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In pro wrestling, presentation and casting matter more than size

There’s a role for every size and shape.

WWE on Peacock

During Hulk Hogan’s appearance on the Full Send Podcast, where he dished some inside knowledge regarding his rivalries with Paul Orndorff and Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hogan also talked about how wrestling has changed since he got into the business in the 1970s.

The former six-time WWE Champion stated that when he started, he was considered a mid-sized guy despite weighing over three hundred pounds. Hogan continued, saying:

“Everybody I wrestled looked like monster-size men. Nowadays, there’s a lot of guys who look like wrestlers, and you’ve got a lot of guys that don’t. A lot of guys look like wrestlers, a lot of guys who look like they should be bagging my groceries.”

Though Hogan went on to compliment today’s smaller wrestlers for their agility, most wrestling outlets took Hogan’s remarks out of context and presented them as an indictment of the business.

Well, we don’t do that here at Cageside Seats. And your Noble Scribe certainly isn’t down for that.

But now we have a new story concerning another retired superstar talking about size, specifically, Konnan and his recent thoughts on Adam Cole and his physical appearance, and it’s suddenly a topic worth debating.

Does size matter in wrestling?


Also, no.

So, what does matter in wrestling? In this astute observer’s opinion, it’s presentation and casting.

NXT’s Ilja Dragunov and AEW’s PAC are two of wrestling’s more compact performers. Yet, judging from their physiques, they’re built tough. Their muscle acts like a knight’s armor, helping them to withstand the thunderous strikes from larger foes.

But what makes them most believable are their eyes and demeanor, which make them appear menacing, and borderline unstable. Dragunov and PAC, despite their height disadvantage, come across as two men you’d never want to fight.

Meanwhile, in WWE, Dominik Mysterio could’ve passed for a member of Best Buy’s Geek Squad at the start of his career. As a babyface, it was hard to take him seriously because he never looked the part of a pro wrestler despite his family lineage and training.

But once he stepped into the role of a cowardly villain who cheap-shotted his enemies before jumping into the powerful arms of his female protector, Rhea Ripley, Dom Dom’s career took off.

Why? Because he accepted a role that fans could believe him in. In many ways, it’s no different than the movies. Peter Dinklage is a fine actor capable of playing most roles. But moviegoers likely aren’t going to buy into him as Thor.

Like acting, wrestling preys on perceptions of appearance and character types, including badasses. While sports like MMA prove that toughness comes in all shapes and sizes, appearance in entertainment spectacles matters. In short, looking the part is more important than being the part.

In closing, Adam Cole is a great wrestler. And though he’s popular with a niche audience that cares more about substance than style, Cole isn’t over in the truest sense like The Rock, Steve Austin, or Rey Mysterio.

And you know something? That’s okay. If Cole is happy and his employer and fans are pleased, he should stay the course.

But if Cole aspires to become a grander star who appeals to a broader audience, he’ll need to find a role that will allow him to flourish as he is, or he may want to take Konnan up on his advice.

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