If you’re reading this as a wrestling fan, there’s a pretty good chance you think the WWE’s new gimmick Fandango is stupid. At best you might have gained some laughs out of it in a camp, retro way remembering the time when vignettes like those that have preceded his television appearances were used for nearly every wrester that came in.
So there’s also a very good chance that when you heard the rumours about the booking squad “losing interest” in the character you merely thought “good riddance” and hoped that it was true. And I must admit that my first thoughts were along those lines. But the more I considered it, the more stupid I thought that attitude was.
A gimmick that the WWE have spent months, off and on, promoting is virtually dead and buried within two weeks of it appearing on TV.
And my question is, why?
Not everything that the WWE brings to your television screens can work. Even at the peak of its powers during The Attitude Era there were as many misses as hits. The very nature of the business means that some “sure-fire” hits will never draw a dime whilst that man you’ve decided is mid-card for life might just become the next big breakout star.
It’s not that there isn’t history here. The Rock bombed as plain old Rocky Maivia and Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn’t pulling up any trees as The Ringmaster. Triple H floundered for years before getting over and yet nobody gave up on him after two weeks on television because they’d changed their mind about how good his gimmick was.
How different the wrestling world would look if the WWE had taken Mick Foley’s advice and “cut their losses” on the Rock. There would never have been the phenomenon of Austin 3:16 if someone had seen The Ringmaster and decided that guy just didn’t have the pizzazz to make it in the WWE.
Then, as I was writing this week’s piece there was the news story that Vince McMahon is apparently “souring” on the Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger storyline and push.
Yes, the same Jack Swagger who, as I pointed out in an earlier article for this site, spent virtually twelve months without a PPV victory (when he appeared on them at all) only to suddenly come back and be inserted into the “main event” picture for WrestleMania is now apparently not good enough for that push that he did nothing (on-screen) to deserve in the first place.
Therein lies the crux of the matter.
It’s a difficult enough job to get truly over in Wrestling in the first place. Men such as CM Punk, Randy Orton, John Cena, The Rock and Triple H, who will all be a big part of this year’s WrestleMania could never be said to be “overnight success” stories. All had their bumps on the way to the top but they and the booking squad persevered and in the long run that paid off.
Whether you like Fandango or think that Jack Swagger is main event material is actually besides the point here. Both were introduced and pushed as characters that someone obviously thought were a good idea. Time, money and promotional effort was invested in both men. And yet, as quick as a flash, both men may see their push curtailed or even scrapped. It’s symptomatic of the lack of patience by those in charge that ruin the business with stop/start pushes that seem to exist purely to spite either someone backstage or, worse still, the audience.
All I ask is that the WWE give pushes time. Failures are acceptable to me; they mean you are trying something new. But a failure to even offer the real opportunities for someone to sink or swim on their own merits is the worst kind of failure of them all. Without patience, this year’s WrestleMania would look a hell of a lot different.
– By Matthew Roberts