One of the biggest debates in professional wrestling today is the fact that “part-timers” have to come in to boost interest in the current product. Each year at WrestleMania, many names from the past appear on the show to add to the spectacle. Although some are used just as supporting cast to the show, others are used due to the lack of WWE building a star.
On a past episode of the WWE Network’s Stone Cold Podcast hosted by Steve Austin, Vince McMahon had a discussion with Austin about the current talent roster. While he had some positive things to say, one thing he said in particular stuck with both fans and competitors. He explained how popular competitors such as Cesaro has potential, but has yet to “grab the brass ring.” This led to Cesaro even starting a short-lived following called the Brass Ring Club, as a play off the comment Vince made that he just was not over enough to be at the top level.
Cesaro would also address this “brass ring” comment in a 2015 interview with Michael Cole. Regarding McMahon’s comments on him not connecting with the audience, not having verbal skills, and that he lacked charisma, Cesaro had this to say.
“Well, to be honest, I was driving to the next town, and I was white-knuckling the steering wheel. But then, I thought about it, I slept on it, and the next morning, I came to Raw, went to Mr. McMahon’s office, and walked right in and looked him in the eye and said, ‘Vince. Challenge accepted.’ And two months, twenty-three days later, me and Tyson [Kidd] won the WWE Tag Team Championship. To me, that’s the best way to go about things.”
Cesaro joins the list of names such as Sami Zayn, Tye Dillinger, Dolph Ziggler, and Baron Corbin, among others, who are workhorses for WWE, but have a very small chance of main-eventing a WrestleMania. Even names such as Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, and Seth Rollins, who have been world champions in WWE, still are not in the spot where their characters are so over with the crowd that they are automatic bids to main event the biggest show of the year.
In contrast, Brock Lesnar, who has been WWE Universal Champion since WrestleMania 33 by defeating Goldberg, has continued his reign for nearly a year, but has only competed in a total of five televised matches, seven including a couple of WWE Live event matches in the summer of 2017.
These matches include Samoa Joe at Great Balls of Fire, Braun Strowman – Roman Reigns – Samoa Joe in a Fatal 4-Way at SummerSlam, Braun Strowman at No Mercy, AJ Styles at Survivor Series, and Braun Strowman – Kane at Royal Rumble. According to CBS Sports, these matches for Lesnar have a total combined time of 47:35. While this statistic draws a significant amount of opposing dialogue, Lesnar consistently boosts ratings despite limited appearances in the WWE.
To many fans, the part-timers are snubbing spots from the current talent. This is why Lesnar does not get the kind of ovation that he previously did, as well as Goldberg getting booed towards the conclusion of his tenure last year. However, based on the ratings, the part-timers are what brings the interest, and wrestling for less than an hour the entire year draws more than competing in over 200 matches a year.