WWE Pushed to Punished Series: Evan Bourne's Turbulent Flight
For the past two weeks, I have returned my WWE Pushed to Punished series to Bleacher Report, analyzing the controversial careers of past or present WWE superstars who were on the receiving end of a push from management only to meet their inevitable downfall.
Although I originally planned on having this week's edition focus on Ted DiBiase, I have in light of recent events shifted my focus to the ever-so popular Evan Bourne. No need to worry, though, as DiBiase will only be postponed to next week.
"What goes up, must come down."
While that may be one of the most famous quotes ever spoken, it comes as a truthful statement. When thinking back on the past four years of Evan Bourne's WWE tenure, that quote constantly comes to mind.
Where did he go wrong?
That's typically the question we'd all love to answer when wondering why such a favorable wrestler has his or her career go straight down the tubes in the blink of an eye. Today, I'll attempt to enlighten you by analyzing the career of the troubled superstar in hopes of answering this frequently-asked question.
In June 2008, Bourne made his debut as part of the "new talent initiative" on the ECW brand. Throughout the rest of the summer season, he would pick up numerous victories over established veterans, including one over former ECW champion Chavo Guerrero.
Later in the year, Bourne would start to make more appearances on Monday Night Raw due to his friendship with Rey Mysterio. He was also able to earn a shot at the ECW Championship against Matt Hardy at the Cyber Sunday in his pay-per-view debut, but came up short following a valiant effort.
Sadly, Bourne would suffer an ankle injury on the subsequent episode of ECW, sidelining him for nearly five months. During his absence, he won the Slammy Award for "Best Finishing Maneuver," which was accepted by Mike Knox on Bourne's behalf.
Upon his return on the St. Patrick's Day episode of ECW, Bourne was merely directionless since it was too late to join the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 25. For the next few months, Bourne was engaged in a feud with Mark Henry, defeating the former ECW champion as well as Tony Atlas on numerous occasions.
That June, Bourne was traded to the Raw brand at the hands of Donald Trump. In his first match for the brand, he took on then-WWE champion Randy Orton and nearly notched out the victory, but became a victim of the sinister RKO.
The following month, he received his first real title push when he was put in contention for the United States Championship against Kofi Kingston. Despite that, he was left out of the U.S. title six-pack challenge at Night of Champions for no apparent reason.
Regardless, Bourne continued his pursuit for the star-spangled prize throughout the rest of 2009. He earned his first one-on-one shot at the gold that November against The Miz, but was unsuccessful. He also participated in the traditional Survivor Series tag-team elimination match later that month against the Awesome One, but was on the losing end.
On the first edition of Raw of the new decade, a potential push for Bourne was foreshadowed when he challenged then-WWE champion Sheamus to a match, stating that he would earn a shot at the prestigious gold if he ended up winning.
Despite connecting with the Shooting Star Press in the opening moments of the match, Bourne came up short of defeating the Celtic Warrior. At the Royal Rumble event later that month, he participated in his first and only Royal Rumble match to date when he entered the annual bout first.
Things started to look up for Bourne in 2010. He was able to qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 26, where he delivered an awe-inspiring performance. He even found a valet in Gail Kim for a brief period of time.
In late May, Bourne was featured in the opening segment on Raw when he was seen being attacked by Edge. This would lead to Bourne being featured in his first main-event match later that evening, where he and John Cena defeated Edge and Sheamus.
It was reported that Cena was very high on Bourne's work and called for a push for the young, rising star. This was evident throughout the month of June, when he picked up two decisive victories over Chris Jericho on Raw and the Fatal 4 Way pay-per-view.
The on-going rivalry between Bourne and Jericho continued throughout July, where both competed in the both Raw MITB match. It was also in July that Bourne was on the receiving end of the famous RKO from Orton after attempting a Shooting Star Press simultaneously.
Heading into the fall season, Bourne formed a tag team with Mark Henry during his on-and-off feud with the Nexus. The two challenged for the WWE Tag-Team Championships at Night of Champions, but were lastly eliminated by the victors Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre.
Almost exactly two years after sustaining his first injury, Bourne was once again deemed inactive due to surgery on his shoulder. To explain the absence on television, Punk put Bourne out of action after their Team Raw qualifying match for Bragging Rights.
Nearly four months later, the adrenaline junkie made his surprise comeback by defeating Sheamus in the opening match on Raw. Nonetheless, it was a one-night-only deal as Bourne was relegated back to jobber status for the next few months.
For the second year in a row, Bourne's push was renewed in May when he and Jack Swagger traded victories on Raw. Video packages for Bourne continued to air, signaling that he could finally be receiving success as a singles star.
At Capitol Punishment, Bourne defeated the former World Heavyweight Champion. Both young combatants participated in the Raw MITB match at Money in the Bank, but once again came up short.
Just when it seemed as if Bourne was once again doomed for being enhancement talent for the rest of his career, he joined forces with fellow floater Kofi Kingston to form Air Boom. After only a week of being together, the two defeated David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty to win the WWE Tag-Team Championships in late August, which would be Bourne's first taste of gold in WWE.
This new formidable tandem went on to defend their gold against the likes of the New Nexus, Awesome Truth and the team of Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. They would win most of their matches together, embarking on a lengthy streak of victories at one point.
In a shocking turn of events, Bourne was suspended for 30 days on November 1st after violating the WWE wellness policy. Despite this, he still remained a co-holder of the WWE Tag-Team Championships with Kingston.
Although it seemed as if he was being punished when he came back after losing a few of his matches, they were able to retain their straps against Primo and Epico at the TLC pay-per-view.
Apparently, Bourne didn't seem to learn his lesson the first time. He was suspended for a second time only a month later in mid-January. This time around, he dropped the tag titles to Primo and Epico at a house show to explain his absence.
"Sorry ya'll. Sometimes we become our own worst enemy," Bourne stated on Twitter the following day.
This came as a major disappointment to many wrestling fans who thought Bourne had turned his life around. That Twitter post from Bourne reminded me of Matt Hardy's tough times last year as well. Hardy has since been able to fully overcome his demons. Can Bourne follow suit?
Last Saturday, Bourne's 60-day suspension came to an end, meaning he was eligible to return to action. Many speculated that he would be the final participant for Team Teddy at WrestleMania 28, or even be inserted into the U.S. title picture.
Unfortunately, it was recently reported last night that Bourne was involved in a car accident on his birthday Monday night. Bourne broke his "mangled" foot in four places and fractured it in more than five.
Of course, this would mean that Bourne's rumored return has been delayed indefinitely. Just when you think his luck has finally turned around, it instead made a turn for the worst.
I've never seen Bourne as World Champion material, but he is certainly an entertaining mid-card act given his high-flying style and flashy move-set. He deserves at least one run with the United States Championship. He can provide solid matches with the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes and many others.
However, if Bourne's tenure with the company remains questionable in coming months, I could see him being a valuable asset to TNA's X-Division. There, he'd able to put on lengthy matches, receive a singles title run and smoke fake substances without being caught!
In all seriousness, I hope Bourne can overcome his demons relatively soon, so we can see him make his anticipated return to WWE television. Officials are hesitant to push a superstar who has two strikes on his record. But if they made Hardy WWE champion in 2008, why can't Bourne be given a similar push?
I hate to see Bourne's flight crash and burn so quickly. He holds greater potential than just being another footnote in WWE history. Sure, his mic skills might be holding him back, but such skills can be improved over time.
Regardless of his recent actions, I hope to see him recover quickly and fully to help his own health. My fingers are crossed that he can get his life back on track and take control of his own destiny.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and I'd greatly appreciate your feedback about my Pushed to Punished series in order for me to continue to pursue it. Additionally, drop a comment below with your thoughts on Bourne and other superstars you'd like me to analyze in future editions of my series.
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