Sunday, October 30, 2011

The WWE's "Youth Movement": 6 Months Later

So about 6 months ago I wrote a blog piece talking about the supposed youth movement that was happening in the WWE. During one of his conference calls, Vince McMahon said that the WWE was in a youth movement face and that they were going to focus on pushing the young talent that they had in the company. You can read that full piece here:

Well, it's been a little over 6 months since I wrote that column, and to say things didn't exactly go as planned might be a little bit of an understatement. Lots of factors probably went into that. One: nobody saw C.M. Punk coming. He had been stagnant for years, and all of the sudden he just exploded onto the main event scene and looks to be there to stay. I didn't think it would ever happen. Another factor into all of this is the success that was The Rock's return. The Rock helped Wrestlemania top 1 million buys. Many people also didn't expect The Rock to agree to wrestle at Survivor Series, Wrestlemania, and whenever else he agrees to wrestle. Then of course there was the big Vince McMahon/HHH/CEO storyline that brought back Kevin Nash and basically needed to involve the veteran key players.

But with that being said lets take a look back, and a look forward, to see what is in these stars' futures.

What I Said 6 Months Ago
-After The Miz and Alberto del Rio, I think John Morrison would have to be considered the next breakout star in the WWE.
-Morrison's parkour style gives him a unique offensive move set that makes him different from any other star in the WWE.
-Many people are comparing John Morrison to Jeff Hardy. That is a fair comparison. Obviously Morrison has his personal life in better order than Hardy.
-So when does the WWE pull the trigger on John Morrison? If it was up to me, I'd say SummerSlam.

Morrison was the first name on my list, so that's why I start with him. To say things have taken a turn for the worse for Morrison is quite the understatement. Morrison appeared to still be in for some type of push after Wrestlemania, but his behavior during the lead up to Wrestlemania really effected all of that. Morrison apparently had problems with Trish Stratus being in his match rather than his real life girlfriend Melina. Melina was apparently in Morrison's ear, and because of that he gave the cold shoulder to Stratus. That's a big no-no for a young guy looking to breakout in the business. Morrison still was in the main event of the next PPV, Extreme Rules, but it never really amounted to anything. Morrison dealt with a neck injury that made him miss most of the summer. But after that? He's basically been a flashy jobber since his return.

John Morrison's backstage reputation has been nothing to write home about if you believe the stories you hear. He apparently did everything Melina asked him to do. Vince McMahon was also apparently never that high on Morrison, mostly because he didn't believe Morrison looked like a guy that could "win a real fight." It pretty much seems like Morrison's main event opportunity has come and gone. If he stays with the WWE and re-signs, I highly doubt he gets any closer to the main event than he was. I will firmly say this right now: John Morrison will never be WWE or World Champion.

Dolph Ziggler
What I Said 6 Months Ago
-I don't think I've been more impressed with the overall improvement of one wrestler in the ring like I have been with Dolph Ziggler in the last few months.
-When Dolph Ziggler first debuted with his new gimmick, I thought there'd be no way he would get to where he is today. "Hi, I'm Dolph Ziggler." just seemed very stale and bad. But to his credit, Dolph has done very well over the last couple months.
-I don't have an exact scenario to play out for Ziggler, but I do think he will have the World Title again before the end of 2011, with Survivor Series being my first guess as to when he will win it.

Well, obviously Dolph Ziggler won't be getting his next World Title reign at Survivor Series. I hate having to consider this Dolph's second reign, because his hour long reign on an episode of Smackdown meant so much. But that's not to say that Dolph won't be getting one in the near future. Dolph still has all the potential in the world. He's one of the WWE's best workers in the ring, probably in the Top 5. And in the past few weeks, Dolph has been given more time to talk on the mic. And you know what? He is doing a hell of a job coming off as a serious threat. Dolph is apparently getting praise backstage for carrying the bulk of his program with Mason Ryan. I'm sure the WWE brass actually sees potential in Ziggler.

I think Ziggler was hurt when he was forced to move to RAW. If Ziggler was on Smackdown right now he would probably have more of an opportunity to main event. But on RAW, he plays second fiddle to John Cena, C.M. Punk, Alberto del Rio, Miz and HHH. Ziggler has held onto the United States Championship for a while now, but sooner or later he has to lose it if the WWE gets serious about moving him up the card. With Rock/Cena headlining Wrestlemania, the WWE can take risks about who will appear in their World and WWE Title matches. Ziggler doesn't scream main event, but he's somebody the WWE could take a chance on in one of those spots. I would be very surprised if Ziggler hasn't had a World or WWE Title run by the summer of 2012. The guy definitely deserves it. A WWE Title program with C.M. Punk would be a great thing to watch.

What I Said 6 Months Ago
-Even though he won the King of the Ring Tournament, he hasn't done much with it. First of all, he looks like a goof wearing the king attire. Second of all, he hasn't done anything worthy since winning it
-I think the best thing that could happen for Sheamus right now would be a move to Smackdown. There is nothing left for him on RAW.
-Sheamus is the type of guy that if re-established properly can be a top wrestler in this company down the line. He has the ability to slide into the main event slot and hold his own with the top guys in the company. Sheamus is in the position where instead of worrying about his next title reign, he needs to worry about re-establishing himself as a threat in the eyes of fans who now look at him as an afterthought

I don't know if anyone I wrote about has gone through a bigger resurgence than Sheamus. When I wrote about Sheamus 6 months ago, he was on a big losing streak. HHH demolished him on RAW in minutes, and he wasn't even on Wrestlemania. He wrestled Daniel Bryan in a dark match on the show. Sheamus eventually got his much needed move to Smackdown. At the time I suggested feuds with Rey Mysterio, Edge, and The Undertaker. Well: Rey moved to RAW, Edge retired, and Taker disappeared after Mania. All hope seemed lost for Sheamus, but little did I know his Irish luck was about to change.

In July, Sheamus turned face when he challenged Mark Henry to a match at SummerSlam. It was as simple a face turn as you could imagine. All he did was go into the ring, look at Henry, and say "I'll fight him." And to my surprise, Sheamus has gotten over quite well as a face. His reactions from the crowd are great, and Sheamus has seemed to embrace his role as a face. You can tell he is enjoying himself in front of the crowd. Once Henry finishes up his program with the Big Show, I wouldn't be surprised if Henry revisits his feud with Sheamus. Sheamus is over and he seems like the next logical choice for Henry to move onto.

What I Said 6 Months Ago
-It's a shame that it died the way it did. It would have been nice and refreshing to see a dominant heel faction on top of the WWE. But there is no denying that Barrett showed his worth to the WWE long term as a main event talent. He was outstanding on the mic while he was on top.
-If he can stay strong enough in the eyes of fans, I could see him as the leading candidate to win next year's Royal Rumble and headline Wrestlemania.
-Barrett needs to continue to improve in the ring. He already has the talent on the mic to be in the main event, now he just needs to add a bit more to his in ring work in order to maintain his status as a top guy now and down the line.

Wade Barrett has been very up and down this year. The Corre pretty much was a minuscule version of the Nexus. It never amounted to anything. Barrett won the Intercontinental Title but never really did much with it. He was jobbed out to Ezekiel Jackson and never really did much this summer. He did beat Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam. I thought Barrett might have been a prime candidate to win the Smackdown Money in the Bank but it didn't come to fruition. Now Wade Barrett is going through what he is calling his "Resurrection." Hopefully it leads to something. At this point, I will take an actual program with someone. I've seen house shows where Barrett is scheduled to face Randy Orton. That's a good start.

Hopefully this Resurrection does lead to something for Barrett. I really enjoyed his work as leader of Nexus. His mic skills haven't gone anywhere and he can still put on a good match with the right partner in the ring. A program with Randy Orton would do wonders for Barrett's ascent up the card. He may not win the program, but if he won a match or two over Orton, it would be great. Barrett's problem is that he has some competition on Smackdown for the next top spot with the next guy on my list. But if Barrett continues his "Resurrection," we may see him on top sooner than you think.

What I Said 6 Months Ago
-It will take some work, but Cody's gimmick is very much over as a heel right now.
-His mic work with this Dashing gimmick is very good. I didn't think the gimmick would last this long, but Cody is doing a tremendous job of making it work.
-Cody Rhodes is somebody I can see in the Spring or Summer of 2012 as a man ready to finally compete for a World Title, and ready to win it as well.

I think one could argue that Cody Rhodes is ahead of everyone else on this list. Rhodes continues to take his gimmick to the next level. He did a great thing in bringing back the old school Intercontinental Title. Rhodes has also looked very strong during his program with Randy Orton. Sure, he didn't win his match at Vengeance, but the program seems to be continuing on Smackdown. Rhodes has gone from a goofball gimmick to a gimmick that is a serious threat and one that the fans have to take seriously. Rhodes isn't going away anytime soon as he continues to fine tune his character.

The problem Rhodes is facing right now is that he is stuck behind Mark Henry on Smackdown. Rhodes is actually benefiting from all of the time he is getting on RAW. It is exposing him to the people who don't watch Smackdown. Rhodes might actually benefit from a permanent move to RAW. Programs with John Cena, C.M. Punk, and maybe even Zack Ryder all sound like good ideas. I thought Rhodes had a good shot of winning Money in the Bank this year, but obviously that didn't happen. Rhodes time will come. I would peg Rhodes and Barrett as two dark horse candidates to win the Royal Rumble. Even if he doesn't win the Royal Rumble, I think Rhodes is World Champion by the Summer of 2012.

What I Said 6 Months Ago
-Daniel Bryan is a favorite amongst the "smart" wrestling fans. Bryan is everything they like. A good worker in the ring capable of putting on an entertaining match with anyone.
-From my standpoint, I think Daniel Bryan has the potential to be a main event guy. From a WRESTLING standpoint, he reminds me a lot of Chris Benoit. I know that's a name people hate to bring up, and I'm sure there will be people who hate me for using him to compare with Daniel Bryan, but they do have some similarities.
-I think Bryan is the type of guy who can main event Wrestlemania if built up like Benoit was during his run to the World Title at Wrestlemania XX. I would say to watch for the Summer of 2012 or maybe even as late as Wrestlemania 29 for Bryan's first main event title run.

Well, it looks like I was off by a full year with Daniel Bryan's push. Of course that is if the WWE decided to go through with Bryan's push. Daniel Bryan surprised everyone with his win of the Smackdown Money in the Bank briefcase. I didn't see it coming at all. There was no indication at all that Bryan even had a chance of winning. Not only did Bryan surprise with his MITB win, but he surprised many by actually announcing when he would cash in. Bryan said he believed surprise cash-ins on vulnerable opponents did nothing, so he decided to cash in his MITB Briefcase at Wrestlemania.

But since Bryan won the MITB Briefcase, he's gone on a bit of a losing streak. He hasn't had any set program for a while. Some people think a heel turn may be on the horizon, but Smackdown is already filled with young heels and Bryan doesn't need to fall behind them. While the WWE can take the risk of having Bryan in the World Title match at Wrestlemania, it also doesn't scream "World Title Match." Now of course, a David vs Goliath type match with Bryan taking on Henry could be quite interesting. I think Bryan needs to be built back up a bit more though before anything can happen. At this point, no one is buying him as a World Champion. Bryan needs a major face lift in the next couple of months.

That's all from me this week.

Until next time,
Justin C
Follow Me on Twitter @JCWonka

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