Chris Hero was fired from the WWE because he was too “flabby”.
Daniel Bryan is being demoted from the World Title picture because he’s too “small”.
It’s been quite a few weeks for certain former Ring of Honor alumni and it is tempting to reduce their troubles to the two sentences that started this piece.
The news that Chris Hero was handed his papers and released from the company didn’t come as a particular shock to me. Rumours abounded for months that the WWE were not happy with his physique and either the former Kassius Ohno couldn’t be bothered to comply with their wishes for him to tighten up those abs, or perhaps he simply couldn’t do it for one reason or another.
Of course one point of view is that the man was enough of a talent in the ring that to fire him for mere aesthetic reasons makes no sense. After all it’s not the World Bodybuilding Federation and Hero could have wrestled classics with a great deal of the roster, as he had been doing on NXT before the bookers lost interest in him. And yet there’s another point of view that says if the WWE told him to sort out his physique and he didn’t even attempt to address the apparent “failings” of his body he was either extremely naïve or arrogant to think that his in-ring work would save him.
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation this confirmation that size and looks matter in the WWE certainly should not have come to any surprise to Hero himself nor any fans who are lamenting his departure. Size was a staple of the WWE even long before the days that Vincent Kennedy McMahon bought the company from his father. Times have occasionally forced the WWE to move away from this business plan, not least the steroid controversy of the early 1990s, but when times go bad the WWE reverts to type.
Big equals green; size equals money.
It matters not that “smaller” champions Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels had better reigns than Yokozuna and Diesel, nor that Steve Austin wasn’t exactly the largest champion the WWF had ever seen. Vince has had much success with the bigger is better ethos and that is how he believes wresting is at it’s best. Larger than life bodies and characters. It’s why for every Shawn Michaels there is a number of Mabel’s, Great Khali’s and similarly large men who have been pushed way beyond their talent purely because of their size.
In an ironic twist the look is perhaps even more important in a strange way now we are in the “steroid free” era because so few performers can sculpt the “preferred” body dimensions and definitions without the aid of the juice and/or freak genetics. And if Chris Hero didn’t realise that you can only be “fat” in the WWE if you’re REALLY fat more fool him.
If we needed any other confirmation of the state of play within the WWE it was interesting to listen to Vince McMahon’s latest financial conference call and specifically his reasoning’s behind the HUGE buy-rate drop from 20012 for this year’s SummerSlam. You or I might lay the blame on illegal streaming, the financial downturn that continues to put pressure on people’s wallets or counter-productive booking. None of that matters to the WWE. They know where the blame lies, and it lies at the feet of Daniel Bryan and the fact that he is small. Of course Vince’s actual words were along the lines of “we didn’t have the right attraction” but it’s easy to read between the lines, especially when Bryan’s subsequent replacement in the top-line feud with Randy Orton is The Big Show.
The Internet wrestling audience was generally thrilled that Daniel Bryan was challenging John Cena and were over the moon that CM Punk was getting a bona fide main event scenario against Brock Lesnar. Both matches were also excellent encounters and if you named either as WWE Match of The Year I wouldn’t quibble. The problem is though that they didn’t draw.
It was particularly baffling that the WWE, through HHH and Stephanie, repeatedly pointed out that Bryan wasn’t suited to top-line competition in the WWE in the weeks leading up to SummerSlam. You know what the WWE were trying to do, bump up support for the underdog, but the way they went about it was ill advised at best. Some felt it was a clever “reality” storyline. In fact it was just the truth.
There ‘s no proof that there’s any link to the “failure” of Daniel Bryan as a headlining act and the firing of Chris Hero. It is likely just a coincidence of timing. But these two separate events combine to say a lot about the WWE. And the worst thing for fans of Bryan and Hero is that this time around, you can’t say that the WWE didn’t take a chance. They pushed Bryan to the main event, they gave Hero a chance to grab a contract and shine in the promotion. It wasn’t the WWE’s fault that not enough of you bought SummerSlam and it’s not the WWE’s fault that Hero ignored “requests” to work on his physique. Both should know exactly how the WWE operates and their current positions should be no surprise to either man.
– By Matthew Roberts