That lasted until February when Morrison, now competing under his real name of John Hennigan, returned to action in (of all places) the Philippines. Since then he’s become a regular for various small scale US promotions, made one or two appearances for Dragon Gate USA and wrestled in several European countries. He’s also pursued acting work and done some stand-up comedy. That he’s still wrestling tells me neither of the new lines of work has proven a lucrative avenue for him. The experience will have helped improve his promo skills though, the one clear weakness in his repertoire.
He’s avoided working for TNA or Ring of Honor or linking himself to a major Japanese company, which indicates that he’s not interested in tying himself to any promotion long term, at least not in a contractual capacity. And that in turn makes it seem as though he’s keeping himself free for a potential return to WWE.
|John Morrison as the FWE champion
He’s been missed by WWE in his time away. In his final couple of years with the company Morrison had become someone who was trusted to go out and have an exciting match between the more important talking segments. This may sound flippant but it’s an important role in WWE and not one just anybody can fill. Wrestlers have to have a certain degree of popularity and an ability to work fast, big-bumping matches. Morrison had both.
At age thirty-four there’s no immediate rush for Morrison to return to WWE, but I’d like to see him back in the fold sooner than later. He can only continue with his current style for so long before he needs to start incorporating safer, less “high-risk” moves into his arsenal. He could make a return in, say, a decade and still do that, but the transition would be far trickier then. It’s best for him to return now while he can blend the dazzling offence he’s known for with new moves so the transition is less jarring for viewers.
Also, WWE could do with a man of his ability. They have Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler to fill the slot but neither fits in quite as well as Morrison. Kofi comes across as a career mid-carder and while there’s nothing wrong with that it’s a perception that limits what can be done with him. ‘The Show Off’ is capable of bigger and better things but they’re not going to come his way until he gets to be a bad guy again, and until WWE management change their views on his place in the company.
Morrison would be excellent in the “hour two” role: that is have a exciting match in the hour where the lengthier performances take priority over the talking, which is saved for the first and third hours. He could, with the right support, use it to progress further up the card. Something Daniel Bryan’s ascent has proven is that you don’t have to have loads of time with a microphone to get ahead in WWE. It would be nice if JoMo had the opportunity to do something similar.
I think he’d be the perfect man to help re-establish the Intercontinental championship as the number two belt. With there being only one world championship in WWE now fewer people are going to find themselves with world title reigns on their CVs. Rehabilitating the Intercontinental title would be a good call as it would give the men who are never going to get a world title run something meaningful to wrestle for. Big E is fine as a champion but he isn’t going to have the sorts of matches the IC gold used to be known for. And it seems pretty clear that he’s going to continue up the ranks and get the WWE title at some point.
Morrison’s absence is also denying WWE and its viewers of a different kind of wrestling entrance. That’s an area WWE could really stand to improve in. Morrison’s standard entrance is already established with a slow motion effect and strobe effect but it could be much more. The photographers and the unfurling red carpet that were part of his entrance when he was in MNM could be brought back. He could sign autographs for people with aisle seats. Women could be hired to escort him to the ring. Different girls in every town, like the Godfather’s “ladies” but referred to as JoMo’s friends rather than anything more risqué.
This would not just provide a different kind of entrance but also help set Morrison apart from his peers and mark him out as something special, or at least different, to fans. That’s what viewers want: individuals with clearly defined characters, not people who all talk, act, and look the same. Morrison’s got everything WWE wants. They just need to give him the platform to let him win people over.