Roman Reigns, Bad News Barrett, Stardust and the Generic Theme Music Mailbag

Alfred Konuwa@@ThisIsNastyFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2014

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 08:  WWE Superstar Wade Barrett is introduced during the WWE Smackdown Live Tour at Westridge Park Tennis Stadium on July 08, 2011 in Durban, South Africa.  (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Money in the Bank is this Sunday, and it’s a pay-per-view currently dominated with a theme of having more questions than answers.

As of this writing, Wade Barrett’s status for the pay-per-view is up in the air. As was confirmed by, Barrett suffered a shoulder injury at Tuesday’s SmackDown tapings.

The injury is serious enough to where I had to change my pick for a forthcoming Money in the Bank preview on B/R Video (I had previously picked Barrett.).

This is not the first time an injury would cause Barrett to miss a major pay-per-view. A partial dislocation of Barrett’s left elbow during a Raw Battle Royal in 2012 forced him to miss WrestleMania XXVIII.

The obligatory inquiry of who would replace Wade this time around has taken on a certain theme:

@ThisIsNasty if he can't make it they should add a battle royal on mitb card with winner getting his slot. Bo dallas for me!

— Lewis James Miller (@lewis_miller12) June 25, 2014

The exclusions of Bo Dallas and Rusev should be seen as more of a compliment than a snub. In keeping these promising up-and-comers out of the Money in the Bank match, WWE is virtually protecting them.

If the plan is not to have Dallas or Rusev—both of whom are probably too early in their respective pushes to warrant a guaranteed future WWE World Heavyweight Championship match—win Money in the Bank, then why hurt them by booking them to lose?

At least that seems to be the thought process pertaining to two rising stars who collectively have yet to take a loss on the main roster.

The Barrett injury, however, changes that discussion.

WWE’s roster was thin before heads rolled on "Black Thursday." Judging by how strongly they were booked in last week’s Money in the Bank Battle Royal, Dallas or Rusev would be two of the only replacement choices who make sense as contenders.

JBL has deemed Dallas’ current win streak the greatest in sports entertainment history, tongue-in-cheek of course.

But if Dallas is able to extend that streak with a Money in the Bank win and continue to win his ensuing matches, WWE might be on to something.

Suddenly, an undefeated Dallas (“He’s nine and Bo!”) would be quite the threat to eventually cash in as WWE World Heavyweight champion. Even if his streak ends by failing to cash in, by then Bo’s streak would have gotten him over more than a championship ever would have.

Just ask Undertaker whether a streak or a belt did more for him.

I don't understand why Reigns is coming out to The Shield's theme and ring gear when Ambrose and Rollins isn't. @ThisIsNasty #RawReview

— Teddy Couch (@tmcouch93) June 24, 2014

Roman Reigns is clearly The Shield member who has the highest ceiling. He’s the only Shield alum currently booked in the championship Money in the Bank, and he did so by eliminating a similarly hot Rusev during last week’s Battle Royal.

Ambrose and Rollins, while still being booked delicately, currently seem to be in a transitional phase judging by their theme music.

Both currently walk out to generic instrumentals of electric guitar riffs that, ironically, are almost indistinguishable from one another.

Each theme song screams temporary.

I get the feeling that Jim Johnston and CFO$ (WWE’s in-house music composers) are currently going through their Rolodexes of System of a Down cover bands for Dean Ambrose. They also likely have been presented with a short list of possible Rancid songs Seth Rollins can use to troll CM Punk.

All the while, Roman Reigns has held on to The Shield music, entrance and wardrobe in order to maintain the positive reaction that took two years to build toward.

The Shield became one of WWE’s top acts upon its debut. If the plan is to make Roman Reigns a top star, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

I’m still inclined to believe Reigns will eventually evolve into a star independent of his ties to The Shield. But for now, WWE’s playing it safe. The time for all that tinkering will come after fans have accepted Reigns as a perennial main eventer.

@ThisIsNasty NXT is clearly the best show but their recent batch of top talent isn't getting over in WWE. Who's to blame?

— Jordan Smith (@JSmith_Sports) June 23, 2014

A valid question that should be cause for concern among WWE officials based on lukewarm responses to Emma, Adam Rose and Paige.

Reports have already circulated (from The Wrestling Observer Newsletter via WrestlingInc) of the skepticism surrounding NXT call-ups.

Based on the most recent call-up, Bo Dallas, WWE seems to be rectifying this problem. WWE went about this debut the right way, with cheesy vignettes that fit the character followed by a string of wins in prestigious time slots such as Raw and on pay-per-view.

Monday on Raw, “Let’s go Bo” chants filled the Verizon Center as Dallas took on Titus O’Neil.

Rusev has also benefited from a slow burn. WWE has gotten away from exclusively booking him in hackneyed squash matches. Instead, Rusev’s character has developed through his (and perfectly cast manager Lana’s) bemusement with all things America.

Talents currently on deck, looking to continue Rusev and Dallas’ momentum, include independent stars Sami Zayn and Aaron Neville.

Neither need much fanfare ahead of their debut. In fact, the less fanfare the better, since that will help establish them as the underdogs they must be to get over.

WWE’s continued improvement in transitioning NXT talents to the main roster is promising. Those who watch NXT know the efforts of developmental stars have made the show dangerously competitive with Raw in terms of weekly quality programming.

It certainly is subjective as to whether or not Stardust constitutes as quality programming, but fans seem to have taking a liking to Cody Rhodes’ new persona:

@ThisIsNasty as long as the campy singing bit isn't permanent, I think Cody can make it work if they explain the motives behind the change.

— MOH8 (@ObnoxiousCJWebb) June 25, 2014

Rhodes seems destined for stardom under his new gimmick, no pun intended, but it won’t be the right type of stardom.

Prior to the Stardust gimmick, Rhodes could safely be considered a potential future world champion. He was booked in a feud with The Authority en route to losing his job and getting it back and is no stranger to the main event scene given his ties to Orton’s Legacy stable.

As Goldust-lite, however, Rhodes is doomed for a ceiling as a highly entertaining midcarder. Before Stardust, he could have been Randy Orton 2.0.

Now he’s The Godfather.

The Stardust mantle would be seen as an upgrade and possible career-saving opportunity for Heath Slater. But not Cody.

Adding depth and motives to the character could help fans take him more seriously and even set him up for a singles run down the line.

But Goldust seems to be the mouthpiece of the tandem (“Now I’m the normal one,” said Goldust during an interview with Byron Saxton), and Rhodes is all-in as Stardust with no mention of his real name in sight.

Follow Alfred Konwua @ThisIsNasty.  


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