Heath Slater’s run from chump to champ is the feel-good storyline we didn’t know we needed.
Stop me when this sounds familiar: a fan-favorite underdog scratches and claws for years as a dedicated lower and mid-card worker until they are finally rewarded with championship gold and overwhelming praise from the WWE Universe. A tried and true formula to be sure, but it works because it tugs at all the right heartstrings. This has been the case with Heath Slater.
Slater was always simply “that guy”. From his time in The Nexus and The Corre to 3MB and even the #SocialOutcasts, Slater was little more than one face amongst many. While he was a three-time tag team champion with Justin Gabriel, this was back in 2010 and his tenures were short and sweet. Slater soon became the guy WWE would send out as a sacrificial lamb for many over-the-hill superstars who could get a cheap pop, collect a check, and go back to not being on television. In 2012 alone, Slater was forced to job to the likes of Vader, Bob Backlund, Scotty 2 Hotty, and Rikishi.
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The Crimson Werewolf approaches every match with seemingly reckless abandon all for our benefit. Professional wrestling is not only about selling your own moves but the moves of your opponent as well. Slater has always done a fantastic job of making each and every spot seem like a Mike Tyson knockout. In spite of his many, many burials, Slater keeps coming back for more and seems unfazed by his lopsided win/loss ratio. He retains a confidence and swagger that seems to ignore his past and always sees a bright future on his horizon.
Like Daniel Bryan before him, Slater comes off as a genuinely likable guy. While it can be difficult to separate some superstars from their real world persona, Slater seems like he would be more than comfortable sharing a Pabst Blue Ribbon with you at any local bar. This is part of the reason why WWE fans have gravitated towards the Red Dragon and will continue to do so. His “double-wide” segments are meant to be tongue-in-cheek but actually speak to a great majority of us.
I’m not implying a plethora of fans live the trailer park life, rather that fans see themselves as having more in common with a Heath Slater than a John Cena. I would venture to guess you are most likely not a former body builder nor are you currently dating a fitness model. But I would also guess that you have a tenacious spirit and indomitable resolve to achieve your dreams. You’re reading this article, so of course you do. Heath Slater is the every man and his story could easily be your story.
Giving the new Smackdown tag titles to Slater and Rhyno was absolutely the right decision because, why not? Let’s face it, the tag team division on both brands is in desparate need of new blood and the unlikely pairing of Slater and Rhyno is a step in the right direction and RAW needs to follow suit. I love the New Day, but their act has grown stale and WWE needs to recognize that Enzo and Big Cass have the scorching hot hand right now and should be rewarded.