CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio and 5 Superstars WWE Dropped the Ball on in 2011
Another year, another John Cena-dominated wrestling season. Many fans clamour for the chance to see someone other than Mr. Five Moves of Doom take the ball and run with it. But that is not to say it is totally Cena's fault. While he may be the "top guy," he can only go by the script in which he is given.
And this brings me to WWE.
Throughout 2011, WWE has had ample opportunity to catapult new superstars into the stratosphere only to bring them back down to earth, usually crashing and burning in the process. While guys like Mark Henry, Zack Ryder and—one could even argue—Daniel Bryan have been given a shot, far too many have been held back and not being given the chance to reach full potential.
I believe that is a problem.
So in this article, I will attempt to explain to you who I feel were the five superstars WWE dropped the ball on in 2011.
I may be a little biased here, but Wade Barrett is currently my favorite up-and-coming superstar in the WWE. While he may be in the midst of his "Barrett Barrage," WWE, in my opinion, has waited far too long to give this young superstar a shot at the big time.
Earlier this year, The Nexus angle was winding down and it seemed like the WWE was about to shed the dead weight from around the bare-knuckle boxer. A singles run seemed to be imminent.
But guess what they did? They surrounded him with more dead weight with The Corre. Placing him with more bad company (and bad t-shirts to boot), this only led him to feuding with non-consequential opponents and slowing his progress.
Now, I am not with shooting people to the moon; I understand one needs a slow build. But during the Nexus/Cena angle, Barrett showed he had the presence and the microphone skills to come off like a main-eventer. He displayed this even on NXT. Standing his ground with Cena on the mic and in the ring, he proved to be totally believable.
Wade has pristine charisma. And while guys like Mason Ryan were being shoved down our throats, Barrett was on Smackdown waisting away (pun intended).
He is now in a feud with Randy Orton and hopefully The Viper will give Barrett a rub and fall victim to the Barrett Barrage, helping push him to the next level. Because with all the talk of Raw needing a lead heel on the show, I think you are potentially looking at that man right here.
Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger
Ah, this photo sums it up for me perfectly.
I inducted these two men as a duo because lately they have been bound at the hip, and also because they have similar situations. They both are former World Champions that if you even sneezed while watching the WWE product you may have missed it.
Also, both aren't particularly treated like former champions and they both are paired with Vickie Guerrero. While I think she creates advantages for them, she also brings them drawbacks.
Dolph far exceeds Jack in the land of being close to the main-event level. Ziggles has had some of the best matches on Raw these last couple of months and has really been coming into this own as of late, but I think this is despite the help of Vickie.
She makes both men come off more as comedy acts than guys who you should look at as main-eventers. Someone like Dolph needs to be seen as credible to the fans before he can reach the next level.
Now if Vickie was your prototypical manager that cheated for her clients to win and acted as their mouthpiece because they can't get it done on the mic, then fine. She is usually arguing and getting into disputes with Ziggler, though, and making him look second rate. I think that hurts him.
If you split them incorrectly, it may make Dolph get a face reaction. I can't understand why WWE doesn't get this.
And while I appreciate them letting Ziggler give Zack Ryder a rub and dropping the US Title to him, he is still in the position where he needs a rub from other guys. So I don't think now is the time to have Ziggler jobbing for the sake of elevating someone.
People are already asking, "How can Dolph jump into a program with Punk if he just lost to Ryder?" That's not smart for business.
Quickly about Swagger: This guys has the size and the tools, you (WWE) already saw enough in him to give him a title run and now you can't even find the guy time on TV? I think Vickie (with Swagger individually) could do great things for him as she could speak for him. I don't think he is main event-ready just yet, but he could at least be a top level mid-card guy.
WWE usually salivates over size, so they are missing the boat with the All-American American.
Seems WWE has really dropped the ball with their heels this year—at least that is what my slideshow thus far has suggested. Here we have The Miz, who was WWE's number one heel earlier this year, on my list.
Say what you want about The Miz (looks at Batista), but this man defeated John Cena at WrestleMania 27 to retain his WWE Championship. His title reign also lasted for about five months in total—a lot longer than most people assumed he would carry the belt.
Before that, he was all over WWE television as well as off of it: media appearances, baby kissing, elbow rubbing with THQ officials. If WWE needed someone to do an appearance, the Miz was on it.
So you would think WWE had some kind of faith in him, right? Wrong.
Soon after he lost the belt to Cena, he went on to start feuding with his ex-lackey Alex Riley, never getting back into the title picture again. Making matters worse, he actually lost a couple of those matchups against Riley who was, as good ol' JR would say, "greener than goose sh*t." This was followed by an entertaining, but not really progressive, pairing with R-Truth, who had assumptions that the two were being plotted against by the powers that be.
Miz even had a brief encounter with Jared from Subway. Ouch.
For as big of a deal that they made The Miz out to be at the beginning of his run—like they do with most of their talent—WWE sure did lose faith in him quickly. It is rumored that WWE is down on him as we speak, not thinking he is a top-level guy.
While I am not the biggest Miz fan (for his in ring work or what have you), he is still one of the more gifted workers on the mic and always gets a reaction from the crowd.
I am of the opinion that if you can bring in a guy like Kevin Nash to take up TV time in a big angle, you should be able to get The Miz something respectable to do.
Alberto Del Rio
Honestly, this started all the way back at Wrestlemania 27. I don't want to rant long, but I feel strongly about this.
Del Rio, whose entire gimmick was based around how it was his destiny to become WWE Champion, hasn't been booked with a pedigree to match. Sure, he has his own ring announcer, he drives to the ring in expensive cars and he has a twin or two wanting to be in his presence.
Truthfully, though, WWE has booked him like loser.
This was the Royal Rumble winner and heel that was suppose to be the future on the company. Going into Mania versus Edge for the World Title, this could have been the perfect opportunity to solidify Del Rio as a main player in the WWE Universe. Instead, WWE had him lose to Edge on the grand stage.
Fine, he loses to Edge, give people something to go home feeling good about. Next PPV, have him beat Edge and all is well. But...
Edge has to get career-ending surgery and vacate the title. Del Rio goes on to face Christian for the belt and guess what? He loses to him as well. Now one may say, well, Del Rio was moved to Raw so he couldn't carry the belt with him. Strong point.
Which takes me to...
Del Rio winning Money in the Bank.
He moves to Raw and now gets his shot at the WWE Championship. All he has to do is cash it in, which he does (with help from Kevin Nash). Only when he did go on to win, his gimmick had run on too long with people and no one cared about his destiny.
On top of that, he only held the belt for little more than a month. He went on to win the belt a second time, this time holding on to it for little under two months.
Alberto Del Rio had all the potential in the world to be a top player for WWE. He has the look, the wrestling lineage and the charisma to make people dislike him as a top-drawing heel. But WWE held the ball so long with him that now his character has run its course with fans and needs some reworking.
He has no credibility because he is constantly booked as a chicken heel. If they want to use him as a player in 2012, this needs to change.
I know most people will look at this and say, you are crazy. CM Punk, Mr. Second City Saint, was one of the hottest acts of 2011. That may be true, and I may be nit-picking but I think CM Punk could have become THE top guy in WWE this summer. But for reasons I assume to be typical of WWE and their booking philosophy, I believe the legs were cut from under CM Punk's push a bit.
Let's not go over what happened with him and Cena leading into Money in the Bank, it is well documented. But coming out of that PPV, Punk had heat with the fans that I haven't seen since the Attitude Era. Him leaving Allstate Arena through the crowd with the strap created possibilities for WWE to do things creatively that they had never done. But be it because of fear of bad buy-rates for SummerSlam, or not wanting to have one of their top guys off of TV for a long stretch, Punk showed up on Raw a little over a week removed from a classic moment at MITB and his heat died substantially.
In business I believe you have to look past the short term and look long term. Keeping Punk off of TV for maybe just a month would have brought him back with heat so huge he could have rivaled Cena for the top spot. Instead, he came back, did a lame super-pose down with Cena with the titles that got both of them mixed reactions and he went on to lose the belt to Del Rio at SummerSlam. Now Punk, while still popular, has been relegated to a pipe bomb spitting, insider referencing smart guy who is usually throwing around quips that maybe only 2% of the fan base actually get.
Punk deserves better. Yes, he has the title but the title still doesn't matter more than anything Cena is doing, or HHH for that matter. Now he's just a part of a throw away feud with Miz and Del Rio until Rock/Cena heats up. To take things further into his devaluing, he's been in a feud with HHH that led to a HHH/Nash feud, a friendship with Cena (of all people) and a rivalry with Johnny Ace.
If you would have told me this would have been the outcome for Punk after he gave us maybe the hottest 2 months of wrestling in a long time I would have said you were crazy. But this is WWE so I shouldn't have been surprised, right?
Thanks for reading my ramblings. Is there anyone who you feel shouldn't be on this list? Anyone you would like to add?
Do you think I should just press the delete button on all of this and disappear like the Raw Mystery GM? Just leave it in the comments below.