On the November 25 episode of Raw, newcomer Xavier Woods made his way to the ring with Brodus Clay's music blaring over the PA system and the lovely Funkadactyls, Naomi and Cameron, accompanying him.
This was, of course, after R-Truth claimed to have gotten permission from Clay himself.
Woods won the match over 3MB's Heath Slater and a feud between he and Clay—originating from Woods' use of the gimmick despite the Funkasaurus admitting he gave him permission—is underway.
The emphasis for the rivalry, as ridiculous as it may be, is something WWE must be very careful with.
Gimmicks fail for a reason. Either they are terrible ideas, they fail to connect with the audience, they are debuted at the wrong time or the performer himself simply cannot fill the role as it had been conceived.
The Funkasaurus gimmick would have been a cash cow for World Wrestling Entertainment in the mid-to-late '80s or mid-90s, when over-the-top characters had their most success.
Unfortunately, and despite a demographic that skews younger, the character is out of place among more realistic ones that do not resort to over-the-top gimmicks.
CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus, The Shield and Big Show are simply wrestlers. They are not plumbers, clowns, race car drivers or evil dentists. They are what they are and it is easier for fans to accept them as such.
Throughout his career in developmental, Woods demonstrated a ton of natural personality. It was organic and simple, yet very entertaining. His references to pop culture from the '80s and '90s were not out of place with the younger adult fan.
He was fun and energetic and brought a different tone to the NXT broadcasts.
Why creative would even tease saddling him with a gimmick that has proven largely unsuccessful outside of the first month or so of its existence is mind-boggling.
If the intent is to replace Brodus with Woods at the conclusion of the rivalry, the creative team is barking up the wrong tree.
Is the rookie Superstar a better performer at this point than Clay and more capable of getting the most out of the gimmick?
But the gimmick is perceived by fans to be one with little opportunity for growth. It is an ideal opening-match trick that works to get the fans to pop early in the evening, but will never be featured in any high-profile storylines or main event scenarios.
It has a definite limit attached to it. Woods deserves better than that.
More importantly, the company's welfare will rely on the company being better than that.
With the introduction of the WWE Performance Center and the determination to rely on more home-grown talent to lead the company into the next decade, the promotion cannot waste potential stars by setting them up to fail right out of the gate with recycled gimmicks that did not work the first—or second or third—time.
Woods will not thrive with the Funkasaurus gimmick, nor would Adrian Neville or Sami Zayn achieve success as Isaac Yankem or Doink the Clown.
The company must have a plan to introduce the characters and put them in the best position to be successful and draw money.
Failure to do so would be at its own expense—not to mention the expense of wrestling fans anxiously anticipating the arrival next big, bright, shining star.
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