Did you ever have a toy that you really, really liked? You know, the one toy that always won. The GI Joe guy that never got shot when you would play with them… the one that would always be the last man standing? The Matchbox car that won every race? The He-Man figure that won every battle? You know what I'm talking about. It was a toy you liked so much, that it never left your side, went to school with you and, when someone suggested their toy shot your toy, you'd say it had a force field.
Everyone has a favorite in their life and, when you have power, you try to make your favorite everyone else's favorite, too. You do whatever you can to try and make someone else like your favorite.
But, one man's gold is another man's garbage, or something along those lines.
Just because you really like something, doesn't mean someone else will. Hell, a lot of times, something you think is awesome will just make someone else look at you funny and ask "why the hell are you wasting your time?" When you're the boss, though, the people around you may think that, but they'll never tell you. Because, well, you're the boss and people go out of their way to be nice. They, in turn, hope you'll be nice to them.
And, when you're the head booker, you have favorites, too. Guys… wrestlers… that you really think have what it takes to get over. You train them, package them, give them a gimmick and send them out to the wolves… us.
And things don't go as you plan.
We reject them, hate them, boo them, and throw things at them. We sit on our hands when we should be applauding. We boo when we should be cheering. Sometimes, the booker realizes it isn't working and pulls them quickly for repackaging. Sometimes, it does get over exactly how you expect it to, and everything goes smoothly. And sometimes, you just ignore all the signs and keep shoving them at us anyway.
All bookers, to some extent, have done this. In all three major federations. Let's look at a few of them:
Glacier: Probably the one most of you remember is Glacier. Bischoff built this guy up as a super-hero… unstoppable. He had months of build-up in vignettes, and then he finally debuted on Nitro… and he was Sub-Zero. People were baffled. No one could figure out why this off-the-wall martial artist, who was a direct rip-off of Ed Boon's and John Tobias's mental property, was so great. His finisher was a standing side kick. Well, so was Shawn Michaels's… but at least he did it with some style. He wasn't particularly talented… but, dammit, Bischoff thought we should like him, and he got shoved and shoved, into the ultimate feud started by Mortis stealing his precious happy helmet. We groaned… they pushed… until Glacier mercifully disappeared.
Van Hammer: Mick Foley goes into good detail about Van Hammer in Have a Nice Day. Whoever was booking WCW in the early ninties ((Flair, Watts??)) decided that Hammer was exactly what the company needed at that point. Hammer was a guy they picked out of the Power Plant and gave a good shove. He beat people he shouldn't have beat… feuded with people he had no business feuding with… and sucked frighteningly beyond belief. But the booker ignored the signs for quite a while before finally realizing yes, in fact, Hammer did suck.
Rocky Miavia: The new wrestling fans out there might not remember this, but the Rock wasn't always the People's Champ he is today. He was once a well-documented, super-annoying mid-carder by the name of Rocky Miavia. Vince put the "Blue Chipper" out in front of crowds and shoved him down their throats. He was the ultimate babyface. He never cheated, and was told "he could never smile enough." Well, besides the whole fact his finisher was a shoulder breaker, he just plain sucked. He continued sucking to the point where fans were chanting "Rocky Sucks." And Vince still pushed… sticking the IC belt around him. Then, the fans moved up to "Die Rocky Die." It took about seven years for Vince to listen to the fans ((or, that's how long Rocky's original run seemed)) and turned sh*t into gold with the Rock. Honestly, Rocky never really learned that many more moves… but attitude goes a long way.
X-Pac: Until the day I die, I will never figure out how Sean Waltman manages to get in the booker's ear, wherever he goes, and convince them he can be a big money draw. To Bischoff, I think it was more Nash in the ear than Waltman in the ear… but not in Turnerland. I mean, look at the guy. Here is every X-Pac match ever: spinning heel kick, spinning heel kick, roundhouse, lameass bronco buster, a couple more spinning heel kicks, some outside interference, and an X-Factor. All the time. Just recently, Vince started making him lose the occasional match, but here he is, right back on top of the Light Heavyweight division. Now, he's watching Kidman as the WCW Cruiserweight Champion… and will probably convince Vince it's best for the WWF LH Champ to go over the WCW CW Champ. Even though, I'm pretty sure Kidman has more talent in his left thigh than X-Pac has in his body. And while we're on that subject, can we call him Syxx again, please? It's a cooler name and the "Pac" thing doesn't mean jack anymore.
Jeff Jarrett: At least, when he worked for his father, I understand the nepotism aspect. David Sammartino got it from Bruno… David Flair got it from Ric… and Steph and Shane get it from their dad. Father's want to see their sons ((or daughters)) maybe follow in their footsteps and, when they've been a loyal employee for so long, the booker will do them a favor. In Jarrett's case, his dad was in charge… so everything worked out. This doesn't excuse Vince and Eric for pushing him to the moon though. Jarrett is a talented performer, I will say that… but I think it's physically impossible for him to get over. At this point, I'm convinced the cosmos has lined up against him in professional wrestling. He was saddled with Honky Tonk Man's gimmick at first. Granted… that sucks for anyone but The Honky Tonk Man. But, he was put on the Horsemen for Cripe's Sake and even THAT didn't work. He's the only Horseman to be politely asked to leave after they realized how much he sucked. The only time he had anything going was when he was in the WWF beating up old dukers. That was funny… that was good… but he, ultimately, decided it wasn't for him. Now, Jarrett did manage to grab the world title in WCW ((then again, so did David Arquette… so it's not that big an accomplishment)), but he, arguably, wasn't even ready for it then. I think Jarrett got because, at the time, no one else seemed to want it.
Rhyno: I don't think there's a better example of pet wrestler's than Rhyno. Paul E has had a hard-on for Rhyno since his debut in ECW. Rhyno won the ECW Television title in his rookie year. Tommy Dreamer… an ECW workhorse forever, has only held the ECW World Title for a half hour. Rhyno was given it in one year, even though the fans really didn't buy in to him at all. They didn't seem to enjoy his matches, even with the announcers doing everything but promising to buy you hookers if you cheered for him. Now, over in the WWF, Paul E continues the shove of Rhyno, jamming him down people's throats whether they want him or not. For example, being put in the Invasion Brawl. What business does he have there? Hello… Raven, RVD, Dreamer… all of those guys should be in that 5-on-5 match before him. The jump to the WWF just gives Paul an excuse to call him the rookie monster for another year.
Goldberg: Perhaps the best example of a pet wrestler. Bischoff started Goldberg's run like most… putting him over jobbers. Where most guys only achieve a spot on the midcard, Goldberg managed to get an aura around him. Fans bought into him and bought into him big. Problem was, fans bought into him so big that Bischoff let him start running the federation. He gave him a bigger contract, gave him character control, and basically let him be another hand in the booking pot. Goldberg refused to turn heel, WCW let him go. Goldberg took months off, WCW let him go. Goldberg demanded more money, WCW gave in. Goldberg was given into like he was a 30 year veteran. Now, people say the WWF should spend whatever they have to so he'll be part of the InVasion. The WWF doesn't need him, he needs them. Until he realizes that, he'll never be on television again. I'll give him two years before HE shows up auctioning his services on Ebay.
This list goes on. There's a lot of guys bookers have pushed to the point of nausea just because they thought they'd spotted the "next big thing." They were wrong. These guys are pretty much the booker's favorite toys. The ones that always win, and the ones that are out of the toybox the most. But you know what happens with toys when you play with them too much.
They wear out, break, and everyone makes fun of you.