WWE: DOES FUNNY EQUAL MONEY?
Comedy has been a staple in the world of professional wrestling for years. In fact, many people believe professional wrestling is nothing more than a variety show in the realm of entertainment. However, does funny equal money?
On this past week’s edition of Pro Wrestling Powerhouse Radio, we had a lengthy discussion on whether or not WWE has overdone it in the comedy department. Is this the reason for diminished ratings and overall success in the wrestling business as of late?
Over the course of WWE history, there has been comedic wrestlers in every era—from George “The Animal” Steele and his antics in the ’80s to the boom of comedic acts in The Attitude Era with The Rock, Mankind, Crash Holly and others until now with an overwhelming amount of comedic acts on a weekly basis.
In the past, we have seen comedic aspects to many main event wrestlers, including Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle, but they also knew how to turn up the intensity when needed. They had a certain edge to their personas where comedy wasn’t everything that they relied upon.
We have also seen comedy done by characters throughout the years. Val Venis and The Godfather were two wrestlers that were funny but had characters to convey that funny. Today, the comedic wrestlers lack the characteristics that we have seen in the past.
Is it the fault of the writers, or is this the type of programming that Vince McMahon himself wants? Can we ever expect Santino Marella or Ricardo Rodriguez to gain that edge to push them above where they are on the card?
In this article, I will give you undeniable evidence on how comedy has completely taken over the WWE roster and whether or not it is a good thing or a bad thing.
All three of these competitors have had serious runs throughout their WWE career. All three are former champions on the WWE roster. So why are these three stuck together in a comedic threesome?
I understand the odd couple pairing of The Great Khali and Hornswoggle. One is the largest man on the roster and the other is the smallest. It also is quite odd that the beautiful Natalya suddenly has an apparent “love interest” in The Great Khali.
While I understand that WWE does need some comedy relief on most shows, there is no denying the value of Natalya to the Diva’s division and what she can do in the ring. Being aligned with these two just holds her back from ever getting back to that level.
Is it just that the writers don’t know what to do with all three or is there an ultimate plan?
There was a time in the wrestling business where there was always a “payoff.” For Khali, Hornswoggle and Natalya, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of substantial payoff looming in the future.
Another trio that has a large comedic aspect to their characters. Heath Slater seemed to be getting it done on his own as the “One Man Band”; however, WWE creative felt the need to include two wrestlers that seemingly have nothing in common with Slater (besides being on the undercard).
That odd dynamic is what makes the gimmick funny. These three don’t sing or play any instruments, yet they’re given the name “3 Man Band.” When they were first thrown together, they were issuing weekly beat downs to Brodus Clay. It almost looked like WWE was trying to get us to take them seriously.
However, as usual, they have been put in humiliating situations and buried countless times by the opposition.
Is 3MB the type of gimmick that is going to “put butts in the seats?” Is there any way for WWE to turn this thing into something that can draw money?
I won’t make up my mind on them just yet; however, the clock is ticking on the run of 3MB in the WWE.
If you are familiar with my opinion on Sheamus, you’ll know that I don’t think he’s funny. He comes off as trying way too hard and seems awkward in his approach.
It isn’t always completely necessary to try to make your top baby faces on the roster comedians. When Sheamus was a heel, his character was simple. He was an angry Irishman that loved to fight. While he still loves to fight, he’s more of a laughing stock than anything else.
Take for example his weekly promo’s during his last two major feuds. The approach to the feuds with Alberto Del Rio and Big Show, from Sheamus’ point of view, were exactly the same. Sheamus found a way to make fun of and put down both challengers instead of just fighting for pride and his championship.
Even more awkward was the strange backstage segment between Sheamus and 3MB on the January 7, 2013 edition of Monday Night Raw. I know that I wasn’t the only one who came out of that not knowing what just happened.
His attempts at insults are becoming predictable and ridiculous. If WWE maintains this direction for the Sheamus character, they better start coming up with some fresh, new material.
I feel that the day will come when Sheamus ultimately regains the edge that he has been missing. We all know that comedy isn’t his final payoff.
When Brodus Clay debuted his brand new gimmick, it felt fun and fresh to a majority of the audience. It was unexpected because of his past as a stereotypical, unstoppable monster.
I don’t hate the gimmick by any stretch of the imagination, but it has become rather stale in the past few months. We have already gone over a number of WWE superstars who have taken a comedic approach; do we really need Brodus Clay on this site of the fence?
The words by CM Punk on the January 7, 2013 edition of Raw rang true when it comes to Brodus Clay. Nobody wants to see him dancing around, making a fool of himself with your children in the ring. He has untapped potential that needs shown through his work inside the ring instead of on the dance floor.
With Brodus Clay, I don’t feel that funny equals money in any stretch of the imagination. He has already been buried time and time again. He won’t draw a dime until his character takes a brand new direction.
Ricardo Rodriguez is yet another performer that WWE relies on for his comedy routine on a week-to-week basis. While he is just Alberto Del Rio’s personal ring announcer and not a full time in-ring performer, he has shined whenever he has been given the opportunity.
As time has gone on, he has slowly come into the limelight as a bright spot on the entire Alberto Del Rio character. At first, he seemed like he was nothing but a “Virgil” and was headed towards a baby face turn on his boss. However, the future seems bright for his character if given the proper direction.
Whether he sticks with Del Rio or eventually goes out onto his own, the charisma shown by Ricardo Rodriguez will carry him throughout his career.
In this case, funny can equal money and WWE should stay the course with Rodriguez.
I have been a huge Zack Ryder fan throughout the years, but one thing is for sure: his comedic gimmick has become extremely stale and boring. However, in the case of Ryder, funny most definitely equals money.
There is no denying the effect that Ryder has had on the social media aspect for WWE. He has a become one of the more marketable wrestlers when it comes to merchandise sales. In fact, there isn’t a WWE show where the newest Zack Ryder t-shirt isn’t readily available for all to purchase.
WWE needs to figure out what they ultimately want to do with this young talent. He has a lot of potential to be a star for many years in the industry.
The gimmick may need to be adjusted or changed since there was a sudden push down the card that took place, but there is still hope for the future.
WWE has attempted to strike gold with the funny aspect of the Kane character in the past and have failed. With the help of Daniel Bryan, Team Hell No has become one of the most consistently funny aspects of the show.
Kane has undergone many slight identity changes over his 15 year WWE run. This time, the funny has come out and has given Kane a career rejuvenation that many did not see coming.
A year ago, he came back to WWE with the mask that he hadn’t worn in nearly 10 years. He was once again a demonic, killer that waged war on the likes of John Cena and Zack Ryder. About a year later, he is in the most unintentionally popular tag team that WWE has seen in years.
His partner, Daniel Bryan, might be the most technically sound wrestler in the world. His charisma has had an opportunity to shine in 2012 and will continue to in the foreseeable future. While he doesn’t seem like he would be funny, it is a trait that definitely shines.
Throughout his career outside of WWE, Daniel Bryan incorporated comedy in a fair share of his matches. He knew when it was effective and wasn’t effective. Even now, you can tell that Bryan knows when to turn up the intensity and turn down the funny.
These two might be the best example of funny equals money in the WWE right now.
There seems to be no turning back when it comes to the Santino Marella character. He is over with the crowd and his incorporation of “The Cobra” has given him a gimmick to rely on.
However, how long can this shtick really last? We’ve already been through a who’s who list of WWE superstars that are currently relying on the comedy aspect to get over on the card.
Santino seems to be a mainstay on the WWE under-card, but will he ever find a way to break the glass ceiling and get to the top?
If I were a betting man, I’d say that Santino will keep his current position in WWE for the majority of his stay.
Does Santino Marella’s funny equal money? Not huge money, but there is no doubt that he has cemented himself as the “go to” comedian on the WWE roster.
Since his turn from heel to face, The Miz has become another consistent comedian on the WWE roster. The consistent incorporation of Miz TV has given him a fresh platform to ply his craft.
Once again, The Miz is proof that there is way too much comedy on the WWE roster. He has gone from being at the very top of the card to making toilet humor jokes on a weekly basis.
Does funny equal money for The Miz? The jury is still out. We know that The Miz is somewhat of a draw, but will this comedy experiment work?
He is the definitive top star in WWE and yearly WrestleMania headliner. Since losing his edgy, rapper gimmick, John Cena has slowly transitioned into one of the corniest comedic acts in WWE history.
And he is fully aware of it! Have you ever noticed that Cena often tries to either hold back the laughs or just straight up laugh out loud at his own jokes on Raw every week? That is because he knows what he is saying and doing is completely ridiculous.
Recently, Cena has been involved in a match involving the use of Christmas trees and has dumped feces on top of Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee.
While shenanigans like this have been since in WWE in years past, the push for Cena to be more comedian than serious WWE superstar athlete has made his character somewhat stale over time.
No matter what John Cena does on the WWE card, he definitely equals money. But for how much longer can they really push him with this huge focus on comedy?
In conclusion, I think I have provided definitive evidence that WWE has relied way too much on the comedic aspect of their show and not on what traditionally has drawn money from years past.
If you look at the biggest angles in history, how many involved a heavy influence of comedy? I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for it on the card. There absolutely is. Wrestling is the ultimate variety show and they prove that on a week to week basis whether it is good or bad.
However, I’ve listed 15 superstars that have comedy involvement and I even left out R-Truth! How much money can Lil’ Jimmy really draw in the long run?
Hopefully there is someone in WWE that understands that not every act needs to involve comedy. The proof was in the pudding when The Rock and CM Punk exchanged words in the ring. While The Rock always throws hilarious insults at his opponents, they were able to mix in a sufficient amount of personal conflict to make the comedy pale in comparison.
WWE needs more personal conflict and intensity from their superstars and less comedy across the spectrum.
Please leave your comments below and we can talk about this!