For Queen & Country 70
I assure you, there is no reason to question my sanity nor desist from reading. I am, in fact, quite well, fine and rather dandy, and I’m about to do something I haven’t done with any regularity for at least the last two years: that is, grant WWE, Vince McMahon and his cavalcade of pen-wielding numpties a certain amount of credit.
The NXT angle has veered wildly from a pathetic exercise in dissemination (Michael Cole vs. Daniel Bryan) to a genuinely impressive and daring retread of the hostile takeover (NXT vs. The World). The show-closing angle, which comprised the genesis of the now re-christened “Nexus”, was an exciting piece of television. In the context of the current WWE, such praise is not to be taken for granted.
Naturally, WWE couldn’t just peddle entertainment without sullying the waters, as the capricious and preposterously childish dismissal of Daniel Bryan readily attests. The buzz generated by the actions of WWE in this issue will ultimately conclude with Bryan Danielson rejoining the McMahon Empire as a vengeful babyface. Whether or not that was the plan all along is open to much speculation and conjecture. In the time honoured traditions of the wrestling business, time will tell.
That sizable aberration aside, the booking of the Nexus (formerly the NXT 7) has been exemplary. Presented as a unified, wily and tenacious force that no one superstar can contain, WWE has got the group over quickly and in an impressive fashion. Unsurprisingly, as NXT is a WWE-branded creation from top to bottom, the writers have allowed the rookies to bash and thrash anyone it targets with an effectiveness that the 2001 WCW/ECW Alliance brigade could only have dreamed of. In fact, the early days of the Nexus formation has reminded many of the classic, riotous sneak attacks that were the calling card of the original New World Order. As comparisons go, that’s rather favourable.
The key issue for WWE now will be maintaining the present level of intrigue. The “anonymous GM” is another interesting twist that will doubtless be tied into the flow of the Nexus. Last week’s Raw concluded with Nexus underlining their credentials with a ferocious beating of Vince “retired on-screen performer” McMahon. Don’t get me wrong: I’m personally overjoyed Vinny Mac has elected to return to TV as the “Mr. McMahon” character. As an orator, Vince is peerless and as the architect of every WWE storyline, he is clearly the best qualified to explain – and further – the nuances of WWE television. That the Chairman of the Board was unable to avoid a kicking from the Nexus only accentuates the threat they now pose.
It is generally accepted that an established WWE star will ultimately be revealed as the overlord of Nexus. Though predictable, the inclusion of an established star will, if executed appropriately, enhance the overall standing of the Nexus alliance. Many faces have been linked with the position, and naturally your opinionated scribe has his own feelings on the matter. For starters, the suggestion that Chris Jericho was to be the figurehead filled me with disinterest. If he’s feeling so inclined, Jericho is a marvellous and generous performer with much to offer. Alas, he is box office poison and lacking in the necessary gravitas to effectively steer the Nexus at this juncture. Jericho would be better used as a babyface opposing the Nexus. In that way, he could be exceedingly useful.
Setting aside the Don Corleone speculation for a moment, it is clear WWE intends the Nexus to be yet another big-budget attempt to foist John Cena on anyone and everyone over the age of twelve. As I am mind-numbingly bored of repeating, Cena should be turned heel without delay. This won’t happen of course, but Cena as the leader of NXT would propel WWE into unchartered waters. His mechanical wrestling matches, toadying gimmick and years of saccharine overexposure preclude Cena from ever being accepted as a genuine hardcore favourite. As strong as the NXT angle has been thus far, it will not change the status quo. Cena will be the target of the Nexus, and that is the end of the matter.
It’s probably acceptable to interpret the shifting of the WWE title from Cena to (shudder) Sheamus as confirmation of the impending return of Triple H. Hunter is set on breaking Ric Flair’s official championship record and having his silly feud with his chief sycophant (sorry, protégé). Naturally, with Cena engaged with the Nexus, he won’t need the WWE title for a while; thus HHH is free to have his wicked way with the strap. Once it is safely back in his loving arms, it is my opinion that Triple H should be sent in the direction of the Nexus angle. After four years as a babyface, it is time for Hunter to return to his natural territory. Art could imitate life as Triple H is revealed to be the leader of the Nexus. Unlike Jericho, the maniacal and genuinely powerful Hunter exudes exactly the type of aura the Nexus requires, and fans of all persuasions would gladly boo Helmsley with a passion.
The aforementioned Raw GM mystery does not immediately require resolution, therefore the writers can continue the scenario until such time as they are ready to name the anonymous benefactor of the Nexus. In this writer’s opinion, that person should be Stephanie McMahon. I am aware the latter stages of her pregnancy disqualify her in the short term, but two or three months down the line there is no reason why art cannot once again imitate life, and Stephanie can rediscover her bad self and once again situate herself alongside her dastardly husband. It is a mouth-watering prospect, containing the essential ingredient: credibility. Every fan of WWE is aware of the power the McMahon/Levesque axis wields in WWE, and as such their being the fulcrum of the Nexus power play would make sense in the narrative. I get Goosebumps just contemplating the heat those two would generate as a united, powerful, leering and unstoppable force. It would be quite extraordinary.
The WWE is approaching a critical juncture. As it stands, the Nexus storyline has the potential to revitalise the WWE mid and upper-card brackets, and provide levels of entertainment not seen in WWE for several years. Returning HHH to the heel ranks as the “big bad” filters genuine emotion into a quality wrestling angle. Remember: Eric Bischoff used the genuine antipathy southern, hardcore WCW fans had towards Hulk Hogan as a springboard for both the creation of “Hollywood” Hogan and the New World Order. The result was two years of unparalleled prosperity that powered a five year wrestling boom. WWE must heed this lesson, whilst avoiding the failure of the collective whole that so ultimately blighted the NWO.
When booked correctly, the now clichéd promotional “all out war” scenario is still the best way to spark interest in a moribund promotion. It galvanises talent and fans alike, and creates a culture of uncertainty that manifests itself through must-see TV. Whatever happens from this point going forward, I applaud WWE for displaying the creative courage to (thus far) attempt something fresh and bold. Originality is overrated, and everything is a copy of something else. If WWE continues to take the courageous route and is prepared to forge ahead on this path, then WWE television might rediscover its long lost verve. For wrestling fans the world over, that can only be a good thing. Here’s hoping, boys and girls.
Daniel R. Browne.