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THE MOST UNDERRATED PERFORMER IN WWE, COULD AUSTIN RETURN TO THE RING AT DALLAS MANIA, AEW VS. WWE TV TAPING EXPERIENCE AND MORE

By Mike Johnson on 2021-11-26 10:00:00

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Who do you think is the most underrated WWE performer these days?

I think you can make an argument for most of the roster being underutilized and underrated, but the one talent that I always feel deserves so much more and is SO much better than he ever truly gets to show is Cedric Alexander.  The fact he went from the audience at the Cruiserweight Classic literally WILLING Triple H to sign him to not really being given much of note to do is staggeringly ridiculous.  This past week at the Monday Night Raw at the Barclays Center, they had a chance to do something with him, but instead had him immediately lose the 24/7 title and stand there with dozens of other talents reeling in the fact Dana Brooke won the title.  In another era, he'd either be part of a great tag team that was tasked with putting on great matches or he'd be one of a number of strong in-ring performers carrying the Intercontinental title and stealing the show every night, but instead, he's just floating aimlessly for reasons no one can explain.  Even worse, he's not alone.  But, I feel like Cedric is the most underrated, especially since history has shown what he can bring to the table.  There's great potential there and instead of trying to utilize him like a modern day Rick Steamboat or Ted DiBiase type, he's just there - and again, he's not alone in that regard.

Where is Elias?

He's one of many who are just there instead of being utilized as an asset.  Why?  Great question.

I know you recently attended WWE and AEW tapings in the Northeast.  I'm going to the AEW Newark return in January and having never been to AEW, what are the differences?

The major difference is downtime.  If you've attending WWE tapings, especially Raw, there's a lot of things happen and then you wait.  Talents come out for a big entrance and then stand in the darkened ring while commercial breaks on TV are covered by ring announcers pushing merchandise, video packages running or attempts to hype up the crowd by getting them to imitate John Cena while mugging for the cameras live in the building.  It's a TV taping in every sense of the word, not very different from TV tapings for talk shows, sitcoms, etc.  You are there and they want to keep you there but the primary focus is producing the content for the TV audience.  

With AEW, the feel of the tapings are more in line with attending a MMA show.  There are a ton of matches and they come at you in rapid succession, especially before Dynamite or Rampage goes live.  As soon as one is complete, talents for the next bout are set to go and head towards the ring, like clockwork.  There is a sense that you are getting more undercard matches for your time and dollar investment, similar to showing up early for a UFC PPV to watch the prelims. 

There is far less of a reliance on video packages and things of that nature vs. the actual talents in the ring.  When Dynamite is on the air, the commercial breaks are also far more likely to feature the action mantaining their momentum while with WWE, not that the talents stop but they aren't going to have Charlotte Flair hit a moonsault off the top when they are off live TV. 

The easiest way to break it down is this:  As I write this, AEW is far more like attending and experiencing a sporting event.  WWE is more like attending a TV show.

Nowadays, there are a ton of wrestling personalities with their own podcasts. Back in the day, were there any shows covering wrestling hosted by those personalities on terrestrial radio during a time when kayfabe was strong? I know the main guy doing one was John Arezzi.

There were probably others beyond Arezzi but unless you were in that geographic area, you may not have known about.  I suspect there are lots of shows like that out there.   There were also lots of local hosts who liked having wrestlers on, either because they were fans or they knew the audience would react.  Regis Philbin would often have Fred Blassie on his show in California and always credited Blassie for helping him find an audience.

While I believe the tapes are lost to time, the late Professor Elliot Maron had a radio show in NYC in the 1960s, but that obviously would have featured discussion that protecting the sanctity of kayfabe at the time.    As for Arezzi, his show was a regular thing in Long Island before moving to what was known at the time as WEVD Radio, which had a major footprint in the NYC area at the time.  After splitting with Arezzi, Vince Russo had a show in Long Island.  Jody McDonald would do a weekly segment on WFAN radio in the middle of the night many years ago that I recall listening to when I was in High School.  I am sure there are others I was not aware of as well.

I watched WrestleHouse, or at least tried to last night.  What was Impact thinking?

I think they thought it was a Thanksgiving special and they used a very small group of talents while saving all their major stories, titles, etc. for a week where the regular audience would return.  I also think they decided it would be prudent not to do the usual Turkey suit nonsense they've done in the past and instead leaned super into campy comedy.  If you were looking for Starrcade '83, this wasn't going to be for you.   As for the creative, it was what it was, a parody of a reality show and a holiday special all at once.  Say what you will, but they swung for the fences and good or bad, no one who watched that thing is ever going to forget it.

Do you see WWE trying to get Steve Austin to try and return for one last Wrestlemania next year?  What would you do?

I think if they thought they had a great idea, they'd at least pitch it to him.  I don't know that Austin really has the desire to go out and perform, but I could see him doing the guest referee or the host role for the show, so he can do the beer bash and stun a heel.    I also think, as I have said dozens of times, that WWE needs to get the current stars to mean more because this is the first generation of talents where being a star 20 years ago is presented as being more important than being a star today, which is so backwards. 

So, all that said, I don't want Austin to overpower someone else's star power, but if I can get him to do for someone else what Mike Tyson did for him, that's the path I'd try to travel.  Austin hasn't wrestled since Wrestlemania 19.  We are looking at Wrestlemania 38 coming up.    If he's going to wrestle, put him in a tag bout where he's the guy who gets the hot tag and does all the offense and signature spots while someone who could use the rub gets to team with him as they get to be the one who finishes the heels off and then have the beer bash with Austin, which ends with Austin getting on his little cart and driving off before saluting his partner, who gets left in the ring to hopefully be made a star.    I would even pick someone they want to make a star from NXT so it's someone completely fresh that creative hasn't ground down to being meaningless and decide NOW they want to get there in April 2022 and make that the project if it was me.  All that said, I don't see it happening.

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