Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who fills the void?

John Canton has put up a nice article regarding who are the more likely candidates to replace Edge as the top face on Smackdown. You can view the article here:

Here's my take on several candidates:

John Cena: First of all, Cena will be on RAW for a while, at least the foreseeable future. It's also unlikely he's turning heel, since he moves so much merchandise. Basically, Vince gave Cena the ball and Cena ran with it. Cena is a RAW lifer right now.

Randy Orton: I would love for Orton to move to Smackdown. Otherwise, he's basically RAW's #2 face. His feud with New Nexus has basically died off (I wish Punk and his cronies had more momentum in that feud). Orton is way over with the crowd, and I'd like for him to continue in his main event role. A very good choice here, perhaps the most ideal right now.

Triple H/Undertaker: Both men are winding their careers down and will not be on TV each week. Not going to happen -- or if it does, Vince is not a smart man. I feel the new face of Smackdown needs to be younger and able to run as the top guy for at least the next few years.

Christian: Probably the sentimental choice, since he and Edge are real-life best friends and it's been well-documented on WWE programming. Extreme Rules may very well be Christian's best chance to capture the World Heavyweight Championship, if really only due to Edge's retirement. But much like HHH, Taker, and even Chris Jericho (see right below), Christian is also past his mid-30s (turning 38 in November) and Vince has not been too high on him all this time. While wrestlers have obviously wrestled amazing matches well into their mid-40s (see Shawn Michaels and Undertaker as examples), the guys like HBK and Taker were main eventers for years before hitting age 40. So it makes me wonder: is it too late for Christian to get a legit chance as a main eventer in WWE? Hopefully not.

Chris Jericho: I read a report where Jericho may be back in WWE after his run on "Dancing with the Stars" is over. Obviously, with his excellent mic work and in-ring abilities, he can put anyone over (face or heel) and is a huge asset to the company. Another great choice for Smackdown, if available. The only problem I may have is how long Jericho has left on a wrestling career. He does take some time off -- which is not a bad thing -- but again, I would prefer a younger star to become the face of Smackdown, much like how the likes of Cena, Orton, and Miz are on RAW.

Kofi Kingston: First of all, he's already on Smackdown. Second, he has the great athleticism that fans love to "ooh" and "ahh" about. The problem comes with mic skills and any sense of attitude he can bring that will complete the package. Basically, Kofi is a good pick, but I think he just needs that fire he had when he briefly feuded with Randy Orton a year or so ago.

John Morrison: There's no denying Morrison's athleticism. I really like the Parkour moves he uses; they are interesting and make him stand out from the rest of the roster. Unfortunately, there are apparently one too many negative reports stemming from the locker room (usually involving him and Melina), and Vince is also rumored to not be very high on him right now. I would love for Morrison to also hit Starship Pain better, but that can be easily fixed. Morrison back to Smackdown would be great for a fresh start again.

Alberto Del Rio: Not going to be a main eventer as a face. He'll likely win the World Heavyweight Championship and hopefully have a good run as a heel champion. (Basically, I just threw his name on here because he is a rising star and somehow I do see him as a face in the future.)

The Miz: I like his work on RAW as the top heel. Miz has earned his spot and really done an awesome job (pun sorta intended). He's not going to Smackdown.

Rey Mysterio: His work is still great despite all the knee injuries. And of course, he really moves merchandise with the Mysterio masks and his ties with the Latino community/lucha style. Rey technically is still one of the top faces on Smackdown already, but his best matches are definitely behind him. It's time to push younger talent, and Rey is best suited for that #2 face role right now.

Sin Cara: WWE has really marketed Sin Cara to no end, announcing press conferences, showing impressive videos to hype the debut, and doing some fancy trampoline entrance into the ring. I really would have hoped WWE put Sin Cara on Smackdown just because Smackdown is more wrestling-oriented and that's obviously where his strengths lie. A major issue yet to be touched on (at least on TV) is Sin Cara's mic skills. I have no idea how much English (if any) Sin Cara knows, but to become a top face in WWE, mic skills are a must.

Daniel Bryan: I shook my head when I saw Daniel Bryan going from a feud with Miz and becoming United States champion to...a part of Apple? I know WWE is really dropping the ball by having Daniel Bryan "demoted" to lower midcard status and feuding with the Corre. One of the major knocks on Daniel is the mic work (promos he's cut after his Miz feud have been average to below average in my book). He could be a good choice to move to Smackdown, but for some reason, I'd rather see him as a heel if he's pushed. Then he can do the "I have till FIVE!" bit again.

Jack Swagger: Swagger deserves better than this. He's gone from World Heavyweight champion to Michael Cole's trainer. Then Cole decides to slap Swagger in the ring on RAW for losing to Jerry Lawler, further showing how far down the totem pole Swagger has dropped. I would love for Swagger to turn face here, but somehow I do think that this could just be the next installment of Cole getting the better of Lawler at Extreme Rules (basically Swagger will tease the face turn but help Cole win anyway and show it was all a ruse). So in a nutshell, Swagger could be a good choice for the top Smackdown face, but it is unlikely to happen.

Big Show/Kane: Both are in supporting roles now. Big Show and Kane are also up there in age, which, to me, works against them. Not going to be the top face on Smackdown.

R-Truth: Fine, I'll mention him because he has a title match at Extreme Rules. But his face gimmick is far more entertainment than anything else, and I find it hard to take his act seriously. Unless he turns heel, I cannot see him as anything more than a midcarder.

Nutshell Determinations:
(1) Moving Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, and/or John Morrison to Smackdown would be great choices.

(2) Chris Jericho is always an excellent choice, if he's available.

(3) I would love for WWE to finally push Christian all the way to the top, but that is Vince's call -- and if Vince doesn't pull the trigger on Christian this time, I can't see it ever happening.

(4) Kofi Kingston is also a great choice for top Smackdown star, but I want that extra attitude (like when he feuded with Orton) to come back if so.

(5) Rey Mysterio should stay on Smackdown as the #2 face, giving up-and-comers like Cody Rhodes a great feud to launch a nice singles career.

(6) I'll hold off any more opinions on Sin Cara until I see more in-ring work -- and perhaps his ability to speak. Sin Cara will not be the top Smackdown star right now, that's for sure.

(7) And no, HHH and Undertaker should not be considered for this role, given that their careers are winding down.

Smackdown's newest top face, in my opinion, must be young (or relatively young), charismatic/over with the crowd, and a great mic worker. Currently, Randy Orton is the closest to filling that, but I'd also like Christian, Kofi Kingston, Daniel Bryan, and/or John Morrison to get a shot. If any of the latter four names get at least a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship (and hopefully win it) at next year's WrestleMania, then WWE should be in very good hands. Edge's sudden retirement only confirms the need for WWE to build new stars when they can. As the old saying goes, anything can happen in the WWE.

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