Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow, Brian Damage and Russ Morgan
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 decide if we Book or Cook The Vaudevillains.
Craig: This is one of the ones that I think it’s a shame that we are actually doing. After all, I am a fan of the act and thought they were a hugely entertaining duo on NXT.
However, the issues arose, like many before them, when they were moved to the main roster and the WWE relied on their act being over on NXT being enough to get fans behind them on the main roster.
Unfortunately it’s not worked out. Instead, they sit looking very out of place on the main roster while also being somewhat lost in the shuffle in the mess that is, currently, the tag team division on Smackdown Live.
So, should the WWE persevere, do they need to tinker with the act, could they benefit from a return to NXT or are the pair done? That’s all up for discussion in today’s Book or Cook.
Jamie: This will sound a little left field, but The Vaudvillains (who are on Smackdown) miss Corey Graves (who is on Raw and NXT). Let me explain, because that sounds weird. As things are The Vaudvillains are a couple of guys who inexplicably dress and act like men from the early 1900s. However, during their time on NXT Graves would add depth to their characters by calling them “hipsters”. So, rather than two guys with an over the top gimmick that wouldn’t have been out of place in late 80s or early 90s WWF, Graves exposed them as try-hards. The Vaudvillains should not be presented as guys living 100 years in the past; it’s 2016 and that’s just lame. They should be presented as pretentious hipsters because everybody hates f*cking hipsters!
Brian: I kinda saw this gimmick being a failure on the main roster simply because I thought Vince McMahon wouldn’t “get it.” Sure enough, either he or the creative didn’t and they are where they are…languishing in a robust tag team division. I agree with Jamie when he talks about how Corey Graves sold the gimmick properly. No offense to Mauro Renallo or anybody else…but Graves knew exactly how to sell the gimmick.
The NXT fans are also much different than the main roster fans and from the get go…I don’t think the Vaudevillians ever really caught on. It’s actually a shame because as wrestlers…Simon Gotch and Aiden English are solid. Is there a way to salvage the duo? I am not so convinced they can…but hopeful.
Craig: You did indeed, Brian. As did all three that did the Top Five on NXT stars that may struggle on the main roster. That said, I inexplicably appear to have also chosen American Alpha…
Jamie makes a fantastic point. Corey really sold the gimmick while Mauro, for all his obvious strengths, treats them like any other team. I’m also not overly convinced they can be salvaged. Last week on Smackdown they jobbed to Hype Bros in less than 3 minutes. It’s difficult not to look at them and think that Vince either doesn’t like or doesn’t get them, isn’t it?
Them as hipsters would certainly draw more heat than whatever it is they are trying to see. It’s a quirky gimmick they sport but not one with much longevity, as is being shown.
Jamie: By adopting a gimmick that is different their gimmick is no longer that, but rather that they are different. Get your head around that one! Essentially, it does not appear that enough people get what the gimmick is, thus boo these guys because they dress different. It’s so lazy and it’s exactly what happened to Tyler Breeze. Michael Cole and JBL just could not be arsed explaining what he is meant to be, thus he did not get over.
I feel sorry for The Vaudvillains. They themselves (like Breeze) could not be more clear as to what their gimmick is, and due to limited microphone time they will of course rely on commentators to tell their story, but for whatever reason they just don’t. Turning them babyface would be even worse because the people that didn’t get still wouldn’t get it, only this time we want people to cheer for them. The commentators could easily salvage this gimmick if they just called them “posers” or “hipsters”. After a couple of weeks we could catch English and Gotch posing for selfies, shopping for gluten free everything and boom, and actual reason to dislike the them! Will that happen? I doubt it very highly.
Brian: The Vaudevillians have unfortunately fallen into the scrap heap for the WWE. Once a wrestler or wrestlers get in there, tt is very difficult to get out of. See Bo Dallas just as an example of that. Is it impossible to get back on track? No, because Tyler Breeze has seemingly redeemed himself a bit with that tag team with Fandango. Do I see the same happening for the Vaudevillians? I just don’t see it, not as a tag team unit anyway.
Russ: I’m with them finally embracing the 21st century and ditching their gimmick as it hasn’t gotten them to the top of the mountain. Change is as good as the rest?
Craig: I’m with Brian. In their current form, I’m not sure I see a way back for the duo. It’s a shame. It was interesting, albeit niche, in NXT but it hasn’t worked out for them since. As solo performers? I’m not sure either. Maybe both could be the sort that would benefit from time away from the WWE before an eventual return…
Jamie: Sadly I’m going to say cook. If I were running WWE I’d have an idea of what to do with them, but I’m not. Unfortunately for The Vaudevillians the man in charge just doesn’t get them, or just doesn’t like them. Either way it’s a cook from me.
Brian: I am with Jamie on this one too…cook ’em. Not because I don’t like them, but because I see no possible way for them to ever succeed in the WWE.
Craig: Cook all round for me. I didn’t think the gimmick would work on the main roster and the WWE have done nothing different with them to help it get over. Talented workers with a unique look, but something lacking with the duo.
Quite the consensus around the failure of the Vaudevillains gimmick to work on the main roster. But what do you think? Would you book or cook him? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can read all previous ‘Book or Cook?’ pieces here.