We recently reported that the WWE is preparing to give Damien Sandow a push, but personally that news was greeted with a certain level of apprehension. The apprehension was due to the fact that there have been more than a few stories on this site and others about the WWE looking to give Sandow a push over the course of the past year and nothing good or lasting has come of it. Triple H even went so far as endorsing Sandow in a cathartic interview with Grantland, but despite that support there was still no measurable progress in the way of his constant presence on shows or a move up the midcard. Combine the routine hopeful reports of WWE being ready to push him with the incredibly, mind-numbing MITB cash-in loss and you’re not sure if Damien Sandow has become their new pin-cushion. (I’d still argue that if you wanted him to be the first to lose, there was no reason to have him destroy Cena’s supposedly “weak” arm prior to the match. For him to do that and still lose, doesn’t make Cena look any stronger; it makes Sandow look weak and it makes Creative look unsure of him.)
When you combine the mistreatment of one of the WWE’s best homegrown wrestlers with the fact that Cena’s reportedly supposed to have a lengthy run with the belt to restore its prestige, it’s understandable to think that reports of Sandow getting a push may be more of the same: build up to a massive letdown. The fear here is that the WWE will build Sandow up to have him going into a match with a credible chance to defeat Cena, only for Cena to retain the title and continue to look like the unflappable, unbeatable Teflon champion. It’s what the WWE did with Christian going into his MITB match with Alberto Del rio. Still, if the latest report of their desire to push him has any merit to it, then there are key ways to go about this while maintaining his mean streak, his tenacity, and his desire to grab the WHC.
-Keep Sandow and Cena in a simmering feud. Never let it boil over. Let the tension between Sandow and Cena continue to slowly escalate. They don’t have to be engaged in a feud with each other to be feuding. In other terms, make these two mortal enemies. Sandow can regularly references his dislike for Cena and take opportunities to sabotage Cena when possible, regardless of Sandow’s current opponent in a match or feud. For example, if Sandow’s feuding with Ziggler, he can cut a promo that belittles Ziggler and also throws in a subtle or overt dig at Cena. The gist of this would be to make sure that fans would not be able to forget that Sandow hates Cena.
-Keep the WHC on Sandow’s mind. Give Damien Sandow an unhealthy, relentless obsession with the WHC. Sandow is a great wrestler who understands the psychology of a good heel and so he’s been keeping the WHC on his mind, simply in subtle words and conspicuous actions. Sandow’s temporarily removed from the WHC scene yet based on his wrestling and his words, you would think he’s gearing up to face Cena at SS. Despite losing to Cena, Sandow’s found a way to turn that loss into good positive momentum, both living up to the mean streak that announcers often attribute to him (Sandow) and appearing grittier in the ring. The addition of the new finisher, You’re Welcome is a nice supplement. Still calling himself the uncrowned world champion, Sandow won’t let fans forget that his place should be in the Main Event, that he’ll one day defeat Cena, and that the WHC belongs to him. Have him look past opponents in promos and always reference getting back to the WHC championship. Have him do maddening, evil, garish things to people and rationalize that it’s what he felt was necessary to get back to the WHC title. Make him singularly focused on getting back to the WHC title no matter what he’s doing in the same way heels were back in the late 80’s/early 90’s.
-Don’t bury him (again.) You know the story: Sandow wins MITB briefcase. Sandow loses feud to Cody Rhodes. Sandow then loses again…and again…and again…….and again. Losing to Cody was understandable, and really, the only choice available. Beyond that, however, how do you generate fan interest and momentum behind Sandow’s character when he’s losing consistently and he’s not even in the understandable confines of a feud? Although Sandow is one of the few who could still have the crowd eating out of his hand with one promo even AFTER losing a staggering amount of matches, he can’t do what Jericho did—Y2J was the last wrestler to be so good at what he does that wins/losses were largely irrelevant. The issue is that Sandow’s character isn’t established enough for him to wither losing often and still maintain a high level of fan interest. The WWE Universe has known Y2J for over 10 years, while they’ve known Sandow for only 1.5. Make Sandow credible and let him build himself up with solid hard-fought wins, preferably dirty ones that make casual fans hate him.
Many are still baffled at the choice to have Damien Sandow lose in the manner that he did weeks ago when he tried to cash in the MITB briefcase on Raw. Despite the dubious distinction bestowed on him by creative, Sandow’s personality and ability have shined through that madness. The WWE is sitting on a potential goldmine with Sandow, but now it’s up to them not to ruin it.