Keynotes and Keyholds – Why Big Show, Mark Henry and Samoa Joe should be in charge…

Someone on this site (I can’t remember who, so do feel free to bicker for adulation in the comments section) recently suggested that WWE cut to the chase and make The Miz a manager already. I don’t necessarily agree with that statement (which may well have been my own), given that Miz has been involved in more entertaining matches over the last twelve months than, for example, Kofi Kingston (who no one seems to have a problem with despite the fact he’s been treading water for three years now). I do, on the other hand, approve of the idea that certain current wrestlers could perhaps be better used in a new role. So congratulations, Mystery Commenter, whoever you were. Ten points to Gryffindor.

In a nutshell, then: who active in wrestling today could contribute more to the business in a slightly different capacity?

A few names surface straight away. Kurt Angle would obviously be (and has been in the past) a convincing GM, while guys like heat-magnet Michael Cole, publicity-man The Miz, and legend Mick Foley could prove invaluable in managerial roles, helping less charismatic wrestlers get over. But the obvious ones are, well, obvious. Perhaps it’d be more productive to consider those whose names aren’t normally thrown into the mix.

Let this be an exercise in optimism, brothers and sisters! Let’s take a leaf out of Paul Heyman’s book and work out how we can hide various weaknesses, accentuate various strengths, and bounce various cheques!

1) Big Show: General Manager

Paul Wight has had a pretty impressive career, considering the fact he’s been barely mobile for twelve years of it, and he still somehow gets a fantastic reaction whatever he does. In fact, for a man who once decided that he’d rather leave WWE than be forced to diet, Show’s current run has been nothing short of remarkable. But given that he’s coasted by on screen presence alone since that admittedly impressive outing with Floyd Mayweather at WM24, and given that his knees surely can’t hold out in the ring for much longer, how about we put Show somewhere where he can be an asset?

Show’s charisma makes him a natural fit for the general manager role. He’s a great actor who can do both comedy and drama at the drop of a hat, and he seems to have an excellent chemistry with everyone he’s paired with. Show is a man who could comfortably book the main event at a major pay-per-view in one segment, and take a pie in the face from an angry diva (not a euphemism, I swear) in the next. Moreover, his sheer size would make him a convincing authority figure. How refreshing would it be to have a general manager who couldn’t be intimidated or bullied by burly main-eventers? It’d lend the show an entirely new dynamic.

In terms of his character, given that he’s competed in pretty much every type of gimmick match that WWE has to offer (unlike, for example, Teddy Long, who’s only ever managed and refereed), his legacy would lend a true gravitas to the matches that he sets up. If the GM truly appreciates the risks of a ladder match, or a Hell in a Cell, so will the audience.

Show’s size may prove problematic in one respect, however. It’s a wrestling convention that non-wrestling performers should be less physically imposing then the guys who step between the ropes, in order to make the wresters seem more impressive. A simple solution would be to confine Show’s character to a wheelchair or walking-stick (reinforced, of course) following a “career-ending injury” at the hands of, for example Wade Barrett. If anyone can get a prop over with the fans, it’s Paul Wight, and such a gimmick would certainly level the physical playing-field.

2) Jerry Lawler: Legends’ contract / marketing and design

Believe it or not, Jerry Lawler used to be professional wrestler. A pretty good one, actually. His empty-arena match with Terry Funk is the stuff of legend, and he was once the centrepiece of the last old territory to withstand Vince McMahon’s monopolisation American pro wrestling.

I mention this just so you don’t confuse him with the shambolic crown-wearing purveyor of rubbish jokes currently announcing on Raw alongside Michael Cole. You know – the guy who can’t seem to remember the names of simple wrestling manoeuvres. The guy who gets wrestlers’ names mixed up. The guy who repeats himself ad nauseum, hasn’t made a funny joke in years, and whose back-and-forth with Michael Cole frequently overshadows the in-ring action. The man who freely admits that he doesn’t read the prompt-sheets before sitting down to do his job, and thus frequently misses things that a man in his position really shouldn’t, and somehow considers that to be a good thing.

But let’s forget the Jerry Lawler who hasn’t made a positive contribution to the WWE product since his announce team partnership with JR came to an abrupt end. Instead, consider the man he could be. Stick him on a legends contract so that he can make one or two feel-good appearances a year, and for the rest of the time give him a cushy job in WWE’s marketing and design department. Did you know that Jerry Lawler was a talented comic book artist? Well, he is. Indeed, he drew the front cover to 2007 graphic novel Headlocked. The King’s eye for design and enthusiasm for artistry would be a fantastic addition to WWE’s notoriously uninspired M&D department, which in the recent past has totted out such classics as the Sin Cara “Dripping Gold Penis” t-shirt and the Randy Orton “rip-off the nWo” logo.

How much better would t-shirts, posters and other merchandise be if they were designed by an enthusiastic, talented wrestling veteran? Would John Morrison’s last t-shirt (with that stupid, stupid, “I’m gonna eat your lunch” catchphrase) have been so awful if Lawler’s artistry had been utilised.

Whether Lawler as a designer would make a difference or not, it’s worth a pop. It would undoubtedly be an improvement on his current position.    

3) Mark Henry: Tough Enough trainer / enforcer

I don’t think this requires much explanation. The latest knee injury is proof positive that Henry is on his last legs (so to speak) as a wrestler. He’s had an amazing run, considering that he’s been employed for sixteen years in a profession that he’s never been anything more than adequate at. Even more amazing when one considers his history of injuries and terrible gimmicks.

What Mark Henry has in his favour, however, is his history as an athlete. Believe it or not, Henry remains one of the few men in history to successfully cross-over to professional wrestling from a successful career in legitimate athletic competition. Henry’s prodigious strength saw him, in his younger years, achieve great success at competitive weightlifting. A former two-time Olympian, Pan American Games gold medallist and Arnold Strongman Classic winner, Henry was never the official World’s Strongest Man, but he came pretty close.

Why not put his Olympic-level talents to good use and stick him on the next season of Tough Enough so that he can guide the trainees through television-friendly weightlifting exercises? Over the last twelve months, Henry has demonstrated hitherto unsuspected levels of charisma, and he’d have an absolute blast embarrassing guys like Silent Rage and Matt Cross. That’s television gold right there.

Otherwise, Henry would be a great enforcer. Backstage, I mean. I don’t care what he enforces, as long as he’s enforcing something. He’s excellent at it. He enforced black rights by getting Michael Hayes suspended in 2008, and he enforced Mexican rights by physically throwing some guy out of a bar after the guy insulted Chavo Guerrero. Who will he enforce next? It could be you!       

4) Samoa Joe: tag team specialist

 

This last one is controversial, I’m sure, but here’s the thing: Joe, for whatever reason, will never again reach the top spot in a wrestling promotion. As talented as he is, there will always be someone better-looking taking his spot. Sure he’ll challenge for the TNA Heavyweight Title again one day, but he’s been made a joke of so many times by now that it’ll be a miracle if anyone ever takes him seriously again.

As a singles star, that is! Put him in a tag team with someone better-looking, however, and it could be magic…

If anyone knows his way around the ring, it’s Joe. If there’s anyone that a young guy could benefit from being in a long-term tag team with, it’s Joe. And if anyone could use the motivation of, you know, being made to look like a threat once again, it’s Joe. The best part is, it’s already happening. My old chum Nick “Magnus” Aldis was hopelessly out of his depth in TNA before someone decided to team him with Joe. Not even Douglas Williams could bring out the best in him. Samoa Joe, however, appears to have struck up a real chemistry with the Brit. Combining Joe’s ability and Magnus’ Herculean physique might just be the best thing for both men, and Lord knows that TNA’s tag division was in dire need of some new blood. Once Magnus has achieved as much success with Joe as he can, break them up, let them feud, and then repeat the process with another new guy.

It may seem a step down for Joe to spend all of his time in tag teams, but being the cornerstone of a tag division certainly beats being a stepping-stone for the entire world. Just ask John Morrison.

Who else do you think would be better suited in a different capacity? If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below. Better yet, catch Triple H in the gym and hit him around the head with a sock full of loose change. Wouldn’t change anything, but it’d brighten my day.

Class dismissed.    

 

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