SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
So, after years of going nowhere in the system, after so long in what is essentially WWE’s version of development hell, Tye Dillinger finally came up to the main roster. Now we can finally see just what a talent he is. Now we can see what all the fuss is about. Now the whole world will know just how good he is.
Because he’s the perfect 10, right? He’s the total package? Well, so far, he’s kind of dull.
I should clarify my position from the off here: I do not watch NXT regularly. I watch Takeovers and the occasion NXT show when there’s nothing else on, but I’d rather skip back a couple of decades and watch a Monday Night Raw from the Monday Night War. This means that I’m in a position to recognise the booking that WWE are doing without any tribal loyalties involved.
I’ve mentioned previously that tribal loyalties are a big deal on indy feds, NXT, and basically anywhere that isn’t the WWE main roster. I’ve heard people take 20 minutes extolling the virtues of Rockstar Spud and how much better he would be than John Cena if he was just given a shot. I was at the last Preston City Wrestling show to feature Apollo Crews and everyone there was convinced that he would be a major player.
Want a perfect example? Look at Bayley. Look at Tyler Breeze. Look at The Ascension. A lot of NXT die hards think that everybody watches NXT. They don’t. The audience really isn’t all that large. What that means is that when you see Tye Dillinger first introduced to the WWE audience, you get a false positive.
When Tye Dillinger first entered the Royal Rumble he got a massive reception. Not only that, but the faith that the WWE showed in him was incredible. He literally broke kayfabe. Random draws? Sure. A non WWE, purely guest entrant managed to draw the exact number linked with his character. That definitely happened. That’s legit.
In that moment, WWE communicated that they had been listening to their audience. They had heard the 10 chants from the crowd, but here’s the thing; people who are such big fans of WWE that they are attending events like the Royal Rumble are highly likely to be Network subscribers. They’re highly likely to watch NXT. It’s an uneven audience. Of course they know who he is.
But me? As a non NXT fan? That “10” chant when the ref is counting annoys the hell out of me. So when the source of my annoyance comes down that ramp, and I have nothing else to go on but that, I already dislike the guy.
Now, of course, it’s up to the WWE creative team to change my mind. It’s up to them to show his personality, his character, his style and talent in order to change my mind. Tye Dillinger made his debut a month and a half ago, or a total of eight shows (and one PPV) ago.
Once again he receives a very good reception. A lot of people chant 10. But here’s the thing, keep watching the clip above. Everybody’s chanting 10. What is that saying to your casual viewer? This guy likes the number 10.
This guy only likes the number 10. This guy’s character is the number 10. He eats his cereal in clumps of 10. He orders pancakes in 10s. He arrives at the airport 10 hours before he needs to fly.
Is there any personality? No.
Part of this is just bad luck. When you debut on the same show as Shinsuke Nakamura you have absolutely no chance. More than overshadowed, Dillinger has been entirely eclipsed. In addition, the Superstar Shakeup has slowed everything down while Smackdown once again find their feet. Unfortunately that doesn’t change basic fact. Tye Dillinger is going the way of Bayley.
Fast forward to Backlash and Dillinger lines up against Aiden English for the third time in less than 2 months.
The crowd still go wild. They still chant “10.” But is it because of Tye Dillinger, or is it just because they like to chant 10?
There is an argument of late that certain chants are chanted not because a wrestler is over but because the chant itself is over. The Yes chant is a perfect example. Daniel Bryan got over using a combination of that chant and also being incredibly talented and charismatic. Bryan got the chant over and then proved himself worthy of the attention.
Is the 10 chant over just because the 10 chant is over? Is it like the This Is Awesome chant, which has even developed now into a We Are Awesome chant because the chant is more over than the people that the chant is supposed to be supporting.
Another example is the Roman Reigns effect. Roman is a talented wrestler with good storylines, a great seller and an okay promo, but it’s too late. It’s popular to boo the guy so people will boo the guy no matter what he does. This is what happens when fans are more interested in putting themselves over than the wrestlers.
Make no mistake, Tye Dillinger is in serious trouble here. When a wrestler isn’t given time to develop and display their personality then you end up with another American Alpha. With a 10 chant, WWE might well think that they don’t have to do anything, that Dillinger is already over adequately but that is not the case. The merchandise won’t sell. He won’t draw crowds to house shows. Why? Because to those who do not watch NXT, Tye Dillinger’s just the reason people make that really annoying 10 chant.
WWE has to do more. Dillinger has to do more. His matches thus far have been adequate at best. The fans have to expect more. As a fan, I can’t engage with a number. I can’t engage with the idea that he’s been fighting so hard for so long because I’ve already had my fill of underdogs thank you. Everyone in WWE these days is either a monster or an underdog and it sucks. I need rounded programming and Tye Dillinger, right now, is not it.
Prove me wrong, WWE. I’m waiting.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS PREVIOUS COLUMN: FRIDAY FEATURE: Chris Jericho – Getting “It” Over