Welcome to the WWheel

Nick Paglino

Daniel BryanDaniel Bryan is on the WWheel right now and is the opponent of John Cena at SummerSlam. On the WWheel in previous times has been Ryback, CM Punk, Chris Jericho, Edge, the late Umaga and many others.

Think of the WWheel as a giant Ferris wheel with multiple cars circling around. If you get a seat on the WWheel, you are doing well for yourself. Right now in the WWE, there are two WWheels because both John Cena and CM Punk have their own wheels. If it’s your turn on the WWheel, you are the opponent of the top guy (Cena/Punk) and once the program is done, you move along and someone on the wheel is next.

This is not a new concept. In fact, it’s as old as the wrestling industry, at least in terms of the WWF/E business model. Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, Steve Austin and the Rock have all had guys fed to them on the WWheel.

Because John Cena and CM Punk are both really over right now, each has their own WWheel. History shows it’s rare for them to have two WWheels turning simultaneously for a long period of time, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Punk’s WWheel is smaller but think of Paul Heyman seating wrestlers in the various cars as they go “round and round”. Eventually, Punk and Heyman will meet up but for now, Heyman is feeding guys at Punk. Being a “Paul Heyman guy” is a lucrative thing because you get main-event matches against CM Punk… easy work if you can get it.

At some point, the two wheels can meet at an intersection and the stars will collide. Hogan/Warrior, Rock/Austin and sooner or later, a renewed Punk/Cena matchup.

When Rock and Austin collided at WrestleMania X7, it led to an Austin turn and Rock heading off to do movies. Business went in the toilet because the business model changed. No more WWheel and business collapsed. They spent years trying to find replacements but are set now.

The WWheel is unique to the Stamford, CT office.

NWA business was built around a touring World Champion and regional territories that filled houses with regional champions and ready-made opponents for the World Champion. Men like Lou Thesz, Harley Race, Ric Flair and many others would come into a territory, almost lose their World title and left their challengers stronger than before.

I was in the WWE after WrestleMania X7 and I always thought that Triple H wanted to be that kind of World Champion but the WWE wasn’t built for that. When, in a creative meeting, Triple H vetoed both Kane and RVD because “he was better than them”, I wished for Sam Muchnick or Eddie Graham to come back from the dead and run the WWE like the NWA.

But does the WWE have a chance to make another WWheel with Daniel Bryan at the top? No, and not because of some lame “third wheel” pun… it’s because there aren’t enough opponents for three wheels. Another problem with the developmental woes that have plagued the WWE for a decade.

Daniel Bryan will make a great foe for Cena, who does a wonderful job of threading the needle and not giving into the easy temptation to go after the fans. That’s what has allowed Cena to stay on top for so long. Keep the in-house rat girlfriends away from the match and I’ll be fine.

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Kevin Kelly is the Voice of Ring of Honor and ROH heads to Toronto this Saturday for All Star Extravaganza V and the continuation of the World Championship tournament. Ring of Honor then returns to New York City on August 17th for Manhattan Mayhem V. For tickets and information, go to ROHWrestling.com.

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