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Is WWE Going Back to Having Big Guys as Champs Again? by Mike Sanchez

Firstly let me begin by saying I hope everyone had a great Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate. I for one didn’t get my John Cena cologne form Santa, so I was definitely a good boy this past year.

The last Raw of 2016 didn’t give us as many surprises as Smackdown did, yet a common theme is developing on both shows: the big wrestlers are rising once more, at least more on Raw than Smackdown I’d say. I’ve written previous columns about how WWE was turning away from traditional ‘big men’ in favour of smaller guys holding titles. Now it appears the pendulum may be swinging in the other direction. While I don’t dislike the idea of big guys climbing to the top of the pyramid, I must admit it comes with some reservations.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Wrestling theory of relativity states that for someone to ascend the ladder, another must fall down it. If we look at Raw, both Strowman and Big Cass are making steady ascents up the ladder. Cass may not be the best on the mic (and let’s face it, Strowman isn’t either) but the writers want to push both. Strowman has gone down the traditional route of whooping any and all smaller than him, while Cass is being the good friend in protecting his buddy. Unfortunately their rises mean there has to be casualties: Enzo Amore and Sami Zayn.

The push of Cass into singles is too soon for me. Enzo and Cass haven’t had much say in the tag title picture, save for some brief dalliances with New Day, but it appears the writing is on the wall that soon there’ll be a split. The feud with Rusev hasn’t been great and it focuses on Enzo being the whipping boy of the whole storyline. If Rusev was part of a tag team, then it would make more sense long term. Sticking him with (don’t hinder) Jinder, doesn’t give credibility to feuding with a tag team.

Strowman on the other hand has had a steady rise in recent months. I’ve listened to him on podcasts and he comes across as a nice guy, really happy in wrestling and a hard worker. I was surprised when he was split from the Wyatts after the draft, but the long term plans were in place back then. He’s done well, and his squash matches are the right way of building a monster. The feud with Zayn is getting stale now, and even though the Roadblock match fell in Zayn’s favour, it wasn’t very decisive. It was reminiscent of a boxer tucking up to avoid getting hit and going the distance rather than for a win. I don’t think either man came out of that any better than when they went in. I’m a Zayn fan, but this feud is only going to go in favour of Strowman, so Sami will end up worse I fear.

Over on Smackdown, Baron Corbin had a title shot. Granted, the roster is thinner, so he’ll always have more opportunity than on Raw, but he is obviously held in high regard behind the scenes. Another big man, Corbin does have something that neither Cass nor Strowman have – a natural heel connection with the crowd. Whether that’s though his character or a general dislike of him from fans is open to debate. In contrast on Raw, Cass is the face while Strowman is a ‘tweener’ in my eyes. The worst reaction a wrestler can receive is no reaction at all. Over the past few weeks, I think Strowman is getting over and fans are warming to him. This could be a problem for WWE. He’s being built as a killer heel, yet the ‘WWE Universe’ doesn’t always play ball with management. Want to test it out? Have him face off against Reigns – which is definitely where I see the end game for him. See who gets cheered more in the build-up.

WWE can push whoever they want and book whoever they want to win titles. My prime concern is WWE doesn’t have a lot of bigger wrestlers. Imagine this scenario: Nia Jax wins the Women’s title on Raw. Look at the women’s roster – in fact look at the women’s roster on both shows. Can you see anyone realistically taking that title from her? Charlotte is the nearest size-wise, but that’s mainly in height. Jax would annihilate Alexa Bliss, squash Carmella and has already tossed Bayley around the ring like a rag doll. While it may look impressive to have a giant holding the title, that only works for so long and works only when the said giant has credible opposition. WWE had this with Lesnar as champ, but there were believable opponents for him. Couple that with gimmick matches, and then the playing field could be levelled.

I think WWE have learnt their lesson in avoiding part time champions, but the horizon looks to be populated by bigger stars holding gold. If there are grand plans in place that will benefit WWE and create better interest for the fans, then great. My concerns are that others are being thrown by the wayside without ever truly getting going in WWE (Enzo etc.). Couple that with the lack of credible challengers and you could end up with big men working hard to win gold, only to quickly go stale at the top of the mountain, alienating fans from them and the product. If you’re going to have big guys at the top, at least have some vulnerability as part of their makeup. Something that brings the ‘what if’ factor to any match they have. Something that will draw people in and hope to see something special. Dominant, long-reigning champions are good, but can become boring if they don’t have some close calls once in a while. Just look at the last few weeks of New Day’s run. Would they break the record? Could they hold on? When something is at stake, it brings intrigue and wonder. WWE need to keep the fans wondering.

What do you think? Is it too soon for Big Cass to go solo? If it is to happen, what of Enzo? Do you like Corbin? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading