As I’m writing this I haven’t watched Smackdown Live yet for this week but I can’t help but respond to a comment I saw on twitter complaining about the amount of time that Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas got this week compared to some other guys. Namely that he and Sin Cara only got a few minutes while AJ Styles and Nakamura got in a singles and tag match on the same show. Now while we can debate how much has been too much Styles and Nakamura (my take is that it’s old school booking so I’m mostly fine with it but I understand if you’re done), what I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole with you on is demanding more TV time for Almas right now. In his own words now is the time to be tranquilo. Why? Because most people still don’t know who the heck he is, that’s why.
The majority of the SmackDown Live audience does not watch NXT or CMLL. They don’t know about Los Ingernorables and they haven’t seen his matches with Aleister Black or Johnny Gargano. To them Almas is some guy who showed up on their TV a month or so ago and has beaten a few jobbers. Until they get familiar with him and develop a reason to care, he’s just a guy that’s running his mouth. He was supposed to have this program with Sin Cara but that got delayed because Sin Cara hurt his hand and missed a few weeks. So now they’re restarting it from almost square one. My guess is that they would have had a match this Sunday at Extreme Rules and moved on but now it’s been pushed back.
This goes back to what has been a real issue among the wrestling fans who are on social media a lot ranting about how much WWE messes up everything and everyone. You want your guys and gals who have excelled elsewhere to get the same shine in WWE and get it right now, and if they don’t then they’re ‘ruined’ or ‘buried’. And I’m here to say that most of the time that’s not so. You already care about those wrestlers but the general audience does not because they don’t know them and aren’t going to be swayed by simply watching a YouTube video of a match they had in Ring of Honor or New Japan or somewhere else. What you do there only matters when you’re trying to get signed; once you do sign you’re starting over with a new, different audience and have to get over with them.
Sure they could put Almas on TV against Daniel Bryan next week, and give them 20 minutes. Then what? You wasted what could be a pay per view match next year on ‘free’ TV just to give a rub to part of the audience that’s already plugged in. Almas is a chance for them to build a Latin superstar who does not come with all the baggage that Alberto Del Rio has. The last thing they should do is push him to the moon the way that they did with Alberto before the audience got familiar with him, and end up with a really talented guy that the general audience isn’t checking for because he was put in big spots before they were comfortable enough with him to be ready for it. When a guy truly gets over with the main audience almost everything he does is gold but if he doesn’t then they won’t care.
Daniel Bryan got a three year build before he beat John Cena at Summerslam 2013. CM Punk was on the roster for a few years before he got that rub And even Cena himself spent a year jobbing on TV before becoming more competitive then winning big. It takes time, even if you have an impressive resume from previous companies. Was there any indication in 2010 when Bryan joined the roster that he could pull of something like his part in Team Hell No from 2012 to 2013? Or blossom into the guy that sparked the Yes Movement in 2013/14? No there wasn’t. These things take time.
Everyone can’t be AJ Styles. He was an urban legend like Batman that everyone had heard of even if they hadn’t actually seen him, and he wears lot of cool looking gear that’s easy to sell. The ‘OMG he’s finally here!’ thing that happened when AJ walked through that curtain at the Royal Rumble just doesn’t exist for most people in the business so when they arrive in the WWE they’re going to have to get acclimated and get brought along as if nobody knows them, because most people don’t. Even if you already do, and have seen all their greatest hits so far. So trust the process! If it’s allowed to work out the results will more than likely be better than if they just hotshotted it to give you what you want.