If I were to list the names of Sting, Triple H, Undertaker, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Brock Lesnar, and ask what all these superstars have in common I hope that most people would say they are all part time WWE talents who have had, or may be having their moment in the spotlight at Wrestlemania. Some fans love the part timers and some are very much against them having high profile spots. I used to be against part timers walking in and taking the spot of someone like a CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, or Daniel Bryan, who had worked their ass off over the year only to be ousted from a Wrestlemania main event spot by someone wanting to make an easy pay day. But now I see things differently and believe it's about more than just that, and that part time stars really have as much value, if not more in some cases than current talent, and I'm going to give you some of my reasons behind this.
One of the biggest gripes I've seen and heard come up from fans is when they ask "how do these guys have the right to come in and take a spot from someone who has been in the product for the whole year, working hard to earn their spot when these part timers haven't even justified their spot on the card?". It's a rightful question to ask but there is a simple answer in my mind; because these guys EARNED the right to be in that spot many years ago. Just look at some of the names listed here; The Rock, Steve Austin, Sting, Undertaker. ALL of them huge names during the Attitude Era, as well as before and beyond. These guys were selling out arena's for years and have all been World Champions who have drawn some big money over the years and they clearly still have something to offer because fans want to see these guys in action. If their experience can bring something positive to the product then why not have them in one of the more prominent spots on the card.
One of the most talked about segments of last years Wrestlemania wasn't a match, it was an in ring segment featuring Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, The Rock, and UFC star Rhonda Rousey. The Rock and Triple H may only be classed as part time talents but the electricity and drama these guys brought to that one segment of the show had fans drooling over a potential match with these four names. Part time talent is something fans want to see in matches and for an example of this look no further than the most talked about and anticipated match in Wrestlemania history that we may finally see at Wrestlemania 32, between The Undertaker and Sting. Fans have been crying out for this match for years and with Sting now in WWE it is finally closer to becoming a reality. This match is likely to not only get fans new and old talking but is likely to help potentially make Wrestlemania 32 the most watched show of all time. The benefit of these part timers is they simply engage fans and get them talking in a positive way about the product as older fans want to see these guys in action one more time while newer fans want to see why these men are so legendary.
These characters clearly still have some kind of huge appeal to the WWE Universe, and I think I know why. It's because in today's product too few of the current talent have done anything to make themselves stand out and be as colorful as some of those in the past. Most modern names just rock up, do their job, and some can't even cut a promo without being told what to say or do. Not pro's like The Rock, who while he was once outed for having notes for his promo on his arm can still cut a promo like nobody else today can even come near. The part timers coming in can almost be seen as a way of trying to inspire the stars of today to push themselves to prove why they deserve that top spot on the card. Guys today just expect a spot to be given to them sometimes for little work and if they don't put the effort in then why should they get it? These talents are of benefit because it should be seen as a way of the younger talent pushing themselves to be at their best and to take that top spot in the main event. They provide an incentive for today's talent to show just how good they are and if they can inspire those stars to steal the show and the spotlight then that gives everyone a big pay day and incentive to work with bigger names.
The buy rates and viewing number for Wrestlemania over the last couple of years have seen some of the highest numbers in the shows history, with viewing numbers reaching the 1.3 million mark at Wrestlemania 28, which saw a main event featuring John Cena and The Rock. Prior to Wrestlemania 28 the most viewed Wrestlemania was Wrestlemania 23 in 2007 with 1.25 million fans watching. This goes to show what a draw part time talent can be, and the trend of over one million buys has continued ever since Wrestlemania 27, which is ironically the Wrestlemania when the Rock returned to be the guest host of the event. This isn't just down to the appeal of today's stars as a good percentage of the audience will have wanted to see these part time names come back and do their thing. Rock has proved time and time again that he is still a huge draw even after having been away from the WWE product for so many years prior to his return. Sting helped peak interest in this years show with a potential buy rate (Network and traditional Pay Per View numbers combined) of an estimated 1.3 million fans watching the show. While those kind of numbers continue to be produced I think part time talent proves it is something we as fans want to see.
There has been much talk of Steve Austin potentially competing in one more match at Wrestlemania 32, with the seeds being planted during his podcast last week with Paul Heyman on the WWE Network. Not only that but you have the potential for matches featuring Sting and Undertaker, while Triple H and Rock are also being penciled in as potential opponents following the spot at Wrestlemania 31. Will other part timers come back to work at Wrestlemania in the future? Only time will tell on that but it's clear that part time talent is still something that fans want to see as despite all the original objections and uproar it caused these stars have proved without doubt that they are still top draws and still have an appeal to fans. Part timers, simply put are what is best for business.
If you want to read the opposing side to this argument on part timers then please check out Lee Herbert's counter argument which will be posted shortly.
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