To Be Determined – Is John Morrison No Longer the Next Shawn Michaels?

Last Month WWE held another one of their periodic locker-room cleaning and among those released was one of the best athletes that competed in a WWE ring during the last decade and someone who years ago was destined to be a World Champion – Shelton Benjamin. Hearing the news that Shelton Benjamin was released made me wonder about a current star that only last year was heralded as the next Shawn Michaels, and that wrestler is John Morrison.

If we ignore Tough Enough, and we will because WWE does it, there are several parallels between Benjamin’s and Morrison’s careers. They both made their “official” debuts as members of tag teams that dominated their respective tag divisions (Team Angle and MNM). They are both amazing athletes and can steal the show if given the chance. They both impressed in top matches with established main eventers (Benjamin’s shocking matches with HHH and subsequent feud with Evolution, Morrison with Edge, Jericho and Mysterio last year). And yet more often than not, they were (and are) lost in the shuffle. In 2009 Morrison was wrestling main event matches on Smackdown, and this week he teamed with Santino Marella, Goldust and Yoshi Tatsu. How did that happen?

In 2007, after MNM’s split, Morrison moved to ECW and won that brand’s championship when Chris Benoit was too busy murdering his family and killing himself instead of winning that title. What followed was a good series of matches with CM Punk and it seemed like Morrison is on his way for greatness. He screwed up though, by juicing up, and while his singles push was halted, we got another show stealing tag team, when he joined forces with his then rival The Miz. I don’t think anyone expected this duo to become as big as they did, but pretty soon they started turning heads and won both sets of tag titles, and started appearing on all three shows almost every week. When the decision was finally made to break them up last year, Miz turned on him and went to Raw while Morrison was sent to Smackdown, presumably to become the main event star that he was destined to be.

And it sure seemed like it was going to happen. Suddenly Morrison was part of Smackdown top tier, and together with Chris Jericho, edge, CM Punk, Rey Mysterio and Jeff Hardy it seemed like we had a new Smackdown Six. He mixed it up with the best of them and never looked out of place, Morrison appeared to belong in the main event. Jim Ross was building him up and praising him non-stop, going as far as rightfully comparing him to a young Shawn Michaels. Almost everything pointed to John Morrison skyrocketing to the top of the card. But while this was happening, something fishy was also going on – he did not appear on Pay Per View. For several months, while he was stealing the show every week, he did not have a real feud or program, and other than a single PPV match with Shelton Benjamin Oh the irony), he did not appear on PPV for six months. Even after he won the IC title from Rey Mysterio on Smackdown, his planned title defense against Dolph Ziggler was pulled from PPV. WWE Writers did not help matters by having him cut stupid infantile promos on Ziggler (Can anyone say Mr. Ziggles?) rather than the cool promos that he cut as the Shaman of Sexy during his tag team days. The bipolar booking of Morrison continued when he first lost the IC title to Drew McIntyre, then got a World Championship shot at this year’s Elimination Chamber (When again, he looked like he belonged in the same chamber with The Undertaker of all people) but then could not get a spot on the Wrestlemania card without teaming with R Truth. His rollercoaster ride continued when he was drafted to Raw, where chances are he will be lost in the shuffle and the writers don’t seem to know how to properly push someone from the midcard to the main event.

So what’s up with Morrison? Why do the WWE brass change their minds about him and seem hot for him one week and cold the next one? Is it his promo skills? He proved that he could cut excellent promos as a heel, so it’s not like he’s incompetent on the mic. Is it his charisma? Please, he has so much of it that it’s pouring out of his ears. Is it the steroid use? It hasn’t hurt other wrestlers on the roster? Is it the unexpected success that Miz experienced since going alone? Why should that matter, both of them can be top stars. So what is it?

Sadly, I have no explanation for the way that WWE has treated Morrison, and now it seems like he’s headed for another tag team, this time with Bryan Danielson. It’s obvious that he has everything needed to carry a major title. Yes, I’m a John Morrison mark so I truly believed it when Jim Ross referred to him as the next Shawn Michaels and I still know that he has it in him. I want to see John Morrison make it to the next level and have a meaningful title reign, not like the one that Sheamus had or Jack Swagger’s started. I want John Morrison to be the next top WWE star. John Morrison deserves to be the next Shawn Michaels, not the next Shelton Benjamin. Make it so WWE, make it so.

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