What really grinds my gears? Episode 16 - Treatment of "The Man".
by, 01-25-2014 at 06:31 PM (1234 Views)
"Hello Mr Flair, can I help you today?."
"Are you the man!?? WOOOOO!"
"What do you mean?"
"Are you THE man?"
"I don't know, I work quite hard but I think others are more popular.
It's nothing personal it's just how the world is."
"To be the man, you got to beat the man! Woooo!"
"Yes, I am aware."
"You know something? Back in my day, when I was a limousine riding, jet flying, wheelin' dealin, kiss stealin' son of a gun, you know no one, and I mean no one, came close to my level. I could be the most loved, and I was often the most hated wrestler, but I put butts in seats kid."
"That's all well and good for you sir, but in todays world, it's never as simple as that".
Episode 16 - Treatment of "The Man".
Well hello. It has been almost four months since the latest installment of this blog series. I really wanted to write more of these, but was lacking material. Just like I mentioend in my previous blog, the creativity machine was running out of ideas, and for that I do apologise. I was thinking the other day, like I do, and it came across my mind, whatever happened to "The Man" in wrestling?
What is this term anyway? Most wrestling fans who know Ric Flair (and if you don't know everything about what Flair stood for, you should be ashamed) will know that "To be the man, you got to beat the man", and this quote has been relevant in wrestling for many years. The man is the top dog, he is the number one guy in the company, he is the guy who people come to see, he is the guy who puts butts in seats, and he is the guy who is univerally loved/hated.
I want to begin with the WWE, because I know you people can't get enough of the WWE. It doesn't matter (in The Rock's voice) whether you love or hate John Cena, you tune in anyway, because you want to see the present and the future. You want to see what talent the WWE could provide for us, and you want to care about these individuals as they sacrifice their lives for our entertainment. You also want to see legends return, but the point of this blog is to highlight the immediate danger to moden professional wrestling (Sports entertainment? Eff that), the lack of a definite top dog, and a lack of faith in certain wrestlers who should be given the ball.
Have you guessed it yet? I am talking about John Cena, and Daniel Bryan.
- The guy is extremely popular in a certain demographic, sells tons of merchandise, and is an absolute dream for Vince, as he will do anything and everything to benefit the company.
- On the other side of the spectrum, he is well hated, despite not being a heel, people absolutely hate his bland, predictable "persona", and they would be happy to see him injured for the rest of his life.
John Cena is the guy who broke the code that there should be one wrestler who becomes "The Man". The problem is, he didn't become the man because everybody loves/hates him, he became the man because he was forced onto everybody, and some people eat that up, they devoured that in one big swallow, while the rest of the fans spat him out and wanted nothing to do with him. It is a harsh reality, but the so called "Man", doesn't get anywhere near the reaction this next guy does. The Man would have the audience cheering or booing (in unison) instead of the constant mixed reaction.
-Bryan Danielson earned his popularity through good old fashioned hard work. He made a name for himself as the greatest techincal wrestler on the planet, and the independent fans loved that. Independent fans ain't looking for a cool catchphrase, they ain't looking for mic skills or an entrance that will send shivers down your spine, they are looking for five star wrestling matches, which is something Bryan did continuously for many years. When he came to the WWE, that popularity carried over, and people were chanting for him, even when Bryan wasn't signed to the company! His popularity was solid, and it was never based on anything the WWE force fed us, it was brought about by his athletic ability.
-Despite Bryan adapting to the WWE style and severely limiting his arsenal, he was still voted the best technical wrestler by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter year after year. The YES! chant, was something which took Bryan from being a midcard talent, into a global phenomenon. Just like Hulk Hogan, with his pythons and his vitamins, just like Steve Austin with his Austin 3:16 and gimme a Hell Yeah(!), Bryan found somehting that the casual audience could click with. The sheer volume of support towards Bryan is something John Cena had never seen at any point in his career, and it just shows that fans truly want to see the most atheltic guys fighting over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
However, the problem is, Cena probably still sells the most merchandise, which in Vince McMahons eyes, still makes him the man, and even though both Cena and Bryan garner huge reactions (good or bad) from the crowds, Randy Orton has been labelled as "The Face", while Daniel Bryan is used to put over other talent that in all fairness, should be left to guys likes Randy Orton and John Cena.
Isn't it about time that Cena and Orton move to the side and help to elevate fresh young talent so the WWE can become as great as it once was?
The 80s and 90s was amazing because we knew who the man was, it was the guy who was cheered/booed the most, and they got the vast majority of the championship reigns, and when companies like WCW tried to force feed guys like Goldberg to us, many fans could not buy into that. It was OK back then though, because we didn't have the internet, so pointing out the inefficiencies of these guys was never as blown up as it is now.
You could tell a friend that Goldberg sucks, they would tell you he is great, and the argument would end with that, whereas with the internet, you see Cena hatred every single day, you see a complete disdian for the way the WWE treats Daniel Bryan.
There needs to be a moment soon, to tell the audience who "The Man" really is, because to a lot of wrestling fans, that guy should be Daniel Bryan, but if the WWE wants to continue to ignore his potential, then that will be a seriously missed opportunity. It would have been like, burying Steve Austin after his classic match with Bret Hart, or WCW making the New World Order, only to kick Hogan out of the group in place of someone bad... like Steve "Mongo" McMichael. However, I also have this feeling the WWE knows exactly what they are doing, and they are trying to milk this for as long as they can, so when Bryan finally gets his moment, it will be legendary.
It's not all about Daniel Bryan though, what about CM Punk? When he was the champion, it didn't matter to me whether he was good or bad, I was happy to see him as WWE Champion, and to see him lose to The Rock (a guy who I loved for so many years from way back in the Attitude Era) in the way he did was very disheartening.
It was like, for example, if Hogan got beat by Sylvester Stallone for the WWF title back when the Rocky films were all the rage. The Rock came back and humiliated the guy who the WWE had labelled "The Man", and it was an incredibly weak way for him to lose to a People's Elbow. Are we meant to believe someone who is definitely in shape, but not in "ring shape", could beat the longest reigning champion of the last 25 years?
To quote Daniel Bryan. No! No! No! No! No! No!
Daniel Bryan is transcending into other sports now too, as the Yes! chant is being used in actual sports by players and the crowds, the WWE soon decided (instead of listening to their fanbase, they listened to fans of other sports over us) to switch Bryan from being a heel in the Wyatt Family, back into the good guy face we all want to cheer.
Is there any doubt in anybodys mind that Daniel Bryan should be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion right now? Is there any doubt that Daniel Bryan should force his way into the Royal Rumble, win it, then beat Orton at Wrestlemania in the main event? I know there will be some fans out there who disagree with me, because it is the "cool" thing to do, to oppose the guy that everyone wants to see succeed, but I believe those fans are robbing themselves of wrestling gold.
I can't say much more about that topic. I will move onto the travesty that is the TNA main event scene now.
Whether you love or hate TNA wrestling, we all know they have a bunch of very talented wrestlers, whether they came from the WWE or not.
The main thing about TNA, is that in the older days, they defined who the man was, and that originally was Jeff Jarrett. Jeff could be a good guy or a bad guy and remain the man, up until the fans got absolutely sick of his predictable victories, and instead wanted AJ Styles to be the man.
AJ Styles New TNA Deal Duration, Original Plan For BFG.jpg
AJ Styles is arguably the most popular and athletic wrestler to come out of the 2000s decade to never have a contract with the WWE. His X-Division matches were legendary, and he could do absolutely anything, whether it was X-Division, Hardcore, Tag Teams and the Main Event, Styles could do everything. There was a period where AJ Styles became the man, until Kurt Angle stepped through the doors.
Kurt Angle left the WWE because they stuck him on the C show (ECW) and didn't have any idea just how badly Kurt Angle wanted to be main man in the WWE. It was blatantly obvious to most that Angle wanted to be the guy to carry the company, but instead they turned to Cena/Batista/Orton/ as they were younger, so he left for TNA and became the man almost instantly.
Then as Angle settled into TNA, Sting challenged him for that spot, and what transpired was probably the last great series of main event matches displayed in TNA wrestling. AJ Styles got the TNA World title for the first time in 2009, only to be completely shafted in 2010 by Hulk Hogan and the freshly signed Rob Van Dam. Since that time, AJ Styles was treat as a midcarder, were TNA attempted to try things like, making Flair his manager, putting him in Immortal to watch Jeff Hardys back, and just outright misusing his talent.
2010 was cringing for TNA. The thing is, they made Jeff Hardy, the guy who clearly sells the most merchandise... they made him a heel! I could see the plan, they were just trying to generate heat, but sometimes that heat is too hot, and it makes people want to switch the channel.
Could anyone ever buy Mr Anderson as TNA World Champion? As much as I admired his work, I couldn't bring myself to believe he was the right choice.
And then we came to Bobby Roode. Bobby Roode, since the day he transformed into the heel he is now, has been one of the hardest working heels in the business. He brought prestige back to the TNA World Championship. To see him finally lose the title to the man who we assumed would become "The Man", Austin Aries, was absolutely one of the greatest moments in TNA Wrestling ever. However, something didn't work out quite right, and Austin Aries, despite working so hard, and getting so over with the fans, lost the title only a few short months later to Bully Ray.
When it comes to Bully Ray, he was an absolute heel, and he played his part extremely well, it was his company that let him down. He never needed the Aces and Eights to be a strong heel, and he would have been more hated if he won fairly more often. He did win on his own a couple of times, but we all knew the Aces and Eights were going to come out and spoil a great main event at the end of a PPV. That't not generating heat, that's just wasting Bully Rays potential.
So with that brief history lesson, after all those champions from 2010-2013, who was the one guy who the fans still wanted to see as their TNA World Champion? AJ Styles.
Personally, I would rather had seen AJ Styles hold the title from 2010-2013, defending it year after year, then watch the absolute farce that was Immortal and the Aces and Eights. Hell, I would even have sacrificed Chris Sabins short reign for that, seen as TNA had no idea how to build Sabin up for that either.
And so I come to Magnus. As an englishmen, I am extremely proud that he has reached the top at such a young age, I am proud that we finally have our first British World Heavyweight Champion, but ........
..... TNA screwed Magnus up completely! Magnus is clearly not over with the fans, as a face or a heel. I don't understand why they feel the necissity for a wrestler to win the title for the first time only to turn heel the split second they win it. I don't understand why they couldn't have built Magnus up a long, long time before the Bound for Glory series to make his win more believable. It just pisses me off, it really does.
I can't hate on Magnus whatsoever, because for one, he's British, and secondly, he is just doing his job. It's the guys in the back, pulling the creative strings in TNA that screwed it up. There is no doubt in my mind, that AJ Styles should be, and should have been, TNA World Champion for a very long time.
With AJ Styles and Sting leaving TNA, the main event scene has changed a bit. However, with TNA having so many different wrestlers who they could put the title on (Magnus, Hardy, Joe, Angle, Storm, Anderson, Bully Ray, Aries, Sabin etc.), it diminshes the World title, as it feels like almost anybody on the roster could hold that title. For gods sake, just put it on Eric Young already, he has more charisma then anyone else in TNA (except maybe Hardy.. but that's just his image) and is so underrated it hurts.
WWE and TNA need to go back to basics on this one. A World Champion is meant to be the top guy in your company. A title belt is not meant to be a prop, it should not be used as a tool in an attempt to get someone over, it is for the absolute most over, most hardworking guy you have on the roster, and I am getting sick and tired of seeing guys holding onto championships who don't deserve to be in that spot. (Sorry Magnus... ugh)
And that folks, is what grinds my gears. Prestige has once again been thrown out of the window, and no amount of hyping will convince me otherwise. Cena vs Orton will be just another match to forget, Magnus will try hard to get over in his new role but will be designated as a failure, while the likes of Daniel Bryan/AJ Styles flounder around, trying to get noticed by the people who matter, while the fans desperately chant for them to get what they deserve.