Sunday, July 3, 2022
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The WWE Midcard and the Character Identity Crisis

While most of us are complaining about how poor the WWE World Title situation is, has anyone noticed how solid the company’s midcard is and how the influx of talent from NXT has helped to make it flourish? Because of the work of Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt (he is still a valuable commodity) and others, WWE has a solid core of performers that is may have never seen before. And with the eventual arrival of stars like Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura, it only figures to get better.

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AJ Styles figures to be a headliner for the foreseeable future. Dean Ambrose may fall back a rung or two on the company ladder and who knows what will happen when Randy Orton, John Cena and Seth Rollins return. Because of the efforts of the stars listed, is it safe to say the importance of the WWE World Title is waning just a bit?

When Hulk Hogan dominated a cartoon-heavy lineup of superstars, there was power within the supporting cast. It’s an asset which made Vince McMahon’s traveling show a major hit. It’s a reason King Kong Bundy, Big Boss Man, Junkyard Dog and a host of others were as successful as they were. Had it not been for their personalities, I doubt seriously the idea of sports entertainment would have taken off the way it did.

Both the company and today’s fans – especially the older generation – may have lost sight of that.

There are plenty of “characters” to keep our attention, to make us believe in them. Maybe not the way Jake Roberts did in carrying a snake over his shoulder or the Honkytonk Man did with his Elvis impersonation or Kamala did with Kimchi by his side. But the “new” pack or supporting cast could do just as well with better booking and a solid promotional foundation.

The wrestling part if minor compared to the build and the “sell” of this business.

WWE has an opportunity to shine with Nakamura as the latest great from the Orient. Kalisto could be another longtime hero with the Latino fans and there is plenty of opportunity to promote Owens and Zayn as the new great Canadian imports. There is no doubt Cesaro is the best Swiss star we have seen on a mat.

Before McMahon bought the company from his father, Vince Sr., WWWF was a promotion that was territorial, promoting based on the culture of the northeastern part of the United States. Bruno Sammartino was revered within the Italian American community. Pedro Morales was a huge success as a Puerto Rican star. The same holds true for Tito Santana as a Mexican superstar. It was once thought Hulk Hogan when he first came to the company, long before Hulkamania, he would dye his hair red and become the champion of the Irish fans. It never materialized, but you get my point.

What WWE has done well is promote the success of both Roman Reigns and the Usos and their connection to their Samoan heritage. The same can be said for Natalya and her connection to the Hart Foundation. Alberto Del Rio is the son of Dos Caras and is related to Mil Mascaras. The company needs to continue to show those connections to help build on the past to help the future.

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I’ve said before Reigns could make a bigger impact if he were repackaged. If the mid card was promoted better and fans identified more with their heroes. The mid card is a grab bag of so many cultures, WWE would be foolish not to cash in on this.

Maybe it would help Reigns with his acceptance of the fan base. Maybe it would help us all get excited about future feuds. And hopefully, this kind of move would bring back some of the fans who fell in love with this business because of character identification. Let’s not just hear about it from JBL and his historical summations. Let’s see it play out in the ring and let us fall in love with this business and promotion again.

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