The WWE announced a bunch of releases today, among them King Barrett, Damien Sandow, and former WWE Diva Cameron. None of the names are particularly surprising but Barrett and Sandow are two poster children for the company missing the mark when it comes to pushing people right. Both of these guys could have reached much greater heights than they did and it’s almost all on the booking committee. For a few reasons I’m not one to bash the booking too much, but I will get on them here. These two got over, sometimes way over, and were totally done wrong.
Sandow debuted as ‘The intellectual Savior of the Masses’ and got over quickly with his ‘I’m smarter than all you idiots in the audience’ routine. Then he and Cody Rhodes had a decent run as the heel tag team The Rhodes Scholars. They didn’t win the belts but they got some good work in. He won Money in the Bank in 2013 and then it all went downhill. In what would be the final cash-in attempt for the World Title before it was unified with the WWE Title, Sandow promptly jobbed to John Cena on Monday Night RAW and went down in history as one of the only unsuccessful cash-ins on record. He’d bounce back for a little while teaming with the Miz but once that team broke he was relegated to also ran status until his release.
Sandow was a victim of horrendously bad booking. Sticking him in a tag team, even a good one like the Rhodes Scholars, was a waste of time for a guy who’d gotten over like he was. And what’s the point of having him win Money in the Bank just so he can job in his cash-in attempt three months later? Surely they could have worked out some other way to work a successful cash-in for him into their larger plans for the title. He very likely had the worst post-Money in the Bank victory period of anyone who’s ever won that match. And he never really recovered from that. He could have easily parlayed even a brief run with the World belt into a solid position in the high midcard from there on out.
Barrett came in as the leader of the Nexus in an invasion-style angle, and was in a really good position to become a regular main event guy. But as he is wont to do with outsider storylines, Vince would not pull the trigger on putting the usurper faction over big when it counted. Barrett lost his title match to Randy Orton in November 2010, got buried by John Cena a month later, and then got booted from his position as leader of the Nexus after that. He wasn’t the same after that; he would hold the U.S. and Intercontinental Titles several times but never got beyond being a midcarder over the rest of his run with the company. I don’t think he’d have been the top dog in the company or anything but there’s no reason why he couldn’t have been a guy who held the WWE or World Titles (back when they were separate) a few times or won a Money in the Bank match. But Vince never wants to put the ‘other guys’ over even if they’re actually his guys so no dice.
I do think that a lot of the talk of bad booking and people being used wrong is often overblown. A lot of times that just means ‘my favorite guys didn’t get pushed like I wanted them to be’. But in these two cases the charge fits.