Brodus Clay, The “Funkasaurus” from the Planet Funk, Debuted
For weeks, there has been a lot of frustrated anticipation over the delayed return of the monstrous former bodyguard of Alberto Del Rio, Brodus Clay, because this video made him look all tough and strong and unbeatable:
People seemed, pretty much, unanimously excited about the debut of the monster heel, but I (and there’s proof of this!) wasn’t. As far as I was concerned, the debut would be coupled with a push to the top, and I didn’t feel Brodus could carry that ball yet, and frankly, I didn’t feel he deserved it. In fact, I was going to write an article (I still will at some point) called ‘Big Bad Boyz’ about monsters getting pushed to the top and usually, inevitably, failing. To really get over, you need to work hard to get the fans to like you, or, as a heel, get them to dislike you – while still being interested in you. If someone is pushed from nowhere to the top without the input of fans, it’s just forcing it down the audiences throat. Thankfully, instead, we got this:
At first, I assumed Brodus was being ribbed or undermined deliberately, but the more I watched, the more I loved what I was seeing, and loving Brodus in this character – quite a feat considering my complete lack of interest in him as an impending monster. For one thing, there are at least two better and better established monsters in the WWE: Kane and Mark Henry. Brodus Clay, a man who can’t really talk, wouldn’t be any more interesting than these two who would be booked very similarly. Now, despite the fact that Clay can’t talk, he can show his charisma through this character: a mix of several past gimmicks, though it reminded me most of the Godfather. This isn’t pushing Brodus to the stars, it’s only pushing him to the midcard, but this way, Clay can get over and possibly elevate himself to the top. Indeed, far from being a complete joke, he remained strong, no-selling everything, just with a camp smile. The Funkasaurus is absolutely brilliant and smile-inducing, and it distracts from Clay’s limited in-ring skills. Look at Brodus’s offense: a headbutt, a splash, a crossbody, and an admittedly pretty nice suplex – nothing great, and after a while, this would start to show him up. Now look at this offense as the Funkasaurus; swaggering after a headbutt, swinging his hips, and best of all, camply saying ‘Oh, ma bad’ after his suplex. He looks generally dominant, but the character makes you forget about his offense, and it doesn’t matter if he’s limited. It seems this was just a new gimmick invention for him, but instead, i’d rather imagine Brodus filming these segments ironically, knowing all the while he’d come out as the Funkasaurus, talking of the beginning and the end in the promo and then when he was finished saying out loud ‘Oh, that’s misleading? Oh, ma badd!’ knowing that he was about to give the audience the most pleasant surprise of the night.
Basically, at least as far as i’m concerned, the WWE saved Brodus Clay, and saved us from Brodus Clay.
Kane Stalks John Cena, Zack Ryder and Eve Torres Throughout the Night
This was the downside of the show, and in some ways, the whole show, because it was the dominant thread of RAW for this week. It started off bad enough as Kane came out to talk about Cena embracing hate in the ring. Last week, I suggested that Kane may be saved by having him speak, but having it be piped in rather than the person delivering it using a microphone like everyone else, humanising him. The promo was Kane’s best for me, talking about the fans hating Cena because he shows up their flaws by being too perfect and refusing to embrace the hate they feel, among other things. Also, Cena coming out and just confronting Kane instead of repeating himself about how he can’t understand Kane’s actions and wanted an explanation. Even the original backstage brawl was pretty cool, with Kane simply disappearing using his canonical ‘dark forces’. Then, WWE started doing some sort of weird wrestling horror movie, and in a wrestling frame, it made little to no sense, even with the best suspension of disbelief. We had Ryder, ‘his girl’ Eve, and ‘best friend’ Cena, with Kane (really) awkwardly stalking them around the arena because Kane hates Ryder now too (because the fans embrace him rather than ‘the hate’). The final episode of all this was the most ridiculous, as it became all out Scooby Doo ridiculousness mixed with over-exuberant violence. We cut back and forth to Ryder trying to change the tyre of apparently the only car in the area while Eve was locked in screaming. At least with Kane, the brutal violence will always be eye catching and interesting in and of itself, and chokeslamming Ryder off the loading dock was pretty aesthetically pleasing (though slightly ruined by Ryder’s leg or the padding beneath showing afterwards). I’m also a big fan of the smother-glove, but it wasn’t done at the right time; either do that to Ryder and chokeslam Cena, or do it to Eve and chokeslam both, or just chokelslam both Cena and Ryder. The way it worked, with Cena just being put to sleep, wasn’t as shocking as it could have been, eventhough the image of both Cena and Ryder prone was effective in itself.
Speaking of sleepers, a lot of people have been upset about the lack of selling of Ziggler’s sleeper, and they’re right to be. Ziggler uses that move as one of his staples, and so not selling it isn’t great for him. Even worse is that Ziggler is being built as a viable contender for the top championship in the world, but he wasn’t highlighted to his best because we (and his opponent) kept looking to Ryder fumbling with a tire-iron, rather than Ziggler. Just a shame, and a lack prioritising from WWE in my view.
Chris Jericho Arrives, Cries, Leaves
You’ll remember my waxing fanboy over Jericho’s return last week. Well it was going to be hard to follow the impact and success of the last week, but I think he managed it. Coming out again, he behaved in the exact same way, again to the initial elation of the fans, but as this continued, Y2J seemed to be really overcome by this positive reaction. He started mouthing ‘why?’ before breaking down in the most insincere tears ever. That’s the important thing to remember throughout this: everything Jericho the character is doing is a sardonic, insincere performance. In his teaser vignettes, it was said that it would be ‘the end of the world as [we] know it,’ and indeed, in some ways, it is. Jericho is challenging complete and fundamental epithets of the world of wrestling, that the fans will support whoever acts like a good guy. Jericho showed up doing everything a babyface ever could to pander to the audience like a babyface, whilst acting as if he’s completely overcome with it all and doesn’t understand it. In terms of character, all Jericho has done is appear, and so to ask ‘why?’ they are cheering him so much is completely legitimate, but only in a plateau of thinking outside of the pre-existing canons of pro-wrestling. By questioning the whole wrestler-fan relationship, Jericho is questioning everything, and showing the fan-wrestler relationship as completely empty and disingenuous. So satirising the whole thing as meaningful, he completely overplayed it with the tears (which themselves were crocodile tears). All this was in complete contrast to Jericho’s Jacket, which was still flashing as Jericho was in ‘tears’ – again, showing babyface presentation as completely vacuous. Fantastic, and so efficiently done.
Obviously, this segment was much shorter than last week’s, but then again, it didn’t need to be. This week was more about the nauseating ‘crying’ than the nauseating length. All he needed to do to reprise the heat of last week was not talk – it didn’t matter how long he did it for. A lot of people have said that Jericho needs to talk next week, but that simply isn’t true. Jericho wants heat, and just like last week, we’re supposed to hate it, and him. Imagine if Jericho doesn’t talk next week? The fans will hate him, and as long as he does something interesting with his silence, people will still want to see him. Not only does it create great heat for whichever babyface (CM Punk?) he will face, but it means that when he does talk and (hopefully) explains the vignettes as well as his raison d’etre for returning, it’ll be all the more electric.
So, what about your thoughts? I certainly don’t have any special knowledge to talk about Jericho (it’s so enigmatic). I’m interested to hear from you guys on just what it all means. And indeed, what are your thoughts on the rest of the show this week? Otherwise, go to see what I tweeted about the rest of the show (@RTVWOW) and follow me for thoughts on the World of Wrestling … as they happen!