Editor’s note: This post generated an understandable backlash when initially published, for which I (Sean Rueter) take full responsibility. It’s been edited to explicitly state we’re not mocking the negative reaction to Velveteen Dream based on what Patrick Clark is accused of. Instead, the intent is to discuss how WWE could use one of their signature events to elevate several talents, including one who has allegedly been sexually inappropriate with minors online, but who denies those charges and who WWE has made clear they hope to continue to employ & promote.
Remember my first article on the site? How I talked about WWE not taking a risk since Jinder Mahal? Let’s expand on that, shall we?
This Sunday is the most significant pay per view of the year next to WrestleMania. Not only is it that, but it’s also the one pay per view where any and everybody can show up as an entry in the Rumble match. Nobody will forget the moment “You think you know me” rang out in Minute Maid Park and the pop that followed it. You can always bank on there being a flurry of legends returning for one last Rumble moment. Even the most polarizing people get love when they return at the Rumble.
We know the Rumble is full of surprises and returns. What’s a bigger surprise than having someone entirely out of left field win the Rumble. In most years, we all know who is going to win the Rumble. 1999? We knew who was going to be in involved in the ending. 2006? Another obvious choice. 2020? We all knew it was Drew’s year. This year? It looks like it’s Randy’s to lose, but we all know that’s a decoy. While we all want Big E to win, we know it isn’t happening. It is a pick-em year.
Sure, Seth Rollins could return from paternity leave and win it all. Nakamura could get his second Rumble win and potentially redeem himself from that Mania let down. AJ Styles could add another accomplishment to his already impressive list. All of those are viable options, but none of those are risky picks.
A risky pick is WWE taking someone who has been sitting in midcard hell or even forgotten about and giving them the ball. By no means am I saying take an Akira Tozawa and have him win it. Because we all know if that happens, it’s only a matter of time till he gets the Otis treatment.
Instead, have Andrade, Aleister Black, or a Cesaro win it. Really want to shock the world? Have someone being “called up” from NXT win it. Imagine if Ciampa or Adam Cole was the last man standing. If you want to go for broke, take a considerable risk, and generate a nuclear reaction? Let Velveteen Dream get the call-up and win.
Just imagine if WWE decided to have Andrade and Charlotte win their respective Rumble matches. That makes Andrade instantly relevant and credible; it also gives WWE an interesting angle they can play. Andrade is set to become Mr. Flair as the two are engaged for those who may be unaware. Vince has never been shy about using real-life couples and relationships for TV. Just imagine if Charlotte helps Andrade win at ‘Mania, and they go with a King and Queen angle for the rest of the summer. Not only do you solidify Andrade as a main event player, but you establish a new top heel and a new Latin/Hispanic star to complement and eventually replace Rey Mysterio.
Do you want to test Eric Bischoff’s theory that Controversy Creates Cash? Let a pariah like Velveteen be the last man standing. With or without an actual crowd, that’s gonna get a response. We can debate whether he should be employed, but if he is going to be - that kind of reaction doesn’t grow on trees.
Because of the real-life allegations against Patrick Clark, Dream has been a bit of a bridesmaid at best and doormat at worst in NXT. At his best, he was a self-absorbed ass who wouldn’t let a chance go by without telling you that you’re beneath him. Position Dream as number one contender, and he instantly regains that heat that made him a unique Prince/Goldust/Hollywood Racist hybrid. Want to really push things? Let him steal the Rumble from Daniel Bryan.
The point is WWE has a wide-open field, find themselves relying on part-timers more than they should, and just signed another billion-dollar deal, so why not take a risk? Money clearly isn’t an issue, and neither are the ratings, if we’re honest.
Hey Vince, instead of having someone take the brass ring, why not hand it to them for once and see what happens. You might have your next household name.