Before I begin writing this I want to send my thoughts and prayers out to those affected by the barbaric shooting in Colorado. It is a tragedy that can’t be imagined. I wish a speedy recovery to the injured, and my condolences to those who lost somebody. Know that today Aurora is on every American’s mind.
This week has been focused on RAW 1000 because, well, it’s the biggest thing in wrestling since WrestleMania. It also highlights the largest problem in the WWE right now, lack of future stars. Only when those from the attitude era are brought in do shows tend to draw back in the old audiences. This Monday there will be DX, The Rock, Possibly Stone Cold, Jim Ross, A Raw Legend, and a dump truck of other former talent.
Yet when RAW hits 2000 episodes, what talent from today will have the same impact? John Cena, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, but are they the talent of today? Outside of CM Punk & Daniel Bryan, are there any established stars with longevity created since 2010? That answer is foggy at best.
Some could argue that Albert Del Rio, Sheamus, and Dolph Ziggler are on the path to being these type of long standing stars, yet currently their yoyo handling by creative has them looking more like Ahmed Johnson than Rocky Johnson. For every John Cena there is a boatload of Christians. Talent that is very popular, but when they’re gone they might as well be forgotten. Sure when Christian appears on RAW in a decade he’ll get a pop like Vader, and probably a few “You still got it” chants, but his appearance won’t drive the needle into the 4+ range like a Rock or possibly a Cena in 2020.
This is why the future is now in the WWE. With Monday Night RAW going to three hours there is more than enough time to develop the future so that at RAW 2000 there will be a show as packed with ratings driving talent as RAW 1000. The beginning of this has to come from established stars like Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, and John Cena. It is time for them to put this company on their backs in the way that a Terry Funk established ECW.
John Cena is fully developed. He has his fans and he has his detractors. He sells tickets as the main eventer, and he sells the same amount of tickets as the curtain jerker. He also has the eyes of the young WWE fans, who by the time RAW 2000 rolls around will be tip toeing around their late twenties. Their eyes are also watching the people John Cena interacts with. It is time for these young fans to build familiarity with Brodus Clay the wrestler, not Brodus Clay the sideshow attraction. It is time for John Cena to take up a tag partner and play the Yoda to his Luke. It is time for John Cena to leave a true legacy in the WWE, and that is not the amount of titles held, but the number of stars created.
It’s no secret here that I am a huge fan of the WWE development system right now. There is some true talent hanging out waiting in the wing down in Florida. In the sunshine state sits a vault of future mega attractions for the WWE.
Seth Rollins is as gifted in the ring as any performer in the past decade. He has the looks and athleticism to warrant a comparison to HBK. The girls will want to be with him, and the guys will want to be him. On the mic he lacks some, but with the right handling he is a future WWE champion. There is such a thing in this business as talent made to print money. Seth Rollins is that kind of talent. Put his face on a poster, a T-shirt, or a television show, and you’ll sell tickets. At the end of the day it’s why the WWE gets out of bed in the morning.
If Rollins is the next HBK then meet his Stone Cold Steve Austin, Dean Ambrose. Dean might be the most complete package to come to the WWE since Roddy Piper. He can wrestle, he can talk, and he is just enough off his rocker to draw people in. No storyline is out of bounds. Earlier this year he made waves for starting a twitter war with Mick Foley that might have been more entertaining and enthralling than anything on WWE Superstars. If any star will drive ratings for RAW 2000, it will be Dean Ambrose. He’s that damn good.
Kassius Ohno is a ring general. He is a Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, and Bret Hart rolled into a nasty package. He has forgotten more about different wrestling styles than half the current RAW roster knows as a whole. He can be part of a tag team. He can go 90 minutes with any talent. He can make others look better for just being in the ring with him. He is the blue collar talent needed to establish a strong roster of talents because he can work with anyone at any spot on the card. All in all, he’s the glue that keeps the show together.
That is just three members of a long line of talent that will make up the roster for WWE Monday Night RAW for the next decade and beyond. It is time for the established stars that have been recycled over and over again in rehashed feuds to begin building this future so there is a RAW 2000 for a John Cena to come back to. For the stars that got RAW to episode 1000, it is time to finish their legacy by putting over the next generation of superstars.This doesn’t mean going Brooklyn Brawler and spending the next few years looking at the lights. It means it is time to pass the torch in the way that Magic Johnson passed the torch to Michael Jordan. You go out there, give it your all, and in the end your all isn’t enough. Give the same effort going down the ladder that you gave coming up it. That is unless you want RAW 2000 to take place at a VFW hall in Scranton.
The WWE can’t survive another decade of paranoid talent too insecure to drop politics in favor of longevity. When John Cena returns for a WrestleMania match in 15 years with a talent not even in the business yet, doesn’t he want a pay day from a thriving company? What he does today, will impact his wallet in a decade. It is pro wrestling’s version of a 401K, put in some today, reap the rewards tomorrow. That is because on RAW 1000, the present is the past, and the future is now.