David Otunga: Where Does He Go in WWE Without John Laurinaitis?
One question to emerge from the recent exit of GM John Laurinaitis in WWE storylines is: Where does mid-carder David Otunga go from here?
Certainly, the on-screen firing of Laurinaitis puts Otunga's career in a precarious position. Per the storyline, Otunga (who is actually a qualified Harvard-educated lawyer) was serving as John's legal counsel and right-hand man.
It was an ideal spot for the former Nexus member. By the general manager's side, he had a large and consistent role on WWE television every week, as he accompanied Laurinaitis to the ring, advised him in backstage segments and, occasionally, served as his enforcer in wrestling matches.
With his colorful bow ties and ubiquitous coffee cup, Otunga also managed to carve out his own memorable character. While the star may have struggled to find his niche for the earlier part of his WWE run, the lawyer gimmick—and his association with Laurinaitis—allowed him to flourish as a performer and actor.
The sidekick role also helped cover up some of his flaws—the clunky, clumsy Otunga isn't exactly HBK or Kurt Angle when it comes to in-ring action, and he's clearly more comfortable talking and portraying a character than actually getting in there and wrestling.
Alas, after Laurinaitis was fired (after Big Show lost to John Cena in their cage match at No Way Out, meaning per the stips, he had to go) the once-strong Otunga/Laurinaitis friendship soured, with the lawyer even abandoning the heel GM to take on Cena by himself on Raw last week.
So, what now?
Well, we've gotten glimpses of what Otunga's career will look like post-Laurinaitis and, frankly, they aren't encouraging.
The star has, in recent weeks, found himself stuck in an atrocious feud with mid-card comedy act Brodus Clay. While it may have sounded intriguing on paper (prim, smarmy lawyer versus the dancing, fun-loving big guy), their matches—including one on the No Way Out pre-show have been awful and have served only to showcase both men's gaping flaws as wrestlers.
The promos and angles, which should have been the highlight of this program, haven't been up to much either. The two simply don't click.
Things probably won't get better any time soon. While Otunga's lawyer act is a big hit, he isn't the all-round talent that guys like Daniel Bryan, Christian, Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler are. He simply can't deliver the action-filled, technically competent bouts that wrestling fans are used to seeing. This will surely hinder him as he attempts to navigate his career minus Laurinaitis.
Indeed, his patchy wrestling skills mean a main event run will be unlikely to come to fruition. He's far more suited to a supporting role anyway, which is why he thrived as a member of Laurinaitis's cabinet. He can be a useful and extremely entertaining part of the show, but he's not the show.
So is Otunga doomed to languish in the Raw mid-card for the foreseeable future?
Well, it's worth noting that Laurinaitis returning to Raw soon is not out of the question either (stipulations in WWE don't really mean much in this day and age), which would likely mean the re-establishing of their on-screen relationship and Otunga's return to prominence.
It's also possible that the promotion will realize where Otunga's strength lies and utilize him as a manager instead of a full-time wrestler. Placing him in a high-profile tag team—with someone like Jack Swagger or The Miz—might be a good idea, as well.
It's difficult to know what route WWE will take with the Harvard Law School graduate, but let's hope they rack their brains and come up with something useful for him instead of doing nothing and allowing him to flounder in the mid-card doldrums.
While Otunga's not a perfectly well-rounded talent, he still has a ton to offer the company. They just need to find the right role for him.
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