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The Funkasaurus Rules

FunkasaurusMonday night, Brodus Clay finally debuted. The vignettes hyping his arrival have been playing for months, and each week, his reintroduction was pushed back, usually via John Laurinaitis calling him and apologizing for the delay. It became somewhat of a meme among wrestling fans, even to the point where a website was set up to ask whether he had debuted or not.

The vignettes had promised a brooding, animalistic monster, one who would tear through all competition with ferocity, leaving a trail of human wreckage behind him. Despite the fact that Mark Henry had been doing the same for the last six months (ironically enough using a trope in the “Hall of Pain” that Clay himself had pitched to Creative) and that Kane had just come back with a similar oeuvre, it made sense. The guy seemingly is built to be that kind of destroyer.

[ad 6]Imagine everyone’s surprise when Justin Roberts billed him from Planet Funk and dubbed him the Funkasaurus. I know I was taken aback at first when Clay came out in a red track suit with a fly girl on either side of him dancing to what sounded like Ernest “The Cat” Miller’s old entrance music. Then I saw how into the character he was, dancing around the ring, getting down with his bad self and combining the big man power moves with a certain panache that hadn’t been seen since Rikishi was in his heyday. It was like night and day with the way he had won me over in his shortish match against Curt Hawkins.

The biggest thing that won me over about this debut was the amount of fun that was involved in it. Clay looked like he was having fun. After the initial shock, the fans started reacting like they were in on the whole thing. The gimmick doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it is totally rife with possibilities for fan interaction and response. Clay made the entire atmosphere of the arena feel like a party. That’s what great wrestling can do, make everything feel fun again.

Wrestling by its very nature isn’t a serious art. It’s two or more guys pretending to hit each other and exaggerating the damage to get a crowd reaction. Yes, it can and should at times be tense and dramatic, but if there isn’t an inherent sense of humor, if there isn’t comic relief, if someone can’t attend an event without feeling like they can poke fun at themselves, then it becomes a bunch of people crowding around, deluding themselves that what they’re watching is real when the rest of the world is in on a joke that no one in the arena gets.

That’s how people get ashamed of watching wrestling rather than reveling in it against the haters. That’s how we get people who go to the high school gyms and cry while exclaiming “It’s still real to me, dammit!” to Terry Funk and Harley Race. Do we really want the entire arena to be filled with the “It’s Still Real to Me” guy? I say no, and I think most people would agree with me.

That’s why Clay’s reintroduction on Monday was sorely needed. WWE didn’t need another big bad wolf. They already had two, and one could argue that Big Show is a third one despite his jovial outer shell. I’m not saying people have to like Clay’s new character either. Everything is subject to personal taste.

[adinserter block=”1″]That being said, I feel like people should at least be open to the idea of goofy characters and gimmicks like the Funkasaurus being included in the programming. The alternative would be guys with characters who seem like they’d rather be in MMA, and one would only have to look to Ring of Honor’s main event scene from 2011 to see how well that plays out.

But for me, the Funkasaurus was a smash hit. I hope he succeeds, because he’s so fun to watch. I hope he gets the mythical Kane/Diesel push in the Royal Rumble and eliminates guys with dance moves. Right now, he is everything that is good with pro wrestling.

Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. I was thinking the same about Santino – wrestling needs the comic relief, the silly characters that you can still watch with your kids. I was NOT expecting Funkasaurus, and we had a good laugh over it. A roster of only bad0a$$es is boring.
    -RH!

  2. I initially hated this gimmick, although I think I was more stunned at the Clay's striking change in character more than anything. I am starting to come around to it now. If WWE wants to get this new character over, they should pair him with Zack Ryder immediately.

  3. I'm inclined to agree. I didn't see the debut right away as I was still at work, but was already hearing about it on Facebook before I made it home. When I first heard about it, I groaned, thinking WWE had ruined another potential superstar. Then, I got home and watched RAW on the DVR, preparing myself for Clay's debut. Turns out…I like the gimmick. Clay was funny, showed a lot of personality and quite a bit of rhythm for a big man. Plus, he was still doing the same move that made him a monster in the first place. My favorite aspects of the character are his Run-DMC entrance gear and the fact that he very loudly talks jive during his matches. I know people were immediately crapping all over this gimmick the second it hit the airwaves, but personally, I think those fans just had an expectation for Clay, and when it it turned out he wasn't exactly what they were expecting, they immediately crapped on him rather than giving him a chance. I'd be willing to bet Brodus will surprise a lot of people with this gimmick, and he may eventually become a Zack Ryder-like cult favorite.

  4. I thought it was great. The timing was a little weird. Going up against the BCS game and in the middle of Jericho's return, but yeah, pretty fun stuff. The segment itself was pretty much self contained and gone within 5 minutes, leaving us wanting more.

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