Friday 6 June 2014

The Intellectual Cosplayer

When Damien Sandow first appeared in WWE he was, by modern standards, a wonder. He was a solid wrestler with an understandable and distinct character that acted consistently. Plus he did cartwheels. I thought he signalled the beginning of a mid-card rebuilding project.

Sadly that’s not been the case. During his two years in WWE Sandow has never been treated exactly right. His pushes have faltered. He’s been shunted up and down the card. The company never seem quite sure whether to position him as a man on the rise or a piece of enhancement furniture used to get other, newer stars over.

Damien Sandow's better than this. So's Ian McKellen for that matter.
His treatment in the last year demonstrates this perfectly. He’s recently abandoned his intellectual roots, the thing that set him apart from every other heel on the books, and taken to cosplaying. We’ve seen him as Magneto, Davey Crockett and some basketball player I’ve never heard of, all for entirely unexplained reasons. It’s a move that may or may not be linked to the bizarre and ill-conceived decision to have him attempt worked shoot promos about being underutilised just a week or two before he decided to reveal this previously unhinted at aspect of his personality.

Under a year ago things were different. At last July’s Money in the Bank ‘The Intellectual Saviour’ won the titular ladder bash at the expense of his then-best friend (not forever) Cody Rhodes. That not only gave Sandow a guaranteed World Heavyweight championship match but also slotted him into one of the few mid-card feuds bothered booking all year. Rhodes versus Sandow happened at SummerSlam and actually had a worthwhile backstory to it!

That Sandow lost his cash-in match against WHC John Cena wasn’t a problem in itself. It could have led to Sandow going away and proving himself worthy of a rematch by winning a string of matches against significant members of the roster. It could have led to him entering a lopsided (perhaps even one-sided) feud with Mr Cena. It could have seen him refocus and promise fans he’d have gold by the end of the year, leading to a two month story culminating with him winning the Intercontinental or US strap on the last RAW or SmackDown of the year.

The second option was hinted at but never really went anywhere. That may be because of the probably last minute decision to unify the World Heavyweight title with the WWE title in December but it’s more likely that WWE just couldn’t be bothered dedicating time to Sandow. In their minds they had, and have, bigger names to concentrate on.

While it’s true that there are bigger established names and newcomers with more potential to strike it big than Sandow that shouldn’t mean he gets overlooked. In Sandow WWE has a near perfect mid-card heel. He’s a decent wrestler, is easy to dislike, gives a great promo, and understands his character. Not making the most of how different his character is is, as Sandow himself might say, incontrovertibly imbecilic.

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