For the first time in 21 years, Kane did not compete in a Royal Rumble. The Undertaker, Big Show, and Mark Henry are working on an extremely limited basis. The Great Khali left the WWE in 2014.
All of the great big men of this generation seem to be approaching retirement (relax Internet, I’m just kidding around putting Khali in this echelon of talent). You don’t need me to sit here and tell you how much Vince McMahon loves a good super heavyweight. Look no further than the legendary Andre The Giant, Yokozuna, or Kevin Nash.
Men like Vader, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Umaga (R.I.P.) were underrated in the grand landscape of the WWE (Vader could be one of the two or three most underrated wrestlers in history, but that’s another article for another day).
“The big man” has always and will always have a prominent role in the WWE.
Rest assured, there’s value in that. No matter how many fanboys sit behind their keyboards clamoring for decade-long Sami Zayn WWE Championship runs, no matter how many Tweets claiming Cesaro should headline Wrestlemania are strewn about Twitter, people will always tune in to see a seven-foot, 300 pound behemoth.
Part of the draw is simply the size of these guys. Real life giants aren’t something average people see in everyday life. Of course, the mystique is only amplified (specifically looking at the older fans) when a super heavyweight can cut a promo and wrestle a five-star match.
Since the last migration of big men, the WWE has installed perhaps its most effective developmental brand, NXT.
Imagine what NXT would’ve done for superstars like Nathan Jones, Snitsky, and Heidenreich back in the day. But, I digress. NXT has definitely produced a solid class of future superstars
The future of “the big man” is in good hands.
While Cass certainly looked green during his early days in NXT, he is the poster boy for the success of the Performance Center. Since then, he’s developed into a solid wrestler. Promos seem more natural to him. And, becoming comfortable on screen has allowed his electric personality to shine.
A split from tag team partner, Enzo Amore, is inevitable. I can see the dollar signs in Vince McMahon’s eyes from Nashville, Tennessee. But, if Cass continues to roll, he’ll be a main event superstar one day.
Corbin has come a long, long way since the days of his squash matches and forgettable Bull Dempsey rivalry in NXT. He has a reputation for being a bit abrasive. So, it made sense when WWE pulled the trigger on his heel turn years ago. Corbin embraced the role, and excelled as a natural villain.
But, I point to his programs with Apollo Crews and Samoa Joe as turning points in his career. During those two feuds, Corbin showed immense improvement in the ring. The right people noticed.
Considering he won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal in his main roster debut and is now participating in the Elimination Chamber in less than a year, I’d say he’s well on his way to becoming the giant of Smackdown Live.
Harper has all of the tools to be a nasty, monstrous heel. His promos remind me a lot of Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Harper doesn’t raise his voice. He doesn’t scream. But, the content of what he says is unsettling. In the ring, he’s just as good. Watch his Ladder Match with Dolph Ziggler at TLC 2014. The guy can go.
To this point, Harper hasn’t received much of a chance to branch out on his own. However, he did have a brief run as Intercontinental Champion in 2014. But, that was short-lived. Before you knew it, Bray Wyatt had Harper back, following buzzards and such again.
I have to mention Rowan here. He’s a solid performer – bless his heart, he just can’t get WWE’s braintrust behind him. But, give the guy a gimmick change, get him as far away from The Wyatt Family as possible and just start over. That simple.
If we’re talking favorites to be the face of this class, it has to be The Monster Among Men. Strowman is getting a monstrous push on Raw. He’s currently feuding with Roman Reigns. With no clear opponent for Wrestlemania, it looks like this year’s Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal could end up being a showcase for him. But, nothing’s set in stone yet.
Strowman has been a revelation since the WWE Draft in July. It’s almost been a complete revamp from The Wyatt Family bit (I’m sensing a theme here – “You big? You considered a super heavyweight? How about we put you with The Wyatts?”). When given mic time, he delivers. He conveys all the rage and destruction
To top it all off, he’s made immense strides in the ring. Plus, his jobber squash matches were the highlight of the summer.
The legacy of the big man is in good hands.