Titus O'Neil is going to be the next wrestler to break out from a tag team and become a major star.
Tag team wrestling is a great form of wrestling. There is a science and beauty to putting on a great match. Tag teams also serve great purpose to a wrestling promotion. It provides an easy-to-follow conflict and investment that you can use.
The audience becomes invested in the tag partners as a team, eventually jealousy pops up causing a feud and then you're off and running. The best showing of this ever was, of course, The Rockers featuring Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty.
Entertaining tag team that did high-flying maneuvers, had a colorful matching wardrobe and looked like they could have a good time. Michaels got tired of “carrying” Jannetty, and then the glass break that was heard around the world occurred when Michaels tossed his partner through the barber shop window.
A star was born.
Titus O'Neil is the next to toss his partner Darren Young through the barber shop window, metaphorically speaking.
O'Neil fits the bill in every category possible, and this goes beyond just in the ring.
The Look. It's the first thing you notice about any wrestler. It doesn't always hold accurate to the quality of the performer for good or bad, but it's what you notice first. At 6'6" and 270 pounds, the former Florida Gator football player can grab anyone's attention. He stands out when he walks on the street, and he stands out in a locker room of wrestlers.
He's got it. The charisma.
The Prime Time Players tag team gimmick has been a great platform for O'Neil's charisma on camera to come out. The barking, the blowing of the whistle, tossing the personal foul football flag, the dance, the way he talks―you don't forget him. You react. The goal in wrestling is to draw money. You need to get a reaction out of the fans to draw money. Titus O'Neil gets a reaction. X+Y=Z.
Being a star outside the ring. Anybody WWE has ever been successful in a top spot knows how to carry themselves outside the wrestling ring. Meaning, they're used to media, they're used to PR work and they're used to eyes always being on them. This doesn't mean a slip-up doesn't happen, but the talent knows this is the way of life for the rest of their career and potentially the rest of their lifetime.
O'Neil has given toys away to underprivileged children in his area. He's played college and arena football―he knows what it means to represent a franchise/brand and meet the media protocols.
O'Neil seems ready for 5 a.m. media tours of four radio stations, television and phone interviews for WWE. This all before they meet a 1 p.m. call time at the arena to get ready for the show that night.
Talking about look, charisma and PR...what about the wrestling? Well, in this day of an entertainment company first, wrestling second―I purposely left wrestling ability last on my checklist to address. But guess what? He can wrestle too.
He still has a long way to go before he is doing a 20-minute WrestleMania main event match, but the improvement I've seen in O'Neil's abilities over the last two years reassure me that he is progressing and will continue to do so.
It also doesn't hurt that O'Neil is African American. He is one of only a few African American talents on the main roster for WWE. He can stand out in that regard and provide a particular appeal to certain demographics of the audience.
WCW made history and capitalized on the charisma and talent of a young black star in Ron Simmons. WWE went to the moon with The Rock. Booker T secured his place in wrestling history books. Titus O'Neil could very well add to the list.
So what about Darren Young? Is he destined to be the Marty Jannetty? I can't say that. Wouldn't be fair to Young, especially because I find Young entertaining in the Prime Time Players.
The problem is, I think Young is a great complement to O'Neil and don't think Young stands out on his own.
The biggest issue I see for Young is actually his look. It's amazing the amount of people that see the resemblance he has to John Cena in the face. I agree, and unless WWE goes a Jay Lethal direction, I'm not sure that does any favors for Young. Young also doesn't have a stand-out look in terms of his overall physical appearance. He's just another guy.
I hope Young proves me wrong, but for now I'm still marking down Titus O'Neil as one who will be making “millions of dollars, millions of dollars, millions of dollars.”
I am going to miss the two of them doing the dance together.