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Seth Rollins & Others At Wrestlemania 31, How WWE Pushes Talent

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Welcome to Ask WNW on steroids... the 364th installment of the WNW Premium Mailbag. This installment features questions that were sent from Sunday, November 30, 2014 to Friday, December 5, 2014.

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I’m confused about the gimmick matches at WWE TLC. What’s a Chairs Match? A Stairs Match?

The differentiation between a Chairs Match and a Stairs Match is the weapon of choice. They are basically no-disqualification bouts contested under hardcore rules. Expect plenty of chair shots to the back in Ryback vs. Kane and either Erick Rowan or Big Show or both to bump off the steel stairs that will likely be set up in the ring.

The gimmick matches are done for a couple of reasons. First, they’re to give a theme to the B-level pay-per-view, which carries the name, TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs...And Stairs. Two, they’re done to enhance programs. Usually, WWE doesn’t overkill their “gimmick pay-per-views” with too many gimmick matches but what else are they going to do without a WWE World Heavyweight Championship and a limited amount of time to build programs?

They may as well make the WWE Tag Team Championship match a Ladder Match so we can have all the gimmicks broken down.

I am very enthusiastic with the recent work of Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt. How would you book all four guys during the Road to Wrestlemania to keep them relevant?

If we had to examine a positive about a part-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion that doesn’t work is that there is more screen time for the people that do work each and every week. Just imagine how good it would be if Seth Rollins would have won the title in September and worked defenses for the rest of the year?

While that’s not possible, we are getting a chance to see what WWE has in the pipeline in terms of up and coming talent. This is something that’s done every year this time of year. Unfortunately, most of these guys will have to take a backseat on the Road to Wrestlemania. Next year’s show is going to feature Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Sting and probably Triple H in marquee matches.

If I’m booking, I’m trying to keep part-timers against part-timers, so none of the up and coming talent is damaged. What I want and what we’re left with are usually two different things but we’ll cross our fingers that at least one of the four you mentioned is booked prominently.

Why is it in this day and age talented workers like Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and even to a degree early on, CM Punk, have to scratch and claw just to get noticed. Meanwhile, workers with more impressive physiques — like Rusev, Ryback and even Roman Reigns — get immediate and protected pushes.

There are two sides to this coin and we constantly flip it, examining both sides. People like Vince McMahon and Triple H are going to point to workers like Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Jeff Hardy and Chris Jericho and say they do push workers with outstanding in-ring work that don’t fit the stereotypical mold of a bodybuilder.

You and I are looking at Cesaro wasting away each week, while Vince blames a lack of charisma. Or WWE ruining Royal Rumble 2014 by refusing to give the fans what they wanted with Daniel Bryan.

I see both sides of the coin.

WWE wants to create characters that are larger than life. Like a comic book that happens in front of an arena of 10,000+. Earlier this week Ryback questioned if he was as bad as CM Punk said he was they wouldn’t have had him in the ring with talent like John Cena. That’s just not true. Remember The Great Khali?

I don’t like to talk bad about people but Khali was just not a good worker but he commanded such a physical presence (7’1/347 lbs) that he won the World Heavyweight Championship. It’s safe to say Brock Lesnar isn’t the safest guy to work these days (despite a phenomenal background as an amateur wrestler and good in-ring skills), yet WWE has programmed him against top acts such as John Cena, Triple H, The Undertaker and CM Punk.

WWE pushes a mix of talent. From the veterans that have spent decades learning their craft to the guy that got signed because he looked something out of a Marvel comic book. Some work and others do not. Regardless, people are always going to fee that “so-and-so” should be pushed and “so-and-so” shouldn’t be pushed. It’s like that in pro wrestling, it’s like that in pro sports.

Has your favorite team ever committed a lot of money to someone you felt was a marginal talent? It happens all the time. In our jobs too. Have you ever seen someone at your place of employment get a promotion, despite there being others that are harder working and better at what they do?

Pro wrestling isn’t objective, which makes it even more difficult. Sometimes the pro wrestling business comes down to more who you know then what you know. It’s also why I think some guys should do a better job in getting in positions to succeed, rather than doing things (even things well documented) that could hurt them.

What's your opinion of Lucha Underground's product? I find the storytelling compelling and like the use of camera angles and editing. If they grew, could they continue that model?

Lucha Underground is good and you want to know why? It’s not because it’s groundbreaking or something we haven’t seen before but it’s different. Lucha Underground isn’t “WWE light” and they don’t want it to be. They focus on in-ring athletic matches, different production, good lighting but an intentional “lesser quality” to give it a raw feel.

I’ll also tell you that Ricochet — who works on Lucha Underground as Prince Puma — is one of my favorite workers in the world. If you’ve been a WNW Premium Member for any length of time, then you know he’s garnered interest from both WWE and TNA Wrestling.

However, before we crown Lucha Underground the next best thing, consider the reasons you like it. That’s probably the same reasons that it wouldn’t work in the mainstream. Ring of Honor is great, but it caters to a certain niche. The same niche that Lucha Underground caters too.

Is that niche big enough to draw out viewers in droves? I doubt it. However, it’s encouraging to see another quality pro wrestling program pop up and you aren’t the first reader to express your satisfaction.

I believe the key in competing with WWE is mixing a product that caters to the pro wrestling enthusiasts but also to the fans that do not place as much value on the in-ring product. For example, I thought TNA Wrestling at one time was on the right track.

Impact’s viewership was growing, the X division was important, Gail Kim and Awesome Kong were having phenomenal matches and the product looked and felt different but the storylines catered to a broader audience. The show wasn’t without its problems, as TNA has always struggled with overbooking and finding storylines that are not completely over the top. However, there was a time when I thought they stood a fighting chance.

When TNA decided to ditch their unique ring, stop pushing their Knockouts, brush the X division aside and look right at Vince McMahon and WWE and say, “we’re here to compete,” viewership stalled and it’s the same audience week in and week out.

TNA has no identity and that’s something I hope they get with the reset on Destination America. It’s why you are excited about Lucha Underground. If we’ve learned anything over the years, great rosters and big signings don’t create top wrestling programs. Compelling television that is entertaining and enjoyable will always be what determines how far a show is able to go.

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