Professional Wrestling has long been known for being “over-the-top”, “wacky”, “colorful”, “cartoonish”, at least for the past 70+ years that is. A new phrase that we seem to be hearing more often these days – “character driven”. Until current times, these adjectives would all fit quite well. The colorful, oh so feminine, Gorgeous George. Hulk Hogan, the way-over-the-top, American Hero, fitted in brightly colored attire. A badass, Texas redneck, in Steve Austin. Don’t even get me started on the New Generation Era. The list goes on…
Today, we hear that WWE’s product is “character driven”, however, when you take a look at the roster, very few characters do you see. That’s not to say that we’re seeing the “real person” on our televisions every week, just that, the gimmicks are as bland as rice cakes.
One of my personal favorite rising stars, Dolph Ziggler for example….his thing is “Perfection”. What does he do to show how perfect he is? Why, he loses every match Vickie Guerrero isn’t at ringside for, and some that she is at ringside for. That is not “Perfection.” What else does he do? He likes to stand around, looking depressed. “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig would be ashamed. Speaking of Curt Hennig, he actually did stuff to live up to his “Mr. Perfect” moniker, and was a believable competitor.
Fan favorite, Kofi Kingston…what’s his character exactly? He’s from Africa….he has “controlled-frenzies”, whatever those ares, and wears blinding attire. Oh yeah, and he has matches against Dolph Ziggler. Did I cover everything?
One of the worst ill-character stricken young Superstars is Ted Dibiase Jr. He comes from money, he comes from class, but all he does is buy glass…eyes (NOTE: I am not a rhymer). Ted Dibiase Sr. used his fortune to command people, to impose his will on them; to do whatever the heck he wanted. What does Ted Jr. do with his inheritance? ….
I got nothing. Ted is basically a guy in trunks, which just happen to have dollar signs on them. His character is based on his wealth, yet he does nothing with it.
Wade Barrett is from England. He used to be a bare-knuckle fighter, but he doesn’t do that anymore. That’s it! This is Wade Barrett; this is all his character is. I mean, I guess this would be adequate….if we were living in New York, in the 1920s and ‘30s. But alas! It’s 2011.
(For those unaware, in large migrant cities, most notably NYC, way back in the early 1900s, wrestlers were just given names/billed from different geographic regions. This was done so that they would appeal to specific demographics of people, who had migrated to the United States from wherever else in the World. Ex: Pat O’Riely, Ali Baba the Turk, Chief Little Wolf “The Navajo Indian”, “The Australian” Tommy Nilan, etc. Promoters simply played the ethnic card.)
Daniel Bryan (yes, you’re about to read negative things about Daniel Bryan) is a guy in trunks. He wrestles, the commentators call him a “vegan-nerd,” and that’s pretty much sums up his character. We’re told he an excellent in-ring technician, but character wise, he’s doing nothing with that.
The new sensation, Sin Cara, is not going to escape this list just because he has awesome attire. His character is supposed to be that of a mystique, so I can understand not giving away a greatly detailed backstory, but that is no excuse for lack of character development. His character is that of a luchador (who can’t even unleash his true lucha-greatness inside WWE policies), in a cool mask, who has special lights for his matches, and who points. I mean, I love watching people point at random air particles as much as the next person, but come on! Give us something, some development, WWE!
Then there’s the “Cocky Heel” category. There are so many of these guys, that I just said “Screw it!” and put them in a category. Granted, some of these guys actually have backstories (and I’ve already mentioned a couple of them), they’re still cocky heels, and thus fall into the “Cocky Heel” category:
– Alberto del Rio
– Jinder Mahal
(last two are practically identical)
– The Miz
– Jack Swagger
– Dolph Ziggler
– Wade Barrett
– Drew McIntrye
– You could probably add more…
Now, the big one: John Cena.
My biggest complaint about Cena, character-wise, is that he hasn’t developed. He’s the face of the company, fine. However, if you look back to past faces of the company, you’ll see that over time, their character changed; they developed. Look at Austin’s transition, The Rock’s transition, and the greatest example of this transition process…The Undertaker. Undertaker’s popularity with the fans can be attributed to his character, which as you should know, has lasted two decades now. That’s what’s called longevity! From his early purple glove days, to the Ministry of Darkness, to American-Badass, to current Deadman days, you can clearly see the transitions throughout his marveled career. On the other hand, you have John Cena, you has been sporting the same gimmick for about 6 years now…without being buried alive for 8 months out of the year.
To think that this is only the WWE. The independent scene is worse, granted it’s the independent scene. I’m not even going to waste my time on TNA. One company that I will specifically mention, though, is Chikara. Chikara’s product is a stark contrast to the gloom caused by lack of characters, for that’s pretty much what they specialize in. They have a colony of ants running around, magicians, evil ice-cream cones, and more! I’m not going to go into grave detail in this article, but Chikara is a fun company that you should check out.
I’m not saying that we need clowns, barbers, and midgets running rampant, as I understand that the business and society has changed, but seriously, the WWE is boring without good characters driving good storylines. It’s as bland as rice cakes!
Thanks For Reading,
You can find me on Twitter: @J712v2