Friday 30 March 2012

Going Fourth

If WWE wanted to try a different approach to pushing talent to the top once WrestleMania XXVIII is in the history books they could do a lot worse than resurrecting the Four Horsemen name. The group is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31st and will be fresh in the minds of WWE fans, which would make the April 2nd RAW a great time to introduce a modern version of the faction.

Imagine what a cliffhanger ending to the traditionally packed post-‘Mania RAW it could be!

I imagine that episode of RAW is going to finish with The Rock and John Cena together in the ring, either with ‘The Great One’ putting Cena over or the two agreeing to a rematch at SummerSlam (or perhaps even WrestleMania XXIX, who knows). Whatever the case those are the two I expect to be in the ring at the end of that week’s RAW and they are undoubtedly the two men involved in the biggest match at this year’s WrestleMania. If four young guys were to enter the ring through the crowd and attack the two megastars they would earn themselves a ton of heat.

If WWE went with that angle they would be setting up numerous singles and tag matches. Cena has not feuded with a proper faction since he faced JBL’s Cabinet in 2004, and that wasn’t the most threatening group ever to grace a wrestling ring. Battling four young, hungry guys on the rise would be something new for the company’s top guy and give a fresh spin to matches we would have undoubtedly seen before (because Cena has faced everybody).

Two of the Horsemen could face Rock and Cena at SummerSlam. Zack Ryder could be brought in as Cena’s TV back-up between now and then (after a brief segment showing that the two have made piece following their tedious fallout last month), which would allow for a babyface to be elevated along with the four heels.

An even more impactful debut would be to have the four guys attack Cena and Rock after their main event match at WrestleMania has concluded. Having four young guys beating down a legend and the promotion’s top star on the biggest show of the year would be massive shock, draw intense heat, and put the signify that the group means business.

Even if WWE didn’t want to use the group against Cena and The Rock it would still be something different for modern programming. There’s not been a proper faction in WWE since Legacy. They disbanded in early 2010, but in truth they were never really made into the dominant faction they could have been. The last time a gang truly ruled the roost in WWE was in 2005 when Evolution were a force to be reckoned with. That was seven years ago, more than long enough to warrant another stab at the time-tested formula.

Without Cena and Rock to feud with the best way to use such a group would be to have them focused on obtaining the company’s top titles. That seemed to be what the original Horsemen were always about: Flair having the world title with the three other men working to get the tag belts and a mid-card strap between them. It not only makes the championships seem more important (because wrestlers are making it clear they want to win them) but also makes the wrestlers themselves look good when they accomplish their goal.

Further down the line this makes a babyface dethroning a member of the group for a title mean more because they’ve overcome the odds and defeated a heavily pushed star who cares about being a champion and has (hopefully) been booked strongly while on top. If the Horsemen are booked right fans should be desperate to see them lose their titles.

There are four ideal candidates for a revived Four Horsemen group: Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. Bryan would make a fantastic centrepiece to the group and his alliance with three other guys would add some spice and variety to his feud with Sheamus (which I assume will continue until Extreme Rules in late April, possibly longer). Bryan is exactly the sort of wrestler that would have gone into the group years ago, and as the most prominent (and recent) world champion of the foursome he’s a natural fit for the leader spot.

In twenty years wouldn't it be nice to see a similar picture featuring Swagger, Ziggler, Rhodes and Bryan?

Cody Rhodes could begin obtaining shady victories via help from Swagger and Ziggler, ideally against genuinely popular mid-carders like Santino and Zack Ryder (yeah, him again). This approach could also be useful for elevating mid-card wrestlers. Take Justin Gabriel as an example: he could beat Rhodes in a non-title match and earn himself a shot at the gold. If ‘The Dashing One’ had to cheat to obtain a victory over Gabriel it would show that he’s not capable of beating him, thus showing that Gabriel is someone fans can get behind and root for. He could cut very simple promos saying that he’s proven he can beat Rhodes and just needs a match where Rhodes doesn’t rely on outside interference.

That approach could work with anybody, and would elevate two guys (Rhodes and whoever was chosen as his opponent) effectively. That’s exactly what WWE needs to do.

This would leave Ziggler and Swagger to work as a tag team. This is a comedown for Ziggler who has made great strides as a singles performer in the last year, but it wouldn’t need to be a long term thing. Swagger and Ziggler have built up a solid on-screen chemistry and would make a great lead tag team for a revived doubles division. This would be the toughest part of the Four Horsemen idea: making the tag titles mean something so that all members of the group have meaningful belts. I think “All American Perfection” (as the duo have been dubbed online) would be capable of making any two men on the roster look competitive. It would simply be a case of WWE pairing up guys and creating some decent tag ranks.

A Four Horsemen revival would work over a long or short period of time. The aim could either be to have four guys work as a unit for several years or to make it a shorter term deal with the goal being a feud between the lead guy and one of the other three over the world championship. That would be a different way of starting a feud and should lead to the creation of a genuinely popular babyface star when the Horseman v Horseman feud started.

If WWE got behind this idea they could elevate a lot of wrestlers. The Horsemen themselves would obviously become bigger stars and there would be lots of opportunities to elevate mid-card wrestlers and tag acts too. I mentioned Zack Ryder, Santino and Justin Gabriel above but anyone capable of forming a babyface connection with the fans would work in such a spot.

If anyone from WWE happens to be reading this, maybe give it a try. You could be surprised by the results.

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