When Damien Sandow first debuted, there was some question with regards to whether his gimmick could ever take him above a midcard level, but based on the way he has been received by the fans to this point, there very well may be a world title in the Intellectual Savior's future.
Sandow's holier-than-thou gimmick has been compared to that of The Genius, who was never anything more than a jobber as a wrestler, and eventually, a manager. There are definitely some parallels between them, but I remember being annoyed by The Genius more than anything. Sandow, on the other hand, is as entertaining a superstar as the WWE has to offer right now.
Although in-ring ability is always going to be a vital part of a WWE superstar's success, the ability to speak and relate to the fans may be more important than anything currently. It used to be that guys could ascend to the top of the company even with a lack of mic skills, but that simply isn't the case any longer.
A heel isn't going to draw any heat if he can't properly express his feelings on the mic and whip the fans up into a frenzy, but Sandow is already one of the best in the company in that regard. Each and every one of his promos is on point, and he manages to maintain his refined persona by effectively using an advanced vocabulary and never faltering.
Sandow has only been a regular WWE roster member for a few months, and it already feels like he has climbed the ladder quite a bit. The WWE is fairly thin when it comes to main-event heels with CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio as the top guys right now with Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz in reserve.
Sandow is already on the same level as Miz in terms of mic work and just a bit below Punk in my estimation.
You could argue that Sandow's gimmick makes him a niche character, but he actually has more depth than what is on the surface. On numerous occasions, he has snapped and looked more savage and barbaric in the ring than his character suggests. Sandow is very complex, and that should bode well for him moving forward.
Sandow isn't the greatest in-ring performer based on what I have seen, thus far, but he hasn't really been given an opportunity to shine. The vast majority of Sandow's matches have lasted about five minutes or less, so he has generally used the same three or four moves and gone with the same formula each time.
That doesn't mean that Sandow doesn't have more to offer, though. Based on his matches from FCW, which has since become NXT Wrestling, Sandow is perfectly capable of wrestling a match that goes 15-20 minutes or more. At this point, while he's still trying to establish himself, however, less is more.
Sandow has yet to partake in a real feud and hasn't even had a lot of time to establish himself yet, but I already consider him a lock to win either the Intercontinental or United States Championship at some point. Both of those belts have been devalued beyond recognition, though, so the true question is whether or not he can become WWE or World Heavyweight Champion.
There are plenty of heels in the WWE who have tried to get over for years but still haven't, so Sandow's instant heat bodes very well for his future prospects. The main thing you have to ask yourself when determining whether a heel can ascend to the main event is whether or not he can realistically contest John Cena, and I feel like Sandow most definitely can.
Love him or hate him, Cena is one of the best in the business when it comes to cutting promos and making matches and feuds feel important, so he needs to work with heels who can hold their own in that regard. Sandow obviously has a long way to go and may not reach his full potential for a couple years, but he has all the tools you look for in a top heel.
Sandow is a throwback in every sense of the word, and I hope that the WWE brass realizes how big of a star he can be. It isn't easy to get the fans to hate a superstar instantaneously, but Sandow has nuclear heat already. He continues on this upward trend, then there is no reason why he can't become one of the company's top draws down the line.
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