"Edge." No, I'm not talking about the Hall of Famer. I'm talking about the character trait.
The thing that made a lot of people think the Attitude Era was the greatest thing since Sliced Bread No. 2. The thing WWE has lacked for a long time, if you ask most people. The thing that may very well be the key to turning the roster of 2012 and the majority of it in 2013 into the greatest roster in the history of the WWE. Or at the very least, pretty damn good.
I point you to the recent feud between The Big Show and Sheamus over the World Heavyweight Championship. The feud that has (oddly enough) made Sheamus even better than his initial run as champion, and many point to Sheamus' aggression as a factor in the positive reaction's he's been getting.
For the longest time, many criticized Sheamus for not taking anything serious; from his feud with Daniel Bryan to his feud with Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus was called out for acting like a "goofball" when the situation didn't call for it. Even in the beginning of his feud with The Big Show, Sheamus' attitude was under severe scrutiny.
After Hell in a Cell, though, the tables turned. The Big Show hopped into the driver's seat and has been on a roll since winning the Big Gold Belt, and needless to say, Sheamus has not been a happy Irishman. He's seemingly made it his life's goal to not only get back the World Championship but also destroy The Big Show in the process—and with a Chair Match likely happening at the TLC PPV, I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen. With all that said, regardless of how things go for Sheamus in his next match against Big Show, I have to think that this is the face Sheamus the WWE Universe would love to have.
And all that is Sheamus. He's still the same guy. He still jokes from time to time. He's just got a bit more edge to him than before, and I think he's a prime example of how a little edginess can help make the overall roster better.
The Rock, Stone Cold and CM Punk are all notorious for edge. It's arguably been the deciding factor in what endears people to these names in the first place, Punk especially being in a time with much less edge than the Attitude Era from which The Rock and Stone Cold are from. His infamous shoot promo last year is a perfect example.
This leads me to another Superstar. The face of the WWE, John Cena. A superstar who's been called out more than anyone else for having a lack of edge. He's been called "corny," "stale" and many other negatives. Some deserved and others unjustified. There is no denying, though, that Cena does his best work when he feels threatened and the normally playful puppy taps into its suppressed feral instincts. His feuds with The Rock and CM Punk are a testament to that in comparison to his work in recent years with other names.
And it's not just a theory that could work for the top guys. Almost every Superstar who normally comes off as pretty docile has been said to be needing an edge or some seriousness injected into their character. That's why many fans want to see Boris Alexiev and not Santino Marella, why some say Zack Ryder will never be a main eventer—too "goofy," and why a lot of people can't get behind 3MB. They are comedic in many of their appearances, something brought up when Drew McIntyre is mentioned.
Would Boris be a better midcarder than Santino? I think so. If Zack was serious (bro) could he walk away from a WrestleMania with the WWE Championship around his waist one day? I wouldn't be surprised if he did it with his current gimmick. Were Heath to drop the air guitar and the overemphasis on the word "baby," where would his ceiling be?
Those are the kind of questions I'm sure people have asked and answered several times, and in some cases I'd like to see it work. Now, for some, maybe it's not the best. For example, Ryder got over by being "goofy." Wouldn't taking that away hurt his image with the fans and make him something of a sellout in the eyes of many (if they don't already consider him a sellout for giving WWE control of Z:TLIS)? Did you, or did you not, enjoy Heath Slater's aggressive air guitaring at one point or another?
In the end, it's an idea that can be tried, but when you consider the roster now, would the inclusion of more edgy attitude make this the greatest roster ever? We've seen flashes of what Cena can do with the restraints removed, but just imagine what some of the others could do. What would Wade Barrett sound like without a huge filter? How about Daniel Bryan? How about the Intellectual Savior of The (Unwashed) Masses? Even Jerry Lawler could improve at his commentary.
I'm not saying we need to go full-out Attitude/Ruthless Aggression here, but for some people, and in some cases (more than what we have now), why not try the idea out? Let's see where it takes us.