The verdict is in and Vince McMahon has given up on Ricochet.
But wait a minute. How could this happen? How did Ricochet, a two-time Battle of Los Angeles winner, former Lucha Underground champion, winner of five Wrestling Observer awards, winner of NJPW’s 2014 Best of the Super Juniors tournament, and NXT 2018 Break Out Star of the Year, end up in WWE purgatory?
When his contract with Lucha Underground expired, Ricochet was arguably the hottest free agent in wrestling. Triple H had to fight off every other major wrestling company to bring one of the best high fliers wrestling has ever seen to NXT.
After barely a year in NXT, Ricochet moved to the main roster where he’s been showing off his incredible in-ring abilities while feuding with the likes of Samoa Joe and AJ Styles, as well as participating in a number of high-profile tag and multi-man matches. He also captured his first ever main roster title, the United States Championship, and most recently managed to earn a title shot against Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. Not bad for a year on the main roster right?
Less than a month ago, Ricochet challenged Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship and lost. Four days after that, the One and Only was pinned clean by Riddick Moss on Raw. Just to ensure you understand why this is problematic, Moss received a “Who are you?” chant from fans during the match. Since losing to Mr. Who Are You, Ricochet has been off live TV but still wrestling, though you probably wouldn’t know it because it’s been on Main Event, the show you probably didn’t even know still existed.
While Ricochet is exceptionally talented in the ring, his mic work is described by nearly everyone as bland and his “character” veers back-and-forth between a superhero and a guy who’s just happy to be here. There’s not much charisma and I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who’s been excited after listening to Ricochet cut a promo. These are all big red marks on Vince McMahon’s Ricochet report card, and when you add the 5’9″ height statistic, you know Ricochet’s in trouble. (In case you weren’t aware, in addition to having major issues with people who sneeze, Mr. McMahon also hates short people.)
But we can’t put all the blame on Vince. To a degree, it could be argued that Ricochet did this to himself, and that’s perhaps what’s most frustrating about the One and Only’s current situation.
A little over two weeks ago, Ricochet challenged Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at WWE’s latest Saudi Arabia event, Super ShowDown. Lesnar performed three German suplexes and an F-5 on Ricochet to retain his title in less than two minutes. Basically, he beat the absolute trash out of Ricochet and the match wasn’t even remotely competitive. Going into the event, I think it’s safe to say no one expected Ricochet to win. We all know Lesnar is going to face McIntyre at WrestleMania 36, but still, I expected Ricochet to at least put up a fight and give us something near the level of what Finn Balor and Daniel Bryan’s matches in 2019 against Lesnar delivered.
Instead, we got a squash match. But it’s what’s happened afterwards that really sealed Ricochet’s fate in my eyes. Recently as a guest on the Good Morning Washington with Julie Wright on WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C., Ricochet was asked what it was like to wrestle Brock Lesnar at Super ShowDown.
“That was kind of a dream come true,” said Ricochet. “I can remember back in 2002, 2003 watching Brock versus The Rock, Kurt Angle, all these guys that I could name off all day. Being able to be part of that history, tie my name in there with those guys that challenged Brock is just so cool.”
Let me get this straight. It was a dream come true for you to get absolutely demolished by Brock Lesnar and buried with a dump truck in less than two minutes in your first ever WWE Championship match? 17 years in the business and that was the culmination of your dream? That was what you worked for? Come on, man! Even I’m disgusted by that level of complacency, so I can only imagine what Vincent K. McMahon thinks of it. And look, I get it, it’s a talk show. Ricochet has to behave himself as the white meat babyface that he is. But my god. How can he possibly be satisfied with that?
And then there’s this.
Okay, I just want to say everyone should be happy that I get to perform for you all every week. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me in what capacity. So let’s celebrate that and not dwell on anything else. #LifeIsGreat
— Pretty Ricky (@KingRicochet) March 11, 2020
It should matter to Ricochet. It should matter A LOT. By saying it doesn’t, Ricochet’s basically telling Vince McMahon that the he’s right in burying him, because clearly Ricochet doesn’t care enough to demand better for himself. He needs to stop being satisfied, stop celebrating, and start fighting before it’s too late and he becomes a what could have been.
Vince responds to people that stand up for themselves. Just ask Chris Jericho.
In an excerpt from one of his books, the former Le Champion tells us that he was on a private jet a few days before WrestleMania 26 on his way to a press conference with Vince and Kofi Kingston. When the plane landed and Kofi got up to leave, Vince made a comment to Kofi along the lines of “Maybe you’ll get over one of these days.” Kofi ignored the jab and went to leave, but Jericho stopped him in his tracks and told him to get back on the plane and challenge Vince to a fight, otherwise the boss will know he can walk all over Kofi. If fact, Jericho told Kofi that Vince would not only respect the challenge, but love Kofi for it.
Kofi did just that. He got in Vince McMahon’s face and after some verbal jabs back and forth, Vince shot a double-legged takedown on Kofi and the two were rolling around the plane fighting until Vince got up hysterically laughing and said “That’s the way to do it!” Did that fight earn Kofi Vince’s respect? We’ll probably never really know for sure. But it sure as hell earned Chris Jericho’s, and ten years later Kofi Kingston is one of WWE’s most decorated and successful stars, having this past year won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. And no, I’m not saying that Ricochet challenging a 74-year old man to a fight is going to solve all his problems, but in the weird world of WWE, it sure as hell isn’t a bad place to start.
Perhaps no WWE Superstar understands Ricochet’s current predicament better than Zack Ryder. If there’s anyone who wishes he picked a fight with Vince McMahon, it’s probably him. Back in 2011, Ryder used a low-budget and poorly produced YouTube show to climb from the depths of obscurity to the forefront of WWE programming and revolutionized the use of social media in wrestling in the process. He essentially changed the business and in doing so got himself over without any help from the WWE front office. Things were going great for Ryder, until they weren’t. One minute, he was cutting promos every week on Raw as WWE’s United States Champion. The next, he was getting kicked in the nuts by Eve Torres and shoved off the stage while wheelchair bound.
No one knows why WWE pulled the rug out from Ryder. Not even him. And why? Because he never even bothered to ask.
“I don’t like living with regrets, but one of my biggest regrets was not going to Vince McMahon personally at this time and kind of asking what the deal is; but, now I can only speculate,” said Ryder in an interview when asked about his sudden fall from grace in WWE 2012. “I don’t know if it was, ‘Let’s just use this guy and shut people up,’ or ‘Let’s see what he’s got.’ I don’t know and I can’t speculate. I wish I would have found out for myself and that’s on me. They did start to use me and I started the year as nothing….I ended the year as United States Champion, so 2011 was a hell of a year for me and then it all started kinda going down hill.”
At this point, WWE and Ricochet each have some choices to make.
Unfortunately, it appears that Vince has already made up his mind on Ricochet, but thankfully he isn’t the only one in WWE who pulls the strings. I have to hope that the other folks at the top of WWE understand that talent like Ricochet are few and far between. I watch a LOT of wrestling — as my fiancée will attest to, a borderline concerning amount — and I’ve only ever seen one or two other guys who can do what Ricochet does in the ring. Poor character and promo work aside, the guy has an incredible level of in-ring talent and WWE is crazy to flush it down the drain like this.
It’s leadership’s job to work around a talent’s weaknesses and help display their strengths. Why not put Ricochet with a faction or a manager? Surround him with people who can talk and let him take care of the stuff inside the ring. Let him shine where he can shine. I mean I know Vince hates factions, but would it really be so bad to find ourselves with another Evolution or Shield on our hands?
Lastly: Ricochet, decide whether or not you’re going to stand up for yourself, learn from your predecessors, and show Vince McMahon and the WWE front office that you’re worth putting on television again. For God’s sake man, stop thanking people for treating you like dirt, show some self respect, and go beat the crap out of your 74-year old boss.
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