Chris Hero made his triumphant return to the indy scene last weekend. The matches saw him wrestle a star of the past in “Sugar” Shane “Hurricane” Helms and a star of the future in “The Whole Shebang” Johnny Gargano. Both matches were well received and considered technically proficient at a high level, as should be expected considering all three participants.
It was just a little less than ten years ago that many were calling Chris Hero the next Chris Jericho in the same breath they were calling CM Punk the next Shawn Michaels. In the years that followed, one of those two defied their indy guy label and physique to break through the glass ceiling from rassler to pop culture relevant sports entertainer. The other just made his return to the indy scene.
Chris Hero’s release was greeted with a lot of shock from internet wrestling fans. Wasn’t his arrival to WWE developmental delayed by six months due to some kind of failed test? I’m not too sure because that fact got blurred into a haze of his bouncing moobs during his entrance at ROH Final Battle 2011. Speaking of moobs, let’s get to the heart of why Kassius Ohno is no more.
There are two kinds of things in this world. Those things we have direct control over and those that we don’t. What we don’t have direct control over we can only put focus, energy, and effort toward influencing. A good physique is required to get over in the WWE unless you are a super heavyweight (Gorilla Monsoon, Yokozuna, Great Khali, Kane). CM Punk didn’t change this, nor could he. The bodybuilder archetype is a product of Vince Sr., only elevated by his son. Before Hogan, Cena, Warrior, and Batista there was Bruno Sammartino, Superstar Billy Graham, Rocky Johnson, Tony Atlas and so on.
From the day Hero signed his contract he had body related issues, why did Claudio get to NXT months before him if they were signed at the same time? Lifting weights is tedious if you aren’t being paid to do it full time. It is made clear what people signed to WWE Developmental are supposed to do with their time. Do work in the ring, in the weight room, on the treadmill, in the tanning bed, watch tape, ask questions, don’t fail a drug test or get arrested, find and develop a character and mic/promo skills, and hit the weight room again. Did I miss something?
I have seen Chris Hero wrestle in person well over a dozen times. He doesn’t need help on the mic, doesn’t need help in the ring, his cardio is solid, his character can use some distinguishing, and if he was tan enough for HDNet cameras he is tan enough for WWE cameras. But, the elephant in the room is not Chris Hero’s physique, it is his attitude toward developing it.
It was reported that Triple H personally squashed Hero’s main roster elevation this year over physique and conditioning concerns. Anyone who says they are surprised this happened is lying or ignorant, and not just because of Triple H’s history of squashing pushes. The last time Chris Hero’s physique wasn’t an issue for him was when he still wore shirts and pants. I thought when he got to developmental, his instructions would have been to lift weights five days a week, learn to work for hard camera the sixth, and rest on the seventh.
Chris Hero is a great worker, a mechanic with natural charisma which for me is the ideal combination. He also has size, all he needed was the physique. If he was unwilling to put in the time and supplements to get in shape for vanity purposes, that it is his failure not the WWE’s. 21 months is more than enough time to develop abs, grow lean muscle, clean bulk up, and then cut down WWE’s ideal size/look when you are 6’4.
Hopefully he gets the message and hears the wake up call. What are those? That what he does and the way he does it has reached its pinnacle which in this case is a plateau. To get to the next level he’ll have to do things differently. His move set doesn’t need to change, his hair or beard don’t need to be shaved, his attire doesn’t need an over haul, he doesn’t need to cease being a hip hop enthusiast.
Much like Colt Cabana found The Art of Wrestling to elevate his status, Chris Hero can do the same with learning to love and cultivating the habit of regular weight training. Tastes can evolve, the brain is like plastic, he can learn to like it, can learn to be good at it, can make it part of his lifestyle, which will in turn open up new doors that have and are presently closed to him.
I empathize with his self imposed plight. Weight training is hard. I myself have lost 60 lbs over the past year and easy is not a word I would use to describe the process in any way, shape, or form. I am about to start clean bulking up 40 lbs over what is likely to be an extended period of time. Again it will be hard, probably would be less hard if WWE moved me to Orlando and paid me to train for two years, just saying.
Don’t know what you got till it’s gone will in my estimation be how this period is remembered two or three years from now when Kassius Ohno and Antonio Cesaro are challenging for the WWE Tag Titles. I think Hero will wake up in a cold sweat on a cold night in Ohio and realize what he had and will have the fire lit under his ass to do everything he can to try and get it back. That fire under his ass, that is why he got released, because that is what he’ s missing in WWE’s eyes, not just that 20 extra pounds of lean mass.