WWE’s Youth Movement

WWE Needs a Main Event Equilibrium

The WWE has had nothing short of a horrible year for injuries and absentees to top stars. With the exception of John Cena and Kane, the list of big stars that have had a portion of the year off is incredibly long: Triple H, The Undertaker, Edge, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Shawn Michaels, Batista, Chris Jericho and CM Punk. It’s hardly surprising that the current youth movement is in full swing – they’ve not had a choice.

Bringing Cena and Kane back into the equation, you are left with a thorough list of WWE’s main event talent coming into the year sans Sheamus. What’s worrying about that list is that more than half of their top talent had exposure before the turn of the millennium. And in the case of HHH, ‘Taker, Jericho and HBK – they were all top talent during the 1998-2002 period. That is to say, in the last 8 or so years, the WWE has only created a handful of main event talent.

So it’s hardly a surprise that 2010 has seen their hierarchy of talent come crashing down around them. Michaels and Batista (both in their forties) called time on their career, Jericho went on hiatus once again, and the injury prone Triple H and Undertaker both suffered hefty layoffs. Edge and Mysterio have managed to get through most of the year unscathed, but every injury they suffer now is taking huge chunks off the end of their time in the industry.

What was left was panic. The gauntlet had been laid down in last year when Irish debutant Sheamus went from ECW rookie to WWE champion inside six months. Wade Barrett too, despite not yet being champion, has had two title shots inside his first year in the company. They had no choice because of what went on in the years prior, and injuries to a majority of its big stars in the last twelve months has been a big reason why the WWE is in a relative low point in terms of popularity.

It’s been a very formulaic year. Realizing that it’s 10x as hard to rush a main event babyface that it is a heel, creative has been forced to push all of their fast-tracked youngsters as vulnerable heels.  Sheamus, Barrett, Swagger, The Miz have all played identical roles in and around the title picture. This has meant that almost all of the remaining main event stars have been forced to play faces – Orton, Edge and Hunter all play naturally better heels than they do faces, but have been forced by injuries to be babyfaces. Only Chris Jericho and Batista (both who were heels in Wrestlemania’s main event matches) were consistently heels before they left.