WWE have so much Trouble Getting new Talent
by, 01-19-2012 at 06:40 PM (3244 Views)
I'm highly doubting I'm the only one to notice this, but the WWE are having real trouble getting new young talent over on their way to the main event. People like Sheamus, Wade Barrett and Drew McIntrye were all pushed massively upon their debut, but all had the rug pulled from under them. People like Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and even Cody Rhodes are not getting the reaction from the crowd that the WWE is hoping for. I think it can definitely be argued that there is considerable talent within the roster, but there seems to be a glass ceiling that only CM Punk in recent years has been able to break through (and even this was due to a huge storyline eclipsing the entire WWE).
So what is the problem and what can the WWE do to change it?
1) Bad Booking.
Ok, of course I had to start with this, it's like the Elephant in the room, but only people outside of the company seem to be able to notice it. Now I'm not going to pretend that I know more than a man like Vince McMahon, but I like to consider myself observant and thus I, like many others, have noticed a huge shift in the way storylines are booked. The basic criteria for booking is that a feud is always based around a story, within that story there is always a good guy and always a bad guy (there have been exceptions, but they are in the minority). Feuds can last for as little as a month, from ppv to ppv, or all the way up to 2-3 years a la Hulk Hogan v Andre the Giant. This much is obvious, but what seems to be forgotten is that within these feuds the heel is ultimately dominant, across the weeks and during matches. This does not mean they always win cleanly, but they do predominantly win. The only time the face is almost certain to win is in the blow-off match at the end of the feud. However in the current WWE product the roles are completely reversed. Take the so-called 'feud of 2011' with Orton and Christian. Looking back I can only remember Christian winning once in a 1 v 1 match, and that was by dq. Popularity is a direct result of heat, yet the heel can never garnish any heat if he is constantly being dominated by the face. For me this feud was stale by the third match and this is because beyond Orton winning the title I never believed Christian was going to win it back. Nowadays you'll constantly hear that heels either have to be cowards like the Miz or monsters like Mark Henry, but in fact heels should be an amalagamation of the two. They should be dominant AND cowardly, this way heat is gained, the crowd hates the heel, love the face and talent gets over. And more importantly the crowd starts to care about wrestlers and asses hit the seats.
2) Unbalanced Talent.
Take a look at the state of the WWE right now, look at who is in the main event, who is in the upper-mid card and so on. Notice anything? Each section is too heavily balanced in either heels or faces. This kind of carries on from the first point, because the top faces win all the time, they cement their place in the main event. Currently, I'd say there are only three permanent residents in the main-event, CM Punk, Cena and Orton, all faces. Then take a look at the upper-mid card. Miz, Barrett, Ziggler, Rhodes, Henry, Del Rio, Kane, Bryan, Christian, Big Show and Sheamus. All bar the last two are heels. This a major problem for the WWE. There are around 11 wrestlers looking to push on to the main event, but only two feuds can really be created with them. Of course, you'll say that you can borrow from the main event to propel these mid-carders in to the main event, but you forget the first point. The main event is full of faces, and even worse faces that almost never lose. Punk is new to the main event, and a feud culminating in a loss for him could harm this status, he will need to win a lot in the coming months. Cena is a super-face, I honestly can't remember the last time he was pinned cleanly 1-2-3 in the middle of the ring, and maybe as the face of the company he shouldn't. This means that the only main eventer that can drop down is Orton (on a side note quickly, I was majorly bashing Orton at the beginning of 2011, but I will take it back, Orton has been VERY selfless in the last 6 months, putting over Henry, Barrett and to a lesser extent Rhodes, so well done Mr Orton). With this major imbalance of talent, the WWE finds it hard to consistently keep their top stars in entertaining feuds, therefore as we have witnessed first-hand, people like Sheamus have been sitting around for months with nothing to do.
3) Lack of gimmicks/generic names.
Who in the blue hell came up with Dolph Ziggler as a name, I will echo the comments of many forum posters and bloggers by saying this is a porn star's name, not a wrestler's name. If I were to go on to wwe.com right now and search the list of superstars, I will be hard pressed to find a wrestler under the age of 35 who doesn't have a 'first name-surname' wrestling name. The only person off the top of my head is CM Punk. Where are the gimmicks in wrestling any more? Where's the next 'Macho Man' Randy Savage? The next Mr Perfect? Mr Wonderful? Undertaker? Kane? A lack of gimmicks hugely limits the amount of storylines available. Just take Undertaker as an example, how many storylines have come purely from his gimmick as the dead man? Gimmicks give the audience a reason to care, people want to turn up and see this creepy, psychotic masked man who was burnt as a child and is now terrorising the WWE, they do not however want to turn over and see a bleach-blond wrestler named Dolph Ziggler doing a head-stand, I like Ziggler, but that was stupid. Give us a reason to care, then eventually, maybe we will start caring.
4) The Internet and Internet Fans.
Let me start off by saying, I am an internet fan, so yes I am berating myself as well. The internet and spoilers are a blight on wrestling, especially the pre-taped Smackdown. The reasons for this are obvious and I won't go in to detail and patronise you, because we all know the internet is bad for wrestling. However, the internet fans part is the bit I want to elaborate on. Now the three cities that most resemble the internet fan base are New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. When the WWE has appeared at these locations, I personally can see why wrestlers are finding it difficult to get over. Back in the 80s, regardless of who was the most talented wrestler, the face was cheered and the heel was booed. However, over the millenium wrestling had a little thing called the Monday Night Wars and the subsequent attitude era. Now in this era the cool-heel emerged, led mainly by the faction known as the NWO. WCW was the NWO, it was their main selling point, the reason to watch, but these guys were supposed to be heels, they were supposed to be booed. This in turn led to people like Austin, Jericho, the Rock etc getting cheered when they were heel. Now of course, they were so talented that people were starting to enjoy seeing them, but this was a chain-reaction that is now crippling wrestling today. Ziggler is a good example of this. When Ziggler hits the ring, he doesn't get a chorus of boos like a main-event hunting heel should be, instead it's pretty quiet out there because people actually like the little porn-star. Rhodes as well, he's doing a great job at getting heat from the casual fan, but because he's doing such a great job, us internet marks are starting to cheer him, he got the best reaction in the 5 v 5 elimination match at Survivor Series. This is a problem that is preventing talent from getting over, Rhodes and Ziggler should be in the main event some time soon, but as heels. But they won't be able to get the sort of heat they need if they keep becoming more and more popular with us internet fans. I love Cody Rhodes, he's my current favourite wrestler, he's very entertaining. But as a heel I should be booing him. What these mid-card heels need is tips from JBL, the only true heel since the attitude era.
5) Lack of relevance for lower-card titles.
When was the last time being the tag team champions meant something? I honestly can't remember. What about the US Title? Intercontinental? Ok Rhodes is doing ok and getting the title to mean something again, but he's got a long way to go. Just think back to some of the greatest stars of the mid to late-nineties. Bret Hart, Shawn Micheals, Stone Cold, Undertaker. These guys were all brought in to wrestling within a tag team. Even fast forward a little bit with guys like Edge, Christian and Jeff Hardy of 2009. Then take a look at the intercontinental title. This belt was held by guys such as Bret Hart, Mr Perfect, Ulitmate Warrior, then fast forward with guys like The Rock, Stone Cold, HHH. These titles were stepping stones to greatness. They were places where young talent could test the water with their characters, develop their skills and understanding with other wrestlers and then in turn get over as stars. If they cut the mustard in these positions then they were placed in the main-event, if not then they were pushed back down. Either way a lot of time and energy was put in to these championships, they were as big a part of the show as anything else, hell the intercontinental championship match between Bret Hart and the British Bulldog main-evented Summerslam 1992. Even something like the King of the Ring was used as a leg-up to aspiring wrestlers. Now, the tag team division is almost defunct, the US title means sod all and the most prized of them all in the past, the intercontinental championship has been a prop for almost 10 years. Instead of throwing people like Sheamus straight in to the main event, how about they give a lower-card title and let them get their characters over first, that way, when they reach the main-event, people actually care who they are.
6) Lack of put over from the Attitude Era.
This point is definitely as important as the rest, maybe more so. There are a couple of ways to move up the card in wrestling, either have a great feud with someone on the same level as you (the harder of the two) or get a win over someone higher on the card as you. Now 2002-2005 was a difficult period for the WWE they had to try and sustain the dizzying heights of the Attitude Era without their major players. Three wrestlers left the WWE very suddenly in this period, Stone Cold, The Rock and Brock Lesnar. Austin left due to injuries, but it was very sudden and the Rock left because of Hollywood aspirations, almost as sudden. Because of these sudden departures the WWE was left without its top stars. This might have been ok, if you look at the mid-nineties the two top stars, Hart and Michaels left quite suddenly, but the WWE managed to move on to bigger and better things. The problem in 2002-5 was that Austin and Rock left without putting any new talent over. The Rock tried by letting Evolution beat him and Mankind, but Austin, the biggest talent, didn't put anyone over, instead the torch was not passed on, but left to dwindle on the side of the road. New talent need top stars to place them in the main event scene. Foley not being able to wrestle full-time was also a problem as he was and almost still is one of the best at putting talent over (for examples see Orton, Edge, Triple H and the Rock). Now Lesnar suddenly leaving was different, he wasn't big enough for his departure to cause the same problems as Austin and Rock leaving, however his sudden exit instilled a lack of trust of new talent in Vince McMahon. Of course I'm delving into guess work, but I think that Vince put everything in to Lesnar and when he abruptly left Vince didn't want to make the same mistake again. So he safely put all his eggs in four baskets, four company-loyal baskets called Orton, Cena, Edge and Batista. These were the only new talent he was going to push in to the main event because he knew they wouldn't just disappear. Fast forward to today and because of Edge's unfortunate injury and Batista's lack of enjoyment for the current product, only two members have survived. And now week in, week out we have to see these two shoved down our throats.
How to solve these problems (if possible).
Well it's going to take a while, but I do personally think the WWE can find another boom period in the coming 5 years, but they need to make big changes now. Firstly, stop with the super-face business, I can already see Punk moving that way and if it continues, regardless of his talent, he will be as stale as the rest of them. Secondly, people like Booker T and Triple H need to put their egos down (Hunter) and put some talent over. Booker T's feud with Cody Rhodes gave him some credibility, but the feud should have gone on longer and should have a big blow-off like a street fight at the Rumble maybe. As for Triple H, he needs to stop burying the entire roster and stealing people's storylines. The 'summer of punk' was ruined by HHH's ego. It went from an awesome Punk vs WWE storyline to somehow being about HHH vs Nash. What should have happened is HHH should have turned heel and feuded with Punk, eventually putting Punk over. Thirdly, they need to start putting everyone in to feuds, even the under-card talent. Get these guys challenging each other, their should be 10-15 feuds going on around each PPV, some like the under-card feuds can miss a PPV if it's too full. But either way the only way talent can get over is if they are doing something meaningful on to TV. Lastly, for crying out loud give the wrestlers some gimmicks. People like Daniel Bryan are crying out for a good gimmick, most of us can already see what he should be packaged as, why can't the WWE? Give him the Benoit push, he needs to be a character that, despite his size, makes people scared to face him. Other wrestlers like Sheamus and Wade Barrett will struggle to keep up their momentum if they are not given any kind of gimmick. I'm not saying package Barrett as a stereotypical English snob or anything, but why not elaborate on this bare-knuckle fighting gimmick. Give him some brass knuckles or a knock-out punch finisher, something please.
Honestly, there is some considerable talent in the WWE right now, I just hope for their sake and the sake of all us loyal fans, that someone backstage can pull their finger out and start making new stars we can care about.