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Why Chris Hero's NXT return does not confirm Samoa Joe's WWE Main Roster debut

You really, really, really want a Samoa Joe vs. Kassius Ohno feud.

Heeee’s baaaack!

It’s 2017, and amazingly enough, independent wrestling legend Chris Hero has returned for his second tour of duty in World Wrestling Entertainment as Kassius Ohno. Yes, this is the same Hero/Ohno, whose 2013 release was related to him appearing to be both a) in a less-than-optimal in-ring condition and b) not necessarily motivated to have the best matches he could possibly have for WWE as a company.

However, fast forward four years and there are numerous things that are now in Hero/Ohno’s favour. This includes the hiring and success of similarly less-than-‘traditionally in WWE shape’ performers like Samoa Joe thriving in NXT, plus the fact that performers like WWE political minefield CM Punk have been gone from the industry for nearly three years.

However, as much as Kassius Ohno throwing kicks and elbows at Shinsuke Nakamura could be happening soon, this doesn’t necessarily also mean that a performer like Samoa Joe could suddenly be Raw or Smackdown-bound.

Rather, with NXT being a key component of how WWE could be evolving its overall business plan, the idea of Joe, Ohno, Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Tye Dillinger, and so many other top indy and global names being in the same place at the same time, could present NXT as a tremendous ‘third-brand’ as WWE continues to boldly expand into the digital age.

Recently, JBL was quoted as saying that the WWE Network earned $109 million in net revenue for WWE in 2016. In addition to this, the number of subscribers to the WWE Network has reached 1.5 million as of August 2016. Consider the idea that Raw and SmackDown average roughly 2.5 million viewers per week.

Thus, the idea of WWE attempting at all costs to get their Network subscription base to match the number of weekly viewers of Raw and Smackdown makes sense. How does WWE do that? Well, that’s where Kassius Ohno comes into play.

At present, WWE’s Network is using a very smart strategy of aiming directly at internet-loving wrestling fans and attempting to stockpile as many of their favourite wrestlers on the Network as humanly possible.

Therefore, between NXT, 205 Live, and the UK Championship Tournament, they feel like they’re making a solid step in the right direction. Kassius Ohno being a “crown jewel” acquisition by WWE to build where the Network is headed insofar, as he’s aligned with wrestling Cruiserweights, numerous current NXT competitors and has world-traveled experience.

Imagine ALL of the elbows!

Kassius Ohno being in NXT does not also mean that Samoa Joe leaves NXT because, at the very least, there’s a dream match possibility between the two of them that could drive up subscriptions to the WWE Network.

There’s also the possibility of putting Joe and Ohno TOGETHER for matches against The Revival, #DIY, TM-61, and possibly even the Authors of Pain, or Nakamura and well, anyone that could drive Network subscriptions, too. Based on numbers and with revenue in mind, keeping Joe and Ohno together just makes smart business sense.

As for people who may believe Ohno’s lack of “cosmetic” appeal could be concerning, that’s another reason to keep him and Samoa Joe on the same product. WWE as a mainstream TV product is very heavily a body-centric brand. Even Kevin Owens wears a t-shirt and wears black, and gear that is form-flattering to his lack of significantly-muscled physique.

However, WWE as a Network product is FAR less concerned about physical appearances. Shinsuke Nakamura certainly isn’t winning any bodybuilding competitions anytime soon, nor are three-fourths of the sAniTy stable, and numerous others.

WWE providing a body-positive product on the Network actually makes it a far more inviting brand for an internet fanbase that may want less to do with a TV product that concerns itself with what a wrestler looks like, as opposed to how well they wrestle.

What will the match look like roughly 15 years later?

Ultimately, Kassius Ohno’s WWE return is proof that the promotion’s sense of what is required to be the market leader in pro wrestling in the modern age has evolved. The idea that WWE wants to be not just Raw and Smackdown, but the entire Network too, is important.

How important? Well, it’s important enough for WWE to hold off on signing the likes of Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Big Damo and rehire Kassius Ohno.

For as much as an Ohno re-hire would make it seem apparent that WWE could move a talent like Samoa Joe to the main roster, the idea that makes sense is for WWE to add to their Network offerings by signing up several globally and internet-beloved wrestlers. 

What was once Raw evolved into Raw and SmackDown. What then was Raw and Smackdown, became Raw, Smackdown, and NXT. We’re headed into an age that is potentially even more dynamic than anything we’ve even seen from pro wrestling before.

Thus, for as much as you may want to see Samoa Joe on Raw or SmackDown, enjoy him where he is, because doing more of what he’s doing right now is what makes him valuable to the WWE not just now, but in the future, too.


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