When Lance Cade reinvented his Monday Night Raw character on June 16, by aiding Chris Jericho in his match with Triple H, fans reacted to it in one of two ways: either, in confusion as to why Cade — who had just rid himself of a singing cowboy tag team partner — was involved in a main event, or with delight as the WWE actually mustered a true surprise, creating a new, young star all the while.
For me, unquestionably, the reaction was the latter.
Cade may have been unproven as a wrestler capable of main or semi-main event status, but here was an athletic competitor with great natural size, who studied his craft under the watchful eyes of Shawn Michaels and later Les Thatcher, and was being given a chance after a largely successful run alongside Trevor Murdoch.
Fast-forward four months and the Nebraska native now finds himself on the WWE scrap-heap, obviously deemed by those in charge to be a failure. Released on the afternoon of October 14, no disciplinary issues were cited for the decision. Even if they currently remain a secret, they were surely no worse than anything perpetrated by the seemingly untouchable Randy Orton over the last few years.
The WWE will likely throw their hands in the air, saying, “We tried; after all, we gave him a main event spot, and even put him over Shawn Michaels on Raw.”
But on the idea that Cade was given a chance, I’m calling major B.S.
In the 22 Raw shows and WWE pay-per-views between his June 16 “debut” and the October 14 edition of Raw, Cade scored only two pinfall victories, one over Paul London (Raw, July 21), and one over Michaels, in a tag team match (Raw, Sept 22). In this four-month period, he wrestled a total of four times on Raw or PPV. He may have suffered a broken nose during the bout with London, but it’s hardly justification for such a poor average.
He ran interference to help Jericho triumph on three occasions (Great American Bash on July 20, Raw on Aug 11, and Raw on Aug 18), but was himself laid out after or during matches on five occasions (Raw on Sept 1, Unforgiven on Sept 7, Raw on Sept 8, Raw on Sept 29, and Raw on August 7).
Coupled with the fact that he was afforded the chance to do just three promos (Raw on June 23, Raw on July 21, and Raw on July 28), it doesn’t sound like the story of a wrestler being given a real opportunity, does it? I must surmise that the only new face worthy of a prolonged WWE build and push is Vladimir Kozlov.
For what is likely to be months to come, Raw’s ratings will continue to hover around the 3.0 mark in the United States (the October 14 edition garnered a 3.1), and Vince McMahon will continue to wonder why. The USA Network will have McMahon on speed-dial, wondering the same thing.
If you, as a fan, are anything like me, part of that reason is because of the same wrestlers in the main events, delivering the same scripted promos, and having largely the same wrestling matches — and I use the term “wrestling” in the loosest possible fashion. Having seemingly placed faith in Cade on June 16, the WWE burned their chance to change the opinion that so many of us share. Clearly, they don’t even know when they are doing themselves a favour.
The WWE may have said it for themselves in their website news statement, but I truly wish Lance Cade the very best in his future endeavours.
He, the fans, and the other hard-working wrestlers outside of the main events, deserve better than what they so very often get.
Top Photo: Lance Cade by Mike Lano, firstname.lastname@example.org