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TLW: The Forgotten Men



25 September 2003

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Well, hello. Welcome once more to The Live Wire, the column that’s too dumb to realise when it’s outstayed it’s welcome, and is actually sitting in front of your TV right now. Oh yes. And it’s a comfy chair, may I say...

Anyway, all of that aside, let’s get on with things. This week, I’ll be looking at the wrestlers I feel are underused in the current WWE. I have actually done this about 15 months ago, but times change, so it’s time to update it a little - I picked out 5 names last time - Christian, Val Venis, Hardcore Holy (!), Kanyon and D-Lo Brown - but this time, I’ll select three from each roster instead.

RAW :

Tommy Dreamer : Yes, my love of all things Dreamer is well known, but even at that - even a blind man can see that Dreamer’s talents are being wasted. Over the weekend, it does seem as if he’s being turned heel with a view to working with Steven Richards as a tag team, which is a nice step in the right direction, but perhaps a case of too little too late.

Dreamer was on somewhat of a roll when his ‘Jackass’ style character was being pushed on air and he was fighting the likes of the Undertaker - a little push in the right direction, and Dreamer could have been a credible challenger for the Intercontinental Title - a belt I still think may just be in his reach if he’s ever used correctly.

Dreamer is the ideal guy to be working with some of the younger talent on Raw, to help them develop their skills more and teaching them the fine art of connecting with a live and TV audience. If he was to work with or against the likes of Maven, Randy Orton, Nowinski, Rodney Mack or La Resistance then it would certainly help them. If he is to tag with Steven Richards, than an old school ECW style feud over the tag titles with The Dudleys and a Richards/Dreamer tag team could be quite a draw.

Either way, Dreamer is currently being wasted by popping up on Sunday Night Heat at random every couple of weeks - he’s certainly earned more of a shot at the big time than he’s currently getting, and with a WWE locker room so focused on people having ‘paid their dues’ you wonder why he’s not being given a decent run.

Lance Storm : Technically sound, without a doubt, he IS one of the best pure wrestlers on the WWE roster, let alone the Raw side of things. His lack of any presence on the microphone is a disadvantage, but one that can be turned round and used in his favour - one of the few things WCW managed to get right in it’s dying days was the Lance Storm push.

WCW showed that Storm can run with a major title, and he should be in the hunt for the Intercontinental Title at least, not bumbling about with Goldust trying to stop the crowd from chanting ‘boring’ whenever he appears. While this gimmick is giving him a little airtime, it’s not exactly doing a lot to make him into a credible competitor in the mid card.

For some reason, every win he picks up these days just feels like a shock, rather than the foregone conclusion that 90% of them should be to a man with his abilities/ Storm’s misuse since his arrival from WCW is one of the prime examples that the WWE either doesn’t know how to use talent that created a reputation elsewhere, or simply just doesn’t give a damn.

The Hurricane : Week after week, the audience on Raw pops like crazy for the Hurricane and his wacky super hero related antics, yet he remains moored in the mid-card, destined to forever float about the tag team division aimlessly... What an absolute waste of talent.

Not content with keeping him from using the Vertaebreaker, one of the coolest finishing moves EVER, and forcing him to change his name from Shane Helms to Gregory Helms, the WWE have abandoned him and just dropped him into tag team after tag team after tag team.

This is a guy that is amongst the most talented Cruiserweights in the world, and didn’t look out of place when trading promos with The Rock, yet he’s on Raw where He’s not deemed worthy of going after the Intercontinental Title.

Hurricane should either be aiming at the IC belt, and a feud with Christian, which strikes me as a really good move, or switched over to Smackdown where he can chase the Cruiserweight title.

The simple fact is that no matter what situation or non eventful feud that the WWE throw The Hurricane into, he remains over with the fans - surely that should be harnessed and used constructively to put some heat onto one of the Championship belts and not just thrown a way on a couple of jokes with Rosey or Goldust.

Smackdown :

Ultimo Dragon : Well, the less said about this the better. Not one of Vince’s smartest moves ever, it has to be said. In case you don’t know the story that’s doing the rounds, the ‘word’ from WWE management is that Ultimo has gone from having video packages devoted to him, and hype flying surrounding his debut, to working a Velocity tag match with Funaki, if he’s lucky.

And his crime? He doesn’t look realistic enough and he’s a bit small. Well, pardon me, but he hasn’t suddenly shrunk in the showers when he turned up at Titan Towers! Surely Vince would’ve known all about him and his style before he made the plunge of investing so much hype into him? Surely he would have done some research and checked out his size?

Either way, what we have is one of the most talented and innovative wrestlers ever to set foot inside a ring relegated to opening match status because he doesn’t gel with one man’s vision of what a wrestler should be. an Ultimo Dragon vs. Rey Mysterio match is something that would get almost every wrestling fan in the world drooling with anticipation, even the snobby puro marks that usually look down their noses at WWE... yet it’ll probably never happen,. unless Ultimo suddenly grows a few inches.

Only one word sums up this total and utter misuse of a true legend - stupidity.

Sean O’Haire : I suppose we should be thankful that he’s still employed, after his problems settling into the WWE, and then being saddled with Roddy Piper... yet the WWE seemed to be onto a potential gold mine when they started airing promos for the return of O’Haire from his Ohio Valley “training stint”.

The gimmick was fresh, the promos were intriguing and thought provoking, and O’Haire looked like a million bucks - he was on the way to greatness, or so you would have thought. Coupled with O’Haire’s undoubted talents in the ring, it should have been the beginning of something special... yet the plug was pulled sickeningly early to partner O’Haire with Piper.

That could also have been something good, with Piper’s excellent heel character building up O’Haire as a legit threat... yet it didn’t pan out that way either. Piper was fired for comments on a TV show, and O’Haire was kicked back down the pecking order and lost in the shuffle. Used correctly, and if he would be allowed to recreate and expand upon the “I’m Not Telling You Anything That You Don’t Already Know” gimmick, then O’Haire could easily be US Championship contender, and in the long run - the eventual foil for Brock Lesnar.

O’Haire still has time to do all this, but given the criminal misuse of him and his character so far, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

Spanky : In Spanky, the WWE has a breakout star in the making. He was trained by Shawn Michaels, and boy, does it show. Spanky is the closest thing to the second coming of HBK that I can see in the industry today. He already has a following amongst the crowd, they buy into his underdog character, and his ring work backs it up.

Used as a plot device to get Brock Lesnar over as an evil monster, he’s been off TV for a few weeks, but the set-up for that match, with him trading promos with Vince McMahon, showed that he would be able to hold his own with practically anybody. Hopefully, he won’t be lost in the Smackdown mid card shuffle when he makes his TV comeback from his “injuries”.

He did work a house show over the weekend, tagging up with recent signing Paul London - and by all accounts, they looked like a great combination... could this be the way to go? London and Spanky to take on Haas and Benjamin? My mouth is watering at the prospect of these matches already! Whatever happens, surely the WWE will realise that Spanky is capable of being a little bit more than the little guy who gets beat up a lot.

All of the 6 men I’ve looked at above are capable of putting on great matches, and keeping a paying crowd on the edge of their seats - yet for whatever reasons, they just seem to be kept from achieving all that they are capable of.

Rather than Vince organising talent raids from NWA and trying build new stars in the form of Tough Enough signings, maybe he should take a look at the roster he already has and examine how he could be using them better?

Until next time, have fun, go mad,

Tony Cottam

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