Heath Slater has been stuck in mostly jobber roles for his entire career. Save for his initial Nexus push with the company, and a few very rare minuscule mini-pushes here and there, he has essentially become the modern day version of the Brooklyn Brawler.
Magically, however, Slater has been able to do just enough to keep himself relevant enough to keep his job.
He has some strange ability to stay entertaining and useful to the WWE through his various character tweaks over the years. He has placated to the world of social media, and has – numerous times – turned to the ideas of making himself, or the stable he was functioning in at the time, into a hashtag-movement of sorts.
In a way, it as if he’s the Brooklyn Brawler, but on figurative steroids. A somewhat beloved figure for his losses, but mostly admired for his tireless effort in trying to get over with the crowd.
Another comparison can be made to Zack Ryder. Ryder is a bit better on the mean streets of the Internet, but he has also been granted better opportunities on WWE programming. But both he and Slater have remained relevant for things they have done for themselves, not for anything the WWE has done for them.
Now we are in a weird place with Slater. His character went undrafted during the brand extension, and either the company has sincere plans for his character, or this will be yet another super-duper mini-push for Slater like he has had in the past with 3MB or The Social Outcasts.
On Tuesday night, Slater interrupted what appeared to be a random local jobber, and cut a promo in which he demanded to be signed. “#SignHeathSlater” became his latest social media movement, he berated Shane McMahon in a way that giggled at the SmackDown Live operator for not knowing who he was when he most certainly owned the WWE Network, and it ended with the main roster return of former ECW original and WWE veteran Rhyno.
Forget about Rhyno for a second here. He is being brought back as a name-ish face, and a veteran talent to add to an otherwise mostly young roster. His story here was to be introduced. That’s it. And to the naked-eye it would appear that’s all that segment was about, but to me at least, it was actually about the evolution of Slater.
Before Rhyno came out to gore Slater, I found myself – as I have at the start of every new re-imagination of Slater – engrossed by him on the mic. Telling us things in a semi-shoot, but in his usual fun type of way. It wasn’t terribly different than the ones he has cut when with The Social Outcasts first began, or even while jobbing to WWE legends years before that, but this time it came off far less hokey; as if he was also sick if being booked as a comedy act.
It came off great, too. Even when Rhyno’s head popped up from behind the ring and the intent of the angle became clear, part of me was openly rooting for Slater to ruin Rhyno’s debut. To stop the gore from happening, hitting him with some move, and continuing on with his promo and telling Shane McMahon that he’s indeed ready for that next step in his career.
Even after the gore, I still find myself waiting for it to happen.
Slater has evolved in so many small areas of his character, and has not once been given a sincere opportunity to do anything other than be fed to talent the WWE apparently values more. That needs to stop. That either Raw or SmackDown Live needs to give him a legit, breaking kayfabe shot to become a star.
Moreover, that we need to let Slater grow into the wonderful, artistic, and beautiful flower that he is. Let him prosper.
#SignHeathSlater is indeed a hashtag worth getting behind. But at this point in time, I’m as ready for #PushHeathSlaterOrWeRiot to be a thing, too.