EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.
Friday, September 21, 2001
Will Edge and Christian shine as singles?
Granted, it's possible that the split of everyone's favourite Canadian tag team might have come as more of a surprise of they hadn't been teasing it on and off for over a year. It's a given that sooner than later, all of the WWF's Big Three tag teams will have split up, them being Edge and Christian, The Hardy Boys, and The Dudleys. It was really only a matter of who would go first. With that question answered, we can sit back and enjoy the show, knowing that it should be a good six months before rumours brew again about the other two teams.
As of now, both Edge and Christian look like they might have breakout superstar potential. Without question, each is a talented, charismatic wrestler, but it's impossible to say with any certainty right now whether one or the other or both are destined for heavyweight title reigns. Neither of them seems like a complete package to me right now, but maybe they just need time to grow as singles wrestlers before that will become apparent. Until then, maybe their breakup feud will be their launching pad.
It could really go either way. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn looked incomplete after The New Age Outlaws broke up, but that's because they never actually had even a small measure separately of the chemistry and charisma they shared together. As singles stars, their value was tremendously lower. As a tag team, they added a lot of value to the WWF. Meanwhile, other tag teams like The Hart Foundation, Harlem Heat, and The Rockers each ultimately contributed one really talented and successful wrestler to the singles division. Very few tag teams split up to find both members enjoying singles success. That's the grim reality of the situation.
A year ago, my money would have been on Edge to break out as a singles star, but now I could see it going either way. I don't think their corny, over-the-top attitude will work for either of them as singles wrestlers. They were only really funny because we could laugh at them together. Alone, that kind of attitude would just be sad. In the long run, each will have to develop an edgier personality.
Somehow, tag teams can get away with being one-dimensional. The Headbangers, The Godwinns, and even The Legion of Doom pulled off gimmicks that I think a solo wrestler would have had a hard time getting over. There's more challenge to get yourself over alone. That's why so many cliques of wrestlers exist. It's a lot more interesting, in most cases, to watch wrestlers interact than it is to watch just one cut a promo. That's also why there are few sitcoms with one character. Only really high-profile guys like The Rock can cut a promo on Michael Cole and elicit a real reaction from the crowd. crowd. A tag team can't just break up and expect that kind of success. After perhaps years together, sharing the spotlight, neither member of most tag teams really seems to fill the screen by themselves. They don't have the same on-screen or in-ring presence as a Steve Austin or a Kurt Angle might possess. They can't or they wouldn't fit together as a team. But that advantage for tag teams becomes a disadvantage come breakup time.
Edge and Christian, separately, will have to deal with that reality. Both are talented wrestlers, and together, they have put on some of the most amazing matches of the past two or three years. Separately, though, they may be no better off than failed WCW luchadores unless they can prove their charisma alone. I think they can, but I believe that a great deal of their chance at success may ultimately lie on how they perform in their feud against each other, as it has in so many other cases.
It is with great hesitation that I print this week's mailbag. I don't really want to encourage an ongoing political discussion, and if this week's volume of feedback is any indication, I don't think folks will ever stop debating this, let alone forget it. So I'll let a pair of replies speak for themselves.
Blake Roberts, from firstname.lastname@example.org, writes:
"I have been a closet wrestling fan for years. I became more interested after the WWF finally admitted that matches were scripted, as I could finally watch it for the entertainment value it is.
But no more.
The decision by Vince McMahon to go ahead with last week's show is disgusting. We have often read about his arrogance and greed. This is just another example. The first was going ahead with the pay-per-view after the death of Owen Hart, saying he felt Owen 'Would want the show to go on.' We have often read how Owen hated the wrestling life and the fact that it kept him away from the family he loved so much. To Owen Hart, family and friends came first, and it was an insult to his memory to continue with the show.
Now this. In the darkest day in American history (and perhaps Canada's), McMahon continues his sideshow. He can hide all he wants behind the garbage how he did it as a chance for Americans to bond together. He can bring in whatever former military leaders he wants to 'pat him on the back for being there so Americans can show their patriotism.'
He did it for one reason, and one reason only. The almighty dollar.
Mr. McMahon, as a Canadian who loves his American neighbors, and as a former fan of the WWF, you sicken me. I have watched your wrestling fiasco for the last time and hope that someone with integrity like Bret Hart is someday able to produce a product that I can enjoy again."
Edmond Pryor, from email@example.com, writes:
"I've emailed you before about wrestling news and have ALWAYS respected and appreciated your esteemed point of view on the subject, but this email is different. I'd like to respond to your 'Wrestling seems very small' column.
Your opinion, that the WWF should have canceled Smackdown! seems to be the norm and that belief is definitely shared by the majority. While I totally respect that stance, I have to disagree when it comes to the, 'now is not the time' logic. When will be the time? Eric, I, like you have heard the cliche that 'time heals all wounds,' well I'm not so sure that time will heal this wound. I'm 21 years old and I can tell you now that the images I've seen over this past week are permanently embedded deep within my memory and soul. I read about Pearl Harbor but I'm sure the surviving people involved still wake up in cold sweats, that's how this will be for us. We should move on with our normal routines. I know the preceding may sound harsh but it's true, don't stop mourning the people who lost their lives, don't even stop being angry, just move on.
I think Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick said it best when he stated, 'We shouldn't let cowards dictate how we live our lives.' Please understand Eric that terrorism by definition is designed to strike fear into a government and a people so that life as they know it is chaotic evermore. Let's not allow these jerks to win, I don't know what Vinnie Mac's stance is but in some cases the show should go on. Look at the Pentagon, less than 24 hours after the attack they were back in the Pentagon conducting business, granted it wasn't business as usual, but it was business just the same. Our reserve in this country and every part of the civilized world must not be compromised nor our freedom.
You're right when you conveyed the message this is much bigger than wrestling -- it is, but I maintain the stance that after the moments of silence all sports and life in general should continue in addition to the rescue efforts and planning of retaliation, this will show our enemies that we will not be halted by fear, thus terrorism cannot win. You're respected my friend, but let's not let them win."
Fair points all around, but there's no victor in this argument.
That's all for this week. I'd like to hear who SLAM! readers think will emerge from the Edge-Christian breakup as a breakout star. See you next week!
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.