Cody Rhodes, Stu Bennett (aka Wade Barrett) and Ryback leaving the company on such bad terms highlights what’s been the worst-kept secret in WWE for some time: The mismanagement and poor booking of the Midcard Tier.
For those who don’t know, there are three tiers:
- Top/Upper Tier: Main Event Superstars including the WWE Champion, Women’s Champion and the Tag Team Champions.
- Mid-Tier: Anyone not in the top tier. This includes whoever holds the Intercontinental and US Championships. Often fed to the top tier.
- Undercard: Anyone not in the above tiers, usuaully fed to the Mid and Top tiers and not in the running for a title.
Anyone who falls into the Mid-Tier is highly likely to fall into obscurity. As one article I read noted, Sasha Banks hasn’t appeared since Wrestlemania 32. Eric Rowan and Braun Stroman haven’t been seen since Bray Wyatt got injured. Nothing has been done with Titus O’Neil since his return, either.
It’s especially bad when former title holders and veterans are constantly ignored and left to flounder: You can only shuffle so many into doing PR work. Superstars who were “New” 6-8years ago are vets now. Mark Henry, The Big Show and to a much lesser extent Triple H, Kane and The Undertaker are the only active superstars left from the Attitude Era. ‘Taker and Kane can wrestle whenever they want (they will always be Top Tier) and we all know Triple H runs NXT (WWE’s equivalent of TNA in short) so…yeah.
The question to be asked is how can WWE fix this. As was announced last night, there is a big fix in the works:
Brand Split. The roster and talent is big enough and deep enough for the brand split to happen. It should help alleviate the problem of too many in the mid-ier being so underutilized but it’s just one step.
Another solution is to give Superstars more creative control over their characters: It is widely known Bray Wyatt was given full creative control almost from the beginning. Of course, it helps he has both the mic skills and the ring skills to warrant almost complete control of what he can do. Brock Lesnar probably does but pays Paul Heyman to speak for him during his promos. Chris Jericho has alot of creative control and if it hasn’t been obvious by now, Dean Ambrose is the latest Superstar to join the Creative Control Club.
The women’s division was reset last year and we have seen an influx of new talent. In part is is to fill the whole created by the Bella Twins’ departure from in-ring action: Brie is working on getting pregnant and it looks like Nikki’s career is over due to her neck injury. The will be getting their own TV series on E! titled Totally Bellas, though. John Lauranitis (their mother’s new husband) and John Cena (Nikki’s boyfriend) and Bryan Danielson (aka Daniel Bryan; Brie’s Husband) are all booked to appear on the show.
It is obvious WWE is pushing its original programming on WWE Network to give underused talent more screen time. Giving a push like the one they gave Zack Ryder at Wrestlemania–who’s spent most of his career being fed to other Superstars–would go a long way in recognizing a superstar’s commitment to the company.
Speaking of, John Cena’s a company guy through and through. He can do whatever he wants prettymuch and has an ironclad contract that is untouchable. As I’ve mentioned a few times before, he took a few months off to film a reality TV show on FOX. It was pretty funny how WWE tried to Kayfabe explain his absence with a shoulder injury. The glaring problem is he actually DID suffer the same shoulder injury in 2014–if you look closely, they used the exact same footage from 2014 to explain why he’s been gone since November 2015. Of course, folks saw him on TV over the last few months. Whoops!
Anyway as prettymuch everyone has said, Kayfabe is dead and has been for some time. Why WWE insists on acting like it’s still 2004 we’ll never know.