Hello and welcome back to a two-part article which goes in to part-timers and how they affect the advancement of future superstars. Last time (link) we looked at The Undertaker, The Rock, Batista, Sting, and Goldberg. Today, we’ll be looking at five more; and they are not ranked or sorted in any particular order.
Having recently taken a step back from a full-time career, he continues to be part of the WWE family while working on several movies and projects. He’s also engaged to be married, so as a “free agent” Cena has the freedom to work Raw or Smackdown. He’s noticeably saddened by not being able to work a full schedule, but knows his time is up and the new generation need him to take a step back.
- For much of his career, Cena has undoubtedly dominated WWE. With part-timer status, WWE can bring him back to get newer faces over as he settles in to married life. For the anti-Cena fans, it’s a very well-received decision.
- As a free agent, choices are plentiful and WWE will enjoy being able to feature him on any PPV where they feel they need extra star power.
- He’s going the same way as The Rock, claiming he’d always be with WWE while simultaneously distancing himself. Granted he has done everything and doesn’t need to win anymore, but he’s still at a point of his career where he could win a major WWE title. This goes against building the next generation unless they have him lose spectacularly to a hot talent in need of a victory over one of the most accomplished of all time.
- At Survivor Series, having Cena on the Smackdown Live team showed the lack of star power the brand has. Not only did Bobby Roode & Shinsuke Nakamura get eliminated before him, but he took a spot which could’ve gone to Kevin Owens or Rusev. And who eliminated him? A noticeably injured Kurt Angle. How does that help the new generation? What was the point? I think the only good thing about his inclusion was seeing him team with Randy Orton to stop the mighty force of Braun Strowman.
There’s nothing wrong with Cena’s status and I’m all for it. However, he hasn’t done a lot to get new guys over. Since becoming a free agent Rusev lost in a flag match, and Baron Corbin lost to him at Summerslam. The only guys he’s put over is Shinsuke Nakamura (who became #1 contender and still lost to Mahal), and Roman Reigns .. who didn’t need it as he’s beaten The Undertaker and many others this year. So while he’s not around as much, when he is it’s not enough to build the future.
After his TNA Impact Wrestling farewell tour, it looked like he might not wrestle again. However, a return to WWE meant he’d end up working some matches to fill the gaps. He was very happy to be part of The Shield in Reigns’ absence, and later led Team Raw against Shane McMahon’s Team Smackdown at Survivor Series; where they came out victorious.
- He’s universally loved and respected. He paid his dues and fans enjoy seeing him. They were happy to see him team with The Shield, and even more so when they found he’d never lost his ability. The chemistry with Shane McMahon (as former rivals) made the feud between Raw & Smackdown more personal. Fans don’t seem to mind as he’s not winning titles and he doesn’t put himself in front of anyone.
- His age and injuries over the years make it easy to pick up more injuries. As the leader of Team Raw fans expected a lot from him, but it was clear he couldn’t work at full capacity so they didn’t put him at risk. As the GM, he could’ve easily subbed out for a full-timer and remained at ringside. He didn’t need to work Survivor Series, and I think WWE didn’t want to rob its fans .. although they technically robbed them of having a full-timer make a name for themselves.
I’m all for seeing him work matches. He wants to wrestle again, but I believe they need to be one-on-one encounters. There’s no benefit of him working injured, but subbing in for Reigns was a good idea. WWE shouldn’t push him too hard to compete, because the reason for leaving the company in the first place was due to being burned out .. and injured so badly he resorted to medication (which he got hooked on). I hope they don’t push him back to that place; we should only see him work if he’s fit and ready.
Since returning to WWE Shane O’Mac has been a fan favourite. Like his dad & sister, he’s not afraid to get involved with a very hands-on approach. He’s not the best ‘wrestler’, but his tenacity and daredevil stunts make up for his lack of skills in other areas. Smackdown is the “Land Of Opportunity”, but has he lived up to this promise? Or as his inclusion taken opportunities away from deserving talent? Is he a hypocrite?
- He’s capable of memorable stunts which no one dares to try. He makes Hell in a Cells memorable by doing what everyone wants .. throwing himself off it. Crazy yes, but it’s what fans tune in for. As he doesn’t need to work a full-time schedule, he can recover from injuries stemming from these stunts unlike a full-time talent.
- Much like other part-timers, his name carries weight and has been used to show a talent should be taken more seriously. His feud with AJ Styles helped more than it didn’t, and his treatment of Kevin Owens inadvertently saved Sami Zayn’s career as he turned against his “Land Of Opportunity.”
- He’s like the opposite of Stephanie & Vince, he’s somehow got the respect of the WWE universe. He’s a likeable guy who might lead WWE in to the future, so it makes sense to keep him around and show he’s not a pushover.
- How can a 47-year-old man who was never a real wrestler (I know he won a title in the Attitude Era) .. be a threat to any of the current roster? Can we believe for a second that he’d be able to beat AJ Styles or The Undertaker? Can we believe he’s the right guy to lead the Smackdown Live Survivor Series team two years in a row? Ever since his return, I’ve found it difficult to suspend my disbelief and see him as a credible threat to anyone.
- Who has he put over since coming back? Well first, he went up against The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell and performed a spot he’d use later against Kevin Owens in another Hell in a Cell. So I guess he put over The Undertaker and Sami Zayn’s heel turn? Hmm .. what else? Oh yes, he lost to AJ Styles in the opening match of Wrestlemania which was totally overlooked (AJ should’ve been challenging for the title). And as for Survivor Series? In 2016 he was ‘knocked out’ by a super spear by Reigns. In 2017, he was the last man on the Smackdown Live team! How does that happen with Roode, Nakamura, Orton and Cena on the same team? I don’t even know. He’s meant to be getting guys over .. yet his booking is very questionable.
I like him as a person, but I don’t like the way he’s been used. He doesn’t belong in main event slots, he should be helping mid-carders .. not working against The Undertaker. I liked him in the Attitude Era, but after it ended I got tired of the same old thing. He’s not a wrestler .. he’s a guy who skips around and makes the roster look weak every time he shuffles his feet. How can we take these talented ‘athletes’ seriously when Shane O’ rolls in, throws himself off a cell .. and takes all the credit? We should be remembering the talented athletes .. not how hard Shane smashed through an announce table. He’s been made in to way too much of a big deal.
He’s a guy of two-halves. On one side you have the leader of NXT going to bat for the next generation against Vince’s senile old ways, while on the other side he’s a golden shovel machine capable of making anyone look weak. I don’t understand how he manages to do both, but he’s able to make us collectively respect, and disrespect him for the way he’s used in WWE.
- As the leader of NXT he’s done so much to help by bringing in talents from other promotions. He’s never shy in getting these talents over by taking photos with them to show the world they’re a big deal. He likely becomes frustrated when NXT superstars get called up only to be misused and forgotten. His part-time status allows him to focus on NXT, and the fans love the product so much they often say it’s better than Raw or Smackdown.
- When he’s asked to put someone over .. he’s very good at it. Remember when Daniel Bryan beat him at Wrestlemania? Remember when Evolution lost to The Shield? Remember when he lost an unsanctioned match to Seth Rollins at last years Wrestlemania? He also won the WWE title so Roman Reigns could take it from him at the ‘mania before that, but some of the Reigns haters will see that as a negative.
- The booking of The Game can often be frustrating. As he’s married to Stephanie, for years fans have claimed his continued success has been down to nepotism. Despite his losses, he’s the only guy to have fought The Undertaker three times at Wrestlemania. He defeated Sting at Wrestlemania as well .. which was totally unnecessary. He went over the entire roster at Royal Rumble 2016 by becoming only the second man to win the WWE title in a Rumble. As champion, he beat Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler before losing the belt to Reigns. And as a survivor of the latest Survivor Series (despite being shoehorned in at the last-minute), it goes to show WWE still thinks he’s a credible main event star who’s above their full-timers. Braun Strowman drilling him with two powerslams was the only good thing to come out of it.
While his work away from the main roster is exemplary and revolutionary, his booking on the main roster leaves little to be desired. He needs to remain a threat, but it comes at the expense of full-timers. Much like Angle, the 48-year-old worked Survivor Series injured which limited what he could do. So instead of giving us a young Jason Jordan (or literally anyone else who wasn’t injured), the precedent was set that it doesn’t matter how old you are, and it doesn’t matter if you’re injured (or haven’t worked for months), you can still be the winner by eliminating both rosters GMs from the equation.
You can still end the night a winner. There was zero interest in him screwing Shane & Kurt, and Strowman’s face said it all. This is 2017? This is the best WWE has to offer? A bunch of stars from the 90’s going over while the hard working full-timers sit in the back wondering if they’ll ever reach their level? How can the NXT guys ever get over if WWE books Triple H, Kurt Angle, Shane O’Mac, and John Cena like this? Simply put .. they never will til the old guys have gone permanently. Even then, I could imagine a 60-year-old Cena getting a win here and there.
The epitome of the “Part-Timer” label is the one-and-only BEAST Brock Lesnar. I purposely left him til last as the negativity he receives is insurmountable. Having broken The Undertaker’s streak, and having beat Goldberg for the Universal title at this years Wrestlemania, Lesnar remains the undisputed champion of all WWE. He is the longest reigning Universal Champion, and defends it when he wants whether we like it or not.
- He always looks and plays the part. When he’s against a full-timer, Lesnar sells enough to make them look a threat. His part-time status keeps him special, it plays in to his UFC days when people had to wait months for the next fight. There’s always a big match feel, and the way he’s presented is worthy of being named the most dominant champion.
- He doesn’t wrestle like anyone else. Some will criticize the predictability of suplex city .. but as a fan who saw him back when he was a full-timer? He’s way more exciting now. In his first run he became skippable .. like, the only time you cared to watch him was against the likes of Angle as he pushed Lesnar to the limit. But against the Big Show? No, he wasn’t ready to carry matches. Nowadays he can go up against literally anyone, and fans will tune in because they know it’s going to be like nothing else. And while his matches are short, it only adds to his appeal. He’s an old school monster champion who is exceptionally hard to beat. Holding the title hostage gives fans more reason to cheer on the challenger as well.
- While he holds the Universal title, it gives talent something to aim for. It gives them motivation to prove they should be put in the ring with Lesnar; whether they win or lose. And then you have Paul Heyman, who is the undisputed king of promos .. and if the talent is worthy, he’ll heap a ton of praise on them before going back to saying his client will still conquer them regardless.
- As a major draw, WWE doesn’t want Lesnar to be injured. Therefore, they limit his schedule to make sure he’s not working til he becomes lethargic and injures himself (or others). His offense is very stiff, so for safety reasons it’s better to have him wrestle less so there’s little risk. At 40-years-old, WWE is milking him for everything he’s worth before he’s no longer able to play the part.
- It doesn’t do much for the Universal title to have it away from the product. It gives very little opportunities for the full-time roster to claim the title and get over. The opportunities are usually reserved for the likes of Roman Reigns (who always gets them) and other part-timers who might not be deserving. The future is hindered as long as Lesnar keeps taking the title back to his farm.
- Does he ever lose? Not really, it’s very rare. Since he beat The Undertaker’s streak a few years ago you can count the amount of losses on two hands: 1) Lost to Cena by DQ, 2) Rollins cashed in at Wrestlemania and lost the title without being pinned, 3) lost by submission to The Undertaker at Summerslam, 4) Didn’t win Rumble 2016, 5) Didn’t win (or take the pin) in the triple threat at Fast Lane, 6) quick loss to Goldberg at Summerslam (only pin-fall loss), and 7) Didn’t win Rumble 2017. So technically he’s only lost clean twice since, and it was against two part-timers. No full-timer has pinned him clean since .. John Cena at Extreme Rules 2012. Before that .. it was Goldberg in 2004.
- Lesnar’s contract may set a bad precedent for the future. Talents may decide to play hardball and know they can get away with it. Ultimately, it’s about becoming a big enough name for WWE to want them more than the talent wants to work for them. And Lesnar’s got the UFC bargaining chip of being able to jump when he likes, which means WWE has no choice but to give him what he wants or he’ll pack up and leave.
- He’s dangerous because he’s not around enough to work with the full-time roster. While WWE doesn’t want him to lose his appeal, the lack of matches against the current roster means they have to learn to work with him when it’s decided. Wrestlers usually work each other dozens of times before PPV, (sometimes on TV, but mostly at live events) .. but with Lesnar it doesn’t happen. With Lesnar it means the timing won’t be the same. With Lesnar, he or his opponent are prone to injury as they have not worked each other enough to know when to expect a big knee to the face .. or when he’s going to release you for a suplex. They likely need extra time to rehearse matches so injuries won’t happen, but this wouldn’t be necessary if Lesnar worked full-time.
There’s so many positives and negatives surrounding his part-time status. From a business standpoint it’s the best way to use Brock Lesnar. From a fans standpoint, they wish he didn’t have the Universal title as he doesn’t really need it. You can understand WWE wanting to milk the cash cow for all its worth, but why does it have to come at the expense of the young talent? Strowman going over Lesnar for the title would’ve gone down exceptionally well, yet one F5 took out a monster who’s been destroying Raw by himself. The match with AJ Styles was fantastic, but yet again it showed it doesn’t matter how much of yourself you put in to WWE, if you’re not a monster .. you’re not going to win.
I feel like fans need some patience. WWE’s been building Lesnar for a few years, and eventually he has to lose to an upcoming talent. It would give them the same momentum Lesnar garnered when he beat The Undertaker for The Streak. It’s still going to take a few years for WWE to cool off on him, but when it dies down .. there’s going to be a competitive shift where the younger names clamber over one another to take the vacant top spot.
It’s up to them to prove to officials they deserve it. It’s not up to Lesnar to move aside, he wants to be successful and make a lot of money in the process. If fans really want him to be dethroned, they need to start doing it with their reactions. They need to reach in to their pockets and show they’re willing to pay to see a Finn Balor .. or a Braun Strowman, and that they care so little for Lesnar they won’t bother buying that Suplex City shirt on special offer.
To close both pieces, there’s many good & bad ways of using part-timers. Those with incredible fan respect (Undertaker, Sting, Angle) are always welcome to work a match here and there, as long as they don’t start winning titles. Fans don’t mind if a guy like Goldberg has one last run, so long as they stop wrestling very quickly after their program. It’s acceptable for a legend to be brought in as a replacement for an ill/injured superstar. And fans like it when part-timers put over the current generation, as a passing of the torch makes the future healthy.
Fans don’t like it when part-timers claim championships and rarely defend them. They don’t like it when part-timers never lose to anyone. They don’t like it when part-timers challenge each other and take up time on the biggest shows when others worked all year to get on the card. They don’t like it when part-timers end Survivor Series at the expense of full-timers who needed the spotlight. They don’t like it when part-timers work injured when officials could’ve wrote them out and replaced them with someone who isn’t. They don’t like it when a Hall Of Famer gets injured, when really it’s WWE’s fault for booking them in the first place.
To answer the question .. I feel like part-time contracts are hurting the advancement of future superstars; but not all part-timers are harmful. A few are deserving, while others should either be staying at home, or show up more regularly. Lesnar should wrestle more. Triple H isn’t needed unless he’s going to lose. Shane O’Mac is never needed unless WWE wants a stunt (and he doesn’t need to work a match for that). Neither Sting, or Angle should be wrestling unless they’re healthy. Cena needs to take a step back or go all in as a glorified enhancement talent (put Rusev over for once!). I love him .. but The Undertaker needs to retire soon. The Rock & Batista need to stay away from the ring full stop.
What do you think of part-timers? Are they doing more harm than good? Should the likes of Joe & Strowman be losing to Lesnar? Was it right for Nakamura and Roode to be eliminated so easily at Survivor Series? Who is the most damaging part-timer? Will any of the current stars become bigger than those who came before? Should we blame Vince McMahon for having little faith? Will WWE change when he’s no longer at the helm? Will Stephanie, Shane, and Triple H usher in a new age which puts an end to major pushes of established entities? Only time will tell, and there’s so many questions to be answered. Thanks for joining me, and I hope to see you again as we enjoy the festive period. Bye!