But that’s no longer the case.
The WWE made a storyline out of Daniel Bryan not having the proper look to be the WWE champion. The truth, however, is that smaller wrestlers such as Bryan and C.M. Punk are able to reach the top of WWE.
It’s not easy. Wrestlers with the classic body or looks certainly have an easier time getting noticed. But not having those assets no longer means the glass ceiling is unbreakable.
Mick Foley broke through that glass ceiling, but he was the exception. Thanks in part to Punk and Bryan, who have both been world champions, it appears the hurdles have been lowered for wrestlers with the preferred championship look.
Another wrestler without the classic looks or physique is United States champion Dean Ambrose. The key for Ambrose is that he’s so good in the ring.
Ambrose doesn’t have a signature move that gets a big pop from the crowd. His athleticism isn’t off the charts. He doesn’t have a catch phrase.
But Ambrose does all the little things right. His moves look realistic. He trash talks effectively in the ring. When Bryan and Kane were teamed up, Ambrose would taunt Bryan as the “weak link” in the ring. Despite the lack of a catch phrase, Ambrose is an excellent interview.
Ambrose is “old school” good. And these days in WWE, producing good matches can get you to the top, even if you don’t have the classic look WWE traditionally has required of its champions.
It’s true that Ambrose may not have had success breaking into WWE on his own. But the The Shield was the perfect vehicle through which Ambrose could rise toward the top. The recent teases of dissension within The Shield may be planting the seeds for Ambrose to eventually break away on his own.
Don’t be surprised if Ambrose eventually rises all the way to the top.
FOLEY IN HARRISBURG: Mick Foley’s traveling storytelling and comedy tour comes to the Harrisburg Comedy Zone this Thursday. General admission tickets are $20. You must be 21 or older to attend.
EAGLES GO TO THE MAT: The Philadelphia Eagles’ official Web site has an article by Bo Wulf that should be of interest to wrestling fans in the Delaware Valley. With the help of Vinny Curry, Dennis Kelly and DeMeco Ryans, Wulf makes comparisons between various Eagles and wrestlers. The concept is “if Eagles were wrestlers, whom would they be?” The graphic alone is worth the time you’ll spend reading this article.
By the way, this article is as close as any Eagle has been to a ring in the last 50 years.
BAD MEMORIES: Thursday’s edition of Impact Wrestling reminded me of WCW – and I don’t mean that in a good way.
There was too much time devoted to talking and angles, and not enough time devoted to wrestling. In the latter years of WCW, when the organization got a little too full of itself, it seemed as if every Nitro started with Hollywood Hogan and the NOW coming to the ring and talking for 15-20 minutes.
The strength of TNA is its wrestling. Its weakness is the execution of its storylines, which often have huge gaps and inconsistencies. I can’t fathom why TNA would revisit the WCW Nitro formula, as it did on Thursday.
If TNA persists with the Nitro formula, it is likely – if you’ll pardon the expression – to blow up in its face.
EX-PAC: TNA’s big surprise on Impact Wrestling was Pacman Jones. Jones and DeQuin Evans, even lesser known than Jones (for those who don’t know, they are football players), brawled with Christopher Daniels and Kazarian, chasing them from ringside.
Pacman Jones? Seriously? I had almost erased from my memory that Jones was a former co-holder of the TNA tag team championship until he reappeared this week.
The return of Jones is another resemblance to the decline of WCW. Does anyone else remember Dennis Rodman in main event matches in WCW?
RYBACK FALLS BACK: A year ago, Ryback was one of the hottest commodities in wrestling. Fans were chanting “Feed me more!” But Ryback may have hit his peak.
Ryback is a powerful wrestler. As I’ve pointed out in the past, he’s not a flash in the pan. He worked hard to reach WWE and move into the main event picture. But his limitations may have caught up to him.
As I wrote in last week’s Heel Turns, if you can’t have a good pay-per-view match with the talented C.M. Punk, that’s a bad omen. Much like The Miz, Mr. Kennedy (Ken Anderson in TNA) and MVP, a rapid improvement and rise toward the top will end in decline if the wrestler doesn’t continue to improve.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: One group clearly on the rise in WWE is the Wyatt Family. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan are beginning a program with Daniel Bryan and C.M. Punk. Expect to see this rivalry result in a Survivor Series match, although I’m not certain if it will be a tag team match or, with other partners involved, a traditional Survivor Series elimination match.
FINAL BATTLE: The main event for Ring of Honor’s “Final Battle ‘13” in Manhattan on Dec. 14 will feature Adam Cole defending his world championship against Michael Elgin and former champion Jay Briscoe.
CAGE OF DEATH: Ring of Honor’s “Final Battle” isn’t the only major wrestling card on Dec. 14. Combat Zone Wrestling will host “Cage of Death XV” on Dec. 14 at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. Alex Colon will battle Shane Strickland for the CZW Wired Championship. Danny Havoc, Devon Moore and Lucky 13 will step inside the Cage of Death with Matt Tremont, Drew Blood, Rory Mondo and Ron Mathis.
TRAVELING IN STYLES: A.J. Styles’ first defense of the TNA World Championship outside TNA came in Mexico. As I wrote last week, having Styles defend the TNA title in other promotions is an interesting way to add prestige to the TNA World Championship. In some ways, it’s like the territory days, with the NWA champion defending his title in numerous promotions, usually against the top name in each territory.
Given TNA’s track record, however, I’m hesitant to believe TNA can intertwine Styles’ title defense with the world championship tournament and have it make any sense.
REINVENTING KANE: I’m getting a kick out of the latest reinvention of Kane, this time as a corporate suck-up wearing a business suit. Kane certainly knows how to keep his image fresh.