Dustin Runnels, better known by his pro wrestling moniker of "Goldust," won a championship title in the main event of Monday Night RAW in October of 2013 (watch it here).
Let that sink in for a moment.
A year ago, that would have been a punchline to a bad joke about WWE Creative. But last night against The Shield, it was reality, thanks to a string of impeccable performances that started at this year's Royal Rumble and evolved into a large piece of the "best for business" pie.
So, what's the big deal?
It's not uncommon for stars of yesteryear to find their way back to the land of milk and honey. A perfect example is the surprisingly spry Rob Van Dam, who has been turning in commendable showings and feuding for the World Heavyweight Championship in recent weeks, to much applause.
But "RVD," like most of the old guard, comes exactly as advertised.
If you re-watched a few of his matches from his late summer revival, they wouldn't look much different from his Intercontinental title run from over a decade ago. Same neon onesie, same five moves of high-flying doom and same thumbs-to-the-shoulder charm (give or take a few gray hairs).
But that's what makes the Goldust renaissance so remarkable.
Runnels isn't clomping around backstage with his creepy wig and Hollywood catchphrases, nor is he playing practical jokes on Booker T to solicit a few laughs from the adoring "Universe." This is a new direction, a chance to redefine a career, rather than an leash WWE is using to walk another nostalgia act up and down memory lane.
This feels real.
That said, it draws obvious comparisons to the oft-romanticized Attitude Era, except it's not. It can't be, because the business is different. So too, are the fans. But good (albeit familiar) storytelling transcends eras. Evil boss? Down-on-his luck hero?
Been there, done that.
That doesn't make it any less compelling because it has been well executed, layered with the requisite amount of respect for both audience and performer, a necessary ingredient in the suspension of disbelief. And make no mistake about it, this has been a group effort.
Gotta give credit where it's due.
I'm the first guy in line with my pitchfork and torch when WWE gets it wrong. I understand that you can't get that "creative" with a guy like John Cena, because he's the biggest star in the company and must be presented as such. That won't change until the next major shift in business.
Comes with the territory.
But there is still room on the canvas to paint with a broad spectrum of colors, something I think most fans would agree has been happening more often than not. This being subjective entertainment, the product will never be perfect, but the upward trajectory has been very, very promising.
Maybe it's some of that new blood they injected into the formula earlier this year.
Or, perhaps they've been able to do a better job of bridging the gap between the front office and the back end. Either way, the results speak for themselves. Goldust has been given the keys to his father's Cadillac and hot damn, that kid has been tearing up the track.
Goldust has been a shining example of the resurgent WWE product, but it's not like he's the only bright spot in an otherwise dull environment. Ryback is bigger and better than ever before, The Shield is the most fluid stable since Evolution and Daniel Bryan continues to bring the house down.
The list goes on.
In fact, all you need to know about the current state of Creative can be summed up by a midget in a bull suit. We're cheering for that, folks, which means somebody, somewhere backstage is getting it right. Enjoy it while you can, Cagesiders, it won't last forever.