Hi everyone! Hope you all enjoyed Christmas. Today, I’ll be looking at the most polarizing wrestlers/superstars of 2017. What do I mean by polarizing exactly?
“By the sheer force of one’s personality, an individual can unite or divide people. Someone who tends to divide people tends to be a polarizing figure.”
There’s many ways a talent can divide opinion, and sometimes it’s nothing they’ve done specifically. Class the next example as an honourable mention:
Bayley unintentionally divided opinion when she moved up from NXT and became the Raw Women’s Champion. As her character hadn’t been sufficiently sold to the mainstream audience, a good amount of people didn’t care to know what she’s about. And not only that .. but her ring performances dipped, and she sounded nervous in promos. Check out the videos of Bayley getting destroyed by the Toronto crowd, and from her peers on an episode of Raw Talk. Does she deserve it? Or is she a victim of poor creative/booking? Can she be redeemed? Will she ever be loved like she was by the NXT Universe?
5. Alberto El Patron (Del Rio)
For those who have seen Impact Wrestling anytime in the past year (yeah I know, they still have fans? etc.) you’ll have seen Alberto waltz in and get handed championship after championship. And I didn’t like it .. and I hope I’m not the only one. The most annoying thing about Impact is they like to reward former WWE talents way too quickly upon arrival. So with that said, let’s run through what Alberto has done since he debuted with Impact in March:
- In the beginning, he was a babyface demanding a title shot against Lashley. EC3 said he needed to earn it, but Lashley gave him a shot anyways. Alberto won the title later that night via controversial decision. Because of this, he decided to relinquish the title.
- Having not earned the first title shot, he was put in a match with EC3 to become number one contender. He won of course, so he “earned” a title shot against Lashley. He also beat Eli Drake to become number one contender for the GFW Global title (before the unification), and went on to defeat Magnus to take the title.
- He defended his number contender status for Lashley’s title against EC3 (Why? I do not know). And later, Patron defeated Lashley at Slammiversary to become the Unified Heavyweight Champion.
- Very shortly after becoming champ, LAX teased a heel turn by interfering on his behalf. Patron later stated he had nothing to do with them. This led to a short-lived feud which introduced his father (the brother of WWE Hall Of Famer Mil Mascaras) Dos Caras and brother El Hijo de Dos Caras. He was scheduled to defend his title against Low-Ki at Destination X, but was stripped and suspended due to the domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend Paige.
- Three months later, Alberto returned to the company and cut an awkward promo which was like an apology, but also sounded frustration over the suspension, and how the media had blown the incident out of proportion. It needed addressing, but it came across more like .. “I was suspended but I never did anything wrong, so don’t assume I’m a monster of a human being when you don’t know the facts .. and I was forced to come out and say this”. Either way, it didn’t come across very well.
- He soon turned heel by labeling management as “losers and backstabbers”, and since then he’s been involved in a feud with Johnny Impact. Over the past year, he’s grabbed microphones after several shows to slander WWE in promos.
It’s difficult to tell from crowd reaction .. because Impact’s crowd was absolutely terrible in the Impact zone, but I believe Alberto El Patron is overvalued. I found it unfair how he rode in and took all the opportunities just because he’s a former WWE Champion. It made no sense making him a face, as he’s never played a good one. He’s only super famous in Mexico, so it’s literally the only place he can get away with being a hero. And the “Si!” chant remains a cheap knock off of Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” chant.
Now that he’s playing heel again, he’s easier to digest .. but I don’t believe he’s more deserving than an EC3, or an Eli Drake. They’ve been around a while, put in the hard work, and they are fresh guys who can move the company forward; while Alberto is only around because he fell out with WWE. The relationship with Paige was a little controversial, and I think many fans were happy when they found it had run its course. It was a tough call between Patron and Bayley as #5, but I eventually decided Patron because he’s been driving me crazy all year. Was I right to include?
4. Enzo Amore
The guy annoys me for only one reason. It’s nothing to do with how he’s supposed to be in real-life (remember when dirtsheets spread fake news he had serious backstage heat?), or even how he defeated Neville for the Cruiserweight title. The thing which irks me more than any other, is the fact he’s a heel using catchphrases. It’s got to a point where he blabs away, and no one’s really listening to what he’s saying .. because they’re waiting for him to get to the catchphrases so they can play along.
And I don’t understand 205 Live, I don’t get why he was super hated by the 205 Live roster .. til a couple of weeks later when half of them magically came to his aid. He’s slowly dropped guys from the “Zo Train”, and it’s almost gone completely. If Drew Gulak and Daivari leave he will be left on his lonesome. It might not matter though .. as Nia Jax could end up as his new enforcer. WWE looking for a positive reaction with the chance of them kissing under the mistletoe completely boggled my mind; are we supposed to care about a possible relationship between two talents we are meant to hate?
And of course, other fans hate Enzo because he’s terrible in the ring. You have all these amazing athletes getting it done in the ring, then Enzo shows up and tells the world it doesn’t matter .. all you need is the gift of the gab. In a way, WWE played it perfectly by planting seeds that he wasn’t well-liked backstage (if this was true, he never would’ve gone to 205 Live and won the title multiple times), but since then I don’t think they’ve gone far enough in getting people to hate him. If they wanted too .. they could’ve had him tease fans with catchphrases. Imagine how annoyed fans would get if he kept mocking them for it?
I don’t know what to make of Enzo, and the fans don’t either. It’s confusing, which is why I found it necessary to include him. He gets reactions, which is more than what can be said about the 205 Live roster. He’s a catchphrase machine in a sea of talented athletes, so I like to think he brings something to the product, but he’s not doing enough to generate the disdain he’s capable of.
Fans should be collectively groaning when his music hits, and they should be sick of hearing him talk. But they’re still waiting for the cue to join in .. and til that stops, he’s never going to be the sleazy, worthless waste of space Big Cass told us about. He’s too entertaining for his own good, and I really wish he would abandon the pandering. Imagine this, what if he didn’t say the SAWFT catchphrase for over a year before turning face again? Imagine the anticipation if he picked up the microphone and said something like “Well .. I might give this catchphrase thing a go again”. It would be a great moment, but I think WWE is afraid he’d lose his appeal .. which is why I think he’s got no choice but to keep doing it.
3. Jason Jordan
WWE has done an exceptional job at getting people to be polarized by Jordan. Much like with Enzo, it feels like the creative team have purposely experimented with fishing for the mixed reaction. Having Jordan be introduced as Angle’s son was one of the strangest announcements all year, mainly because it’s so easy to find out via Wikipedia that they’re not related in the slightest. What makes it funny is it has fooled a small, gullible minority, which makes for some hilarious comment sections.
What hurts me the most is how he’s got such a huge push, while his former teammate Chad Gable gets nothing but crap. However, I’ve always appreciated the hard work Jordan has put in to his career, and he’s deserving of the titles he’s won. The constant “nepotism” (favoritism) between Angle & Jordan has added to the mixed reactions for such a talented young athlete.
While some talent get a mixed reaction through no fault of their own, I’m of the firm belief that WWE, Jordan, and Angle have put in extra effort to purposely make him a controversial figure. He’s going to be around a long time, and 2017 could be the year we talk about decades from now, when Jordan is being inducted in to the Hall of Fame. If he makes it that far of course, not everyone’s cut out for the long-term, but it looks likely he’s going to do many great things. Whether we like it or not, is something WWE is very keen on knowing.
2. Jinder Mahal
Everyone will remember 2017 as the year of The Maharaja. They will remember when a guy who jobbed out for years, became the number one contender and defeated Randy Orton for the WWE title. I had some amazing conversations after he won, there were so many in a state of shock. They couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it, but while I was looking for the positives, so many went for the negatives because they felt Jinder had not been built up enough to be worthy of winning the WWE title.
They claimed Jinder became champion for the growing Indian market, which WWE made clear they wanted to make a lot of money from. It made sense from a business standpoint, but from a creative view it left a sour taste in the mouths of many. The fact he cheated like hell with The Singh Brothers solidified the view that he didn’t have what it takes to do it on his own. Fans labeled his ring style boring, and his promos even more so. Billing him from India .. despite being born in Canada, was yet another point fans felt compelled to share.
Some of the biggest complaints were over his incredible physique, which gave fans the idea he was on steroids. The detailed explanations confirming his steroid use were everywhere, and while some good points were made .. you had to ask how he’d never failed a test? Apparently, the answer was that he used steroids before coming back to WWE. And to this day .. fans are still looking for proof of his steroid use.
On another note, I think the worst thing WWE had Jinder do was be racist toward Shinsuke Nakamura; it was low and it didn’t accomplish anything. I tried to find positives, I figured it might help Jinder’s heat, which would help Nakamura’s support, but the feud didn’t feel right and the fans didn’t buy it. Yet outside the negativity, I think he’s done a great job. He’s been the utmost professional in everything, and while I couldn’t believe he was champion at first .. he made me a believer eventually.
Why? He rarely makes mistakes, he sells well, and more importantly .. he doesn’t pander. He isn’t a heel with a cool catchphrase, he isn’t looking for anyone’s respect (even if his character demands it constantly), but what he’s done well is he makes fans hate the very mention of his name. The Maharaja might be a stereotypical “outsider” character, but at least he’s a villain everyone can hate. I don’t like his character .. but I like not liking it. I don’t hate him due to the colour of his skin, or where he’s billed from .. I hate him because he’s a dick who doesn’t want to entertain me. And WWE needs more of these.
1. Roman Reigns
Was there any doubt? The Big Dog beat The Undertaker in the main event of Wrestlemania, and it amplified the mixed crowd reaction. Even reuniting with The Shield only dampened the effect. While Reigns has taken over from Cena as the most controversial figure (I didn’t add Cena to the list because he wasn’t around enough), I think he’s put on some great performances against Braun Strowman, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and others.
I’m on the fence though, he still sucks at promos .. but the work he did with Strowman sticks in my mind. I think it’s cool how much people hate him, because it creates a dynamic where half of the audience cheer him while the other cheer for the “heel”. It made a star of Strowman, proving Reigns has the ability to make newer guys look a threat. Not only that, he elevates Rollins & Ambrose .. who were struggling on their own. I’m beginning to see his worth, I just wish his promos were more colourful (I know he has it in him), and his big moves weren’t so telegraphed. The Superman Punch still makes me grit my teeth.
Naturally, when WWE picks their golden star they’re going to get resistance. Reigns has never been universally liked, but he’s what the company needs. Despite the negativity, he sells out arenas when he’s on the card, and WWE wouldn’t push him if his merchandise didn’t sell quick. He’s bound to get the Universal title down the line, but I think some of his critics are happy he’s got the IC title for now, because they know he’s not getting the Universal title as long as he holds it.
I want to wrap this up by saying WWE has worked fans well over the past few years. In their minds, any reaction is a reaction all the same, and Reigns delivers every time. Did you notice how most of the chants in the latest Reigns vs. Joe encounter was “Let’s Go Roman! .. Roman Sucks!”? It’s John Cena all over again, and it made me feel sorry for Joe. When you have an audience who is so polarized on one star, the others suffer as they don’t get the support .. and that’s what WWE looks for. Joe vs. Reigns should be a 50/50 split, but I didn’t see that despite the huge possibility of Joe (going from their match history) winning the IC title on Christmas Day. It annoys me .. but Reigns is a mega star, and there’s nothing I, nor anyone else can do about it. Thanks for reading! As always. Enjoy Reigns forgetting his lines.