Welcome back to another edition of Retroactive Reconstruction! Here we analyze abortive or not-quite-over gimmicks that should have gotten much more over than they did, as well as suggestions for a future reconstruction. Today we look at a gimmick that can best be described as "bat$h!t insane."
So I was gonna post this a few days ago, but I ended up getting delayed.
We react to scary things or supposedly scary things in a variety of ways. Some of us scream in terror. Some of us just freeze, like a deer in the headlights. Some of us laugh, and get the shit slapped out of us by a justifiably irate Jim Cornette.
More on that last bit later.
My point being this: when you're dealing with a product as silly as professional wrestling, the worst possible thing that you could do is manufacture a bunch of supersoldier-type bodied guys like Randy Orton or Triple H. No, you need the high fliers like Rey Mysterio. You need the behemoths like Big Show and Mark Henry. You need the technical wizards like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, and you need the Adonis-like supermen like Brock Lesnar or even (*sigh*) John Cena. And you need the creepiness of a Bray Wyatt to mix things up.
And then sometimes you need characters that are so batshit crazy that you can't turn away, much like you're watching a car wreck or something.
Bray Wyatt is the closest thing we've got to that sort of craziness right now. I don't know how he did it, but he managed to hang in there for a fan-fucking-tastic Payback match with John Cena. Even if Cena routinely ignored the logics of wrestling psychology for the sake of adjusting the plot as he saw fit (You took them all on at Extreme Rules. Why did you need the Usos now?), it was still amazing.
I'm still perplexed as to how this didn't literally fucking kill Windham Rotunda. (via cdn.fansided.com)
But as exciting as Bray Wyatt is, he's the only "creepy" guy on the roster. And he's permanently a main-event player now. He's transcended just creepy, and now is something along the lines of an evolutionary Jake Roberts. A little more unhinged, a little more psychopathically man-childlike, and a slightly creepier finisher. If you shunt him back to the mid card, it seems like a complete dismissal of what he can do for you. Also, Bray Wyatt is an interesting promo, and as much as I love his speaking…each of his promos are all essentially the same. Long monologues reminiscing about the nature of good and evil, sort of like a Jake Roberts "Wallowing in avarice" promo…only without a signature line that we could remember. He's a poetic villain. And there's always gonna be a place for a poetic monster.
…But if that's the only monster you've got, then it's gonna get stale. For the sake of variety, why not have another kind of monster stalking the roster? If Bray Wyatt is a monster with a plan (though he's probably the only one that knows what it is at this point), why not have us a monster with no discernible plan? A kind of monster that relentlessly pursues his foes like some kind of…Terminator?
No, not that one. Besides, he's too busy stuck in a boring feud with...Bad News Barrett…? (via i500.listal.com)
No, I'm talking something really out there. Someone that just looks at you in a way that screams "I'M COMIN'…TA GETCHA!!!"
Yeah, like that!……….Also, AIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!!! (via www.bostonwrestling.com)
I guess what I'm suggesting is another boogeyman-like kind of monster to roam the WWE. And I guess you really can't get any better than the literal Boogeyman, right?
The man behind the…lots and lots of face paint, Martin Wright, first made his appearance in any real capacity for professional wrestling on the fourth season of WWE's show Tough Enough. Amazingly, he was selected as one of eight finalists chosen to get a roster spot. He made it through the first day of cuts. But then, honesty won the day. Wright admitted that he was actually older than he had claimed he was, and as a result was cut from the competition. I imagine that the conversation went something like this:
Wright: "So, actually, I been meaning to tell you guys, but…I'm actually older than I said I was."
Tough Enough: "No problem, how old are you? You listed yourself as 30, and the cutoff age is 35. What are you? 32, 33?"
Wright: "Actually, I'm 40."
Tough Enough: "…………."
Yeah, that's right. At an age where most of us stop thinking about athletic pursuits outside of "I'm gonna make sure I don't turn into a beach ball as I age," Martin Wright was thinking "I wanna be a professional wrestler." I gotta hand it to the man; that kind of insanity makes him perfect for this business.
Evidently, some WWE officials thought the same thing. They invited Wright to come down to their (then) developmental program, Ohio Valley Wrestling. There, they essentially dropped him into head booker/part-owner Jim Cornette's lap and said "Turn him into something we can use."
This was obligatory, really. (via i3.kym-cdn.com)
Instead of trying to take a 40-year old man and turn him into a standard wrestler, Cornette decided to show off why he's Jim Cornette and why he's an excellent booker. (I guess that's a redundant statement, really) Cornette and OVW began releasing a series of announcements towards the OVW crowds that there was an man who was roaming the buildings they performed in, security was currently looking for him yet had not found him, and this was a man with a history of anger issues and mental problems who called himself "the Boogeyman." Any casual fan would (as Cornette and fellow OVW owner Danny Davis expected) roll their eyes and go "Pfft. That's Cornette telling me that this guy's gimmick is being the Boogeyman."
As Cornette himself put it so eloquently, "No, I'm telling you that this motherfucker thinks he's the Boogeyman."
From there, the Boogeyman would emerge during a match, interrupting things by scaring the wrestlers off, and then cutting creepy promos about how he was the Boogeyman and (God, I love typing this) "I'm comin'…TA GETCHA!!!"
It worked, and soon Wright was promoted to the main event as the monster Boogeyman, a specialist in squash matches and general insanity.
WHY IT WAS AWESOME
Look, this is a goddamn ridiculous gimmick. I cannot tell you how hard I laughed watching his mannerisms as he performed. For pete's sake, the boss company decided to give him a worm-chewing attachment to his gimmick as if that would make him scarier/creepier. Worms. Eating worms. Like he was a kindergartner.
And it all worked, because Martin Wright legitimately crushed this gimmick.
Forget Zack Ryder, Wright is the standard bearer for getting an act over because he lived his gimmick. You truly thought that this guy was the Boogeyman, because he truly thought that he was the Boogeyman. It didn't hurt that he was given some pretty cool tassels to his gimmick as well. For example, they added a Betelgeuse-esque aspect to the Boogeyman where he wouldn't show up unless another wrestler said his name (unfortunately not three times. That'd be too contrived.), and then kick the shit out of that sap whilst no-selling everything that they threw at him. He was a classic tweener, attacking literally everyone. Also, he'd show up in the most random of fucking places backstage, holding up clocks and reciting old nursery rhymes that he always managed to shoehorn in "I'm the Boogeyman, and I'm comin'…TA GETCHA!" at the end, followed by smashing the clocks on his head. Oh, also lots and lots of evil maniacal laughter. It was so endearingly insane that you couldn't really hate him as a heel, so your only hope was to be grossed out by him. That's what the worm-eating was for, I guess.
He made his Smackdown debut in December of 2005, completely squashing Simon Dean.
From there, Boogey entered his first major feud with…holy shit, they threw him in with JBL? Sure, JBL was one year removed from his odious run as WWE Champ (one of the few times I've completely rooted for John Cena, for the record), but that doesn't mean that he should be taken lightly. Plus, Boogey's been stalking JBL and Jillian Hall, so at Royal Rumble 2006 JBL is totally gonna make the Boogeyman eat a Clothesline from Hell and-
D'aww, who am I kidding. Boogey squashed him too. In under two minutes.
Shit, Boogey moved on to a feud with fan-favorite Booker T, essentially stalking Booker and his wife Sharmell just like he'd stalked JBL and Jillian…before squashing Booker at Wrestlemania 22?
*Ahem*, are you taking notes Johnny boy? This is how you get a creepy fucker over as a heel! (Err, face. Face/Heel? Feel? God, Boogey never played by the rules!)
It was so delightfully insane. But of course it sputtered out, because otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.
WHAT KILLED THE GIMMICK?
Based on my (ahem) "professional" analysis, I have come to the conclusion that there were three major things that killed the Boogeyman gimmick.
First, Martin Wright's age.
Might as well get the easy one out of the way soon, right? Martin Wright started wrestling at 40. That just isn't a sustainable starting point for a wrestler to have a long career.
"But GrecoRomanGuy, DDP didn't really start wrestling until he was in his late 30's!" You might say.
That's a totally fair point. There are plenty of late bloomers in all walks of life. But DDP is, by my observation, both a health freak to the nth degree as well as extraordinarily lucky that he has a slightly wiry frame. It let him pack on juuuust enough muscle to hang in with the big boys, yet not enough weight where it would start hurting him as he got older.
Boogey was 260 pounds (billed, anyway), and several inches shorter than DDP's listed 6' 5". That's closer to the average man's build, which is slightly schlubby as we get older and doesn't get any easier to maintain.
I mean, I'd like to think that we could all be health nuts the way Diamond Dallas Page is, but I think we all like eating bacon a little too much to try. (Uhh, not you, Baconstrips. Just, uh, bacon…Moving on now)
Second, his style of match.
It breaks my heart to say it, but the squash match routine isn't exactly that exciting to watch when that's all you see. If the character constantly appears on television and doesn't have the mystique of a Goldberg win streak attach to it (or Goldberg's eye-poppingly cool finishers like the SPEAR and the JACKHAMMAH), then the guy just seems boring no matter how interesting the rest of his story is or his background.
Especially when what's IN his background is more interesting in the first place. (via kgbwrestling.files.wordpress.com)
Either way, if all of his matches take about the time of a bathroom break or a pre-Paige era Divas match, then it's probably not gonna bode well when the creativity surrounding his booking loses its mind.
Speaking of which...
Third, moments of absolutely nonsensical booking.
I think it all started with this man.
For those of you not in the know, here's the link to Cornette's tirade. For those too lazy to click the link, here's a brief summary: Boogeyman made his debut at OVW, the rest of the wrestlers and stage crew sold it like they should've and ran off screaming…except for Santino, who looked at it and laughed like it was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever seen. Interesting you should do that, Marella, because I think that your form of comedy is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. The only difference is that I'm not laughing at it. Nor is anyone else, at this point.
So Cornette proceeded to slap Santino either 16 or 17 times. I dunno, it was a lot. And then got fired from OVW. Apparently WWE thought that Marella was something that needed to be treasured and coddled, so that they could show us such lovely comedy moments like this.
Either way, I think it sent a troubling sign to the WWE creative team:
"Hey, let's ignore the element of danger to the Boogeyman, and whenever we need to get a cheap laugh, we'll make HIM the butt of the joke! Now let's go back to burying the Miz cuz we couldn't get a date with Maryse, stalk some of the Divas, and suggest gimmicks so offensively bad that Vince will leave without saying a goddamn word."
So the Boogeyman had an undefeated streak on the main roster, when BAM! It gets broken by…Finlay, of all people?
…No. No, they didn't. You are not going to tell me that he lost because there was interference by-
Then there was a mixed tag match between Finlay and Hornswoggle against Boogeyman and…little Boogeyman, aka "an idea even stupider than mini Undertaker, Once in a Lifetime Part 2, or Hornswoggle, WWE Cruiserweight Champion." And in case you weren't sure, of course Boogey lost. And from there he would fall from a dizzying height. His last win against a non-enhancement talent would come in 2009, roughly two years after his loss to Finlay and Hornswoggle. Uuurrrrrgh. I think I'm gonna be sick. Let's get to saving this gimmick.
The first thing we're gonna do is simple. We're gonna march into WWE executive offices, interrupt Vince McMahon and the alleged Kevin Dunn's debate over whether to fire Jim Cornette because the alleged Dunn is still sore over Jim's "beaver buck-toothed motherfucker" insult, and clearly and confidently explain that the whole point of the Boogeyman is to have everyone taking part in a willing suspension of disbelief (this is otherwise known as THE BEDROCK OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING) that this man thinks he's the Boogeyman and that he is scary because of some bizarre way of appearance and acting and if even one asshole ruins it by laughing when he should be running and screaming, then the entire fucking thing is pointless. This gives us the double bonus of getting the backstage heat off of Jim Cornette as well as teaching Santino some respect for kayfabe. That's always fun.
The second thing we're gonna do is keep Boogey in the mid card. He's fun, he's scary, but he just isn't capable of hanging in there with the big dogs. If he were to debut today, that gives us some fun with Bray Wyatt's nihilism attacking the main event while Boogey's general insanity livens up the mid card, which can never have enough excitement injected into it.
Third, we're gonna blur the line between reality and fiction.
Ok, I know that that says so much less than nothing that it legitimately hurts you, but could you TRY not to act so offended? (via i1.mirror.co.uk)
We're gonna keep the Cornette idea that "this motherfucker thinks he's the Boogeyman!"…except we're going to sprinkle in moments every now and then that make you go "Holy shit, maybe there's more to it! Maybe he really is a Boogeyman!"
Moments like this, for example.
…Mixed in with moments like this...
…with moments like this sprinkled in for good fun.
Heh, heh, heh. Poor Randy Orton took a beating in this segment.
Of course, copying this note for note would be lazy, but I bet if you gave Boogey some creative freedom he'd go nutty. Like adding dry ice smoke in the bathroom when he shows up in the mirror, using stunt doubles so that it appears he can make more of himself, and chasing after a fool, being left in the dust, only to magically teleport off camera in front of his prey so that he can clothesline him like Jason Voorhees. (Except Voorhees actually killed the people he teleported after, I should add. That wouldn't sit with with investors, I don't think.)
It'll be a perfect blend between old-school kayfabery and the "Reality Era" that Triple H coined, and it will be a good way to keep the mid card entertaining so that poor Damien Sandow doesn't have to rely on being the greatest character actor in the WWE in order to bridge the gap between main event stuff. And Boogey won't have to wrestle all that much either. He'd be a, well, boogeyman for mid carders to avoid/best so that they can graduate to the main event if they get over enough. Best of all, we'd be posting gifs of him popping out of random-ass places with the caption "I'm comin'…TA GETCHA!!!" to announce our presence in the Daily Thread.
So what do you think, Cagesiders? Agree with my analysis of the Boogeyman? Think there was something I missed or should have changed? Drop a line in the comments below. Be civil otherwise, I'm comin'…TA GETCHA!!! (Okay, I'll stop now.) Tune in next time, when we analyze a gimmick killed by Vince McMahon. (Geez, what on earth could THAT be?) See you next time!
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