By Zach Dominello, WrestlingObserver.com
Whatever happened to real superstars in WWE? I don't mean "Superstars." I mean real stars like Austin, The Rock, Hogan. Names that aren't recognised only in pro wrestling circles.
Every once in a while in the WWE, someone comes along who looks like they just might do it. Until the WWE pulls the rug out from under them because of solid reasons like "he doesn't have the right look" or " he's missing something."
Kevin Owens had one of the greatest main roster debuts in a long time when he laid out John Cena on Raw. He went on to defeat Cena at Elimination Chamber in his first main roster match, and one of the best WWE matches of the year. A star is born, or so it seemed. He would go on to lose the rematch at Money in the Bank. Ok, even-stevens booking and all that. It’s just one loss. A small loss of steam but nothing that can't be fixed. But wait, next he loses the NXT title in Japan to Finn Balor. That’s fine I guess. He’s on the main roster now, so he doesn’t really need that title anymore. But it doesn’t stop there, does it? Owens then loses another match to John Cena at Battleground. Goodbye, steam. The fire is out. It’s clear who we're supposed to view as the top guy and who’s just a guy - a guy that can put on a great match when called for, but still just a guy. Oh, do you still have some hope left? Let me crush that for you. Just in case it hadn’t been made crystal clear that Owens isn’t this break out superstar we thought (I thought/hoped) he was going to be when he defeated Cena at Elimination Chamber, on Raw his “just another guy” status was cemented as he ran out with the other “just another guys” to break up the brawl between two real, legitimate superstars.
Yes, he was still in the main event of Raw. He’s not “getting buried” or anything that drastic. He’s having great matches and has a nice, comfortable spot on the roster. He’s a Superstar now, but he’s not a superstar. He’s gone from defeating the biggest name in the company, to losing consecutive big time matches, to becoming just another mid-carder (upper mid-carder for now at least) in the sea of mid-carders in the Mid-card Era. Who needs superstars, anyway?
Then there’s Samoa Joe, who came into NXT like a house on fire, stepping up to and challenging then NXT champion, Kevin Owens. They had a match. He didn't win the title. He had another shot in a three-way match with Owens and Balor. Again, he was not successful. And with that, Samoa Joe is out of the NXT title picture. His first post title picture singles match on NXT was against Axel Tischer. Come again? Ok, it’s probably just a squash match to pass the time until his next big program. Oh, he’s feuding with Baron Corbin now. The “Lonely Wolf” himself. Hmm, that seems like a bit of a step down from a title program with Kevin Owens. By “bit of a step down” I mean a giant plunge into mid-cardery.
I see how it works now, WWE. First you give these guys exciting, big time feeling debuts. Make us believe they’re something (superstars) that they’re not. Or I should say not going to be allowed to be. Then you slot them nicely in with the other great hands/put over guys. Cesaro, Luke Harper, Rusev, you’ve got some company.
Honestly, it’s not the end of the world. Owens and Joe are playing their respective roles in the company just like everyone else. They’re getting paid and getting exposure. They’re in the “big leagues” now, and that’s neat. I think I’m just longing for the days when wrestling had superstars. Sometimes a guy like Kevin Owens comes along with all his talent and charisma and I think for a second that this guy is going to break out from the pack. That he’s not going to doggy paddle around in the pool of WWE Superstars, and instead is going to become a real life, old-fashioned star. Then I see him breaking up brawls between two real life, old-fashioned stars, and I remember that this is the WWE, and this is the Mid-card Era. No stars allowed.