During a time when so many wrestlers have similar looks and personas, it is refreshing to see a superstar with a unique character. That is the case with "The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay. The original thought was that Clay would be yet another monster heel, but he has become something far more entertaining.
Brodus and his "Funkadactyls" Cameron and Naomi have been dancing down to the ring for the past few months now and Clay has become one of the most fan-friendly wrestlers on the roster. Perhaps he is somewhat limited in terms of what he can accomplish, but Clay gets a reaction, and that is more than most can say.
Keep reading to see the latest installment of my 25-superstar series breaking down the upside, direction and long-term potential of the most significant wrestlers on the WWE roster. Today's piece will focus on the prospects surrounding The Funkasaurus.
Clay comes from humble beginnings in the WWE, as he signed with the company in 2006 and was assigned to Deep South Wrestling, where he wrestled under the gimmick of G-Rilla. Clay was soon moved to Florida Championship Wrestling, where he competed briefly for the promotion's heavyweight title before being released from his contract in early 2008.
He resurfaced in 2010, however, and was given the Brodus Clay gimmick shortly thereafter. Later that year, Clay got his first taste of WWE action, as he was named a rookie on the fourth season of NXT. Clay came in second in the competition to Johnny Curtis, but he received high marks for his look, demeanor and even his mic skills.
Clay transitioned to the role of Alberto Del Rio's bodyguard and was in the Mexican aristocrat's corner when he lost to Edge in a World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania XXVII. Clay would then leave to film a movie, but he returned and began squashing jobbers on Superstars.
Clay's return was hyped for weeks and when he finally returned, it was shockingly as a happy-go-lucky dancer rather than a dominant heel.
Since his official television return in January, Clay has yet to lose a match, as he has been mowing down low- and mid-card superstars. Many of Clay's wins have come over little-used wrestlers, although he has beaten some name-brand guys like Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. Based on what happened last week, Clay may be increasing the depth of his character, though.
Big Show was upset that the fans were enjoying Clay's dancing after he was kayfabe fired by John Laurinaitis, so Clay confronted him and challenged him to a match. The bout never happened, though, because Big Show destroyed Clay prior to the match as well as Kofi Kingston and R-Truth.
Big Show is feuding with John Cena, so Clay doesn't figure to have a long-term rivalry with Big Show, but perhaps it will legitimize him a bit.
Clay is a really fun character that the fans can get behind, but there was some concern that he would never become anything more than what he currently is. He showed a little more depth and intensity last week, however, so there may be hope yet for him to become a mid-card title contender or perhaps something more.
The best thing about The Funkasaurus would have to be his personality. Prior to his transition from monster heel to dancing fool, Clay was fairly bland. He had a pretty menacing look, but aside from that, there wasn't a lot to be interested in. Since changing gimmicks, though, Clay has maintained his unique appearance and added the flair and panache needed to get himself noticed.
Big men with Clay's looks have almost always been used as heels in the past, but it is clear that showmanship is one of Clay's signature qualities, and being The Funkasaurus allows him to showcase it.
He hasn't gotten too many opportunities to speak at length since he is a mid-card act, but Clay is also a very promising talker. He cut an excellent promo during his time on NXT, and when he is on the mic, he is clearly comfortable.
Clay's in-ring work could probably use some refinement, but he moves pretty well for a man his size and seems capable of having some good matches. His size alone makes him interesting to watch in the ring, and when he is between the ropes he doesn't embarrass himself by any means, so I would consider that a strength.
As previously mentioned, while Clay's character is very fun, it can only take him so far. Perhaps his run-in with Big Show was the start of something more, but if he stays as he currently is, then he can never be a top guy. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, because not everyone can be a main-eventer, but if Clay keeps doing the exact thing, then he is eventually going to get stale.
Putting down various jobbers and mid-card talent has begun to get a bit tiresome. His gimmick itself hasn't, but Clay is in need of a legitimate feud if he is going to be taken seriously. Also, he could stand to improve his in-ring work. It isn't bad by any means, but he has only wrestled matches that are a couple minutes in length.
Once he gets involved in a real feud, Clay is going to need a wider variety of moves in order to have longer matches.
Aside from that, there isn't much to complain about. Clay is a very entertaining superstar who simply needs to take his gimmick to the next level. He isn't ever going to put on a five-star match or anything of that nature, but if he can make his matches less formulaic, then that will help out a lot down the line as well.
Since most of Clay's matches have been squashes to this point, he hasn't really had any great matches. I suppose that his best to date was a match against The Miz on RAW about a month ago, though. There wasn't anything special about it, but it was slightly longer than most of his other matches and The Miz was at least allowed to get some offense in, so it felt like Clay was dealing with a bit of adversity.
Brodus did all his usual moves, including the big splash, and he move well as usual. He has been able to last in matches that are five minutes or less in length, but I wonder if he has the stamina to wrestle a 15-minute match if need be. Big Show has done it in the past, so I'm guessing Clay can since he is still fairly young at 32 years of age, but you never know.
With that said, wrestling isn't really the most important part of Clay's gimmick. That may seem strange to say since he is a wrestler by trade, but he is mostly meant to get the crowd going with his dance moves and other antics. He doesn't have to become a great in-ring competitor, but most people are hoping to see at least some development in that area.
I'm a big fan of Clay's, so as much as I would like to say that he'll be a main-eventer, I don't necessarily believe it. Wrestling fans today seem to want everyone with even a tiny bit of talent to be a main-eventer or a world champion, but that simply isn't possible. So many great wrestlers have never won a world championship, and while it would have been nice if they did, fans don't think any less of them because of it.
I absolutely can see Clay winning one or both of the mid-card titles at some point, however. It used to be that the Intercontinental and United States Championships were meant to act as springboards to the main event, but that isn't necessarily the case anymore. Now those titles are given to veterans who are already over with the crowd, like Christian and Santino. Clay is unquestionably over, so he would be a safe guy to give one of those belts to.
Santino is a comedy act for all intents and purposes, and Clay is in a way as well, so he seems like a very good candidate to wear a mid-card strap one day. If Clay were to go back to his monster heel status at some point, he may be able to work a few main-event programs, but he is a much bigger asset in his current role.
How He Gets There
In order to become a mid-card champion, Brodus doesn't really have much further to go. He is already at the same level as Santino in terms of popularity, so he could win the United States Championship today and nobody would bat an eye. He can't really get into that title picture until a heel captures one of them, though, so he will have to wait for either Christian or Santino to be unseated in the coming weeks and months.
An interesting mid-card feud for Clay would be Tensai. He had been built up similarly to Clay—albeit as a heel—but after appearing sporadically in recent weeks and losing to John Cena, his main-event push may be done. Tensai is more than capable of being a great mid-carder, though, so I can see him beating Santino for the United States Championship in the near future.
Once that happens, Clay can get involved. Brodus has squashed guys who are smaller than him to this point, but he wouldn't be the overwhelming favorite in a feud or match with Tensai. Perhaps Tensai could get the better of Clay for a couple weeks in order to create doubt before Clay captures the title.
I have no doubt that Clay will be a mid-card champion, but it's a matter of when. His character doesn't lend itself to being a world champion, but he should still be in line for a very successful career.
Check back daily for new entries in this WWE 25-superstar countdown. Here is how the list looks thus far:
25. Damien Sandow
24. Alex Riley
23. Antonio Cesaro
22. Drew McIntyre
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