With the Money in the Bank Ladder match now a championship affair, this week's mailbag will be heavy on fantasy booking.
Cesaro, Bray Wyatt and possibly Seth Rollins suddenly find themselves within striking distance of their first world title wins. The wildest imagination of the jaded wrestling fan just might be as good as reality given the wide-open world title picture.
Earlier today on Twitter I posed a simple question: Who should be the WWE World Heavyweight champion?
The answers, or course, weren't quite as simple.
@ThisIsNasty Perfect time to give a new wrestler a run until Summerslam, right? Cesaro's time?— Top Banana (@EmbraceParker10) June 11, 2014
Not really. WWE just took an unwanted risk that backfired. WWE doesn't tend to double down on newly minted main eventers in these scenarios. When the Ultimate Warrior Experiment didn't quite work out following WrestleMania VI, Hulk Hogan was posing with the belt by the end of WrestleMania VII.
Randy Savage became the first wrestler not named Hulk Hogan to close WrestleMania as WWE champion at WrestleMania IV. But by WrestleMania V, WWE went with its old reliable to regain the championship from Savage.
Even when CM Punk mock-quit the WWE, John Cena became the Interim WWE Champion in his absence.
This is the company that begged Bruno Sammartino to return prematurely from a neck injury when their Muhammad Ali-Antonio Inoki closed circuit experiment bombed (via James Caldwell of PWTorch).
This situation basically begs for a proven draw like John Cena to bridge the gap between now and whatever the future holds.
Triple H opened Raw by saying "it's a good night to be right." The lines are blurred between his on-air and backstage personae. But one has to believe either he, Vince McMahon or both have been waiting since April to deliver that line, although obviously under different circumstances (like a month of Love and Hip Hop doubling their ratings with Bryan as champion).
Now, the promotion can go with a "Face of the WWE" type and be justified in doing so. WWE said yes to the Yes Movement and got nowhere.
Cesaro has been a popular name as a potential "interim" champion in Daniel Bryan's absence, but he too has been going nowhere since WrestleMania. Not only has he regressed as a character, but his theme music is terrible and the jury is still out on his promo ability. One of the only lines he has spoken since joining Paul Heyman was "I'm a Paul Heyman guy," and even that delivery was a little shaky.
He seems over his skis in a WWE World Heavyweight championship ladder match. Cesaro would be better suited to carry around the Money in the Bank briefcase for a year while he develops a bit more.
Cesaro is nowhere near as complete a WWE Superstar as his strong internet following has been led to believe. With no proper breakup with Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter, Cesaro is back to the one-dimensional strongman he was during his Antonio days.
Right now, he's Scott Putski with chest hair.
@ThisIsNasty rvd? 😂— Lalit Sharma (@lalli_maven) June 11, 2014
Funny. But seriously...
@ThisIsNasty Bray Wyatt . I'm calling it— Steven Curd (@stevencurd) June 11, 2014
Now there's an interesting suggestion. Bray Wyatt seems like he would be the diplomatic choice to carry the WWE World Heavyweight championship right now.
He's not the perceived boring choice of John Cena, whose reign could make WWE prone to the same fan hijacking that ran rampant during Orton's familiar title reign.
At the same time, he's not a high-risk, high-reward independent wrestling transplant force fed by a grassroots movement.
Wyatt is a creation of the WWE. A second-generation creation no less. A second-time-around re-creation, even.
He was trained by the FCW and NXT staff. He hasn't bumped into an ROH fan let alone bump in an ROH ring. Wyatt is just as much of a WWE creation as John Cena. Even more so, because Cena went through Ultimate Pro Wrestling before making it to the show.
Wyatt's like the anti-Sting.
It makes sense that the lights go out while LED lights from cell phones fill live arenas during his entrance. His supporters don't need a face and an identity. Everybody supports him.
As WWE World Heavyweight champion, he would be a champion of the internet and the front office. The GOP is still looking for a candidate with that type of mass appeal to stop Hillary Clinton.
@ThisIsNasty Are we gonna see the championships divided again? If not will they come out with a new single belt? All about merch $ isn't it?— V (@MrVDawg) June 11, 2014
Yes to the merch part, no to everything else. I think it's too soon to debut a new singular WWE World Heavyweight championship let alone split the titles again. They just rolled out the new WWE championship last year.
Besides, the last thing WWE can do right now is devalue milestones on pay-per-view—like the unification match from last year's WWE TLC. This could discourage current and future subscribers from investing in WWE Network pay-per-views, which are already in the doghouse of most major pay-per-view carriers (via Jason Powell of Prowrestling.net).
A swerve finish, like two wrestlers grabbing each title, would actually be a good way to stall for time should Daniel Bryan's prognosis be a SummerSlam return. That way, the WWE Battleground main event could be a unification title match, with Daniel Bryan's return match being against the winner.
I warned you about fantasy booking.
From fantasy to reality. On what has come to be known as #BlackThursday, several WWE talents were released in a spring cleaning sweep that hasn't been seen from WWE in years. One has to go back to the 2011 releases of Chris Masters, Melina, Gail Kim and Vladimir Kozlov to find a set of recent cutbacks that are even remotely similar.
PWInsider (h/t WrestlingInc) had recently reported there was talk of WWE opting for contracts to expire rather than announce releases publicly to avoid controversy.
Can't you just picture this story somehow reaching Vince McMahon and the Chairman responding with "Controversy is my middle name! Watch this, pal..."
This is the first time a significant roster cut has been made during what can safely be described as the peak of WWE's marriage to social media. This has given way to entertaining Tweets in light of otherwise grim news, including this gem Tweeted by JTG upon his release:
Damn ! Why I pick up my phone !— JTG (@Jtg1284) June 12, 2014
Unfortunate as it is, WWE is in dire need of cost-cutting as it continues to perform damage control amid a year dominated by financial losses (via The Wrestling Observer Newsletter h/t WrestlingInc).
Between the underwhelming television contract, WWE Network's lukewarm subscription totals and the stock tanking as a result, WWE can ill-afford to keep talent around if creative has nothing for them. Plus, WWE needs to continue to make room for the next awkward debut of an NXT standout.
With WWE knowledge that far exceeds that of the average NXT Superstar, an argument can be made that this is the most talented pool of cuts ever.
McIntyre was once deemed "the chosen one" by Vince McMahon himself. Evan Bourne was a sensation on the independent scene before making his way to the WWE. Curt Hawkins has already used his extended wrestling knowledge to launch a wrestling school as profiled by Josh Stewart of Newsday.
Released-WWE-wrestler-to-TNA jokes have been all the rage in the past 24 hours. But the national wrestling pool could be a bit deeper come this time next year with Jeff Jarrett's forthcoming Global Force Wrestling.
The so-called victims of #BlackThursday are going to be all right.