TWEAKS AND TURNS
After weeks of fiery and vague promos about his chosen path, Kane returned on Raw. The pyro hit, he stopped the UnAmericans from burning the flag, seemed to be unstoppable.....and then he busted out the Kane-a-rooni. While this shouldn't have been a huge surprise - anyone remember the Hogan/Rock/Kane promo before he was injured? - it was still kind of odd watching the Big Red Machine clumsily spin on the mat. I was chatting with two friends while watching and I found their responses amusing. One calmly said "Well, he's not really a comedy character" while the other shrieked "NOOOO! What the hell was that?" It made me think about characters, how they evolve and why.
Think back a few years. A young wrestler was introduced as the first third generation WWE star. He was always smiling and gracious. He was handsome and athletic. He was pushed heavily and hotshotted into the IC belt. People hated him. So the character was tweaked and made arrogant and mouthy. He didn't care what the fans thought of him.
A performer fired from WCW. Mic skills so questionable he was given Ted DiBiase as a manager/mouthpiece. A performer who may have not gotten his big break if it wasn't for the MSG Klique incident. His promo on Jake Roberts turned him around.
A babyfaced heartthob who turned on his tag team partner and ended up helping form one of the most influential stables in WWE history. A stable who signaled the beginning of the Attitude Era.
I give you the Rock, Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. All characters successfully tweaked from their original concept who became more popular after the change.
Which leads me back to Kane. When he first debuted, he was silent. His focus was on revenge. Over the years, the character has been slowly humanized. He developed friendships and alliances with Chyna, Xpac and Tori. In the background was the interaction with his "brother" the Undertaker. He went from a brooding monster to a man. Conversely, the more human he became, the less clothes he wore. He reveals more of his soul and more of his body. (Can you tell I was an English major?) I guess the whole "maimed in a fire the Undertaker set" story, which was the reason for his debut in the first place, has been cast on the WWE Forgotten History pile. The turn from Brooding Boy to Mr Happy Go Lucky has seemed abrupt, but I guess I'll get used to it.
So who's next on the tweak list? Whose character really needs a freshening up?
Jeff Hardy - This should be more of an appearance rather than character. They've been pushing him as the man who never gives up. However, it's hard to take him seriously when he's doing the Raver dance at the top of the ramp, face painted in ways the Warrior only dreamed of. Jeff, I'll say it again. White tank and jeans. Wash the Manic Panic out of your hair. Get a real tattoo instead of painting them on.
Rikishi - This one is tricky. A heel turn already bombed big time. Unfortunately there are people still responding to the StinkFace and the dancing. People, KNOCK IT OFF. The man's a decent athlete for his size, let him be an athlete and not a clown.
Test - Hmmm. Another hard one. Not really over as a face or a heel. He's been matched up with a lot of people in attempts to get him over, with no real success. My idea? Keep him heel but make him silent. He's still horrid on the mic after all these years, so why not have Christian and Lance Storm do the promos? Have Test be the force behind the UnAmericans. Use the strengths he has, mainly his size but keep his mushmouth away from a mic.
There are a few who seem hopeless. No matter what they do or how many times the character is tweaked, they still don't make it. The crowds still consider their matches bathroom breaks. Gimmick after gimmick, tweak after tweak. No matter who they align with, you still always wonder why they keep getting pushed. As a friend said once "Does he have a picture of Patterson with a donkey? Did he catch Vince and an intern? Why is _____ on my tv, dammit?" Mark Henry, Billy Gunn, Big Show, I'm looking at you. While the guys running the souvenir booth love the boost in business your matches give them, maybe it's time to consider a career change. Mark, I'd like to commend you for giving your all but no matter how loud the canned pops are played, it doesn't hide the fact people are bored. Billy, you've tried several times but no matter how good you look, it doesn't make up for poor mic and ring skills. Show, your size doesn't give you an automatic job. If it wasn't for Vince and JR's well documented love of the so called big boys/hosses, you'd be unemployed. A smart man realizes his shortcomings and moves on, keep that in mind.
Until next time, don't waste your money on Sex, Lies and Headlocks unless you like playing point out the factual error.