Monday, 6 August 2012

Change at the Top

Anyone who's watched WWE television in the last six months or so will be able to tell you that the company's main event is dull. The recent heel(ish) turn of CM Punk is a step in the right direction but if the headline scene is to truly get the shakeup it needs it will take more than having 'The Straight Edge Superstar' playing a bad guy again.
I'm not going to suggest turning John Cena heel or unifying the WWE and World Heavyweight championships. While both would improve WWE programming a great deal neither is going to happen any time soon and I've discussed both scenarios several times before. I'll stick to things WWE may actually consider doing.
With Punk now a heel on a collision course with The Rock the obvious choice for a face turn is Daniel Bryan. The former 'American Dragon' has teased a switch over the last few months, ever since his shouts of "Yes!" caught on with WWE audiences. In recent weeks the writing team have clamped down on that, having Bryan scream "No!" and demand crowds not use his favourite word.
It's a decision that could easily be reversed. While fans have quickly accepted Bryan as a heel (because they realise they can chant either no or yes to get a reaction out of him) he is such a fun character and a genuinely likeable individual that having him play a good guy seems natural. The "Yes!" phrase is built for a WWE babyface.
Turning Bryan gave would draw his tedious programme with Kane to a close and allow him to tackle a fresh headline opponent in Alberto Del Rio and aid in the progression of Cody Rhodes. It would also keep his enjoyable feud with CM Punk alive (and that's something WWE should be keen on) and allow him to resume his rivalry with The Miz.
As I mentioned in a recent post the Big Show is far more beneficial to WWE as a good guy. He's not especially believable as a villain and having him as a crowd favourite allows him to utilise his real life affable nature on-screen. It would also mean no more Cena v Show matches. While I by no means think it would be a great feud I’d rather see 'The World's Largest Athlete' tangle with Punk. The WWE champion is more likely to get good performances from the giant and we've never seen them face-off with Show in the good guy role.
The big turn WWE should be planning is Randy Orton's. He’s naturally arrogant and easy to dislike, and has the sneery good looks of a top villain. Having been a hero since 2010 a return to the dark side would freshen up 'The Viper's' tired character and give him some fresh opponents. Having him do battle with either Daniel Bryan or Big Show would be something fresh and new, or WWE could even use him to elevate a guy like Zack Ryder.

Randy Orton's naturally heelish turnbuckle pose
At this point in his career with the roster they have at their disposal 'The Apex Predator' is of far more use to WWE as a heel. His popularity is still high but going bad would freshen up his act and give him some new things to do (which may make him appear interested again!). It’s what WWE should be planning.

Sheamus, Rey Mysterio, Kane, Chris Jericho and Alberto Del Rio are the only other members of the main event club at the moment. Mysterio, 'Y2J' and ADR are best suited to the roles they’re currently in while ‘Great White’ is being established as one of the company’s top stars, so switching him would do more harm than good.

Meanwhile Kane has flitted from good guy to bad guy several times in 2012 alone. Officially turning him is pointless because the writers will just decide on another direction for him a few weeks later. It’s what always happens with ‘The Big Red Monster’.

There is one name left to turn though: Dolph Ziggler. ‘The Show Off’ has been on the periphery of the headline scene since his feud with CM Punk at the star of the year. His Money in the Bank victory indicates WWE is serious about finally putting him there full time.

While he’s one of the company’s better bad guys I think a well-planned slow turn would allow him to become one of its most popular stars. He already hears chants of “Let’s go Ziggler!” from fans who appreciate his big-bumping style and accomplished ring skills. Making him a tweener and then gradually pushing him into a good guy (or anti-hero) role would be a good way to go.

All of the turns mentioned above could be written in (or started in Ziggler’s case) by the end of the year. Someone turning every month or so wouldn’t feel like overkill if planned and executed correctly. Doing this would allow WWE to refresh their main event players and have fresh scenarios ready in time for the build to WrestleMania. Even turning some of the guys would help. If I could pick one guy to be turned it’d be Orton. He’s the most in need of a change and the best placed to help elevate other talent in a new role.

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