The FINAL lasting moment from WWE’s Super Showdown was in the main event. WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg challenged Universal champion “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt for the championship. Goldberg has made a career off matches composed of brief, yet effective high-intensity moments. Wyatt is a master of psychological warfare. Which style would win?
Goldberg’s style won. Four spears mixed in with breaking the Mandible Claw twice made for a match that was not fun to watch. In the end, Goldberg defeated Wyatt to capture the title. For those who love nostalgia, it was good to see. Most fans let out a loud, harmonious groan at the sight of Goldberg with the championship in hand. While Wyatt is the traditional bad guy, his character hit a new high in popularity before and during his reign as champion. This immediately resumed the never-ending talk of fans who say that WWE is holding down younger talent in favor of part-time veterans. Another conversation that had new life breathed into it was WWE bringing back older wrestlers because there was no Superstar on the current roster who stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Furthering the second conversation, why is it that no one Superstar is seen as the leader of this era (whatever it’s called)? I think the answer may be found in Orlando, FL.
Opening on July 11, 2013, the WWE Performance Center was created for several reasons. One of the reasons was for WWE to always be able to facilitate their respective brands with talent. The facility trains about 65-70 students at a time. WWE roster changes happen for a variety of reasons. Wrestlers can either be suspended or taken off of television for things such as run-ins with the law, violating social media practices, and/or violating the highly-disputed Wellness Policy.
WWE is also known to have roster cuts two time every year. Regardless of the reasons, there is always a fresh crop of hungry, young wrestlers waiting in the wings for the opportunity. WWE scouts wrestlers and other athletes from all over the globe. After they are accepted into the Performance Center, they are all trained in the same facility. They are trained by the same trainers. They are trained in the same environment.
They are all trained the same way. And for that reason alone, it has been hard for WWE to find the leader of the pack.
People wonder why organizations like Major League Wrestling and the revitalized National Wrestling Alliance are thriving. Sure, exposure on streaming platforms and social media help their causes plenty. However, neither of these organizations have the luxury of a performance center and that’s a good thing. The wrestlers they employ also come from different parts of the world. These competitors bring with them styles influenced by their original promotional radius. More importantly, they aren’t forced to adapt to a certain performance style. The wrestlers in these organizations are given the freedom to truly be individuals. WWE wrestlers are not. Cosmetic differences aside, it is not hard stylistically to tell one WWE wrestler from the other.
If everyone is the same, what can one of them do to truly stand out? They can’t.
I’m not saying the Performance Center is a bad thing. Not only does WWE have great in-house trainers like Matt Bloom and Robbie Brookside, but guest trainers spanning several wrestling generations impart wisdom on the young hopefuls. WWE’s product would probably interest more people if they offered opportunities to guys who didn’t need to be reprogrammed and put them in the ring. Former UFC champion Chuck Liddell is known for saying “styles make fights”. A clash of styles is always a good thing. John Cena may be WWE’s greatest developmental success story. But years before him, wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin and others defined eras by simply being themselves. If WWE gave wrestlers that freedom again, they search for the diamond in the rough wouldn’t be such a struggle.