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Why WWE Needed Part-Timers Like Goldberg & Brock Lesnar In 2016

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2016 was a year of big returns.

Shane McMahon shockingly reemerged after a several-year absence, battling The Undertaker inside (and outside) of Hell in a Cell. Goldberg returned to WWE after a 12-year absence, demolishing Brock Lesnar in what was essentially a squash match.

Earlier in the year, Lesnar himself destroyed Randy Orton, leaving him a bloody mess.

These were all big time WWE moments that many people won’t soon forget. But there’s an underlying theme to all those stories, and it’s becoming a bigger problem as the years go by -- they don’t get over anyone who is actually a full-time performer in WWE. 

Not to say that these wrestlers should never have made their return. All of the above scenarios were intriguing on paper, and for the most part they delivered when the time came. Business wise, it makes total sense. But when you continually undermine those who work hard to get where they are at on weekly WWE television, you’re creating scenarios where it’s probably smarter for full-timers to leave WWE so someday they can come back with a schedule and a push like Goldberg.

For all the talk about brass rings, it seems like the only ones who are allowed to grab them are the ones who have already made their names. That is exactly why the part-timers are far more over than the weekly wrestlers, because they have that aura that is completely nonexistent in today's WWE superstars.

You could argue that it’s all about the talent currently on the main roster. Realistically, there’s no one on the main roster right now that is at the level of a breakout superstar like The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin. And I would agree, to a point -- someone like Seth Rollins, who is a fantastic worker, pales in comparison to those two.

But also think about how Rollins has been pushed since coming back from injury. Let’s remember how he got to where he is now: booking and dialogue given to him made sure people booed him upon his return (despite getting big babyface reactions), and when they eventually did start booing him, WWE immediately turned him face. And not only did they make him a babyface, they made him a pretty lame one, with the storyline being he wanted to prove the Authority wrong, not because he stood against their doctrine of crowning undeserving champions, but because he wasn’t the one the Authority wanted anymore. Cool face move, dude.

Wrestling and the mainstream only click when there is a bankable superstar that is able to transcend the business itself. Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, even John Cena to an extent have done this. But that can’t happen these days, because everyone is taught from day one in NXT that WWE looks out for itself the most, not the wrestler.

Wrestlers are taught to be humble and thankful for their opportunities. If anyone complains about their spot, they’re punished and made to feel completely irrelevant. If anyone acts like a superstar backstage, they’re quickly taken down a peg.

All the elements that help a talent go to that next level are usually denied, and instead of a desired top superstar you get Roman Reigns, a guy Vince McMahon loves and will push to the moon no matter what, but by now to fans it’s obvious that despite his strengths -- he’s a Lex Luger and not a Bret Hart. And at least Lex Luger got some nice pops as a face.

When it comes to the big returns of 2016, and who gets the biggest reactions, you have to compare why they get over, besides the fact they aren’t on weekly WWE television. Goldberg became a star because he won a lot of matches and did little else, creating a mysterious, dominant aura that carried him to the top of WCW. Undertaker got over by not selling, losing rarely and again, having an aura no one else in the WWE had at the time. Same with Lesnar. That is the complete antithesis of today’s WWE booking, where wins and losses don’t matter and top stars are required to do comedy or recite painfully forced, stilted dialogue that feels unnatural. 

So it’s great we have superstars like Goldberg and Brock Lesnar on the roster, because they are a dying breed of superstar that we don’t get anymore -- those that are able to get themselves over without the weight of what WWE wants their performers to do.

Being on weekly TV for WWE is actually pretty detrimental, because booking is changed on the fly, and it’s usually a detriment to those who have to work with what they’re given. WWE really needs to completely change the way they book and handle talent. Someday the likes of Goldberg, Undertaker, and others won’t return for a payday. What will they be left with then?