I’m a big Jim Cornette fan. I know he’s not the most popular guy in the wrestling world anymore but there are so many years of history and experience inside that often angry head of his that it’s hard to ignore some of the things that he says. One of his favorite lines seems is rather appropriate at the moment for a few people and it’s something that deserves a bit of a closer look.
Cornette said (or at least quoted): “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?”.
Wrestling is a form :of entertainment where you have to care about the characters more than almost any other. If you don’t like the wrestlers on screen, you’re probably not going to care about the action in the ring, but more importantly you’re not going to be interested in the stories that are going on. There’s all kind of stuff that can be done to try and get the fans’ attention, but if you don’t care for the characters, nothing else that the company can do to fix the problem.
Therefore, it’s a big problem if the fans just get sick of a wrestler. That can be the case for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is having someone stick around too long. Above all others, that’s the strongest problem that WWE has these days when it comes to their television product. It’s not that the talent isn’t there, because it certainly is, but there comes a point where you just need a break.
More than anyone else, there are two people who this applies to more than any others: Baron Corbin and Nia Jax. These two have been around for a few years each now but the last few months alone have felt like twice that long. They’ve been all over the show in one way or another and the fans’ reactions to them haven’t exactly been strong. The problem is they started low and have fallen further and further every time they’re on screen. Aside from the problem on the surface, there are bigger issues to deal with here, each one of them worse than the others.
In case she hasn’t had enough #1 contenders matches yet:
Let’s look at Corbin first. I don’t think I’m going too far to say that his time running Monday Night Raw wasn’t well received. Corbin was all over the show in a role that he really wasn’t ready to take on. It was a very rough few months and Corbin became obsessed with the power, which he eventually lost in a huge match at Tables Ladder and Chairs. So what has happened since then?
He’s wrestled on every single Monday Night Raw since, including defeating Elias last week. Other than a quick attempt to get his job back, Corbin has pretty much been the same person he was before getting the power in the first place: a midcard heel who occasionally gets to be in a bigger match. Nothing has changed for him and he’s just there on Monday Night Raw, like nothing had ever happened.
See also Jax, who lost the big showdown with Ronda Rousey at Tables Ladders and Chairs for the Raw Women’s Championship. She at least had the courtesy to not wrestle on the next two Monday Night Raw’s before wrestling in the main event against Rousey the next week and facing Sasha Banks in a #1 contenders match, again to face Rousey, the following week. During her promo before the Banks match, Jax was her usual self and basically brushed off the loss like it was nothing. Keep in mind that this run against Rousey started when Jax knocked the heck out of Becky Lynch and put her on the shelf.
So what we have here are two villains who aren’t the most popular in the world in the first place, lose their big time matches and then….just plug on without anything happening. It’s like they had everything to gain and nothing to lose, which doesn’t exactly make me as a fan want to see what they’re doing. When Jax came out, I actually said out loud “oh good grief”. Corbin…well the words don’t even need to be said anymore.
Hey look. He’s in the main event again this week:
The more WWE trots out people like Jax and Corbin after they go through such a big loss, the lesser the reactions are going to be every single time. WWE can trot those same people out there all they want and the reactions are going to get weaker and weaker every single time, to the point where they begin to bring the show down just by being on the card. You can feel the energy go out of the arena when either of them shows up and that’s where things need to change.
That brings us back to the Cornette quote. How can fans get recharged on these talented people if they keep showing up? Instead of having them wrestle, or even appear, every single week, WWE would be well served to have them go away for a few weeks (if not months) so the fans can get the bad taste out of their mouths. We’re only a few weeks removed from Corbin running Monday Night Raw in that horrible story. Do you think a few weeks away might help things a little bit? Or to just not see Jax for a few weeks so she can feel like a fresh monster for a change?
Back in the day, you would send them to another territory where they would be able to find something fresh and then come back renewed. After a big loss, a face or a heel could go to another territory where the fans don’t know them and they can do something else for a little while. Come back six weeks later and see how the fans react to them when they haven’t been around in a long time.
So what do you do with them? Pick something. Send them to NXT for a month. Put them only on house shows. Have them host a wacky show on YouTube. Send them to Lichtenstein for a promotional tour for shows that might not even happen in the country. Or heck just pay them to sit at home for two months. Just come up with something.
It’s not like Corbin is that hard to replace. WWE has a crazy big roster and a full developmental program down in Florida. They can’t find another tall (or short) heel to take Corbin’s place for a few weeks? Am I really supposed to believe that Corbin is the be all and end all of heels who can’t possibly be replaced? Other than a cool finisher and the ability to wrestle in business casual, what in the world is there that can’t be done by someone else with really no trouble? Is it possible to find someone else with Corbin’s mostly average in-ring skills? They develop these people for a reason you know.
Remember when he did stuff like this:
The same thing is true of Jax. Yeah she’s a monster, but they really don’t have any other heels to throw out there? Ruby Riott and the Riott Squad have been around for months doing nothing and there are even more villains over on SmackDown Live and NXT. Nikki Cross is on her way up. How much more interesting would her insanity be against Rousey than a monster with the already answered question of “can Rousey armbar her”?
There’s talent in both Jax and Corbin. I don’t think that’s any real secret and if you don’t realize that, I’m not sure what to tell you. At the same time though, any wrestler needs to just take some time off. There might not be another territory to send them to at the moment, but there are other things they can do. Find something already, because this isn’t helping anyone.
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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