Seth Rollins is the Eric Cartman of the WWE

As I was watching wrestling videos, reading articles, reading fan comments, and overall wracking my brain over the past months in the WWE and the problems that Raw and Smackdown are facing in their ratings battles, something occurred to me. People have been referring to the WWE's portrayal of Seth Rollins as Champion as a cartoon character, and until tonight I have resisted this notion with a little bit of offence To me, it was almost as if it was partially a shot against Rollins' talent for animated facial expressions. However, tonight I realized that not only is Seth Rollins portrayed as a cartoon character, he's being portrayed as a character whom to me is “thee” cartoon character. Seth Rollins has become the Eric Cartman of the WWE.

Like other people my age, I was a new University student when a fresh new revolutionary cartoon came along to stretch the limits of what was acceptable for television, South Park. This was right in the middle of the attitude era too, so it was a time where many North American people wanted to feel rebellious, uncouth and free, and most of all, enjoyed being offended for our own entertainment. (British people, of course, had been enjoying this type of humor for the previous 25 years through Monty Python and other British Humor shows). Anyways, in the midst of all this, one character in particular, Eric Cartman, became larger than life, and really made the South Park show for me. Eric Cartman was the character whom people loved to hate, and loved to laugh at. He acted all tough and mighty with his “respect my authority” attitude, disrespected his teacher every chance he had, yet usually caving to his mother whenever he needed her help or she flexed her authoritative muscles. He was also terrible and rude to all his friends, and would come up with all kinds of schemes to get himself ahead or make his own life better then theirs. Finally, in the end of most episodes, despite his best scheming efforts, we all got to laugh at him as his plan fell down around him and he ended up getting “crapped on”. Yes, Eric Cartman was a talented and entertaining “heel” character that had perhaps the biggest part of carrying the South Park show.

Doesn't that sound a lot like someone else we know in the WWE? (Hint: he wears a gold belt with a huge jewelled “W” on the front). Of course, its not really that strong of an analogy with Seth Rollins. I mean, its not like Seth goes around arrogantly telling people to respect him. Its not like Kane is an authority figure that Rollins disrespects every chance he gets in the same way that Cartman does his teacher, Mr. Garrison. Its not like Hunter and Stephanie are to Seth like Cartman's mom is to him, someone to act all mighty around unless he needs their help or they act authoritative towards him. Its not like the majority of the shows end on a funny note with something bad happening to him. Its also not like Seth Rollins crapped on his friends to get ahead. Oh wait ..... Seth Rollins' character and story is exactly like that! Is Seth Rollins really Eric Cartman? Has the WWE really turned their principal titleholder, main character, and focal point of their entire show into a cartoon character? Has the WWE become like an inanimate living cartoon?

If this is the case, what is the problems with this? The attitude era was a great time for wrestling, and South Park was a great cartoon especially during the attitude era. Therefore, South Park should be good for wrestling, shouldn't it? Perhaps it would, if it were back in the 90's, and was still fresh, new, and revolutionary to the 18-25 year old demographic, it would be. However, is South Park really the kind of show that people in this demographic are watching in 2015? Also, are cartoons really a model for successful adult television in 2015? I think when you see shows like Family Guy, American Dad, and even South Park in the twilight of their popularity, relegated to mostly a niche market, you can see that this isn't the case. Modelling your champion and main character after Peter Griffin may not be the best choice in 2015. Should they perhaps model him after Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory? Ah, maybe not! All these shows are pretty good for comedy shows, but do we really want Wrestling Entertainment to be a big comedy show, or worse, a Big Joke?

I'm not saying there's no room for comedy in Wrestling Entertainment. I'd like to think that most wrestling fans are like me, and love a little comedy in the show. When used effectively, it can be a powerful tool. It can be used during a few moments here and there to relieve the lagging moments of say, a 3 hour television show! It can also be an effective way to end a show every now and again, sending people home with a laugh. However, the show has to ultimately be about wrestling. Does comedy need to be the entire premise of the principal character? Whats more, if you want to have a principal focal character be comical in nature, should that character really be the main hero of the show (i.e. The greatest champion)? I'm no television expert, but I always believed that there was a name for a show with a comical character as the main protagonist – a comedy. Would any of us proud WWE wrestling fans be as proud to be a fan if the show was considered a comedy? What's more, the WWE has a whole cast of characters, and any other characters could be used to deliver the lighter moments of the show. I happen to find Bo Dallas and R-Truth to be very amusing when they attempt to be funny. Funny moments with talented performers like this can really make for an entertaining show, yet nobody would seriously think of putting a strap on either of these two characters. As far as comedic characters in a minor championship role go, the New Day is doing a great job of entertaining us every week. However, is it really wise for the WWE to be building the focus of their shows around their main champion, if he is more of a comedy character than icon? Does the WWE no longer see the value of having a main champion who is worthy of respect, admiration, or even fear?

I know a lot of fans defend Seth Rollins as WWE Champion as perhaps the most overall talented wrestling performer in the WWE. I myself have to admit that Seth Rollins talent has won me over as his talent is becoming more apparent to me month after month. However, do we perhaps love and support Seth Rollins as champion because he's the most talented overall performer, who naturally should be champion, or do we actually find him entertaining and believable as our Champion? Perhaps the ratings struggles Raw and Smackdown are facing is due to the falling credibility of the WWE to the more casual fans who make up the bulk of the target audience. With 5 hours of main WWE television to fill each week, its inevitable that the most talented performers are going to be somewhat overexposed. Is it possible that we need the most talented performers to act as the mid-card to upper-card, allowing them to carry the show? Maybe the champion needs to be an icon who makes people perk up, gasp, and get excited when he comes out, in anticipation of what he might do or say. Being the WWE's World's Heavyweight champion might actually be a waste of Seth Rollins talent.

Seth Rollins is an extremely talented performer. I love to hear him speak. I love to watch his facial expressions. I think he could do a great job of carrying a comedy show if they build one around him. He's also an extremely talented wrestler in the ring. However, these two aspects of Seth Rollins talent don't mesh with me in making him a great champion. Seth Rollins is like Eric Cartman. His performance can really carry a comedy show, and send the viewers away with a good laugh when he gets crapped on in he end. If the WWE believes in him in this regard, as they appear to do, then build the show around him. They can make him the United States Champion, if they feel he needs a title to make his character more important and interesting. However, make the World Heavyweight Champion someone who is rarer, an icon, worthy of awe and respect. Let Seth Rollins and the rest of the cast make the show entertaining, and have Rollins wrestle often, as his in-ring talent will serve to keep the quality of the wrestling high. Let whomever the WWE champion is only come along at key moments, creating tension,and making the World Heavyweight title, and thus the entire show actually relevant and important. When he's not the World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins can be the funniest and most talented performer we can imagine for the WWE. However, the current state of the WWE is insulting to the fans, because in the end, when the butt of the jokes, Seth Rollins, inevitably walks away as the WWE champion, the joke is really on them.

Daniel Jobber
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