Bell To Bell: Et Tu Brodus?
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
The re-debut of Brodus Clay from this past Monday’s Raw Supershow still has me scratching my head. Having been a fan for almost a decade and a half now, that’s not a situation I frequently find myself in.
Quick history lesson: George Murdoch, a former bodyguard for Snoop Dogg, was signed to a WWE development contract in 2006. To say the least, the man stands out. At over 350 lbs, with a tattooed upper body, a spiked mohawk, and a less chiseled look than your average WWE wrestler, Murdoch is instantly recognizable. He made his national television debut under the name Brodus Clay on the fourth season of WWE NXT (which almost nobody watched).
In March of 2010, Clay began appearing with Alberto Del Rio in a bodyguard role. He was ringside during Del Rio’s match with Edge at Wrestlemania XXVII. Clay would eventually take a leave of absence from television to film a WWE Studios production, No One Lives. He reappeared on one of the company’s webcast shows, WWE Superstars, in late 2010, and began squashing no-name jobbers on a weekly basis. WWE began airing vignettes for his re-debut on Raw. He was expected to appear on the November 7 edition of the show, but for some unknown reason, his debut was repeatedly pushed back on a week-to-week basis.
This was the Brodus Clay we were expecting this past Monday…
This was the Brodus Clay we got…
After the initial shock wore off, I was pretty sour about what WWE had done to Brodus. It seemed like they had taken a powerhouse with a unique look and a decent amount of potential, and saddled him with a variation on one of their stock characters. Indeed, mere minutes after Clay walked out, people were comparing him to past WWE stars with dancing/funk gimmicks like Dusty Rhodes, Flash Funk, Rikishi and Ernest “The Cat” Miller (he even has Miller’s old theme music). Whether WWE had intended it or not, the continuous delaying of Brodus’ debut had created certain aura of anticipation around him, and it seemed like they’d sent it all down the drain with this silly “Funkasaurus” character. The crowd certainly seemed quiet during his match. I suppose they didn’t know what to think, much like the rest of us.
I checked Twitter this morning, expecting to see fans crapping on the character. But surprisingly, a lot of people seem to have been entertained by it. Apparently the sheer outrageousness of the whole thing made a lot of fans laugh. For the time being, this new Brodus Clay has a bit of a following, which is exactly what any wrestling promotion wants they add someone new to their roster.
Whether you like this new development or you don’t, it certainly prevents Clay from falling into the “generic giant” role. WWE has brought in so many big guys over the years whom they’ve tried to cast as their next sawed off monster, only to have them flounder and never really go anywhere because their characters aren’t developed beyond that. Think Snitzky, Tyson Tomko, Nathan Jones, Luther Reigns, etc. With this persona, Clay has broken through that stereotype, which will serve him well going forward.
The question, of course, becomes whether fans will stay interested in Clay after a few weeks have gone by. So much has already been done in mainstream wrestling in the last 20 years that it’s no longer enough to simply have a gimmick. Now more than ever, you’ve got to have that special connection with the audience. The people have to buy into what you’re doing, they have to believe in you, whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy. WWE lets so many talents go each year because they can’t effectively convey their passion or creativity in the ring. So ultimately, Brodus Clay’s fate is in his own hands.
Thankfully for him, Clay seems to have a very natural charisma. Even when he was the monstrous bruiser, his words carried a certain believability. With this new funk-themed character, he’s showing us that he can loosen up in the ring a bit. His little comments during the match were fun (“My bad!”). During his little dance routine, you could tell he was thinking hard, making sure he got it right. One can only imagine the stress he was under, having to dance on TV. In any event, he’ll have to loosen that part of his act up, which I suspect is just a matter of practice. Once can only hope he stays away from Rikishi’s “Stink Face” maneuver, though. I think that move is reserved for hot chicks now, right?
All in all, Brodus Clay still has a chance. It’s a different kind of chance than he might have had before, but it’s a chance nonetheless. I’m interested to see what he does with it.