My biggest compliant with professional wrestling since the end of the Attitude Era is the lack of true characters and personalities that invade promotions and television on a weekly basis. It seems all too often, WWE has given us performers without substance, characters without backstory and matches that do not tell a story once a rivalry begins. All of that has changed lately with the brand split and the emphasis on wrestling matches that means something.
Forget the squash matches for a minute. Forget the idea that some wrestlers like to be in the ring with big sweaty men – I had to go there – and focus on what WWE has done to its tag team division on Smackdown Live. Is there a better story than Heath Slater and his connection to Rhyno and the ultimate underdog story? I applaud the company and its core of writers from devising such a script.
As we all know, Slater now has a job after he and Rhyno beat the Usos for the new Smackdown Tag Team straps.
How long he and his tag team partner keep the titles is yet to be determined as the Usos will get a rematch and should take what should have been theirs in the first place.
Slater’s stay in the company is longer than I realized. One of the original members of The Nexus. A multiple tag team champ. A former member of 3MB and then the Social Outcasts. If there was ever a wrestler who has paid his dues in this business it is Heath Miller, III, the man who plays the confident mid-carder? The man without a country (brand to call his own) is winning fans over with his latest storyline. Even the corniness Slater shows in his promos works. It will be short-lived, but for now, Slater is the man of the hour.
Slater’s tale is typical of wrestlers of years before when Kayfabe was still king and heroes and villains never walked the same path. He is a young Kevin Sullivan, a very green Rick Rude and a man named Terry Allen who cut his teeth originally in Florida. These three wrestlers made a name for themselves by being average at best then caught lightning in a bottle and are forever etched in history as some of the greatest to get in a ring.
I’m not saying Slater will ever fall into the category of being great, but he has certainly raised his level of awareness to both the fans and the company that is making him an overnight success. Slater has a solid look, a solid ability on the mic and certainly has learned to sell for his opponents, especially when he was trotted out as a jobber to former veterans who excelled at squash matches.
I’m not going to say Slater is going to be another Dolph Ziggler (though he could) or an overnight success like Daniel Bryan (but he could in the right storyline) but I am going to say he could be a very important part of Smackdown Live for the remainder of this year and in the future. WWE makes a point of latching onto performers who have shown they are a complete package and sometimes forget who else is on their roster. It’s the reason the company is now void of Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow and Wade Barrett. It is also a reason the company may lose Cesaro – if rumors about his exit are true.
Regardless of whether Slater and Rhyno won the brand’s tag team championship, the outcast and upstart already won because the right program and storyline were written for him and his brand of wrestling.
Follow David Levin at @DavidLevin71.
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