The Pepsi Plunge – The Star-Maker

Shak


On October 1st, 2000, at the annual ECW Anarchy Rulz’ Pay-Per-View, Jerry Lynn pinned Justin Credible to become ECW World Heavyweight Champion. ECW’s announce team, namely Joey Styles and Cyrus, had stressed the point that, throughout his career, Lynn had been used by wrestling promoters as a “star-maker”, a wrestler who had been used to make other wrestler’s stars, rather than a star himself. This, apart from being a shocking disregard of kayfabe, alluded to how Lynn had been involved in some great wrestling matches over the course of his career, in both the US and Japan, yet always seemed to be booked as the loser. While his victorious opponent would then go on to the next step, Lynn would remain where he was, never able to win the big one, waiting for another potential star to come along and get put over. Rob Van Dam, one of ECW’s greatest produces, had seen much of his popularity founded on an amazing feud with Lynn. This was nothing new for Lynn, who had for years been widely regarded as one of the businesses top performers, yet had never gained the fame one would expect as a result of it. But, after beating Credible and finally winning the big one, perhaps Jerry Lynn had finally cemented his place at the top of the wrestling world?

Sadly, this would not be the case. He would lose the title only a month later to Steve Corino, and wouldn’t get the chance to get it back as ECW folded only months later. A particularly questionably booked stint in WWE followed, Lynn eventually being released due to a lack of ideas from the creative department. A return to the independent scene beckoned; where Lynn would go on to reassume his position as “star-maker”, being instrumental in the formation of TNA’s X-Division, helping establish new stars like Low-Ki and AJ Styles over the summer of 2002. Ultimately, Lynn’s greatest asset was, and still is, that he could make bad wrestlers look average, average wrestlers look good, good wrestlers look great, and great wrestlers attain a level of excellence that can’t really be compressed into one word, barring the use of a thesaurus. Looking at WWE at the moment, I see a lot of wrestlers who could become stars. But I see one wrestler who reminds me of Jerry Lynn, a wrestler who I think can help create stars for WWE for years to come, a potential “star-maker”. That man is Christian.

Christian has become a bit of a hot topic in the Internet Wrestling Community of late. Having being touted as a future world champion for years now, the long awaited push towards the main event has finally arrived. Yet while many are predicting that Christian will hold the big prize in WWE within the next year or so, I possess a different opinion. I believe that Christian will serve a different purpose in WWE over the course of his career; a role similar to the one Lynn has spent his career fulfilling. Rather than be a staple main-eventer in WWE, I would expect to see Christian spend most of his career in the upper-midcard, continuously occupying a position of prominence in the company, without ever rising to the level of solidified main-eventer, or without ever losing his draw as a credible upper echelon superstar. Like Lynn, Christian is, quite frankly, too good to lose his draw.

Here is a list of results for all of Christian’s matches on either RAW or PPV in WWE this year. Give it a read, see if you notice anything.

– Christian def. Eugene

– Christian & Tyson Tomko def. Eugene & Regal

– Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit def. Christian & Tyson Tomko

– Shawn Michaels def. Christian

– HBK, Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit def. Edge, Christian & Tyson Tomko

– Randy Orton def. Christian

– Shawn Michaels & Randy Orton def. Edge & Christian

– Kane def. Christian

– Kane def. Christian & Tyson Tomko (Handicap Match)

– Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit & Shelton Benjamin def. Edge, Christian & Tyson Tomko

– Edge def. Shelton Benjamin, Chris Benoit, Kane, Christian & Chris Jericho

– Shelton Benjamin def. Chris Jericho and Christian (Triple Threat Match)

– Christian def. Chris Benoit

– Batista def. Christian

– Kane def. Christian

– Ric Flair def. Christian

That’s right people; Christian is 3-13 in competitive action this year, despite having won his first two matches of the year, both of which were against Eugene might I cynically add. He has lost three straight matches to the ever less impressive Kane, one of which was a handicap match with Tyson Tomko as Christian’s partner. His only win in his last 13 outings came against Chris Benoit, a match which saw both Edge and Tomko interfere on Christians behalf on numerous occasions, the whole purpose of that match being to further the Edge-Benoit storyline. Last nights defeat to the ageing Ric Flair was just another feather in Captain Charisma’s hat of failure, an elaborate metaphor you’ll agree I’m sure. His win-loss record is nothing short of, dare I say it, dismal this year, resembling that of a jobber rather than any sort of potential main-eventer. Yet what has been the result? Has Christian faded away and been forgotten by WWE fans, typecast as a jobber? No, not at all.

Instead, Christian has seen his fan base grow, his antics as Captain Charisma drawing a lot of cheers from fans, despite him being a heel. Christian’s natural charisma and microphone skills will keep him over in WWE as long as he wants, regardless of what he does in the ring. Unlike his “brother” Edge, Christian hasn’t had to be forced down our throats by being given big victory after big victory; the Wrestlemania ladder match and a clean win over Benoit at Backlash being two examples of the Edge mega-push. When it comes to pushing Christian down our throats, there’s simply no need to do so. Like Jerry Lynn, Christian has the gift of being someone who very rarely puts on a bad match. The only time I can remember being disappointed after a Christian match was after his ladder match with Chris Jericho at Unforgiven last year, a match that really didn’t do it for me at all I must admit. Aside from that, his performances are among the most consistent on the WWE roster. Lance Storm, widely regarded as one of the best technical wrestlers of his generation, has said on numerous occasions that he thinks Christian is the best all-round talent in WWE today, a hell of a statement when you look at a roster that possesses the likes of HHH, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero to name but a few.

Do you think it is a coincidence that Batista’s first match after becoming WWE Champion happened to be against Christian? Of course not. Knowing that Dave might still be a little green in the ring to be the top man on the brand, putting him in a match with Christian, someone known for being able to get a good match out of anyone, was the logical move for WWE, and it was rewarded with a predictably entertaining contest. His bout with Shelton Benjamin at last years Survivor Series PPV was a breakout match for Benjamin who really looked the part as a future WWE Champion in that match. Christian also gave Edge his first standout singles matches in WWE after the demise of their tag team, helping elevate Edge into feuds with the likes of Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero among others. Very few wrestlers have suffered due to interacting with Christian, a rare quality.

This theory may well be best vindicated in the coming months, if Christian’s hinted trade to Smackdown does in fact occur. Of late, Captain Charisma has spent a noticeable amount of time alluding to his contempt for Smackdown’s John Cena, the WWE Champion. I suspect this is not just a fine attempt to pass the time, and that a Cena-Christian feud is in the production line. Cena, while his popularity is through the roof, still needs a big feud to really solidify him as “the champ”. While many have been brainwashed by the WWE promotional machine, a lot of fans still realise that Cena will need to improve, particularly in the ring, if he is to maintain his current popularity. His feud with JBL, while good, is showing very few signs of setting the box office alight. I feel that JBL, as entertaining as he is, is in need of some time away from the WWE Championship picture, as he has been at the focal point of it for a year now. Couple this with the fact that neither JBL nor Cena has the raw in-ring ability to produce a fantastic match, and the benefit of a Christian-Cena feud becomes ever more apparent. They had a classic segment at the Royal Rumble, and their characters play off each other very well. Given Christian’s ability to produce thoroughly entertaining matches and feuds on such a consistent basis, along with the level of interest in Cena at the moment from the fans, we may see Christian make John Cena a bona fide wrestling star this summer.

A valid question that I’m sure one or two, or possibly three, I don’t really know, of you may be asking is as to why, if Christian is in fact as good as I claim him to be, wouldn’t WWE just make him their next franchise star, like they have Cena and Batista of late? The answer is simple enough. Plainly put, guys like Christian and Jerry Lynn are harder to come across than the Cena’s and Batista’s of this world. In creating superstars, WWE has somewhat of a swing and hope for the best policy, praying that the gimmick gets over. For every Batista there is a Nathan Jones, for every Undertaker there is a Mordecai, for every Cena there are countless Phantasio’s. There is a fine line separating whether a wrestler winds up at Wrestlemania or in OVW, and it’s often difficult to distinguish what will succeed and what will fail with the fickle WWE audience.

What can be relied upon, however, is the fact that, in Christian, WWE have found themselves a man that can help create wrestling stars for years to come. It is a role Chris Jericho has found himself in for a couple of years now, it’s a role I believe Eddie Guerrero will spend the rest of his time in WWE doing, as with Chris Benoit. Christian’s all-round package makes him one of WWE’s most valuable assets, and I don’t doubt that, one day, he will hold the major prize in pro wrestling. For, like Lynn, Jericho, Guerrero and Benoit before him, Christian will earn it by being simply that good.

I welcome all feedback and whatnot at thepepsiplunge@yahoo.co.uk so shoot me a line if you have any comments or questions.

Thanks,

Shak.

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