Long in the Truth: Star Power

I wrote this several days before SummerSlam aired and a few hours before the Smackdown tapings were published. This is my first column and if you have any say about it, there might be some to follow. With that being said, let me hear your thoughts. Enjoy.



With one of the WWE’s biggest events of the year just a few days away, it seems like to examine what makes this business tick. Economic times aside, week after week we see arenas packed, merchandise flying off shelves and whatever the actual numbers may be, hundreds of thousands a people a month still shell out forty or fifty bucks a pop to watch that months installment of a PPV. But what actually drives these continuous buy rates and ratings week after week and year after year? Is it the bulit in and well known name of WWF, WWE? Is it the fact that in spite of TNA (sorry I had to laugh out loud there for a minute) that there is relatively no competition?  Is it the production value and compelling storylines we get week after week (cough)? No the answer is star power. Star power has and always will be the driving force that makes this multi-million dollar company boom. So lets take a look at some of the reasons of why and more importantly who, make this industry thrive.
When you start something you start with strength and in this case that’s Triple H. He is despite injury, age and that succubus he calls a wife, he is still the biggest “talent” they have today and when I say “talent” I mean star. He won’t wrestle a technical match like CM Punk, be a high flyer like Evan Bourne or out of this world athletic like Kofi Kingston but he is dollar for dollar the biggest star they have. Playing heel or face, to this day the guy still draws ratings and packs arenas, if for no other reason than reputation alone. He’s got the star power, ability and mic skills that very few in this inudstry will ever have. And if you have to wonder then just consider what  Monday Night Raw would be like if Triple H were out for 3 months. (Yea I know) If you start off with a face, or for some of you fans just getting into the business a good guy as they call them, you have to follow up with the heel or the bad guy. (And for all you internet fans no I’m not talking about HIM) I’m talking about Randy Orton, the thrid generation wreslter who from day one had superstar written all over, in spite of his hair cut at the time. This kid has the look, the athleticism, the in ring ability and what ever you may personally think of his charisma, he has the outright ability to make a crowd absolutely hate him. And in this business that is something special. There is a line between playing an arrogant jerk and I dislike him role, ala Chris Masters and a thousand others who never got over and the I downright hate him to his very core and that’s what sells tickets, maybe even more so than a great face, is someone the fans can get behind and all hate together.

 Monday night Raw has that, Smackdown isn’t quite there and that leads me right to Chris Jericho and CM Punk. People have long thought that Punk with his straight edge gimmick would turn heel and it seems creative gas finally jumped the shark. Now for you older fans this is far from Henry Winkler putting on a pair of water skis and jumping over a shark but it does have it’s drawbacks. Punk is one of the younger more talented and certainly most original stars we have seen in this industry in quite some time. His straight edge attitude has the potenttial to be a great role model for kids and in large part due to his huge fan base, him posing as a top level heel right now  lacks some credibility. So with Punk not quite fitting the bill as a top level heel that brings me  to Chris Jericho. I don’t know what it is about this guy but something  just always seems to keep him right below that top mega star level. He has the charisma, the look, is by far and away one of the best in ring performers around today and despite all that he’s just half a notch below what the average fan would consider a top tier talent. I don’t know what it is but something keeps him just shy of being considered by many one of the greatest of all time.  Maybe it’s Vince’s obcession with guys over six foot tall, wno knows.
 There are alot of other superstars to talk about, Matt Hardy, MVP, Christian, Rey Mysterio and the likes but you can’t have a talk about star power without talking about him. Brace yourself inernet fans but I’m talking about John Cena. Now everyone has their opinion of Cena as do I but the one thing you can not dispute is that love him or hate him the guy is the very definition of a star. You might dislike Britney Spears but you sure as heck know who she is and if you are a wrestling fan you’ve certainly heard of John Cena. He is this generations Hulk Hogan, the superstar who kids love with the over the top personality and is always overcoming adversity to triumph over evil and yes I hated Hulk Hogans charecter as a child too. Like any star who becomes too popular playing a heel WWE (and who can blame them) watered down his charecter, developed a marketing strategy towards kids and created a PG rated version of his former self. And it worked. Women love him, kids look up to him and despite most males 17 and older hating him, either way you look at it John Cena is great for this business. You want to see him in the main event, if you are rooting against him or for him he is the type of personality and look that this industry thrives on.

 For those of you who are wondering, I’m not a fan of John Cena s charecter but I like what he brings to the table and was out of my chair when he returned at the 08′ rumble. For all of you who were Rock fans at the time, think about his star power  at the time but WITH work ethic and thats what John Cena is. He is a Hulk Hogan type charecter, with Rock like popularity and a physical freak that kids idolize. So let me take this time on behalf of  Cena fans and haters alike to thank you for having passion about this industry becuase if he were more like Dwayne Johnson and took one of his many leaves of absence during this time, we would be forced to watch a PPV that was borderline  terrible. Without Cena vs. Orton, that leaves Triple H vs. Cena (Again) no DX return and who knows what else as a filler. So on behalf of wrestling fans everywhwere, thank you John for making SummerSlam watchable. 
The present is ok, the past had its share of mega stars i.e. Hogan, Flair, Sting (I don’t consider him a present star) etc. but the future is the question, what’s gonna happen? Triple H is getting old, Shawn Michaels is part time, Batista is approaching 40 and there is talk he won’t be around much longer. Edge despite being a big name is often injured and may never be able to sustain an uninterrupted run and the Undertaker has all three. He’s well over forty now, injured all the time and can barely be consiered a part time worker, so who does that leave for the future? Cena and Orton are strong as ever and still fairly young, Punk is a great talent and should be a staple for years to come but beyond that there are a lot of question marks.

 Jericho is getting old and seems to have somewhat of a  a fading intensity, Big Show and Kane have never really been top stars, Matt Hardy may never fully reach his potenttial and Jeff Hardy may not be around when this column posts. MVP, Chrisitan and Rey Mysterio are all favorites but none is a true superstar so that leaves the future in the hands of the John Morrsions, the Evan Bournes, Kofi Kingston, Tyson Kidd, Ted DeBiase and Cody Rhodes of the world. Despite all their talent, right now I just can’t see a business thriving on those type of names at the top, but then again, could anybody really tell that Steve Austin was gonna be the superstar he turned out to be  back when he was the RingMaster? (lets not kid ourselves) It just goes to show you, that it’s all about Star Power. 

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