Hey, have you heard this nasty rumor that two guys have played the role of WWE superstar Sin Cara in the past month? Oh no, alert the presses of this imposter! Kill it with fire!
Turns out, the original Sin Cara, more famously known as Mistico and portrayed by Luis Ignascio Urive Alvirde, was suspended by the company for 30 days for a failed PED test and was summarily replaced for two television tapings by Jorge Arias, also known as Hunico in FCW. As of now, Alvirde has worked at least one live show and expects to be back in the fold for further Smackdown tapings, including next week’s “Special Tuesday Live Super Duper Smackdown.”
I’m not here to judge the two men’s wrestling acumen, but just the idea that Sin Cara was present should have satisfied the wrestling faithful. Honestly, the difference was almost negligible on HD television, especially with the aerial moves, which Alvirde was only hitting half the time anyway. Hunico did appear not as cut as Alvirde, but unless you were particularly zoning in on his pectorals, you wouldn’t know the difference.
I’m pretty sure that’s what WWE thought they could do, internet be damned. So how did WWE play it out? They had Hunico wrestle a match against Tyson Kidd, followed up by a run-in save a week later, neither of which broke any ground in the ongoing Smackdown saga. If he’s out thirty days, then stick to that plan—Smackdown can afford a little face vacation with Randy Orton and world beater Sheamus hitting on all cylinders. Instead, the announcers continued with the returning from injury storyline, with Booker T even going so far as to say Sin Cara “bulked up” during his time off (there’s an HGH joke in there somewhere, I just know it). While the whole situation could have been handled a little differently, it showed that the company has some faith in a developmental Hunico and that characterization in wrestling still matters.
While I haven’t been particularly blown away by Sin Cara’s alleged greatness, his character has the potential to be phenomenal and take the company into the next generation. With Rey Mysterio on his last legs, WWE needs a masked superhero that can fend off all types of heels. If done correctly, this character can transcend multiple incarnations without ever getting stale. I think that’s one of the reasons a lot of fans are frustrated, but not necessarily harsh, toward Mysterio. We want him to be like the guy we saw during the heyday of WCW, but his body just can’t hold up. Children especially still love Rey and buy up his merchandise in droves, so could you imagine having a guy that successful and beloved still competing a decade from now?
So I think the silver lining in the Alvirde suspension was that if multiple men can portray the character, what’s to stop WWE from cashing in on other successful characters and gimmicks? In a world where what seems like half of the movies made are some form of remake, is it that implausible that we see newer versions of great characters such as The Honky Tonk Man and The Nature Boy? In a world where handfuls of men have portrayed characters like Batman and James Bond, is it crazy to think we can’t groom some current wrestler to resurrect dying brands? I get why TNA still continues to shuffle out mangled versions of Adam West and Sean Connery, but after a while even the most loyal fans of Dixie and Co. can’t help but be bored.
Some would call the idea blasphemous, but most of those same people who turn up their noses at Hollywood remakes of their favorite movies eventually wind up checking out the final product, whether it be just for comparison or a closeted yearning to see the story unfold just one more time. And if you’re gathering the audience, isn’t that the whole point?
TNA Wrestling star Jeff Hardy is slated to return for the first time in several months at this Thursday’s live Impact taping, and just the idea of what this guy is capable of should stir up a fair amount of interest. So, what if WWE took a guy from developmental (say, Bo Rotundo), gave him a haircut and a new look, cut promos as the returning Honky Tonk Man, and announced his quest to regain what made him famous to begin with…the Intercontinental Title. Sure, it could be a flop—heck, any angle has the potential to be a flop in the ever sensitive world of pro wrestling—but a reinvigoration like that kills two birds with one stone.
Not only do you drum up interest in a character that has been out of wrestling for the better part of two decades now, but you breathe new life into a secondary championship, which has unfortunately become an afterthought as of late. It was only weeks ago that then champion Ezekiel Jackson lost in two consecutive weeks before losing the title to Cody Rhodes. I’m glad the charismatic Rhodes has the title now, but you shouldn’t be dogging any title holder like that.
One thing the character remake wouldn’t be, especially in HTK’s case, is stale. Most people watching wrestling right now weren’t even born when Tonk was dominating, much less old enough to remember anything from his in-ring days. So for most, it’s a brand new character, who can fall back on history and fame as called by the announcers, and it opens the doors for more gimmicks and characters in general. I generally enjoy wrestling, but if I have to see one more meathead try and establish cheap heel heat by dropping “and all of YOU people” rants, I might tune out.
Here are some other characters I think could shake up the current Create-A-Wrestler mold in WWE:
The Nature Boy – I mentioned this earlier, but being as how there have been two incarnations of this character already, isn’t this a no brainer? AJ Styles did a pretty good job with this last year in TNA, but if we are talking WWE guys this could work with guys like Jack Swagger or Dolph Ziggler. Swagger needs about another gallon of personality on the microphone, but that can develop with time. There isn’t much to lose– his All-American American gig has stalled completely. Ziggler would be a guy who’s more ready to take on a role like that. He’s got the size, the vocal work, and the look of someone who can pull off a lavish, sequined robe.
The Million Dollar Man – Ted DiBiase, Jr. would have made all the sense in the world, but Junior reads more like a sympathetic babyface at this point (he should turn on a controlling Rhodes any second now). This story writes itself, basically: the hated, wealthy, and probably dirty businessman comes in and DiBiase doesn’t stand for the desecration of his father at all. Whether jealousy or family disappointment is at play, this could provide new life to Junior while developing a strong heel persona. Seriously, DiBiase was The Marine 2…guys that get those roles are never bad guys (although Randy Orton was clearly a homophobic and suppressive father in That’s What I Am, many would argue a great Orton is a heel Orton).
The Legion of Doom – Call ‘em LOD, The Road Warriors, whatever, but let’s see those spiked shoulder pads in action! Rumors are afoot that the tag team division will be rebuilt, so why not start with one of the most famous franchises in the world? Any respectable version of LOD ceased to exist well over a decade ago, so this could be another great callback where it’s tied in that Road Warrior Animal has trained this new team for utter annihilation of the tag teams.
The Boogeyman – Man, did I miss the boat on this guy? How long was he around…two years max? When I dabbled in Syfy ECW, he was my favorite part. Also, like Doink, anyone who isn’t working out can don The Boogeyman attire. Any way you cut it, his promos about abducting you in your sleep will always be more impactful than Wade Barrett or someone else calling us “stupid Americans” or bashing the local sports team.
I’m certainly not advocating fantasy booking here, so read this more like a template for the idea to bring back characters we loved, characters we heard about, or characters that should just never die. If there’s no new version of the creepy Undertaker come 2020, we’re going to have a problem.
Joe Leininger lives in Jacksonville, FL via the greater Philadelphia area. He dabbles in all things sports, pro wrestling, and television, and more of his work can be found at The Playing Field Blog and DestiGeddon.