I haven't been around here much as of late and there really are a ton of reasons I could spew out as to why that is, but let's just save ourselves the time and leave it at one simple term... Writer's block.
The WWE has given us an incredible year in 2010. Yes, there were the obvious downsides – Legacy splitting, leaving the two would be future stars in the jobber section of the midcard level comes to mind – however, with the invasion and subsequent dominance of the Barrett-led Nexus and the start of what seems to be a long Age of Awesome, it would appear safe to say that the WWE is finally clear on its new directive: Growing its future stars.
But before you blow the confetti and drown yourselves in either celebratory alcohol or tears of woe (you know, if you happen to be one of those people who dwell on the good ol’ days and are pretty much narrow-minded when it comes to the thought of moving forward), let’s just take a good look at the year gone and what needs to be done to ensure that the year coming doesn’t just become something of a sad re-run.
This, of course, can only be done by first looking at the Superstars and Divas.
Randy Orton. I’ll be frank and save myself the typing, and you the reading, by stating this very simple fact: 2010 has sucked Randy Orton dry of all his venom. So with that said, it’s obvious what route WWE needs to take this new year in order to give us back that unpredictability that makes up The Viper as a whole.
Randy Orton needs his fangs back and a life-long supply of toxic venom as people will still cheer for the Randy who attacks when it’s of optimum advantage to him just like they’re cheering for the Randy who plays by the rules.
Sheamus. Wow. I must have hit an all time desperate low to actually be saying the next few words. The two-time WWE Champion is also in need of repair. Sheamus is undeniably powerful. Not powerful enough to be intimidating like say a Triple H or a Randy Orton – where you feel that the other guy is in serious danger – but he’s powerful enough to be taken as a serious threat. He’s a heel who doesn’t really follow the generics of other heels.
First off, he quite frankly puts himself out there whether it be to his benefit or not (most famously not). So the cowardice act that WWE slapped him with last year will not work this year. Secondly, he’s a heel who doesn’t play mind games as he obviously believes in brawn over brain. So let’s forget about making him cerebral. And lastly, he’s a heel who hardly ever uses the Ace that all WWE heels come standard with – and that is to win by dubious means.
His first WWE title win – be it a botch or not – saw him wrestling like your average Joe and winning at the end of it all. His second title win was just all thanks to the old saying of being at the right place at the right time. Anyone – even Cena –would have taken advantage of a fallen champion who fell thanks to the onslaught of seven men.
With that said, the jobbing has to stop. Sheamus does not belong at the feet of people like Santino. He belongs in the mainstream of WWE. So conclusively, 2011 should see Sheamus back in the championship run – or at the very least have the pale warrior (I couldn’t help it) be in feuds worthy of main event status.
That whole dribble on Snow White brings me quite nicely to John Morrison. I love Jo-Mo. Every time he steps into the ring (or ends up outside of it) I know that he’ll bring a five-star match with mind-blowing moves. The Shaman of Sexy is undeniably one of WWE’s most electrifying Superstars and he has the fan-base to boot. But as we all know, the reason why John Morrison has not been able to hold anything of WWE gold where as his former tag partner The Miz has, is all thanks to John’s horrific mic skills. Plainly put, he has none.
Now looking back for a second, we have Randy Orton. Many say he too has no mic skills (I happily remove myself from that derailing train of thought), but that’s just the beauty of The Viper’s character as Randy only really needs to say a few words (or none at all) to get his point across. And the fans are able to follow that.
As for Sheamus, he’s actually able to carry the fans with him whenever he has a microphone in his hand. When it boils down to it, Morrison just doesn’t have a personality – example: Randy is a silent killer on the mic, while pale warrior story-tells with his ever-changing attitude (one moment he’s jubilant and overjoyed and the next he’s threatening to kick your head off) – and that is what the WWE needs to focus on.
With their eyes set on the future, the company needs to build up its collection of poster boys because Cena will not be around forever (hopefully sooner rather than later). So for the year 2011, let us (‘us’ used in context to signify WWE management and creative team) cease expanding John Morrison’s move set and instead invest in a few mic-skill sessions for the Guru of Greatness.
Following that thread, we land onto two men. One, Justin Gabriel. I’ll skip past the obvious that is Justin being a wonderful technician and an amazing character to watch in the ring, and get right to the reason why he’s made this list of change.
Firstly, he and Morrison may not be blood-related, but mic skill wise? They are. Now, last week on SmackDown, Justin had to deliver a sort of introduction to the SD audience. And he did so nicely. However, while it had a bit of spice to it, his ability to control the crowd – like say how professionally Wade Barrett has been able to do – is nowhere in sight and so needs to be developed if Gabriel is to take center stage after his run with Corre has seen its end.
Secondly, while I have no problem seeing Gabriel as a heel, I’m not blind to the fact that he would better suit the roster of babyface. Therefore, while I personally hope he doesn’t switch before 2011 is out, dropping subtle hints to that eventual road as a means to “test the waters” isn’t a bad idea at all. Hopefully WWE will capitalize on that. And lastly, while Justin is outstanding in the ring, he shouldn’t stop there. In the light of this new year, WWE needs to expand on Gabriel’s in-ring set by simply adding a wave of new moves to it.
This brings me to the second person, who is of course – come on you all saw it coming – Heath Slater. How do I put this...The man is horrible on the microphone (which is strange seeing that backstage he has no problem with talking at all). He’s Morrison times a million. Oh, and throw in a pair of Vickie’s ear-shredding “Excuse Me”.
This year, Slater needs to be put in an extreme mic-skills class if anyone (including me) is to see even a shred of hope for his imminent singles career. Now the treatment for Heath Slater doesn’t stop at the microphone. It, unfortunately, involves his high-octane and out-of-control wrestling style. To this day, no one knows what Slater’s finishing and signature manoeuvres are.
So let’s begin there: Naming his move set. And to further continue in that vein, Heath needs to story-tell when he’s in the ring. Don’t just fly around (Literally. Watch his matches and see for yourself) and land hits with no direction and leave it at that. No. WWE needs to facilitate young Slater in his necessary future quest on how to hone his explosive wrestling style. Once he takes care of that, we can actually look forward to a successful Heath and Justin tag team and an eventual Gabriel vs. Slater feud in the future.
On the topic of tag teams, let’s tread over to Legacy. Oh. My apologizes. Dashing Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. During their run as members of the three-man group Legacy, everyone saw potential in the two men (of course, more in Ted seeing that he was the bigger of the two).
Once Legacy split (prematurely in my eyes), most people looked forward to a Ted vs. Randy feud starting up and eventually landing a spot at WrestleMania 27. Well, long story short, that did not happen and by chance seems to be nothing more than a blurred hope. Ted is a jobber. Oh wait...He’s a jobber with money, some form of class (that beard has got to go) and a beautiful woman (who, by the way, is far more successful in the WWE than he is being a former champion and all). But none of that takes away from the fact that he is a jobber.
For the most part of 2010, Ted was living in the shadow of his father’s legacy. He then gave back the Million Dollar belt (that’s not an official title and it will never be) to his father and made a run for the US Title. The fans were piqued as we all saw the beginning of the long forgotten dream race of which Legacy member would become a singles champion first. However, after losing to Bryan time and time again, Ted faded into obscurity as his character did exactly what it always does – remain stagnant and... blah.
That is where the WWE needs to focus its eyes on as DiBiase is excellent in the ring and does have adequate mic skills (adequate enough to carry a short promo but nothing heavier as yet) – two aspects that are a hereditary gift to him. In order to make a future ...anything... out of Ted DiBiase, the WWE needs to have him back in title hunts and in the center of in-depth feuds that actually mean something – and last longer than two months.
Enter Cody Rhodes. Sorry. Dashing Cody Rhodes (not so dashing now seeing that his nose may be broken). This kid was not seen as anything much during and after Legacy. However, he came back and delivered two five-star matches on SmackDown – one against Morrison where he won, and the other against Christian where he won again.
After that, he found a home with the moniker of Dashing and soon was beating everyone in sight and piling on great performances. Then he went on to become a three-time tag champion when he partnered with Drew McIntyre. All this success proved the critics (me and you) wrong. And to add to it, the kid is amazing on the microphone. Granted, he does talk a lot about hygiene and looking dashing and basic how-to-be-metro sexual, but he has a personality and is able to actually carry the crowd with him. And when he needs to be a bit more straightforward and come off as something of a threat, he can with the microphone in his hand.
Now while the majority of last year was Cody’s shining moment, the WWE has of late pushed down their second-generation Superstar. This is a mistake that needs to be quickly corrected. Nothing is wrong with a future title feud between the possible crowd-loved Justin Gabriel and the crowd-hated Cody Rhodes.
But to do that, Cody needs to come out from under WWE’s thumb and be the guy that everyone loves to hate and vice versa. With that being said, 2011 has to be the year of redemption and expansion for Cody Rhodes. He needs to be fierce and he needs to once again rack up a winning streak in the WWE.
Once that happens, and Ted DiBiase finds a sense of personality (apart from the boring rich-and-arrogant-heel... I say he Dream Street’s Maryse – whom I actually like – to show his ruthlessness) then we can all look forward to that long awaited Legacy feud – with of course a venom-filled Randy Orton thrown in the mix.
It seems that the year 2011 is going to be the year where WWE breaks the bank on microphone training for its Superstars. Drew McIntyre is one of the many men who will be the main cause of that.
Now I personally can’t blame Drew’s accent for his inability to be charismatic as Sheamus (a man with a very heavy accent) and Barrett (another heavy accent) are extremely enthralling whenever they are required to publicly speak. Therefore, it leaves me to blame just Drew McIntyre for his own failure.
When Drew first entered the WWE (skipping past that time when he came and then left) he was under the moniker of being the Chosen One for good reason. He was hand-picked by Vincent McMahon – something no one else can brag about. Soon after, Drew went on to win the IC Title the same night that Sheamus became the first Irish-born WWE Champion.
Personally, I saw a bit of flares going off for a possible feud between the Scottish man and the Irish man, but that was just me. However, after his IC win, Drew declined drastically. At first he lost the title and then he went on to form a short tag team with Cody Rhodes, only to lose the titles and then break away from the team all together.
Now we see Drew McIntyre gunning for Kelly Kelly’s love. Somewhere in that downward spiral, the Chosen One lost the ruthlessness and aggression that quite frankly put him on the map and also aided in overshadowing his uninteresting and blaze mic skills.
It’s not so much that Drew can’t speak on the mic (Morrison) or sounds similar to amplified nails on a chalkboard (Slater) as it is that no one cares at all about what he has to say because his delivery system apparently runs through a scanner overlooked by Ted DiBiase’s own microphone standards – be boring at all times. Now with his fangs plucked out, we are left to focus on the negatives of Drew McIntyre.
To conclude, the year 2011 needs Drew to regain that aggression and take it to heights that no one has ever seen before. Basically, I want to turn my TV on and see somebody broken to bits at the hands of Drew McIntyre because he wants to either win or keep a title.
While on the topic of titles, we hit Dolph Ziggler. He’s probably the only success story on this list. Why? Well, despite his affiliation with Vickie, his mic skills have improved – seeing that he was actually a joy to listen to on commentary this past Friday – and he is apparently the man currently doing what Drew McIntyre is being recommended to do. He’s amplifying aggression.
Sadly though, the only problem with Dolph Ziggler is the threat of him becoming stale once the fire burns out and of course fading into the blackness of irrelevance. To avoid that, WWE needs to ensure that they make the best out of Dolph. Take 2011 to establish him as an extremist-type heel, but at the same time as a man who knows when to take a moment to plan twenty steps ahead (I.E. Don’t have him leaning too much on Vickie. If anything, she needs to be a shadow that comes to light every now and again).
The Miz. This is going to be short because the Miz has proven that mic skills are a very, very important commodity for success. However, all he has to work on in this New Year is his in-ring persona. Meaning his threat factor.
In terms of in-ring ability, the Miz is at the same level as DiBiase’s mic skills. He’s adequate. But unlike Wade Barrett, I don’t ever see the Miz as much of a threat. However, the one stand out factor that WWE should play upon is Miz’s ability to be surprisingly cerebral. That in itself gives him an edge (no pun intended).
And of course, by design, having that unexpectedness about him will lead The Miz to become a different form of threat. Not the big and scary kind we’re used to seeing – I call it the Batista kind – but rather, the kind that whips up and beats you every time and for the love of all things decent, you can’t seem to understand why.
Simply put, Miz needs to become that thorn in everyone’s side. The man who drives people insane because no matter what they bring to the table, he will always be the one walking out as the victor. To achieve this, WWE needs to lose Alex by having him feud with the Miz. Once Riley’s done and buried, The Miz can develop that edge of his and become the threat no one ever sees coming.
Wade Barrett. What can I say about Wade Barrett that hasn’t already been said? Well, for 2011, I guess I can sing on expansion for Wade. Right now, Barrett is the man to watch because he’s a man of mystery. Thus, quite frankly, WWE should ensure that he stays that way. Keep Barrett fresh – and that includes intensifying and constantly renovating his move set and his character.
Onto R-Truth. Honestly, he should have been at the top of this list, but I’m an Ortonite and as such no one tops Randy Orton. Not even on a list like this one.
But back to the matter at hand...
Fact: R-Truth is a fan favourite (me excluded of course). Truth: He needs to turn heel. And what better way than to have him start off by knocking down his “best friend” John Morrison. Now after WWE fixes the problem that is John’s horrendous mic skills, they can nicely focus on a heel-turn for R-Truth. I say have him eliminate John at the Royal Rumble right after he had formed a sort of correlation with the man.
John can confront him about the betrayal and R-Truth can go ahead to sing up a promo about him being tired of being the guy everyone feels that they can just walk over, but in the same breath lean on for help. To add to the heel turn, WWE needs to of course hone R-Truth’s mic advantage.
Yes. He is no Roddy Piper or DiBiase Senior, or HHH on the mic. However, he actually has the great advantage of already mastering the harder part – being able to control and carry the crowd. He just needs a tweak of personality and a shine through charisma and we have ourselves an actual star in R-Truth.
Turning around and we’ve hit a fan favourite who will remain that way for years to come: Daniel Bryan. Bryan’s in-ring ability is arguably on par with Shawn Michaels. His microphone skills are undoubtedly on par with a lama. One word WWE: Charisma. With Daniel, the WWE has to start from scratch and so I, truthfully, cannot expect a lot from the US Champion once he gains access to a live microphone. However, WWE has performed a long list of miracles before. Maybe turning Daniel’s deceased mic skills into something that would render The Miz speechless in 2011 will be a part of that list.
Now we’ve hit the Divas and, sadly, I can actually sum them all up in one point: Change of character is desperately needed to flesh out the Divas section. Beth Phoenix and Natalya are of course excluded here as I would much rather see a face vs. face type match at WrestleMania 27 between these two rather than the old heel vs. face matchup.
In that regard, I’ll start with my favourite: Maryse. She’s a former multi-Divas Champion and being the arm candy to the failure that is Ted DiBiase is doing nothing for her. 2011 needs to bring back the dominant Maryse and boot the jobbing gold-digger that 2010 handed us.
Next, re-vamping Michelle McCool. I don’t really know where I stand with Michelle, but I do know she’s amazing in the ring (ear-piercing on the mic though) and that she has the success to back up her persona. Give her back her fangs, have her destroy Layla and possibly feud with the “English Muffin” and then move on to bigger and better things.
Melina. I’ll just be frank: I don’t care enough about this wild cat, therefore, WWE can do whatever they want with her.
Alicia Fox. I haven’t seen her in a while and that’s a blessing in my mind.
Layla. I mentioned Michelle giving her the boot and I hope it happens because Layla needs to be established as a stand-alone Diva in order for me to take her seriously. A feud with Michelle – who’s a success in her own right – will do her some good.
Eve. She’s become a case of “whatever happened to—” and with the rearing of future stars, that needs to stop now. That and her affiliation with R-Truth. I say she breaks it off with the rapper once he turns heel.
The Bella Twins. They’ve sided with Daniel Nerdtron. And therefore I could care less about them. However, 2011 should turn one of them heel.
And lastly, Kelly Kelly. Simply put, the fan favourite needs to become a heel. I see shades of Trish Stratus happening here with her suddenly being the center of Drew McIntyre’s universe. In the near future, I see Kelly using Drew’s sappy affection for her to possibly keep other Divas at bay only to constantly stab him in the back when it best suits her. Either that or we might have a Trent vs. Drew for Kelly’s affection thing on our hands. And I hope that’s not the case.
With 2011 shining through, something else definitely needs to change. And it has nothing to do with the Superstars individually. WWE, as a show of taking a step forward, needs to dramatically change their landscape by doing something completely irrational. And that is to have HHH go to SmackDown.
Hold your horses there. Before you shoot me down with the fact that A) Vince would never let his beloved Superstar go to the blue show. B) HHH isn’t back yet, let me explain.
With RAW being overwhelmed with top stars (adding HHH to the mix would undoubtedly bury the young up-comers on RAW), it’s a fact that the flagship show has completely overshadowed its brethren SmackDown.
However, that all changed when Wade Barrett showed up on Friday nights. And of course, that still changed once Wade formed The Corre with former Nexus members Justin and Heath and the SmackDown newbie Ezekiel Jackson. Be honest people, you are all watching SmackDown right now the same way you watched RAW a few months ago – in anticipation. You can’t wait to see what Barrett and his group are all about and what they’ll be doing next. And that in itself is proof that WWE is taking a step towards the future.
Now just imagine that kind of anticipation, and then multiply it by the shock of seeing Triple H being a part of SmackDown’s roster. Just to add salt to the cut, let’s have HHH join up with Corre. Or better yet: Be its leader.
If you haven’t passed out on that train of thought, then allow me to state that quite honestly, I really don’t see that happening. I mean, even WWE has its limits. However, a drastic change like that would throw a much needed monkey wrench into the well-oiled machine that WWE has become. Having the Miz become WWE Champion was good. But good does not last long. So WWE, in 2011, throw us a fast one and blow us away with something we’d never see coming even if it was right in front of us shooting a loaded gun.
With all this said, happy (belated) New Year to you all. And hello to a promising year for the WWE.
RKO FOR LIFE!