On Monday's Raw, Ricochet was pinned clean by Riddick Moss in a match for a comedy belt. This coming four days after he was beaten by WWE champ Brock Lesnar in 90 seconds, a lot of people thought something was up.
On the post-Raw Wresting Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer put that something into words. They've posted the pertinent clip to their YouTube channel, so you can hear it in the original Meltz for free here. But in a nutshell, Vince McMahon has given up on Ricochet and Monday “was a burial without a doubt".
While the usual caveats about Vince changing his mind apply, it's easy to see how Dave could be right. Meltzer's not the only person who thought that on Monday night. And the last guy he used the "b"-word about was Cedric Alexander, and he's been on Main Event ever since.
So if Ricochet is headed to WWE purgatory... what the hell happened? How did a guy companies were fighting to sign for years wash out on the biggest stage in the business?
As is often the case, there's plenty of blame to go around.
RIcochet’s been on television a lot since his call-up at the beginning of last year. That’s given him plenty of time to show off his prodigious in-ring skill... and not much else. Aside from a brief run with the United States title in June & July, he’s done a lot of losing.
That championship run from Stomping Grounds to Extreme Rules was a microcosm of his entire time on the blue & red brands. Just when it looked like the company was getting behind him as someone fans should consider a big deal, he was bumped back to mid-card status. Most believed his out-of-nowhere title shot against Lesnar would be more of the same, with a hard fought loss sending him back to the U.S. title scene. It now looks like it could mean something else.
Others who’ve been booked into losing streaks on WWE television have experienced a groundswell of fan support as a result, but that didn’t seem to happen with Ricochet. Sure, there’s discontent from folks who’ve followed him since PWG, but nothing widespread. That’s probably because the screen time he’s been afforded has also exposed his deficiencies as a talker.
For all Ricochet’s wrestling skill and physical charisma, he struggles to sell himself verbally. With shorter, pre-taped shows during his time there, NXT was able to work around this. He wasn’t asked to deliver long promos, and his character was built around how he carried himself. But it’s worth noting his best feud came against Velveteen Dream, someone with enough character for two.
Almost every time Ricochet was on the mic on Raw, you remembered why Lucha Underground made him a mostly-mute guy who wore a mask. It’s not so much that he stumbled over his words, although that has happened. It’s that he fails to make much of an impression. He’s certainly not a gifted enough orator to sell lines like he was given in the Lesnar program (“The beast is going to have to work harder than ever to catch this prey!” really?).
There are ways to write around performers’ weaknesses, but Vince McMahon seems to have a much more sink-or-swim approach to his talent. There are also ways to build someone with potential who isn’t quite ready for the main event. WWE often rushes people into the spotlight, then decides they aren’t ready.
Maybe Ricochet would have benefited from a long-term plan to build him gradually, with scripts that played to his strengths. Maybe a more well-rounded entertainer would have taken the creative Ricochet was given and convinced fans to support him regardless.
We’ll probably never know. What we do know is that only a handful of pro wrestlers can rise to the top of Vince McMahon’s product.
Right now, it looks like Ricochet won’t be one of them.