Diminishing Returns

Nick Paglino

RybackWWE’s big season is beginning. WrestleMania is being burnished. All the part-timers are coming back for a big payday. The Rock, Undertaker, Triple H, Brock Lesnar: You can’t say it’s wrong, because it draws money. BIG MONEY.

But what happens when returns diminish?

When do those comebacks become passé? When do those wrestlers become passé?

It’s going to happen. What does WWE do then?

SUCK, probably. WWE just can’t book any fresh talent, not beyond an initial burst of fan awareness, anyway.

Prime example: Ryback. How has his character progressed? It hasn’t. He’s just the guy who gets screwed over and over. Same way WCW killed Sting’s momentum, except this is the Reader’s Digest version.

Better example: The Shield.

Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins came in with a bang and were all set to be truly HOT STUFF. Now they do the same pre-taped promo over and over. Instead of jumping those in conflict with C.M. Punk, they jump people randomly. They should have kept saving Punk without saving Punk. That should have been the common thread of their targets: PUNK ANTAGONISTS ONLY. Up next: The Rock.

Deny, deny, deny. Punk, and The Shield, too. Let us keep trying to piece it together until the big reveal.

That’s all gone. We don’t know where The Shield is going now. That’s because WWE doesn’t know.

Doesn’t matter, because after ‘Mania, The Shield will be just three more guys. The 2012-13 version of The Nexus. Any plans for The Shield at ‘Mania?

Sure. They’ll be in the back, watching the REAL main-eventers on the monitor.

It’s a shame. They’re good. So is Ryback, though much less multi-dimensional.

Funny part is, the guy that’s going to get screwed most by all this is one of the part-time main-eventers: The son-in-law, Triple H.

Eventually, Triple H is going to run WWE. At that point, his main-event options figure to be extremely limited, based at least partially on the phenomenon discussed. The annual mega-push of part-time main-eventers can’t help but erode the credibility of full-time wrestlers who are supposed to be main-eventers.

It’s happening already. WWE has two legit full-time main-eventers: John Cena and C.M. Punk. If you think someone else is, you’re wrong. They’re not.

But wrestling is a NOW business. You can’t fault WWE for making the best use possible out of their strongest assets, even if their availability is limited.

But, eventually: Diminishing returns. And then what?

Maybe Triple-H becomes Dusty Rhodes. He pushes the only person he trusts: Himself. Trips convinces himself that he’s all he’s got – and he might be right. Triple H might have one more full-time run. Necessity is a mother.

Last year, this column’s Wrestler of the Year was ex-WWE superstar Tyler Reks, because he knew when to get out.

A strong front-runner for 2013 has already established himself: BROCK LESNAR. Lesnar HATES sports entertainment. But WWE stays keen because he treats ‘em mean. More money, less dates. Lesnar doesn’t want WWE, so WWE wants him all the more. Lesnar can write his own ticket. WWE is Brock’s bitch.

Meanwhile, the guys who truly love wrestling, the guys who break their backs…they get to watch Lesnar main-event.

Too bad for them. Brock draws. More than they do, anyway.

But wouldn’t you love to stand around the backstage monitor and eavesdrop some WrestleMania Sunday?

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA(105.9) . Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing wzmarkmadden@hotmail. com. FOLLOW MARK ON TWITTER: @MarkMaddenX

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