It’s no secret that WWE is in a state of transition as far as their roster is concerned. Some have called it a full-on “Youth Movement.” Older, established stars are reaching the twilight of their careers. Others are nearing the absolute end. Others still, have already left all together. In their place has grown a crop of new, capable, young stars - ready to take the proverbial ball and run with it.
Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio, and The Miz have all been pushed up to the top of the card on their respective brands at one point or another over the last year. Each one of those 5 names has been pegged as a future flag-bearer for the company. They are seen as the next generation of the main event in WWE.
Still, despite this concerted effort to make new stars, WWE has yet to see the significant improvements in ratings, attendance, and PPV buys that they’ve been craving. Something’s just not clicking, and I think I know why.
They’re all heels.
WWE can fill the main event spots with as much fresh blood as they want, but if all of the new guys are simply being pushed as food for Cena, Orton, Taker and Rey it will never be a success. The main event scene didn’t get stale because people were tired of seeing evil Randy Orton or pompous Chris Jericho get beat every month. It became stale because people were tired of being forced to cheer for the same conquering hero all the time.
Heels were created to come into a territory, get the fans to hate their guts, get beat by the Face, and then move on to next territory, all the while the Face gets stronger in the process. But with WWE there is no territory to move onto. So the Heel gets beaten by the Face, then moves on to a mid-card feud for a month, then comes back and gets beaten again. All the while, the Face gets stronger - until he’s run out of heels. Then he’s forced to go through all of the guys he’s already beaten and instead of getting more popular, the crowd gets bored. That’s when it’s time to make a new Face, and that’s what’s not happening.
I’ll use John Cena as an example (A: because he’s the obvious choice and B: because of A). He’s been the top Face in WWE since 2005. He’s beaten EVERYBODY. Even the guys that haven’t hit the main roster yet, you can assume that Cena’s beaten them because eventually he will. In the process of his domination his story has gotten stale. There are only so many times that you can tell the tale of the hero overcoming the odds before it just becomes Old Hat. I really think that after this Nexus angle ends, WWE will have to either get Cena away from the main event or turn him heel. Wade Barrett has ridiculed and degraded Cena as much as humanly possible. John is currently at the lowest low his character has ever reached. Once he ultimately overcomes his tormentor it will be his greatest victory. And then what? He gets the title back and Miz threatens to take it from him? Boring.
As cool as it will be to see The Miz in a world title feud, there will be no drama - no sense of fear from the crowd. They will have already seen John beat his toughest opponent. Obviously he’ll be able to get past The Miz too, in time.
What I’m trying to say is that if you keep hammering home the point that Guy X is unbeatable, eventually people will stop caring, and you’ll need to bring in Guy Z to get your audience back. Right now, instead of replacing one for the other, WWE is just banking on Guy X vs Guy Z.1, Z.2, and Z.3. That just ain’t gonna work.
There needs to be fresh, new Faces in the main event to counter the new Heels. Otherwise, it’s just the same old shit.
So, since I mentioned the 5 new Heels that WWE has earmarked as the go-to bad guys for the foreseeable future, I thought I’d take a look at 5 (ok, 6) Faces that should be pushed up with them to TRULY freshen up the product:
I don’t know who he pissed off but this time last year Kofi was poised to be the next mega Babyface in WWE. His feud with Randy Orton was the hottest angle in the company and people couldn’t stop praising Kofi. Then, by Royal Rumble he was right back to the mid-card. Kofi has the charisma, the connection with the fans, and the skills in the ring to carry years-worth of main events. He’s shown that he can pump up the intensity when necessary too. I’m not saying that he’s the heir apparent to Cena’s marketing throne just yet, but he’s the kind of Babyface that could do Rey Mysterio-sized numbers if given the chance.
Speaking of Mysterio, either one of these guys has the ability to step up and take his spot as the main event’s resident underdog. Bourne got a tease of a push earlier this Summer when they had him up against Edge and tagging with John Cena. But within 2 weeks he was right back to jobbing to Sheamus. Kaval, had the supposed NXT push behind him. He’d won the competition and seemed to emerge as a fan-chosen ready-made player. But I don’t think he’s won one match since joining SmackDown. I suggest that in the next draft, Bourne move over to SmackDown and they start up a 3-way rivalry between these two and Rey. It would serve as a passing of the torch as Rey winds down his in-ring career. It would also just be an incredible series of matches, reminiscent of ECW’s International Incidents featuring Super Crazy, Tajiri, and Little Guido!
I think Morrison has the best shot out of this whole bunch to move up into the main event. He’s been prominently featured on RAW lately and is in the warm-up stage of his feud with Sheamus. The guy has all the skill in the world, and while he’s lacking a bit on the mic, it’s something that could improve over time. It already has, actually. Morrison is constantly compared to Shawn Michaels. While I don’t think he’ll ever reach the legendary status of HBK, he’s a guy who can have a great match with anyone and can always be relied on to take things to that next level when it’s needed.
Every generation of the main event has had that great technical wrestler who may not be able to knock your lights out, but can snap any bone in your body at will. Bryan can and should be that technician for this generation. Anyone who’s seen him on the indies knows that he’s great as either a Face or a Heel. That being the case, he offers years of potential main event matches. The guy is too good not to be at the top. In time his name should be placed among Angle, Jericho, Benoit, and Guerrero as the technical workhorse champion.
This one will probably surprise a lot of people. But, with the retirement of Batista there is a huge opening for a monster powerhouse Face. A guy who can literally stomp through the entire roster with the fans behind him is a proven formula for success. Goldberg, Lesnar, Batista, even the Warrior were all major, MAJOR attractions at the height of their success. Someone else needs to step up to fill that spot. I don’t think Sheffield is the greatest worker in the world, but for this role he is capable enough. Plus, he has a ready-to-go angle once he returns against Wade Barrett (who will be an even more established top Heel by then).
There are others on the roster who could fill the main event on either side of the popularity poll. Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, The Hart Dynasty could all very easily be included in the list above. WWE really does have an incredible roster at the moment, one with endless possible new stars. They just have to focus on one, two, or three of them and give them the right kind of push. The fans will take to them if they’re good enough. All they need is the chance.