Howdy, my fellow Cagesiders! I have a new idea for an irregular column that I'm trying out. As you may or may not have noticed, my opinions on wrestling and WWE tend to fly counter to prevailing opinion on the site. I envision Swimming Upstream as being something akin to The Unpopular Opinion at Joblo.com, wherein I will take a subject that the majority feels one way about, but I feel another, and I will do my level best to make the case for my point of view.
For this first column, I've decided to take on the reports of ZZ Loupe reportedly signing with WWE. Now, one need not look further than some of the comments in that post to see that it's not a popular idea within the internet wrestling community (IWC) smarkdom. Initially, I found the idea dubious. However, once I took some time to think about it, I came to the conclusion that not only is it not a bad idea, NXT is probably the best place for him to be if he indeed makes it as a wrestler.
Anyone who has seen my comments on the Tough Enough posts, or my Tough Talk recaps, knows that I was initially all aboard the ZZ Train. My position on him has always been that he is a young man with a ton of charisma and raw ability to entertain people. I even made the comparison to Dusty Rhodes a week before
Hulk Hogan Stevie Richards did. The only thing holding him back was his lack of cardio. And what frustrated me was what frustrated pretty much everyone else (if they didn't outright hate him to begin with), and that's the fact that he apparently was not putting in enough work in the gym. I eventually got of the train, because I decided he didn't deserve to win the contract. And he didn't. But that doesn't mean I didn't want to see him become a wrestler.
Now, let's say you're a GM for a football team, and there's this college quarterback you've got your eye on. He's got a cannon for an arm, and can run like the dickens. He seems to have good instincts for the game, but his footwork in the pocket is shaky, and he has a tendency to force balls in to the receivers and throws a lot of picks as a result. Are you going to use your first round pick on this guy? Probably not. You're more likely to pick up this guy in the later rounds and put him on the practice squad and see if you can improve his footwork and train him to read defenses. If you do it successfully, then you've got a star QB for your team. If you didn't, then you're not out a whole lot of money because you picked him up late.
This analogy applies to ZZ. The kid has good instincts for entertaining people. Go listen to Chris Jericho's podcast he did with the Final Four from Tough Enough. In particular, listen to the story near the end where ZZ talks about getting his hand bit by an alligator while he's conducting a tour. I can't find a transcript, so I'll summarize:
While doing his bit with the gator in front of his tour group, a bead of sweat dripped from his pinky finger onto the gator's tongue while he had his hand in the gator's mouth. Gators automatically snap their jaws shut when something touches their tongue, and so ZZ soon had a gator clamped on his hand. Immediately, ZZ realized he had to do something to keep the kids in the tour group from seeing what was actually going on, lest they become traumatized by the experience. After all, that would be bad for business. So he swung his body around so his back was facing the kids in the group, straddled the gator and used his free hand to pull on the gator's nose, all the while making it look like he was wrestling the gator. The kids in the group went wild for it, and tearing at the gator's nose made it relent and open its jaws.
I don't know about you, but I think being able to think on one's feet, entertain, and protect a business while one is severely distracted (or in excruciating pain) just might be a useful talent for a wrestler to have.
"Yeah," you might say, "but what about him being lazy, not putting in the work, and using his cheat day to go to Burger King?" It's a good point. First, listen to Jericho's podcast. During his interview with Amanda and Sara, they both say that ZZ did put in work on his cardio while he was on the show. I know that contrasts with what Mada, Tanner and Josh have said about ZZ's workout habits. However, I believe that it may be the men and the women simply looked at ZZ's workout habits from different perspectives.
Notwithstanding that, my second point is that cardio is something that can be worked on. A proper diet is something that can be easily taught. All it requires is that one do the work. I would imagine that any contract he signs with NXT is heavily contingent upon him getting into good enough shape to be able to work a match in the first place.
"But, but, BUT!" you reply, "Patrick/Mada/Chelsea/Gigi/Tanner were all better than this fat slob. They should have signed one of them first!" While I understand this point (indeed, I'm an unabashed supporter of seeing GiGi in WWE someday), I also understand why WWE would pick him before any of the others.
First, he's a single young man. That means his financial needs are likely to be less than most the other contestants, therefore he's cheaper to sign. Mada is in his late 20s, married with a small child. GiGi lives in another country, so there's the logistics of getting a work visa to come here in the first place. Patrick has said that he'd be better off staying in the independents for the time being, as he's not financially stable enough to relocate to Florida right now. I'd imagine Chelsea's in a similar position to Patrick, as is Tanner's, who has had to jump back to MMA to pay the bills.
Secondly, leaving all that aside, just because they may have signed ZZ to a deal doesn't preclude them from signing any of the others at some point.
"Well, all right. If ZZ is young, and has found the heart to put in the work, why not have him spend a few years in the independents and let him learn that way?" Well, considering that part of NXT's necessity for being is to transition independent wrestlers WWE is interested in to becoming "WWE Superstars", which do you think appeals to them more: being able to take someone full of raw potential and mold them into the type of wrestler they want from the start, or take someone who may come in with some habits and mannerisms developed in the independents that don't fly in the WWE and try to break them? Not to mention that if he did become successful on the independent scene, he may come with a higher price tag.
So there you have it, my take on why WWE signing ZZ to NXT is a good idea. Feel free to disagree in the comments below. Feel even more free to tell me that my logic and wisdom have made you see the light, and you cannot wait to dive into a thorough and complete study of ZZism!