental Champion and was wrestling that weekend in the final Wrestlemania version of the Money in the Bank ladder match and seemed well on his way to fulfilling Mr. McMahons prophecy/fantasy. But despite Vince’s decree, Drew’s then-wife Taryn Terrell made a less than favorable exit from the company for which Drew was punished. Such is the politics of new school sports entertainment. And after his punishment, Drew was all but forgotten about in his current 3MB role. Drew has a lot of question marks in his future. Like John Morrison, he may seek out Hollywood and acting as a viable future. He may return to Europe and dominate the circuit there or perhaps he could end up gaining employment in Mexico or Japan. Either way, Drew is a highly intelligent young man with a bright future.
EVAN BOURNE: This one was the most shocking to me. Evan was one of the most gifted high flyers WWE has ever had. I remember speaking with Evan at Wrestlemania 26, he also was competing in Money in the Bank that year and I suggested to him about using his patented shooting star press off the ladder. He in fact did that evening and I’d argue that was the highlight of that match. I can`t speak for the current health of Evan Bourne, but I would venture that with talent like Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, Tyson Kidd, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose dominating in WWE, it`s almost a shame to think of all the matches that won’t be able to happen now. I’ve always though Evan Bourne vs. Antonio Cesaro could have been great for business. Recently I suggested that perhaps he and Tyson Kidd could have formulated a new tag team that could have added a new dimension to the current tag team ranks. Evan Bourne will have no trouble whatsoever finding himself another job in wrestling. I will even make the bold prediction that he will make a surprise appearance at next week`s Ring of Honor pay per view.
JINDER MAHAL: Dungeon trained and bred for success, Jinder Mahal is the nephew of former Stampede star Gama Singh. It’s astonishing that with a population of 1.2 billion people and a rising economy that WWE did not do a far better job in promoting and elevating a superstar with Indian heritage, especially being a second generation (STAMPEDE) wrestling prodigy. If I was a betting man (which I’m not), I`d foresee Jinder and Jeff Jarrett working on encapsulating that Indian demographic to its maximum potential.
JTG: This was perhaps the least surprising of all of this week`s releases. I`m almost shocked this release didn’t come nearly 3 years ago with the last mass exodus. With the exception of a 6 month hiatus in 2007, JTG had been employed going on 9 years with WWE. Since his former partner, Shad Gaspard`s departure in 2010, JTG had been demoted to enhancement talent, yet even before that, the Cryme Tyme experiment wasn`t very relevant beyond 2007. It`s hard to suggest where JTG will end up. Unless he is able to re-invent himself on the independent circuit his future is in question. He definitely didn’t deserve the 9 years of bad Hollywood booking that may haunt him in gaining future employment. Hopefully he will find his new found freedom refreshing and in time financially rewarding.
TEDDY LONG: This was an expected release as Teddy’s 14 year employment tenure was set to expire this week anyways. At 66 years of age, Teddy has earned the right to retire and enjoy some much needed quality family time. Although I’m sure he won’t be able to resist the numerous wrestling conventions and the occasional independent bookings.
YOSHI TATSU: Having seen first-hand the intense training regiments in Japan and seeing the calibre of top quality talents that have emerged from Japan, I thought Yoshi Tatsu was lucky to have earned a contract with WWE. Once again I hearken back to my experience at Wrestlemania 26 in Phoenix and remember hearing WWE officials discussing the need to put an added emphasis on Yoshi Tatsu with Antonio Inoki included in my Dad`s hall of fame class. Political reasons like that are a poor-reason for anyone to get a job or a push. Talent should be given opportunities and either succeed or fail based on merit. Now with the rumored imminent signing of KENTA, who is a Japanese star of the highest magnitude, Yoshi`s position became unnecessary. I predict Yoshi will return to Japan without his knee pads, where his run in WWE will make him a top star regardless. He’ll be heading to japan without his kneepads
A good house cleaning is always beneficial in both business and in life. I’ve always been against waste, even if it is at the fault of the employer. To not utilize talent under contract better at the expense of everyone (including the fans) and when there is so many other possible talents that could be better used in the short or long run. It is a damn shame when fresh, cream of the future aspirants to sour while WWE’s over/underexposed “dairy products” sit isolated on hold for between 5-10 years for no plausible reason. Take into consideration someone like Steve Austin. Steve debuted in the company in December 95, won the King of the Ring in June 96, was main eventing by April 97, was universally acknowledged as the top guy in the company by March 98 and retired by March 03. Taking into consideration his year-long absence in 2000, the entire WWE career of the greatest WWE superstar of all time was only 6 years, same as his long-time rival The Rock. Granted he was a journeyman prior to WWF, he shows what is capable in a very short time. Hall of Famers like Mick Foley, Razor Ramon and Yokozuna only had 4 year-long runs in WWE. It`s amazing to watch in the post-WCW era how some talents just get left out on the vine to rot. Once again I wish all of these talented young men and women the best in their future including referee Marc Harris of whom I know very little about. This isn’t the end only a switch to a new chapter.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.