We see it all the time, and not just in the WWE and professional wrestling, but across all TV platforms: recycling of storylines and ideas.
The fact is that at some point, it will happen. Sometimes it is done well (Rock vs. Cena smacks of Rock vs. Hogan; a passing of the torch) and sometimes it is done poorly (Nexus’ forced recruitment of Cena; a throwback to nWo?). However, with WWE currently struggling for decent content, I believe it is time for WWE creative to begin to recycle some concepts, ideas and storylines from the past, but this time to have those involved think it through, use some star power and offer value for the fans in revisiting these tried and tested approaches.
This slideshow will be the first in a series detailing ways WWE creative can revisit past glory in a bid to revive the stale product they currently offer and help to launch the next generation of stars. While I am very much in favour of original ideas and approaches, there are some things that I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to see again. This is my first piece on Bleacher Report, so please, be kind in the comments and bear with me. I hope you enjoy.
The first thing WWE should look to recycle is the blueprint of successful stables like DX, the nWO and, more recently, Evolution. Here are five ways the WWE could benefit from reusing these proven formulas and recycling past stable ideas.
Now let me clarify here by saying, I don't want nWo or DX or any other former stable to reform, I only want to see the excitement that goes with the formation of a stable that has star power.
While Nexus and The Corre had some things going for them in their formation, what both really lacked is the appeal of a bona fide WWE Superstar as their leader. While some might say CM Punk offered this as leader of The New Nexus, he didn't truly gain his Superstar pull until his "Shoot" last year, well after his Nexus run.
Imagine if Triple H had been the mastermind behind the original Nexus invasion. It would have given the whole angle a lot more credibility and staying power, instead of letting a promising storyline fade away to nothing.
When the nWo originally formed, it brought together a nucleus of superpowers in Nash, Hall and Hulk Hogan. It brought fans to their feet to see these Superstars align at the expense of Macho Man, the WCW and later the WWE. It polarized the wrestling world and later offered an exciting recruitment war between the different nWo factions and the WCW. Whether as a stable of heels or faces, the WWE could now recycle this idea to breathe new life into the WWE universe.
Imagine this: Alberto Del Rio and Christian rushing the ring to attack CM Punk following a match. The buzzing of boos and cheers turns to silence as the crowd is stunned, witnessing John Cena come to the rescue, only to give Punk the Attitude Adjustment and lock in the STF while the other two lay the boot in.
After crippling the Champion, Cena takes the mic to announce the formation of The FU Nation (obviously with a better name) that is made up of Superstars that feel completely under-appreciated by the WWE brass and more importantly, the WWE fans.
A strong heel group, an amazing heel turn by the WWE poster boy and exciting attacks on faces...What's not to like? Not only will the formation of a new stable with real star power in the form of John Cena reinvigorate the WWE (and John Cena, for that matter), it will add a new platform to build new, exciting storylines and launch other WWE superstars to great heights. Which leads me to the next way recycling older stable approaches can reinvigorate the business...
...The excitement that goes with recruiting Superstars!
I don't know about you guys, but during the old nWo days (I know it was not for everyone), the thrill that came with each faction fighting to recruit or hold on to members was exhilarating.
The nWo factions and WCW fighting for superstars like Lex Luger and Sting was some of the most addictive writing I've seen in professional wrestling. When Lex Luger and Sting joined the Wolfpac, the crowd ate it up and lost their minds.
What about when DX rushed the cage match to confirm The New Age Outlaws as their new members? The audience went crazy. The fact is, recruiting new members and the different ways that it can happen makes for great moments and possibilities.
These examples worked because they involved bona fide stars like Nash, Hogan and Triple H.
However, what it also did was elevate the importance of not only mid-carders, but all the different belts. All of a sudden, mid-carders like Konnan, Buff Bagwell and X-Pac were brought up to share the spotlight with some of the biggest names around. They were main-eventers by association.
It became so very important to recruit the tag champions, or to have the Intercontinental title amidst your stable's ranks. By placing importance on recruiting the belt holders and mid-carders, or attacking those who wouldn't join, the excitement of the fallout had so many of us tuning in each week.
Imagine this: A constant, back-and-forth fight over Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz to join either John Cena's new heel faction, The FU Nation, or Randy Orton's New Dynasty. Cody Rhodes would become hot property as Intercontinental Champion and his profile would receive a massive boost with the higher-profile wrestlers and their respective factions feuding over him. Ring rushes, all-in brawls, lies, deception and twists in the story...It practically writes itself.
When you are dealing with stables full of stars, with a clear heel vs. face feel, there is no easier or more obvious way to launch a mid-carder up the ranks than with a heel or face turn on former teammates. As seen here, Batista putting Triple H through the table illustrates this perfectly. This moment not only marked Batista's total departure from Evolution, but his launch as a top face on the RAW brand. The crowd could not help but chant his name.
Turning on a faction full of heels is truly one of the easiest and most successful ways to put a talent over with the crowd as a babyface. On the other hand, turning against your face stable-mates gains you heat from anybody who happens to be a fan of any one of your former friends.
It's not only easy, but it works time and time again. Time to recycle, WWE, and this time using stars like Evolution did. Remember, this stable used Ric Flair and Triple H to really send Randy Orton and Batista to the top of the business.
Imagine this: The FU Nation, led by John Cena, and home to Christian, Cody Rhodes, Mark Henry, Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio, Primo and Epico and Chris Jericho, throw the crowd into a frenzy when all the members turn on their leader, attack John Cena and ultimately expel him from the faction for his friendship with face Superstar Zack Ryder.
The following RAW, we witness a tag match featuring members of the FU Nation, now led by Cody Rhodes, against a couple of popular faces, let's say it's Zack Ryder again with Sheamus. When the rest of the FU Nation rushes the ring to start laying into these two, Cena rushes in closely followed by Randy Orton to make the save, completes his face turn and in turn, kicks off a new alliance with Sheamus, Orton and other WWE faces.
This could also allow Cena to reinvent himself as a face and get over again with a crowd that has grown tired of his current babyface run. What if the betrayal happened to Cody Rhodes? His new alliance with popular faces with some star power would take him to the next level. The possibilities are endless!
I constantly read the displeasure of some Bleachers in watching former Superstars like The Rock and Chris Jericho taking TV time and pay-per-view slots away from the full-time stars who toil all year long, fighting to make a name for themselves.
However, with the right recycling of past stable formats, it is easy to ride on the popularity of Superstars of eras past without stealing so much time from the up-and-comers and lifting the status of these new names and mid-card talent to the next level.
The most recent successful use of this strategy was Evolution. Again, it is main-event status by association.
By using the Star power of Triple H and Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Batista were given a huge push to the top. The thing was, Triple H and Ric Flair, while involved, didn't really have to do anything other than blast a few promos, throw in some kicks and punches when ambushing opponents, point the finger for Orton and Batista to attack and wait for the inevitable betrayals to finalize the push.
By using this format, past stars can pass the torch to the next generation, as was done in Evolution. It can even buy Superstars who are less than stellar on the mic a chance to gain greater attention and perhaps give them the time to practice. Goldberg, anyone?
Imagine this: A stable formed by HBK following his betrayal at the hands of Triple H at WrestleMania 28 sees a recruitment war break out between Michaels and The Game. Michaels, begins recruiting faces to throw Triple H's plans into disarray and force the board to once again question his authority. Triple H responds by recruiting Del Rio, Mark Henry or the FU Nation as a whole to act as his muscle in defending not just himself, but any decisions he makes that are "good for business."
It's an all out war where HBK and The Game don't even have to step in the ring for a match but have their relative stables do all the hard work and gain all the attention. The former DX Superstars merely share their popularity with their respective teams. And when the time calls for HBK and The Game to face off, all it takes is one of them to betray their stable, reform DX, walk away and let the fallout create new leaders, new mayhem, new stories and new Superstars.
The Undertaker could always begin recruiting for a new demonic faction. Tyson Kidd, Sheamus, Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan working under the Deadman's rule? That's more of the Phenom without him having to risk his already injured body and using his appeal to launch the next generation. Works for me.
Back during the Monday Night Wars, nWo made it their mission to either recruit every title holder or to ensure their members won every title. With such high-profile names and their faction placing such importance on the tag team and mid-card titles, fans couldn't help but start to see these straps as more prestigious. As seen here, the entire nWo Hollywood stable come out to celebrate Bret Hart winning the US title.
Imagine this: The FU Nation, led by a heel John Cena, ambush a reformed Air-Boom and ensure that Epico and Primo (members of the FU Nation) win the tag titles and then flood the ring to celebrate. This not only paints the tag titles as being valuable, but it offers a great chance for a group of faces to rush the ring and create mayhem for a screaming, sold-out crowd.
Or could you see Eve coming out to distract the referee while John Cena and Daniel Bryan lay out Santino to give The Miz or Del Rio the win and the US title?
Using the big names in new alliances and their hunger to possess all forms of gold within their stable just raises the stakes. It heightens the importance of all the titles other than the WWE Championship or the World Heavyweight Title. I really think this is vital for the WWE, as all but the two main titles have lost most of their once huge appeal.
While there are many other benefits that could come from reusing past stable formulas, including the unpredictability of the stables themselves, new and exciting storylines and the mayhem that comes in the form of ambushes, ring rush-ins and the like, the best thing I see in rehashing winning stable blueprints is the way it can launch new Superstars and help push new names to the top of the company.
Using your John Cenas, CM Punks, Chris Jerichos and Randy Ortons to help raise the profile and importance of mid-carders like Alberto Del Rio, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus and even the Usos could, for all intents and purposes, double the main event card, save the value of the tag team and mid-card titles and usher in the next era, all in one stroke of the creative brush.
WWE Creative could ride on former or injured stars like HBK, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Edge or (completely out of the blue) DDP and set the foundation for a new wave of Superstars. I for one would love to see Austin 3:16 begin a recruiting war with CM Punk. It could make for one hell of a roller coaster.
All factions and stables come and go, this we've seen time and time again, but if done correctly, they can leave a lasting legacy.
The nWo is still talked about today and speculation runs riot any time we see Kevin Nash. DX launched Chyna, The New Age Outlaws and X-Pac to new heights whilst Evolution was responsible in the making of Randy Orton and Batista.
If done right, stables create not only great joy and excitement for fans, but they help lay the foundation for the next generation. This is one thing I would like to see the WWE creative team recycle in a bid to rediscover its mojo.
I hope you enjoyed. Again, this is my first article. Please be kind, but do leave a comment if you have any other ideas that could be on this list or even the next recycling article.