Heath Slater scoring win after win is the show happening just outside the spotlight that it is too fun to ignore.
Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena is WWE's summer blockbuster. Slater continuing to shock by stringing together victories is the less appreciated, fun, indie comedy.
After serving as the company whipping boy for so long, there's an inherent shock value to each upset Slater claims. That has helped make the recent surge of a longtime jobber an entertaining subplot worth paying attention to.
The audience is used to seeing Slater lose and lose often.
Even counting his recent run, Slater's win-loss record from 2011 to 2014 was miserable:
- 2014: 9-59-1
- 2013: 5-136-1
- 2012: 19-100-0
- 2011: 15-118-0
That leaves him with a total record of 48-413-2 and a .103 winning percentage in that span. El Torito, by comparison, has a 38-4 record since debuting in 2013.
When a little person in a bull costume wins that much more often than you, you're occupying a low position on the hierarchy. That's what made it so surprising to see Slater defeat Seth Rollins.
On the Aug. 4 edition of Raw, Rollins had to beat Slater in under 15 minutes and 42 seconds to win the Beat the Clock Challenge. That seemed as inevitable as rain in London. After all, Slater was a bottom feeder, with Triple H only putting him in that slot to better Rollins' chances.
Dean Ambrose toying with his Money in the Bank briefcase, though, made it difficult for Rollins to concentrate. Slater then stole the win.
It was the first singles match he won on Raw since Nov. 5, 2012 against Jey Uso.
Had Rob Van Dam or Kofi Kingston earned that win, it wouldn't have had nearly the same effect. Those guys aren't nearly as unfamiliar with the taste of victory. This was an upset that only the most delusional of Slater fans saw coming.
The Fan's Podcast, like many folks, was thrilled with the result:
That ran his win streak to two. For most Superstars, that's not a stretch worth taking notice of. For Slater, it was unheard of.
Getting lucky against Rollins was one thing, but two victories in two nights represents as far a departure from the audience's expectations as you can get without resorting to a story about an alien invasion.
On the following Raw, the roll continued.
Dolph Ziggler interrupted his match with Slater to take some shots at The Miz. Again, a distraction from a rival proved fruitful for The One Man Rock Band.
The Showoff was too busy throwing bombs at The Miz to realize that the match was slipping away from him.
Ziggler was unable to run back into the ring before the referee's 10-count. Slater's win column got one more boost.
The energy in John "Bradshaw" Layfield's call was infectious. He shouted, "Slater beat Seth Rollins. Slater beat Dolph Ziggler. How about this? The boy from West Virginia, the former Golden Gloves champion has won him another!"
That captured the unexpected nature of the moment, the momentum that this story was gathering.
The Las Vegas crowd chanted Slater's name. Had a fan missed the last few weeks of shows and walked into the room to hear that sound bite, it would have likely had them wondering if they were hallucinating. Of course, they weren't.
WWE was just veering off the status quo, entertaining the audience with the power of astonishment.
Slater has since increased his streak, now at 6-0 counting tag team matches. He and O'Neil defeated Los Matadores on Tuesday's Main Event.
It was Fernando's first televised match after suffering injuries to his ankle and knee. Slater ruined his homecoming, though. He felled the bullfighter with a DDT and watched as the referee's hand hit the mat three times.
As the ring announcer called his and O'Neil's names, Slater looked up grinning, dazed. He seemed just as surprised as the fans that this roll was continuing.
While this narrative isn't WWE's primary focus, it's increasing in excitement. Slater's getting the boost of going from perennial loser to unlikely winner. It's been a fun ride so far that has given Slater's matches more meaning.
Despite technically being a heel, it's hard not to root for him. He's a hard worker who is finally getting an opportunity to be something other than the man on the bottom of the dog pile.
Bleacher Report's own Justin LaBar nailed it when he tweeted about Slater's status with fans:
Suddenly, Slater taking on Adam Rose or The Great Khali on Raw won't be an indication that it's time to check the fridge for something to munch on. Those matches will have added intrigue with Slater's burgeoning streak on the line.
Fans will be wondering how long he can keep this going.
Years of pounding his image into the ground have led to ordinary wins becoming fun fare to savor. WWE should have Slater's victories pile up—the flukier, the better. When he starts getting to 10-0, his bouts—regardless of opponent—will become must-watch television.
That's not something anyone could have said about a Slater match a month ago.
Slater's mini-emergence is welcome joy juxtaposing the brutality of the Cena-Lesnar feud as well as the fury that fuels the Rollins-Ambrose rivalry. It's the hit storyline that no one saw coming.
Wrestling records courtesy of Cagematch.