Quick, without thinking, what makes a pro wrestler successful in the business?
Talent? Yes. Ability? Of course. Flashy ring gear?
Um, yeah, okay, sure.
But the intangible that I am thinking of is one that we as fans subconsciously know but don’t seem to talk about all that often. That one thing? Self-confidence.
And, everybody’s favorite Superstar in pink has it. By the truckload.
No, it’s not Bret Hart. Q&A session is over now, by the way.
Damien Sandow, the heel of the moment in WWE, the current flavor of the month on SmackDown, is a guy that just oozes self-confidence as though he’s made of the stuff. One look at him, and fans can see right away that he’s not pretending.
This is not to say that Sandow the man is truly holier than thou, carrying himself as if he’s above everyone else. He is in character when he’s on camera, after all.
Nevertheless, when he’s in that character, he is good at it.
So good, that when you see him, you don’t see a performer playing a role. You see the character. He has completely immersed himself in the part and embraced it like his life depends on it, and the truth is, professionally speaking, it really does.
The hardest thing to do in the business is get over. Some of the best workers that the industry has ever seen couldn’t draw a dime, because despite what they did, they could not make the crowd care.
Sometimes it’s the wrong character. Sometimes it’s the wrong environment. And sometimes, it’s just bad timing. But something just does not click, it doesn’t work and it’s often back to the drawing board for WWE creative.
Not for Damien Sandow, however, who is as comfortable in his own skin as any Superstar that we have seen in a long time and is extremely over now, thanks in large part to the rub he received from DX on Raw 1000.
When he looks at the fans, as though it’s beneath him to do so, you believe it. When he spouts off about the “unwashed masses,” the arrogant tone of his voice is very real. And, when he says “you’re welcome” in his self-righteous manner, even the most jaded wrestling fan, whether he admits it or not, mumbles a near silent retort.
I will say, however, that the first time I saw him on WWE TV—from the moment the opening note of “Aleluya De El Mesias” hit the sound system—I sat there silent for a moment.
Part of me immediately reacted to what I was seeing rather predictably.
“What the %*?”
But the rest of me, that eats and breathes pro wrestling 24 hours a day, eased back on my couch, with a smile on my face.
“I get it. Yeah, not bad.”
The credit for Sandow’s acceptance with fans goes directly to him, as on paper, the whole “Intellectual Savior” shtick must have looked a little daunting. After all, unless you were following FCW, you likely did not know who this new guy was, nor why he was talking down to fans in the first place.
Indeed, for a virtual unknown who hasn’t won anything, to step onto the main stage of WWE and run a gimmick that sets him above everyone else, is a big deal. It’s a real “who does he think he is” moment that only a confident talent could get over.
Moreover, Damien Sandow is just that talented.
Everything he says makes you hate him. Everything he does is an extension of his overwhelmingly arrogant persona that is still, to this very second, making you look at him and say, “God, this guy is a jerk.” And every time he stands in the ring with that smirk on his face, as the chorus of boos rolls in, he is doing what so many other workers before him could not do.
He’s getting over.
Calling Sandow’s character the “perfect” gimmick may sound like a crazy exaggeration to some. But, right now, it could not be more true. And that’s all that counts.