MR. TITO: Who Wants to be the Next WWE Main Eventer? Submitted by Mr. Tito on 08/26/2020 at 12:58 AM
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Welcome, one and all, to the famous Pro Wrestling gameshow called WHO WANTS TO BE A WWE MAIN EVENTER. I am your lovely host with the most, Mr. Tito, with 30+ years as a wrestling fan, 21+ years as a writing writer, and a consumer of wrestling knowledge from wrestler and written sources. WWE SummerSlam 2020 just happened and it's time to not only "set the table" for Wrestlemania 37, but for the future as well.
Let me tell you the obvious... NOTHING draws for a pro wrestling company like its MAIN EVENTERS. WWE went from the basement during early 1997 to becoming the #1 company again simply by pushing Stone Cold Steve Austin to the Main Event scene and beginning to groom the Rock for that eventual role as well. Meanwhile, they purged what didn't work in the form of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels while starting to take Undertaker seriously as an in-ring performer.
Nothing is working for the WWE, ever since SummerSlam 2014 when they decided to put the brakes on John Cena's never-ending babyface push and tried to push other wrestlers in his place. Despite the money, efforts, and big names sacrificed for Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for the past 5 years, Monday Night RAW went from 4 million viewers to now being under 2.0 viewers, losing thousands in attendance per show before 2020, and major losses in merchandise sales without Cena. Those are all just numerical facts... WWE put lots of capital into Reigns and Rollins while heavily protecting Brock Lesnar... What do they have to show for it? Lost half of their North American fanbase!
So here I am, your host with the most, going to assess current Main Eventers and potential Main Eventers for now and moving forward.
And we'll cover female wrestlers on another gameshow. Sorry, but there's a reason why they aren't main eventing without Ronda Rousey around. It's the same analogy as to why more people watch the NBA versus the WNBA.
Away we go...
#31 - Edge I need to see how he recovers from the Triceps injury... He's in my top 10 if he recovers well.
#30 - Shinsuke Nakamura This guy needs to take better charge of his creative and look... He's unique and different and yet he allows the WWE to filter him too much.
#29 - Kevin Owens Great talker, great in-ring worker, and knows how to generate heat. The look is hurting him, though, as he's ready for a YMCA basketball game as opposed to a wrestling match. Owens should embrace his look and sell himself proudly as a family man for his character. Many wrestling fans, as the audience is now older and with children, can totally relate to him.
#28 - Aleister Black Good in-ring talent but he seems to be lacking promo skills and just seems to be another big & tall body who soaks his hair in water (or grease) before the match. And I know this will be controversial to say, but just tattoos everywhere hurts his look, in my opinion. Inconsistent designs and placement.
#27 - Velveteen Dream Cancel Culture is going to eat this guy alive, whether he really did what he's accused of or not. WWE said that they completed a thorough investigation of the guy yet #FireVelveteen is trending and now signs are showing up in the Thunderdome crowd. That said, if he's completely innocent of his crime, there is a ton of talent and charisma with this guy and he's only 25. The Internet is going to eat him alive.
#26 - Otis I don't get it with this guy... He's the Money in the Bank briefcase holder, but he's purely a comedy act to me. From all of the matches that I've seen of his, I've not been impressed... WWE could keep him in the midcard and it could still work. Pushing him as a Main Eventer is a mistake.
#25 - Sheamus Spinal problems, but this is still a large human being and through 2020, he has extensive experience. He just needs a few tweaks to his wrestling style and look.
#24 - King Baron Corbin He has the size and one of the best finishing moves. Yet, he's pushed like an absolute dork. The past few years have given him better mic skills to work with but the characters don't fit him.
#23 - Kofi Kingston He was thought of enough to be World Champion... For me, he needs to show me that he's more than just a high flyer and a really thin guy at 6 feet tall. Being in the New Day didn't really help his mic skills as it did Big E.
#22 - The Miz If the WWE could find the Miz of the second half of 2016 on Smackdown (remember the Talking Smack promo on Daniel Bryan), this could work with a push. Otherwise, he should remain in midcard hell.
#21 - Damian Priest Very similar to Karrion Kross... Cool name that will make for a strong heel one day in the WWE, if pushed correctly.
#20 - Karrion Kross Still early in the process, but he's very talented and with the ring entrance, he gets the theatrical side of pro wrestling.
#19 - Keith Lee Big fan of Keith Lee, but I wasn't that into his match with Karrion Kross. He seemed slower than normal... I don't know if he's added more to his packed frame or not and the same could be said with his match with Orton. But we also don't know if there are nagging injuries bothering him, too.
#18 - Tommaso Ciampa He's a legit badass and tough as nails... He has recovered from injuries that others would have retired from and maybe that causes the WWE main roster to resist him? He's been quiet lately and I've seen some rumors that maybe he's part of or leading Retribution, but we'll see.
#17 - Bobby Lasley Just look at the guy... He's a freakin' tank. Sadly, Paul Heyman was beginning to push him as a serious performer again and then that Executive Director rug was pulled from him. His alliance with MVP has been helpful but he's just missing personality, a better finishing move, and just a bit more aggression with his character.
#16 - MVP I forgot how much I enjoyed his WWE work during the latter half of the 2000s. He's great inside the ring, charismatic, and a great talker. Age is his only issue, as he's set to turn 47 this year... But as you've seen from his 2020 work, he remains solid inside the ring.
#15 - Seth Rollins This guy has lost his way or else I'd have him higher in the list. Great talker, charismatic, good in the ring... But between the ears, sometimes he's a little off... Trolling fans bother him too much and at times, he's too gullible for what the Creative Team will give him. He's a veteran and should start to push back on garbage given to him by Creative. Until he does that, he'll be stuck in a funk. "Monday Night Messiah"? Really?
#14 - AJ Styles The Undertaker feud increased his stock... He gave the Taker the best possible send-off match and that shows that he can make anyone look good, even at his older age. I also believe that his friends' departures (Anderson & Gallows) has pissed him off and made him more aggressive in the ring ever since.
#13 - Daniel Bryan Pound for pound, the best in-ring worker that the WWE has right now. He's had a tremendous 2020 and has been, in my opinion, the MVP of the quarantined era. Just killing it in the ring this year... Father time is catching up to him, but there's still some more good years left in him.
#12 - Elias I like the songs, but needs to get a little more serious with his character. Maybe cut promos that are more lyrical in nature, kind of like what Cena did with the Thug Life gimmmick, and not use the guitar/spotlight as much. He needs to be marketed as a much more aggressive character to show that he's evolving as an athlete and is not just a comedic act. Elias needs some sort of trademark move as well to help him be more identified as a tough singles wrestler.
#11 - Apollo Crews So much insane in-ring talent with this guy. He's a linebacker who can move and perform moves like a cruiserweight. He just needs something consistent with his personality presented on-screen and maybe consider giving him a mouthpiece. Maybe a higher impact finisher. I recommended a while ago on having him be managed by Ron Simmons and let Apollo do the Dominator, which was Simmons's finisher. When Apollo hits the Dominator, I'd have Simmons yell "DAMN!" at ringside and with time, the crowd will do that too.
#10 - Braun Strowman There's still hope for this guy... Keep him off Social Media and quit being so confusing with the guy on WWE Network documentaries versus the character on screen. The real Braun loves his family and gets emotional about his past... The character is ruthless and cold at times. Just inconsistent. He should also ditch the Wyatt Family wrestling gear of camoflague tights and the black tanktop. Looks stale.
#9 - Big E Langston Myself and Virtue have been beating the "PUSH BIG E" drum for years... When he started off as Big E Langston, he lacked personality and communication skills. However, years within the New Day have helped unleash charisma and speaking ability that Big E probably always had but never was encouraged to use. Add that to in-ring experience and he's main event ready. My only fear is that his recent comments challenging why Kofi Kingston wasn't pushed will come back to haunt him. I understand we're in unique times, but viewership and attendance weren't helped with Kofi on top. That's why he lost... Big E scorched his own employer for this and he could be rightfully punished for that. Why can't he speak with Vince privately over his concerns about black wrestlers being pushed or remaining on top?
#8 - Cesaro I still have faith... Because he's never been pushed as a Main Eventer before, he's prime for a big reaction if pushed seriously. Love the "Swiss Superman" nickname and he has nothing but ability and charisma to pull off being a #1 babyface. He talks better than people think, too.
#7 - Fiend/Bray Wyatt Just wrestle, man... You're name is Windham Rotunda, named after your dad Mike Rotunda and your uncle Barry Windham. Come on, man... Quit letting the gimmick make you look silly or foolish. Just wrestle. Let the theatrics set-up the match and then have an actual wrestling match. These big productions aren't helping you to get over. Wrestling does.
#6 - Drew McIntyre I had him lower on my list but his efforts at SummerSlam 2020 won me over. I also believe that he should get a pass for 2020 because no fans were in place to help decide if he was over or not, thanks to COVID-19. My worries, however, is that he really didn't improve his mic skills when given many opportunities during this Coronavirus era.
#5 - Matt Riddle He's unique... Barefoot, tough, MMA background, and he puts a lot of heart in his matches. What makes Matt Riddle great is that he's different from the rest of the roster and has nothing but good matches with everybody. Question is this... Cancel Culture will always bother WWE about him, no matter what the facts are.
#4 - Randy Orton From a pure in-ring talent standpoint, nobody is even close to Randy Orton. He can execute moves perfectly without effort. It's the rest of the wrestler that bothers me about Orton. I believe that his 2 big losses against Triple H, during 2004 when he lost his first World Title and then again at Wrestlemania 25, broke this man. He lacks emotion when he's in a match where he's expected to lose or in a program with a wrestler that he particularly doesn't like. He also has to always work heel, as the many attempts to push him as babyface always fail. His inability to make his opponents look strong will limit what he can do. However, he has a big 5 year contract with the WWE and they have to justify pushing him.
#3 - John Cena I believe that the chase for the 17th World Title reign could be a huge drawing factor if John Cena were willing to stick around for 6 months to a year to tell that story. If not, part-time Cena just won't do. He's only high on my list just for the potential 17th Title chase.
#2 - Brock Lesnar Lesnar is a top 10 all time WWE performer and still athletically has it. WWE has depushed him since 2018 to subsidize the pushes of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins along with trying to help Drew McIntyre. If the WWE is willing to flip the dominant switch back on, he can return to his top role at anytime. I would love to see a full-time schedule from Lesnar sometime, but that would be very expensive. When Lesnar wants to, he can put on a spectacle of a match that many will never forget.
#1 - Roman Reigns I have personally liked Roman Reigns since his 2018 Cancer speech... There, we saw the real man behind the character appear instead of the carefully scripted person that WWE created for him from 2014-2018. Since then, fans don't troll Roman as much and I believe that has boosted his confidence. Look, the WWE has groomed him as a Main Eventer from 2014 through early 2020 and he has worked with (and beat) the biggest names of the last decaded from Cena, Orton, Triple H, Undertaker, Bryan, Punk, and just about everyone else on the entire roster. It's up to Roman to continue to gain confidence in his microphone skills and in-ring ability. He needs to improve his conditioning, as he has often been winded during big matches and he needs new ring music + new tights. Time to ditch that Shield image and embrace the man behind the character.
None of these guys, unfortunately, will bring the wrestling business to a booming era. If you'll notice from my Top 4, 3 of the guys are older veterans from the 2002 Ohio Valley Wrestling call-up list. We've already seen Roman Reigns pushed to the absolute max and with a resume padded with top names for him to defeat.
It's time to admit that John Laurinaitis and Triple H just aren't that good of talent assessors than Jim Ross. Furthermore, where future WWE talents are working makes a difference... Jim Ross sent wrestlers to Cincinnati to work a smaller indy promotion with Les Thatcher or with Jim Cornette/Danny Davis at an indy promotion in Louisville. In both cases, wrestlers were treated and trained as if they were just starting out in the Territory system. John Laurinaitis began pampering wrestlers at Florida Championship Wrestling and Triple H took that to the extreme with the Performance Center.
What made the WWE Attitude Era great is that it featured wrestlers who were HUNGRY to succeed. Wrestlers like Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Triple H, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Kane, Hardys, Edge/Christian, etc. worked for smaller promotions for pennies on the dollar for years. Many of those wrestlers were treated poorly by another bigtime promotion that caused them to be out to "prove something" when joining the WWE. Austin, Undertaker, and Foley were flat out fired from WCW despite each believing that they had more to offer.
You don't have that now... Some guys might work the indy system for a few years before working at the Performance Center, but the Indy system of today isn't as battle tested as the older territory systems. Many of the WWE performers simply had tryouts with the WWE with zero in-ring experience and then working at the Performance Center becomes their first experience.
Title inflation has hurt things ,too... With 2 World Titles around, everybody gets a shot at being champion eventually. Cena has 16 World Title reigns in 15 years, Orton has 13 in 18 years, Roman has 4 title reigns in 5 years, etc. It's not that special to win a World Title now because it happens often and there are too many titles.
However, there's just not that many people on the horizon with the potential to be Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Mick Foley, Triple H, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Sting, Undertaker, the Rock, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Macho Man Randy Savage... There aren't many guys who could be on the next tier below that.
You could blame Creative but then I could point to the 1996 Creative Team that questioned Jim Ross's signings of Mick Foley and Steve Austin. Mankind brought an intensity to a Hannibal Lecter gimmick while Steve Austin not only came up with his own "Stone Cold" gimmick, but the "Austin 3:16" phrase on his own as well. GREAT TALENT CAN OVERCOME BAD CREATIVE!
I just don't think that the Talent Relations department in the WWE is that strong -OR- top athletes just don't want to become pro wrestlers. I've said it for years that Chris Benoit's death and murders scared not just fans away from the WWE, but potential wrestlers as well. The death of the WCW/ECW promotions combined with TNA falling apart has also reduced the demand for athletes to try pro wrestling.
I'll be honest here... I just don't see the next Main Eventer in the WWE.
In AEW, meanwhile... They have a few wrestlers who could become breakout stars AND they have an environment that allows more wrestler ownership of gimmicks and promos. WWE scripts every single thing and that limits any wrestler from ever having that "Austin 3:16" or "Pipebomb" moment to get over.
It all boils down to what I argued last week... Maybe WWE has a Triple H Problem?, as the Talent Development system in the WWE isn't producing the MAIN EVENT stars like it used to and Vince McMahon no longer has a strong staff surrounding him that can push Vince to change-up Creative when needed or argue about how talents are used.
Until the WWE changes its management infrastructure or if their existing EVPs change their ways, the WWE's downhill spiral will continue and nobody will get over in the Main Event scene.
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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