Everyone’s favorite wrestler-Matt Hardy has been making waves, or trying to, in recent interviews. The former WWE mainstay has been vocal on his current WWE opinion and made a comment that the product needs to change. Hardy was at it again this week when he was a guest on Tha O Show where he spoke about the current WWE product such as John Cena, the “youth movement” and what he considers misuse of talent. A headline on Wrestleview as well as other websites had the following to say about Matt’s interview:
“Matt specifically mentioned people like Gail Kim being misused and Christian. He said that Vince McMahon may still be holding a grudge against Christian for his TNA run, but the fact that he hasn’t been crowned World Champion is an injustice. Matt referred to Christian as the best worker he’d ever been in the ring with.”
This week’s Notes column is not about the Matt Hardy interview and the comments he made in that interview. I honestly don’t care about what Matt Hardy has to say about anything. The reason I posted the above paragraph is because the idea of talent being misused strikes a chord with many wrestling fans. A lot of fans out there feel that wrestling companies, WWE in particular, abuse and misuse certain talents whom said fans feel should have a higher place on the roster. I will give you an example. For years Chris Benoit was the epitome of that feeling. People thought WCW wasted their chance on him and WWE didn’t do much better until they finally handed him the gold in 2004. Benoit was just one example. Today Christian is that talent whom fans feel is the most underutilized or misused because they have not given him a world championship.
These feelings are understandable. It’s hard to sit and watch a wrestling show where one or a few individuals are constantly turning in good matches but they never make it to the next level. No matter what they do, they just never get that main event opportunity. Matt Hardy himself was one of these talents so it would make sense that he feels this way. When you have fans supporting you it is inevitable that you one day believe them. For a long time I felt that way about the guys I watched. Growing up one of my favorite wresters was Owen Hart. I thought he was funny, charismatic and was great in the ring. Wrestlemania X was a great night for me since Owen got the biggest win of his career over his brother Bret. As time went on I saw several possibilities where Owen could be a champion but it never happened. The day after Owen died I read an emotional post by Bill Apter in which he talked how one day he hoped we would get to see a Wrestlemania main event between Owen and Benoit. I felt the same way at the time. Another guy I liked a lot was Dean Malenko. He was another guy who never became a world champion. He had a lot of great matches in the cruiserweight division and in tag teams. He had spurts where he would move up the card but never get near the top. As a fan of his it was frustrating. But as wrestling fans evolve they see the past differently. As much as I liked Owen Hart it was probably for the best he was never a world champion. Not because he wasn’t talented but because it just didn’t make sense. Malenko is another guy. WCW had tons of talent back then and putting a guy who wasn’t really a ratings draw was not the way to go. There are simply people that do not work in certain roles.
One way to look at it is if you compare wrestling to other shows on TV. Look at the cast of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The characters of Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler have been the main characters since the shows inception. For over a decade that has not changed. It has nothing to do with Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni holding the cast down or a writer having a fling with Hargitay or anything like that. It just serves the show better to have them at the front and center. Imagine if people who like Richard Belzer wanted John Munch and Ice-T’s Fin Tutuola to be made the main characters on the show. It just doesn’t work and makes no sense. You can do episodes here and there where they play a bigger role, but that is the extent. 24 was successful because of Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer character. If he had left and the show retuned this season with Chloe O’Brien at the helm it wouldn’t serve the same purpose that it did before. The whole show was about the how to confront terrorism and the sacrifices one person made to make sure others didn’t have to make those tough decisions. If you threw O’Brien or Kim Bauer into the main role just because fans like those characters, the show ceases to be about something.
Wrestling works in much the same way. You may think that it simply isn’t fair that certain wrestlers get a shot and some don’t. Some of us have had jobs in the past where we work for a company that we work ourselves to death to prove our devotion and ability only to see a promotion go to someone else or to be overlooked for a pay raise. Sometimes it is a matter of favorites, politics, or just bad decision making. But sometimes it’s just because we weren’t the right fit for the role. In a lot of ways wrestling is the same. You have cases where the boss plays favorites and gives big chances to their favorites (Jeff Jarrett and Vince Russo), or make just flat out bad decisions (WCW putting their title on David Arquette). Sometimes a wrestler just doesn’t fit in the role that we would like them to. Hurricane Helms attracted attention as did Shelton Benjamin, but can you imagine them as champions? It is no knock on their abilities, just that they were not meant to be main event players. One guy who I think is fantastic is Goldust. He has been around a long time and is a good wrestler, but he should not be world champion.
Getting back to Christian, you again have a guy who fans want to see as world champion but that does not mean he should be. Don’t get me wrong, I hope that one day he will be if only for a brief run, but I do not believe that the wrestling world is not suffering an injustice because he has not held a world championship in WWE yet. He just isn’t right for the role at this time, and not just him, but a lot of talented workers. It says nothing of their ability and everything about how the well-intended wishes of some are not for the best.