The WWE are notorious for sticking with a formula that works. They captured lightning in a bottle with Hulk Hogan, and 30 years later, John Cena is paying homage to his all-American good guy persona. John Cena has his haters, just as Hulk Hogan probably had his haters, but it’s a formula that has a mass-market appeal and is a formula that makes money. Who can blame them for wanting to make money?
With this in mind, I’ve looked at a few members of the WWE roster and tried to pick out wrestlers who could feasibly slot right into their role. This article will be the first of a three-parter. Make sure you check back next Friday for the second part!
Randy Orton’s heir-apparents: Dean Ambrose/Corey Graves
Randy Orton’s character has undergone a huge amount of character transformation since his debut 11 years ago. He’s been the plucky underdog, the narcissistic heel, the next-big-thing, the paranoid schizophrenic and recently…the generic cookie-cutter babyface. For all the interesting things WWE did to his character, they seemed to have retconned all of them. He’s getting stale, no doubt about it. People have been clamouring for a heel turn, or a meaningful feud, and both of those things might be on the horizon with his current feud with Daniel Bryan. But for some people, it’s too little too late. People just aren’t as bothered about The Viper as they were.
When thinking about who Randy Orton is similar to, two names immediately popped into my mind. The first was Dean Ambrose, current United States Champion and member of The Shield. Ambrose’s CZW promos (when he was known as Jon Moxley) were nothing short of masterful. He can play a convincingly insane mastermind to perfection. His feud against William Regal in FCW echoed Randy Orton’s time as the Legend Killer. Ambrose possesses that elusive ‘it-factor’; much like Orton used to. If Orton wants to slow his schedule down or just leave for good, Ambrose would be a solid replacement.
The second was NXT star Corey Graves. Graves is similar to Orton in looks; he gets plenty of adoration from screaming teenage fangirls and he’s laden with tattoos. He could play the narcissistic heel or a snarky tweener and neither role could feel forced. Graves perhaps lacks the wrestling ability of Ambrose and Orton, but given the proper time to develop, he could be the next Legend Killer.
Sheamus’ heir-apparent: Luke Harper
There are a lot of Sheamus haters. Let me state that I am not one of them. I think Sheamus is a very solid competitor with a very unique look. His feud against Big Show over the World Heavyweight Championship in late 2012 often stole the show, at a time when the WHC was at arguably its lowest point in relevance. However, people will inevitably compare him to John Cena and say he’s just another Superman-esque face that rarely loses. Not only that, his character has recently become just plain unlikeable. If you watched all of his segments with Damien Sandow and muted the commentary and crowd reaction, you’d be forgiven for thinking Damien Sandow was the babyface and Sheamus was the bullying heel. Fans do like to cheer ‘the bad guy’, but Sheamus’ relentless douche-baggery gets a little grating.
One guy I think could replace Sheamus is member of the Wyatt Family and all-around creepy dude, Luke Harper. If you’re an indy geek (like me), you’ll know him as “Big Rig” Brodie Lee from CHIKARA. If you’re not aware of his indy work and haven’t seen him in NXT, think of Bam Bam Bigelow-level athleticism with Tazz-level toughness. If there’s one ‘big guy’ that completely shatters the conventions of ‘big guy’, it’s Luke Harper. For one, he has a gimmick that isn’t just centered around his size. Big Show’s gimmick is that he’s big. Big E Langston’s gimmick is that he’s big. Mark Henry’s gimmick is that he’s big and strong. Luke Harper’s gimmick is loyal follower of the maniacal, cult-leader Bray Wyatt. If WWE ever wish to go down a different route with their big guys, a singles push for Luke Harper would be the perfect way to do it.
I’m very very interested to see if you agree with my choices, so please sound off in the comments box, ramblers! Like every writer, I value my readers’ feedback so don’t hold back. Follow me on Twitter – @willdotcom.
I love multi-part columns, we need more of them on WR. There’s this column and ”I got till 5”.
Randy is in an awkward position. I don’t think he’s in that top 4 in WWE and he doesn’t need the title picture to be interesting. He’s just kind of there and WWE don’t know what to do with him. I think he needs to turn heel soon but Ryback is the ”top” heel at the moment. Orton still has the ”it factor”…he just needs to be put in an interesting program.
I like your choices but they have a long way to go before reaching a high status IMO.
I attended the live Smackdown tapings a few weeks ago and Randy’s crowd reactions blew away those of everyone else on the show (though Bryan was the loudest by the time the evening was over cause he won the match for his team). To me, Orton is still the #2-#3 guy in the company. I’d place Punk above him since he had the long title reign and has been in more top programs. Orton’s feud with Bryan is the best thing they’ve done with him in quite some time. Hopefully, it will give him back his edge.
Looking really forward to the Wyatt family. Because of this article, I will be paying close attention to Luke Harper. Nice work William!
I still don’t see how Sheamus is the bad guy and Sandow is the good guy.