Let’s face facts here, people. Every guy wants to make the big time, not just in wrestling but in life in general. But for this article, I’m sticking to wrestling here. There’s been a lot of talks about what’s making the big time like the WWE or how TNA is not in the big leagues or ROH is a glorified indy league/minor league. However, we’ve seen a lot of guys who were big in one place, but when trying to go and make it to the big time like in the WWE, they’re either buried, used improperly, or end up getting the boot altogether.
There’s always rumors about guys who are big in one company and rumored to leave that to go to the “big league” company. Right now, rumor is speculating that guys like Davey Richards, Colt Cabana and The Kings of Wrestling are looking to jump ship from ROH to the WWE. We’ve seen other guys that were big in one company jump ship to the WWE and they either didn’t make it or had to settle for something less. Some were even world champions and yet didn’t make it anywhere close to their potential.
One example off the top of my head that I can think of was Jerry Lawler. He was big in the AWA, USWF and is by all rights considered a God of wrestling in Memphis. He goes to the WWE and not only never wins the world title during his time there, but he doesn’t win ANY title while he’s there period. Curt Henning won the world title in the AWA, but when he went to the WWE/WWF, he never made it past the mid-card. We all knew he was beyond the Intercontinental Title, and yet he never once got a proper shot at a world title reign.
Nigel McGuinness was the only guy to the world title as long as Samoa Joe did or at least came close to tying and breaking the record. He went to TNA under a new name and went toe to toe with one of the best technical wrestlers in Kurt Angle, even got to the point where Angle had to keep up with him. But he never got so much as a title shot or at least a legit one. He got buried in pointless, stupid rivalries with Abyss and The Pope that for the most part, just went absolutely nowhere.
Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson is getting a break now, but it took a while before he did. At one point, the WWE actually cast him aside for reasons that still don’t make any sense to anybody. It wasn’t until 4-6 months give or take later that he was brought back like nothing had ever happened. Then you have Kaval, better known worldwide as Low Ki. The first world champion ROH ever had, helped revolutionize the X-Division in TNA, he competes in season 2 of NXT and won. He sticks around for a while and gets fired 3 months after winning that competition. It’s left many wondering did they fire him because he was too good at what he did, namely wrestle? It wouldn’t be surprising considering that how he wrestled almost made the other guys look bad to a point where it was like the fans could see that he could wrestle and the other guys sucked at it.
Look, I get it that in the case of wrestling, going to the WWE means possibility of more exposure, bigger paycheck,etc, but is that really enough? Again, I get that it’s a business and that money always plays a factor ultimately. What stands apart from places like ROH, New Japan and most of the independent leagues is that while the business aspect is still considered, they care about the aspect of actual “pro wrestling.” A good portion of that is because for some of those guys and there’s the rare breed that don’t leave and stay with the company they were in til it goes under or they retire. There are some guys that have the potential of doing just that.
AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels are two examples. Yes they came out of ROH and have been at TNA for the majority of the time, but AJ Styles had gone as far as to say he’d rather stay in the indy leagues than go to the WWE. Samoa Joe once said in a radio interview he’d never go to the WWE because he doesn’t think he fits what Vince McMahon pictures in a pro wrestler in the WWE roster. What exactly is the “definition” of a pro wrestler in that company’s eyes? Look good in appearance alone but when it comes to skill, can’t wrestle for shit?
Let me list some names here: Davey Richards, AJ Styles, Eddie Edwards, Christopher Daniels, Kevin Steen, Roderick Strong, El Generico, Samoa Joe, Nigel McGuinness, Low Ki, Daniel Bryan, Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, what do they have in common? They ARE pro wrestlers and not entertainers or whatever goofy-ass name that somebody whether in TNA or WWE comes up with, but professional wrestlers.For some of these guys, they’re getting paid for doing the business that they love and what most of them would do for free.
So I ask the question again, is going for the big time worth forgetting what you do or what your passion is? What other company asks for the rights to their name? Something that they won’t have any use for, but want it because it holds value to somebody else. Just ask Team 3-D aka Bubba Ray, D-Von and Spike Dudley about that and why they no longer own the rights to a name that belongs to them. If TNA never existed, Sting would’ve stayed out of wrestling as he had no desire whatsoever to go to the WWE, despite offers towards him. Why? Because he knew and understood the way the WWE plays the game. He believed that by going to the WWE was the equivalent of selling your soul.
In the end, it comes down to one simple thing: Value. As in which is more valuable to a pro wrestler? Wealth and Fame or Doing what you’re more passionate about? Because when the bigger company wants the rights to the wrestler’s name signed over, they’re giving up more than just a character name. It’s throwing away all the accomplishments, any and all that would contribute to the reputation, legacy and EVERYTHING that said wrestler had worked for and achieved in his career. The spotlight in wrestling will offer and give more exposure, and as that light is shining down on the guy, left outside in the darkness is whatever that wrestler had given up and sacrificed to get it. And when it comes down to it and that individual realizes what has happened, he refuses to step out of the spotlight in fear facing and coming to the grips with everything sacrificed, all part of the price that is paid for making it to the big time, for paying the price of fame.
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