This week saw an internet shattering new story break via the WWE, the release of Kassius Ohno from his contract. While it was a bit of a shocker from some aspects, it was also just a matter of time until we saw this happen. The word going around for a while had been that the former Chris Hero wouldn’t take the advice of management when they would tell him to hit the gym, causing friction between himself and the brass in WWE. Nobody will ever doubt his in ring ability; the man is one of the best wrestlers in the business, as a tag wrestler or a singles star. The problem that seems to have come about in this situation is that a man who had seemingly endless talent felt that he knew better than the people at the top of the biggest wrestling company in the industry. I’ve been advocating the ascension of Kassius Ohno to the main roster for a while now, it just flat out sucks that management wanted him to work on his physique, and he refused to do it, which seems to be the primary basis of his eventual release. While I can’t get inside his head, this almost seems like someone who bought into the hype around themselves too much, leading to their ultimate demise.
There is a list of workers through the years who fans like to label as “buying into their hype,” but that isn’t truly a bad thing, it becomes bad when you get too deep into your hype. If a worker wants to become a star they have to believe their character, but they also need to realize where the character ends and they begin. As a result, if management comes to you and says you need to tone up, or shave your head/face, whatever they may ask of you, maybe you should consider doing as they suggested. The semi-unfortunate side of things is that WWE is a company predicated (honestly, the entire business overall to an extent) on the image projected by their workers. The rare occurrence is when an unorthodox look actually works for the character you’re portraying. There’s already one man on the main roster who’s not really “built” at the “average man” size, as a result it would seem that the expectation was that Ohno would get in better shape so he would stand out from the rest of the workers and would cut a more impressive look when on television. He didn’t feel he needed to follow these instructions, and as a result, he was let go before he could make his name as possibly one of the best to ever set foot in a WWE ring.
While we typically see something like this happen without another side being available to show what COULD have been if the instructions had been followed, oddly enough this time we have that option. While in Ring of Honor Ohno was one half of a tag team with the man we now know as Antonio Cesaro. Cesaro came to WWE well before Ohno and seemingly took all advice that management gave him while in the developmental system, this lead to him getting a shot on the main roster and eventually having a lengthy run as the United States Champion. While he’s somewhat stalled in his current role, there’s no doubt that the future is incredibly bright for Cesaro. The man has gotten over with fans, even as a heel, because the audience will respect talent when they see it, but if you never give them the chance to see that talent, they have no way to show respect. I got to see Ohno work at an NXT show and loved that moment because I realized that I was watching one of the greatest in the business plying his craft right in front of me, even explaining to my wife how this was such a big deal. Having seen Cesaro at my first NXT live event and Ohno at the next one, it was somewhat odd seeing one half being such a big deal while the other was still working in the developmental territory.
There are people questioning where Ohno goes from here, does he go back to ROH or maybe even sign a deal with TNA? I Think the best bet would be ROH for him, I’m not sure that TNA can take on another worker at this moment, but if Sting does leave when his contract is up, they could open up space for him to come in and make an impact, pun fully intended. He could have some amazing matches with Joe, Angle, Aries, and so many on their roster, but we’ll have to see how things play out for his future. We wouldn’t have to even consider this if he were willing to put his ego in check enough to do as management suggested, at least long enough to get on the main roster and show his total value. Again, while I can’t say this is where his head was at, but it does seem a somewhat obvious thought. He KNOWS he’s one of the best workers in the business, he KNOWS he can work circles around certain others on the roster, and seeing different people called up before he even got a chance could easily have put up a wall because they clearly “didn’t see his value.” Sometimes buying into your hype pays off, just look at names like Hogan and Goldberg, but other times it kills…right, Ryback?
One thing that is always mentioned in relation to wrestling is the sacrifice that a worker must endure in order to become a top name. Part of this sacrifice could very well be that they need to suck it up and do as they’re told until they get TO that spot, and then they can start to loosen up a bit. If my goal were to become a manager in my current company I would do whatever is asked of me until I hit that level, once there I could slowly start to loosen up and be more of myself, this is the same way I see things in wrestling. Sometimes you have to do things that you may feel you don’t “need” to do because you’re too good for it, but if your goal is to be the man, you have to give up some ground in order to reach the pinnacle. Kassius Ohno will land on his feet, although it’ll undoubtedly be in a much smaller pond, he’s too talented to do otherwise. That said he might have blown the biggest chance he’s had, and probably ever will have, in his career. I know, there are going to be some IWC people who want to pick this apart and blame everything on Triple H “burying” someone because they’re a threat to him, but sometimes workers have to accept responsibility for their own actions and realize that sometimes taking the advice of those above you is, pardon the expression, what’s best for business.