One World and One Didn't, Here's Why
One day at work, I sat and pondered what the blue hell made a push really work. The WWF is littered with the corpses of failed pushes. Here lies Billy Gunn as a singles wrestler. Over there is Test. He keeps twitching ::whacks him with a shovel:: There is Shawn Stasiak as Meat, and Beaver Cleavage. The mausoleum over the hill houses the various Albert variations.
The WWF has followed a standard formula for new hires. First off, they get a fresh start. Even the most experienced wrestler has to prove themselves. No matter how much hype precedes them (See Jericho, Chris and Taz/z), or how much of an intial impact they seem to have (Taz ending Angle's unbeaten streak), they all end up on the midcard for a while. Special cases get additional help. I will dissect two special cases and explain why one worked and one didn't. I have chosen Tajiri and Jeff Hardy.
Jeff Hardy came to the WWF as a teenage boy. Tajiri came after a great career in Japan and ECW. They may not seem similar on the surface but when you look closer...
They both have limited mic skills. They use a more specialized style of wrestling than brawling-Tajiri uses a martial arts influenced style and Jeff is a highflyer/spot machine. With these issues, the higher ups in the WWF chose to give them a little help.
First they were paired with someone with mic skills. The Hardyz used to be managed by Micheal Hayes. Tajiri was paired with William Regal. Next came the eye candy. Tajiri/Torrie Wilson, Hardyz/Terri Runnels, then Hardyz/Lita. Both Jeff and Tajiri won belts. Between the two, every belt except the Women's and Heavyweight. Yes, I know Jeff only had the IC for four days. So why is Tajiri wearing gold and Jeff being a jobber to the big guys? Here's my idea...
First, Tajiri uses ring psychology. A Tajiri match has a flow. On the other hand, a typical Jeff Hardy match is crap/highspot/crap/crap/highspot. Tajiri has a natural charisma on camera that overrides the language barrier. Jeff, on the other hand, does promos like he was just popped in the head by Jim Duggan right before the camera started rolling. Think back to a Tajiri/Regal promo. Now think back to a Jeff promo. Which one entertained you? Which one got you into the storyline? Which one made you wince?
And the choice of WHO they were paired with made all the difference. Tajiri was first with Regal. William might have an old school style and a very oddly shaped body, but he is one of the best on the mic. Then came Torrie, who provides eye candy and can work a promo. Jeff had Hayes-semi decent, Gangrel-let's forget that one, Terri-annoying at best and finally Lita. I do not have enough words to describe Lita's suckiness on the mic. As Essa Rio's silent partner, she became popular. When she was made a part of Team Extreme..she should have remained silent. Every time she said ANYTHING with that nasally monotone, she made my teeth curl. When you would rather listen to Stephanie, that's not a good thing.
How can things be fixed for Jeff? After all, he was the second coming of Shawn Michaels to believe some people. First, pair him with someone with presence. Someone he can learn mat wrestling, psychology and possibly mic skills from. Maybe one of the members of Canadian Violence, Chris Jericho or Chris Benoit. I would suggest a manager that does his speaking for him, but that gimmick is Brock Lesnar's apparently. Next, and I mean this well...Jeff, if you want a singles push, I suggest some pushups, a sandwich and some sun. Looking like the guy from Powder with neon ponytails does not a long WWF career make.
From the mailbag..."Twisty from Dublin" had a good idea about DeVon Dudley, Since they are working a preacher gimmick, why not have a gospel/Greek choir behind him, commenting on the action? Not necessarily a full choir, maybe two or three girls. "Now coming to the ring, Kurt Angle!" Choir "You suck". Taker goes into the tired "This is MY yard" shtick, the choir quietly sings "bring back the urn!" Endless possibilities for fun.
Until next week, remember it could be worse. Bastion Booger could make a comeback.
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