Not terribly long ago I sat and talked with my buddy, professional wrestler, and fellow MMA fan, “The King of Diamonds” Eddie Kingston (hold on, I’ll let you pick up that tremendous name I just dropped) about what is missing from Mixed Martial Arts. More specifically, what is missing from UFC, that they can use to elevate themselves to that “next level.”
Looking at the company from the outside, it seems like they are doing everything in their ability to elevate the company. They bought out their competition and shut them down. They took fighters from other companies, subsequently shutting them down, and they crossed over into the main stream after their reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, let us take a glimpse into the lives of hungry guys looking for their shot at glory. But internally, they have to know that the same old song and dance isn’t going to last forever. It didn’t for boxing, and it certainly didn’t for professional wrestling.
What we noticed was that the UFC never did entrances like PRIDE did. PRIDE was like watching WWE intros. There was pyro, long ramps, guys walked alone, and they did this in sold out arenas that would dwarf places like the Mandalay Bay. While that is a little cool to see, it definitely isn’t going to make me shell out 40 dollars.
Then again, if you promised me Josh Koshchek’s hair would get lit up by fireworks, I’d pay double. Seriously, I would. There was something that both boxing and wrestling had that essentially saved both worlds. They had a character. They had a guy with a mouth, with charisma that took their world by storm. Boxing had Mr. Cassius Clay himself, Muhammad Ali. He was more than a boxer. He was larger than life in every sense of the word. And he, sure as the sun rises in the east, turned the boxing world on its head.
Wrestling had it too in the form of Hulk Hogan, who after a lull in the early 80s, took the WWF World Title, and never looked back. His charisma and mouth were both so talented that it completely eclipsed his lack of talent in the ring. It was unreal to see it unfold, but you knew you were watching something special.
UFC and MMA need something like this. While the Tapout guys do a great job of being characters, they seem to remind me of the gentlemen in the Hawaiian shirts and straw hats who used to sit in the front row at the ECW shows in Philadelphia. It was a gimmick about going to the shows, but was I watching ECW to see hat guy? Absolutely not. I wanted to see the characters. I tuned in for the beer drinking, cigarette smoking Sandman. I watched for the arrogant, cocky Rob Van Dam. I was captivated by the mysteriousness of Raven.
The UFC needed that going into Saturday night. As the video montage said, they’re just getting started. So, as a company that’s just getting started, it would be feasible to believe that they need some form of character to bring them up to the next level. Captivate your audience into believing that the man that stands before you is the biggest asshole the world has ever seen. This will not only put the asses in the seats, but it will bring home more money from PPV revenue, merchandise sales, DVD sales, so on and so forth.
I recently mentioned UFC’s need for a character to some friends. One of which said “Well this isn’t that WWE garbage!” While correct in the sense that it is real, against WWE’s scripted outcomes, it still draws from the same audience. Males aged 25-39, who enjoy not only violence, but entertainment. In their differences, there is a lot that is similar. They can build off of each other. I’m so tired of hearing guys say how much they respect the other guy, and how wonderful they are.
We love cocky people. Even when we hate them, we love them. People watch Terrell Owens because of their love to see what he will do next. These same people watch Manny Ramirez hit a baseball 500 feet, stop, stare at the ball, file his nails, flip his braids, and then saunter around the bases.
Why is it that what Brock does is so bad? It isn’t, to be honest. It’s just different. People aren’t used to his antics, so they aren’t pleased. Showmanship is not a bad thing. It’s time we get used to the idea of guys in the UFC being a bit more than robotic meatheads that punch and kick each other, say the politically correct things on the microphone, smile, wave, and disappear to their training facilities to be the ass hats they truly are.
Let them be a$$ hats out in the open. More importantly, make me want to see that ass hat get knocked out. Nothing makes me giggle like a school girl more than watching a guy with a big mouth get a fist stuffed into it. Not so sure that will happen to Brock Lesnar, but this is why you will watch his next fight, and the one after that. He’s a big guy, with a big mouth, and you would love nothing more than to see him flat on his back, unconscious. I don’t blame you, but please expect to pay a lot of money, because I can’t see that happening for a while.
Erik Espenberg is a native New Yorker who is an avid fan of the Yankees, Rangers, and Jets. When not writing for Camel Clutch, he can be found killing his brain cells playing assorted video games. He can be contacted at [email protected].
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