THE SPECIALISTS GARDNER'S KEY MOMENT OF THE WEEK: WWE's Even-Steven booking isn't elevating younger stars, just benefiting Triple H
Nov 8, 2009 - 9:58:01 AM
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By Richard Gardner, Torch specialist
"All the stars are at a certain level. You can't make someone a star by simply bringing other stars down. That's not how the business works; it's not how it's ever worked. The new stars have to rise on their own. What big star ever laid down for me? That's never been how business is done. Bret Hart didn't put Shawn Michaels over and refused to get beat (at Survivor Series 1997); he wouldn't lose the title. Now, that's not a knock: that's what happened. Look at Steve Austin. I remember when Vince said they were bringing Austin in, and he said, "He'll be a good hand, to help the other guys." Then, they made him The Ringmaster, and gave him those plain trunks to wear. And I was there at King of the Ring 1996 when Austin made himself a star, and then at WrestleMania (XIII) when he really got over. And, remember, he actually lost that match against Bret Hart (at WM XIII), but he got himself over doing it."
-- Triple H in the October issue of Power Slam magazine.
Shane McMahon's recent departure all but confirms what most of us suspected all along; that Triple H and Stephanie will run WWE after Vince McMahon retires. They don't call him the Cerebral Assassin for nothing, and while it is doubtful that Triple H believes his own warped version of WWF history, the interview with Power Slam offers an alarming insight into his philosophy on the business.
Revisionist history is par for the course within WWE, as anyone who has watched the "Rise and Fall of WCW" DVD will attest. It's ludicrous to claim that Bret Hart didn't put Shawn Michaels over, when Michaels's first WWF title reign began when he pinned The Hitman at WrestleMania 12. And to claim that Steve Austin got himself over by losing a year later undermines one of the greatest double turns in the history of wrestling. If Hunter really wants to talk about who wasn't putting people over during that era then he has to look no further than the guy he walks to the ring with every Monday night.
Of course you can make someone a star by bringing other stars down; that is the way the business has always worked. Yet there is a glass ceiling in WWE that prevents the mid-card wrestlers from advancing, which keeps the main event static. And main events don't come staler than John Cena vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels.
Which brings us to Evan Bourne (or Evan Brawn as Ozzy Osbourne referred to him on Monday night – is it too much to ask that in return for the free publicity that the WWE offers the guest hosts at least get the names of the wrestlers right?). Evan Bourne has a unique style that connects with the crowd, and was doing a pretty good job of getting over on ECW when he initially arrived on Raw. Yet WWE do not seem to have a clue how to use him. Every time he gets a victory over someone higher up the card, the following week he is in a re-match, being thrown around the ring in a manner befitting Barry Horowitz or Iron Mike Sharpe.
His non-title victory over The Miz last week should have meant something – after all what is the point of pinning one of the champions if it doesn’t lead to anything? This week, the victory was made irrelevant after Bourne was pinned by The Miz in a rematch that lasted just over five minutes. Bourne was given similar treatment in a mini-feud against Jack Swagger in the summer. Bourne beat Swagger in a Beat the Clock match, but two consecutive rematch losses practically erased the victory from history.
Could Kofi Kingston be the next star to break into the main event? He is certainly over with the fans, and got off to a strong start in the angle where he trashed Randy Orton's car. But it remains to be seen whether management is committed to elevating Kingston to the main event, or whether he will be put in his place in the same manner Legacy were in their feud with D-Generation X over the summer.
Triple H speaks about the idea of established main event talent putting over younger stars as a negative, but it is the only way of keeping the main event fresh. Ric Flair made Sting by putting him over. Steve Austin holding his own against Bret Hart was an important part of the evolution of the Stone Cold character. Obviously young stars should not be elevated before they are ready, but without a will to put over rising mid carders from the main event it might as well be WCW.
Evan Bourne has potential to become one of the more popular stars on the Raw roster, but not if he continues to be booked in the manner which he has been. Momentum has been lost. Furthermore, Kofi Kingston will not benefit from his feud with Randy Orton if he is treated in the same way that The Miz was when he faced John Cena.
There is a hierarchy in the WWE, which is unlikely to be broken any time soon. The only way in which this can be broken and the main event reinvigorated is for the top stars to discerningly put over rising mid-carders. Unfortunately, the plight of Evan Bourne and the comments from Triple H indicate that it won't be happening any time soon.
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