EXCLUSIVE: Talent Raids: Easier Than Booking!

Mark Madden

TALENT RAIDS: EASIER THAN BOOKING!

Talk of Brock Lesnar as Undertaker’s WrestleMania opponent seems to have cooled. It shouldn’t.

Despite Vince McMahon’s fervent denials, WWE is in competition with MMA. Lesnar’s presence at WrestleMania would provide WWE not only a dream match, but a promotional gimmick rarely seen since WCW and ECW folded: A talent raid.

Talent raids fueled Nitro as much as anything, maybe more. Tune in Monday night and see who’s going to show up next!

Now, it doesn’t matter. There’s no one left to get, and nowhere to get ‘em from. WCW and ECW were perceived as top-rate companies back when. TNA now, isn’t. If AJ Styles showed up on Raw, that would mean nothing to WWE’s audience. Kurt Angle wouldn’t be viewed as someone jumping from TNA; he’d be viewed as a former WWE guy returning and by the way, where’s he been?

(Parenthetical aside: I’ve wondered what it would mean if Sting, the last true WCW mainstay who never set foot in WWE, finally showed up on Raw. I don’t think it would mean a thing. Too much time has elapsed. Sting is perceived more as a TNA guy than a former WCW flagship. In other words, he’s been forgotten.)

Lesnar would be a returning WWE guy, too. But he’d return with a lot of heat: Babyface heat with fans that see Lesnar as a WWE guy that conquered UFC, heel heat with WWE fans that have abandonment issues.

UFC impresario Dana White has spoken about Lesnar being under contract. But White should see the value of crossing over.

Appearing in WWE wouldn’t cost Lesnar any credibility in MMA. It’s where he came from in the first place. If Lesnar really wants the payday ‘Mania can provide, White will be hard-pressed to stop him. What’s the harm?

I miss the talent raids. Even before that, I miss when a guy you’d heard about through the Apter mags would debut in your territory. I miss when the Apter mags would tease such a move: WILL TOMMY ‘WILDFIRE’ RICH INVADE THE WWWF? (Which, of course, never happened.) I remember when Greg Valentine feuded simultaneously with Chief Jay Strongbow in the WWWF and Wahoo McDaniel in the Mid-Atlantic, breaking both their legs. Valentine must have had a General Custer fixation. When somebody like Jimmy Snuka arrived in the WWWF, it was HUGE.

Maybe Undertaker could fight Snuka at WrestleMania.

In WCW, talent raids were a substitute for booking. That, and “who’s going to be next to join the nWo?” WCW’s creative acumen mostly ran dry beyond that. Remember, the Goldberg winning streak happened by accident.

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