by Nik - June 27, 2013
Allow me to share a concern with you this week, as I fear my regular dosage of WWE TV is someone tainted by the icy grip of the Grim Reaper drawing ever near. You see, it’s become alarmingly apparent to me in recent times just how much the WWE is relying on somewhat aging performers to gets its product over.
I totally accept that this isn’t a new complaint and that the creating of new stars has been perhaps WWE’s biggest problem ever since the sun set on the Attitude Era. But it seems to me that the pushing of older performers has spread like an epidemic through the company in recent weeks.
Want proof? Mark Henry (age 42) is the new number 1 contender for the WWE Title (despite last being seen losing to Sheamus on PPV); Christian (39) and Rob Van Dam (42) have both returned to WWE TV and have immediately found themselves back in the main event scene at the upcoming Money in the Bank PPV; Vince McMahon (67) and HHH (43) have once again become TV regulars to feature in a prominent RAW storyline; And who was picked to face CM Punk in his comeback match at the Paypack PPV? A youngster who could have benefited hugely from engaging in an intense match with the hometown megastar? Nope. The 42 year old Chris Jericho.
It also baffles me that Curtis Axel – the one guy that has unquestionably been given the biggest push in the company in the last few weeks – is constantly referred to by the wrestling media as a “youngster” or an “up and comer”… He was born in the 1970s for Gawd’s sake, and is less than 3 years younger than Cena!
Of course, this is an industry where names draw, thus the bigger the name, the bigger the draw – whether we like or not, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan are gonna draw in the business until they’re six feet under. And even then, their gravestones will still likely prove quite the attraction.
Thus I get why WWE wants to chuck all its established main eventers into its WWE Title MITB match at the upcoming PPV – because it’s a jolly enticing match to market. But wouldn’t it be nice to see at least one guy who could be classed as “new” getting involved? Do we really need to see, say, Kane (46) in another MITB match? I’d much rather see his spot given up to the likes of Big E Langston or Bo Dallas – whose careers could receive a massive rocket-up-the-ass from sharing the spotlight with a plethora of well-established superstars.
The line-up for the WWE Heavyweight title briefcase MITB match is more pleasing, with the likes of Cody Rhodes and Dean Ambrose taking part (ie guys in their 20s) – but the line-up is hugely inferior to its WWE Title counterpart, presenting everyone involved (as well as the title itself) as being secondary. And of course it IS secondary… But WWE doesn’t need to be so blatant about it. Personally, I would take 3 or 4 guys from the Heavyweight Title MITB match and swap them with 3 or 4 guys in the WWE Title MITB match to balance the bouts out in terms of star power. Because hey, all I’m asking for is a bit of balance…
Yes, we’ve got the likes of The Shield establishing themselves as serious players, but more often than not it’s these younger guys who are at the bottom of the ladder or getting pounded in squash matches – sadly The Shield are but a meer exception to the norm. It’s difficult to think of another entertainment industry that is so reluctant to let younger talent run with the ball. Is “paying your dues” really enough of a reason to halt genuine talent – and potentially cost the company millions in the process?? Youth shouldn’t be perceived as a hindrance! Who’s to say that Drew McIntyre couldn’t have been a star as big as John Cena already if WWE hadn’t maintained his monster push that accompanied him in the first few months of his WWE career, instead of losing interest in him?
I’ll always respect what guys like Jericho, Christian (my favourite guy on the roster incidentally) and RVD have given – and carry on giving – to the business. But we shouldn’t forget that superstars like The Rock, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Bob Backlund all won their first WWE Title whilst in their 20s. If future superstars are going to possess the same sort of legacies as these legends in years to come, WWE can’t be scared to give a younger wrestler a mega push to the top of the mountain and see what plays out. I want to see Darren Ambrose pin top guys cleanly, Bray Wyatt have a sustained push over months upon his debut, and the likes of Cody Rhodes, Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre and Zack Ryder not just be jobber fodder for the veterans to squash.
A big push when superstars are well into their 30s just seems counter-productive to me – they’re already firmly established as a midcarder – and it can be mighty difficult to alter audiences’ perceptions. That’s why it’s taken a 2-year-plus push to get Mark Henry over (although audiences are determined to never let him forget the “Sexual Chocolate” moniker).
I understand the company can’t push someone solely because they’re youthful – they have to have the talent too of course. But these exceptional talents do exist. And I, for one, would like to see WWE throw a few more young guys in at the deep end in the near future. Mark Henry, Kane, RVD, Christian, Big Show, Jericho and even CM Punk (by his own admission) don’t have a hell of a lot left in the tank. And when they’re gone, I fear WWE’s main event talent could be very shallow indeed unless they buck this “push old guys” trend.
One thing to remember in all this though is that things could always be worse. The two most prominent stars in TNA are Hulk Hogan and Sting… Who have a combined age of 113.
Over and out.
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