WWE: Why Heath Slater Is Anything but a Joke

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2012

photo by wwe.com
photo by wwe.com

So, who’s it going to be tonight?

For the past several weeks, Heath Slater has been laid out in the ring by an assortment of WWE Legends.  Vader, Roddy Piper, Sycho Sid, and Diamond Dallas Page have all hit the ramp, and hit Slater right between the eyes.

Especially Piper, whose eye poke led to Cyndi Lauper actually being the one to put Heath down.  Still trying to forget about that one.

Tonight promises to be no different, as with each passing week, WWE inches closer to the 1000th broadcast of its flagship program, Monday Night Raw.

And I, for one, am looking forward to it.

I am of the NWA generation, and came up during the days of Ric Flair versus Ricky Steamboat, and Dusty Rhodes versus the Four Horsemen.  During that time, Jim Crockett Promotions was it, and everything else, including Vince McMahon’s WWF, was a distant second.

However, through the years, following Crockett’s sale to Ted Turner, the ascension of WCW, and their eventual demise, the only true constant in the business has been McMahon’s company.  

They have redefined the industry, taken it to heights previously never imagined, and are now the biggest pro wrestling company in the world.

And, they built a huge majority of it around Raw.

So, yes, to see all of the past and present Superstars who have made that company what it was and is, all on the same Monday night stage, promises to be very cool and historic to say the least.

Oh, and Heath Slater is going to be there too.

Looks like a joke, right?  The hair, the gear, the singing. Holy Lord, the singing.

Slater is the pure definition of a WWE joke gimmick.  Everything from his appearance, to his southern drawl and goofy “one-man band” shtick, it all screams Vince McMahon and what he views to be comic relief.

Perhaps that’s a bit unfair, as Slater is really less funny, and just more pathetic.  He looks like that creepy kid in fourth grade who laughed at dumb jokes, wore knock-off Nikes, and ate paste.

But, don’t look now, that kid has made the big time.

Slater is a punch line right now, there is no doubt about it.  But, he is a punch line who is getting the last laugh.  How?

Because he’s a guy who is doing what he wants to do, on the worldwide stage of WWE, and he is jobbing to some of the biggest names that the business has ever seen.

And, what’s wrong with that?

As fans, we are constantly looking for the “next big thing.”  We believe that as lifelong observers, commentators, and critics, that we can spot a diamond in the rough, and we know best who deserves to be pushed and who doesn’t.  It’s in our DNA as fans.  It’s what we do.

But that constant obsession with finding and supporting the next big Superstar sometimes takes its toll, and keeps us from the obvious events that are happening right before us.

The fact is, Heath Slater is that diamond in the rough, that guy who is a work in progress, who needs just a little more time, a little more work, and he will be on his way to true relevancy in WWE.

Right now, Slater has, for all intents and purposes, replaced Santino Marella as WWE’s resident heel clown.  He is the useless Superstar who is going nowhere at 100 miles an hour.

But, wasn’t that Santino at one time?

Okay, let’s be honest, Marella’s routine has become pretty stale in recent months, and the fact is that no one can know where this thing with Slater will eventually end up.  There’s always a very good chance that as soon as Heath has served his purpose of getting the Legends over, he will fade away and be pushed back down into obscurity.

But the truth is, this is WWE we’re talking about here.  As much as they are capable of giving a guy something to do, only to kill the idea later, they are also known for building Superstars up from the very bottom, and pushing them to the moon just because they can.

Is that what we’re seeing with Heath Slater?

While the question of who gets to squash Slater tonight is still up in the air, I think we all know who gets that job on the 1000th episode of Raw.  

That would be Stone Cold Steve Austin.  And, while he will no doubt bring smiles to the faces of every fan watching, he will also be making another guy very happy as well.

That guy is Heath Slater.  And he is currently laughing louder than anyone.