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Is WWE waiting too long on Independent stars?


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Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe. These are just a few of the top independent stars that WWE has picked up in recent years. However, it seems like WWE has been too little, too late with some of these stars as guys like Bryan and Zayn have been plagued with injuries in their WWE careers, keeping them from long-lasting success in the company.

 

Arguably, WWE picked up CM Punk from ROH in the prime of his career in 2005, but he seems to be the exception to the rule for the most part (having a WWE career spanning a little over seven years is pretty good in modern day WWE). However, when it comes to Daniel Bryan, WWE didn't sign this ROH legend until 2009 (not to mention the fact they fired him a year later before rehiring him) after Bryan was already a mainstay on the independent scene for nearly a decade. Flash forward to the present day and Bryan is on the shelf for the second time in a year due to injuries.

 

Now I realize that injuries happen in professional wrestling (and sports in general), but when it comes to guys like Daniel Bryan, being such a seasoned competitor upon arriving in WWE has seemingly worked against him. While Sami Zayn has only had one notable setback in his WWE career thus far, it still makes you wonder if WWE is too late with some of these guys.

 

That brings me to Samoa Joe. While guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan had quite the legendary career before they made it to WWE, Samoa Joe has arguably had the biggest pre-WWE career of any of the ROH alum that WWE has scooped up and, what makes it even more surreal, is that the majority of Samoa Joe's success came during his decade-long stint in TNA. But then you look at the facts; Joe is 36 years old and one has to wonder just how well he can perform at this stage of his career and how much he has left in the tank.

 

So the point of all this is simple - is WWE waiting too long to sign big independent wrestlers? Should WWE be more willing to take risks on younger guys who show promise on the independent scene over guys who are, arguably, past their prime?

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I guess there's an element of them needing to get the balance of having somebody with a bit of buzz already who can also make it in wwe. It's basically free marketing if they already have a fan base, even though it might cost them a bit more to sign them later on (so not free marketing, but for them it probably isn't far off). In terms of injuries you have to wonder how much signing Daniel Bryan a year or two earlier would have made, it can just be one bad landing that triggers it all, and that could happen on someone's first match in WWE, or their last.
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I think it boils down to three main things...

 

1) The fact as well that sometimes these guys also have it pretty good before they come to the WWE. Owens, Zayn, Bryan - they all had World Titles in multiple promotions, work in different countries, they where earning a tidy living and getting a massive say in their career both in and out of the ring where as if you come to the WWE you are then pretty much their property and have to conform to their rules. Don't you think part of Bryan (or his wife for that matter) wants to cut his hair and trim that damn beard? But he can't because it is part of his gimmick.

 

2) For some people that's a daunting task and one they put off until there is nothing left to tick off on the bucket list really. Could all of those guys and Joe do any more then they have on the indy scene? Could Joe for that matter? Not really. Same with Itami and Balor, they had done all they could realistically do in Japan - the WWE was all they had left to say they had tried everything in their career and have no regrets.

 

3) Also the third and main reason, I believe, for it all is that it is now HHH sourcing guys and he understands, finally in his old age when he doesn't have his own spot to look after, that different types of performer and people who already have an establish background can bring to a company. He's looked around and realised that Vince has only created one or two big stars in the last decade and none of them capable of pulling numbers the company did previously. He is a historian of the business and knows that the biggest stars either came from other areas with an existing persona and following (Hogan, Flair and Savage) or where given time to craft their own (Austin, Rock and Cena) and that is why he is so invested in NXT because it allows him to bring in indy guys and give them a spit and polish and see if they are worth the hype AND it allows him to take raw material and mould it - for instance look at Tyler Breeze now. That's part of the draw for the outside talent as well, knowing that HHH, a person who is probably going to run the in-ring side of the company one day whilst Steph runs the business, is taking a vested interest in you and wants to work with you.

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I read that the average age of most of the indie guys in nxt is 33 yrs old. that's not an age where its about long term plans.
At 33yrs old, barring injury, you could get another 10yrs out of them.

 

On a slight tangent, Randy Orton is only 35yrs old, so he could be around for another 10yrs too.

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Then again there's the argument of having more turnover keeping things fresh. At this stage I'd prefer not to have another John Cena who is around for 10 years (don't get me wrong hats off to the guy he's dedicated and good at what he does) but having a couple of amazing superstars for 3 years and then a new bunch come in and do he same thing to really keep the enjoyment up and stop everything going stale. HHH and The Rock were in their mid 20s when they were starting to do well in WWE and Steve Austin was in his early 30s. To me, age doesn't matter, if they can entertain and enjoy it then I'm happy and if that lasts for a year or 10 years, I just appreciate it while it lasts.
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The problem with Cena isn't really Cena, it's that WWE didn't trust anyone else enough to allow them to be "the man".

 

Getting guys younger gives them more time to earn their wwe spot, they have longer careers. Also, with more of them, the card wouldn't have massive gaping holes in it when people are out injured, and they could maybe take the time to heal properly.

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The problem with Cena isn't really Cena, it's that WWE didn't trust anyone else enough to allow them to be "the man".

 

Let's face it. John Cena is on borrowed time, as well. It's a story we've seen many times in WWE before. Cena is going to keep sucking it up and going out there and competing every week until his body gives out on him in one way or another. Cena's injury list is a mile long and, as much as WWE looks at Cena as their 'go-to guy', they need to start looking at some other options and, in my opinion, guys like Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns aren't at the level yet to be that guy.

 

With a few of the guys I talked about at the beginning of the post, I think that WWE are signing them and putting them on NXT to help out the younger stars while also having good matches. A guy like Samoa Joe fits this idea perfectly as WWE has both Joe and Rhyno under similar deals where they can work independent dates while also competing on NXT so it seems like that WWE may be offering Samoa Joe a way to pass on his knowledge to some of the future stars of the company while allowing Joe to cross WWE off of his 'bucket list' before he hangs it up.

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Getting guys younger gives them more time to earn their wwe spot, they have longer careers.

 

Do we think that there's sort of a pivotal point to this though? The great wrestlers from the indie scene have experience in lots of different countries and it takes time to build up that experience, if you get them too early they might miss those experiences.

 

With a few of the guys I talked about at the beginning of the post, I think that WWE are signing them and putting them on NXT to help out the younger stars while also having good matches.

 

I like this idea, and it would make sense, I suppose it puts those kinds of people in a good position to move onto becoming a trainer to keep an income once their in ring career has ended.

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It's what they did with Sara Del Rey as well, took her on as a trainer and now her knowledge is being seen in the great matches that Becky Lynch, Bailey, Charlotte and Sasha Banks are putting on that might, if translated onto the bigger brands and given a chance, give the WWE a credible Divas division.
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He works through injuries and rehabs them stupidly quick but he's had bicep and triceps tears, pectoral tears and a few other muscular injuries over the years.

 

I think both Cena and the WWE want him to take a back step in terms of being in the main event and have been hoping to do that since Cena v Rock II its just every time they try something happens like Bryan and his neck, Punk leaving, Reigns getting injured as well last Autumn and until now they haven't been able to do it.

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