WWE Killing New Talent- The Ascension
Recently, actually a month or so ago, the WWE did their WWE Reunion episode of RAW, their flagship Monday night show. RAW was the leader in the Monday Night Wars, which took place for several years against WCW’s Monday Night Nitro show. As most of you reading this know already, WWE won that “war” and when Ted Turner sold his shares of Turner Broadcasting (the parent company of WCW) to AOL Time Warner, that was the final nail in the coffin. WWE’s Vince McMahon purchased the remnants of WCW, which could not continue without a television deal (and apparently Ted was simply tired of the business). This has caused a problem for WWE in the following years, onto decades now, and that is in getting fresh “new” talent for their programming, talent that has a built in fan base already (Daniel Bryan was able to do this as he came from the indie scene). Why the history lesson? Because earlier this year, when the WWE Reunion show aired, WWE pulled heavily on the nostalgia strings, probably a little too hard.
The Ascension tag team are obviously going for the old school “way too much intro gear to actually wrestle in” category. This was popularized by the greats such as Demolition, The Road Warriors/Legion of Doom, Big Van Vader and many others which really took on the larger than life persona through additional gear worn to the ring. At the WWE Reunion show we saw the reuniting of some of the best tag teams in WWE/WCW history. We saw the Acolyte Protection Agency, NWO and part of DX (um yeah, two didn’t show up and one had an identity crisis as to which group he was a part of) show up. The Ascension interrupt the proceedings early on when it was only the NWO in the ring while the others all have their chance to hold the spotlight, one more time in incremental order.
Okay, the billing of the Ascension has been messed up from the beginning but to bury them like what happened at the WWE Reunion is just pitiful. If the Ascension had any build up after months of insulting past great tag teams, it was all gone in an instant at WWE Reunion. This is the problem with how WWE are building The Ascension up, they are doing it by talking. None of the great tag teams that they insulted in promos, nor received a beating from earlier this year, were known for their great mic skills (though many could deliver a great promo). Those teams were known for their in ring ability, their tactics in and out of the ring and how they handled failure. None made a name for themselves by bitching about how much better they are than anyone from the past. Basically, the great teams of the past put up or shut up, that is what made the great ones so great.
The Ascension came up through the WWE NXT program, the WWE’s WWE Network only televised “training program”. NXT is WWE’s push to capitalize on building home grown wrestling stars rather than relying completely on non WWE companies for new talent. NXT is where The Ascension debuted for WWE fans. This is also about as big a push as they were going to receive thanks to botched promo writing early in their careers on the main roster (which apparently has been short lived).
Early promos featured The Ascension mocking Hawk, of the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom, and his “What a rush” tagline, insulting Demolition and many other greats. This is not how you get a new tag team over with the fans. Neither is having them receive a beat down by almost 10 guys, 90% of which cannot physically compete in the ring at this stage of their careers.
How WWE should have handled The Ascension is similar to how they handled Demolition. Demolition were given a slow burn build up with a mix of Rumble/Survivor Series style events to build them up. WWE should have done something similar with The Ascension. Give them their wins over local talent, strong showings in group events like rumbles and Survivor Series style events then pit them against some of the big names of the current generation. Don’t have them come out and get the crap beat out of them by the “old school” guys.
While the trash talking of the older generation style Ascension was never going to get over, they could have gotten over had they actually, you know, beat some of those old school teams in the ring. Maybe this was an ego thing for some of the old school teams. Hall and Nash both came to WCW with rumored clauses in their contracts that gave them creative control over their characters, maybe WWE gave them something similar. They could also only be under “non-compete” contracts but then, well, they did sort of compete earlier this year when they participated in the beat down event.
WWE had a chance to build a decent tag team with The Ascension but they blew it once they made it to the mainstream roster. Good job. Now we get to enjoy another several years of John Cena dominating the singles competition and the tag team division being a joke, par for the course of the last 10 to 15 years of WWE. This time period coincidentally is about the same amount of time that they have had literally ZERO competition in the “sports entertainment” market on television. It is time for WWE to rethink their business practices.