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Landau's Landscape #1 - WWE's General Misuse of Talent

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Pre-Blog introductions (in italics so it's easily skippable for those uninterested)

Hello everyone, my name is Guy Landau and this is my first official blog here on Wrestlingnewsworld - a site I was always proud of calling my #1 source in pro wrestling news and discussion, and now a site I'm proud to be a part of. Some of you may recognize me from my exposure as a guest in a couple of blogs - I'll take this opportunity to thank the Executive Vice President of Writing Relations Kendra Bunyon (kidding - she is a senior staff member here on the site, though) for allowing me the opportunities mentioned above.

Most of the readers who know me know me as a (sometimes overly) avid commenter, and usually I have a lot to say, as apparent by the blog-size post I made on Monday's RAW Blog.

A little bit about myself, though, so you'll know exactly who you're dealing with:

I'm a 17 year old boy from the suburbs of Israel. I got into wrestling 5 and a half years ago, after watching 'Mania 22. I tracked down the only wrestling federation in the country afterwards (which wasn't easy, it was really underground), the IPWA, and started training in July of 2007, at the old age of 13. I've been training and wrestling ever since, and am now a 4 year veteran in the squared circle. That being said, whenever I'll have a match I'll post a link to it at the end of the blog.

And finally, the blogs themselves:

This blog, "Landau's Landscape" (name is still debatable - all suggestions welcome via comments section) is an opinion blog with no disclosed timetable or topic - that is to say I write about any topic, when I have a topic to write about. The general guidelines I can give readers is anywhere from 2 weeks to a month and a half between blogs, and topics will be rather general and company-wide (both major companies and perhaps a bit of ROH) - styles, wrestling quality, marketing, etc. This first blog, for example, should give a better idea as to what to expect from me. And to answer a question most of you are probably asking yourselves right now - yes, my blogs will generally be rather long, though without the lengthy introduction in this one. So I think that covers just about everything - and then some - so let's finally get into the action!

This is obviously an opinion blog, and as such all counter-opinion and feedback is encouraged in the comments section. All I ask is that whatever you say - keep it civil. If it's criticism - make it constructive. If it's a difference of opinions - respectfully disagree, so I can respect you back. As a first posting, this is obviously far from perfect, so all constructive criticism on length, substance, length, structure, length, etc. is very much encouraged (read: begged for). My blogs will generally be long (Again - I have a lot to say), what I aim is to make it as least gruelingly long as possible, and as interesting and readable as possible to make up for the length. So, again... Constructive Criticism is good.

Actual Blog - WWE's general misuse of talent

This is a topic I've touched upon very generously on this week's RAW is Blogged's comment section.

As things currently stand WWE (as well as TNA, but I'll focus on WWE here) has a lot to improve in terms of productivity, mostly in a field that is very often overlooked – talent grooming. What do I mean by that?

 I'll be talking in terms of resource management here – maximize profits and minimize damages. There is a principle in psychology I've learned from Dr. Paul Dubransky's "Mind OS" program that – to simplify it - says we have 4 inner resources – Time/Intellect, Love, Boundary (Mental Strength), and Freedom, which we exchange with people around us constantly for other resources, inner or otherwise – In work we give our time/Intellect and freedom in exchange for money, we can offer someone our time and strength and have them love us in return, etc. That's the basic formula I'll be using here in describing WWE's resource management, and here the main resources are money and credibility – WWE uses money to use 1-time enhancement talents to boost the credibility of a worker via squash matches, for example.

The point I'm trying to make in this article is - WWE will make more money if they made their stars more credible in the eyes of the audeince - and they can make all their stars in general more credible than they are. If WWE utilized their tools more efficiently the roster would look much more bulky in terms of what the audience sees as current and future stars, and that would bring in more money via ticket sales, merch sales, PPV sales, TV rating, etc. as the audience will care more about each star, and about more stars.

 WWE wastes a lot of their overall talent's credibility. You can see that in so many failed pushes and firings of people with momentum – Ted Dibiase, The whole of Nexus, Ezekiel Jackson, & Drew McIntyre to name a few failed pushes. MVP, Mr Kennedy, & Shelton Benjamin to name a few firings of people with momentum. (MVP quit, but nonetheless - lost credibility). The fired talent should have their credibility transfered - either by a passing of the torch or a squash - depending on the relationship with the fired star and likelihood of them returning. A lot of the existing talent "fall through the cracks", because of improper planning by management. In that regard I want to make the argument that it will be better for business if WWE treats every superstar like a superstar – They are very careful in regards to John Cena, where they should focus on any talent to at least half the level they do Cena.

 Drew McIntyre is a prime example of wasted credibility (and hence money) – WWE spent the past 2 years building Drew McIntyre up on Smackdown! – letting him hold the IC title and beat the likes of Matt Hardy and John Morrison (when both meant something). He was on the cusp of main-eventing on Smackdown, participating in the Elimination Chamber and putting on an impressive performance, only to be shipped over to RAW a few weeks later – and, well, where has he been since? Jobbing on Superstars and losing Battle Royals Gail Kim style, that's where. McIntyre was on an uprise, he had momentum, and the move just killed it. Same thing happened (to an extent) to Ziggler, and Morrison, and many other talents who could have been main event caliber by now. And this is the biggest losing point of WWE in terms of credibility – The WWE Draft (or brand-switching in general).

Don't get me wrong, I think the draft has great potential – but that potential is not used to it's maximum capacity. The WWE Draft is a chance for wrestlers who are static on the card or on a downward spiral to rejuvenate or jumpstart their careers. A brand move is a movement killer, and should be used on people who are on the way down from an established position, or on people who are already in an established position. You can have established stars like an Orton or a Cena or a Big Show change shows safely, they have a fixed position that won't be hurt by the move. You also have your Daniel Bryans and Sheamuses who were losing momentum and on their way to a lower position on the card and can be saved by a move (and they were). You can change the brand of midcard and lower wrestlers who can't seem to move up to give them a new chance, like… Well, every jobber who gets no TV time, and for some reason Kofi Kingston. Every. single. year. What you should never EVER do is switch the brand of a wrestler who is on his way UP the card, who is on a climb up. Just like a switch kills downward momentum, it kills upward momentum. This is the move of a Drew McIntyre, a Dolph Ziggler, a Morrison two years ago, a Del Rio (who just now returned to championshiping)… Those moves kill the extra credibility, and that means you have to build it again… Which means taking it from someone else. So the way I see it, People with momentum should not be moved until they are established at the top of the card.

 Another thing WWE is not utilizing is the fact that you can create Credibility without taking it entirely from someone else. You can build yourself up along with your opponent (see Bryan-Barrett), but that requires 2 very aware stars in terms of how to credibilize themselves, and that is rare. The other method is wasting less credibility than you are creating. If you have a midcard 1 on 1 match, for example, adding another pair of wrestlers might hurt the rub of the initial duo, but it adds so much more to the other pair that in the grand scheme it's a smarter way to go. Jericho was great with creating more Credibility in his opponent than he was wasting. He built up Bourne this way. He built up Morrison this way. Problem is, he must have forgotten to alert creative that he was building them up, as they didn't seem to regard it, in any case and destroyed whatever momentum Jericho created for these up-and-comers. But in general, an Orton can afford a loss now and again with no real damage to his credibility, as he's already established as a top star. But a win over him can do wonders for one's career.

 I say "an Orton" and not "a Cena" because John Cena is a whole other animal. He's the equivalent of Hogan back in the day - he's a credibility leech (a credibileech, if you will). That's his job - take as much credibility as possible and turn in into raw cash for McMahon. Cena is occupying a necessary role, and he is excluded from this whole "manifest".

But back to the creative team – "Creative has nothing for you" isn't a star's fault. I think every creative team member should have a few stars he's inclined to "find something" for – it's his agenda that they succeed – he gets a bonus this way or something. That would eliminate "have nothing for" or at least help keep people with bright futures in the lime light – until there's something serious for them. Have more TV feuds, these help keep stars relevant – especially in the crowded RAW roster (which is a problem on it's own – the potential upper midcarders should be moved to SD! And establish themselves there – but that's another blog for another day).

But all in all creative should be smarter – book more pushes like Mark Henry's and Cody Rhodes – They've beated main eventers whom are none-the-weaker for it, and are now top dogs, or on the cusp of it. I'd have waited with turning Dibiase until Rhodes was ready to lose the IC title, because now Dibiase has lost all momentum from the turn. I'd have had Bryan win more matches against the Sin Caras, because that wouldn't hurt their feud anyway. I'd have had Kidd get a frikkin' manager and appear weekly in tag matches if nothing more.

In summary, what I’m saying is – WWE needs to think in a cost-effective way not just in terms of money, but momentum as well. Every superstar should be allowed to shine in a way, or at least better than they have been. WWE needs to think about how to use the current pecking order in the best interest of everyone – instead of having potential stars fall by the wayside because they don’t fit the current picture. McIntyre being eliminated after a couple of minutes and a spot – say on Ezekiel Jackson, for example, wouldn’t hurt anyone else, but show him in a much better light than he was seen in. If he’d have hit a Future Shock on Jackson, only for Jackson to eliminate him a couple of minutes later, than both would benefit in a way. Hell, neither one is doing anything, why not start a TV feud for Supershow? Have them as part of tag matches on opposite teams whenever you have a filler singles match and everyone benefits. That’s just off the top of my head a way to better utilize the talent roster. See? The answers are there – and WWE can use this to boost talent in the eyes of the fans, and hence have better merch sales and much bigger stars all across the board right now if they would take the time to think about how they market and feature each superstar. “Creative has nothing for you” – fire creative, not the wrestler. When you give a superstar the chance and he doesn’t stand the heat – then you fire him and make room for a new one. Rhodes and Henry's pushes are so wonderful because they don't hurt anyone in the process – they just elevate.

The fact that WWE can afford these loses doesn't mean they have to. ROH survived because of smart booking despite losing top dog after top dog, WWE could be bigger than it is if they smartened up their booking.

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