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Titus O'Neil: Examining His Potential As A Singles Superstar
On January 31st, 2014, the WWE saw the end of the Primetime Players when Titus O'Neil attacked Darren Young after they lost a match on Smackdown. It wasn't as dramatic as Marty Jannetty getting launched through a barber shop window, but it is definitely an intriguing move by the creative team. O'Neil already has new theme music and a win over Zack Ryder in his first match since ending his partnership with Young. The questions must now be asked, how far will Titus O'Neil go as a solo act? I'll seek to answer this by breaking down his positives and negatives and try to come to a conclusion about his potential future.
Titus O'Neil's Positive Attributes
1. To start, O'Neil has what many wrestling fans simply call "the look". At 6' 4", 270 lbs, Titus is a mammoth in the ring. His physique compared to smaller competitors certainly makes him eligible for a solid amount of squash matches which will easily help creative give him a push. He's also a pretty decent looking guy, and that can certainly help his cause. That clean shaven head with the goatee gives him an appearance that shows a good amount of swagger and confidence.
2. We've seen from other superstars how having a background in football can give your in-ring performance a boost. Titus played football at the University of Florida and bounced around different teams in the Arena Football League. He joins a list of former football players that includes The Rock, John Bradshaw Layfield, Roman Reigns, and Bill Goldberg. The athleticism that former football players have brought into a wrestling ring should be a foreshadowing to what Titus O'Neil can bring to the table.
3. Mic skills are very important in the WWE. Wrestlers who don't have them are more likely to not be given a push by McMahon and the powers that be. Or in some cases, a manager is assigned to a wrestler with poor mic skills to help give them a character boost. Titus O'Neil has shown in commentary at the announce table and the PPV pre-match show that his vocal skills as a wrestler are somewhat underrated. His promo after Smackdown and several promos he had in NXT demonstrate that he is fairly creative while on the mic. What might hold him back (and many other superstars) is restriction on how much he can say via the creative team and Triple H. But if O'Neil is allowed to open up on the mic he adds another dimension to his character.
So what O'Neil offers is a good look, a background on the gridiron, and solid skills on the microphone.
Titus O'Neil's Negative Attributes
1. It's a shame that O'Neil isn't younger, because the sky would be the limit for his potential in this company. Unfortunately, he's 36. Now although this would be a reason to give him a push now while he still has some good years left in the tank, superstars who started young have always been better in the long run. John Cena was 26 when he defeated the Big Show at WrestleMania XX to win the US Title. Randy Orton was World Heavyweight Champion at age 24. When the Nation of Domination was formed, The Rock was 24. These are examples of pushes for wrestlers in their 20's who have had long term success in the WWE. Now of course the argument can be made that age has not mattered for several wrestlers who had success in the company. When Batista joined Evolution, he was already 34. When Steve Austin won the 1996 King of the Ring, he was 31. The problem is that Titus has had a very small amount of success in this company so far and already has his best years behind him. We've seen what pushing talent too fast has done to some of the company's current roster, examples being The Miz and Ryback. At this point, you can't make Titus a contender for the WWE Title anytime soon, it wouldn't be believable. Maybe a big win at WrestleMania XXX could at least get him going in the right direction, but by the time he might be ready to be a main event player, he will only be a few years under 40.
2. Some of the bigger complaints about larger wrestlers is their limited move set. Although their stature and power is enjoyable to watch, bigger wrestlers tend to be boring if they don't have a wide variety of wrestling moves. At the moment, Titus is fairly weak when it comes to his technical wrestling skills. He has a generic list of signature moves that will get dull after some time. His finisher is extremely dull and needs a good sell from his opponent to make it look painful. I personally assigned him the Jackhammer in 2K14. I think Titus should have a long sit down with Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, and Kane to talk about what he can incorporate into his move set in order to make him a more entertaining superstar.
3. One of the main reasons why I felt the WWE was always better during the Monday Night Wars was a smaller roster. An overloaded roster limits the amount of time much of the company's under card is given. This is the case for the current WWE product. Not only is there already an established main event section of the roster, but there is a large amount of young talent being pushed at the moment, all of which could be main event talent. The list of pushed talent includes all members of the Shield, Bray Wyatt, Big E Langston, possibly Alexander Rusev, and maybe (finally) Antonio Cesaro. You then have a ton of talent who is stuck in the mid card and was or hasn't yet been in the main event scene. That list includes Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Christian, Sheamus, Jack Swagger, Fandango, The Usos, The Miz, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Rhodes. For the WWE to push O'Neil, there is a lot of talent that technically stands in his way. Hopefully, they won't pull a Ryback and have O'Neil win 34 squash matches and then put him in the WWE Title picture, as it would be a slap in the face to the rest of the roster and likely kill O'Neil's potential going forward.
My Final Prediction on The Future Of Titus O'Neil
Now it's time to take the positives and negatives, mash them together, and see what pops out. Looking at this practically, I think Titus can become a solid mid-carder capable of holding the Intercontinental Title for a few runs, but nothing higher than that. Unfortunately his negatives will outweigh his positives. Titus is definitely an intriguing option as a future World Champion. He has a great look, good skills on the mic, athleticism with size, and is only a few training sessions away from having a decent move set. But this roster is stacked to the ceiling with wrestlers who need a push. Adding Titus to that mix doesn't help his cause. His age also is a major factor as he couldn't be a long term factor for the company. I'm happy that the company is going to give Titus a much deserved opportunity to go solo. But I personally hate that he is getting this push now and not five years ago. I think Titus would be a great choice to be "the guy". He would be awesome appearing on talk shows and commercials with the WWE Title around his waist, his gator call chant would be heard all across tailgates, and his merchandise would absolutely sell once he got a good trademark going. But it's too late in my opinion for this to happen in Titus' career.