Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore—Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."
In Edgar Allan Poe's infamous poem, "The Raven", the narrator is confronted by a dark and supernatural raven who comes as a bearer of bad news. The negative energy the all-knowing bird brings with it, as well as it's mysterious silence, save for the one word "nevermore", leads the narrator to fall victim to his own chaos and madness.
In recent weeks, the WWE has also been confronted by a bringer of bad news in the form of former Nexus member Michael Tarver.
Michael Tarver made his WWE debut in February 2010 as a Season 1 Rookie on WWE NXT. His character quickly emerged as an outspoken heel that refused to play be the rules and only looked out for himself. As a result of rejecting the system, Tarver was eliminated during the tenth week of the show. But instead of being voted off by the NXT Pros or the WWE Universe, Tarver was eliminated by WWE management.
A few weeks later, Michael Tarver reappeared on Monday Night Raw as a member of Wade Barrett's invading Nexus stable. His sinister appearance, combined with Skip Sheffield's massive size and Wade Barrett's cunning leadership, are what initially helped the Nexus build momentum as a force to be reckoned with in the WWE.
After spending several months in the Nexus, Tarver was taken out by John Cena during the October 4th, 2010 episode of Monday Night Raw, was subsequently kicked out of the Nexus, and dissapeared from television. In reality, he suffered an injury, and was written out of the storyline.
But this wasn't the last the WWE Universe would see of Michael Tarver.
On the January 21st, 2011 edition of Friday Night SmackDown, Tarver made his return to television, and with his arrival came the injury of General Manager Theodore Long.
Teddy Long was found unconscious backstage, and was quickly rushed to the hospital. Tarver was seen in the background claiming that he had simply walked in and found Long lying on the floor. He was later seen watching the ambulance take Long to the hospital.
What happened to SmackDown General Manager, and who attacked him, has yet to be revealed. But in the month since his absence, his official consultant, Vickie Guerrero, has used her temporary powers as acting GM to make the lives of certain WWE Superstars a living hell.
The current World Heavyweight Champion, Edge, has suffered the most. In the weeks following the Royal Rumble, the Rated R Superstar has been forced to defend his title against Dolph Ziggler on a weekly basis without using the Spear as a finisher.
The feud between Guerrero and Edge has resulted in the firing of Kelly Kelly, who helped Edge retain his the World Heavyweight Championship a few weeks ago. This has led to her potential admirer, Drew McIntyre, to not only revert back to his old heelish self, but to make sure Edge suffers at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view this Sunday.
Michael Tarver's next significant backstage appearances would happen on Raw the following Monday night.
For weeks, the Bella Twins pined for the attention of United States Champion Daniel Bryan. They would often accompany him to the ring, and fight amongst one another to see who would "be his first". Seemingly oblivious to their attention, Bryan would always shrug off their affections and focus on his matches.
But on the January 24th, 2011 episode of Raw, the Bella Twins were found arguing over Bryan backstage. They passed by Michael Tarver texting on his cell phone in the hallway, who merely glared at them before walking away.
Moments later, the Bellas found out that Daniel Bryan was not only a vegan instead of a virgin, but that he was already in a serious relationship with Gail Kim. This would lead to a heel turn for both of the Bella Twins, and in the weeks following, the Diva division has been in disarray. Every week, a backstage fight breaks out between the Bella Twins and other Divas in the locker room.
Tarver would appear again later that night watching a tag team match that included Sheamus and Mark Henry on a backstage television screen.
Curiously, two weeks following their tag team confrontation, Sheamus was told by Josh Mathews that "someone backstage" had said Mark Henry could take on The Celtic Warrior at any time. This has since led to a feud between the two.
In the weeks since following his initial string of appearances, Tarver has appeared on-screen two more times; once on SmackDown, and once on Raw.
He was confronted by Alberto Del Rio on the January 28th edition of SmackDown, who introduced himself before making his way to the ring. This would prove to be the first time another WWE Superstar actually acknowledged Tarver's presence on the show. Del Rio would later go on to lose a tag team match with Kane against Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio minutes later.
His most recent appearance happened this past week on Raw. As The Miz was seen walking to the ring for his match against Daniel Bryan, Tarver was once again seen texting on his cell phone, eyeing The Miz intently before the commercial break. The Miz would go on to beat Bryan cleanly without the help of Alex Riley.
While we don't know what Tarver's true motives are, or if he even has one for that matter, what we can figure out is that like the raven in Edgar Allan Poe's poem, the presence of Michael Tarver is the sign of a bad omen. Whenever he is visible on-screen, something goes wrong.
His appearances on SmackDown are, perhaps deliberately, linked to the injury of Theodore Long, the firing of Kelly Kelly, Drew McIntyre's heel re-turn, and Edge's constant struggle to retain the World Heavyweight Championship against Vickie Guerrero.
His appearances on Raw are at the same time likely linked to the Bella Twins heel turn, the backstage riots of the Divas divisions, and the growing feud between Sheamus and Mark Henry.
His recent cameos with Alberto Del Rio and The Miz are uncertain, but perhaps, like the feud between Sheamus and Henry, their bad luck hasn't happened yet. A shocking loss to Jerry Lawler at Elimination Chamber for The Miz at the Elimination Chamber this Sunday, as well as Del Rio failing to make his destiny a reality at WrestleMania might clear thing up for us.
Some fans wonder if Michael Tarver is in fact the anonymous Raw General Manager, and that he is sending e-mails to Michael Cole via cell phone. Others believe he is either aligned with the Corre, the New Nexus, or both. And then others say that he's just given a backstage role because creative has nothing for him.
I personally believe that his recent appearances aren't random, and that they are intentionally placed as a sign that a conflict is about to happen. For whoever happens to pass him by, bad luck is headed their way.
Hopefully we'll know soon enough what the true purpose of Michael Tarver's mysterious new role is.
Whatever the reason turns out to be, his intentions can't be good.