As the world’s foremost authority on WCW, we here at With Spandex tend to be kinder than most to the legacy of Buff Bagwell. But his name has come up recently, and unfortunately it’s to be used as an analogy by Eric Bischoff to hammer home why sometimes your favorites don’t get to grow up to be major players.
The former WCW president answered some Twitter fan questions on the latest episode of his Bischoff On Wrestling podcast. A fan asked why Buff (née Marcus Alexander) Bagwell never got a main event push when WCW was still around.
Bischoff explained at length about how Bagwell “just didn’t have the chops” to be a main event performer, but turned his answer into a longer diatribe about how, as in sports or film or television, or anything else, you can like someone all you want, but that doesn’t mean they “deserve” anything.
He just didn’t have the chops for it, you know? It’s the same reason there are a lot of character actors out there that we’ve seen in a hundred different movies and we recognize them as great supporting cast members. They have great careers. They make a lot of money but they are never that leading character. It takes a lot to be that main event star or be that leading man or leading woman in the feature film industry or a television series. It’s the same way in sports entertainment. Not everybody that has great skills and makes a great supporting cast member has what it takes to be a main eventer or the leading character.
Often times in sports entertainment because it’s got such a vocal and avid fan base of people that love the business. They are more interested in what is going on behind the scenes and the politics than they are about what’s going on on the screen in many cases. Every time I hear, “So and so DESERVES a chance to be in the main event.” You know, bullshit. Nobody deserves anything. You earn it. You earn it based off your talent, based off box office, based on your ability to convince people whose lives depend on whether they make the right decision or wrong decision. You deserve it based on your ability to convince them that you do and not everybody can. I wanna smack somebody in the head every time I hear somebody say, “So and so DESERVES a shot!”
It’s definitely a solid point: not everyone deserves a shot. But some people definitely EARN a shot, and those in power arbitrarily decide whether they’re worthy of that shot. For example, a lot of people say similar things about Cesaro “deserving” a shot, and it’s definitely true, but that’s because he’s EARNED it. Several times over, in fact.
Bagwell was indeed extremely over at various points in his WCW career, but even at the height of his popularity/being hated, many casual and hardcore fans alike viewed him as a joke, or felt his role in the midcard was adequate. And of course, his infamous “tryout” match against Booker T on Raw is a tremendously small sample size, but a tremendous example of a very high-profile match with a lot at stake. In arguably the biggest, most important match of his career, Bagwell inarguably crapped the bed. And in wrestling, sometimes one chance is all you get. Unless you’re Roman Reigns or something.
(h/t to WrestleZone for the transcription)