Posted by Diego Lugo
The Decline of the Wrestling Civilization
My favorite wrestlers in WWE right now are, in no particular order, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Antonio Cesaro and Chris Jericho. There are others I really like, but those are my top 5. What is it about them that I like, and what do they have in common? I like all of them for different reasons, like how I relate to most of Punk’s point of views, my admiration for Jericho’s charisma and love for the business, but there is one thing that they all have in common that gets my full attention, and that is their technical in-ring abilities. They all have their respective fighting styles, but they’re all masters of the art of wrestling. Like them or not, you can’t deny their talent. Does this mean that all superstars should have these similar traits and fighting styles? Not at all. WWE Superstars come in all shape and sizes. Not all of them can move as quick as Ziggler or have the submission repertoire of Daniel Bryan, but they can bring something else entirely to the stage. These are the brawlers, bruisers, giants and monsters of the WWE.
Brawlers, Bruisers, Giants and Monsters: WWE’s Big Men of Today
One of the most talented and respected members of the WWE roster is the fan favorite, The Undertaker. If you’ve ever seen him live (I know I have), the most intimidating thing about him is the man himself. His presence alone is as effective as having him closeline his opponent straight to hell (no pun intended). Although what earned him his respect was his passion for the business, his hard work and dedication, what made him the Superstar he is today was the way his fighting style blended so well with his look and gimmick. Although the “dead man” gimmick he had in the 90′s is not the same “dead man” gimmick he has now, his in-ring skills have evolved with his character. For a big guy, The Undertaker can do some impressive moves any other guy his size wouldn’t be able to do.
Taker is a big exception when it comes to big guys, the same thing can be said about Big Show and Kane. The three of them represent the best of the best of giants and monsters in WWE today. They also represent the fine line between the big men that work, and the ones that don’t work (i.e. The Great Khali). Sure, their fighting styles consist mostly of basic slams, kicks, punches and other powerhouse moves, but it’s not only about their style and abilities, it’s about the presentation. Think about Taker’s top rope clotheline, Big Show’s knockout punch, Kane’s uppercut, basic moves for any other wrestler, but for someone like Taker, Big Show and Kane, they’re devastating moves that can take out most to any opponent. They know what they look like and what they are capable of, so they make their moves work for them.
In the fim industry there’s a saying about clichés: “give me the same thing, but completely different”. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s about it. Although this is said regarding the types of movies that come out, it works to point out what big guys in the roster need to do. Although some have a limited move set, they shouldn’t worry that much about it, but they should concentrate on making their move set work for them. Guys like Taker, Big Show and Kane don’t come along too often, but if you’re a big guy trying to make it in the business, learn from them, and give the audience a reason to take you seriously as a menacing force.
Sometimes getting over takes time, and other times it can happen almost instantly. This may depends on your gimmick and how you’re booked, but it always comes down to making the best of given opportunities. Two names that pop into my head, and coincidently, they seem to be heading to a match at WM29 are Mark Henry and Ryback. Henry has been through many gimmicks, from a member of the Nation of Domination, to the man known as Sexual Chocolate, to a loveable face and a clumsy heel. He’s always struggled with getting over and winnig championships with the only reigns he had until most recently were a European Championship and the WWECW Championship. It wasn’t until September 2011 where he defeated Randy Orton and won the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time in his 15 year career with WWE. What got him over? For the first time WWE let Mark Henry just be himself and become a dominant unstoppable heel. Henry was more than deserving of the accomplishment, and it was just about damn time. For the first time since I’ve been watching WWE, I cared about Mark Henry and saw him for what he really was. A monster (in a good way). Mark made his move set work for his character. Every time I see him walk down the ramp, I know he’s going to do some serious ass-kicking. Can he go toe-to-toe with a guy like Daniel Bryan in a mat-based wrestling match? No, but he represents a huge mountain to climb for any superstar, and a win over him makes for an impressive feat, and now more than with a gimmick as horrible for him as Sexual Chocolate. What were they thinking?
Which brings me to Ryback. A powerhouse of a man, with a limited move set, but incredible presentation. Sure, he’s been as badly booked as anyone could be, but he is over like rover. He is a great example of making the best of the opportunities given, and with some more seasoning, when the time is right, he will be an impressive champion. A match between him and Mark Henry is the true meaning of when an unstoppable force meets and immovable object.
Where does Ryback fall into the styles of WWE’s big men? He may be a monster of a man, but he’s a natural brawler. He goes right into the same category as someone like John Cena, Sheamus, Brock Lesnar, Triple H, and The Rock. Sure, Brock Lesnar has a more extensive move set than John Cena, but what makes them different from the others is their direct fighting approach. From time to time they pull out a trick or two from their sleeves (i.e. John Cena’s moonsault) and show in-ring presence, but their brawling style makes them look more like a fight that broke out in a bar than a choreographed dance. John Cena’s constant fist throwing approach makes it difficult for a grappler like Dolph Ziggler to out-wrestle him if he can’t catch a breath.
Big guys with limited move sets aren’t always the case. Sometimes we get exceptions like Jack Swagger and Brock Lesnar who have amateur wrestling backgrounds, or someone like Wade Barret, who has a bare knuckle boxing background. They may be some of WWE’s bigger men, but they incorporate their past fighting backgrounds into their wrestling repertoire making them different from the rest of the big men. And then there are guys like Ezekiel Jackson, Brudus Clay, Tensai and Big E Lagnston, big guys with impressive looks, who have been through alternate gimmicks and have been pushed inconsistently throughout their careers, but still haven’t found their place due to bad booking or missed opportunities. Looking at Mark Henry’s career, if they are patient and work hard, they can go far, as long as they make the best of the opportunities they get, because as always, it comes down to the superstar to get over.
Although I’d be more interested to see a match between Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler, we need the brawlers, bruisers, giants and monsters to not only create diversity, but we need them to become forces to be reckoned with. The bigger the challenges the greater the accomplishments. A la Hogan slamming Andre, when an ordinary man slays the giant, when styles clash and the impossible becomes a reality, you make people care for the product, specially at the grandest stage of them all, WrestleMania. But in a business where things constantly change, And Vince doesn’t make up his mind on who he likes most, it’s hard to care for any single Superstar since they are so inconsistently booked. But, I digress.
Comments are always welcome.
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