Empty Upstairs: WWE's Need To Create New Champions
The main event sector of the WWE roster has taken a huge hit this year. With the likes of Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho & Batista leaving the company and injuries to Undertaker, Triple H, CM Punk among others, there is more pressure on the upper-mid card to make that next step up to the main roster.
Over the last 10 years, the WWE has crowned 18 first-time champions. Of those, three were World Champions in WCW, and eight didn't have another reign (Goldberg, Benoit, Booker, Great Khali, Jack Swagger, Eddie Guerrero, John Bradshaw Layfield and Rob Van Dam).
Three of those didn't get another reign for at least three years (Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho) and only seven of those became champions again, (Batista, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Edge, Jeff Hardy, Sheamus) with just four of those seven still with the company.
Of the 18 champions overall, eight are still with the WWE.
WWE has said it has a so-called "youth movement," and is looking to push new stars, but only two first-time world champions have been crowned in the last two years in Sheamus and Jack Swagger.
Maybe by the time Survivor Series comes around we'll have a third in the form of Wade Barrett, but surely WWE should be doing its best to push more new stars.
Jack Swagger shocked the world when he won the Money In The Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 26. The months leading to the event he was a glorified comedy wrestler jobbing to Santino Marella.
His title reign lasted less than four months and certainly wasn't a memorable one. When he cashed in and pinned Chris Jericho just days after WrestleMania, it seemed too rushed, but made the Money In The Bank briefcase seem so prestigious that anybody could win and cash in to become World Champion.
Unfortunately for Swagger, his world title reign wasn't greatly successful and could prevent him from having the belt put on him again. That first title reign can make or break you as a certified main eventer.
Bill Goldberg only had one WWE World Title run and had he stayed with the company , believe he would have had another. Chris Benoit, King Booker, Great Khali, Eddie Guerrero and Rob Van Dam had difficult first reigns as was proven when they didn't get another chance at the top of the company.
John Bradshaw Layfield had a successful run as champion, but was unsuccessful at being the guy at the front of the company, and that was why he didn't get another run.
Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho's first title reigns looked to be their last, as they weren't exactly memorable. Lucky for them they were able to climb through the ranks again and become credible champions.
Orton lost his title after three weeks and didn't again win until October 2007, over three years following his title loss.
Mysterio was given the belt following the death of his close friend Eddie Guerrero as a tribute to Eddie and only managed to get another title shot over four years later. Even as a baby-face, he had to win in a Fatal Four Way Match with outside interference.
Chris Jericho's first reign as the Undisputed WWE Champion in 2001/02 bombed so much that he didn't get another run for seven years!
WWE has created successful champions in the form of Batista, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, CM Punk, Edge, Jeff Hardy and Sheamus. Lesnar, Batista and Hardy have all departed from the WWE.
CM Punk has arguably ruined his chances of becoming champion again. His last title run was infamously ended when he claimed to The Undertaker that he shouldn't have to wear a suit as champion because John Cena doesn't.
Two weeks after that comment, Punk was then booked to drop the belt to Undertaker in Hell In A Cell.
There are many wrestlers on the roster who could become top players. Wade Barrett, The Miz, Ezekiel Jackson, John Morrison, Kofi Kingston, to name a few. Which one of those do you think will become a world champion in the next two years?
I think Wade Barrett and The Miz are certainties. The office obviously has a lot of faith in Jackson, on the last ECW broadcast he pinned Christian to become the final ECW Champion. He has now come back to Monday Night RAW with a bang.
Since Bobby Lashley, WWE has been looking for a new black male to become a main eventer and I think Ezekial Jackson is that man.
John Morrison has a revived push and it'll be interesting to see if he can capitalize on this, unlike his push last year on Smackdown.
Kofi Kingston looks destined to be part of the mid-card for his career as his major push late last year seems a long-forgotten memory.
I interviewed Stone Cold Steve Austin last week and spoke with him about who he sees as the next big thing in WWE. He said exactly what I'm trying to say here—he doesn't think there is a next big player in the company right now.
WWE tried to use NXT to elevate new stars, but bar Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett, the rest have gotten lost in the pack.
From Season 1, Michael Tarver, Skip Sheffield and Darren Young are no longer on TV. The other four members of the Nexus may stay around, but as they are already miles behind Barrett, will never get to the next level.
From Season 2, we only have three of them on TV, two are also stuck in Nexus and Kaval couldn't be more meaningless.
Kaval, formerly Low-Ki and Senshi in TNA, ROH and Japan, won the second series of NXT and has since moved to the Smackdown brand. He was guaranteed a title shot of his choice on pay-per-view, but has been jobbing since moving to Smackdown, lost his own pay-per-view opportunity and didn't even make it to the event.
So don't put your stock on Kaval anytime soon.
WWE needs to create new stars who can become world champion. 12 years ago in the prime of the Attitude Era, WWE created new champions and they are some of the biggest names of the company's history. Between 1998/99, the first-time champions were Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kane, The Rock, Mankind, Triple H, and Big Show.
Nobody thought The Ringmaster, Flex Kavina, Issac Yankem and others would ever become World Champion and no, they wouldn't have, but look what a gimmick change can do.
So why not re-package wrestlers in the mid card who's gimmick isn't working? It's worked before and look at the results.
The way things are going, the WWE will be forced to unify the World Titles as there won't be two programs at one time credible enough to fight for a World Title.
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