The Piledriver Report 4.24.14: The Future Is Now
Posted by Ronny Sarnecky on 04.24.2014
After being treated to years of the “same old, same old,” the fans of the WWE are seeing a change in the company. Along with the usual wrestlers on top, the WWE is mixing an influx of young talent to the main event scene. This trend will only continue as the WWE’s Performance Center churns out more talent that are ready for the “show.” The Piledriver Report takes a look at the latest way of discovering new talent.
John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, Triple H, the Undertaker, The Rock, and Brock Lesnar. During the past decade, to decade and a half, these seven wrestlers were the foundation of the WWE. In the Attitude Era, the Undertaker, The Rock, and Triple H ran side by side with Steve Austin on the main event landscape. By 2002, Brock Lesnar was the next big thing. In 2004, John Cena, Randy Orton, and Batista were the new faces of the company. Fast forward ten years, and all seven men are still plying their trade in the WWE men main event scene. Some like Batista, Brock, and The Rock have had long lay-offs in between. Some like, Triple H, the Undertaker, as well as Brock Lesnar and The Rock wrestle a handful of matches each year. John Cena and Randy Orton have been the faces of the company during the past decade.
There have been others that have found their way in the main event scene over the last decade. Men like Edge, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk, Kurt Angle, and Chris Jericho have all spent time in the main events during this time. Lately it seemed that the glass ceiling in the WWE has been higher than ever. However, that has started to change. Over the last year, the WWE has started to look beyond the normal Randy Orton/John Cena option. Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Bray Wyatt have all burst onto the main event scene. On top of that, guys like Cesaro are ready to break through the glass ceiling as well. For the first time in a while, the WWE is stacked with young, hungry talent.
The future is indeed bright. What makes things even scarier is that even more re-enforcements are on their way in the form of NXT talent. That is probably the biggest difference between the WWE of 2006 and 2014. In a wrestling world without the territories or WCW and ECW for the WWE to find new talent, the WWE has found the answer.
In 2000, the WWE struck a deal with Ohio Valley Wrestling to serve as their developmental territory. Their relationship helped the WWE move on from the Attitude Era, as the territory helped to train men new to the business like Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Batista, John Cena, and Shelton Benjamin, not to mention guys like CM Punk, who began their WWE careers in OVW. This relationship ended in 2008 when the WWE decided to open their own developmental territory called Florida Championship Wrestling. FCW didn't seem to have the same sizzle as Ohio Valley in terms of handing the WWE stud talent when they first started. However, FCW eventually hit its stride and helped to develop WWE stars like AJ Lee, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, the Bellas, Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose. The WWE rebranded their Florida territory in 2012 as NXT.
By 2013, the WWE opened up the WWE Performance Center for their trainees. The center includes a voice-over room that performers and on-air announcers can use to practice. There is over 33,000 pounds of weights and equipment. The center features ultra-slow cameras and a special ring for high flying moves. There are even cameras that have a direct feed to the WWE offices, so that people in Stamford, CT can view training sessions.
The WWE's new Performance Center has put the WWE's developmental territory on the map. Already this year, the WWE has brought up Adam Rose, Alexander Rusev, Emma, Lana, Paige, and very shortly Bo Dallas. However, the company has plenty of talent down in Florida left in the cupboard. The NXT champion Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn will probably lead the next group of NXT talent up to the main roster. It won't stop there either. The WWE is constantly looking to bring in new talent into NXT. Within the next five years, every top talent in the WWE will probably have spent some time in the WWE's developmental territory.
It's pretty amazing when you think of how far the WWE's developmental system has come. I remember when the WWF went national and the territories started to die. Where would upcoming wrestlers hone their craft? However, thanks to places like Memphis, Smokey Mountain Wrestling, Ohio Valley Wrestling, and ECW, the wrestlers of the late nineties found places to move their green years into the prime earning years for the WWF and WCW.
When World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling closed their doors, the question was asked again. Where would the stars of tomorrow come from? Enter Ring of Honor and TNA Wrestling. They both helped fill the wrestling void left when the Monday Night Wars took two casualties of the wrestling business. For Ring of Honor, they have turned into one of the best developmental territories, even if they aren't a developmental territory. They have "graduated" stars like Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Claudio Castagnoli, Tyler Black, Abyss, AJ Styles, Austin Aries, Christopher Daniels, Colt Cabana, Low Ki, Paul London, and Samoa Joe.
While Ring of Honor is still running strong, the WWE is also doing their best to try to find up and coming talent. They are scouting the NCAA wrestling tournaments. They hold seminars trying to attract new talent. The WWE has given a select group of wrestlers try outs to join the company. They are even thinking outside of the box by gauging the interest of athletes in other sports to see if they are interested in joining the team. The WWE is in good hands for their future. The ironic thing is that the man who has been accused of holding people back is the same person who came up with the idea for the WWE Performance Center. In the next decade, there will be a group of main event workers who have only two things on their resume; training in a pro wrestling school, followed by a stint being developed in NXT before moving up to the main WWE roster.
Sure, it is a long way from the days of working a different territory every six months, followed by a stint or few in Japan and or Mexico. Gone are the days of two rival companies fighting neck and neck for wrestling supremacy, with wrestlers being as big a beneficiary as the fans. The future is now. The future is in an amazing performance center down in Florida. The future is NXT.