The (very) Few Exciting things in WWE today
I never imagined it would be this tough to find the motivation to write for LOP. Wrestling is currently so disappointing, it's becoming difficult to figure out why I watch every week. It's shocking, because no matter how much Wrestlemania impresses every year(or not, as was the case of 29), I almost always found the new change in direction gearing towards Extreme Rules (or Backlash) to be just as, if not more, interesting.
Sadly, this year's Extreme Rules is falling into similar trappings as what brought down Mania 29. One of the better stories going into Mania was Ryback vs Henry. After a rather formulaic match, that angle was dropped and turned into heel Ryback, and Sheamus vs Henry part 2. Meh. Meanwhile, John Cena is back doing the exact same thing he's been doing for the last 8 years on top. It's not really a bad thing, but when he's working against a weak heel in Ryback, his stale gimmick stands out even more. CM Punk... is nowhere to be seen. HHH vs Brock is the only main event feud that is really doing anything interesting, and it still feels recycled and timid. At the same time, we finally saw Del Rio lose the World title, which led me to hope WWE was seeing the error in their ways with him. No fault to WWE for this, but now Ziggler is hurt, and we are getting a Wrestlemania rematch between Swagger and Del Rio. The Shield have been a breath of fresh air, yet the last Raw felt like they were circumcised (not quite castrated) when they lost to Cena. Sure, it was by DQ or no contest or something, but that “undefeated” tag is no longer applicable.
All in all, WWE is shitting the bed.
I guess you could blame the lack of Rock, but that's a bullshit answer. How long did WWE know The Rock was only a part time performer? Long enough to have had a plan post-Mania. Sure, maybe his injury cut it short, but WWE had to have had something in mind for after Extreme Rules if Rock was originally supposed to appear at the May Pay Per View. Was it the Ryback heel turn? If it was, then 2013 is doomed to be the worst year in WWE history since 2000.
Now, this isn't gloating in the sense that I told you WWE needed to think ahead with the part time Wrestlemania main eventers. It honestly feels like it's worse than I've ever imagined. It's not all because of poor WWE planning, as they can't be blamed for the Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk injury leave times (along with possibly John Cena). But there's no defending the ongoing dullness of HHH vs Brock, or Del Rio being the top face chasing the World Title, or how the Shield have been wasted in the last 2 weeks... it's a truly depressing time to be a WWE fan.
Thankfully, there are a few things to be excited about. Not many, but enough to recap the positive points in this blog.
Dolph Ziggler is World Champion
There's no denying that the current World Heavyweight Title is in a position rather equal to the heyday of the Intercontinental Championship. Dolph Ziggler is the type of modern wrestler that would fit in quite well in the ring against Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, and Shawn Michaels. All these men are legendary IC champs, who all went on to main event spots later on. Now, these men weren't (or shouldn't have been) the top star of any major promotion, but were beyond essential near the top of the card.
Dolph Ziggler is the type of guy who can be in that position for years to come. And in 2013, Dolph Ziggler is much more important in the grand scheme of things than Hennig was to Hulk Hogan. In the era of Cena, Orton, and Sheamus, they are going to need foils like Ziggler. On top of that, Ziggler has a tremendous upside as a fan favorite, much like most of the former IC champs I mentioned ended up being.
He might be hurt at this point, but a concussion is thankfully the type of injury that can keep the man on TV. This is only a good thing, as he can be like a modern Roddy Piper in that Hot Rod used the first portion of his WWF career as a talker, which only helped him be the top heel against Hulk Hogan until Andre turned heel. Is Ziggler as talented on the microphone as Piper? Not even close, but he's still pretty damn decent, and hasn't had much talking time. His moments on the mic have been few and far between, so there's no yawn or sigh when he starts to talk, unlike Del Rio.
By the way, has WWE ever had such a list of failed/failing new “star” fan favorites as they do today? Del Rio, Sheamus, Cena, The Miz... think about it.
Concentrating on Alberto, the man lost the fan voting against Jack Swagger on Raw to face another heel. ADR is a talent in the ring, but his talking is putrid. It was bad as a heel, it's worse as a face. At least he could get booed for being lame and boring, on top of any real heat he earned. However, that doesn't translate into cheers at all. I am not going to say he's not over, or that he should be released. Del Rio is obviously a solid in ring competitor. But if there ever was a case against hot shotting someone too soon, it's Del Rio. Too quick to the top as a heel, too quick to the World Title as a face. Compare that to the instant enthusiasm the live audience showed for Ziggler when he cashed in the briefcase. No crowd has been as active for Ziggler since the post-Mania Raw, but his reactions have been a lot more impressive than either man who will be competing to face him at Extreme Rules. It's been said countless times in my column, and several others, but he needs to be removed from such a prime position. There's going to be a new team holding the WWE Tag Titles soon, but there's gold in booking Del Rio and Ricardo as a team in the near future.
Ziggler on the other hand is gold where he is. Last spring, Sheamus started a career shaping run as World Champion. Ziggler shouldn't be any different. This will be an interesting time for Dolph, and therefore the new midcard. Let's hope he returns from action soon, and saves us from Del Rio.
The Shield will make the US/Tag Titles mean something for now
Team Hell No have been tremendous champions, but it's run its course. WWE had months to develop a few contenders, but instead they split up RhodesScholars without any goal for a singles push just yet, wasted the Prime Time Players, and failed to debut any new teams to join the ranks (aside from Tons of Funk). Daniel Bryan and Kane rejuvenated themselves as a tag team, and now is the time to see if transferring their momentum can work in a singles run, because it's recently been dropping as a team. With a division of challengers that has been booked to be a step below the champions, and a lack of development for a few months, it's time for Daniel Bryan and Kane to lose the titles to the only team more interesting and dominating.
Similarly, the US title will soon be in the hands of a new champion in Dean Ambrose. Kofi Kingston is not a bad wrestler, and has shown lots of excitement over the last 6 years since debuting in WWE. The problem is that over those 6 years, we haven't seen a lot of growth or evolution. His role is always the same, in the midcard as a transitional champion for whichever titles WWE decides to wrap around his waist. His current run as US champion is not his first with the title, but I've lost track of how many times he's been US Champ, or IC champ, or tag champ. Every single run with any title has been completely forgettable because there's been nothing memorable about them. No angles, matches, or feuds that really stand out. It's not completely his fault, as the WWE midcard is always booked poorly with very few storylines and true rivalries.
Will the The Shield change that with the US and tag Titles? I truly believe in that. The Shield have been booked surprisingly well for a long time. Barring the loss to Cena on Raw last week, there's been barely a blemish on their domination since debuting in November. After many wins over many top stars in 6 man tag action, WWE have decided to break the trio up into tag and singles action. I don't know if all 3 talents are going to be breakout stars, but there's no doubt that they are the best booked rookies WWE have utilized in some time. With titles around their waists, let's see how they can evolve in these new roles – something Kofi hasn't done in 6 years.
When talking about upcoming stars, you'd be hard pressed to not mention NXT. I am really behind on the program. I've been storing episodes that I've downloaded through torrents on my hard drive for a few months. As I type this, I am finally getting to the February 28th episode in chronological order. While I'm critical of the WWE method of no longer giving their stars much to work with in terms of gimmick and characters, it does help find the true talents. When a wrestler is given nothing but a generic name, the stand out wrestlers find ways to make that name stick.
Paige is on her way to being the next Diva. It's hard to predict if she will catch on in the WWE as well as she has in NXT, but there's no denying there's something special about her.
Conor O'Brien is benefiting from having a gimmick to work with, after the self destruction of the Ascension. I am aware that the tag team has been reformed with a new partner, but Conor is one of the few talents who have a nickname and gimmick to work with.
Kassius Ohno is my pick to be the next breakout star. While he doesn't have the strength or look of his former tag team partner Antonio Cesaro, he does have amazing in ring skills, and surpasses the Swiss Superman on the microphone. He's also been given the ultimate WWE developmental test, which is the feud with William Regal.
Corey Graves has been touring with the WWE crew, working dark matches before Raw and Smackdown. It leads me to believe we'll be seeing more of him sooner rather than later. He's got a good look in terms of the tattoos and gimmick, and seems to be a solid wrestler. I like his potential.
On top of the individual talents, the program is well put together. The stars aren't on every week, which gives a lot of room for the roster to find their spots. The matches are generally solid, which is key. There's a lot to enjoy about watching the stars of the future perform on this small level, knowing they could be on PPV any day now in front of 18 000 people.
John Cena might lose the WWE Title
I won't go into too many details here, but the only way for this angle to move forward is for Ryback to win. I also think it's the only way to make Ryback work as a heel. I'm surprised I haven't sensed or read more outrage towards the poor heel turn, but I think most feel the same as I do: too bored to bitch.
John Cena has the talent and skill to be the most entertaining wrestler in the WWE. Ryback was riding a wave to the top of the roster in the most entertaining fashion. Right now, neither of them seem fitting to hold the WWF European Championship, nevermind battling over the WWE Title. The only possible saving grace is to have the title change, and let Ryback work against anyone not named Cena. His whole heel gimmick is hating Cena so far, which is the same heel antics we've seen over the years with countless other challengers. While Ryback was never close to the most original musclehead we've ever seen, he was still a breath of fresh air. Then he turned heel to end the hottest Raw in a year, and has been the least captivating wrestler ever since. Both men need to change their pace, but Ryback has the most potential to reclaim that lost momentum, and I am willing to bet the WWE knows this, and will let the title change hands to show it.
At least, I hope...
And on that note, Peace out
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