Why Ryback & Curtis Axel Aren't Over, Cena/Del Rio Isn't HIAC, Major Wrestlemania Program?, WWE's Top Star Is...

Have I gone too cynical or does it feel many WWE superstars and Divas are just on auto-pilot?

I don't like to be the guy that prefaces a response with, well back in my day… For one, it makes me look old and two, it seems too many fans wish things were how they were and forget they were complaining back in the Attitude Era too. However, if I could point to one criticism of the business today compared to the business 15 years ago, it's the way performers today carry themselves when they come through the curtain. We can argue that WWE performers today are more seasoned now than ever. WWE has poured a tremendous amount of their resources into scouting and training their superstars of the future, yet I feel many characters are as robotic and bland as they've ever been. When I look at workers like Curtis Axel or Ryback I see guys that have everything needed to be successful yet they come across like they're more focused on following a script than playing their respective characters. Do you know why Goldust is able to have this run at 44-years-old? Did you hear him on commentary on Monday? Dustin Runnels becomes Goldust - he's not trying to hit the bullet points or follow a script, he IS the character. It's why Hogan was successful; it's why Austin was successful. Dare I say, it's why John Cena is successful. So to answer your question, I think performers are too focused on fulfilling what is written for them and not doing the obvious things that cause fans to take interest.

Will John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship take place in the Hell in a Cell structure at the pay-per-view on Sunday?

No and for a couple of reasons. Triple H only wanted one Hell in a Cell match on the pay-per-view and he wanted it to be the WWE title match, however, they changed CM Punk vs. Ryback because the feeling was there wasn't enough interest in Ryback challenging Punk again, so they added Heyman and the stipulation. The feeling is the Punk/Heyman program has been entertaining but the challengers - Curtis Axel and Ryback - haven't been believable. It was a different story with Brock Lesnar but there was a considerable drop off from there. Other reasons Cena vs. Del Rio isn't taking place in the Hell in a Cell structure is because it's a brand new program and Cena is coming back from a serious injury. The match is dangerous and it's usually reserved to blowoff programs. I will also credit that WWE doesn't overkill their gimmicks, which have made the 'themed' B-level pay-per-views effective.

I know there was a lot of talk about Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust happening at Wrestlemania this year, do you see it happening next year?

The talk of Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust happening at Wrestlemania this year was because Goldust put a tremendous social media push towards it. He wasn't under WWE contract at the time and was actually released from his role as a producer in May 2012. There was no interest on WWE's behalf in the match but that might have changed given the renewed interest in Goldust's character. He's really improved his stock and has found a role that fits him. As I mentioned in the question above, I believe it's because he portrays his character so well. We'll see what WWE decides to do but Goldust is back under a performance contract.

Most of us understand the formula for evaluating pro wrestlers is a three-part process - in-ring ability, charisma and look. If each warrants a score out of 10, with a perfect score being 30, who do you think in WWE scores the highest?

Daniel Bryan scores higher than any worker on the WWE roster in my opinion. I understand this will be debated, and it should be, but there isn't an area where Bryan lacks. His in-ring ability is the best in the business, surpassing Kurt Angle as the best in the world. However, what has surprised people is his talent in the other two areas. Bryan has a very unique look with his big beard and he's able to take that beard and pair it with words like "yes" and "no" and get over more than anyone has gotten over in years. As he rises he'll develop haters that will start trying to disprove him with ratings and buy rates and fan interest. But the fact of the matter is, no one can accurately explain ratings, buy rates and fan interest; if they could, WWE would employ them and pay them a lot of money. Heck, TNA might even pay them what's left of their budget if they were guaranteed to fix those areas. Bryan is as good as it gets and there is nothing wrong with "buying the hype." There are some that feel it will make them a mark if they "buy" Daniel Bryan but if it makes me a mark to put over the most talented person this business has seen in quite some time, call me a mark.

From the Ask WNW vault…

April 2009 - Has Bryan Danielson really signed with WWE?: Yes, Bryan Danielson has agreed in principle to a contract with WWE. I haven't heard the terms of the deal but I would imagine he'll go to Florida Championship Wrestling in Tampa before getting the call up to the main roster. I understand Danielson is one of the best workers in the world but I would imagine WWE will want to take a look at him in their developmental facility before calling him up. I really hope Danielson does not get buried as a WWE worker.

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  • Isaac

    Very fitting archive question today. Man how things have changed in just a few years. We went from wondering if he would ever make it in WWE to debating if he is the true face of the company today.

    • Draven

      I was thinking the same thing. I am so happy for bryan he is one of the true guys that really deserves to be where hes at.

  • Britains pride

    Richard, who do you think will be the next Daniel Bryan? You (and many others) knew he was going to be big back in 2009, so who’s the next one?

    • AJ Punk

      You are already looking for the next Daniel Bryan? Daniel Bryan is JUST STARTING to make a name for himself and start his career as a WWE top guy. Why don’t we embrace the present of Daniel Bryan instead of trying to predict who the future Daniel Bryan will be?

      • Howard Stern

        I don’t think that’s what they meant at all. It’s just exciting to think of who will blow up next in the future and to take a look at what they’re up to now.

        • Right now I look at Dean Ambrose. I really think he has bright future. He just “gets it.”

    • Chuck

      Dolph Ziggler

  • K!NG

    I know everyone wants paul heyman as a mouth piece to some of these guys that are bad on the mic like ryback. then i realized that as long as heyman was feuding w Cm Punk anybody aligned to heyman not named brock lesnar was and would be nothing more then a pawn. Best thing for Big E langston was that he wasnt put w heyman.

  • John

    “No one can accurately explain ratings, buy rates and fan interest”

    This quote really sums ups the unusual logic of wrestling fans! If success was based purely on roster talent then TNA would be the #1 wrestling company in the world.

    • Great point and absolutely correct.

    • Xavier

      I disagree. WWE is loaded with talent. I don’t see a single “home grown” guy in TNA that would make it outside of the midcard if placed in the WWE. The only advantage TNA has over the WWE are their Divas.

      • PFElton

        AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and James Storm all immediately come to mind as guys who could place in the WWE Main Event IF BOOKED CORRECTLY.

        • Xavier

          Samoa Joe is a great great wrestler, one of the best hands down but he’s barely making it in TNA though as far as headlining goes which is unfortunate. When TNA brought in Angle in 06 and put him over Joe right off the bat the way they did it really said a lot about how TNA feels about Joe being the “guy”. While I’d love to see Joe in the WWE I just can’t imagine him breaking into the main event scene in the WWE expect for on a few rare occasions.

          AJ Styles is another guy who can work but he wouldn’t have much success outside of the midcard or upper midcard. See Christian.

          I admit that I haven’t really followed TNA since he broke away from Beer Money so I’m only familiar with his tag work which is pretty good so I’ll have to check out some of his stuff when I get a chance.

      • John

        I’m not sure how that is a reflection on the talent that TNA has? Since when did WWE ever do a good job at booking talent correctly?

        TNA has a far superior roster than WWE does in terms of ability.

        • Xavier

          Let me see over the years WWE has booked Cena, Batista, CM Punk, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, The Shield, Cody Rhodes etc etc pretty good.

          “TNA has a far superior roster than WWE does in terms of ability.”

          Not even close bro. The only thing TNA has on the WWE is their divas/knockouts. What major stars has TNA created??

          • John

            Come on man, you sound like another TNA hater! I don’t think i’ve ever heard anyone say WWE has a more talented roster than TNA.

            AJ Styles, Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Chris Sabin, Jeff Hardy, Christopher Daniels, James Storm, Kazarian, Gail Kim, Kenny King and Kurt Angle are all excellent wrestlers who are in TNA… If you think WWE has better talent than that then your crazy.

          • Xavier

            Your the crazy one. Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, AJ Lee, Natayla, Roman Reigns, Cody Rhodes, Bray Wyatt, Sheamus, Triple H, Undertaker, Chris Hero, Big Show, Xavier Woods, Christian, The Usos, Tamina, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler etc etc etc. TNA doesn’t have anything that anybody would want. WWE’s roster blows TNA’s roster out of the water. If TNA’s roster is so talented then how come they are always trying to sign WWE rejects? 95% of the guys you mentioned would be nothing but midcarders in WWE. Pretty much everybody I mentioned would walk into TNA and main event right off the bat. And I haven’t really got into all the talent the WWE has on NXT

          • John

            Did you seriously just try and compare Bray Wyatt to wrestlers like AJ Styles and Austin Aries? That is one of the most ridiculous things i have ever read in my life! I just mentioned 12 excellent wrestlers that are currently in TNA… If you think John Cena, AJ Lee, Roman Reigns, Triple H, Bray Wyatt, Sheamus, Big Show, The Usos, Tamina and Randy Orton are excellent wrestlers then i think you need to revise your opinions!

            Who cares if AJ Styles or Austin Aries wouldn’t be more than midcarders in WWE.. How on earth is that a reflection on their ability as wrestlers? Austin Aries is better in the ring than anybody in WWE outside of Daniel Bryan! Shelton Benjamin is one of the most talented wrestlers that has ever worked for WWE and yet he was nothing more than a midcarder.. Does that mean he wasn’t good?

          • Xavier

            No sir, you need to revise your opinions. WWE is about versatility, something TNA clearly doesn’t have. Wrestlers in the WWE have to be the complete package to be successful. Not so much in TNA. WWE mops the floor with TNA. Any wrestling promoter in their right mind would take WWE’s roster over TNA’s roster without blinking. There’s hardly anything of value that Vince would want. You think any wrestling promoter with half a brain would take Austin Aries over John Cena? This whole Cena or Orton can’t wrestle argument is beyond annoying at this point and has been proved wrong time & time again, Please don’t ever start a wrestling promotion because it would probably go bankrupt within days.

          • John

            I think we are talking about two completely different things here. You seem to be taking into account the whole package (in-ring ability, mic work, charisma etc.) and if that is the case then you may have a point. However i was talking purely about wrestling ability, and Austin Aries would make Cena look silly in the ring.

  • Kid

    Del rio and Cenas match isn’t going to be inside the cell because del rio is going to get disqualified to give cena the win and keep the title. About 95% sure of that.

  • smark calloway

    now i fully expect to get a ton of thumbs downs and people not agreeing with me but remember this is just my opinion . but to me the only thing bryan excels at is the wrestling side of things. because to be honest ,hes not that great on the mic ( hes not the worst i know, but there is a lot better out there )because i dont believe everything he says. he doesnt say it with the same conviction or believability as a cm punk, a jake roberts or even the c.o.o character of hhh ( who is doing a steller job on screen in that role you have to admit ).. and also his look is terrible. he hasnt exactly got the face or body you want to see on a cereal box in the morning has he ? i heard that when benoit won the title 9 years ago , stephanie mcmahon was heard saying ” this wont last , girls dont wanna f**k him, and guys dont want to be him” . and we all know how that played out. a few months later he dropped the belt after a less than memorable run to one randy orton at summerslam ( who is the definition of what steph and management wanted ) . im not saying im a fan of the huge roided up guy who cant work, but in this day and age people want to see proper looking athletes in the ring ,ones who they can aspire to look like . i know bryan is not out of shape , far from it, but his pasty white body and lack of definition from a casual audience point of view is probably a turn off. and remember being a sports entertainer these days is far more than in ring work. what about all the media appearences ? people like the miz, the rock , cena, jericho, even cody, they excel at these. not just because they are well spoken, but because they look like stars. they are pleasing to the viewers eye..its very important that the company is portrayed by people that project a good image for the wwe. what happens if someone not familiar with wwe sees daniel bryan on a chat show..they would probably think ” arrgh look at that little beardy guy with the long greasy hair i dont wanna see that ” . and im fully aware that what im saying is also some of the things that have been said in the current ” management vs bryan ” storyline , but remember -art imitates life . so the bottom line with what im saying is daniel bryan- a 9 for in ring skills , but low on look and mic skills . and to add, im not a bryan hater i actually enjoy watching him in the ring but i can also see he has some flaws too

    • opie

      He looks like a pissed off underdog — which is pretty much his character — so I would say his look is dead on. It suits his style.

      • smark calloway

        but how i define look is different to yours..to me someone with a great 10/10 look would be a rick rude ( who may have the best physique in wrestling ever ) or a john morrison . even a shawn michaels , who is not a 10/10 for physique, but in his hayday in the mid 90’s he was well built and a very good looking guy ( im a straight guy but im comfortable enough in my sexuality to admit he was hot back then haha ) bryans beard and greasy hair doesnt scream ” im a star ” to me ..sorry

        • David

          I agree that Bryan doesn’t have ‘the’ look, but that has been the point all along. It’s about the story and the character’s place within that story.

          • smark calloway

            im not disputing the look is not right for his character as it clearly is..my point is that if we are judging by wrestling skills, look and mic skills ..bryan with his beard, greasy hair and average physique would score low on the look side of things. that is the point im trying to get across

          • David F.

            Bryan does still need to improve his mic work. Its getting better but he comes off a bit stiff at times. He is not at the level of Cena or Punk at the mic but he will get there with time.

    • Malboja

      Hmmm I’m not sure that how we interprate looks is that big a deal I don’t really care what a guy looks like as long as he can get violent .. Austin was never a pretty boy and had his little beer gut
      Bret hart didn’t have the body of Adonis
      I think the key part is how they play the character
      And that shows through wether your a pretty boy born to the business or a short scruffy guy who gets to the top on hard work and pure talent

      • smark calloway

        im a huge bret hart fan . but he is the same as bryan ( he even admits in his book and judges a wrestler by the same 3 tokens . skill, look, mic skills ) . he says he would say he was a 9 in ring, and an average number for look and mic skills …so the point im trying to get across is , that if you didnt know bryans wrestling skills and just saw a pic of him . you would score him low on the look side of things wouldnt you. and the names you mentioned were all very good no one can deny that and no,they didnt exactly look 10/10.but in this day and age look is very important . not to you maybe ,but to the media and for the wwe image to the public it is . but someone who looks a million bucks will always be pushed to the top before the scruffy little work hard guy, so i would have to disagree with you and say look is a very big deal in the wrestling business…just look at a lex luger or ultimate warrior . not the greatest of workers but always had good spots, topline positions and made big money in the promotions they worked

  • James

    Ryback is better off being a security guard at a strip club .

  • Jay El Bee

    Bryan definitely would not score higher than everyone else on the WWE roster, he might get a 10 out of 10 for in-ring ability even though I don’t see it but his charisma and look are average at best. Off the top of my head Cena, Orton, Punk, Sheamus and even guys like Ziggler & Ambrose would probably score higher than Bryan.

    • David

      I respectfully disagree with your inclusion of Orton quite strongly.

      I’m not going to discuss so much some of the others you mention as I know my taste will be too much of a factor, but Orton is mostly just look now.

      His work on mic has had little conviction over the past few years, coming off as he’s just droning on. The ring work also has just been good, not exceptional or great. Look at the difference in the match between Cena and Bryan and then look at Orton and Bryan, the story gets lost by Orton. He slows down far too much and it can really damage momentum at times, not to mention he never brought that viciousness into play that was discussed before battleground.

  • PFElton

    Um, no, Daniel Bryan is no Kurt Angle.

    And before Republicans Suck or any of my other fans go bananas, I would like to cite Bret Hart as my source and support.

  • Super Crazy