After developing a mini-feud with Sheamus and storyline heat with Hornswoggle, it seemed that WWE creative were trying to start a small fire behind Heath Slater. Sadly, it never caught on.
Slater has gone from being on TV regularly to not at all. It’s a shame too, because as Booker T. would say, “This kid can GO.” Despite that, his last appearance saw him being squashed by the world's only living, breathing "Funk-a-saur-us," and he didn't even make an appearance during the Royal Rumble PPV, let alone the match itself! So why did his candle go from warm to ice-cold?
The issue lies in two factors:
Many people don’t realize this, but Slater can talk. If you look at some of his work with Nexus in 2010, you’ll see that his mic work definitely has room for improvement but is watchable.
And with his unique accent, given the right material, he might be able to shine a bit brighter. However, Slater has essentially been muzzled. The last time we saw him talk was during his encounter with Sheamus that ended in Slater channeling R. Kelly by flying from the ring. It’s hard to judge the man’s promo work when he’s never given a chance to cut one.
His confusing gimmick
The One-Man Southern Rock Band?
I know exactly what happened here. Creative knew that Slater had a pretty thick accent, and since he’s a smaller, pretty-boy type of guy, they figured they could slap him with a rock gimmick. Done, and done.
Problem is, there’s an huge disconnect between the gimmick and the way he acts. He comes to the ring with his music and video, but he acts about as tame as any other jobber. His personality doesn't show through that gimmick at all.
Not only that, but his look has nothing to do with southern rock! He looks like a fan of Van Halen or Guns & Roses, not Lynyrd Skynyrd or .38 Special.
It’s not working.
The Change He Needs to Survive
The thing is, Slater doesn’t need a face turn or a radical change, he just needs some more fine tuning of his gimmick. It would fit much better if they slapped some makeup on him and made him a wild Glam-Rocker.
Also, they should drop the “Southern” from his nickname, change his intro, and for pity’s sake, let the man talk. Then they should pit him against someone squeaky clean like Ted DiBiase or David Otunga, or even reheat things between him and Justin Gabriel (because let's be honest, Gabriel's small program with Rhodes has gone and is going absolutely nowhere).
With these changes, they might be on to something with Slater. If he can stir things up between himself and some of the other mid-card talent, it might elevate everyone’s game and earn him a permanent place in the Fed.