Funkasaurus?!: Why WWE's Brodus Clay Booking Is Good
Last night, The WWE debuted one of the most ridiculous, over-the-top characters since Santino Marella was turned into a punch line.
The monster heel and the owner of the "Sheeeee" war cry was turned into some strange mixture of the late Heavy D, Ernest "The Cat" Miller and Dusty Rhodes.
As expected, people's mouths all over the arena dropped, as they did all over the Internet, and surely in living rooms all across America.
I, myself, could not stop laughing while repeatedly asking my fiancee what in the world we we're watching. "I have noooooo idea" was her response.
The initial reaction is to think that the WWE is punishing Brodus Clay for tweeting he would destroy John Morrison on Twitter.
However, I do not agree with that being the reason for this sudden character change, and I also don't think that this is punishment for Brodus. (Outside of the general humiliation the gimmick might lend, in and of itself.)
In fact, I think that this is not only a good idea for Brodus, but I think it's a trend the WWE should begin to take more often with its wrestlers.
Now, before you murder me in a fit of pitchforked rage, hear me out, as I outline some of the positives of the WWE's new "Funkasaurus". Perhaps, at the end, I'll actually convince some of you not to kill me, before heading out to Stamford to burn down WWE Headquarters...
A Lack of Characters
I was just having a conversation with a friend today about how the WWE doesn't create iconic characters any more.
Let's look at The Miz.
What is his character? A cocky, obnoxious, heel, who is full of himself.
Does that sound familiar?
Of course it does.
Because that's also Dolph Ziggler. And Cody Rhodes. And Jack Swagger. And Heath Slater. And before they turned faces and were pushed down to the bottom of the heap, that was also Alex Riley and Ted DiBiase.
Each of these guys are so much alike, that you can interchange them at a whim, and hardly anyone will notice.
Jack Swagger could just as easily be in Dolph Ziggler's shoes heading into the Rumble. Alex Riley could just as easily have been a part of "The Awesome Truth" and would be feuding with R-Truth right now.
Hardly anyone on the roster has an actual character you can sink your teeth in to. Even going over to faces: What is Sheamus' gimmick beyond just being Irish? What is Justin Gabriel's character?
Without characters, the product becomes bland and tedious, because no one really stands out. It's part of the reason why the product is so boring right now.
Not to mention this: How many icons were also characters?
Mankind was a masked sadomasochist. The Undertaker is a demonic mortician. Stone Cold was a beer swilling southern redneck. Ric Flair...well...he was supposed to be a flamboyant, styling, socialite. But then he became the gimmick and now he's broke.
But nevertheless, 90% of the greatest wrestlers of all-time, from Macho Man Randy Savage to Eddie Guerrero, were characters.
Love them or hate them, characters are one of the keys that makes pro wrestling interesting. And the WWE came away from that. As a result, they haven't produced a single icon in the vein of The Rock or HBK since the 1990's.
It is good for them to try and create characters again. Even if those characters might seem stupid at first.
Brodus will probably never become an icon, however, if the WWE is going back to making over-the-top characters again, you never know if the next one will be.
But still, WWE, please, please do not debut Skip Sheffield as "Ryback: The futuristic terminator-like robot from the future." Please.
Goofy Faces Are in
Undeniably, The "Funkasuarus" gimmick is goofy. It's a silly and ridiculous theme for a nearly 400-pound wrestler to have.
And yet, two of the most popular faces in the WWE right now are goofy characters: Santino Marella and Zach Ryder.
Santino Marella prances to the ring and defeats opponents with a green sock puppet. Zach Ryder is a clone of the cast of the Jersey Shore. And yet, both of them are extremely popular with both the casual fan and the IWC fan.
Because they are funny and entertaining. Goofy, but funny and entertaining.
And that's the same thing Brodus Clay was. Goofy, but funny and entertaining, as well.
As Brodus keeps winning, and keeps dancing, he, much like Rikishi before him, will grow more and more popular with the fans.
However, Brodus will be in better shape than Rikishi was, because he has far superior mic skills.
So when this gimmick has run its course, and they decide to have Brodus run over CM Punk with a car, he'll be in a better position to succeed as a top-level guy.
But, for now, being a mixture of The Godfather and Rikishi won't hurt Brodus in the short term.
And really, in spite of fans already saying this will kill his career, it won't hurt him in the long term, either.
Kevin Nash was Oz, once. Triple H was Terra Ryzing, once. Stone Cold Steve Austin was a Hollywood Blond and Kane was a dentist that went by the name "Isaac Yankem."
Bad gimmicks don't kill careers.
Having no talent does.
As long as Brodus can talk with clarity on the mic and wrestle like a man half his size when in the ring, he'll be okay.
Brodus Stands Out
Only minutes after his debut, Brodus Clay became the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter.
And while that means absolutely nothing for the WWE, as far as buyrates, ratings or attendance (metrics that actually matter), it is big for Brodus Clay.
It means that he's standing out. And it may not be in a good way, but in the world of pro-wrestling, any attention you're getting is good attention. The last thing you want is to illicit a response like Jinder Mahal did last night: none.
(Seriously, that crowd was dead last night, but the silence they gave Jinder was almost cruel. I mean, not a single soul could be bothered to just give the man a single "boo"? I'd have at least given him a "boo" out of pity.)
Had Brodus debuted in typical fashion, coming out in a black singlet, and crushing Curt Hawkins, would anyone have cared?
Would articles about him be popping up all over the web, already? No. It would've been just more standard fare from the braintrust at WWE "Creative."
But people are talking about him. On a night where Kane chokeslammed Ryder on a loading dock, Y2J trolled yet another audience and Edge was announced as an entrant into the Hall of Fame, it's Brodus Clay who is getting buzz, right now.
And if his character catches on with the audience, like it seemed to start doing with that arena full of corpses last night, this gimmick could be the best possible thing for Brodus.
Being over, and standing out from the pack, even with an idiotic gimmick, is always better than being just another big heel.
Way Too Many Monsters, Way Too Many Heels
Everyone expected, and Brodus was initially slated, to return as a monster heel. Then he tweeted about Morrison, and that was scrapped.
But, if Brodus did debut as another monster heel, what would be so special about that?
There is already an abundance of monster-sized wrestlers who squash opponents on the roster. Kane, The Big Show, Mark Henry, Mason Ryan, and Ezekiel Jackson already fit that bill and Skip Sheffield is set to make his debut at some point in the future.
There are also way too many heels on the product as well, and with Evan Bourne in HHH's doghouse (Kofi Kingston as well, by association) there will be two less faces who will make any kind of impact on the roster.
The WWE needs more faces to balance out the product. And being a monster-face just really doesn't work out well for most athletes in the WWE, unless you are The Big Show.
Debuting Brodus as a face, and an especially interesting one to boot, will help to give the roster more balance than had he just been another heel.
And with so many high level heels in the company right now, Brodus will have an array of opponents that can put him over, as well.
But again, more than anything, it makes Brodus stand out and gives an interesting wrinkle to the WWE product. Something that would be sorely lacking had he just joined the army full of heels already on deck.
Naomi Knight Makes Her TV Debut
This is a blessing for Brodus Clay and I believe a sure sign that the WWE isn't trying to punish him and intends to take this new character seriously.
You may not be familiar with Trinity McCray, as she was on the third season of NXT, the all-diva version. (It was garbage, and hardly anyone watched it.) But this woman is, by far, the single best athlete the WWE has on the roster, today. In time, she will develop into probably the best wrestler in the WWE. She is exactly the kind of woman the WWE needs to bring into the company.
(I would suggest you go and take a look at some YouTube clips of some of her matches. She is the antithesis of Kelly Kelly.)
As soon as this woman steps in the ring on the main stage, she's going to immediately attract fans. Vicariously, she will also bring attention and popularity to Brodus Clay in the same way Lita used to do for Essa Rios and The Hardy Boyz.
Not only will she help Brodus Clay, but I think she may even be a boon for the Diva's division. Once she starts wrestling, people are going to actually want to see it again. And for the first time in a long time, perhaps she will turn a Diva's match into more than just a 60-second bathroom break.
The WWE Is Trying
I think that the Brodus Clay gimmick is a sign of something very wonderful in the WWE:
In a WWE that has been so tight and restrictive with its creativity, hardly ever crossing lines or boundaries, for them to debut a gyrating disco ball with two women in catsuits is an amazing thing to behold.
Everything that the WWE has done of late, reeks of desperation, but nothing more than the fact that they care about the Internet fans, now.
I came up in a time where the WWE derided the IWC as a bunch of "Smarks" who didn't have a clue. They would openly and publicly disrespect Internet fans in interviews and made it clear they could care less about our opinions.
But now, if the IWC says they want Daniel Bryan as World Champ? He's World Champ. If we want him to turn into the heel he was during his days in the indies? He turns heel. (He's not there yet, but they're clearing taking him there. Fans who don't know who the American Dragon really is, aren't going to know what hit them.)
We want Cena out of the title picture? He's gone. We want Wade and Cody pushed? No problem.
The WWE listens because the WWE is desperate. They thought they could tell the fans what they should be seeing. They got too arrogant and forgot that if they don't let the fans decide what they want to see, then they won't be fans anymore.
But they see now that they've made severe mistakes. Mistakes so bad, that even though they are giving us what we want, they still can't bring back viewers and stop people from losing interest.
And so, with the appearance of Brodus, you are seeing a new level of desperation, where the mentality is becoming: "We've got to do something different. We've got to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks."
Why is this good?
Because it's only a matter of time before the WWE buckles and starts making the decisions that will really change the product.
It's only a matter of time before they attempt to return to the more edgy product they used to produce and stop making television for children. It's only a matter of time before Vince gets fed up and fires the right people in "creative" and brings in people with a wrestling perspective.
(It's just a personal dream: But it may only be a matter of time before someone hops on the phone and dials 1-800-PAUL-HEYMAN.)
We might see a return of a cruiserweight division, Divas getting hired like Naomi Knight who can wrestle, by George, we might even see John Cena stop pretending to be a Marine and go back to his old self!
Anything is possible when people are desperate, because desperate people are capable of anything.
It was desperation that caused the WWE to create characters like Stone Cold, The Rock and Degeneration-X in the first place, when WCW was threatening to put them out of business.
Brodus Clay was a sign of desperation by a creative team that was previously satisfied with doing nothing more than running the same wrestlers out, doing the same things, week after week after week.
The more desperate the WWE becomes, the more wild and unpredictable the product will become.
And that's a good thing if done correctly.
So, yes, there will be some guys coming out in bright red track suits. But it's a small price to pay if the WWE stumbles upon the next great idea while desperately grasping for straws in the dark.
You know what?
That video was really hard to defend.
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