TPFKATL Daydream Believer: WWE's New Wave Of Characters
Apr 23, 2004 - 5:13:00 PM
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Mike Roe, Lounge Religion Guru
Hi everybody! Yup, it's Friday and it's time once again for your seventh favorite Lounge column, Daydream Believer! I had a good week, looking for work, working out on a more regular basis, and enjoying sweet, sweet wrestling goodness. On the Lounge jukebox this week: "Mandy" by Barry Manilow, "Dragostea Din Tei" by O-Zone, and the Coach's theme song ("I don't know much!").
This week, we'll be taking a look at the members of WWE's wave of new characters, those who have either already debuted or who are on their way into the limelight. There's good, there's bad, and there's ugly, but they're here and it's time to prepare ourselves.
Eugene: Nick Dinsmore was a standout in WWE's Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental promotion. All indications were that he was a phenomenal worker in the ring, but WWE didn't see that extra something in Dinsmore. He remained mired in OVW for years, despite the support of OVW chief Jim Cornette, as well as that of a variety of critics. Dinsmore finally brainstormed a way to land a WWE roster spot: He would pretend to be "special." In 2004, is a cartoonish "special" character what WWE really needs? It's like the crash TV era of Sexual Chocolate and Val Venis the porn star all over again. On the plus side, Dinsmore can deliver when it comes time for him to hit the ring. He also has William Regal as his manager, and Regal's wit and charm go a long way toward making Eugene entertaining. WWE is walking a tightrope here, keeping Eugene funny but being sensitive to present him in a non-inflammatory fashion. I feel even worse for the heels Eugene will surely face, as they need to cut promos that make fun of Eugene, but without crossing the line.
Hirohito: Kenzo Suzuki has been an international superstar, winning numerous titles overseas. He signed a developmental deal with WWE and reported to OVW this February, and he's already on his way up to the major leagues. Word is that he's yet another big man without substantial skills in the ring, but Vince McMahon digs the big men, so we'll have to live with it. Suzuki/Hirohito comes in at 6'3". Could his size help create the first Asian upper midcarder in a long time? With this Hirohito gimmick, I find that unlikely. The real life Emperor Hirohito led Japan through the events of World War 2. The Japanese people believed that the emperors were divine, but as World War 2 came to an end, this tradition came to a crashing halt. As part of establishing peace with the United States, Hirohito admitted that he was not divine. After this fall from grace, Hirohito lived out his life as a figurehead, until his death on January 7th, 1989. WWE needs to tread carefully here if they do not want to upset Japanese fans. What happens the next time WWE goes on a tour of Japan? On the plus side, at least this is a big man with a character, as opposed to those just thrown out there, like Matt Morgan. My expectations are low, but hopefully Hirohito pleasantly surprises us all.
John "Bradshaw" Layfield: Granted, Bradshaw has been around for a long, long time, but this new character is such a radical change that it might as well be someone new. He's drawn from his real life experience, taking his passion for finance and imbuing it into his wrestling character. The best gimmicks are always based on real life personalities, with the dial turned up to eleven, and Bradshaw has that down. He seems like he should have it all, but there's the fact that "JBL" can't go in the ring anymore. In an interview on Fox Sports Net before WrestleMania with Bradshaw and Farooq, they joked that they wrestled as a tag team because they were too old to wrestle singles matches anymore. It might have been funny then, but it's not so funny when one of them is put into a position at the top of the card against the world champion. I am behind Bradshaw 110% when it comes to his on-air character and the way he's been presented so far, but Bradshaw needs to hold up his end of the deal. He needs to come up with some new mat holds, providing himself with a spot to rest during a match while keeping the audience intrigued. He needs to work on a new finisher that isn't tied to his previous gimmicks. How about "the Closing Bell" or "the Bottom Line?" He needs to hit the gym like a maniac and work away that beer belly. Whether Layfield pulls this off or not will be dependent on his own efforts.
Johnny Nitro: All indications are that Johnny Nitro, A.K.A. John Hennigan, is pretty unbearable in the ring, according to OVW reports from when he wrestled as Johnny Superstar. Thankfully, we haven't had to endure that since the debut of Johnny Blaze/Johnny Spade/Johnny Nitro. This guy definitely has that charisma which is so hard to find in pro wrestlers, the kind which separates the Rocks from the Lance Storms of the world. Yes, the suck-up sidekick bit has been done before, but Nitro does it well, bringing his own touch to the role. WWE would be wise to let Nitro work with their best agents and with other great workers in order to give him every chance to deliver when it's time for him to step through those ropes. Nitro is a diamond in the rough, and hopefully he gets polished enough to truly shine.
Mordecai: The wrestler now known as Mordecai has been wrestling in OVW as Seven. He's definitely "a hoss," as Jim Ross would say. This character is the most personally intriguing of the bunch for me, due to the religious airs of his gimmick. The promos leading up to his debut have been outstanding, with Mordecai conveying emotion and intensity. He seems sure to debut as a heel, and may be served up down the line to fellow supernatural superstar Undertaker. However, Taker is apparently occupied with Booker T at the moment, so Mordecai will likely get some time to establish himself first. It would also be interesting to see Mordecai as a nouveau version of the members of Undertaker's Ministry. In any case, it's something different but not offensive, and for WWE, that's not a bad thing, that's a good thing.
Tyson Tomko: Tomko is another big man, to go alongside his heavily hyped brethren, Hirohito and Mordecai. Known previously as Bane and Travis Tomko, his ring skills have been in serious doubt. In fact, he seemed to be taking a page out of Nathan Jones' book in his debut, interfering for Christian against Chris Jericho, falling on his behind after his big kick. However, he seems to be playing the silent enforcer role, so not much will likely be expected out of him initially. He'll be doing big power moves on Christian's enemies, and hopefully keeping his ring time to a minimum. I'm the least optimistic about Mr. Tomko, since his character doesn't seem to be bringing anything new to the table, but there's still time for him to deveop, though perhaps that shouldn't be done on national television.
Overall, the new crop of WWE characters is a mixed bag. The only reportedly good worker in the bunch is Eugene. However, most of them seem to have strong characters, which should at least carry them through their first couple of months. In the end, it all comes down to their heart and dedication. Are they going to work like madmen to be the best that they can be? Or are they going to let their size, or their push, or their politics bring them through?
Thanks again for reading and responding to my columns. A special thanks goes out this week to my hero, Dusty Giebink, for doing some great work in both his Lounge columns and on the VIP Forum spreading the good word of OVW and providing updates on various workers. I strongly encourage you to read his latest OVW reports. As always, please drop me a line on what you thought, I'd love to hear from you! Until next time, Mike Roe OUT!
Mike Roe is the junior WWE Velocity reviewer for PWTorch.com. He's also a Gumgod Pledge and the president of the Dusty Giebink Fan Club. If you have questions, comments, complaints, or just want a warm body to talk to, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on the Torch VIP forum.
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