WWE or ROH: Coke or Pepsi?
When I was researching my slide show "British Wrestlers: Before They Were Famous," I was forced to watch a lot of videos on YouTube (I know, it's a hard life!) and one thing I learned was that British wrestling has produced some terrible performers as well as some truly great wrestlers.
One example that was more than evident was a guy by the ring-name of "Big Daddy."
Many people are critical of what they see as John Cena's limited move set, but I'd urge them to look at the video below to see what a truly limited move set consists of.
The video is not atypical for the wrestler, and it appears from watching other bouts of his that his move set generally consists of very tame whips and belly-bumps, followed by splashes.
On the other hand, some of the technical wrestling, displayed by other wrestlers, was quite amazing.
Dean Malenko claimed to be the man of 1,000 holds (who can forget his feud with Jericho, where Jericho boasted that he was "The Man of 1,004 Holds"? ARMBAR!), but if that was true, I'd suggest some of these guys were the men of 10,000 holds.
However, whilst doing my research, another fact came to light.
Whilst some of these guys were outstanding performers, they were not always the ones head hunted by other promotions, and those wrestlers who were head hunted were often not the best.
Take one William Regal, for example, a man who was actually respected for his in-ring abilities, when he first crossed the Atlantic, even though he's now been reduced to a middle-aged, mid-card jobber.
And a man whose talents were obvious enough to cause IWC darlings (Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, and Brian Kendrick) to seek him out as a tutor.
However William Regal never held a genuine title in his home country, nor was ever really seen as a main event star there.
And for that matter "The British Bulldog," Davey Boy Smith, never held a title either, despite going on to win numerous titles for the WWF, and being seen as a talented performer and innovator during his time with the company.
So how come some champions were left to "rot" on the indie circuit, whilst some of their "lesser" peers were elevated to hero status on the biggest brand of them all?
The answer is simple really.
Each promotion sells a unique product, and seeks unique performers that enhance that product.
A man can be the best technical wrestler in the industry, but if he doesn't fit a promotion's product, he can also find himself unemployed.
Take the WWE for example.
After about the second episode of the first series of NXT, a friend turned to me and told me he was convinced they were going to make Barrett the champion.
I told him that the IWC were convinced it was going to be Danielson, and asked him for his reasonings for the Brit to win, and he told me it was obcious because Barrett fitted the WWE product better than anyone else on the show.
Take a closer look at the WWE; who do they hire?
They hire guys over 6 feet tall, preferably well-built and muscular, with good mic skills.
Their performers have to be reasonably photogenic, either in a classical sense or in a quirky sense, and can connect well with their preferred demographics to help sell merchandise.
Oh, and if they can wrestle a bit, that sometimes helps too, although it's not a prerequisite.
Looking at it that way, was there ever going to be a different winner?
I know much of the IWC was convinced it was going to be Danielson, but I ask them to look at the company we're talking about here.
Look at the top stars in WWE: John Cena-6'1'', CM Punk-6'1'', Triple H-6'4'', Randy Orton-6'4'', Edge-6'5'', Jack Swagger-6'6'', Sheamus-6'6'', The Undertaker-6'10'', and The Big Show billed as 7 feet tall!
There are only two people who break that mold, Chris Jericho, and Rey Mysterio, and both of those made their mainstream American television debuts 14 years ago, when the average height of wrestlers was a little bit shorter, and there was an established cruiserweight championship for them to receive a push in.
Would either have made it with the company today?
Well, the facts tell us that no wrestler under 6 foot,has debuted in the last ten years and gone on to win a world title, and in all probability if we wait another ten years we will still probably not see one.
Small men don't fit with the WWE product.
On the other hand, if we look at ROH, would the Big Show ever get a job there, or the Great Khali?
I may be wrong, but I can't see that happening either, because they don't fit the ROH product.
Each promotion, not just in America, but around the world, offers a unique product.
Whether it incorporates a high flying product, as in the Mexican Lucha Libre promotions, or kicks and strikes from martial arts disciplines, such as the Japanese Puroresu promotions, or whether it incorporates more technical, and traditional wrestling skills, as in the British schools, each promotion offers their own product.
And each promotion targets that product to their market.
At the end of the day, the WWE is the industry leader, so like it, or loathe it, they are the best at what they do, and it's what more of the public pay to see than anything else.
And as such every wrestler, if they are honest with themselves, wants to wrestle for that company, if not for any other reason than it pays the best wage and offers them the biggest stage in the world on which to showcase their skills.
However, just as that is a fact, it's equally a fact that not every wrestler will fit with that product, and if they don't, it doesn't mean they are any better, or worse, at what they do.
It just means they are more suited to another promotion.
WWE or ROH?
Coke or Pepsi?
There isn't really an answer, it's just subjective.
It's just a matter of taste.
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