So let me get this straight. Vince fires talented workers and dedicated company folks, yet he continues to bring back wrestlers that don’t need to be, or don’t deserve to be in the big leagues today. Back in April, I talked about certain hirings and firings in the WWE. In my opinion, it’s time to discuss that same topic again.
TODAY’S ISSUE: WWE Roster Decisions, v2.0
Billy Kidman. The Dudley Boys, including Spike. Charlie Haas. James Yun (Akio). Shannon Moore. Mark Jindrak. Kevin Fertig. Kenzo Suzuki and Hiroko. Maven. Dawn Marie. Jackie Gayda. What do these people all have in common?
They’ve all been released recently by the WWE, although they didn’t do anything wrong. They played their assigned gimmicks to the best of their ability, and worked hard. None of them were disciplinary or attitude problems. In fact, the Dudleys are one of the most decorated tag teams in the history of professional wrestling. Also, they comprise one of the few true teams left on the tag scene. Obviously, Vince has all but scrapped the tag division, and firing the Dudleys may have been the final nail in the coffin of WWE tag team wrestling.
Hell, even Matt Morgan, who did his best with that insipid stuttering gimmick, was let go. And he more than any of the names listed above (except maybe Jindrak) has the exact appearance Vinnie Mac loves. Morgan is tall and heavily muscled, with a good monster heel look. Plus, he can move a bit for a big man.
In the mean time, Viscera is back on the main roster, and he’s getting a solid amount of tv time to boot! Next, Uncle Vinnie brings in Tatanka, who can’t even do a clean job to resident wrestling-savant, Eugene. Christ, it’s Tatanka! Why the hell is he being protected in the booking while Shelton Benjamin, one of the most talented performers anywhere in the world, does job after job to the one-trick-pony known as Carlito?
Not too long ago, I saw Gangrel on SmackDown. Certainly the appearance of a mid-carder whose heyday in the company was about seven years ago was well worth the money. Speaking of SmackDown, WWE’s head of talent relations has certainly done a nice thing for his brother, hasn’t he? John Laurenitis brought in his brother, Road Warrior Animal, just in time to hawk the new Road Warriors DVD. Now on the surface, I agree with that decision. If Vince wants to give Animal a little push, and even a new tag team partner/idolator to increase DVD sales, that’s good business. That way, the older fans get nostalgic for a look back at Hawk and Animal dominating tag team wrestling in every major promotion, and perhaps some younger fans get curious enough about the LOD to shell out their weekly allowance for the DVD. Good plan.
But was it really necessary to put the WWE tag team titles on Animal and Hawk-enreich? Absolutely not. Former champs MNM made a huge splash onto the scene in April by attacking Rey Mysterio on Carlito’s Cabana and securing a title match against champions Rey and Eddie Guerrero. In their first match in the big leagues, Mercury and Nitro defeated the veterans and became WWE tag team champions, and I believe this was a step in the right direction. MNM are young, cocky, impressive physical specimens, and WWE took a large step in creating a new heel trio by making them look so strong, so early in their big league run.
However, a depressing standard perpetuates itself. The hot new commodity is cut off at the knees in the name of giving one more run to stale, aging acts (see: Orton, Randy K. – world title loss to HHH). MNM were beaten by Animal, who looks to be 50 pounds overweight and at least 15 years past his prime, and Heidenreich, who personifies J.R.’s “goofy as a pet coon” expression.
It was nice to see Marty Janetty back on WWE tv, but what good did it do? His appearances didn’t do all that much to advance the Kurt Angle/Shawn Michaels feud building to WrestleMania 21, and he didn’t reform The Rockers with Michaels for a feel-good run (except for one match), so why even bother dusting him off?
It seems every 6 months or so, they bring back Stone Cold Woman Beater for cheap pops. Does he have a money match left in him? I doubt it. Why not use his name and persona to help get over a young lion? Why not let some young heel get the better of Austin and send him packing another extended hiatus? That would allow the heel to rise up a level in the pecking order, and give Austin something cool to do when he returns again next time. Why must Austin come back and humiliate guys who have to continue trying to get their characters over while he goes back to his L.A. apartment with roommate DDP?
I can’t imagine why Hulk Hogan is on Raw every week, and in a high profile match at SummerSlam with HBK. Oh wait, I remember now. It’s because he’s a great worker, and now in the twilight of his career, he wants to give something back to the business that made him a household name, and made his family quite comfortable financially. No, no – I’m pulling your leg! Hogan’s pimping his stupid VH1 show. Ok, fine. But just as Road Warrior Animal doesn’t need the tag strap to sell his DVD, Hogan could do something other than WRESTLING in the “main event” at the second biggest show of the year! I mean, Hogan can barely move anymore, and I don’t think many current fans buy his piss-poor, weak-ass “offense” as devastating.
Sure, Shawn is one of the best in-ring performers in the world, but he’s not going to be able to drag any kind of watchable match out of the Orange Goblin! If Hulk wants to be on tv in an angle to hawk his reality ego-fest, let him manage a young babyface to his first title or something. Don’t have him lace up his yellow boots anymore! And now there are rumors of Hogan/Austin at WM22? What have we done to deserve this nonsense?
By the way, did I see midgets on Raw? That concept was outdated 15 years ago! Why not use that time to develop a character, or put on a 3-star match?
Speaking of outdated, I don’t see the point of picking up the Undertaker/Randy Orton feud unless RKO gets the win at SummerSlam. WWE has failed to allow Orton to break through and become a true superstar for the future twice now, once with his ridiculous one-month World Title reign, and again by having him lose to ‘Taker at WrestleMania 21. What value is there in pushing the Undertaker anymore? He’s over-the-hill, he’s gone from undead-zombie horror creature to bad-ass Texas biker dude and back, and he’s beyond ever winning another championship. Therefore, the only worth he has to the company is to use his name and stardom to create a big name for the next decade. That name should be Randy Orton.
When I attended WM21, I just KNEW Orton was going to add to his legend-killer gimmick by being the first man in 13 attempts to defeat the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Otherwise, what’s the point of the feud? Was ‘Taker being ramped up for another huge push? No. He left television for a while after WM, while new World Champ Batista destroyed Randy on Raw.
It’s the same with the Jericho/Michaels feud that culminated in a match at WrestleMania XIX. The only good business decision in that feud was for HBK to reach down and pull Y2J up to his level. Allowing the same old lion to sit atop the mountain and knock down all the young lions doesn’t do a thing to increase interest in the product. I’m so glad that Michaels was born again. He’s SUCH a great guy now! Realizing he’s a true legend in the business and a first ballot hall-of-famer, he keeps giving back to the business!
Speaking of Y2J, exactly what good did it do to make him the first undisputed (WWF/WCW) champion in history? He defeated mega-stars The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in the same night at Vengeance 2001, just to keep those belts warm for a few months so a TRUE superstar, HHH, could easily defeat Jericho for the title at WrestleMania X8. This was an opportunity to elevate Jericho to the top of the business, but Vince put the title on his son-in-law (to-be, at that time) instead.
At least when vintage performers Cowboy Bob Orton and Jake “the Snake” Roberts got involved around WrestleMania, it was to serve the purpose of heating up the RKO/Undertaker feud. They didn’t get big victories over young talent or win championships. They used their celebrity in the business for a reason, not to make themselves look cool again, now that their glory years are far behind them.
WCW was killed because the same old, broken down, tired, stale, overexposed people wore out their welcome at the top of the card, and creative kept them there anyway. Instead of learning that lesson, Vince is cleaning house on talented, eager, young performers and bringing back has-beens from another era. I truly wish him well, but his strategy does not bode well for the future. TNA’s looking better and better all the time. I can’t wait until October…
We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.
p.s. – why can’t you tickle yourself?