Earlier this week, there was quite a bit of controversy after the Monday Night Raw concluded. Many fans and a few wrestlers commented on the fact that Shawn Michaels barely sold the RKO and punt to the head that was delivered by Randy Orton. One theory that floated around is Michaels did it to make Orton look bad since The Legend Killer has consistently run down the NXT roster, which is a roster that Shawn Michaels works with. This lead to a very interesting discussion with two friends of mine about how Randy Orton has never challenged himself. After this discussion, I began to explore my thoughts even more.
Throughout WWE’s history, they have had larger than life superstars such as The Rock, John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. I have nothing but respect for what they have been accomplished in the WWE system, but lets face facts. Their skills have never been tested or challenged because they never ventured out elsewhere. The Rock, Cena and Batista have all went on to superstardom in Hollywood. Brock Lesnar spent three years in the UFC, but you have to ask what might have been if they didn’t work strictly for WWE. Could you imagine if any of these men would have wrestled in Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling? How about if they would have wrestled in Mexico or the U.K. and honed their skills be learning those respective styles? They would still be superstars, but they would have learned skills that would have put them even more over the type.
WWE made stars like Cena, Reigns, Brock, and Orton have one thing in common. Their best matches have been against guys like AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. Guys like Styles and Bryan are world travelers. They have tested themselves, challenged themselves and have learned and adapted to different styles. One of the larger than life stars I did not mention is Hulk Hogan. When Hogan wrestled in Japan he was a different star entirely. His American style was not even close to what he showcased in Japan. If you look back on the territory days that led to WWE’s rise in the 80s, the matches were much different. It’s due to the fact that everyone traveled to different areas all the time and they wrestled different styles.
Some of the guys who had the best matches in WWF back in the late 80s and early 90s are stars like Bret Hart,and Curt Hennig. They had great matches with everyone for two reasons. They learned from their family and they had already been in different territories. This allowed them to adapt to different styles. I think that’s why Hennig and Hart always had great matches against each other. I can’t ever remember ever seeing a bad Bret Hart or Curt Hennig match when I was growing up. The guys who are having the best matches today are the ones coming in from the Independents, Ring of Honor, New Japan.
The old WWE system that was around in the early 2000s doesn’t work anymore. The old WWE style that they continue to use on Raw and Smackdown doesn’t work anymore. One shining example of being a world traveler is better than being WWE-made is Drew McIntyre. He was signed to WWE at a very early age and became more WWE-made then independently made. When he got fired, he became a world traveler and honed his skills. He came back to WWE and became NXT Champion, WWE Raw Tag Team Champion and WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He is a proven comeback and success story due to learning and adapting to different styles.
It’s ironic that Randy Orton sparked my thought process on WWE made stars versus non-WWE made stars, because Orton has said he would take on Will Ospreay. I mean no disrespect to Orton but he would have a very hard time keeping up with Ospreay. There two things that should change in WWE. Start putting more of the non-WWE made stars in the spotlight and let the stars loose to work their own specific styles. I believe this would make for a better wrestling product. Triple H is doing this in NXT, but as soon as a NXT star gets moved to Raw and Smackdown their style gets toned down to that old and outdated Vince McMahon Style. The fans no longer want to see that style. They want to see stars in the fullest potential.
As for Orton, he probably shouldn’t poke the bear. A lot of the current WWE roster are world travelers. Triple H, Shawn Michaels and other see their value and their talent. He wants to wrestle Ospreay, but then insults guys who have the same background that Ospreay does. My message to Orton and other WWE made star is if you think you can hang then put your money where your mouth is. Go down to NXT and work. Ask WWE to go on a three month tour with New Japan or the popular independents. I can almost guarantee you that you will come back better then you were before.