Monday, April 14, 2014

Guest Post: The Squeezed Midcard

Will Damien Sandow and Dolph Ziggler have room in the rising tide of WWE's new guard?
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Kieran Shiach is man with a podcast, the Have a Nice Day podcast to be more specific. He hails from across The Pond, and he has an opinion on WWE's stagnant midcard, which he would like to share with each and everyone of you readers out there.

Time is a flat circle. Everything that will happen has happened, and everything that has happened will happen again. After WrestleMania, I've been thinking a lot about transitional periods in wrestling (specifically WWE), and the events that herald them. Many cite the steroid trials of the early nineties as responsible for The New Generation, and smaller stars like Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels. While some point to Montreal, or even earlier, I believe Jim Ross summed it up best at WrestleMania 14 when he said “The Austin Era has begun” as Stone Cold replaced Shawn Michaels as the company's biggest star. The Attitude Era died when Shane McMahon uttered the words “The name on the contract does say McMahon...” six days before WrestleMania X-Seven. Four years later John Cena and Batista both won their first world titles at WrestleMania 21. That's kinda where we've been at for the past nine years, but it's possible that Monday Night Raw on April 7th signaled a new changing of the guard.

It was a RAW that saw WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Bryan standing tall with The Shield against the forces of The Authority. Paige debuted and won the Divas Championship. Cesaro celebrated his victory in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, split from The Real Americans and aligned himself with Paul Heyman, who the previous night took his client Brock Lesnar to places no-one has ever gone before when he broke The Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak of 21-0. We were promised Bo Dallas and Adam Rose, and saw Alexander Rusev crush Zack Ryder. The Wyatt Family were victorious against John Cena, Sheamus and Big E, and Rey Mysterio continued his unlucky streak of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as he was greeted with boos from the fans for having the gall to face Bad News Barrett. He defeated Mysterio with the best looking Bullhammer he's ever done.

I apologize to the person I first saw tweet this, but not long after RAW, I saw someone say that the average age of a champion in WWE right now is 27.5, which is crazy young. The future looks incredibly bright for WWE, and that's without taking into account they have Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Tyler Breeze, Solomon Crowe, Enzo Amore and tons of other uber talented folks down in Florida, waiting to make their mark. With the main event dominated by Bryan, Orton, Batista, Cena, and The Authority, and one of the strongest influxes of new talent ever ready to break out, what happens to the mid-card we've known and loved for the past decade?

Time is a flat circle. Everything that will happen has happened, and everything that has happened will happen again. In early 1999, the WWF had an incredibly talented mid-card: D-Lo Brown, Al Snow, Jeff Jarrett, Val Venis, Steve Blackman, Ken Shamrock, Billy Gunn, the list goes on. There was so much talent, that there were championships besides the World Title, and for all the crap he gets, Vince Russo prided himself on making sure everyone had something to do. By the beginning of 2000, however, a new wave of talent had overtaken the mid-card we once knew, and all bets were off. Chris Jericho arrived in a debut that people still talk about to this day, and Kurt Angle was undefeated for nearly three months before he was taken out by ECW's Tazz. The Hardy Boyz, Dudley Boys and Edge and Christian were redefining tag-team wrestling, and four disgruntled Radicalz from WCW arrived to raise hell in the WWF. In almost no-time at all, there was a huge influx of people with “star” written all over them, and if you weren't a rising star, or you weren't in the main event, there was less and less time for you on TV.

I say this, and I write this article because I'm seeing this happen again. When I came back to wrestling in 2009, the future of wrestling was Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston and John Morrison. Everyone thought Ted DiBiase Jr was the next big thing, and although I always said it was Cody Rhodes, look at where all of those guys are now. A year later Drew McIntyre debuted as The Chosen One, and in 2012, Damien Sandow finally appeared after forever in development purgatory as The Intellectual Savior of the Masses. Zack Ryder turned himself into a megastar because WWE wouldn't, and had the fans chanting WE WANT RYDER over THE ROCK. These were our heroes. These were the next wave of great wrestling talent to take us through the 2010s. They were too late for Ruthless Aggression, and too early for “The Reality Era” and now there's just no room for them anymore.

I don't say this to offend or anger any fans of those wrestlers. I bet real cash money on Cody Rhodes to win the Royal Rumble, not because I thought he was going to, but because it would have been great if he did. I'd love to see Dolph Ziggler, or Damien Sandow get to do anything interesting, but between your Wyatt Families, and your Shields and your NXTs, it seems like there's no time for them anymore. That's not to discount their talent, either. Dolph Ziggler can tear it up with anyone on the roster, and Cody could be the next Ricky Morton and with his ability to connect with a crowd during a beatdown, and fire back on the offense. I don't see them getting a chance to, though.

Time is a flat circle. Everything that will happen has happened, and everything that has happened will happen again.