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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

The Damien Sandow Dilemma
Posted by Andrew Shillinglaw on 05.03.2014

Thursday night on Superstars, Damien Sandow took on Sin Cara. On the surface, this was nothing more than an average B show filler match up. It was solid enough. The two are more than competent wrestlers and you didn't have stupid Sin Cara lighting to deal with. There was a neat powerbomb and Sandow ended up coming out on top. On the surface, none of that is a big deal. It was just a filler match on a filler show. But if you did a little digging you would realize that it was Damien Sandow's first win in all of 2014, and that's including house shows. Not a single win! This is a man who not even a year ago was holding the Money in the Bank briefcase, winning PPV singles matches over Cody Rhodes, and going toe to toe with John Cena in a match up. Now he can't even catch a win on a house show and he's getting embarrassed by Hugh Jackman to boot. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Damien Sandow is somebody that has been in the system for a very long time. He joined Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2002. He had a short main roster stint as part of a tag team managed by Michelle McCool in 2006 as Idol Stevens but it wasn't until he debuted the Sandow character in 2012 that he got any real traction. WWE obviously likes this guy. They have kept him around forever and that doesn't just happen. Usually if you float around in developmental for long enough, they release you. And even with a small two year break, Sandow spent around ten years in WWE's developmental system. He debuted the Sandow character on Smackdown and it was something different. He had pink tights. He did cartwheels. His twitter was composed by a personal scribe. He wore fancy robes. He held the microphone as if it was some sort of fancy chalice. He used huge words that the average wrestling fan probably wasn't going to understand. There are fans and experts that preach that the best way to get over in WWE is to stand out and differentiate yourself and Damien Sandow was doing just that. There was nobody on the roster like him. But now? Damien Sandow has gone from standing out to being part of the crowd.

He wears black instead of pink. He wears a t-shirt that WWE can sell rather than his robe. He holds his microphone like a normal wrestler. He doesn't even cartwheel anymore. WWE took everything that people loved about Sandow and cut him off at the knees. Sure, he can still cut a promo. But that only gets you so far. When it comes to being a memorable character, you have to have the little things along with the big ones. Now, maybe WWE didn't see Sandow as a future world champion, but I don't think they saw Daniel Bryan as one at first either. The crowd was supporting Sandow. He was getting the right kind of heat and doing the right kind of things and WWE knocked him right back down to the bottom with a new pair of tights and a whole bunch of losses.

I personally think that Damien Sandow's collapse falls entirely on WWE's shoulders. Characters in WWE still matter. The Shield would not be as popular as they are if they were wearing trunks and cutting straight on backstage interviews. People like the shaky cameras and the SWAT gear. And if Bray Wyatt was anything like Randy Orton? Well, that would be no fun at all. But I'm worried. I'm worried that eventually the Shield will just be wearing trunks and Bray Wyatt will eventually come out of his brainwashed state and be normal Husky Harris once more. Adam Rose and Bo Dallas are set to debut with pretty big gimmicks. How long is it before Adam Rose denounces his partying ways and becomes a no nonsense shooter? Or Bo Dallas goes from delusional motivational speaker to generic heel number five? Emma is already turning into female Santino, and honestly that's not at all what she was in NXT. And if you don't think that this is any sort of trend, I just want you to remember that Kofi Kingston isn't even Jamaican anymore.

Characters matter in wrestling. The matches are great, but unless we fans are invested there's no reason to care. I want over the top. I want memorable catchphrases and ridiculous gear. I want to be entertained. It's in the name of the company! Everyone in the main event scene is watered down to some extent. The only person they never did that to was The Undertaker. Outside of that? Big gimmicks don't fly in WWE and I think that's wrong. Let the characters be! They are half the reason that the product works!

Maybe I'm wrong. And honestly, I hope I am. And maybe all of these gimmicks stick. Maybe I'm overanalyzing and maybe this whole article is for nothing. But ultimately, characters matter. The little things matter. Standing out matters. Steve Austin swears he would never have gotten over if he didn't go from green trunks to black. Sometimes it can be that simple. Main event level stars don't need to be generic. They shouldn't be generic! Let the characters shine. Don't kill them off. We want a roster that is unique. We don't want things that are the same! It's why we watch. Please don't forget that.


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