Thriller The Call, which WWE Studios co-produced and co-financed, has become a major hit at the U.S. box office. The film, which co-stars David Otunga, widely surpassed industry expectations by rocketing to the No.2 spot on its open weekend (per The Hollywood Reporter).
It has continued to perform well since and, as Box Office Mojo mentions, may even make $45 million domestically in theaters. And that’s before factoring in the lucrative overseas box office and DVD sales.
Considering The Call’s small $13 million budget, this makes it a massive—and much-needed—success for WWE Studios.
Credit should to go Otunga, too.
He performed impeccably well during his various PR interviews and segments in the buildup to the movie’s release. Otunga plays a cop in the movie, and while he’s clearly not the star—that’s Halle Berry, of course—he still has a fair amount of screen time.
So, on last Monday night’s Raw, after news of the movie’s success hit, how did WWE reward Otunga’s hard work? Eh, they jobbed him out to Ryback in a short squash match.
OK, so no one was expecting Otunga, whose been marginalized for much of the past year, to suddenly get a World title run.
But, come on, couldn’t the company have done something with his newfound momentum? It had to have Otunga lose in an embarrassing and throwaway manner?
No doubt Otunga’s detractors will continue to point out his flaws and claim he shouldn’t get placed in a prominent spot. He can’t really wrestle. He’s only got a deal because of his real-life relationship with Jennifer Hudson.
The list goes on and on.
However some of these criticisms are very unfair.
OK, Otunga is never going to be Shawn Michaels in the ring, but he’s improved greatly in recent times. He’s not nearly as mediocre an in-ring competitor as he once was. Last Monday, in particular, he bumped around like crazy for Ryback and helped make him look like an absolute killer.
Thanks to his role in The Call, he has also established a reputation in Hollywood independent of his relationship with Hudson. Good looking with a great physique, who’s to say Otunga couldn’t parlay his role in the movie into other acting gigs?
Another reason WWE should treat Otunga better is how great an ambassador he can be, as his PR work for The Call illustrates. Thanks to his Harvard Law School credentials, the highly intelligent 32-year-old can help convince the mainstream media that pro wrestlers aren’t just mindless muscle men.
His obnoxious lawyer character—which has sadly been downplayed since John Laurinaitis exited the storylines—is also great. Hey, why doesn't WWE resurrect the character and pair him with assistant general manager Brad Maddox or something? There are a few options for him.
In many ways, Otunga is the perfect WWE talent.
Smart, well spoken and with the potential to become one of wrestling’s true mainstream stars, he really could be a lot bigger than he is. Now, let’s just hope WWE comes to its senses and stars using him in a worthwhile role again.