WWE has always been about fresh faces and new characters. It is this approach to doing business that helped lead them past WCW during the Monday Night War, and it is the same notion of how to evolve as a company that has kept them on top for so long.
Simply put, WWE is always looking toward tomorrow.
Granted, at times it may not appear that this is the case, as every week, we get John Cena, Randy Orton and The Miz. While it is true that these guys are now in their prime, the fact it is the same names seem to always be pushed for the main event spots.
This is, of course, the nature of the business. Your guaranteed moneymakers ride high at the top, while the rest of the locker room complete the card, contributing in their own way.
This is where the younger, fresher faces come into the equation.
These workers are learning their craft, hopefully improving as they go, all in an effort to one day be on the lips of fans when the topic of main event status comes up. Then, one day when their time comes, they too will be one of the top guys who everyone seems to be very tired of having to look at week in and week out.
Today’s new up-and-coming Superstar is tomorrow’s spoiled veteran who won’t get out of the way.
Seemingly on the rise as possibly the future wave of WWE main event performers include Mason Ryan and Ezekiel Jackson. In any other scenario, these two men may have little in common other than their tremendous physiques. But, currently they seem to be very similar on a couple of fronts.
Ryan is the muscle of The Nexus on Monday Night RAW. Standing 6’6" and weighing 280 lbs., Ryan is an impressive physical presence who has stood out from the moment he first appeared on TV.
Fans often point to his resemblance to Dave Batista, and have even speculated that he will indeed become the one to replace the former WWE and World Champion in the company.
I have to say, while I do feel that he has tremendous promise, it’s a bit early to crown him as the second coming of The Animal.
After all, Batista’s rise to the top of WWE came at a very particular moment in time, along with the considerable opportunity provided him by Triple H. Much like Ryan, Batista had the look, he had the intensity and the crowd could sense that he had a big future ahead of him in WWE.
Ezekiel Jackson was the muscle of The Corre on Friday night SmackDown. Jackson is a 6’2", 270-pound power wrestler who is now working independent of Wade Barrett. Jackson has a confident smile and dark eyes that pierce straight through anyone who steps into the ring against him.
Jackson is a potential main event star on SmackDown, as he is getting over every time he’s on TV.
Both Ryan and Jackson’s affiliations with Nexus and The Corre have been beneficial thus far. Now that Jackson is on his own, only time, and the fans, will decide if perhaps he should have stayed where he was.
One has to wonder how long it will be before Ryan also wears the title of "former faction strong man who will either be pushed, or buried."
Honestly, for me, this is where the discussion eventually leads.
While both men are two intensely physical workers who have the whole world of WWE ahead of them, the truth is either man can eventually end up with nothing.
Yes, they look great. But, a lot of talent who blow through the company at one time or another have looked great as well. Picture perfect bodies are no guarantee of success, even in WWE.
Like Batista before them, Ryan and Jackson need time and effort put into making them serious contenders for the top spots on their respective programs. At first glance, Jackson may have the edge on SmackDown, due to Randy Orton and his character’s ability to ride the fence, yet still come out a top babyface.
These two could have a match, and Jackson’s face turn would emerge unscathed. There is no shame in jobbing to the champ, and getting the rub from a guy on Orton’s level would be good for him whether he won the world title right then or not.
In contrast, Mason Ryan is on RAW, headlined by a champion who has taken all the life out of the belt by claiming that he will still be holding the title for next year’s WrestleMania. Even if Ryan got a shot, what chance is there he would actually beat John Cena?
Anything can happen, that much is for sure. Ryan, thanks to his association with CM Punk, could catch fire with the crowd, and be thrust into a situation where the timing is perfect for him to go over on Cena. The likelihood of that happening anytime soon, however, seems very slim indeed.
The real issue becomes who is better in the ring and who has the character to propel him to the next level?
I believe that Jackson has somewhat of an edge on Ryan, largely due to the fact that Zeke has been seen more in a WWE ring. Ryan seems to be relegated to ringside enforcer for The Nexus, perhaps a little too often.
But, there is no mistaking the intensity that exists in the eyes of both men. They each seem to grasp the psychology of the business, and understand what it takes to be in the moment, whether it’s in a promo, or in a match.
Honestly, I would not be surprised if these two eventually crossed paths at some point. It may be inevitable, as both factions seem to be destined to clash at some point. A match between them would be an intriguing prospect. A potential tag team combination could be huge.
Perhaps it’s too soon to predict what the future holds for Mason Ryan and Ezekiel Jackson. The beauty of the business is their fate is largely in the hands of the fans they perform for. Who will have the better career? Perhaps that is for the fans to decide.
Of course, this is WWE, and their crack creative staff are infamous for pushing Superstars down the fans’ throats whether we like it or not.
So, let’s try this again.
Who will have the better career? That is for Vince McMahon to decide.
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