Indy Talent Too 'Injury Prone,' ESPN Rebranding WWE, Goldust Injury, Jericho's Summer Return

The following post is Ask WNW. Ask WNW is the most popular feature on the website where Richard Gray answers questions sent in from readers. To submit your question for a future installment of Ask WNW, click here.

Given Sami Zayn’s injury, the well-documented injury problems of Daniel Bryan and other examples, do you believe some of the more “indy-centered” talent has a hard time making the transition to the mainstream?

I saw some comments on social media after Sami Zayn’s shoulder injury that “indy talent” wasn’t cut out for WWE and Zayn’s injury was just further proof of that. I don’t understand that type of thinking. No one is immune to injuries and I will stress, injuries do not discriminate. Everyone gets them and will experience something from time to time. The question isn’t if a talent will be injured, it’s only when and how bad. That’s just the nature of the business and it has nothing to do with where a worker came from.

There is a difference from the indies and WWE in that WWE discourages talent from taking unnecessary risks, reminding them it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Sometimes, the indy mentality is to “live for the moment,” which results in spots that are dangerous and only increase the chance of injury. That’s one of the many reasons WWE puts talent through their Performance Center, to eliminate bad habits and season them their way.

In conclusion, I don’t think the past of workers like Sami Zayn or Daniel Bryan plays anything into their injuries. Injuries happen. Everyone has something. It’s the nature of this business, it always has been and it always will be. The key is to not take unnecessary risks but also realize there is no way to immunize a talent from injury.

What are your thoughts on the E:60 “WWE: Behind the Curtain” film that aired on ESPN on Tuesday night?

I thought ESPN did a great job by encapsulating the stories of Adam Rose, Corey Graves and Xavier Woods, using prominent names such as Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Steve Austin to add legitimacy and show a different side of the sports-entertainment business. The best thing about the E:60 pieces is their ability to tell a story and draw the viewer in.

Vince McMahon offered his assessment of what it takes to create a character, explaining you have to try and learn what the audience wants and pay attention to human nature and psychology. Whenever Vince talks about character development, I’m reminded of that conference call years ago when an investor asked Vince “who the next Rock was,” like there is a simple A+B=C formula. As we all know, there is not and no matter how much a particular talent wants to be a star, it still all depends on how the crowd reacts.

The WWE Performance Center is great, NXT is growing but no matter the success, it’s still very difficult to create megastars.

All and all, the E:60 WWE: Behind the Curtain had great storytelling, was compelling and shed WWE in a good light. It could have been longer to offer a more thorough examination of the subject matter but it told the stories of Graves (with the company reassigning him), Rose (working with him to find a new character to support his family) and Woods (working with his schedule to complete his eduction) well to the point where one could argue it made WWE a more attractive option for up and coming athletes.

Given the fact he’ll need surgery on his shoulder, is it time for Goldust to hang up his wrestling boots?

Goldust is 46 years old and will now miss 2-4 months with shoulder surgery. I’m not sure there is much left for him but he’s had a phenomenal run since returning to WWE in 2013. I don’t like putting expiration dates on people’s careers because if they’re still able to compete at a high level and have something to offer, who are we to demand they hang it up?

My only issue with older performers like Goldust or Kane or Big Show is that I don’t want them taking away spots from up and coming talent. Using them to mentor, enhance and develop new talent is fine but when they begin to overshadow those names then there is a problem.

Chris Jericho has announced he’s returning to WWE on a “live event only” schedule this summer. What do you think about such a schedule? Does it help or hurt Jericho’s legacy that he “returns” so much?

As is the case with Goldust, anything Chris Jericho can do to help and enhance up and coming workers is a good thing. It’s a good thing for the fans, it’s a good thing for WWE and it’s a good thing for Chris Jericho. Jericho is a draw so attaching his name to live events is going to increase interest and ticket sales and given the fact he’s willing to work with prominent up and comers, it’s hard to see much wrong with this type of thing.

In a world dominated by egos and selfishness, Jericho is one of the most selfless guys there is. He doesn’t have to work for WWE in 2015 but he does it because he loves the business and his actions suggest he’s intent on giving back to it.

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