For what seemed to be months, the WWE pushed Brodus Clay as a huge monster who was coming to destroy the entire WWE roster. When the time finally came for the former NXT contestant to make his Raw debut, the fans did not get what they expected.
If you didn't know before CM Punk told the world, Vince McMahon is a fan of big men, and Clay seemed to be the perfect superstar in his mind.
Looking back to the early days of the then-WWF, we had guys like Randy Savage, Billy Graham and Jesse Ventura. These guys had a lot of muscle mass and were some of the top guys in the industry.
In the more recent era, we have guys like Undertaker, Kane, Mark Henry and Big Show. They don't fit the bill of "bodybuilders," but they are still some of the largest athletes in the world.
However, there is one thing that the greatest big men of the past and present have in common: gimmicks.
It's hard to imagine Undertaker having the career he does today had he remained "Mean" Mark Callous.
If a man named Randy Poffo came to the ring every week, we would cheer for his family legacy, but we certainly would not say, "Ohhh yeaaah!" every time we thought of him.
Brock Lesnar would not be making as much money as he does today had he just been "a big guy" instead of "The Next Big Thing."
Right now, Ezekiel Jackson is the perfect example of how a wrestler cannot become a superstar without a gimmick. He has the monstrous body the WWE loves, but he has absolutely no gimmick. On top of that, the fans recognize when a wrestler has limited in-ring ability, which does not favor Jackson very much.
To any superstar, the gimmick is everything. Reportedly, the "Hall of Pain" gimmick currently used by Mark Henry was to be for Brodus Clay's debut. Personally, I feel having it go to Mark Henry was great for two reasons:
Mark Henry has gone through several gimmicks in the WWE, including "Sexual Chocolate," which was interesting, to say the least. However, he has been a workhorse for the past 15 years, and it was great to see him finally get his reward, much like Kane in 2010. Henry was barely getting by as a fan favorite, but the new generation of wrestling fans finally took notice of a man who, despite his size, was in the shadows.
Even better than Henry's long overdue push, the greatest thing about his "Hall of Pain" is that it gave us the Funkasaurus.
I believe most fans were excited when they heard Brodus Clay was finally making his long-anticipated debut on last week's Raw. However, when Justin Roberts announced, "Hailing from Planet Funk, the Funkasaurus, Brodus Clay," I immediately had hope for Clay. He wasn't coming in to destroy guys like Curt Hawkins and leave. He came in to destroy guys like Hawkins and entertain the crowd.
Aside from the gimmick, the former Snoop Dogg bodyguard has incredible in-ring ability.
It can easily be said Clay is the WWE's Samoa Joe. He's very fast and agile for a man pushing 400 pounds. Last week he beat Hawkins on Raw and Tyson Kidd on Smackdown! with running crossbodies that were spot on.
However, one has to wonder if fans would take notice of his skills had he just come to the ring in a black singlet, with generic music and entrance, squashed a guy, yelled real loud and walked to the back.
Brodus Clay could have made his debut as a beast and run through the jobbers on Raw and Smackdown! just like he did on Superstars before the hype vignettes. All that would have done is give Trent Baretta and Tyler Reks some TV time, which would be great for them, but would have sent Clay into obscurity in a short time.
Although we've seen the "big man dancing" gimmick fail a few times (see Rikishi), if the Funkasaurus gimmick keeps up with the same current tenacity, Clay's sure to become a WWE mainstay and future champion.
Plus, can anyone else not get out of their mind his suplex of Hawkins followed by him saying "My bad!"?
That was the final nail in the coffin that hooked me.
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