If you’re anything like me, and judging from the crowd reactions, more than a few of you are, you like Evan Bourne. It’s hard not to enjoy the kid. He’s got a youthful exuberance and a smile that lights up the arena wherever he goes. He makes any opponent look like a million bucks with his selling. Oh yeah, and he’s among the most exciting high-flyers in any wrestling promotion. Hell, he’s even got indie cred out the yin-yang thanks to his time dazzling crowds for ROH and PWG before he got to the bigs. So, if you are anything like me, you thoroughly enjoyed watching WWE RAW this past Monday and seeing Evan Bourne mix it up with the creme de la creme of the WWE RAW hierarchy. Scratch that, he wasn’t only mixing it up with them, he was presented as an equal. He started the show by challenging Edge and not backing down, even in the face of eating a spear, and he ended it with a clean victory over the most protected heel in the company with his exhilarating shooting star press finisher, having his hand raised in victory by the biggest star in the company as the cameras faded to black. Wow, if that’s not a crash course in building a star in one night, I’m not sure what is.
It’s this building of new stars that has been the biggest pleasant surprise on RAW since the Draft turned RAW from the flagship show to the über-flagship show, a brand that had every major WWE main-eventer on it excepting the Undertaker and CM Punk. I was one of the many people who thought that guys like Zack Ryder, The Miz, R-Truth, the Hart Dynasty and Bourne would get lost in the shuffle. Quite the contrary is actually happening though. With Batista leaving and Triple H filming movies, there are multiple opportunities to give newer guys a chance to shine, and rather than oversaturating the show with Sheamus, Cena, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho and Edge, they’re giving these talented midcarders a chance to shine, Bourne so far being the greatest of these. Honestly, there’s no one better. Evan Bourne, more than anyone on the RAW undercard except the Miz and possibly Daniel Bryan, is the future of the WWE. I’m not just saying this as a fanboy (and believe me, I’m a Bourne fanboy), but the guy, without getting much promo time at all, has connected with crowds thanks to his mastery of the ring. The guy gets it. He combines the best of the indie world and the WWE style to deliver something that not many people can give, let alone care to give. It’d be one thing if all he had to give was a SSP and some nice flips. However, the fact that he’s among the best sellers in the company (he stuck the landing on the back of his freaking neck on that one blow from Sheamus in that main event match), the fact that he’s got a natural grasp on the pacing and timing needed to work within the WWE style and the fact that he doesn’t need to talk to be over makes him the very definition of blue-chip. He’s still got to get some seasoning, but hey, that’s why you build a guy and give him the opportunity to get that kind of seasoning.
Hopefully, what we saw Monday night was only the beginning of great things for Bourne. The WWE is notorious for making a guy look like a king one night and then frustratingly not following up that moment for the next few months. It happened most recently with Kofi Kingston, who followed up pinning Punk and Orton at Survivor Series with jobbing to Orton at Tables, Ladders and Chairs and then fading slowly back into the midcard. However, the WWE is running dangerously thin at the top of the card now. Orton’s hurt again, and he always seems to get hurt once every year-and-a-half. Edge’s injury timeouts come more frequently. Triple H is not only an injury risk but is getting up there in years. Undertaker’s on the brink of retirement. Jericho’s in his 40s. Rey Mysterio, their resident high-flyer, has almost no knee ligaments left. Batista just left to make movies. The only sure things at the top of the card right now are Sheamus, John Cena, Punk and the Big Show. Not a whole lot of star power to spread across two brands. Evan Bourne as a main eventer makes sense for all those reasons and more. He’s truly a breath of fresh air at the top of a card that has the tendency to stagnate too easily. Hopefully, they don’t drop the ball on him, because if they follow through, man, the WWE’s going to be an exciting company to watch for years.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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