Bold Colors or Pale Pastels?

Nick Paglino

John CenaTake a pencil and paper and draw a line. Start the line at one end of the page and move across. The line can be straight or crooked. It can stop and start. When you’ve drawn enough of that line, stop and look back at where you started.

Did you know where the line was going to go when you first put pencil to paper?

It’s the same thing with a career.  Any career, really but since this is a wrestling-themed website, let’s talk wrestling careers.

No one knows for sure where it’s going once it starts. That’s the idea. Just start drawing.

The line you drew also didn’t start in the middle, where the pencil had already done some work. It started at the beginning, where both the critics and the eternal optimists live. The middle of the line is where the drawer is comfortable and confident in the task. But do you start off daring or cautious? Do you want to feature bold colors or pale pastels?

In wrestling, both are needed to satisfy the variety of tastes. Great wrestling main events need some “haha” underneath. When Eddie Graham booked Dory Funk Jr. vs Jack Brisco, he would book girls or midgets because it made the wrestling stand out more. But neither Dory nor Jack were “bold colors” themselves. Each needed flavor around them to round out the meal.

It’s about strengths and weaknesses. True Marketability vs House Money.  John Cena is in the middle of the line he’s drawing. Sometimes when you are in the middle of the line, there is so much needed/required from you that you can’t afford to go “outside the lines”. In business, it’s about making that number each month. You have to stay focused and taking risks could expose the whole company.

Cena is a franchise for the WWE. He can’t stray too far from the line because of the revenue streams to which he is so tightly linked. Younger guys like the Shield can go crazy right now because their drawing has just begun and everyone is excited to see how it turns out. They are playing with House Money and it’s easy when you’re young and over.

Age and injuries must also be factored. Take risks when you’re young and by the time you become old and smart, you could be broken down and unable to go. Play it safe when you’re young and you may not even be in the game when you’ve learned everything. Edge’s career was cut short by the risks he took but he had to take those risks, in my opinion to get to where he did in his career. One thing the WWE wants their athletes to do is be smart. Smart in the ring and outside the ring. Minimize risks but be bold at the same time.

Isn’t that a challenge? Play it safe but be daring. Mixed messages… Who’s stepping up? Why is he doing that? More… less… yes… no… Changing on a daily basis. Many young wrestlers spend most of their days going from pencil lead to eraser and back again because they lack confidence. What they wind up with is a blank paper and frustration. Remember, a guiding hand is the best teacher to the young artist.

What do wrestling fans want? Ultimately, the core fan is the easiest to please, in my opinion. All they want is consistency and logic. Give it a reason and they’ll let some details go. Don’t insult their intelligence. Fans love bold colors today (The Shield) but the relatively pale pastel of a Kofi Kingston (get well soon!) can become a pleasing work as long as the fan is given hope that their support over the long-term will be rewarded. Kane is a great example of this today.

Kane was shot out of a cannon in 1997, but then he became the perpetual bridesmaid/punch line. Good, bad. Happy, angry. Changing week to week, it seemed. A couple years ago, frustrated by the ups and downs, fans crapped all over Kane. But today, he’s being more widely credited for a great body of work over the years, thanks to some consistency with Daniel Bryan over the past year. Again, wrestling fans will forgive.

CM Punk has to be careful, in my opinion. He has tremendous cache with his fans but they will move on from him to the next if they sense he is developing an attitude or getting sour on the business. Randy Orton fell into this trap a long time ago and has been swirling around ever since. Mick Foley never got sour on the business and made a long career out of being a comic foil when his days as a bump machine were past him.

RybackFans have totally given up on Ryback. What might have been a passable promo for a guy on the way up was Charles Barkley “turrible” last week. Stick a fork in him. He’s done. They’ve seen him lose too many times in a big spot and fans see no hope of a return on their investment at this point.

Punk and Ryback need to continue to exercise creative freedom, as their drawings have entered the next phase. Their first picture is done. Now it’s time to move onto the next. Some never realize that the first picture is finished and they keep moving the pencil around, refusing to acknowledge it’s time to walk away. Not retirement, just the next piece of paper.

Wrestling careers can be cat-like in their multiple lives. I am sure that El Generico couldn’t have accurately predicted how his masked career would come to an end and his new life would be on NXT without a mask. Curtis Axel was given a second/third/fourth life, as the failed experiment of “saddle good talent with crummy name” finally came to an end with predicable results. While Generico was probably hesitant and maybe a little scared to venture without the mask, I am sure that Curtis Axel felt like a Death Row clemency, just as the warden was about to push the injection.

If either would have shunned in fear or simply given up, neither would have known their full potential as artists. And the same goes for you, dear reader. What is your dream? Your goal? Your ambition? What’s holding you back?

Just start drawing.

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