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The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
What’s Ahead for Smackdown Stars?
On the eve of Judgment Day, The Kingfish Arnie Katz peeks into his crystal ball and forecasts the future careers of some of today’s best-known stars.

As WWE and its legion of fans prepare for the Judgment Day pay per view, my thoughts voyage to the future. The WWE announcers so often tell us that this wrestler or that one is “the future of WWE” or “a champion in the making” or similar glib predictions.

This installment looks at the current Smackdown roster.

Jeff Hardy
It’s impossible to know what lies within the psyche of any pro wrestling performer, but past actions suggest less than total dedication to his ring career. This has hurt him in the past and the outlook is that it will continue to damage his career if he doesn’t focus.

If he does, the Charismatic Enigma is likely to be a main eventer in five=ot-10 years, just as he is in 2009. He will stay a babyface, because he just doesn’t seem to have it in him to be a heel.

An alternate scenario could see him reunite with Matt and become a championship tag team. This might well suit Matt, but Jeff has such a bright future as a singles competitor that he might not find a life as a tag team grappler all that alluring.

Rey Mysterio
He has punished his body so often and so relentlessly that his future looks cloudy from this point, going forward. Despite the fact that he is still relatively young, Rey-Rey doesn’t seem capable of going another decade, especially not at his current high-flying level.

Cryme Tyme
It’s depressing to see Shad and HTH revert to their clownish ways on Smackdown, but remember, we’re looking at the long term. I don’t think there’ll be a Cryme Tyme in five years, but Shad Gaspar might be an upper mid-carder.

Without his big, muscular buddy at his side, JTG might find a more comfortable home at TNA, where the smaller average size cold work to his advantage.

The Great Khali
He could have a career that would be somewhat parallel to that of Andre the Giant. That is, he can be an attraction and make good money even though they will keep him as much out of the title picture as possible.

Khali doesn’t excel as a face or a heel character. Without Runjin Singh, he might as well be a mime. He may tend toward the babyface role, because it could enhance his fan appeal.

The dark cloud on Great Khali’s future is his dubious physical condition. He seems a bit more flexible than when he made his WWE debut, but the bumps of wrestling will accumulate, no matter how they try to protect him.

Mike Knox
Mike Knox, as he is today, seems tailor-made to assume Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s role. Give him a flag and maybe a fireman’s hat and he would be ready to assume his duties.

It’s an understatement to call his current character “lackluster.” Yet it’s good to remember that other stars have had bad characters at times in their career. Who can forget Kevin Nash as Oz?

Knock will either find another character that is fairly different from the current one or he will never rise above the level of Hulking Threat, the kind of guy who not only loses the big ones; he loses the small ones, too.

John Morrison
The Chick Magnet is on the success track, again. In fact, he is rising toward the main event group and has a very good chance to stick at or near the top of the card.

His current character looks good for the foreseeable future, but he may have to investigate such cosmetic aids as hair transplants if he intends to carry it through to the end of his career.

Shelton Benjamin
The Gold Standard has not made the leap to main event status, even though he has a good look and is considered one of the promotion’s most athletic performers. This doesn’t bode well for his future success, because the athleticism will only diminish as he gets older.

WWE hopes that Benjamin will suddenly get everything into focus and become the performance he could be. My guess is that Shelton Benjamin will continue to be one of the most intriguing “almost-but-not-quite” mid-carders.

The Samoan Bulldozer could have a career that parallels Rakishi’s successful stint in WWE. His dramatic appearance and his undeniable power make him an ideal monster heel.

This is not a character that will hold major titles, though he will periodically rise up to challenge for various bits of gold. He’s on track to be a monster heel for the next decade.

The current permutation of his character is fairly dull, but this guy has all the ingredients for success. Sadly, Ron has always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or get a critical injury just when it looks like he’ll get a break.

R-Truth’s WWE incarnation has disappointed his fans. It just doesn’t look like WWE has long-range plans for him, which means that he will work out his current contract and may then be hoping to return to better days at TNA.

Charlie Haas
What a shame that WWE didn’t reward Haas’ excellent imitations of famous wrestlers with winning matches. They saw it as a comedy spot, pure and simple, and hung losses on the one-time tag team star.

Charlie Haas doesn’t have any intrinsic qualities that translate into stardom. He is steady and works well in the ring, but he doesn’t have much charisma.

Charlie Has is a good man to have on the roster, because he always works a good match. WWE will keep him in that role, but top-of-the-card prominence will continue to elude him.

Chris Jericho
WWE’s “wrestler of the year” in 2008 can probably stay at or near the top of the card as long as he wants to compete. The question is: how long will he want to punish his body in sports entertainment?

His return to WW after a musical sabbatical started slowly, with Jericho unable to put over his babyface persona. The switch to heel ignited his career, so he’ll stay an arrogant rulebreaker until his final run before retirement.

Jericho will hold big and small titles several times in the next few years. He’ll also get a lot of mic time, because he knows how to use it.

CM Punk
The big question for CM Punk is whether or not he can update his character in a way that keeps him relevant. He is strong in the ring and improving on the microphone, but his ability to overcome his weaknesses will determine his status.

His “straight-edge” gimmick is weak and starting to look very retro. His physical appearance is sloppy and not all that appealing. A little refinement, such as a better hair cut, would pay dividends.

CM Punk has an excellent chance to stick in the main event group on one of the WWE shows for a very long run. E is young, he works well and they seem to like to write for him. That’s a prescription for success.

In five-plus years, WWE may start to wonder about his retirement, but he has a rosy future. The Rated-R Superstar will hold the big titles and will be a challenger for them when he doesn’t have one.

There’ll inevitably be a Christian-Edge reunion in a couple or three years, but it won’t be more than an occasional thing. They are both much too valuable to be relegated to the tag team division.

That’s it for today. I’ll e back tomorrow with a fresh installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising pro wrestling column. I hope you’ll join me then and, please, bring along your friends.

— Arnie Katz
Executive Editor
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