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Iron Jung #8: From midcard to main event - all we need is a little patience



28 June 2008

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Howdy folks for another edition of the Iron Jung. In my last column I focused on Chris Jericho. Literally days after I highlighted my love for his will he/won’t he approach to being a heel, they pulled the trigger on his heel turn. In a way I was very frustrated, as I felt there was significant mileage to be given to drawing out Jericho’s dilemma. However it was clearly inevitable that he would turn heel sooner, rather than later. Because that’s the thing with the WWE. Patience, in the last few years, has never been one of their strong points.

A major Orton/Cena title grudge match didn’t happen at WrestleMania, but a month early and promptly died a death. It was a huge shame at the time because it had the potential to be a real hot feud on the most basic of premises. The champion Cena, was injured by Orton, vacated his title which Orton won. Thus not only does he want his title back (which he never lost) but he wants revenge. All that brushed over for 1 poor match in a matter of weeks, which more annoyingly didn’t really solve anything. A real shame.

Yet on the other side of the coin there are many sections of fans clambering for midcarders to be given a chance at headlining a PPV or beyond that, main eventing full-time when reality says they probably aren’t ready yet. This is what I’ll be looking at in this edition of the column. The nearly men of the WWE. The people, who some may consider to be the future, yet to some may just be this generation’s Davey Boy Smith. Close, but not quite. Here are the three amigos lost in the land of midcard limbo.

First up we have Mr. Money In The Bank, CM Punk.

His rise from his ECW debut to now has hardly been meteoric but he’s built a solid fanbase and has shown potential both in-ring and with the microphone. However he’s now at that midcard stage where it’s soon going to be make or break time. With the briefcase he won at WrestleMania, he has a ticket to the main event. The question is when will his number come up and more importantly will he be ready for it?

In many ways, I’ve been under whelmed by Punk. In ROH he was superb, involved in some wonderful angles (the series with Raven being my favourites) and some fantastic matches, with Samoa Joe in particular. Now nobody was expecting him to continue that level of quality in the WWE. What with the change of wrestling style, and him now being a small fish in a big pond, he would have to bide his time. Yet I’ll have to be honest, he’s never stood out much to me to deserve this chance. Unfortunately in this day and age, unless you’re John Cena, Shawn Michaels or Triple H, interview time for a major babyface is pretty limited. Punk has shown over the years that he has a lot of charisma and a lot of style. Yet in WWE he’s rarely shown that cocky superiority which was evident across his time in the Indies.

Don’t get me wrong, his potential as a face is limitless, but presently I see him as a more established Rocky Maivia. He needs a heel turn before that major face run. Let his character truly breathe. It’s a creative base, which Punk actually lives in reality. Legendary tag team wrestler Michael “I’m more black than you are” Hayes always maintained that the best heels are the ones who truly believe that what they are doing is right. It’s why I was getting into Jericho’s slow build. He’s not in the wrong, the people are. If Punk truly wants to stand out and WWE want to see if he does have the potential to be a major player in years to come, a heel turn has to be given a go. With the likes of Cena, HHH, Batista, HBK, Undertaker, The Hardys, Kane, Big Show etc all in front of him in the babyface queue, maybe a heel turn might give him that cocky spark which everyone saw back in ROH. Then he might be ready to be the star everyone thought he could be.

MVP

A lot of fans thought that 2008 might be the year for this man. However he’s gone from being the most valuable player to a substitute. Everyone thought (myself included) that he’d have his obvious feud with Matt Hardy, lose his US title, and then move up the card, maybe to feud with an Undertaker or Batista. Now the first thing did happen, and well he did feud with Batista if feuding now means repeatedly get battered, but now where is he? Well…he’s not really doing anything. He’s been lost in the shuffle and has gone from being a potential main eventer to struggling to get a match on Smackdown.

So where has it all gone wrong? Honestly I don’t know but in my opinion, Floyd Mayweather has helped and hindered him. You see MVP has the hip-hop music and connection; he has the style and character of a guy who is the stand out, the best. And then Mayweather came along. He is the best in boxing; he has the record to prove it. He had the hip-hop connection. But he also had a big entourage; he had more of a swagger. He was cockier, tougher and more bling than MVP ever could be. He was the real deal and not the fake imitation.

In comparison MVP just looked like the token black Power Ranger. He was the MC Hammer or Flavour Flav to Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco. He was yesterday’s news. Thus he needs to follow Pretty Boy’s example. Give him a bigger, more glittering entrance and music, give him an agent, an entourage, a new look that says I am the man of the future. We all know he can talk and we know he can work, but like Punk he needs to stand out. If he wants to be considered in the same bracket as an Edge or an Orton, he needs to be different, show that he’s an alternative to those guys. People hated Mayweather because he was good but he knew it and showed off his wealth and his success to a level, which was bordering on overkill. That is the blueprint for MVP to succeed at a main event level.

Matt Hardy

I still maintain he has one of the best intro songs out there. High octane, in your face. But lets not get distracted from the fact that Matt is one of those guys who I’ve thought a couple of times “finally he’s going to progress” but he never has. As Version 1 he was incredibly fresh with a brilliant entrance package and a great character. Yet it never went further than dominating the cruiserweight division (which is like saying you dominated a buffet at an anorexic’s birthday party). Then again, with his big Internet powered return against a cheating Edge and Lita, you thought that his angelic diablo gig might propel him into the main event, but just like before it wasn’t meant to be.

So where now for Matt? Who knows? Like before he needs to find something cutting edge, new and modern. His wrestling skills are excellent, and his microphone ability isn’t as bad as his hick accent would make you believe. He just needs a fresh approach, much like MVP. Not just that, but as US Champion he needs some fresh feuds and decent challengers. I see Matt like I see Booker T in 1998. With his TV title and selection of great challengers (Saturn, Eddie, Finlay, Martel, Benoit etc.) his approach, variety and appeal propelled him up the ladder. No offence to Chuck Palumbo, but bland muscle heads were crap in the 1980’s too, thus shockingly enough nothing has changed. Instead of bumbling about with useless nobodies, Matt was supposed to be moving up in the world. His feud with MVP was supposed to launch the both of them to greater heights yet somehow never managed to and unfortunately this brings me back to my initial point.

Patience.

When Matt returned at WrestleMania to push MVP off the ladder and cost him a probable title shot, I assumed their feud (which had stalled due to injury just as it got burning back in November 2007) would finally ignite. But no. Instead of drawing out the feud, looking back on what had happened last autumn, having MVP try and wriggle out of more matches and have Matt chase him for the title across the summer, the feud was re-started in a non-title match in April and finished at Backlash 2008. Done in a couple of weeks.

So while I say MVP, Matt Hardy and CM Punk all need a bit of time and tweaking before they get given a main event chance, they probably won’t get it. Jeff Hardy should be headlining soon but he probably won’t, even if he’s one of the most popular people in the company. In fact my guess would be that when they are all eventually ready, they’ll be stuck behind the likes of Triple H and Randy Orton having another feud and drawing buyrates even Bret Hart could call poor. The likelihood is that when their time has passed, the moment has gone, and people have lost the appetite they had for them (see Samoa Joe’s relationship with the TNA title) they’ll get a main event chance, and by then it will be too late.

You’d be surprised at just how important timing in wrestling really is. Nobody is saying MVP, Punk or Matt Hardy should be main-eventing tomorrow. But they should be doing something more by the end of the year. Their success will be made by one thing. Patience.

Iron Jung

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