Tuesday 12 August 2014

Sign Steen Sign

Kevin Steen finished all of his prior bookings last month. This afternoon it was announced, via a picture on Triple H’s Twitter account, that he had signed with WWE. That’s in addition to the Network being launched in a variety of countries that are not the United States of America. It’s been a busy day for the world’s leading provider of sports entertainment.

Steen, like every new signing these days, will relocate to Florida to begin training at the company’s Performance Centre (note them caps, yeah?). When he’s deemed ready he’ll be promoted to the bright lights, glitz and glamour of everybody’s favourite Monday night wrestling show, RAW. In all likelihood that’s a way off and he’ll do a stint on the weekly NXT show beforehand.

Look at all those empty seats. Triple H is no draw...
The prospect of Steen appearing on the NXT television programme is a good thing. It’s WWE’s most consistently enjoyable show, offering competitive matches, interesting gimmicks, storylines that make sense, and no filler. Everything happens for a reason and wrestlers have so far seemingly been pushed according to a mixture of ability and popularity, a trend that will hopefully continue for a long time.

It’s also a show that emphasises wrestling over storylines, as opposed to the main WWE shows which does the reverse. Both approaches have their merits but I personally prefer the wrestling-centric one, and it’s an approach I believe will lend itself nicely to Steen’s personality and ability. The thought of him interacting with the likes of Tyler Breeze, CJ Parker, Enzo Amore, Bull Dempsey, The Vaudevillains, fellow new recent signees Prince Devitt and KENTA, and of course his old tag partner and rival Sami ‘El Generico’ Zayn within the confines of the slickly produced and easy-to-enjoy NXT package is tantalising.

Now that Steen is officially a WWE employee speculation on how far he can make it in the company seems worthwhile (doing so before now seemed presumptive). I think he can make it to the top, personally.

Arguably the greatest attribute needed by a WWE wrestler is a ways with words. That’s what Steen is best known for. He can give an impassioned speech that leaves you desperate to see him win or gloat and snark enough to make you want to see him receive his comeuppance. He knows how to tailor what he says to get the desired reaction from fans and has a sense of humour too.  You could ask for nothing more from a WWE Superstar™.

Anyone who’s watched any of his work in ROH, PWG or elsewhere will know he’s a good enough wrestler too. He has a penchant for ringside brawling that won’t look at all out of place but he’s also capable of staying in the ring and wrestling a more traditional match. What’s important to note is his ability to interact with crowds during his matches. Steen clearly understands the importance of drawing people into his performance, whether he’s talking or wrestling. And he’s good at it.

It could be argued that he doesn’t have the WWE look. I’d mostly agree with that but it’s become less and less important over the last few years. Daniel Bryan does not have the archetypal company look but he managed to do pretty well for himself. On the subject of looks Steen has demonstrated that he’s willing to get himself into shape, which is still very much a part of the WWE experience for a wrestler. He’s shed an impressive amount of weight in the last year and deserves credit for doing so. I imagine his dedication there played a part in getting signed in the first place.

The only thing I can see stopping Steen from making it in WWE is disinterest from the creative department. That could be a more serious hurdle than you might think. WWE have shown a bewildering willingness to do nothing with wrestlers who are clearly incredibly talented and popular (yeah, I’m thinking of Dolph Ziggler too). These falls from favour come seemingly at random with no rhyme or reason to them. It’s this that he will need to avoid, because it seems incredibly tough to come back from and must be excruciating to endure.

Steen has the attitude, experience, and mind to succeed in WWE. I hope he does and I think he will. Succeed Steen, succeed.

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