October 11th, 2019 will see the WWE re-draft their roster for the second time in three years. This will also be the 3rd Brand Draft of the companies history. In that time RAW and SmackDown have drafted two franchise guys a piece to be their focal points. RAW went with The Undertaker in 2002 and Seth Rollins in 2016, while SmackDown went with The Rock in 2002 and Dean Ambrose in 2016.
Seth Rollins isn’t on any of the other three draftees level. Yes, he can work, but that’s all he can do. He’s simply not enough to carry a show, unlike the other three men. What sets Dean Ambrose/Jon Moxley, The Rock and The Undertaker apart from Seth Rollins?
That’s what we’re going to look at, the five tools that set wrestlers apart from each other. The term ‘five tools’ comes from baseball, where you judge a position player for their power hitting, their contact hitting, their base running speed, their fielding ability and their arm strength throwing the ball. There are several players who have those traits, but the two most obvious are the Los Angeles Angles OF Mike Trout and the Cleveland Indian’s SS Francisco Lindor.
So, what are the five tools of pro wrestling? Well, first you need to be able to work a match, or wrestling Ability. That means smooth transitions, dynamic skill-sets, a unique style and the ability to work the crowd during down moments.
You have to be Athletic. Much like in baseball, you can get by with only a handful of skills, and truthfully if you look at a lot of wrestlers today, not many are athletic. A simple comparison would be Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Lynch is not very athletic. She doesn’t jump high, hit hard, run fast or lift a lot. Charlotte can do some of those things. Charlotte is far more athletic than Becky Lynch. Being athletic isn’t the end all be all, but it is necessary to be a five-tool wrestler.
Beyond the in ring, you have to be unique. You have to craft a Character that is instinctively your own. Now, character is not related to another tool; charisma, but it is no doubt just as important. Think of someone like Eddie Edwards. Not the greatest talker and he doesn’t ooze charisma, but his character has become so unique that it’s given him a different element to work with in both the ring and on the mic.
That takes us to charisma. The ability to get yourself over with just a mic and an audience, or sometimes not even a mic. You can have Charisma while not having a character, a perfect example is Eli Drake. He has no unique character, but he has a unique gift for gab which overshadows the lack of developed and uniquely specific personality. Being brash and cocky isn’t that original but when Drake takes the mic he ascends past the stock talent who share the same character elements and Drake becomes must see.
Finally, you have to be Marketable. Unlike a few on this list, this one can come and go and come again. Kinda like contact hitting in baseball, right Bryce Harper? I think like eight of you will get that dig. Being able to market yourself is the sole difference that separates Cody Rhodes from Nick Aldis. The Young Bucks from Team Macktion. The Kenny Omega’s from The Colorado Kid’s. The ability to market, connect and cultivate a fan-base is wholly unique to specific guys. Some, like Colt Cabana can do it without having many other tools, while someone like Seth Rollins can’t really do it at all despite the platform he’s on.
Here, in my opinion, are all of the Five Tool Wrestlers the WWE has (not counting John Cena). There’s no shame in not having all five tools, it’s rare. WALTER, Daniel Bryan, EC3 are really the only three that I can see who have all five attributes . Big E is on that list if I saw more of his singles work today. As a member of the New Day he’s marketable and able to work, but take that tag element out. He failed during his last singles push, so clearly he was missing something then. Has he found it? Only one way to find out.
Now, unfortunately, EC3 won’t be the first pick taken due to the fact the WWE doesn’t like IMPACT stars succeeding in their company. Eric Young, Bobby Roode, Lashley, Mike Bennett, Rockstar Spud (Drake UGH Maverick) and others are so underutilized it’s not even funny.
WALTER also has no interest in working the main roster though things can always change. So we’ll just go with the idea that he’s still of that mindset.
That just leaves Daniel Bryan; which makes sense. So then we look towards the 4-Tool talents. That gives us names like Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, Aleister Black, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Lashley, Chad Gable, Finn Balor, (begrudgingly) Matt Riddle, and Pete Dunne.
Brock Lesnar is the most obvious, though for the sake of this we’re talking who should, not who will. Lesnar doesn’t work enough date to warrant a top-two spot so we’re excluding him. Styles, and Lashley are over 40 and currently stuck in go-nowhere-feuds. Kofi Kingston has the stink of an awful title reign still wafting off of him, while Finn Balor just got sent to the minors. Matt Riddle’s also an ass-hat who can’t keep from making himself polarizing.
So that leaves us with Aliester Black, Big E, Chad Gable and Pete Dunne. Though we’re going to eliminate Dunne off the bat for being an NXT talent.
So who should go #2 after Daniel Bryan?
Aliester Black has a great look that can be marketed, excellent in ring skills and a unique offense all of his own. He’s shown enough athleticism with those kicks to prove he’s able to up his game. He also has a character that’s all his own, if albeit a little under developed. The problem with him is simple; he’s not known for his verbal prowess and as THEE GUY you gotta go around doing a lot of interviews. Is Black dynamic enough to do that?
Then we have Big E. We know he’s charismatic, arguably the best talker in The New Day. He’s got a great look and a proven track record of athleticism thanks to his days as a power lifter, as well as those ill-advised dives to the floor. The problem with Big E is simple; is he a singles act you can market? We know he’s a good enough worker in the ring, but before The New Day he failed to get over on three separate occasions.
Lastly is Chad Gabe, a relative unknown at this point. He’s got the look, the Olympic background is proof enough he’s a top level athlete, he’s a great in ring worker who has connected with fans. The problem is can he hold our attentions when he’s not wrestling? That’s the big issue with Gable. He’s not tested enough.
The verdict is obvious, though not simple. I would take Gable to build around regardless of any limitations he might have as a speaker, because I can just throw him with Kurt Angle. However, this isn’t how the WWE does things, so I have to take the guy who can be marketed and succeed without any help and that’s obviously Black.
So if the WWE is paying attention, there top pick for SmackDown should be Daniel Bryan, while RAW should draft Aleister Black second. They’re the right two guys to build a brand around, even if Black may need some time and feuds to elevate to a true main event status.