Friday 18 November 2011

The Accidental Call-Up

WWE had some pretty high hopes when they signed Sin Cara to a contract. He was going to be built up to take over from Rey Mysterio as the promotion’s lead luchaor. That’s no small task. Since debuting in 2002 Mysterio has become one of WWE’s go-to-guys as far as short notice storylines are concerned, which requires an ability to work with talent on any level and a connection with the audience not just in matches but in promos too. He’s also the company’s second biggest merchandise shifter (behind John Cena), mainly thanks to mask sales.

Sin Cara was never going to live up to the hype within his first few months in the company and it was unfair of WWE to expect him to. It took Mysterio several years to rise to the position he’s in now, and he did so at a time when the company’s roster wasn’t as thin on name talent as it is now. That allowed him to gain acceptance from the fans by interacting with a cast of characters that were already established as headliners.

What’s hampered Sin Cara’s rise is his inability to speak English. This stops him from reading the audience as well as he might and prevents him from communicating effectively with his opponents during matches.

Unless they happen to speak Spanish that is.

When Sin Cara was benched for a month because of a violation of the Wellness Policy™ developmental wrestler Hunico was called up to portray ‘The International Sensation’. Rumours at the time suggested that Sin Cara would be released from his contract or sent down to FCW to learn the WWE style and Hunico would inherit the blue mask.

As we all know, that didn’t happen.

Hunico instead stayed on the main roster as a character in his own right, first becoming an imposter Sin Cara, then Sin Cara Black, before finally losing his mask (in a mask versus mask match that happened far too quickly) and reverting to the Hunico name. Why did this happen? Because not only does Hunico speak Spanish and wrestle the lucha libre style Sin Cara is familiar with, making him an ideal opponent for the former Mistico, but he also showed he could work enjoyable matches against the rest of the roster during his time under as “the imposter”.

In recent weeks he has been joined by fellow FCW trainee Epico and RAW star Primo. That’s good for both of those men. Epico was unlikely to get called up to either main roster on his own merit while Primo was simply killing time on the RAW brand. Neither man’s prospects were great and this gives them the chance to rise through the ranks.

I’d have liked to see Hunico debut a new mask after losing his Sin Cara Black gimmick, or see Epico debut with a mask of some sort. Sadly it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I imagine the reason is that WWE are wary of putting a mask on a heel because it makes them mysterious and indicates to kids that they’re a successor to Rey Mysterio (because children watching WWE are only used to seeing Mysterio, a lifelong babyface, under a mask and would naturally assume any new masked men possess a similar disposition). It’s a shame, but I can understand this decision.

Hunico should have debuted a new masked look following his mask versus mask loss to Sin Cara

To say Hunico has better long term prospects than Sin Cara would be foolish. WWE are clearly still behind Cara and want him to succeed as Mysterio’s replacement. But Hunico isn’t likely to disappear any time soon: he’s gotten over as a heel and can work a WWE style match with anybody on the roster (which is more that can be said for Sin Cara). He may not be a future world champion, but I think he could be on the main roster for several years.

Sin Cara’s inability to work the WWE style and communicate effectively with his colleagues may have halted his progression but it’s given two other men a chance to make a name for themselves on the main WWE roster and a third a revitalised push that would not have come his way otherwise.

Sometimes in wrestling things don’t go to plan. But that’s not always a bad thing.

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