Thursday 23 August 2012

Tuft Luck

Yesterday WWE announced the release of Superstar Tyler Reks. Real name Gabriel Tuft, Reks had requested his release from the organisation on Monday 20th August in order to spend more time at home with his girlfriend and young daughter. He had made his wrestling debut in February 2007 and had been under contract to WWE since January 2008. In June 2009 he made his WWE television debut on the floundering WWECW.

On paper it’s an impressively quick career. Reks went from starting out as a wrestler to appearing for the biggest company in the world in a year and a half. Unfortunately for him he wasn’t selected for a prime spot on the roster and so didn’t receive a memorable introductory push. He was lumbered with a bland babyface surfer gimmick, limiting his opportunities for advancement.

ECW’s closure led to Reks being relocated to SmackDown. There he became a heel and had a wholly unimpressive run, the most notable moment being his appearance for Team SmackDown in a clash with Team RAW at Bragging Rights 2010. Even the most avid fan would be hard pushed to remember that tedious match and pay-per-view in any great detail. That it was the highlight of Reks’ SmackDown tenure tells you all you need to know about what he achieved on the show.

Reks found himself making regular appearance on weekend show Superstars soon after Bragging Rights. He had become one of the many wrestlers on the roster that creative weren’t interested in using in any meaningful way. When NXT was quietly reformatted into a middle-ground between developmental and the main roster last year Reks found himself moved there to form a team with Curt Hawkins.

It was this unit, dubbed the MidCard Mafia, which granted Reks his most successful run in the promotion. Using their lack of exposure on RAW and SmackDown as a storyline Reks and Hawkins became the show’s comedic heels and foils to matchmaker extraordinaire Matt Striker.

The two took the opportunity being placed into a team presented them with. They got matching outfits, worked on some double team moves, and tried their best to make themselves into an act the writing team would want to promote to the main roster.

Things didn’t happen quickly (they rarely do in WWE) but the duo’s patience paid off when they were rewarded with screen time on RAW, SmackDown and pay-per-view alongside on-screen boss John Laurinaitis. They weren’t off of NXT, but they were making appearances on more respected shows. It was a step in the right direction.
Say goodbye to these two as an act
The most recent change of direction for NXT led to the two being moved back to the main roster. All signs indicated that the two were to be rewarded with a minor push on SmackDown based around Booker T wanting them to up their game. Reks and Hawkins had pestered the GM for a chance to wrestle on a more regular basis, which had prompted Booker to tell them to “make an impact.”

That impact came in the form of a striptease on the August 17th episode of the show.

It was a promising sign for the tag team but Reks’ departure from the group means it will progress no further. As the act drew a decent amount of heat I believe WWE would have continued with it for a while. If the gimmick had become a regular part of the blue brand I think it could have been a hit, a strong heel act that would have gradually gained a following. We’ll never know now though.

Where does this leave Curt Hawkins? Unfortunately it may mean another drop into obscurity for the former Major Brother. It’s probable he’ll crop up on NXT and Superstars but there’s a small possibility that he’ll be awarded a low key singles push on SmackDown, perhaps keeping the stripper gimmick as a solo act. The good news for him and his fans is that he has a proven skill for reinventing himself and remaining relevant despite a lack of interest from the writing team.
It’s a pity that we’ll see the back of the MidCard Mafia act because there was a lot of potential there and it seemed that something was finally going to be done with them. I can understand why Reks wanted to leave WWE though. The travel schedule is incredibly tough and he wanted to spend more time at home with his family. That he has business interests outside of WWE has allowed him to make that happen.
This should be taken as a warning by WWE: Reks had worked hard to get himself noticed and earn a decent spot for himself. That he decided to ask for his release just as it appeared he was finally being given the chance he’d wanted could indicate that there’s a general feeling amongst mid-card members of the locker room that a career in WWE may not be worth pursuing.
The company needs guys in these positions, and as such they should be thinking of ways they can ensure more people don’t follow Reks out of the door.

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