Heath Slater was one of the worst parts of NXT Season 1. I'll just get that out of the way. I'm not taking any shots as his talent or ability, but it speaks more about how the show's format can prevent a guy from being noticed. Wade Barrett was the star of the show, and we all know the story with Daniel Bryan. David Otunga, Justin Gabriel, Skip Sheffield and Darren Young were all given more opportunity with their 'Pro' teachers, and Michael Tarver was a good talker. Heath Slater suffered because he didn't really have a story besides he was a good ol' Southern boy, and even that got overshadowed by Skip Sheffield's cornfed hick gimmick. Slater was talented, but everyone around him was given a reason to succeed so it made it seem like he was less important. NXT wasn't all bad for Slater, because he did get a few important wins, including one upset over Chris Jericho, and finished fourth in the competition. With that said, Jericho was putting over a lot of guys then so you could look at it as a diluted win, and NXT's format made it seem like it was staged just like a WWE storyline would be.
Fast forward a bit and look at his time with Nexus; he did get a tag team championship run, but the same issues happened to him that held him back in Nexus. Slater was a player, but he wasn't THE player, and he didn't get to be more than a lackey to Wade Barrett. I know Nexus was about showcasing Wade, and I am fine with that because he will be a big star, but good stables are supposed to showcase all of your talent. The Four Horseman did it, Evolution did it, and my hopes were Nexus would do it. Instead we got a WWE version of NWO Black and Yellow, and things just never got better than the first month they debuted. The Corre wasn't much better, in fact that felt like WWE knew they screwed up Nexus and tried again, but failed again. I can honestly say I don't remember anything important or noteworthy about the Corre besides they constantly changed their entrance theme, and Slater was credited as spelling the name wrong when trademarking it.
I like Slater because he's the perfect blend of corniness and skill, and he's alot like Antonio Cesaro in that he's goofy, but you still take him seriously. You obviously consider Cesaro more of a threat, but Slater pulls off what he does alot better than the other comedic characters in WWE. Let's face it, Santino is too goofy, and eventhough he shows his mat skills from time to time, you don't take him as a legit threat. Aside from that glimpse of hope at the Elimination Chamber this year, he's been relegated to being a crowd pleaser and focuses on Cobra, which isn't a bad thing. I'm just saying Slater does it better, and he got a nice run out of it during his RAW legends phase. Slater ran his mouth and got put in his place, but he was competitive for the most part and got good heat.
I'm glad Slater is getting another chance so soon after the RAW 1000 Legends angle, because he is talented and gets a good reaction from the crowd. He's not going to be a main eventer right away, if ever, and he's doing a good job with where he is right now. WWE needs guys like him, and it looks like they are starting to reestablish the levels of the match card. You have main eventers, mid carders, lower card and openers. I would put Slater on the 'upper low' card right now, and he should get a lot more screen time now that he has 'The Band' at his side. (Note: They went from International House of Hits, to Encore, and now The Band.) Slater is the leader, and he's going after low and midcard guys, so it's not affecting anyone negatively. I'm glad he's getting screen time ahead of stupid dance offs, and maybe he will help Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal get a better reaction than they currently do.
The way I look at The Band and Heath Slater is simple: he's doing what old school wrestling fans want, and that's getting heat and fighting people. Slater will end up getting his, but it's fun just sitting back and booing him for being a cornball and saying the wrong things to people. I know it's early to make comparisons or predictions, but The Band has all of the potential to be the next 'guys in a stable who don't make sense' like the West Texas Rednecks and 3 Count of WCW fame. (Yea, that's right, you know you loved 3 Count.) If you need a better example, couldn't you see The Band being like the (pre-DX) New Age Outlaws or better yet, Edge and Christian? Those teams were good at being goofballs but maintained their heat for a good amount of time, so why couldn't Slater replicate something like it? It won't be on the same level because the wrestling landscape has changed, but I think Slater and the Band could be a part of the show you look forward to booing.
I was on a message board recently, and someone suggested The Band should become a tag team and work matches with the Freebird Rule in effect. Great idea, and Slater is the perfect guy to bring it back. One more comparison, and I don't really watch the show, but they are kind of nerdy like the guys in the Big Bang Theory on CBS. The Band seems like an unusual alliance, but they are making noise and may be a threat soon. I don't expect Slater to be a major threat at the top of the card, but seeing him get regular screen time is good. The Band has been attacking people lately, but I fully expect someone to shut him up soon. Slater is doing something good because he's is leaving you wanting more, and you can't wait to see someone shut him up.
Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report?