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Posted in: The PEN15 Mightier
The PEN15 Mightier (May 9th) Debut to Defeat
By PEN15
May 9, 2012 - 10:54:24 PM




Debut Defeats

The one guarantee in the WWE's post-WrestleMania period is the debut of new talent. We’ve already seen Ryback, Lord Tensai, and Brock Lesnar debut. We’ve seen promos on Smackdown from Damian Sandow. The team of Titus O’Neil and Darren Young graduated from NXT to Smackdown. On NXT, William Regal has been hinting of adding to the roster in their place. For the sake of discussion, I’m including Brodus Clay into this topic as well. Lots of new faces for the WWE Universe to get accustomed to.

Today I’d like to do a quick catch up on all these names, and how I would use them.

Brodus Clay

Clay is no rookie, as he was on NXT last year, and then debuted again in the new funky persona early 2012. Either way, he’s still going to be grouped with the other new faces because he hasn’t been involved in any real angle or feud. Similar to others, he squashed a few opponents, and has only been in competitive matches for less than a month against the likes of Swagger and Ziggler.

He’s a bright spot for the company, as he’s one of the few listed with any real gimmick or personality. Add to that that he’s the ONLY face in that group (so far) and he’s going to stand out. And rightfully so.

In the era of gimmickless charismatic black hole graduates of FCW, Brodus Clay stood out as the generic monster heel. Instead of delivering something standard like that, Brodus has breathed new life into the WWE Universe and bringing the fun back. It was a calculated change that took the fans off guard.

Good.

Going forward, Brodus is going to need more than cannon fodder to squash. He needs a direction. I liked the idea of teaming him with Santino, but Marella suits a team with Zack Ryder much better. The fit with Tiny-zilla Hornswaggle is golden too. But he’s going to need to get serious at some point. Maybe concentration on a title, a partner to team with, or a feud to direct his focus. His dancers can wrestle, so maybe involve them in the angle somehow. Sadly, other than Vickie, none of the female wrestlers are working alongside the men in a valet/manager/couple scenario.

But that’s where the WWE mindset ruins things. They overbook their face wrestlers with lots of wins, but the roster is mostly heels with most likely more long term potential than Brodus. So where does Clay go from here if he needs focus? Let’s be honest, due to the lack of personality on the heel-side besides the typical arrogance, would any option be different than Vickie’s boytoys? It’s an odd position for Clay. While WWE finally escaped their standard characters, he’s an island as there’s no one on that level to work with. There’s also not a heel that’s worth sacrificing. Dolph has enough credibility to bounce back quite easily with a simple brand switch, but there’s still very little left for Brodus.

Which is why he’s going to start to lose soon. He’s over, and credible, so he’ll be transitioned into fodder for the more valuable heels. It seems like a shame, but he’s no different than what R-Truth was before turning heel last year. He’s a fun and loveable guy, and gets the crowd hot, but he’s not going to main event anytime soon. So, use him like they did Truth: midcard mixer. Have him lose once in a while, wins equally, take the US title at some point… all until he turns heel and might find success.

Lord Tensai

A poster on LOPforums mentioned that he loved Lord Tensai’s booking so far, and called it “perfect.” Sorry Lazyking, but it’s a bit short sighted.

We’ve seen these pushes before. WWE is the master of introducing a big man as a main event threat to the superface champion, and then going downhill from there. It’s not that Lord Tensai has no chance to recover, or that he won’t get a bigger angle than working against Cena, it’s just unlikely. Just because Cena isn’t champion right now does not change the pattern. In fact, Cena’s had this angle before. The Great Khali and Umaga both spring to mind as heels that had huge momentum, only to be fed to Cena. After their losses to Cena, they never regained the same spot (though Khali did earn the World Title, but anybody reading this knows that if it weren’t for the amount of injuries to the stars at the time that would have never happened).

Tensai is just a modern Bundy, Andre, Zeus, Earthquake, Slaughter (circa ‘91), Yokozuna, Vader (circa ’96)…etc.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. He’ll serve a purpose, give Cena something to do without the title involved, and maybe he’ll get a chance to put over the champ too. But this is the top of the card for him.

Ryback

Chicago brought out the “Goldberg” chants finally, and for that I say thank you. I don’t know if their intention was to poo-poo on Ryback, but WWE could use a Goldberg type character right now. Honestly, they could use anyone else to be a face character that fans can get behind. He’s seemingly a tweener at this point, but I sense the long term goal is to get the crowd to get behind him like they did for the Warrior in the 80s, and Goldberg in the 90s. Those guys might be laughing stocks to many fans now (excluding me, I’m a fan of both) but they brought excitement to the world of wrestling, if only for a short period of time.

It’ll be a tougher character to develop in this age of wrestling, but not impossible. I would hope for more open challenges. While I couldn’t follow through with sacrificing Cody Rhodes in this manner, the excitement would be huge to have him issue an open challenge for his Intercontinental Championship, and then be eaten up by Ryback. Warrior, IC gold, open challenge… history repeating?

The problem with pushing Ryback that way is that it’s very short term. How many jobbers can he squash until he gets to an NXT wrestler? How many NXT guys until he moves to Smackdown guys? How many Smackdown guys until he gets midcard gold? How many midcard wins until he’s the World Champion?

Goldberg went over 9 months undefeated on TV before he earned his World Title opportunity. Can anyone of us expect the WWE to be that patient? Something’s going to give.

Damian Sandow

With only a single live TV appearance, it’s very hard to discuss Damian’s immediate future. I like the idea of him backing out of a few matches, disrespecting the fans on the microphone, and being a modern day Bob Backlund (circa 94-95) until some face runs out and skips the talk, and goes straight to a beat down. It doesn’t need to be someone incredibly over, as Justin Gabriel would be just fine. Damian might come out on top in the end, but this might be the best way to debut someone and give them a loss in their first match. Make him avoid wrestling long enough, that anyone who forces him to a fight is cheered. Justin gets the victory, and Damian seeks revenge, and finally gets it in impressive fashion a month down the line.

Either way, he seems to have a very solid vocabulary. His backstage pre recorded segments seem like there are no teleprompters or cue cards judging by his eye movement, which was further evident when he spoke in the ring with the same augmented verbiage. It would seem easy to label him a Jericho wannabe, since that’s what Chris was doing as a heel before leaving in 2010. But as I mentioned, along with the robe and towel, as well as the aim to educate the plebian masses, the strong lexicon only adds to the comparisons to Bob Backlund. Hopefully he can wrestle just as well.

Titus O’Neil and Darren Young

It’s hard to be realistic with any tag team in today’s WWE. I’d love to say they could rejuvenate the division, but no matter what talents they have, it all gets relegated to how much WWE will care about teams in that moment.

Currently, there looks to be some hope, as teams have been more popular on TV, the tag belts changed hands, and the former champs are actually in an angle. Titus/Darren have had some backstage segments to display personality, something the other teams have not had as of late. I must say, I’ve enjoyed seeing their obnoxious characters. They aren’t groundbreaking, but they seem like a heel DudeBusters in terms of just being good friends with attitudes. If that can translate to mic work in the ring, they have a future. That’s something none of the other teams in the WWE have at this time (unless we count Dolph with Jack Swagger as partner or R-Truth with Kofi, but that’s only 1 member unlike this team).

I’d like to see this team do some major damage as champions, but unless other teams are formed and pushed, there isn’t much for them to work with. Usos, R-Boom, and maybe Gabriel/Kidd… that’s the end of the line. Adding heels, you only have the former champs. It’s rather dire.

Timing

One thing I’d do with everyone mentioned so far, is not have them on TV weekly. While TNA should not be the standard for anything wrestling related, I do like how they space out the angles and talent. If a star is not involved in a specific feud, he doesn’t need to appear weekly. /

As we can see from Ryback, he debuted, and has been on TV weekly, but not doing anything revolutionary. In fact, it’s the same match over and over (content not a bad thing, just the timing). Instead, let’s try this:
Week 1 – New star debuts on Smackdown
Week 2 – New star is off TV (or on NXT/Superstars/Dark match
Week 3 – New star repeats as usual, with replay of highlights from week 1.
Repeat

I understand why Tensai has appeared more often; because he is being rushed for a higher position. But if the goal is to get the audience acquainted with Ryback, Titus, Darren, and Damian, then repeated weekly squashes aren’t the only way. Keep the squashes, repeat them, but take a breather in between. With highlights that you can adjust with louder impact, more oohs and ahhs, or whatever you choose, refreshing the audience this way would have a bigger impact. And it takes half the time.

Once any character gets momentum, or is ready for an actual angle, then you can make him a weekly performer. But these guys are still new, and there's a shit load of talent that deserve the TV time but don't seem to get it. Split it up differently, and let the fans dictate who deserves more TV time.

And on that note, peace out.



Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
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