Ask PWTorch TUESDAY’S ASK PWTORCH STAFF for 3/17: Are NXT women doomed to be underutilized on WWE main roster? Who will be top guy in five years? What is Roman Reigns missing? How much of a difference do announcers make?
Mar 17, 2015 - 8:27:13 PM
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Pro Wrestling Torch was established in 1987 by Wade Keller. One of the primary traits PWTorch has been credited with over the years is assembling the best and most diverse staff of columnists with broad knowledge, but also areas of specialty where they have a particularly strong grasp of history. Every day PWTorch.com presents that team of writers answering your questions, some of which are fact-based and others of which are opinion-based. Either way, we've got you covered with Bruce Mitchell, Pat McNeill, Sean Radican, Greg Parks, James Caldwell, and Wade Keller. Collectively they have over 80 years working for the Torch, writing about wrestling and studying industry history and trends.
If you have a question you'd like us to respond to, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. I, along with the Torch staff, will address you questions in this feature and also the “Ask PWTorch: All-Star Panel” edition which is also published most days here at PWTorch.
PWTorch reader Jeff from Michigan asks: Five or six years from now who will be the top guy to replace John Cena? Will it be Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, or someone else?
PWTorch columnist Sean Radican answers: It's too soon to tell, but my guess is Reigns will be on top six years from now unless he turns into a total disaster. I don't see anyone else on the roster with the size and look that McMahon covets to take the top spot on the current roster to replace Cena. There's a huge problem with the damage that has been done to the mid-card that makes it hard to believe anyone from there will break out and be "the" guy. NXT is another story, as I don't see anyone capable of being the centerpiece of WWE TV given what McMahon looks for in a top guy. Triple H has turned what is supposed to be a developmental system into a touring super indie promotion. That's a huge issue when it comes to developing centerpiece stars for the main roster.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller answers: Roman Reigns is going to get every opportunity, and he probably has everything it takes. I’m not sure he’s ready yet, and pushing him prematurely before he seems to understand his role in the process could backfire. His comments about just doing what management tells him and playing his role in the WWE machine and hopefully getting rich along the way worries me. His seeming obliviousness about some of his comments about how hard he’s worked and hardcore fans holding it against him that he didn’t work indies is really backwards, considering - as just one example - Dolph Ziggler never worked indies and fans have been rooting hard for him to get a bigger push.
The fans got behind Ziggler because they recognize how hard-working Ziggler is in the ring, something Reigns doesn’t seem to realize fans don’t respect about him. But if Reigns can shift into a higher gear and be more of a leader and with less of a “tell me what to do and make me rich” attitude, he has a chance to be a big time special attraction. But he has to keep improving on interviews - and last night’s Raw a step in the right direction - and massively improve in the ring in so many ways he doesn’t even seem to comprehend exist among top ring generals. When I say improve in the ring, I don’t mean do a bunch of highspots and take big bumps. He is a bigger guy and should work a big guy style. I mean he is not connecting with the crowd by showing vulnerability and better fire on comebacks, he’s too formulaic and robotic in his extremely limited move-set, and his promos have an aura of self-entitlement and arrogance mixed with awkwardness at times that undercuts a significant part of the fancies getting behind him fully.
So, if Reigns improves significantly, he has a serious chance to be a big time star. More than anyone else on the roster, probably, because of his gifts. Beyond that, Seth Rollins is mega-talented in every way, really, and I bet he could transition into a great lead babyface. Dean Ambrose I think is better in a supporting role like Roddy Piper or Jake Roberts, but in a pinch he’d be worth a shot. Realistically, a Sami Zayn would be someone I’d seriously consider, even within the parameters of WWE’s current promoting style (he’s got a chance to be everything Daniel Bryan is and more). I also realize the same things largely stand in Zayn’s way as did Bryan the last two years.
I’m not entirely against WWE using an ensemble approach if Reigns doesn’t pan out, going with shorter term big pushes for a variety of top tier guys until someone really stands out. Vince has gone through stretches like that before.
PWTorch reader Alejandro B. asks: Hello team! thanks for making PWTorch the best page of wrestling related news. Here's my question: We all know the lack of depth in WWE roster, and that some titles have been diminished over the years. But, if the announce team were better, how much different would be perceived today's WWE roster? I mean, let's suppose you have an Adam Rose vs. Curtis Axel match. How much different would it be If Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura or Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan were calling it? Thanks!
PWTorch columnist Greg Parks answers: I don't know that the specific announcers are the problem, rather, how they're produced. To put it another way: I think guys like Michael Cole and JBL could help the product and make the roster seem more important if they were allowed to focus more on the matches rather than everything else. So yes, I do think the announcing is a big problem as far as how the roster is perceived by some fans.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller answers: Announcing is part of the problem, without a doubt. The focus last night on the Rusev attorney being an Iowa community theater actor totally distracted from the impassioned John Cena promo and the series heat Rusev was trying to get. Examples like that happen more than once a week. I’ve never heard announcers produced in a way that is so counter-productive to drawing money and getting fans invested in feuds and wrestlers. It’s not the announcers, though, it’s the direction they’re given. That falls on Vince McMahon. The entire presentation of matches could change, including announcing during the match, hype ahead of time including interviews that made the outcome seem relevant, and follow-up that focused on how the outcome matters to everyone and affects the course of things going forward. Then fans would be more invested in the moves and near falls, and announcers would have a reason to focus more on the moves and ramifications rather than being a “talk radio backdrop” that resembles Mystery Science 3000 more than a sports announce team enhancing the hard work of the wrestlers and the stories they tell inside the ring.
PWTorch reader Kevin P. asks: Do you think any Divas making the transition from NXT to WWE are just going to wind up being wasted? There's some awesome in-ring work happening from the likes of Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch, but the way the "main roster" Divas keep getting treated on TV, I worry all that amazing athleticism is going to just be wasted once they're called up to the WWE rosters.
PWTorch columnist Sean Radican answers: I agree with you. Look at what has happened to all of the talented in-ring performers on the Divas roster. They're in WWE as window dressing and, with the exception of A.J. Lee's big push a couple of years ago, they're rarely allowed to show their talent in the ring. Another thing that hurts the Divas division is that Creative just doesn't seem to care much and their storylines don't make sense anymore either. Just look at what they did with the Bella Twins after SummerSlam if you want an example, and don't get me started on the dumpster fire that was the Paige vs. A.J. Lee feud.
PWTorch columnist Greg Parks answers: I think that worry is well-founded. The Divas on WWE TV have very little character depth and development, and if we're going by the example set by Paige, arguably the most unique and one of the most talented Divas to be brought up in a long time, I wouldn't hold my breath that the Charlottes of the world will do much better. The Divas division is what it is and it doesn't appear a WWE led by Vince McMahon is interested in it being anything else.
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