LaBar: Hero release by WWE an attention grabber
Another hardcore wrestling fan favorite bites the WWE dust.
Chris Hero had been working in WWE's developmental territory known as NXT since early 2012. It was reported he was released last week.
I don't get as radical about the guys who are sensations on the independent wrestling scene who don't get a fair chance from WWE ... but this release grabs my attention.
The ironic thing with Hero is he's wildly popular with the hardcore wrestling crowd. He's classified as an “indie” guy due to his success around the world in smaller promotions. However, he didn't fit the typical “indie” stereotype.
He didn't wear kick pads when he didn't kick. He didn't flip when he didn't need to flip. He didn't have a finisher that could only be done to guys of a certain size and didn't require 20 seconds to set up.
He wasn't guilty of doing the same match every time which consists of 40 moves that look more like a trampoline exhibition than a wrestling match. He didn't have unnecessary movement of doing something in five steps when it could have been be done in three.
He had psychology. He had facials. He was 6-foot-4 and 200-plus pounds. He had long hair and a beard. He could hit his finisher in one second against anybody of any size. He looked like a guy who could get things done.
He had a good feud with veteran William Regal in NXT. WWE bought into his hard hitting gimmick. The name he worked under in NXT was Kassius Ohno, a direct play to his gimmick. Kassius was pronounced Cassius as in Muhammad Ali's birth name. The gave him the initials K.O. Which is also used when speaking in fighting about a knockout.
So what went wrong?
In WWE, a good soldier is more valuable than a talented soldier. They don't care how big of a following you have, what you accomplished elsewhere or how many styles you know in the ring. You must pay WWE dues and WWE respect.
Imagine if every student in every high school went to the same university and took the same level of introductory classes. That's what wrestlers going to NXT is like. It doesn't matter what your test scores were and it doesn't matter how experienced you might be in the ring. You go to NXT and you start over.
Hero's tenure in WWE's system wasn't without bumps. His signing was delayed due to medical testing issues. He then was taken off NXT television reportedly due to the company upset his conditioning and shape wasn't up to their standards. He was recently brought back to television and then abruptly released.
It's of course possible Hero requested his release but unlikely. Every wrestlers goal is WWE and WrestleMania. He might have been unhappy, but I doubt he worked to get this far to walk away.
Hero's tag team partner in Ring of Honor made it to WWE's main roster as Antonio Cesaro. He's also experienced his share of WWE adaptation. Adaptation and acceptance that wasn't immune to others such as CM Punk or Daniel Bryan. Here's a guy who doesn't drink. He doesn't do drugs. He dresses in a European style and isn't an alpha male. In the Vince McMahon voice: “What kinda man are ya?”
McMahon doesn't deal with NXT. That's Triple H's responsibility. In NXT, the head trainer Bill DeMott would be your daily McMahon. He wants a certain kinda guy. Not uncommon from any coach who leads a fraternity of guys. It becomes a problem though when it steps in the way of progress of the institution and the use of genuine talent.
Hero will have some solid months ahead of him. Might even make more than what he was in NXT for the next few months. NXT isn't glorious pay. NXT just carried the opportunity to make a lot of money if you can make it to the main roster.
Independent organizations will be jumping to use Hero and already are. His first match will be for Pro Wrestling Syndicate in New Jersey against Hurricane Helms. Shoot interview deals will be offered and he can command the highest price he ever has in his career while riding the publicity wave.
I would imagine Ring of Honor is always an open door for him but wonder if New Japan Pro Wrestling would be longer and better money?
Hero will be added to the list of names like Colt Cabana, Matt Cross and Low Ki. Fan favorites on the independent scene who sniffed some WWE opportunities but it ended there. Not good enough soldiers for one reason or another.
Interestingly enough, Hero's release came on the same weekend as DeMott's birthday. Coincidence? Happy Birthday, Bill!