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WRESTLING COLUMNS

A Quick Trip to the Top
July 16, 2003 - by Ite Lemalu



In the last year and a half we've seen a number of new 'superstars' make their way from OVW to the WWE - John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, Randy Orton, Orlando Jordan, Gail Kim, Charlie Haas just to name a few. In this short period of time, we have watched most of these new talents receive a great deal of TV exposure. Some of them have 'already' been put over by well-established wrestlers, some have 'already' worn WWE titles and some have 'already' headlined pay per views. The WWE have even gone as far as labelling these 'sports entertainers' as 'the Future of the WWE', now I think the WWE are going bit too far. It's understandable that the WWE are in a desperate need of turning things around. Their ratings have dropped because of a poor product, and their solution is to bring in a bunch of fresh new faces then give them an instant push. Part of what they're doing for the young talent is great, but only to a certain extent. This may only be a short-term solution, and it could hurt a lot of new careers. When I look at the list of these new faces, I can picture just a few names that may definitely be the future of the WWE.

Brock Lesnar - Brock Lesnar is not the 'present' of the WWE, he has not been tested, and is years away from reaching his peak. I think Brock was given the WWE Title too soon, but if he can maintain the momentum of his run for at least another 2 years, then Lesnar will most likely be one of the dominant main eventers in years to come. Another aspect of Lesnar that the fans haven't seen much of is his amateur background. This technical part of his repertoire may come in great use as he develops over the years. It could be a key factor in holding off the fans from growing bored of him.

Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin - One of the few good decisions made by the WWE was to bring the two together as a tag team. This was a brilliant move considering that the WWE are short of tag teams, it allows Haas and Benjamin the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills in the ring without revealing too much of their individual selves. Hopefully Haas and Benjamin will be paired together for at least another two years and should they pursue single careers, their techniques would be enhanced as a result of experience. They would also have earned enough name recognition to gain credibility into the US and WWE titles.

John Cena - He is very talented in the ring, and will only get better. The WWE need to keep him away from the main spotlight, and concentrate on having him compete in the mid-card level matches. Hopefully he won't be headlining any more pay per views for a few more years.

Christopher Nowinski - At the moment, the Raw writing team aren't doing much with Christopher Nowinski, which could be a good move. They need to take their time with him. Nowinski is a decent wrestler, he plays a good heel and he has 'the look' which is appealing to 'today's' fans. Christopher Nowinksi's Tough Enough loss may also have helped his career in the near future.




I can't picure he likes of Randy Orton or Maven becoming future the of the WWE. Randy Orton has always been shoved in our faces from the day he debuted in the WWE. His constant push caused the fans to turn against him. Now they've decided to give him the 'Rock' push hoping that the heel heat will work to his advantage. Well I've heard Randy's mic work, and not only does he look and sound like a Four Horsemen wannabe, he's also a lost member of the Natural Born Thrillers. Even his on air association with Ric Flair and HHH may not help him, it's doing the exact opposite. Tripple H can't help him because he's trying to be another Flair but that will never happen. Randy Orton is a decent wrestler, he still needs time to grow. Instead of making him a member of the Evolution or giving him the label of the Third Generation Sensation, why not let Randy find his own identity and his own place in the WWE. Maven may have mic skills, but the only wrestling that he's got going for him is the dropkick. Maven may have mic skills, but the only wrestling that he's got going for him is the dropkick. Maven will always be known as the first Tough Enough winner but this could eventually come back to haunt him. Tough Enough has always been a mistake - their female winners have been an utter disappointment to the extent where they have been regulated from 'wrestler' to 'valet'. Who could forget Jackie Gaydas' infamous match with Trish Stratus. You'd think after Nidia, they would've stopped having any other females. The only good thing they've done with Tough Enough, is keeping the TE3 winners far away from WWE TV until the 'fans' forget who they were and how they got there.

These are just simple solutions to some of the WWEs mistakes. Restoring credibility and prestige back into into the WWE is sorely needed. The titles have lost value over the years because of the increasing number of title changes which have occurred on a ridiculously frequent basis. I blame the WWE for continuing to follow with this concept, but equally to blame are today's fans. The WWE have given way too much to the point where the 'fans' have become ungrateful, disrespectful, uneducated and spoiled. Because of the demand of the "sheep", the WWE have no choice but to rush their product. A product that is rushed and not thought out properly is a sloppy product. So they may cheer Randy Orton and John Cena for now, but to the 'modern day' fan these wrestlers are nothing but the flavour of the month. They don't have the attention span, understanding and the loyalty to sit back and watch the young blood develop to make a proper name for themselves. If you've never debated with a fan of today, you're most likely to hear the same repetitive argument like "Well it was boring back then, you need to move on with the times and get over it", or "He's too old, he doesn't have the mic skills or the charisma, or the look to be a great wrestler". Ignorant comments such as that can either make you laugh or frustrated, because when tested, they have absolutely no knowledge or recollection of anything to do with wrestling before 1998 or 2000, yet they come up with the most narrow minded conclusions. These fans just recently jumped on the bandwagon during a time when wrestling was 'cool'. I challenge anyone who falls under this category to sit back and let these wrestlers slowly earn a main event spot. If you're willing to watch and support the WWE, NWA TNA, Ring of Honour, All Japan or any other wrestling organisation and learn to appreciate wrestling in general, then good for you! If you're not going to be around in a year, then that's your loss.

Both Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were in the WWF for eight years before winning their first WWF Title. I'm not suggesting that today's wrestlers should practise a similar example, but it proves how low WWEs standards are today. Bret Hart had the most memorable matches as part of the Hart Foundation tag team and as a mid-carder. Some of these matches were with the likes the British Bulldogs, the Killer Bees, Demolition (SummerSlam '90), Curt Hennig (SummerSlam '91), Davey Boy Smith (SummerSlam '92) and Roddy Piper (WrestleMania VIII) just to name a few. These credentials (and with the support of the fans) proved that Bret could be a future WWF champion and one of the best WWFs history. As champion (or main eventer), Bret and Owen Hart wrestled each other in the most classic matches - two of those matches were at WrestleMania X and at SummerSlam '94. Their angle was so exciting and relevant to wrestling that they were able to have an on and off feud for three long years. By that time Bret Hart was established enough to put other wrestlers over such as Steve Austin (Survivor '96 and WrestleMania XIII) and Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XII Iron Man Match).

Shawn Michaels has been down that same road though his days in the Rockers may have not been as successful, he had a lot of growing up to do during those first three years in the WWF. His ladder matches with Razor Ramon will forever be classed as two of the best IC title matches as they contributed yet more credibility to the title. Michaels won his first WWF Title at WrestleMania XII defeating Bret Hart in a historical one hour Iron Man Match which still to this day i consider to be one of the greatest WWF world title matches to ever have taken place. With or without the Title, Michaels went on to have memorable bouts with Diesel (a month after winning the title), Vader (SummerSlam '96, Steve Austin (KOTR '97), Undertaker (Hell in a Cell, Badd Blood '97). Sure, he was a backstage politician and he would refuse to job to other wrestlers, but you can't deny the fact that he gave his opponents the opportunity to look good. Shawn Michaels is making up for his mistakes, he may still have a bad back, but he's proven on more than one occasion that he can still perform with the best of them. To today's fans that class him as an over the hill has been, don't be easily manipulated by what is said on WWE TV. Ric Flair falls under that same category, he may be old but the Nature Boy puts a lot of today's 'superstars' to shame. Flair has the mic skills, wrestling skills and the ring psycology; an art form that is close to extinction.

Like a lot of ring veterans, Flair could cut a 20 minute promo and wrestle a 45 minute match if he were told to do it in 2 minutes before going on air. Todays wrestlers (exluding very few) wouldn't know how to fill a 10 minute slot. Ric Flair has also helped the careers of many wrestlers, it didn't matter if his opponents were to job to him, by the end of the match they were good enough to come back and fight another day. Even Tripple H of all people first got to the top the old fashioned way. Tripps won his first WWF Title after four years in the company. In that time he paid his own fair share of dues. One of his most memorable matches as a midcarder was against the Rock in a ladder match at SummerSlam '98 for the IC Title. HHHs first two WWF title reigns showed that he was capable of being a great and generous WWF Champion as he put a number of wrestlers over. I can't say the same today, as he has become a lazy champion.

Now do you see the difference between then and now? Do you see why it's important to let young wrestlers slowly become worthy main eventers? They need to grow and given time to develop they will surely reach their destination.

by Ite Lemalu


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