For those of you who happen to follow my work, you'll know I see possibility in all Superstars, from The Great Khali as a monster heel to Dolph Ziggler as a midcard standout. So, I suppose it comes as no surprise that one of my favorite Superstars is former three-time WWE Tag Team champion Heath Slater.
Like most Superstars, I think Slater could be a fun act to watch. The thing is, Slater has never really been put in a position to make much of himself since ending his association with Justin Gabriel.
While Slater was a face by association with his former NXT Pro, Christian, Slater has never really been a face on his own. Despite it going against stereotypical Internet theory, I actually have to think a face turn would be a big boost for Slater.
The fact is, there are a lot of midcard heels at this point, so to break out in that fashion would be very difficult to say the least, with the top two midcard heels (Antonio and Barrett) placing the bar very high.
Still, things are a little bit clearer on the face side of things.
The only major midcard faces at this point are Kofi Kingston and (technically) Sheamus. Bo Dallas has vanished, Cody is still too early in what could be his turn, Brad Maddox isn't wrestling, Truth looks to be feuding with Sandow at the moment; Mysterio, Christian and Sin Cara are on the shelf, Team Hell No is imploding while on a collision course with Planet Funk and Miz just went up against the U.S. champion in a losing effort.
Seems like a good time to think about promoting a new lower-card face to the midcard, and I don't see many options other than Heath Slater, who's never really been given a shot despite never actually putting on a bad performance.
The truth is, I think Slater has all the tools to make it as a midcarder. If you break it down, I think to at least make it to the midcard, you need average or above-average ability in the ring.
Thankfully, Slater just happens to be one of the better ring workers in the lower card. Matches against Chris Jericho and The Miz, as well as his tag team work with Justin Gabriel, all attest to his in-ring ability, merging quasi-high-flying ability with the style of a brawler. This combined with what would be his rock-star gimmick could make for quite the entertaining coupling in the ring—especially against heels the likes of Damien Sandow, Dolph Ziggler and Fandango.
While most of the time making it to the midcard isn't something that requires a lot of ability on the mic, in recent times, it's become more apparent that the ability to talk can mean the difference between being a transitional champ (Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger) and a future main-eventer (Barrett, Cesaro).
Fortunately, while not at the level of a Barrett or Cesaro, Heath brings with him a unique sound to the mic.
Yes, that sound does make it seem like Slater has a head cold more often than not, but still, at the very least it stands out, and given time it can grow on you, not unlike that of Johnny Ace, who sounded like a man to pity because it actually sounded like he was putting a lot of effort into what looked like a painful task in talking.
Despite that, Johnny wasn't bad on the mic and grew something of a cult following, which (even now) advocates for his return to TV. (Honestly, that would be pretty fun to see his interactions with Brad Maddox, but that's another article for another time.)
Anyway, Slater is one of those rare guys who is actually able to be a comedy character, but in the ring (except for when he breaks out the air guitar), Slater is no joke. Even to those people who just want wrestling without the fun and games, I think Slater can at least get a chuckle from you.
If that isn't enough, I think I know what will get any remaining skeptics when it comes to Slater's ability to entertain.
He can sell very well. There's an odd thing going around that leads people to think selling is the key to being a big star because Shawn Michaels could sell well, so I thought I'd tap into that demographic as well and say that, while Slater is no Shawn (who is though?), Slater can make a move look effective without overdoing it. So if you like selling, I think you'll like what Slater can do with a kick to the face.
"Well, this is all well and dandy, but how would you go about getting Slater to turn face? It has to have some sort of impact; otherwise, it'll run the risk of falling flat."
I'm glad you bring that up, and I have the perfect solution for that.
I think the optimal way to go about a face turn is to facilitate the end of 3MB. A good way to start would be a jealousy angle brewing in the group. It starts small enough with Slater and Drew/Jinder in tag matches with the likes of Zack Ryder/Yoshi Tatsu, Ted DiBiase/Alex Riley and The Usos. All the while, Slater is the one picking up the pins and getting the celebrations.
It gets to a point where, during a match with The Prime Time Players (assuming they get out of that hole Hell No put them in), Jinder and Drew leave Slater to get beat while saying something to the effect of "You're not bigger than the band!"
So for a while, Drew and Jinder go on a tear (while granting everyone their wish and bringing in Curt Hawkins to fill out the band), beating the teams mentioned earlier (and maybe a couple of jobber teams) before getting a No. 1 contender's match with Planet Funk. Heath Slater makes the return and costs Jinder and Drew the match.
Over the course of the feud, Slater could play the spoiler, costing his former teammates wins (not unlike what R-Truth would do to The Miz in a sense) before finally calling out 3MB and calling for a tag match at the next pay-per-view.
If he wins, 3MB dissolves, and if 3MB wins, Slater isn't allowed to air guitar or call himself "The One-Man Rock Band" anymore. At the PPV, Slater reveals his tag team partner to be Justin Gabriel, and after a solid 10 or so minute bout, Slater and Gabriel pick up the victory, ending 3MB. (We could even have some Curt Hawkins interference by a crutch-swinging Tyson making an appearance.)
From there, we can either continue on with a Slater/Gabriel team in the division, with Kidd at ringside on occasion, or have this be a one-time reunion before Slater starts his "solo tour."
There's only so many times we can see Truth vs. Cesaro, Miz vs. Cesaro, Barrett/Cesaro vs. Orton, Kofi vs. Wade, etc. I think now is a good time to start looking at new sources of entertainment, and if there's anything Heath Slater can be, it's entertaining.