A wrestling show is a performance, and like any good performance, whether it's stage or screen, momentum is key. An audience wants the wheels to turn faster and faster, building toward something incredible. When that momentum is broken, the result is hard to overcome.
Sometimes all it takes is a slow match, an awkward segment or a boring promo to take the viewer from his self-induced escape from reality, and give him a hard, jarring shake. Once that trance is broken, the spectacle of the show loses its glimmer, the larger-than-life characters look like guys in tights, and the child-like fixation turns to jaded cynicism.
As ridiculous as it may seem, the fans who analyze, scrutinize and crucify each WWE show are the ones that were hypnotized by how good it all can be when done right. We want it to be as good as we know it can be. For a while, it hasn't been.
Prosecutors could point the blame at a number of reasons why the quality of WWE programing fails to live up to its potential. In my humble opinion, a key factor would be the presence of a handful of superstars who seem to add little or nothing to the show in their current state of existence.
This is not a list of the worst wrestlers, nor is it a list of my least favorite wrestlers. In no particular order, here is a list of five offenders, who would be doing the WWE a greater service if they were to simply go away rather than doing what they are doing now.
It seems ironic to call Brodus Clay stale, seeing as his debut this past January was such a breath of fresh air to me.
However, the "Funkasaurus'" act has become staler than an old, musty baguette for one simple reason: He literally does the same exact thing every week.
The curve ball that was Clay's debut had the entire WWE universe talking. Fans were teased by vignettes signalling the coming of a ferociously vicious heel monster, but were given something entirely different. Brodus' lighthearted character translated beautifully into the ring, taunting his opponent with verbal exclamations, jiggling his behemoth body while waiting for his foe to make a move, even asking the audience, "Should I get him?!" before pouncing on his prey.
Basically, Brodus was a welcome addition to Raw. The party started as soon as he danced his way out to the ring, continued from bell to bell, and kept on chugging afterwards, as if his matches were minor interruptions in a never-ending dance fest.
But as anyone who has ever had a roommate can attest to, it's only so long before the music turns to loud noise. Loud, headache inducing, torturous noise.
Brodus Clay has been given just about nothing to do. Nothing. From his dance moves, to his matches, everything is always exactly the same. A quick routine, a lame squash match, and then a dance-off with a kid in the ring is about all one should expect when Clay shows up. By the way, this has been the case for seven months and counting.
For a moment, it appeared as if Brodus was entering into a feud with the team of Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger, two young stars who were also stagnant at the time. However, after a few meaningless matches, the entire thing was dropped, achieving nothing.
Basically, the "Funkasaurus" is just a large, colorful, festive way to kill time.
Best Case Scenario: The fix for Brodus is so simple—just let him do something! Anything! He was decently over within weeks, and can move rather well for a man his size. Just give him something to do.
In what was actually a pretty interesting segment, The Big Show manhandled Brodus, proving that the previously unscathed star was human after all. With the mystique of an undefeated rookie gone, let him get involved with any of the young guys looking for something to do. It doesn't have to be anything earth-shattering, but anything is better than watching his formulaic squashes week after week, right?
There seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding in the Creative War Room at WWE Headquarters. For some reason, the art of getting the fans to like some people, and dislike others, has been totally, and completely lost.
The most glaring example would, of course, be WWE poster boy, John Cena. For what seems like forever, "The Adventures of Super Cena" has aired every Monday Night, to the chagrin of any male fan old enough to recall the days when John Cena rapped, instead of helping little old ladies across the street.
Now, a spin-off airs on Friday nights called "Super Sheamus The Magnificent!" where the happy-go-lucky Celt delivers Brogue Kicks to anyone in a 12-mile radius. Two babyfaces who are being shoved down the throats of the fans. Two babyfaces that, as a result, few people enjoy watching.
Interestingly enough, this phenomenon is not limited to faces. Enter Alberto Del Rio...
Del Rio, who is mostly a Mexican "JBL," has achieved much in his brief WWE career. From winning the Royal Rumble in 2011, to the Money in the Bank match that same year, it seemed as if Vince and the boys were hell-bent on making Del Rio a main-event heel. Each time he would get there, the fans would lose interest. Each time he would fall, they would prop him back up again, trying to convince anyone that this guy should be the heel that everyone hates, but loves to watch.
After suffering a torn-groin muscle, Del Rio returned to Raw and was immediately inserted into a feud with Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship. While the two competitors traded verbal barbs that few could understand, let alone care about, the raucous Miami crowd chanted for Daniel Bryan, a man not even in the ring. It became clear that no matter how hard they tried to sell him, Vince and Creative could not get the fans to buy Del Rio.
The problem with Del Rio is that he is just not interesting enough to warrant the constant push toward stardom that he has received. The guy can get it done in the ring, and Ricardo Rodriguez, his personal ring announcer, is awesome. But like Cena or Sheamus, the never-ending push has grown tiresome, and the character was stale before Del Rio ran it into the ground.
Best Case Scenario: A thin roster in the wake of a stretch of bad luck, injury-wise, has made Del Rio an almost necessary evil. With Wade Barret on the verge of returning, and young guys like Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler or even Daniel Bryan more than capable in delivering as heels, ideally, his role as the go-to main-event heel should be downgraded.
As I said, the guy is not useless, and if given a new feud to develop a fresh aspect to his character, he could be a solid element of the roster.
Lord Tensai's tenure in the WWE has turned into an absolute joke. Although, to be fair, it really was never anything but.
Matt Bloom, the man formerly known as "Albert" or "A-Train" before heading to Japan, made his return to the WWE ring with an entirely new gimmick. Bloom was now dubbed "Lord Tensai," an American wrestler who found great success in Japan, adopted traditional Japanese customs and culture, and returned to showcase his talents in the U.S.—a fairly intriguing premise, but executed so poorly that the character would crash and burn within weeks.
Instead of giving Tensai any semblance of personality, his appearances were relegated to elaborate entrances, decorative Japanese costumes, and boring, unimpressive squash matches. Arrive, destroy, leave without saying a word. Before long, fans were completely tuned out, and "Shave your back" or "Al-bert" chants became commonplace.
After being inserted briefly into a feud between John Cena and then GM of Raw, John Laurinaitis, Tensai has bounced around, appearing occasionally to beat down on young talent, take up a spot in the SmackDown "Money in the Bank" match, or just abuse his manager/whipping boy, Sakamoto. With no real direction, no feuds or purpose, Tensai is just filler to take up valuable time that could be given to any number of young stars in the making.
Best Case Scenario: Tensai's role as a monster heel limits the way he can be used. If he is not showcased as dominant, he is betraying the point of his character entirely. The only problem is...no one wants to see him pushed as a main-event, dominant heel.
The Big Show holds the position of monster heel for the main event at the moment, so Tensai's very existence is pointless. The only way for Bloom's WWE return to be salvaged is to modify his character. His silent, monster heel persona is working as a hindrance.
There are intriguing aspects to the Tensai gimmick, but for anyone to really care, Tensai has to speak. Otherwise, Tensai will remain feud-less, direction-less and ultimately obsolete.
Santino Marella is a victim. The crime? Over-exposure.
For quite some time now, Marella has been the WWE's resident goofball and "funny" man, delighting the kids and providing off-the-wall comic relief. Highlighted by a memorable "near-miss" at the 2011 Royal Rumble, as well as a surprise entry in the Elimination Chamber for SmackDown, Marella's antics have gotten him over with the young fans.
Maybe a bit too over.
The United States Championship has been totally irrelevant for quite some time now. But in what can only be described as an "all-time low," a man who power-walks in circles around the ring, and wears a green snake puppet on his hand, captured the belt and is currently the reigning champ. Santino Marella is actually a Heavyweight Champion in the WWE.
Now, whether or not anyone finds Marella's over-the-top brand of silliness actually funny is beside the point. At the most basic level, most fans would be willing to agree that there is plenty of room for comical characters in a wrestling performance.
Mick Foley, one of the funniest people to ever step in the ring, had one of the most memorable main-event runs of all time. His feud with The Undertaker is legendary. His victory over The Rock to become WWF Heavyweight Champion (with an assist from Stone Cold) is widely regarded as one of the most monumental moments in the history of the business. And we're talking about a guy, who like Marella, wore a puppet on his hand.
So what's the problem?
The problem is that Mick Foley could not only delight the audience with cheap pops and his brand of "loveable loser underdog" charm, but also wrap himself in barbed-wire, tear the hair out of his own skull, and push The Undertaker to the brink in some of the most brutal contests ever witnessed. Santino Marella can not.
Best Case Scenario: What makes Marella's U.S. title run so ridiculous and off-putting is that Marella is a pure comedy act, and by holding a championship belt, he is making the rest of the roster, as well as the belt he holds, a complete joke. Santino as a performer is rather effective, and his physical abilities have been well-documented, but until his presence on the main show is turned way down, he will continue to draw the ire of any fan over the age of eight.
The late comedian Mitch Hedberg had a joke where he proclaimed that frogs were "always cool."
"I've never said, 'Here comes that frog' in a horrifying manner. It's always optimistic, like, 'Hey, here comes that frog...fantastic! Maybe he will settle near me.'"
I like frogs just fine, but I can honestly, without a doubt, no question about it say that I have never, in all my years of watching professional wrestling, been excited to see The Big Show.
When that theme music hits, the only thing bigger than Show's massive seven-foot, 500-pound frame, is the groan that escapes from the bottom of my gut. Whatever momentum the program had been building is about to come to a screeching halt.
To be fair, Show had a decent enough run as a monster heel giant at the turn of the century. Over a decade later, and the big man is just slower, older and more out of shape.
He is physically limited in terms of what he can do inside the squared-circle and he has rarely ever had any sort of gimmick. As a face, it's the gentle giant act. As a heel, the bitter, angry, monster who can't get no respect. Either way, it's boring. With no in-ring ability to compensate for a totally absent character, Show is really just a large guy who does stuff—some good, some bad, depending on how the storyline plays out.
Speaking of storyline, it seems as if Show's newest role on the roster is to act as a sort of poison. If a storyline or feud is showing any sign of potential, just inject The Big Show right into it, and he will surely muddy the water and make what could be entertaining matches into lumbering, triple-threat snooze fests.
The Big Show seems like a guy who really loves what he does, and that is totally respectable. He seems like a really great guy, to be totally honest. But in terms of making WWE programming better, I fail to see Show's contributions—unless you enjoy watching a large, bald man "punch" people in the face, awkwardly weep openly in the middle of the ring, or take spots in main-event matches that more able-bodied guys could desperately use.
Best Case Scenario: Show will always have the potential to help put guys over, no matter how far he falls down the ladder, based on his size and his career. The veteran giant would prove to be a significant notch in the belt of any up-and-comer, which I thought was the plan when he entered into a feud with Cody Rhodes around WrestleMania. Not so much.
What little Show has left in the tank should be spent trying to put over the new wave of stars, a la Chris Jericho. Not challenging John Cena in Pay-Per-View main events.