This past Saturday on the Wrestling Wars Podcast (I’m sure you know what that is. If not, you should and you can find the show right here. It’s also posted weekly on the Wrestling Rumors’ Facebook page.), we got into a discussion about Rowan debuting as Daniel Bryan’s new follower at the Royal Rumble. Rowan has joined Bryan in his crusade to make the world a better place through means of something close to Eco-terrorism. This sounds a bit over the top, but it turns out that there’s a lot more to it than that, which is something rather interesting and inspiring.
I’ve talked about this before but it’s something that bears repeating this time around. One of the biggest problems with characters in wrestling today is developing them beyond one original idea. How many wrestlers, especially in WWE, can you think of that are given a single character and then go nowhere because the character stops developing? Consider a few of the following.
Dolph Ziggler: Showoff
Chris Masters: Strong
Jack Swagger: American
You remember Masters right? Here he is giving advice:
None of these guys have exactly gone anywhere because none of them are given anything to work with out there. Maybe if they were allowed to change things up a bit, it might have gone better. But no, instead the idea is to keep bringing the same people out there over and over again without changing anything and then blame them for not being able to get over. There are all kinds of ways to present the same style of a character, but WWE would rather stick with the same stuff and have it go nowhere.
It’s not like they haven’t done this before over the years. The best example is Kane, who bounced from the BRILLIANT gimmicks of Isaac Yankem to Fake Diesel to the thing that finally worked as Undertaker’s brother. The key to the whole thing is that WWE knew the talent was there and while it took time, they finally put the whole thing together and figured out what to do with Kane. It wasn’t “well he can’t get over by being an EVIL DENTIST so it’s on him and not us”. Instead, they actually took the time and put something together by working with the talent available to them. It worked for years and then stopped for a long time.
That’s where we get back to Rowan.
I know Rowan doesn’t have the widest range to his character, but he’s certainly changed a lot over the years. Here’s what he’s done since his debut on NXT back on December 12, 2012:
Follower of Bray Wyatt
Intellectual who played the guitar
Follower of Bray Wyatt
I believe “What is that?” is appropriate. Check out Rowan’s debut and see how different he used to be:
Two of those are the same and the Bludgeon Brothers isn’t the biggest departure from having him as part of the Wyatt Family, but there are multiple different characters in there, showing that not only does WWE know how to do something like this, but they’re willing to actually give it a shot. You might be surprised that they’re willing to do this with Rowan, who isn’t the biggest or most versatile star in the world, but it’s a great sign that they’re actually willing to do something like this.
While it might not seem like anything interesting because it’s just Rowan as the new monster enforcer for Bryan, it’s a good sign that the company might be a little more reasonable about repackaging people in the future. Instead of just reforming the Bludgeon Brothers (which wouldn’t have been the worst idea in the world either), we’re getting Rowan in a more unique role that lets him build up something a little bit different. Rowan is someone who might be able to do something more than just being the big bruiser with a cool beard and hopefully WWE might let him do something fresh going forward.
So what does this mean going forward? Well aside from a good change of pace for Rowan (who can always be a big bruiser for someone else later on if this doesn’t go well for him), it might mean that some others could be going somewhere fresh for a change. Instead of just doing the same character stuff over and over with nothing ever being different, maybe they can have something new. It could actually mean more than just having someone turn face or heel as their sole methods of changing anything. That could have helped a lot of careers over the last decade plus, but for some reason it wasn’t allowed back then.
You wouldn’t believe it’s the same guy. Check out Kane before he found his calling as a demonic, fire controlling, brother murdering, Pete Rose torturing…..I need to stop myself before this gets out of hand:
Now at the same time we have someone like Baron Corbin, who gets a new character and promptly ruins almost everything about Monday Night Raw. With that character not working, WWE moved him back down to the midcard where he belonged and changed the character back to something in the middle of the two, but at least they were willing to try something and see if it worked.
That’s what this whole thing comes down to: the WWE being willing to see if something works instead of just having one idea and hoping for the best out of the whole thing. It’s something that can work very well if they get it right, but what matters most is being willing to try a few times and see if it works.
Again back to the Kane example: WWE knew they had something and kept trying one thing after another. At the same time though, it took hard work to get him somewhere. If you can combine the two things into one, you can have a successful character with both sides coming out looking good. I’m not saying Rowan is going to be the next Kane, but at least he’s getting the chance.
Speaking of Rowan, it’s rather interesting that he’s getting this kind of a chance. He’s far from bad, but I’m not even sure if he’s the third most interesting person to have been in the Wyatt Family. I know he has a cool beard and a really intimidating look, but I’m curious as to why WWE is wiling to spend so much time setting him up with so many chances. He’s fine in the ring and doesn’t talk much, yet for some reason he keeps getting all kinds of fresh looks. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it is kind of puzzling, which tends to be the case a lot in wrestling.
Overall, I don’t think Rowan getting this push means much in the short term. In the long term though, it gives hope to a lot of people who might see themselves as one note characters. With a host of other, less restrictive wrestling companies popping up as alternatives, this could be a very strong positive as WWE moves forward. If there is more flexibility and more input from the wrestlers, things could get better for everyone, including the fans watching, which is always a good thing.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the the Complete 1997 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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