In wrestling and particularly in WWE, it has become harder and harder to stay fresh. It used to be a lot easier because there used to only be programming on the odd Saturday and only four PPVs a year. You couldn’t really keep track of things, as the internet wasn’t mainstream and not really an avenue to keep up with wrestling. How drastically things have changed.
Now, there is a wrestling show on TV almost every night of the week and we have a whole network at our disposal for $10 a month. There is such an over saturation of programming now that it’s harder than ever for a wrestler to keep the fans captivated. That’s why Brock Lesnar works so well as a special attraction. If he was on TV every week, only to come down to the ring, stand there menacingly silent, then deliver a few suplexes, his act would quickly grow stale. However, because we only see him for a brief period every few months, we look forward to his returns and go nuts when he does come out. The reason The Undertaker was able to remain a top attraction for so long was because of his ability to adapt to the time and tweak his character accordingly.
This upcoming list features wrestlers and other on-screen characters that were simply doing the same thing for far too long, and as a result, they grew stale. Doing the same thing and being around for too long can simply cause fans to want someone different being featured. Of course the list will also feature wrestlers who were quickly shunned by fans, resulting in some drastic changes that benefited the wrestler’s career.
15. Rocky Maivia
Rocky Maivia was a representation of what was wrong with the WWE in 1996. The WWE immediately pushed him as the quintessential good guy and it was clear they had big plans for him. The problem was, wrestling fans were sick of the tired old formula of good versus evil. They wanted a top guy with an edge. Chants of “Rocky Sucks!” and “Die, Rocky, Die!” eventually resulted in Maivia being turned heel, when he became The Rock. Now, that’s an act you can never get tired of.
14. Scott Steiner
To be clear, we’re only talking about Scott Steiner as far as his WWE tenure in 2002-04 goes. Go back and listen to the pop Steiner got when he made his return to WWE in late 2002. You thought from that reaction, he’d quickly become WWE Champion. However, when it came time to deliver in the ring for his title matches with Triple H, he bombed. The Freakzilla act couldn’t work when it was evident he didn’t have the goods in the ring. Stiener quickly faded to the midcard and was turned heel later in the year. He would be released in 2004.
13. Michael Cole
I don’t know about you, but when I listen to some of Michael Cole’s old commentary, I don’t mind it at all. Sure, he was never anywhere close to Jim Ross, but he was a solid no.2 announcer in WWE. He and Tazz shared good chemistry on Smackdown and his call of Mick Foley’s title win back in 1999 was one of the best in wrestling history. However, since taking over the lead announcing position on RAW, we’ve just heard far too much of Cole. His “vintage” and “oh my” phrases are tired and old, and he often saps the energy out of the matches he’s calling.
12. Diamond Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page was one of WCW’s most popular stars during the Monday Night War. He was eventually made world champion but by that point, fans in WCW had grown tired of DDP’s super positive act. The result was WCW turning him heel and trying him out as champ that way. Page would eventually turn back face but he was never quite able to regain the support he once had. Of course, it didn’t help that he was thrown into a world title program with David Arquette.
11. Alberto Del Rio
Hopefully WWE has learned from Alberto Del Rio’s previous tenure with the company and adjusts his character accordingly. Del Rio had a good dynamic with Ricardo Rodriguez as his personal announcer and strolling down to the ring in luxury cars, but he was eventually turned face. The WWE needed a Mexican star as it was clear Rey Mysterio’s days with them were numbered. However, Del Rio just never seemed to click as a face. Despite great ring work and decent mic skills, he just seemed to lack the “it” factor.
Let’s see if his current tenure will be more successful.
Sheamus was pushed far too fast in the company, as just months after his debut on the main roster, he defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship. Sheamus would bounce back and forth from the upper mid card to the main event scene from there and eventually turned face. He would win the 2012 Royal Rumble to get a world title shot, but fans grew to love his heel WrestleMania opponent, Daniel Bryan, far more than him. Sheamus struggled with injuries and lack of fan interest in his character. He returned as a heel this year, with a goofy look, but his character is still essentially the same.
9. Jerry Lawler
It’s hard to remember Lawler as one of the funniest wrestling announcers ever due to the subpar work we’ve seen from the King in recent years. Perhaps it’s a case of being in the same position for far too long or that he doesn’t work as a face announcer. Whatever the case his act on the headset is tired. While fans will always respect Lawler for what he’s done in the business and his great commentary work in the past, he’s just not clicking with fans as an announcer these days.
8. Roman Reigns
Remember when Roman Reigns was in The Shield and everybody was talking about how Reigns would be the biggest star and fans popped whenever he hit his Superman Punch or Spear? Well, once the trio split and Reigns was no longer sheltered in tag matches, his weaknesses in the ring and on the mic were exposed. While Reigns has shown some signs of potential, he hasn’t gotten over the way WWE’s brass would want. With many injuries and sabbaticals among the company’s top stars, Reigns has an even bigger chance to shine. He’ll have to find a way to add to his repertoire though.
Batista himself has stated that he feels he works far better as a heel. After emerging as a fan favorite while in Evolution he dethroned Triple H for RAW supremacy, beating him for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21. He would be moved to the Smackdown brand and would bear the torch for a few years, but his babyface act soon grew stale. He was turned heel in 2009, feuding with Rey Mysterio. He would then leave WWE in 2010 after feuding with Cena.
The WWE tried to dip back into Batista’s babyface role when he returned in 2014, but fans just weren’t having it. Shortly after winning the Royal Rumble, he was turned heel and his scheduled title win at WrestleMania XXX instead went to Daniel Bryan.
6. Big Show
Face. Heel. Face. Heel. Repeat. There you go, we have our next Big Show t-shirt. I’ll this one up to being WWE’s fault more so than Big Show. When you turn a guy that often, throw him in meaningless feuds and predictably have him lose in the matches that really count, how are the fans supposed to care about the guy after 15 years in the company? While Big Show’s ring work isn’t the best, it certainly isn’t terrible and maybe it’s just a case of the business having passed him by.
5. Randy Orton
The company keeps trying to find ways to make Randy Orton among their top stars and while he is, his stock still pales in comparison to John Cena and he has trouble staying hot with the crowd for extended periods of time. His babyface turns just haven’t really clicked with the crowd in recent years. Here’s another guy who perhaps has just been around for so long and done so much that it’s just a case of fans wanting new stars. Orton’s been with the WWE for 13 years and if top stars from the past had stayed in the company that long, perhaps they’d grow stale too.
Kane’s first unmasking was a great way for WWE to freshen up Kane’s character and open the door to new possibilities. When you do it several times though, the fans can quickly lose interest. The recent flip-flop of Kane from Corporate Kane to Demon Kane led to some mildly entertaining antics of Kane, but the fans never bought him as a no.1 contender to Seth Rollins. The crowd was dead for their match at Hell in a Cell because they didn’t care about the possibility of Kane winning, nor did they want to see it. He’s just been there too long.
3. Triple H
Triple H became the face of the RAW brand and he benefited from the departures of Stone Cold and The Rock to lead the way on RAW. Had Austin or Rock been around on a consistent basis in 2002 and 2003, it’s unlikely Triple H could have politicked his way into remaining world champion for 10 months and 11 of the 12 months from September 2002 to 2003.
Triple H would continue to be the top heel until 2006, but after a while the fans weren’t booing him because he was generating heat. They were just tired of him. The return of DX and his face turn bought him a few more years, but it’s clear now Triple H’s best place in WWE is behind the scenes with NXT.
2. John Cena
I’m not going to be one of those guys who says John Cena can’t wrestle. His body of work in 2015 clearly dictates the opposite. I will not bash the human being either, because we all know the good he does every day. I will say though, his on-screen character is old and tired. The difference between Cena and The Rock/Stone Cold is that you watch Cena’s character today and it’s the same it was five years ago. You watch The Rock in 1998 compared to The Rock in 2000 and there were several tweaks in the character. Ditto for Austin.
Hopefully before his career is over, Cena explored new avenues with his onscreen character.
1. Hulk Hogan
In retrospect, it’s a great thing Hogan’s babyface act grew so stale that fans started to turn on him. Otherwise, we would have never gotten the nWo. Similarly to Cena, Hogan had essentially been the same character for over a decade with nothing to keep the Hulkster fresh. By the mid 1990s, the perfect good guy act was dated. Hogan, ever so wise, ensured he would be the third man with the Outsiders. That run as a heel kept him on top for WCW so much longer. By the time Hogan reverted to the act in his WWE return in 2002, it was nostalgic, so fans loved it again. Man, that Hulkster is crafty.
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