“Oh, another WWE guy getting a big push in Impact Wrestling *eyeroll emoji*”
I’m paraphrasing slightly, and humor me if there’s a little exaggeration here, but there were a ton of responses like that when the artist is formerly known as Big Cass, now W.Morrissey, debuted back in Impact Wrestling back in April.
I see them and, as much of what I see on Twitter, I tend to ignore it because I’ve got a fairly short fuse and before too long I realize I’ve morphed into an angry man yelling into the void. I realize what I’m doing here is effectively the same thing, just arguing against the stan avatar types in a more bijou format. But, there’s a false narrative there that needs to be challenged and never let it be said that I didn’t take an opportunity to stand on a soapbox when presented with one.
Wrestling promotions are driven, at their core, by the need to make money, the same as every other business. They need a product that people care about enough to support financially on a regular basis, be that through ticket sales, merchandise purchases or PPV buys. In order to produce that compelling product, they need the right tools and in this instance, the talent on your roster are said tools.
Think about any other sport. If an experienced player enters free agency, they’re not immediately cast aside in favor of untested rookies and developmental prospects. Ok, they might fall down the list if they’re injury-prone, controversial or aging, but by and large, teams will look at them. They’ll look at them because they add name value and quality to the team immediately, and perhaps plug a key gap. Likewise, they’ll be able to share their experiences on and off the pitch/court/rink with the younger guys who’ll be coming through in the years to come. Every team needs a Jason Spezza.
With that in mind, if there’s a wrestler out there who has name value off the bat and has the potential to make a promotion money now, and play a part in developing and getting over the guys who’ll make you money tomorrow, why shouldn’t that promotion sign them? It’s the self-same thing.
Yet, for some fans, there is this weird notion, albeit applied inconsistently, that if you’ve been released by the WWE, other promotions shouldn’t look at pushing you. That they’d be wrong to push you and instead should only be giving opportunities to X and Y independent talent, or those they’ve ‘developed’ themselves.
For those people, here’s a little thought experiment. If you don’t want those people to be pushed (and by extension signed because if you’re not going to get any push at all you’re just expensive filler and that’s a waste of money), where do they go? Because if the other promotions shouldn’t look at them, presumably that means they’ve got independent bookings or retirement because there’s nowhere for them to go. You’d go to the WWE and either have to stay there until you call it a day or change career path when you get the boot because your one-shot has gone.
Another issue I take with the idea that these guys shouldn’t be looked at is the nature of the WWE itself. It’s the biggest company in the world with definitely the deepest, and probably most talented, roster of all-time. Let’s put it bluntly they hoard talent to an egregious degree and then, because their product sucks, only showcase the same 30 people every week. The other hundred plus people warm the bench. If some of those guys and girls fall off the bench now and again, why shouldn’t other promotions pick them up? Surely them showcasing their skills and abilities is better than them just disappearing into the ether?
It would ultimately be nice if every promotion or club or business could solely function by producing their own talent but that’s not how the world works. And I’m always going to be for people making money in a place where they’re getting enjoyment from what they do and are helping the company they’re working for.
As I noted though, this incredibly dense argument is made inconsistently. You don’t get it for a Miro, someone who was fairly universally deemed to have been underpushed or not utilized correctly. Yet when it happens for a W. Morrissey, people get up in arms because they ‘weren’t actually good’ and were ‘overpushed’ in WWE for X or Y reason, so they shouldn’t be pushed again now.
At the end of the day, I do get where some of the critiques come from. I really do. Part of it is natural skepticism carrying over from previous eras of Impact, where guys who were clearly past it dominated the main event scene and stopped fresh, diverse talent from breaking through. Yet there are also perfect counter-examples, like EC3. He was an NXT washout yet became one of Impact’s biggest stars of the last decade during a very troubled period.
Ultimately it’s a case of assessing what people want to see and not what they are seeing. The comments regarding Morrissey have, I must note, died down quite a lot since his first few weeks because people have seen that he’s killing it in every facet right now – the gimmick, the mic work and the in-ring.
On a personal level, I’ve loved his presentation so far. I think he’s been great, told a superb story and I’m interested to see where it goes. The same goes for Steve Cutler, who joined Impact under his new moniker of Steve Maclin last week. There’s untapped potential with both guys in big spots and that’s exactly why Impact is pushing them. They have the flexibility in the pandemic era to try new things. It might not work out but it’s worth giving it a shot and seeing what these guys can bring to the table.
As far as I’ve always viewed it, I think there’s pretty much a niche for everyone in the industry who is motivated, works hard and keeps their nose clean. Not everyone can be a top guy, but not everyone should be. You need all the cogs to come together to make the broader machine work. You can’t have a midcard with a lower card or an upper card. So, no, I won’t roll my eyes at ex-WWE guys showing up in Impact, or any other major promotion for that matter, and neither should you. Let their work do the talking, not their previous employers.