Craig Wilson, Brian Damage and Jamie Lithgow
The WWE roster is filled with “superstars” at every level. There are the main roster guys who regularly appear on Raw and SmackDown, those who are used as glorified jobbers and those who are barely used at all. In this series of pieces, we will take an individual wrestler barely or poorly used and decide if they are worth keeping or should they be let go. Today we do things a bit different, with rumours of the demise of the League of Nations we decide if we ‘Book or Cook’ Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and Rusev.
Craig: ‘Book or Cook’ has been a great addition to the blog and we’ve liked to keep it a bit different but this is this first stable that we’ve looked at.
With Wade Barrett departing first from the League of Nations and soon from the WWE more generally coupled with the supposed break-up of the League of Nations, it makes this a good time to look at the future of Sheamus, Rusev and Del Rio. In terms of flow it makes sense to work our way through in order. So let’s start with the Celtic warrior: Sheamus.
First things first, Sheamus isn’t going to get cooked any time soon and I’m fine with that. I think Sheamus brings something to the roster. He’s thankfully not that bland babyface anymore and that ridiculous pleated beard is mercifully no longer a thing.
The League of Nations, though, hasn’t been that great for him. I think you can book Sheamus, and Alberto Del Rio, as upper midcarders/main eventers. But this association hasn’t done anything for him. I don’t terribly want to see a laughing Sheamus on TV. I want to see him destroy and go through performers on TV. He’s got the look and the presence to be a dominating figure, not a part of a comedy act. Right?
Brian: You are a 100% correct, Sheamus should be an ass kicker and not a comedy act. The same could be said about Alberto Del Rio who generally works a stiff match. The League of Nations seems like something just thrown together for the sake of keeping people busy. I never really took the faction seriously.
It’s weird how Del Rio was such a mega star once he left the WWE, but now that he is back…he once again seems plain and ordinary. Rusev I think has the most to prove as a performer. That whole Dolph Ziggler/ Lana love triangle still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and I feel he still hasn’t recovered from it.
Jamie: I’m not the biggest Sheamus fan, but he certainly has his uses and is worth keeping around so long as he’s used correctly i.e. as a heel. Let’s face it, much as they claim to be, WWE isn’t exactly the most progressive company in the world. If Sheamus isn’t kicking ass as a monster heel or being a really bland babyface the only thing I imagine WWE doing with him is an Irish stereotype gimmick. So yeah, I don’t see Sheamus as a top guy by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s a useful body to have around. Book him, but as an ass kicker not an Irishman.
As for Del Rio, he is as bland as bland can get. He can be relied upon to have a cracking match when required, but so can a lot of guys if given the chance. I genuinely thought he would only be around for a month or two after winning the US Title from John Cena. But here we are, over six months later and his only distinguishing feature appears to be his nationality, much as it was during his original run with the company. I’d cook him, but I’m happy to bow to popular opinion…
Craig: The resigning of Alberto Del Rio is an odd one. After such a good debut, it’s been completely lacklustre hasn’t it? I’m not his biggest fan but can’t help but think that that’s mainly because how the WWE use him. He was very good in Lucha Underground but his signing feels just like a big football club signing smaller clubs’ best players and not using them. More about hurting Lucha than benefiting the WWE?
Either way, the use of him has been pretty odd. He has the look to be a main event and, as you say, he can work a solid match. But nothing, zip. Reckon Alberto could be for the cook or is there a use for him?
Brian: Del Rio is definitely missing something in his WWE tenure and it isn’t Ricardo Rodriguez…although it would be cool to see him return. He just seems so bland and ordinary in the WWE where as he was a HUGE deal in Mexico and Lucha Underground. I really want to say there is a use for him moving forward, but with all this new influx of talent coming in…I am fearful that Del Rio will continue to wither away.
For me, I am surprisingly going to say cook him. He is a great talent, but we will never fully see that talent in a WWE ring. Anywhere else, this guy is a star and a big one at that.
Craig: And to round it off; Rusev. We’ve given the Book or Cook treatment to his main squeeze Lana and he got a mention briefly in that piece. I expected things to work out for Rusev and I thought his tank entrance at WrestleMania meant that the WWE had high hopes, despite the throwback style of his gimmick. However, after that WrestleMania he’s largely bounced about without doing much and being given even less to do. Would you really notice he was gone if he was cooked?
Jamie: I’ve softened my stance on Rusev. Sheamus was a definite book for me, and ADR was a definite cook. Rusev currently occupies that middle ground in my mind though. We can forget about him being an unstoppable monster heel like when he first debuted, that ship sailed a long time ago. That said, I’ve been able to detect a dry humour to his character since the love quadrangle nonsense. As a competitor he’s a killer, but mentally and emotionally he has his weaknesses. That would be interesting to explore with a babyface Rusev. As a heel he’s been shot to bits, but I’d like to see him as a good guy.
Brian: I have written a piece in the past about when the WWE takes once monster heels and give them a comedic turn. They essentially wave the white flag with that particular character. While Rusev may have some comedic notes to his character…I would try and suppress as long as possible for him to sustain any sort of credibility. I say book him and continue to try and bring out whatever is left of that monster inside of him….if there is any.
Craig: And a damn fine piece it is too. I just don’t think the WWE can always book monster heels right any more. But that said, as Jamie alludes to, once the mystery is gone then it is all downhill from there.
Am I right in thinking the consensus here is – Sheamus: book, Alberto Del Rio: cook and Rusev: jury is out?
Brian: My vote is to keep all…just separate the group as it does nothing for me.
Jamie: I’d book Sheamus, cook Del Rio and now to remove myself from the Rusev fence…
I most certainly would not book him as a comedy babyface a la The Great Khali and Vladimir Koslov. While I’ve seen a bit of humour in him, I take that as character depth rather than an excuse to make him a comedy act. I’d like to think that he will evolve more like Umaga, who started life as a primitive monster heel but turns out he could speak English, lose the occasional match but still be taken seriously. I’d book Rusev, just to see if that potential is actually there.
There we have it. We would book Sheamus but have him lose his character drop the comedic element while we couldn’t reach an agreement on either Alberto Del Rio or Rusev. What do you think? Who should stay and who should go?
You can read all previous ‘Book or Cook?’ pieces here.