A Developing Dilemma

Kevin Kelly

a developing dilemmaHulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Undertaker, John Cena, Triple H and Brock Lesnar.

These six are some of the biggest names in pro wrestling and they are being utilized to sell this year’s WrestleMania.

One is dead, two are near crippled, one is semi-retired and the other two are part of the last, profitable crop from the past decade of WWE Talent Development.

Daniel Bryan and the Yes Movement vs Triple H, to me, is the big, emotional story this year but Hogan in Cena’s corner, the Andre Battle Royal, Taker vs Brock Lesnar are interesting to intriguing as well.

Why does the WWE rely on old names, it seems, every year to sell WrestleMania? Why can’t they spend 11 months to build up the Shield, the Wyatt’s, Cesaro, Sami Zayn, etc. to occupy the bulk of the top of the ‘Mania card?

Casual fans are wrestling’s equivalent of the low information voter in politics, with both wrestling companies and political consultants clamoring for the attention of this fickle demographic. In politics, both the “Right” and the “Left” will do things to rally the base but the gold, they believe, is in the low-information voter… the casual voter, whose “take it or leave it” attitude is where elections are won or lost. They’ll step over the gold of the base to chase the fool’s gold of the casual voter. Wrestling companies do this too, especially the WWE.

Mitt Romney didn’t lose the US Presidential election in 2012 because he didn’t get the low-information voter. Mitt Romney lost because four million registered Republicans stayed home instead of voting because he was a turd in the punchbowl. As exciting as rice and the same-old-same-old, cookie cutter old fart who’s playing politician, Romney was the safe choice of the Republican establishment, who was caught up in trying to get the fool’s gold of the low-information voter but forgot to excite the base.

Political consultants study polls. The WWE was doing their own internal polling and this year’s ‘Mania was emotionally devoid of connection to the base, their core audience. That’s why they pulled the switcheroo on Daniel Bryan in the title mix. That’s a little red meat to the base but the casual fan looks at Daniel Bryan as a little troll, a weird homeless looking dude that fans seem to like. I have friends that are casual fans and that’s what they say to me. They talk, I listen. But I don’t book to please them.

After a little crumb thrown out to the base, the WWE goes back to the casual fan, the fool’s gold of every WrestleMania since Austin hugged it out with Vince 13 years ago. Dream matchups dried up over time with the premeditated murder of the WCW Invasion and the life blood of every sports franchise, talent development failed miserably to create new stars because of mismanagement, poor scouting and poor talent selections.

With no one new coming from the outside and barely a trickle of talent coming in from developmental, what is the WWE to do? Play to the casual fan with throwbacks like Rock for two years, Undertaker year after year, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, etc. This year, they found a way to get Hogan, Andre and Warrior all in the WrestleMania conversation with Hogan in Cena’s corner, the Andre Battle Royal and Warrior being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

It all goes back to talent development for me. How many times have we read about my pal Gerry Brisco scouting NCAA wrestlers? Where are they all in the developmental system? On the main roster? Heading to WrestleMania? I’m not knocking Gerry, not at all, but the only one that made the squad was Jack Swagger and they cut the legs out from under him as soon as they could.

And now they want to have ex-football players become the next WWE superstars? Good luck with that.

Sure, there are only so many top spots but they why did Triple H drag Batista back in? Because there was no confidence in anyone in developmental or ready to be elevated from within the roster.

CM Punk’s departure is good news for the next generation of stars. If Rey Mysterio retires? Great for the young talent. How many more can go from the main roster? You want to make money for the company? Cut the bottom line. Promote the kids!

Quit spending money on part timers and realize you can with youth. Let the disgruntled midcard go and become indy stars.

Believe in what you built, Triple H.

Remember, if the Republicans would have shunned the safe thing and listened to the people, they might be in control of the White House. Four million Republicans stayed home, sick of the status quo. Feel the pulse of the nation right now. Everyone wants something new.

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