Do Modern WWE Wrestlers Live Up to Their Legendary Counterparts?
Often the IWC and the WWE build a reputation around a new superstar for his likeness to a legendary wrestler. In this article, we take a look at some of these comparisons, and see which wrestlers have the potential to live up to their legendary counterparts.
Note: I've been swayed to remove the humorous slides and replace them with additional serious ones. I will, however, be creating a separate slideshow for more satirical comparisons.
I hope you enjoy the new slides along with the original ones.
Jack Swagger: The Next Kurt Angle?
Superstars with grecco-roman wrestling backgrounds are responded to similarly by the IWC as stars of the independents. Because of their reputations, fans will suspend disbelief and assume that these former collegiate wrestlers can be nothing short of extraordinary.
The key difference between Jack Swagger and Kurt Angle is that though both have a high acumen of grecco-roman wrestling, Kurt is far better versed in professional wrestling, while much of Swagger's in-ring work reflects only his collegiate background, and not a strong understanding of professional wrestling.
For example, his strikes, as I've noticed recently, are sloppy, which is unbecoming of a hopeful main eventer in the WWE's strike-heavy world title scene.
He'd look like an idiot trading punches with guys like John Cena and Randy Orton, whose matches are often three-fourths punching, one-eighth resting holds, and one-eighth signatures.
Additionally, Swagger lacks aggression in his matches. I've seen him involved in too many spots that were ruined by him taking too long to act, making what was coming more predictable.
As for mic abilities, Kurt Angle has pulled off being silly and comical, as well as intense, sadistic and proud. Jack Swagger, even if he does well in hiding the characteristic slurred S's of his lisp, he still has an odd voice that sometimes makes him hard to take seriously during his promos.
Jack Swagger has so far displayed only a capacity for appearing arrogant. Whether or not he has more versatility than that cannot yet be determined.
Could Jack Swagger be the next Kurt Angle?
I highly doubt it. Kurt Angle isn't simply some run-of-the-mill professional wrestler with a grecco-roman gimmick, he's a once-in-a-lifetime wrestler who has put on many classic matches during the past decade.
Jack Swagger's professional wrestling knowledge is slim and I doubt he was even as good of a collegiate wrestler as Kurt Angle, the Olympic gold medal winner, was. Kurt Angle has some massive shoes and I doubt Jack Swagger will ever fill them.
The Dudebusters: The Next Edge & Christian?
In what I expect to be my most controversial slide, since the debut of Caylen Croft and Trent Beretta, I began noticing a few similarities between them and legendary tag team of the Attitude Era and innovators of the ladder and TLC matches, Edge and Christian.
When I look at The Dudebusters, I think of a modern version of Edge & Christian — not necessarily a PG Era version, since much of what E&C did during the Attitude Era could have taken place now. They were pretty kid friendly, I think. Kids like kazoos.
What do kids like these days? Video games. What do The Dudebusters bill themselves as specializing in? Video games.
It might sound silly, but so were Edge & Christian, yet they still went on to have arguably the greatest tag team rivalry in the history of professional wrestling.
Presently, Croft and Beretta do show some pretty strong wrestling ability. More than Edge and Christian? I definitely can't say for sure, though they have certainly impressed me in their matches with The Hart Dynasty on Superstars.
Starting young in a tag team is possibly one of the best ways to build a reputation for yourself. Since you work with someone else, you have someone else who can make up for your flaws.
That might be counterproductive to one day becoming a singles competitor, but if two wrestlers mesh so that they each make up for the other's flaws perfectly, they can be marketed magnificently.
Could The Dudebusters be the next Edge and Christian?
No. I don't think they lack the ability, they have shown promise. However, even with the WWE apparently putting more effort towards its tag team division, what ultimately made Edge and Christian was their feud with The Dudleys and The Hardys, in which they became legendary for TLC and ladder matches.
I don't think there could possibly be such an opportunity today. The Hart Dynasty and The Usos look like good competition to feud with, but I doubt they'd be able to produce anything as monumental as what took place during the Attitude Era.
Evan Bourne: The Next Rey Mysterio?
Evan Bourne, a fan favorite who began building a name for himself in the independents (including ROH, as the IWC prefers), has had a (tiredly metaphorical) roller-coaster of a ride since debuting on ECW against Shelton Benjamin.
Among WWE's legends, Rey Mysterio stands out as perhaps its greatest high-flier. He pales in comparison to modern, younger wrestlers of the same style, but his greater experience and superior understanding of psychology enables him to amaze fans both young and old through his superb matches in the upper mid-card of Smackdown.
Despite giving him only one world championship, WWE has perhaps found a suitable place for Mysterio. He works special attraction matches at pay-per-views with the likes of CM Punk and Chris Jericho, keeping relevant without ever getting another world title.
When comparing these two, though they both share the fundamental attribute of being high-fliers, they still differ greatly in that area.
Rey Mysterio practices the luchador style that his home country of Mexico specializes in. Evan Bourne, on the other hand, uses a more American high-flying technique with a strong influence of the Japanese strong style.
Could Evan Bourne be the next Rey Mysterio?
Assuming Bourne still needs time to hone his craft, there not being a cruiserweight division gives him fewer opportunities to wrestle in a style he's comfortable with.
However, it's highly likely he gained enough experience working the independents, so the cruiserweight division's absence could actually work to his advantage.
With it gone, there are fewer wrestlers with Evan Bourne's size and wrestling style, thus making him unique among WWE's giants, brawlers, strategists and simply generic wrestlers.
With him recently main eventing on RAW, I have a measure of renewed faith for Evan Bourne. Will his push last?
If an opportunity arises (like Randy Orton not being able to compete at Fatal Four way), it's a possibility; and, with Money in the Bank looming, he certainly looks promising to be RAW's Mr. Money in the Bank.
John Cena: The Next Rock?
As much as the IWC wouldn't like to admit it, The Rock and John Cena do have a lot of similarities. They both are excellent on the mic (my preference is for The Rock, however), they both have taunts kids love to imitate (don't ever wave your hand in front of face while raising one eyebrow —your head will explode), and they both perform signature running moves to downed opponents.
Really, it's not those specific qualities that make them similar. Many other wrestlers do those same things; they're basic aspects of being a wrestler.
Their core similarity comes from the fact that these two men are so insanely over with the fans that the WWE has used both of them as their posterboy.
In the ring, they're about the same besides specific moves used. Yup, I said it. Accept it.
John Cena is not a horrible wrestler. Sloppier? Sure, but some of that can be attributed to his size. A lot of moves, specifically in chain wrestling, can be difficult to do with Cena's girth.
Both John Cena and The Rock are heavy on punches, they both have submission and grapple-based finishers, and each is an expert at motivating the crowd to participate.
The Rock, however, was more technically sound, but he was still far from a master. To John Cena's credit, he does try his hand at a lot of chain wrestling spots.
Could John Cena be the next Rock?
He already is. Like I've said, the WWE has pushed him just as hard as The Rock. I think that is the biggest factor in making this decision.
However, I will admit that though I pointed out a lot of ways in which they're similar, I think The Rock was still better in all of the ways I listed.
He was a better wrestler overall, he had more charisma and the fans responded to him better — probably much because of the superior intensity of an Attitude Era crowd, but I think even today The Rock would be more effective than John Cena.
John Morrison: The Next Shawn Michaels?
In professional wrestling, sometimes a person emerges with the ability to captivate any audience, creating not just memorable matches but also moments that will forever be imprinted on the expansive annals of pro wrestling lore.
Of our generation, "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels was that wrestler. Considered highly innovative in his earlier years, Shawn Michaels built a reputation for his impressive athleticism and daredevil tactics.
He'd also become respected as a proficient in-ring technician, though he lacked the masterful wrestling ability of legends such as Kurt Angle or Chris Benoit.
Shawn always worked himself weary to keep up with such names in the ring.
"The Shaman of Sexy," John Morrison, a farm bred wrestler who defied the odds set against him by the IWC, who believed a true star is made first in the independents by becoming one of the most adored and respected members of modern professional wrestling.
Like Shawn Michaels, Morrison is billed as an innovator in the WWE, even if really any move in his arsenal was developed first in the independents. Still, his high spots and charisma have made him a fan favorite with the WWE's massive audience.
After making his return in 2002, Shawn Michaels defied the stigma of essentially being a self-absorbed washout by repeatedly putting over younger talents and waving away Vince McMahon's offers of world championship reigns.
His reputation as "Mr. Wrestlemania" was solidified when each year, he delivered almost irrefutably the best match on the card.
Just last year, John Morrison showed potential for the same kind of consistency. Throughout the summer of 2009, he put on an outstanding number of quality television matches on Smackdown and Superstars with the likes of CM Punk, Tyson Kid, Chris Jericho and Jeff Hardy.
If you look at his newly released DVD, all but two of his matches took place between spring 2009 and fall of the same year.
Could John Morrison be the next Shawn Michaels?
If he improves on his mic abilities, which so far have looked best as a heel while only decent and sometimes awkward as a face. If given more high profile matches, I believe John Morrison, if anyone on the WWE's current roster, has the potential to match The Heartbreak Kid's legacy.
Randy Orton: The Next Steve Austin?
With Randy Orton's newly found popularity as a maniacal, devious babyface, many have started to compare his "I don't take crap from no one" attitude to one of professional wrestling's greatest legends, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
Like Austin, Randy Orton's finisher has gotten over for being a swift and impressive end to any segment or match. Some people might not think someone's finisher matters much, but if you look at a clip package of Stone Cold, what do you see? A thousand-and-one Stunners.
Those moments, especially ones in high profile matches or controversial segments, are often imperative in determining the longevity of a wrestler's legacy.
Similarly, if Jeff Hardy hadn't done so many Swanton Bombs, would the WWE have been able to push him as well as they did in 2008 and 2009?
No, because those seemingly insignificant video packages can often make or break the interest in a match.
Character-wise, both Randy Orton and Stone Cold share a tendency to RKO or "Stun" someone giving them lip. However, Randy's character emphasizes the theatrical tone WWE's PG Era is characterized by.
On the other hand, Stone Cold used a crude, in-your-face attitude to get himself over, as was appropriate for the Attitude Era.
Their similarities are slim in the ring. Both are pretty much brawlers, but Randy's style is cleaner and more meticulous. Stone Cold's offense was a vicious, contained flurry of fists and sometimes dirty tactics, which was cool to the fans because the heels always deserved it, right? Right.
Could Randy Orton be the next Steve Austin?
I think the deciding factor in this comparison is match quality. Thus far in Randy Orton's career, he hasn't had a performance that even comes close to any of Stone Cold's classic encounters, such as his Wrestlemania matches with Bret Hart and The Rock.
What needs to be done to get Randy Over as the face of the PG Era, just like Steve Austin was the face of the Attitude Era, is to have him contend with overwhelming onscreen controversy.
Stone Cold built his legacy off of defying Vince McMahon. Randy Orton upset the McMahons, but as a heel and in a very unremarkable feud.
If Triple H comes back as a heel like the rumors are saying and if he represents the McMahon family in a feud against Orton, this time with their roles reversed in terms of being face or heel, we could see Orton accomplish something not seen since Steve Austin's time.
What really ruined the previous Triple H and Randy Orton feud was that it hardly mattered to most of the fans that Orton punted Vince and DDTed Stephanie, because anyone who had been watching the WWE for at least a few years knew they've played heels more than faces. If anything, that just laid the foundation for Orton's eventual face turn.
If Randy Orton is given the right storyline and put against the right opponents, he could be just the guy we need to end John Cena's reign as WWE's posterchild, and become the face of the PG Era.