Sunday 15 June 2014

Monstrous BC

I’ve been a fan of Brodus Clay dating back to his first appearance on NXT season two. That was the reality show skewed NXT, not the ECW flavoured developmental league we get these days. The format of the show was very different. There were mentors,a points system, and a large number of introductory video packages involved. Most significantly there were weekly tasks set to the contestants. These were usually unenjoyable affairs that saw wrestlers doing such varied tasks as tackling assault courses and singing along to entrance music.

Clay didn’t make these tasks must-see viewing but he did throw himself into them and have fun with them. Particularly memorable was his rendition of Shawn Michaels’ Sexy Boy theme tune. Basically, his performances in these segments showed that Clay didn’t take himself too seriously and was willing to embrace the more fun aspects of pro wrestling.

That attitude is a positive in a company like WWE. Any wrestler taking themselves too seriously is likely to make themselves a target for being knocked into place (down the card, in other words). It also makes them harder to relate to in the WWE environment, which, most of the time, is more about personality, catchphrases and talking than wrestling ability.

Clay will be most remembered for playing the ‘Funkasaurus’ character. It’s understandable: a fat guy with a fauxhawk who dances with kids while pretending to be a dinosaur is the sort of thing that sticks in the mind. But Clay could have done so much more.

The Monstrous BC reboot deserved more of a chance.
Had Clay’s heel turn earlier this year been handled differently I think Clay could have risen up the card. But instead of having a plan ready that would elevate Clay WWE forgot about him. He was turned for the sake of surprising the audience. He had a brief breakup feud with tag partner Sweet T then got bumped down to NXT to work a short programme with developmental champ Adrian Neville.

In Clay WWE had something special, but nobody seemed to realise it. He had a different look, slick mic skills, and the ability to work as either a heel or a face. He also understood how to keep his character consistent across turns, as evidenced by his change in demeanour during his foray into NXT opposite Neville: instead of shying away from his past as ‘The Funkasaurus’ he embraced it and used the supposed humiliation of it for his storyline motivation for going bad. Some of that was certainly the writing team’s doing but it was Clay who conveyed it so well. The Monstrous BC moniker he gave himself is one of my favourite things in wrestling this year. It was simple and minor but felt completely right for a “dinosaur gone bad” vibe and made lovely use of his initials.

That Clay never got a run as a monster heel is the biggest shame about his WWE departure. It’s a role he was clearly cut out for and one I think he could have excelled with. A push modelled on the one Mark Henry received in 2011 (the one which resulted in him dethroning Prince Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight championship) would have been ideal had it culminated in Clay pinning a babyface for the Intercontinental championship (giving that title a boost into the bargain).

For the record I advocated that Henry push going to Brodus at the time. I still think it would have worked out better. Had Brodus won the WHC by defeating ‘The Viper’ cleanly he would have gained exactly the same standing as Henners did. Just without the ten years of inadequacy behind him, making it likelier that he could have gone further.

WWE’s loss could be another company’s gain. Clay could either be presented as the fun-loving babyface he was when playing ‘The Funkasaurus’ (perhaps he could rebrand himself ‘The Funosaur’ and avoid a pesky lawsuit) or a brutish monster who enjoys bullying smaller foes. He would, I think, make a very good (and probably relatively cheap) top line monster bad guy in TNA. There will be no shortage of them in the promotions Clay’s likely to be working in. I truly do wish him the best in his future endeavours.

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