Turning a career trajectory around after heading in the wrong direction and false starts is not an easy thing to do, but WWE appears to have finally found the right direction for Austin Theory.
This past Monday morning, I posted an article calling for WWE to rebuild Austin Theory, and as we saw on Raw, that appears to be exactly what WWE is attempting to do. In my article, I recounted the false starts and bad booking decisions that have plagued Austin Theory during his WWE run and his great run in Evolve.
Austin Theory is a potential prodigy in this business that could be a massive star if booked properly in my opinion. The internet pulled out their pitchforks over the booking of Theory unsuccessfully cashing in his MITB briefcase for the U.S. title. The thing I found so interesting about the outrage was a lot of these same fans were probably likely complaining that Theory had the briefcase in the first place.
My personal opinion on Theory being the MITB holder was a situation that Vince was pushing someone too fast and too soon and was not ready for the position he was being given. In the eyes of the fans, just being Vince’s chosen one on screen wasn’t enough for the fans to go yes, he really is the chosen one. In the eyes of many fans, Theory had been presented as a follower first with Zelina’s group, then Rollins, then Gargano and then finally Vince.
They gave Theory a U.S. title run, but like I said before he was never booked by WWE as a star instead, he was booked as either a buffoon or lackey. That is not how you get someone over as a star, especially someone that you view as the future of the company that is only in his 20s. Pushing someone too fast and too soon can certainly end in disaster if the fans aren’t buying it and the fans didn’t feel Theory earned that MITB briefcase, which generated the booking more heat than Theory himself.
I know a lot of the backlash online was from having Theory cash in for a title other than the Undisputed WWE Universal championship, but honestly that didn’t bother me. The reason that it didn’t bother me because it made sense for the character in my opinion. He tried to cash in on Roman Reigns multiple times and it didn’t end well for him. Let’s be realistic the likelihood of Theory successfully cashing in on Roman was zero, especially with Hunter in charge.
As I said I thought him cashing in on Bron Breakker would have probably made more sense in order to rebuild Theory and get the title off Breakker, so Breakker could move to the main roster. My reasoning being that I thought they’d have an easier time erasing the Vince version of Theory in NXT before returning him to Raw. However, after seeing this past Monday’s Raw, I have no problem admitting that I may have been wrong after what we saw.
How different a week can be, as WWE and Triple H were being buried online for what they did to Theory and now they are being praised for what they did with Theory.
WWE did exactly what I was asking them to do in the rebuild by giving us the version that I’ve wanted since he signed with WWE. The Austin Theory I first saw in Evolve, was a young arrogant prodigy that was confident in his ability and not some buffoon and lackey.
The reason this promo has been so universally praised by fans is because it didn’t come across as scripted and had elements of realism. As I have said multiple times before in articles, including elements of realism or perceived realism it connects so much better with the audience.
There was a genuineness in this promo and Theory came across as believing every word coming out of his mouth. If the talent comes across believing what he is trying to sell or convey to the audience, you have a much better chance of connecting to the audience.
Let’s look at some of the language Theory used in this promo:
“I was touted to be the next big thing and prove that on day one — and I did. I exceeded that expectation. And what did I do? I outgrew the ceiling of being the next big thing, and I became the face of the franchise. And people still continue to hate on me until this day because of that. Why? Because they can’t relate. And the whole world looks at a person like me and wants to see me fail. Wants to see me fall short of the expectation — that’s just not going to happen.”
Addressing his chosen one status and saying he exceeded all expectations and that he won’t fail was very similar to the promo style that he had in Evolve. Which as I have said previously, is when he first came on my radar. The arrogant prodigy that fully believes every word that he says really shined through here for me as a fan. Like I said it is his sweet spot for him and it comes off as genuine, which certainly helps connect with the audience.
“Look at Roman Reigns. Nobody’s been able to touch him in the past two years. No one. And has he looked vulnerable? Well, whenever he does — which is rarely — The Bloodline’s there. Look at my cash-ins. I tried at SummerSlam. Brock Lesnar was there. Clash at the Castle. Tyson Fury was there. And if they weren’t there, The Bloodline certainly would have been. Roman Reigns is unstoppable, and that scenario of me cashing in, it doesn’t exist.
So, what did I do? What did I put in my brain and decide to do? I thought, ‘What is the best thing to do after this?’ And that is going after one of the greatest champions of this past decade, Seth Rollins. And where was he? On his back, in the middle of that ring, I had him beat. A-Town Down and Bobby Lashley — Bobby Lashley pulled me out of that ring and mauled me like a madman. But if it wasn’t for him, I’d be a two-time United States champion right now”
Explaining why he didn’t cash in on Roman was a very smart play here in my opinion, because it explains to the audience his reasoning and logic in cashing in for U.S. title. As a longtime fan, I could certainly read between the lines and fill in the blanks without him explaining it.
He had a golden opportunity with this briefcase, and he took the opportunity on a situation that he thought he would have been successful in. Explaining that he had no chance at the world title is smart because it makes sense why would he cash in if he knew his chances weren’t good in it being successful? The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So, with his attempted cash ins on Roman ending badly, it makes complete sense he would move on to a different target.
Having Theory not be the selfie snapping buffoon and instead an arrogant, cocky and aggressive prodigy is such the right direction and call to make in moving his character in the right direction. As we saw on Raw, both Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins felt the wrath of Theory.
He is sick and tired of being the “chosen one” and coming up short and it makes complete sense he would finally snap. Anyone that has had huge expectations put on you by others or those that you put on yourself, can relate that it puts a lot of stress on you and when things don’t go your way it is very easy to snap.
So, there is a relatability factor there that the audience can relate to, which certainly helps connect him with the audience. He is now strongly motivated to prove his doubters wrong and just because he lost the MITB briefcase that he is not someone to write off. His career is far from ruined or finished and as he stood over a beaten Seth Rollins the message was clear that Theory is determined to take the title off Seth.
What we witnessed on Raw is the first step in the rebuild of Austin Theory and they hit a home run with it. As I was watching Raw with WR’s Clark Taylor (Reviewer and co-host of the Republic Ramble), after Theory’s promo, we talked about how good it was and how they are certainly now heading in the right direction with him. As long as they are able to continue to build on this momentum with him the sky is the limit.
Photo Credit – WWE