Christian's Quiet Return: Surprising?

radContributor IFebruary 11, 2009

The much-anticipated return of Christian to the WWE occurred on the stage where fans were least likely witness it: ECW.

For months, fans have speculated on what Christian’s new role will be once he debuted. Will he be revealed as Jeff Hardy’s mystery stalker, will he align himself with on-screen brother Edge?

Or better yet, will he feud with Edge to set up a parallel brother vs. brother feud? Tuesday night’s ECW telecast answered those questions with a resounding “No, No, and No.”

Christian’s homecoming took place on ECW, at the expense of current ECW champion Jack Swagger. In a move that surely no-one expected, Christian claims to have come to ECW because he wants the ECW title.

And also to save Jack Swagger from electrocution, which apparently is caused from lisp-induced saliva and microphones. Everything about his return, from the sub par promo to the fact that he’s on ECW, was a bit underwhelming, but fans shouldn’t be surprised.

First, the departure of Matt Hardy left a huge void within ECW in the form of a top babyface. While the Finlay and Hornswoggle act connects to the younger viewers, Finlay doesn’t fit the mold of a top babyface that all fans can connect to.

Christian fits that mold, and he is perfectly capable of carrying ECW before he’s finally ready for the Red or Blue brand.

The second reason that Christian’s ECW debut should come as no surprise is the fact that he came from TNA. It’s the WWE’s subtle way of proclaiming to the world that TNA is below them.

To the WWE, inserting a recent TNA wrestler into the main event scene is admitting that TNA talent is on par with WWE talent. In fact, most of the wrestlers who’ve come to the WWE were involved in high profile angles in their last days in TNA, but were relegated to ECW or mild pushes initially. 

Monte Brown/Marcus Cor Von was teaming Jeff Jarrett and taking on Sting and Cage shortly before he left TNA. He even received had a match with Christian Cage for the NWA Heavyweight title match, which he lost. When he arrived in the WWE, he floundered in ECW before unfortunately being released for family reasons.

Chris Harris/Braden Walker was an NWA Tag Team Champion as one half of America’s Most Wanted. In WWE, he wrestled in one or two televised matches and was released before fans even realized he’d changed promotions.

Though with Walker, his short stint had more to do with the fact that he came in out of shape and overweight, rather than the fact that he came from TNA.

Goldust/Black Reign was in the mix with the likes of Christian Cage and Abyss in his short time in TNA. Now back in the WWE, he is nothing more than a comedy act that was initially brought in to compliment Santino Marella and to serve as a jobber.

Ron Killings/R-Truth was a multi-time world champion in TNA. While he did receive a complete character repackaging and a series of vignettes prior to his debut, he was supposedly to be thrown into the main event mix of Smackdown and that never materialized. In fact, even his mid-card push has been mediocre.

Jeff Hardy is perhaps the most successful of those defecting from TNA back to the WWE, and even he wasn’t inserted into the main event picture initially. He did receive several pre-debut vignettes and he even defeated Edge on the night of his debut.

But he immediately settled into the midcard, feuding with Johnny Nitro (now John Morrison) over the Intercontinental Championship. It was until many months later that Jeff Hardy finally received the push that would eventually see him as WWE Champion.

In short, fans should not expect any ex-TNA wrestlers to make immediate, meaningful impacts in the WWE.  The WWE is not giving TNA that sort of acknowledgement yet.  That only happens the other way around. 

When an ex-WWE wrestler goes to TNA, not only do they make it glaringly obvious that they just came from the WWE (not that most fans didn't already know), but they also become immediate contenders to the TNA Heavyweight Championship!