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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Mid-Card Mayhem
April 2, 2005 by Dan B.


While extremely important, the world heavyweight title isn't the most important entity in a wrestling promotion. To many this may seem like blasphemy of the highest order; how could you question the importance of the world title, you might ask yourself. If not for the world title, how would we know when a wrestler has ascended to main event status" To that question I answer with yet another question: when does a wrestler need a world title reign before their "main event"" Benoit was in the business for nearly two decades before his first world title reign, and before that he was featured alongside guys the likes of Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the Rock. Piper never, EVER held anything past the U.S. or Intercontinental title and he's been in countless movies and main events. And Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase never "officially" never held the title and look at them. My point is that the world title isn't what makes a good wrestler; Double J, Orton, Lesnar, David FREAKING Arquette

For those not privy to wrestling kayfabe let me explain what a "midcard" is. In a wrestling promotion (or federation for those purists that are truly old school) a shows matches are put on a schedule or "card". The card is split up into three distinct parts; lower card, midcard, and upper card or main event. The lower card is for has-beens, never was's, novelty acts, up-and-comers and jobbers. The lower card is rank with jobbers, people whose job is to lose to another, more popular wrestler that the owner wants to give a push. But don't feel too bad for them, they still get paid pretty well and are more than capable of being main eventers in smaller companies if they wanted to. For example, Shane "Hurricane" Helms could be an X division mainstay in TNA but probably will never go over there because the WWE not only pays him well but most likely has the copyright to his gimmick. That's why Billy Gunn is now "The Outlaw".

The midcard is essentially a proving ground for the hot new young wrestlers trying to make a name for themselves. It also has past main eventers and old "legends" (I put legend in quotation because the term legend is so over-used that it almost has no meaning) that are put there for a number of reasons. One reason could be that it's part of a bigger story line involving that wrestler. Another reason is that the older, more recognized wrestler is there to feud with the younger wrestlers to give them "the rub" (make them more popular). Sabu is a good example of this, as he can feud with the young bucks but still go toe to toe with the big boys. Or of course the final reason is that the older wrestler is losing popularity and is on his way out. And the final part of the card is the upper card or the main event. These matches usually involve the world title and/or a long story line and perhaps a stipulation or two. This is the "big match", or the match the promoter advertises more than the others.

When constructing a wrestling empire you have to realize that you can't have a main event without the midcard and you can't have a midcard without the lower card. Think of it like a production line but with wrestlers. To aid in this process sometimes a (smart) owner will create a midcard title for the wrestlers to feud over and develop their character. Without a midcard title a wrestler would just come out of nowhere with no resume and take the title, thus making the title less important. A midcard gives the promoter the ability to see if the wrestler they put it on can carry it well. These helps to gauge what kind of push that person should receive. Some examples of these belts would be the WWE Intercontinental title, the WCW/WWE United States title, the WCW/WWE Cruiserweight title, the TNA X title, the ROH Pure wrestling title, the WWE European title, the WWE Hardcore title, the WCW Hardcore title, the WWE Light Heavyweight title, and the NWA/WCW television belt.

My point is this; to truly develop a wrestler they need to spend time in the midcard feuding over secondary belts and there in lies the problem. There aren't enough midcard belts to go around. Now I'm a big fan of less is more but you have to give these wrestlers something to do, a default story line if you will. Take TNA for example, great wrestlers and overall good booking. But they only have three titles; the World title, the Tag titles, and the X title. Despite what many think tag titles aren't midcard titles; their titles of there own. So to keep the belts hot they can't afford to put them on two singles wrestlers they want to put over (you hear that WWE, DON'T PUT TAG TITLES ON SINGLES WRESTLERS!!!). And they can't put the X title on the bigger guys because it's traditionally for smaller, more "extreme" guys. Don't get me wrong, they could easily put the X title on Jeff (I'm still a fan despite you haters) or Killings but were does that leave the rest"

Another culprit of midcard neglect is the WWE. Lets take a look at RAW's title line-up; the Women's championship" Kind of hard for guys to feud over that (though I swear if Christy Hemme wins it....). What about the Tag Team titles" That'd be great if there were ANY TEAMS TO GIVE THE BELTS HEAT!!! So that leaves the IC title, and Benjamin is to solid of a performer to take it off of any time in the near future. If I were you Vince, I'd reinstall the European or Hardcore belts for people to feud over. Particularly the Hardcore belt because that's the only way Kane will EVER get back heat; by destroying all comers for the belt. Plus RAW has a lot of other big guys that need the rub like Batista, Masters (ugh), Snitsky (double ugh), and Tomko (BARF).

And let's not forget SmackDown! Take a long, long look at their titles; the Cruiserweight title is in no danger of being snatched up by the Big Show and besides we all know how Vince treats his cruisers. The Tag Team belts on RAW and SmackDown! are mirror images of each other; ugly, ugly mirror images of each other. So that leaves the U.S. belt and that at the moment has no real prospects (Sorry O.J.). So like RAW, I'd bring back a title like the European title or the Hardcore. But probably European because nobodies too hardcore on Smack Down (Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try and pass of Holly as Hardcore).

Well, that's it; my view on midcard development or lack there of. This is by far the longest article I've, written so if anybody's made it this far I congratulate you and eagerly await your responses. Halle, call me.

by Dan B...


Ian Wilz wrote:
For example, Shane "Hurricane" Helms could be an X division mainstay in TNA but probably will never go over there because the WWE not only pays him well but most likely has the copyright to his gimmick

While I agree completely that Helms could be huge in the X-Division I feel that he would be better without the stale, lame Hurricane gimmick. Personally I wish he would go back to "Sugar" Shane Helms, turn heel, and jump to SMACKdown and compete in the Cruiser division. Matches between him and London and Akio would be great. I remember watching his great matches in WCW while a member of 3 count against the Jung Dragonz which Akio (aka Jimmy Yang) was a member of. These guy put on some great matches. Just imagine London - Helms - Akio in a ladder match for the Cruiser title would be off the wall.

If he were to somehow end up in TNA sometime I think he would be much better off WITHOUT the Hurricane gimmick and would be more over without a gimmick.
Brad Dykens wrote:
If Hurricane went to TNA, Dusty would just call him "The Tornado"..
Jonathan Ayres wrote:
Hi im Jonathan Ayres. I totally agree with pretty much all of your points. The fact is the WWE has only a few main events who can hold the world titles, such as triple HHH, Kurt Angle, Undertaker and um well...thats it really. And lets face it they wont be round for too much longer. The point is, WWE has alot of guys who aren't being developed mainly because there really isn't enough attention on the middle titles. Lets face there's no storyline goin round for the IC title or US tiles. A few years ago there were huge story lines and people actually cared about having them. Now it seems their just worthless. Neither one of them were up for Wrestlemania nor both tag titles. Which is stupid just there is talent, but the WWE just aren't using it. In order to create big stars their gonna have to make their middle titles more significant which can create a stepping stone. And for god sakes Vince sort out the tag titles their a joke, i remember when they had proper teams such as the dudleys the Hardzs and E&C. Now all we get are two single stars just randomly put together then win the titile a week later, its just a joke. The sooner they bring back more titles and make their existing titles worth winning for the sooner we can bring up some big stars and WWE can be worth watchin again.
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