The Writers’ Room takes you into the Cageside Seats staff Slack channel for a look at our answers to interesting, pressing or weird wrestling questions.
Today, we’re talking about the great intangible: The It Factor.
Geno Mrosko: Randy Orton is such a strange case. By all measures, he’s had a really great career. it just doesn’t feel like he has. Does that make sense?
Cain A. Knight: I get what you mean with Orton, Geno.
I would just like to remind everyone that Randy Orton was in a match with Jinder Mahal, Rusev and Bobby Roode last year at WrestleMania, and Jinder Mahal won that match.
Henry T. Casey: WTF. Bobby Roode’s main roster run has been so weird.
Geno: Never felt like he really belonged.
Henry: Like this thing with Gable is cute, but even that doesn’t really work.
Geno: I don’t know how to properly say this but it’s like there’s something missing from most of the guys on the WWE roster. Like ... no one feels like a star. They don’t really stand out. No one has that sort of charisma where they just pull you in, ya know? Roode is like, at the bottom when it comes to that charisma.
Lesnar kind of has it, and I think that’s why he’s always champ.
Henry: I mean they spent all that time making Roman a star.
Geno: Reigns definitely has it.
Henry: And some of that time working on Braun. Then those rapid fire turns wrecked him.
Kyle Decker: Yeah. Plus Braun doesn’t have it like Roman does. At least not yet.
Henry: McIntyre feels like he might.
Geno: You can definitely see it there. Then again, I don’t think it’s necessarily a must have quality to be a legit top star in wrestling anymore either. Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles are great examples.
Cain: Who do you think is/was the most heavily pushed or accomplished star who doesn’t have that charisma?
Cain: How do you place Orton on the scale?
Like Geno was saying before, dude has been a top guy forever, almost 15 years now...do you think he has that kind of charisma?
Henry: I think he’s a black hole for charisma. But the way that crowds pop for him, I wonder if I’m wrong.
Kyle: Yeah, and then you have guys like E&C [Edge and Christian] just putting him over so big every time they talk about him.
But I’d argue expert opinions are meaningless if the fan reactions aren’t there.
Henry: The RKO is a masterclass in marketing.
Geno: Orton is another great example.
Kyle: Henry is right. Fans react to Orton.
Henry: It’s just a cutter but wow is it the biggest cutter ever. They made him huge back in the day with the Triple H feud and he’s running off that moment still.
Geno: He kind of has it, but not really.
Kyle: Maybe he’s a guy, just not for the likes of us.
Cain: Watching DDP do the cutter was always way more exciting than this current Orton stuff.
Geno: It’s so hard to put into words what I even mean. Like, Orton kind of has it but not a lot of it. Roode has none of it. Ric Flair drips with it. Randy Savage had it in a big, big way. They just have a quality that draws you to them.
Henry: Punk had it, turned chickenshit to chicken soup.
Geno: You can overcome it by being really good at things, but the really big stars have that quality.
Rev. Claire Elizabeth: I feel like at least some of Orton’s popularity is kind of a version of the “Great Technical Wrestler Lance Storm” rule in effect. WWE have spent all these years telling us he’s the platonic ideal of a wrestler and lots of folks will hear that and internalize it and believe it with all their hearts without really examining whether it’s true or not.
Cain: Ultimately, and I promise not to stay here, but this is what you meant with Bayley, right? That you don’t see that with her.
Geno: Pretty much. Like, I think of all the big stars and they all had an abundance of it -- Austin, Rock, Hogan, Flair, Undertaker, Lesnar, Cena.
They’re the kind of people who, if they walked into the room, you would be drawn to them naturally.
Henry: Becky Lynch has It.
Stella Cheeks: But has she always? Can you learn “it”?
Kyle: I’d argue Becky always had a charisma people got behind.
For someone who was losing all the time, the crowd still loved her more than other people who lost all the time.
Stella: That’s fair. It’s inherent in her. I was just thinking about The Rock again. Like Rocky Maivia didn’t have it. The Rock did.
Henry: The thing is, those two roles are not dissimilar from default babyface Becky and The Man Becky. Because default Becky was happy go lucky and pun-loving, earnest and honest.
Rev. Claire: Mm, that’s part of the deal-- I feel like lots of folks have it in them, but need the right circumstances to unlock it.
Stella: Yeah Claire, that’s a good way to look at it.
Henry: Roode has It during his entrance and then It runs away faster than Drake Maverick stealing that robe.
Kyle: That comes down to “Is the song over or the person?” The Adam Rose argument.
Cain: Yeah that’s my issue with the whole “it” discussion. I think nobody can reliably determine who has “it” until after that person already becomes a star. It’s easy to say after the fact, but identifying it ahead of time is not a repeatable skill. People who can reliably do that would be instant millionaires for having such a skill. Therefore I don’t worry too much about who has “it” and who doesn’t, because nobody is really qualified to make that assessment. I treat “it” like it doesn’t exist for the most part.
Tommy Messano: It can’t be taught, but it can be unlocked. I like Claire’s point.
So what say you, CSS Nation? Who has “it?” Who is treated like they do, but doesn’t? And does “it” even exist?
Chime in in the comments and we’ll see you next time in The Writers’ Room.