WWE's Pushed to Punished, Edition 10: John MorrisonSeptember 24, 2011
As most of you know by now, I've produced an exclusive weekly column for several months entitled WWE's Pushed to Punished, where I analyze the controversial career of a particular current or former WWE Superstar who was set to make a major impact in the industry but failed to grab the mythical brass ring when all was said and done.
For my milestone 10th edition, I look to target one of the most controversial figures here on Bleacher Report in recent months, John Morrison.
Arriving in the WWE in early 2004 originally as Johnny Blaze, he was given the prominent role as then-Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff's assistant. To accommodate the job, Johnny's last name was later changed to Nitro to correspond with WCW's classic Monday Night Nitro program.
In only a matter of months, Nitro was removed from television to developmental training in OVW by June. Upon his return to television nearly a year later, Nitro was grouped with Melina and Joey Mercury, collectively known as MNM, to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship from Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero.
Throughout the rest of 2005, the newly formed stable would go on to enjoy two more reigns as WWE Tag Team Champions for a lengthy period of time. By mid-2006, Nitro and Melina would exile Mercury from the group and would later be "fired" from the blue brand, subsequently moving over to Raw in the process.
With Creative's interest in Johnny Nitro's character much higher than ever before, he immediately made an impact on the flagship show in a match against WWE Champion John Cena. Only a few weeks later, Nitro emerged victorious as the new Intercontinental Champion at that year's Vengeance event, holding the belt for a matter of four months.
His eventual feud that fall with the returning Jeff Hardy provided an awesome amount of match-ups that truly exhibited Nitro's talent in the squared circle.
After losing his second Intercontinental title, Nitro and Melina surprisingly reunited with a returning Joey Mercury to feud with the valiant Hardy brothers, a team they would eventually lose to on three consecutive occasions.
When MNM slowly disbanded by 2007, Nitro would not find significant success until being drafted to the ECW brand in the 2007 WWE Supplemental Draft. Replacing an absent Chris Benoit, the A-lister would defeat CM Punk at Vengeance to be crowned the new ECW Champion.
For the remainder of the summer, the renamed John Morrison would successfully defend his ECW Championship on a number of occasions. With the new look, finishing move and name change, Morrison was finally being recognized as true main event player on Tuesday nights.
Due to violating the strict WWE Wellness Policy that September, Morrison would be forced to drop the belt to Punk immediately. However, this would not stop Morrison from once again achieving greatness, as he went on to form an impromptu team with The Miz to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship for a fourth time in November.
The team of Miz and Morrison certainly reignited the tag team division on all three brands to say the least, holding the belts before dropping them to Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder in July 2008. Resuming their partnership, Morrison would lay low in the Land of Extreme before capturing the World Tag Team Championship with Miz at a live event towards the end of the year.
Maintaining their place as the prominent tag team in the WWE at the time, the stars of the Dirt Sheet would claim possession to the prestigious belts before dropping them to the Colon brothers in a dark match at WrestleMania 25.
Soon after, Miz betrayed Morrison at the 2009 WWE Draft following being sent packing to Monday nights. That Wednesday, it was announced that Morrison was moved to back to SmackDown via the WWE Supplemental Draft.
For the first time in his career, Morrison turned babyface to feud with the fellow athletic Shelton Benjamin, defeating him at the Judgment Day event and again on a subsequent episode of SmackDown.
That summer, Morrison received the biggest push of his career by being placed in the main event picture, shockingly having pinned then-World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk twice.
These impressive victories earned Morrison a World Heavyweight Championship match against Jeff Hardy in August, where the Shaman of Sexy was even able to kick out of the Swanton Bomb.
Despite a strong effort, he came short in capturing his first World title but struck gold in regaining the Intercontinental Championship for a third time against a suspended Rey Mysterio in September.
With the title win being described as a step backwards for Morrison, many predicted that his title loss to Drew McIntyre at WWE TLC would relaunch him back in the main event picture, but no such thing ever came to fruition.
Floundering for the next few months, Morrison was placed in a lackluster tag team with R-Truth, losing to the-Unified Tag Team Champions Sho-Miz at WrestleMania 26.
Being moved to Raw in the 2010 WWE Draft, John Morrison continued his disappointing position on the roster and constantly being overshadowed. Prior to last year's Night of Champions event, John Morrison's push was renewed following an impressive showing against then-WWE Champion Sheamus in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
A few weeks later, Morrison picked up two of his biggest victories in recent memory against the egotistical Chris Jericho. Although his team was on the losing end of the Raw vs. SmackDown tag team match at Bragging Rights, he became engaged in his first real rivalry in a great while by aiding Santino Marella in his feud against Sheamus.
At Survivor Series, Morrison soundly defeated the Celtic Warrior; he did it again at WWE TLC the following month in a breathtaking Ladder Match to be crowned the new number one contender for the WWE Championship.
Although he didn't receive his title shot at the Royal Rumble as many speculated, he instead challenged The Miz on the first edition of Raw of 2011 but was unsuccessful following a missed Starship Pain through the table.
Much like in 2009, this much deserved push was being described as the beginning of something much bigger for John Morrison. Unfortunately, his WWE Championship match against the Awesome One would be the last high-profile contest he would compete in as of now.
Despite amazing showings at Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, Morrison was apparently only good enough to receive a spot in the lackluster six-person tag team match at WrestleMania 27.
Following his predictable loss in the WWE Championship main event at Extreme Rules, Morrison was sidelined with a neck injury indefinitely.
With a promo hyping his return to the ring in July, many members of the IWC predicted for Morrison to return stronger than ever. He did just that in his first night back on the July 25 edition of Raw, but has been strongly misused ever since.
This past Monday on Raw, former WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio crushed the Shaman of Sexy in a matter of 60 seconds, the confirmation that Morrison's once apparent push is officially over.
After his legitimate girlfriend Melina was released from her contract back in August, I guess this could be Creative's way of burying Morrison until he asks for his release.
Unlike some past subjects of my weekly column, John Morrison has never acquired the mic skills to become World Champion—well, as a face at least. A heel turn has been rumored for quite some time now but has yet to come to fruition.
He obviously has the look, following and in-ring skills of a World Champion, but I can't see him fulfilling his dream on Raw with his obvious lack of skills on the mic.
He is in desperate need of a change in character, and it seems to be that Morrison has not only become the victim of backstage politics, but is now a stepping stone for younger talent given his seven-year tenure with the company.
But, hey, if Christian and Mark Henry can capture World Championships in 2011, then anything is indeed possible. A move to SmackDown would certainly benefit the Shaman of Sexy, but hopefully sooner rather later before his tenure in WWE results in the same way that many of the past Superstars discussed in WWE's Pushed to Punished have.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and make sure to drop a comment below regarding your thoughts on the highly controversial John Morrison. This 10th edition of my series will indeed be the final before the column takes a hiatus, but tune in for my huge 150th blow-off article coming sometime next week.
Visit my website at Next Era Wrestling and my WrestleRant video blog for more of GSM's thoughts and writings, along with WWE/TNA news, recaps and more. Follow me on Twitter @SAVE_US_GSM.