The Runt of the Litter: A Look at The Nexus' Heath Slater
In Nexus there are a few names who are constantly talked about. We've got the charismatic leader named Wade Barrett, "the high flying South African Sensation" Justin Gabriel, "the Corn-fed Meathead" filled with tremendous power Skip Sheffield, "Iron" Michael Tarver, and "the WWE's Kanye West" David Otunga. Each one has traits that make them quite familiar. some of these are well-liked by the IWC ( for good reason), while others (Tarver and Otunga) have felt the brunt of the blows by the IWC. There is one man that I am leaving out of this list, and he goes by the name of Heath Slater.
I have been following Slater for such a long time. I have been following him since he start way back in DSW before its closure (with the name of Heath Wallace Miller Esq), and at that time, I saw potential. Nothing more, nothing less. Then, he appeared in FCW and from there he improved heavily. In Florida Championship Wrestling, he had a small feud with trainer Billy Kidman who respected Slater enough to have Slater gain pinfall victories over him. Soon he became the Florida Tag Team Champion with Joe Hennig, and later he became the Florida Heavyweight Champion, eventually shifting his character to a heel Edge-like character. As heel, Slater's stock rose quickly. In FCW, his mic skills stood out above practically anyone (including Wade Barret, who had not wrestled for about one year before going into NXT...very fair eh?). In fact, Slater had many highly competitive matches. In FCW, he had a great feud against Justin Gabriel (Justin Angel at the time) and both of them had quite highly competitive matches in developmental, eventually resulting in a best 2 Out of 3 Falls where Gabriel won the championship for the first time.
Then we get to NXT. I was honestly rooting for Slater all the way. I believed he definitely had the look. He has the long hair, the crowd friendly style, and was a decent competitor. However he had two HUGE problems.
The first problem was his gimmick as "the One Man Rock Band". This gimmick was such a waste. It was barely even a gimmick. He suffered from what I like to call Yoshi Yatsu syndrome (aka Happy-Go-Lucky syndrome). He was too happy. He showed no real change of emotions, which was a big problem as a face for him. In Florida Championship Wrestling, he was a true rock-star. He had a well-decorated black jacket and black shades and the happy-go-lucky attitude wasn't shown. Without the fancy threads, he was just a red head that smiles all the time.
The second problem is his mic skills. Slater definitely has good mic skills, but his voice just doesn't correspond to his appearance. He looks like a ginger surfer, yet he has a HEAVY Southern drawl. Now this is not his fault. After all, he had no choice in where he would be born and raised, so his accent is a part of him. However, when he first spoke on the mic, I could hear the whole WWE Universe gasp...in shock. He doesn't sound like he looks. This doesn't quite sound like a great reason, but I am sure that when everyone here heard his naturally lazy, laid-back voice, nothing clicked. In fact, a friend of mine told me he couldn't take Slater seriously anymore because of Slater's voice.
What I want to go into now is his wrestling ability. People have said that Slater can't go in the ring. People complained that he cannot wrestle. On NXT, they judged him based on the fact that his gimmick was the sympathetic face. The face character that people cheer for because he rolls people up, and gets the job done. Honest to goodness, people find this annoying. A guy who gets beaten up throughout the match, only to make a small come-back, and roll up the opponent. This formula is the Cena formula. Dominated over for a majority of a match, quick comeback with a quick succession of moves, and then something leading to a pin. It's a formula that is more than just time tested. It is time worn, and fairly obsolete. Only Cena has been able to survive on this formula, while in general, most other wrestlers could not.
As a heel though, Slater has definitely shown what he's got. First we have the small promos. Without the happy-go-lucky smile and attitude, Slater has become a more intense individual in the ring, and on the mic, and it has definitely shown. During Summerslam, Slater showed that he can be in the ring with multiple wrestlers, and he can make his opponent look good, and make himself look good. In the match he eliminated both Edge and Jericho, and while this may be kafaybe, but when he did stay in the ring, he put on a good show. Against Cena in the elimination match, Slater was the first one to go against Cena, and he definitely held his own in the ring. He hit a decent variety of moves, in the ring and he showed that he can carry a decent portion of a match. What he needs is more time in actual matches. Him, and Otunga have been given the least amount of time in the ring out of all of the Nexus members. Otunga has gotten little time for an obvious reason, but as for Slater, I have no idea why.
Heath Slater can definitely be a Superstar of tomorrow. However, this can't happen if he isn't allowed to grow and develop as a wrestler. He hasn't been given much time to shine until very recently. He also needs a feud where he will be taken seriously. As of now, with him being ridiculed as the Wendy's girl, his legitimacy has declined quite a bit. Slater is a bright talent who can be, and should be used better. i just hope the WWE realizes this.
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