Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The WWE's Quandary: What Happens When a Top Face Retires and There's No One to Replace Him?

If not Morrison, than who?
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Edge's retirement Monday night was a move that he had to make in order to ensure his longterm health. The only surprising part of it is that it came now instead a year from now. This has left the WWE in a lurch for main event faces right now, but it's one that it's wholly on them for not building up new guys. I mean yeah, they have been building up new main eventers, but if you look at all the guys they took waivers on in the last two years - CM Punk, Kofi Kingston, The Miz, Jack Swagger, Sheamus, Alberto del Rio - only one was a face (Kingston), and his push was abandoned after Randy Orton threw a hissy fit.

This wouldn't be a problem except everyone who's retired or missed a ton of time in that same span - Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Batista, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho and now Edge - was traditionally a face except for Jericho. (Batista went out a heel, but he's been a babyface for most of the last couple of years leading up to that turn). The WWE has answered by building up a number of new guys as heels, leaving only the established megastars like Orton, John Cena and retreads like Kane and Big Show as foils. Where are the new good guys for fans to get behind? Who is going to step up? Who has the talent to step up, even?

Right now, Christian looks to be in line for a main event push, and while I love everything about that, it bears noting that Christian himself is no spring chicken. Also getting a PPV main event spot is R-Truth, who is also not all that young either. Both guys also have their detractors. Christian, while wildly over with crowds everywhere due to his excellent working ability, sly demeanor and witty promo stylings, doesn't have the faith of the front office because Vince McMahon "doesn't think he can draw". Truth's drawback is that he absolutely sucks...

...okay, that's a wholly subjective argument, but aside from his age, he also is a human botch machine and outside of his catchphrase rap, his promo skills are kinda lame. After that, the pool includes John Morrison, Kingston and a bunch of guys who have the talent to get over but not the momentum or the overness yet. Of the two between Morrison and Kingston, only I think only Kofi's a viable candidate to break through. The word is that McMahon doesn't see a guy who goes out there and looks like he's competing, rather than he looks like he's "performing". While that's a huge mark against him from us work snobs who like our shit to look real, coming from McMahon, a guy who you need to impress to get over? Yeah, that's like the kiss of death. Then again, there's all that crap about Melina and Trish Stratus and yadda yadda yadda, but that's all speculation, and I'm not really gonna indulge that until someone (if ever) comes out and flatly admits it.

(Funny note though, how funny is it that McMahon wants us to think of his company as "entertainment" and yet holds "looking like a performer" rather than looking like a wr... err a guy who is out there fig... errr, what word would he use to describe it? Anyway, it's just funny how fucking nuts Vince is.)

So yeah, after that pool is dried up, the rest of it looks like a bunch of guys who are either new (Sin Cara), need a lot of seasoning to get to the main event level (Daniel Bryan, Evan Bourne) or who are "non-conventional" picks to be pushed in a serious manner (Santino Marella). They could turn a heel face, but amongst the current crop, who is ready to go face? I'd say The Miz, but at the same time, TWB superfan and current resident of the city whose name translates roughly to "A Whale's Vagina" San Diego made a great point. We want Miz go to face because of a reaction he got from a largely smarkish crowd whose reactions greatly dwarfed those who were rooting against him/for Cena at WrestleMania? Yeah, that's probably not going to work in the long run. Punk has a lot of mileage left as a heel. Swagger, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, del Rio... they're all not ready.

In the short term, the WWE's going to have to bite the bullet and go for guys like Christian and *shudder* Truth to supplement the top of the card in positions left by Edge and the like. In the longer term though, they absolutely need to start building new babyfaces and they need to do it in earnest soon. Maybe WrestleMania XXVIII will be fine with Rock/Cena and possibly Trips/Taker II anchoring the top, but what about when Rock's filming movies again? Or when both Trips and Taker are on the sidelines for good? Or when Rey Mysterio's knees finally give out for good? The process has to start now, and it should start with Kingston. He's the most ready for prime time. Then, you start stories in earnest for other guys like Bryan or Bourne or Sin Cara or hell, even Santino, whom I still think can carry a main event feud if given the right opportunity.

I know us Internet-know-it-alls like to whine about the WWE needing to push EVERYONE ZOMG EVERYONE, and that's an impractical stance to take. However, if just one guy from the current underbelly of middle-to-low card faces gets a good push, I guarantee it will work wonders for the quality of the show and help generate the interest that a program featuring Cena and Orton solely at the top could.

It's a shame that it's going to take attrition wiping out the rest of their supporting main event cast to get to that conclusion.

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