Welcome one and all to another edition of The Main Event. I am your host, Don Franc, back with another column that you will all hopefully enjoy. Long introductions aren’t really my thing, so let’s get right to…
THE MAIN EVENT
The news of Dean Ambrose reportedly leaving WWE once his contract expires has still got me feeling conflicted after all these weeks of finding out. This story really hit home as Dean Ambrose is currently my favourite wrestler. He feels underappreciated and WWE hasn’t done anything to dissuade his opinion. In the Lunatic Fringe I see a wasted opportunity on the part of WWE. They have an inherent tendency to be wasteful when there is a potential superstar on their hands.
Nobody can really pinpoint exactly why WWE refuses to pull the trigger on certain superstars when there is a bullet in the chamber. We all know how Vince is stuck in his ways; and that is usually the argument that is made as to why Vince refuses to take the leap on certain wrestlers who are able to get themselves over to the point where they just need a slight push to get them over the edge of superstadom.
This recent development – along with Finn Balor not winning the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble after receiving immense backing from the crowd brought back recent memories of how WWE missed the boat. I’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane and point out how WWE should have pulled the trigger on the wrestlers below. All of these wrestlers that I’m going to mention were super over in their own right and were on the cusp of becoming a main event player at the very least. But instead of taking the chance they instead decided to squander their opportunity…
He is the most recent member to join this illustrious club. He thinks he’s in the Balor Club but he is mistaken. He is actually in a club that everybody wants to be denied entry into. Normally I wouldn’t put a super over wrestler in this category after losing their first title match. As we saw with Jeff Hardy at the Royal Rumble in 2008 it was okay for him to lose and he became a bigger star when he actually won the belt. But things are different for The Demon. He was the FIRST Universal Champion so him not getting another title shot since he won the gold in 2015 boggles the mind.
Nonetheless, he finally got his shot and what transpired was insane. Before his Universal Championship match against Brock at this year’s Royal Rumble Balor was already over. But the prospect of him beating Lesnar for the title was an exciting development for the fans as they were clamouring for a new champion. This aided in him being as over as he has ever been and likely ever will be.
Do you know what the worst part was? Finn Balor literally asked the fans if they wanted him to become champion in the middle of the ring with Vince McMahon standing right next to him and the fans lost their marbles. Unfortunately, their reactions fell on deaf ears. If that wasn’t a clear and direct indication from the fans wanting a wrestler to be their champion then I honestly don’t know what is.
I’m not able to go through this column without mentioning the Summer of Punk. To this day I still cannot believe how WWE royally fucked this up. At the time WWE was in the process of looking for a viable candidate to claim mega-stardom since John Cena started getting mixed reactions. Punk was that guy. After the infamous Pipe Bomb segment WWE had a star so hot that there was no possible way to negate the heat he had built for himself. But yet they managed to find a way to do so.
CM Punk had it all: fantastic mic skills, great in-ring ability, a unique look and an anti-authorial badass attitude the likes not seen since Stone Cold and what should have been the most important thing of all: the crowd in the palm of his hands. Yet even that wasn’t enough for Vince and co. to go balls to the wall with the guy. Maybe if Punk was a little bit bigger or just little more muscular he might have had a fighting chance. However, because he lacked the look that Vince so desires it was never meant to be.
What followed the fantastic television from the Pipe Bomb to Punk’s match with John Cena at the Money in the Bank PPV was WWE at their absolute worst. And I’m not just referring to worst booking wise, but behind the scenes as well. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking WWE purposefully sabotaged CM Punk’s momentum, which in turn was one of the biggest mistakes they have ever made. To this day they are still looking for what every fan would universally consider a mega-star. What a waste!
I remember a time when Bray Wyatt was penciled in as the next Undertaker. Upon his debut and the subsequent months thereafter he had a mystique only rivalled by that of The Undertaker’s. None of us thought that we’d ever get a character in the same vein as The Deadman again. We were all excited. We all thought mythical characters were a thing of the past. Yet Wyatt showed up and proved to us that what we thought was simply not the case.
He had this certain enigmatic characteristics that gave us hope for a potential heir to ‘Taker’s mythical throne. But like others on this list WWE could not help but waste away his potential through their destructive tendencies. Booking was Bray Wyatt’s main enemy and his piss-poor booking over the years really took a toll on his mystique. You cannot help but be saddened by what could have been.
I am of the belief that Bray Wyatt is too damaged to ever be mentioned in the same breath as The Undertaker ever again. The Eater of Worlds concept was fantastic but the design was flawed. For all his brilliant promos he couldn’t follow up on what he preached and because of that he lost that enigmatic edge. I have no idea what WWE has in store for Bray Wyatt upon his return but I, for one, am not the least bit interested. WWE’s current creative team is just too weak to effectively handle a layered character such as Bray Wyatt’s.
Most wrestling fans love invasion angles and the debut of The Nexus was one of the best ever done. WWE were always hyping their new show, NXT, where wannabe wrestlers went through numerous challenges on a weekly basis to become a WWE superstar. But as the story unfolded it turned out they were not happy to have been competing in this silly competition every week. And the consequence of that was The Nexus invading RAW to show the world that they should be taken seriously. Upon their debut I certainly took them seriously. However, that changed rather quickly.
It turned out that The Nexus was just a sideshow created in order to sell the Survivor Series PPV. It was not long after their loss at Survivor Series that they became a joke and their brilliant debut was all but forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that The Nexus had very long as a group but that doesn’t change the fact that WWE could have fleshed out that angle and actually create an interesting arc over the course of a few months. Instead, WWE probably lost interest and allowed the story to fall by the wayside.
That entire arc could have been a launching pad for Wade Barett to have a successful WWE career but WWE could not capitalize on an opportunity that was staring them right in the face. The only man from The Nexus that was able to have any form of success was Daniel Bryan; which is ironic considering he was only a part of The Nexus for one night and actually ended up fighting against them.
WWE unintentionally built up Ryback as the apparent heir to Goldberg’s throne with his undefeated streak. It’s not outside the norm for WWE to involve an undefeated streak in the build for a wrestler. The difference this time is that the undefeated streak actually caught on with the fans and the WWE Universe just wanted Ryback to be fed more. It appeared that the more he “ate” the more over he got. Meal after meal he’s popularity increased until it reached a crescendo at the Royal Rumble in 2013.
The fans were solidly behind him and had he won the Royal Rumble he would surely have gotten more over. I have to say that at the time he wasn’t that great in the ring and his promo skills left alot to be desired. Hmmm… Doesn’t that remind you of a former Rumble winner who recently crashed Ric Flair’s birthday celebration? If It reminded you of Batista then the similarities between Big Dave and Ryback should be clear.
By the time Batista won the Royal Rumble he was still fairly green in the ring and he didn’t really have the chops to pull off a good promo. Yet he won the Rumble and was thrust into the main event scene where he actually fine-tuned his wrestling and promo ability and in the process he became enjoyable. With that being said, if Ryback had gotten the same opportunity he might have been able to adapt just like Batista did. He might not have been a mega-star but if he was given the same opportunity as Batista eight years prior, he might have become a permanent fixture in the main event.
The point of this entire column is that WWE needs to let their wasteful tendencies fall by the wayside. It’s those self-destructive tendencies that has caused a great deal of harm to their brand of wrestling and is the direct cause of WWE not being able to create a major star. As of late they are more lenient towards the look of a wrestler but still Vince has a stigmatized view of those types of wrestlers. They say old habits die hard and if Vince doesn’t allow those habits to die then WWE will forever remain in the situation they now find themselves in. Vince needs to be brave enough to take risks when the opportunity arises and if he does he might just catch lightning in a bottle again.
And that does it for this edition of The Main Event. What do you think about WWE’s wasteful tendencies? Is there anyone you would like to add to this list? Please leave a comment below or pop me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter @donfranclop. Any and all feedback is always much appreciated. But until next time…
This is Don Franc signing out.