Undercard Overhaul: 5 Angles to Improve WWE TV
Brodus Clay's debut on Raw was a scene we'll never forget.
Equal parts Junkyard Dog and Godfather, Clay's dance routine was the most memorable moment on a program full of surprise Hall of Fame announcements and Zack Ryder's inability to change a flat tire. Like it or not, the Funkasaurus left an indelible impression in a business where a lack of flavor is tantamount to career suicide.
Here are five more angles to turn WWE's undercard from funky to fresh.
5. The Celtic Connection
Drew McIntyre is struggling to get over, on the verge of being "fired" from SmackDown (again) after a year in obscurity wrestling in dark matches and on Superstars.
Sheamus is drifting from one filler feud to the next, crowded out of the World Heavyweight and Intercontinental title pictures for the foreseeable future.
Teddy Long realizes that Drew has potential and asks the Great White to be McIntyre's wing-man, his training partner and traveling buddy, in hopes that Sheamus' friendship will awaken something in Drew that we haven't seen before. Thus, the Celtic Connection is born.
Sheamus and McIntyre would butt heads at first, sure, but the process of building camaraderie and mutual respect through miscommunication and bad timing would make for compelling television on a weekly basis. Fans would come back to see them work hard and find a way to win, build momentum gradually like tag teams did in the Old School before two random Superstars could be thrown together on a whim and win the tag belts in their first match.
This whole story could play out in the ring without relying heavily on time-consuming backstage vignettes, which is a rare and valuable commodity in today's market, while simultaneously pushing two young wrestlers that WWE wants to keep but doesn't otherwise know what to do with.
If Vince McMahon doesn't get cold feet and immediately turn one against the other, Sheamus and McIntyre could form a serious, solid, long-term partnership and add another credible contender to the tag team throne, close to gold (where both guys belong).
4. The Funky Fossils
I give Tyler Reks credit for his Midcard Mafia YouTube show but it lacks that certain wide-eyed charm of Z! True Long Island Story. Now that Curt Hawkins and Brodus Clay have both made their re-debuts on Raw, however, Reks is left wondering where he fits into WWE's big picture.
I say, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
Tyler Reks, now calling himself T-Reks and wearing "dinosaur-skin boots," should join forces with "the Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay in a jive-talkin', earthquakin', booty-shakin', Flintstones-themed tandem called the Funky Fossils. Their promos would be Willy Wonka nightmare fuel starring the love-children of Scott Steiner and the Ding Dongs, with enough of the Dupps mixed in to throw everyone off the reservation.
(I'm an unapologetic child of the '80s and '90s. Bear with me.)
It's over-the-top and ridiculous. Commentary would have no idea what to do with them, trying to make heads or tails out of the Peculiar Prehistoric Pair. The gimmick hearkens back to an era of unabashed cartoon characters and is pure comedy relief but at least they're on TV and have something to do (chase Air Boom for the gold).
The Fossils would be memorable (if nothing else) and the sheer silliness of the angle would give way to an eventual Dustin Rhodes/Seven-like turn to the serious as Reks and Clay finally get tired of jumping through brass rings and start kicking some major butt as angry, unappreciated monstrosities.
(There's a bonus if they get Yoshi Tatsu involved. "It's-ah me! It's-ah Mario!")
3. Heath Slater No More
Without Nexus or (shudder) the Corre, Heath Slater doesn't have a whole lot going for him.
His accent is overwhelming, he's got a non-descript nickname that's only peripherally attached—"One Man Southern Rock Band" is meaningless if he doesn't epitomize Southern Rock, isn't in a band or, at very least, dresses like a Freebird—and no one's going to spend a dime to watch some guy wrestle who looks like Julianne Moore's shorter, freakish, male stunt double. (I'm sorry. I can't get over it.)
Slater's not a bad wrestler but he currently lacks "it," which is a popular (if maddeningly vague) concept touted by industry professionals and fans alike, and thus Heath seems invariably perched on that line between legitimate "X-Pac Heat" and being "Future Endeavor'd" when Creative finally throws up their hands and has nothing for him.
It's fortunate, then, that Vince can ship Slater off to FCW for a few months and bring him back at a later date with a head-to-toe make-over (and, by that, I mean we don't see anything from his head to his toes). Slap Slater in a black and red full body leotard with Power Ranger accessories, present him with Liger-like lucha headgear, teach him a few new moves and relaunch this kid's career as Generic Luchadore No. 462 hailing from Parts Unknown—just as long as he's not Heath Slater.
He could at least get a better run than Ultimo Dragon.
2. The Savage Samoans
Jimmy and Jey Uso seem destined for greatness. Vince McMahon loves twins, they've got Anoa'i ancestry and a fascinating entrance in the Siva Tau, as well as a unique look and youthful exuberance. Unfortunately, these qualities (and a few unpleasant brushes with the law) don't always translate into television time and the Usos have been relegated to back-burner status as WWE struggles to incorporate dedicated tag team wrestling into prime time programming.
They've got so much going for them, all the Usos need to bridge the gap between ambiguity and super-stardom is an edge, a "Look at me! Look at me!" attitude and some intensity and bite.
The first thing that's got to go is the name. They can still be Jimmy and Jey Uso but that hum-drum "Usos" doesn't tell us much beyond what we can see with our eyes. They're Samoan, we get it. It's not particularly exciting on a marquee. But if they're going to do this fierce tribal war dance and they're going to carry the lineage of Afa and Sika (and Samu and the Tonga Kid and so on and so forth), then their name needs to invoke every ounce of that lineage. "The Usos" is flat. They need to be "the Savage Samoans."
The second thing they need is a catalyst for their savagery, someone to come along and end their "yawn Usos" complacency with big boots to their pant-seats, someone they would respect and admire more than anyone. Jimmy and Jey need Solofa Fatu—Rikishi, their father—in their corner, urging them to commit great acts of barbarism (not unlike the early '00s Dudleyz).
Once the Savage Samoans have ridden the bad guy horse to a championship or two, or Rikishi no longer wants to travel, their father can order them to destroy some helpless Diva—by running her over!—and the Usos can turn face by refusing to do his evil bidding. Rikishi can manage an opposing team for awhile who agree to destroy Jimmy and Jey in exchange for his services and be retired in a stipulation match, leaving the door open for the Usos to become their own men.
1. The Cole-Guerrero Coalition
Michael Cole is one topic everyone can agree on: we hate his guts. He's got a stupid haircut and his mother dresses him funny. From burying talent on commentary and shoveling cringe-worthy vignettes down our throats (for literally years now) to cutting a promo on Jerry Lawler's recently deceased mother before WrestleMania last year, there isn't a single heat-seeker on the roster who gets the kind of reaction Cole does—but there is a close second. Her name is Vicki Guerrero and I'm imagining a horrific Dystopian future where the two become more than "just friends."
Here's how it happens:
Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger are still Vickie's only clients. After months of separation, Dolph and Vickie renew their romantic entanglement, creating a love triangle with Swagger who also (not-so-secretly) longs for Vickie's affections. Both suitors are angered when Vickie gains two new clients, nasty beasts named Brodus Clay and Tyler Reks (breathing fire post-Funky Fossils).
While Vickie's Family continues in-fighting, Cole gets more aggressive on commentary, reviving levels of ill will present last February and March. So far, these events are unconnected but business is picking up.
Eventually, the conflict between Ziggler and Swagger erupts, forcing Vickie to proclaim that she doesn't love either of them... She loves Michael Cole! Clay and Reks destroy Ziggler and Swagger on Vickie and Cole's orders (because Cole doesn't like competition) and the Cole-Guerrero Coalition is formed. The next week there's a sickeningly sweet segment where they sign papers to form an LLC, played out like a marriage, to seal the deal.
Vickie to Cole: "I'd love to show you what's in my Cole Mine."
Ziggler and Swagger, now faces and wondering how they could've been so foolish, team up to dismantle the Coalition and months of angles ensue. Everyone involved is elevated thanks to Cole and Guerrero's colossal combined heat (and some meaningful matches), and the alliance is finally ended when Vickie discovers that Cole is cheating on her with another woman—whom Ziggler and Swagger hired. Everyone's free to go their separate ways (or continue sub-plots as Creative sees fit).