There was a time when WWE was reluctant to book part-timers in prominent spots. That mentality has undergone a dramatic change in the past two years, with The Rock headlining two consecutive WrestleManias and Brock Lesnar reportedly being paid five million dollars a year for a very limited number of dates. The likes of Triple H and The Undertaker, technically part-timers in the current stage of their careers, have also been booked in top matches at The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Whether a former name is considered valuable as a part-timer depends not only on their drawing power, but also on reasonable booking. It makes little sense for WWE to bring in a superstar for the sake of selling a Pay-Per-View if they are not also used to put over a younger worker. Even though John Cena’s win at WrestleMania 29 has been met with significant criticism, any outcome which has The Rock retain the title would be a show of ignorance towards WWE’s future and the need to build stars.
Considering that the door is now open for big names of the past to work special event matches, which big names of the past does it make most sense for WWE to pursue?
Drawing power: Batista’s in-ring abilities are a controversial matter among the Internet Wrestling Community, but there is no denying the fact that his name has immense drawing power. His victory over Triple H at WrestleMania 21 skyrocketed him to the top of WWE and he remained the face of the SmackDown brand for the majority of his run with the company. I cannot help but remember how popular Batista was among my friends at school. Cena always had his haters, but everyone around me respected the intensity and inhuman strength Batista brought to the table.
Booking: I think WWE would benefit from Batista at the moment, in the months leading up to SummerSlam. John Cena is expected to have a lengthy run with the WWE Championship, yet there are few credible contenders on the roster for him to wrestle once his feud with Ryback is over. It was precisely a loss to John Cena that made The Animal quit in 2010, which makes me think that not only would Cena vs. Batista be a great main event to sell June’s Payback PPV, but it would make sense from a creative standpoint.
The Implications: Returning to WWE to put Cena over on a minor PPV may not match Batista’s expectations for a big return.
Drawing power: Chyna rose to prominence in WWE as a member of D-Generation X. Billed as the “Ninth Wonder of the World”, she was the first female wrestler to participate in the Royal Rumble, as well as the first to hold the Intercontinental Championship. She is among the biggest names in the history of the Women’s Division, arguably even surpassing the accomplishments of Trish Stratus. What was most impressive about Chyna during the Attitude Era was her ability to stand toe-to-toe with the best in the company, even scoring a win against Chris Jericho at Survivor Series 1999. More importantly, the WWE Universe does not seem to have forgotten about her, as “We Want Chyna” chants broke out at the Raw taping in London one week ago.
Booking: To put it simply, WWE’s Divas Division desperately needs credibility. What better way to achieve that than bringing back the most dominant female wrestler in history for a run with the belt?
The Implications: Chyna has had a rocky relationship with The McMahons, as well as Triple H, whom she used to date once. Considering her history of substance abuse and her career in pornography, WWE might not be too willing to do business with Chyna anytime soon.
Drawing power: WCW was infamous for relying heavily on former WWE performers, but there was one guy that Eric Bischoff built from scratch that went on to become one of the most recognizable stars in the industry. Bill Goldberg is arguably WCW’s biggest homegrown name, notable for his undefeated streak of 173-0, as well as winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Hulk Hogan in 1998. Fifteen years later, WWE audiences around the world still chant his name, as he has become a measuring stick for more recent powerhouse wrestlers like Ryback.
Booking: There is plenty of up-and-coming talent in WWE that Goldberg could be used to put over, but Ryback is the obvious choice. Wrestling fans have been comparing these two guys for about a year now and nothing could solidify Big Hungry as a force to be reckoned with than a win over his predecessor.
The Implications: WWE has reached out to Goldberg in the past, but it has been an issue of the former World Champion getting the big money he feels he deserves.
Drawing power: Billy Gunn and Road Dogg have been described as “the most popular duo in WWE history”. They were among the most distinguished names of the Attitude Era, as they had the third highest merchandise sales in the company, surpassed only by Stone Cold and The Rock. The crowd’s reaction to The New Age Outlaws at the 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw proved that their legacy is alive and well.
Booking: If I were pulling the strings, I would bring back The New Age Outlaws as in-ring performers for The Shield to work with. If The Hounds of Justice defeat Team Hell No for the tag team belts in the near future, and that may be what WWE is going for, the new champions would need to defend them against some other reputable name in order to remain relevant. A win over the former DX members would surely establish them as one of the greatest factions to step foot in a WWE ring.
The Implications: None. The New Age Outlaws are currently under WWE contracts and they have also indicated that they do not mind working a match every now and then.
Drawing power: Do I even need to say anything about Stone Cold? If there was a Mount Rushmore of wrestling, his image would be one of the four. The Texas Rattlesnake is considered the face of the Attitude Era and his rivalry with The Rock is argued to be the most memorable feud in WWE history. A possible match at WrestleMania 30 might very well outsell the previous two editions of The Show of Shows, especially if Austin is booked against the right opponent.
Booking: The fans have been asking for it, WWE has even been teasing it in the promotional material for the WWE 13 video game. The Universe wants to see Stone Cold wrestle CM Punk in a clash of the edgiest superstars of their respective eras.
The Implications: Wrestling News World has been reporting that getting a deal inked has been more about money than about Austin’s health. WrestleMania 29 was loaded with big part-time names, but with The Rock possibly out of the equation for next year, it might be the perfect time to bring in Stone Cold for one more match.