A Decade of Wrestling: 2008

The New Superstar Initiative

When Theodore Long fled Smackdown (and Vickie Guerrero) for ECW, he brought with him a great new idea.  He introduced the New Superstar Initiative, making ECW the place for new WWE talent to break in before going onto the bigger shows.

Why is this important?  Before ECW became the place for new talent, many promising superstars were tossed onto the other shows with no gimmicks and no storylines, as nothing more than ‘blue chippers’.  The fans would not get behind them, they would fade away and be quietly released.  It’s a process that I refer to as being ‘Gunner Scotted’.  Gunner Scott had gotten over in OVW as Brent Albright, but had gotten sent to Smackdown with a fluke win and no subsequent follow-up.  He didn’t last long.  The same nearly happened to Santino Marella, but he had his character quickly tweaked which saved him from this fate.

With the New Superstar Initiative, several talents have come, developed themselves against the veterans of the show (Christian, Goldust, Shelton Benjamin, Tommy Dreamer) then moved on.  Jack Swagger is a shining example of this, as are Evan Bourne, Tyson Kidd and Sheamus (boo all you like).  Current talents include Yoshi Tatsu and Vance Archer, who seem to be doing quite well.

That’s not to say that everyone who has come in have worked out.  Tyler Reks is floundering in the lower mid-card, while Ricky Ortiz, Scotty Goldman and DJ Gabriel fizzled out completely.

Still, it was a move shifting ECW more into a development show (of sorts) and it gave the young guns a spotlight to shine in without being overshadowed by the big guns of the WWE.  True, not everyone needs the starting point bump (Drew McIntyre went straight to Smackdown, for example), but it is an excellent point to bring in young talent.


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