Much noise was made of WWE’s desire to parachute some veteran, former stars into the main roster to keep things strong while the less experienced talents found their feet on their exclusive rosters.
Bill Goldberg, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio were among the names floated. Early on, Shelton Benjamin was seemingly the only individual who was to arrive imminently, before a physical setback shot that idea squarely in the back of the head. While Benjamin isn’t exactly of the mega-star caliber we all had in mind when there was talk of bringing back former talents, he does at least have strong indie credentials, and was always the sort of solid hand in the ring who could mold sculptures from growing stars in the ring.
Having failed to secure him, SmackDown went with Curt Hawkins as its return of choice for the New Era.
The promo videos themselves didn’t really portend anything particularly exciting. The WWE showed a woeful lack of imagination by ripping off both the Matt Hardy V.1.0 “facts” from 15 years ago and the done-to-death Chuck Norris “facts” that have been a staple of the internet since it first arrived.
There are too many instances to mention, but aside from Hawkins following a pattern that seldom actually works to a repackaged wrestler’s advantage, the simple fact is that he was just never all that memorable.
Sure, during his initial run in the WWE he was lamented, in some quarters, as a figure who deserved more of a push than he was getting. But he also isn’t particularly well remembered, and nobody of note has been screaming for his return. Even his lengthy stint on the independent circuit, a route which for so many current Superstars successfully whipped up demand for their presence in WWE, has done nothing to reinvigorate any interest in Curt Hawkins, who has achieved absolutely nothing of note whilst on vacation from WWE.
His No Mercy re-debut was doomed before it even started, and that his literal “stepping into a WWE ring” was orchestrated solely as a labored punchline to a rubbish joke was never going to give him a second wind. It doesn’t help that the WWE Universe has had enough “fan trolling” to last several lifetimes after the Eva Marie debacle.
Curt Hawkins’ entire persona is a perfect example of WWE over-seasoning a talent and stuffing them full of catchphrases and gimmicks that the talents haven’t the charisma to work with, leaving them with an uphill mountain to climb. Jack Swagger coming out and saying “you don’t know Jack!” is perfectly witty, but he’s still exactly the same person on the mic and in the ring. For whatever reason, Carmella was assigned the adjective “fabulous,” and aside from being a strong worker with a promising future it’s hard to see what fabulousness has to do with her in-ring performances.
Since Hawkins is being pushed more for his personality than his in-ring ability (which has always been fine; but not special), it is likely that he’s just going to become an annoyance very quickly.