One criticism that WWE has had for several years now is that they tend to rely too heavily on stars from the past. The Rock came back and took two WrestleMania main events from other, possibly more-deserving talents. And, we all know about Batista. Allegedly, this has played a role in the exit of The Best In the World aka … Ehhh, we all know who I’m talking about.
The jury is still out on Batista. Aside from the awesome moment of kissing the ring when he first stepped back in it after nearly 4 years, Batista has yet to do anything new or original. Well, I don’t think he had ever flipped off a fan before. I’ll give him a few months as we head toward WrestleMania to see how his character progresses, or if it progresses.
Two men have recently come back to the forefront after an extended absence. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, then your ass better calllllll somebodyyyyyyy!
Road Dogg Jesse James and Bad Ass Billy Gunn won the tag team championships last week for the first time since 1999. There has been a lot of criticism about this situation. People don’t like that they are old. Road Dogg is 44 and Billy Gunn has hit the big Five-Oh. Critics say they stole the copper belts from the more deserving Goldust and Cody Rhodes, the hashtag Brotherhood. And while Goldust is also 44, he’s been doing the best work of his career and Cody Rhodes is a young, spry 28.
Here’s where we may have differing opinions. Road Dogg is also doing some of the best work of his career. Not in the ring; he was never a great technician. He’s been one of the best talkers each and every time the microphone is in his hand. Billy Gunn, while he is wrestling in a t-shirt these days, he’s more than passable. That’s the point of tag team wrestling – accentuate the strengths and hide the weakness. Can both go as hard as they did 15 years ago? No. Can they both go hard enough today? Yeah.
Road Dogg, especially, has been in top form. It would be one thing to come out and be a retread of your past character. Yes, Road Dogg says the “Ladies and gentlemen…” schtick that he’s done for years. But, it’s like a musician performing a concert. Of course you’re going to get the biggest hit, but if you’re any good, you’ll break out the new stuff. And, if you’re really good, it will also be a hit.
The New Age Outlaws made their first tag team appearance last year during the 2013 “Old School” Monday Night Raw. March of that year, the two guys headed down the ring to the first nostalgia pop they had ever received.
It would have been perfectly acceptable to phone it in from that point on. Road Dogg didn’t. He understood that there are kids in the audience who had no clue who he was. His promo did two things that night: he showed that he was comfortable taking a shot at his age; making fun of himself, and he showed the kids that he was still relevant.
The new hit at the time was “Thrift Shop,” which just won a couple Grammy awards last week. Road Dogg got in the ring and said, “… Mommas and Daddys, all over the world, lean down and tell your babies, that we’re them dudes who ‘wear your granddad’s clothes, we look incredible.’” And then he jumped into the “Are you ready?” bit that everybody wanted to see.
Two things happened last Monday that showed the New Age Outlaws are making the right decision to not just be a nostalgia act. He threw the microphone to the audience and the kids there didn’t know what to do. Road Dogg said, “Up in this …” and held the mic in the air. Fourteen years ago, he would have had 15,000 people yelling “Be-otch!” in unison. One, that word isn’t cool anymore (the late 90s were a weird time) and two, even if the kids did know what to say, they weren’t going to yell that beside their parents.
One of the most cringe-worthy moments of the Attitude Era for me was one night in 1999 after a Godfather promo my mom asked in disbelief, “What did he just say?” And I had to awkwardly respond, “He just said, ‘Light a phatty for this Pimp Daddy,’ Mom.”
Road Dogg threw it to the audience and then said, “You know we can’t say that anymore.” He got made fun of online for his next remark, but I thought it was brilliant. When telling Cody and Goldust to get in the ring, he said, “In the words of Selena Gomez, when you’re ready come and get it!”
And about the NAO having the tag titles, it’s not like they’re going to lose them to Triple H and Kevin Nash or something. A team will get made by the Outlaws. Either Cody and Goldust will win them back, or perhaps The Usos will get the rub of defeating the six time… TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD!
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