HEYDORN’S TAKE: It’s okay to let stars be stars

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH COLUMNIST (@zheydorntorch)


WWE Women's Title belt (credit Scott Lunn - @ScottLunn)

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

I interrupt your day with the obvious. Pro wrestling needs stars.

In the recent past, we’ve seen WWE and other top wrestling promotions work to alter that fact. They’ve said for the world to come see their stars, but their actions reveal an attempt to push their brand and their company as the grand reason to engage with their product. Facts are facts, though. Star wrestlers are the hook. They are why people watch, listen, spend money, and attend live events across the country. Even in a brand-first environment, stars make the business tick.

Sasha Banks winning the Raw Women’s Championship under less-than-above-board circumstances gave rise to unfavorable opinions on the women’s division across the board in WWE. Those opinions are understandable and reasonable given WWE’s inability to stay credible when presenting stories. They have made that bed and now need to lie in it.

Here is a different perspective, though. Let stars be stars. That’s ok.

Sasha Banks is one of the biggest women’s stars the WWE has ever had. She’s well-rounded as a performer, understands WWE’s corporate place in the world, fits their content-first strategy, and regularly delivers when called upon. She’s now carrying the lead title on WWE’s lead television show.

Is that really a problem? Yes, the win was questionable in terms of how it framed another reliable star in Asuka, but it got the championship on the shoulder of the division’s top star right now. That’s a good thing.

Let stars be stars. Banks having the championship opens up opportunities for WWE. For better or worse, they have seven hours of content to produce on a weekly basis. Seven hours in a down week. Banks has proven she can carry that load, be entertaining, and keep the audience’s interest without getting over-exposed. That’s a rare trifecta of responsibility that other women haven’t been able to achieve. Holding the belt solidifies her that role.

I can sympathize with being upset at how the finish went down Monday night. WWE hasn’t earned the trust of the fans and does a poor job when it comes to winning fans’ goodwill. That finish wasn’t the final chapter in the Banks vs. Asuka storyline. That was clear as day coming out of the backstage angle with Asuka after the match. The babyface Asuka gets to chase the belt now, and Banks is there to anchor the feud from the heel side of things.

With Summerslam on the horizon, WWE needs this match. Yes, they’ve taken an obnoxiously roundabout way to get there, but Asuka vs. Banks has been a long-term story told through various channels, shows, and content for more than a month now. This is the payoff. If Asuka wins the title cleanly on Raw and moves on to another opponent, not only does this feud not get the bright lights of WWE’s second biggest show of the year, but it eliminates Sasha Banks, WWE’s biggest women’s star at the moment, from Summerslam all-together.

Furthermore, aside from all that is going on with WWE’s women’s divisions on a week-to-week basis across Raw, NXT, and Smackdown, the underlying piece of business being built is Sasha Banks vs. Bayley. That’s a major match for the company. If built right, it has WrestleMania main event potential. With that level of match on the table, other various angles in the women’s division must viewed through the lens of what they do for that match. It’s the priority. Stars deserve that type of treatment and protection due to the business that comes along with them.

Banks winning the Raw Women’s Championship gives her program with Bayley added depth. With her as the champion on Raw and Bayley the champion on Smackdown, the WWE can move in a variety of different directions to not only build their feud in a creative way, but also do so in a way that keeps up with the frenetic pace at which WWE puts out content.

The future is important – no question – and that always needs to be on the minds of decision-makers in any pro wrestling company. It’s not always the priority, though. The goal is to build stars and then use them to do big business for the company. Building them and using them strictly to develop the future is only half the battle. That’s like a Major League baseball organization cultivating and growing stars in their minor league farm system only to trade them away two years into a successful run on the main club. Those organizations build those players so they can be out on the field delivering in an impactful way for years to come. That’s the goal.

Sasha Banks is working to accomplish that goal now. She’s the now. She’s the star. And the star needs the ball. That’s ok.


NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S TAKE: HEYDORN’S TAKE: Big Show and Randy Orton show off the simplicity of successful wrestling

1 Comment on HEYDORN’S TAKE: It’s okay to let stars be stars

  1. Without being overexposed? Really? Having her every week on Raw and Smackdown?
    Preventing other stars from having some interesting and meaningful programms by hording all those titles?
    Yeah, let her be a star. But not the only one.

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