My Pinterest is Piledrivers: Grappler Gateways (Chuck Taylor, Daniel Bryan, Colt Cabana)

It’s no surprise that the WWE, and, well, the whole industry of “sports entertainment” is not having a peak period.  Now, this is a shame because there’s some good stuff out there.  Note I said “some.”  Calm down, Blair.

I think that the more fans there are, the better it is for everybody.  Maybe all those fickle eyeballs keep Vince and Co. honest.  They can’t afford to half-ass it and simply exist knowing that no matter how bad things get, they can attract at least a core fan base of however many millions out there.  Having more people that can leave at any time might force everyone to step their game up and put on the best product possible.  Maybe I’m just an optimist.

How to attract new fans?  How to improve the product?  Well, I’m going to address some of those topics in columns to be published in the near future.  But what about right at this magic moment?  If you had to turn someone onto the sport-entertainment-mash-up that we all hold so dear, who would we use as gateways?  Who indeed…

DANIEL BRYAN

The stereotype of the professional wrestler is, at best, a juicehead bro with orange skin and at worst, a braindead redneck.  Daniel Bryan is the complete antithesis towards what one would assume is a pro wrestler.  A comic-book reading vegan that has been interviewed by PETA, has spoken about Howard Zinn and provided vocals on a song performed by folk artist Kimya Dawson.  If ever there was a wrestler you could run into at Whole Foods… it’s the American Dragon.

ZACK RYDER

Perhaps no one else in recent history has had such a sudden rise, and fall, and rise (and fall…?) than the Long Island Iced Z.  He is an example of a dying breed, the self-made man.  Realizing he was one sudden notice that he was still on the payroll away from being future endeavored, he took to YouTube to showcase a goofy personality and self-deprecating sense of humor.  Of course people were going to fall in love with a guy that cheerfully admitted “So I had a match last night.  I lost, of course.’ as well as moaning being dumped for six months.  Zack is every wrestling fan, plus fifty pounds of muscle and twenty pounds of hair gel.

DOLPH ZIGGLER

Dolph here looks like such a bro that I ended up inadvertently using a picture of him on my flyer to promote a short play I wrote, an existential dark comedy about, well… bros.  But in reading his twitter (favorite tweet- “CNN headline: “SAD NEWS FOR TWINKIES FANS” trust me, theyre already sad….What will they dry their lonely tears on now?”) and listening to his interview with Colt Cabana and on how he was such a huge comedy nerd (not to mention a onetime law school student) I’ve realized that he’s a pretty diverse guy underneath all of that peroxide and spray tan.

CHRIS JERICHO

Jericho is one of the two wrestlers that someone on the street may have heard of, thanks to his heavy metal based XM show, his own band, his stint on “Dancing With The Stars” and as host of “Downfall.”  He also dabbles in acting, comedy, being a talking head on vH1 nostalgia shows, memoir writing and not sleeping, apparently.  It also helps that he’s legitimately one of the most entertaining superstars in history, whether it’s trolling an entire audience, or just one misinformed idiot.  We could (and one day, perhaps will) devote an enormous column that takes weeks to read, consisting solely of clips of him calling Michael Cole names, telling the audience not to touch him, hiring Kenny Powers and a toothless old fat man as bodyguards… oh, Jericho.  You really are the best in the world, boyband haircut or no.

CHUCK TAYLOR

I can’t remember how I came across the Kentucky Gentleman but my Twitter feed and Words With Friends games have been better for it.  Chuck looks like pretty much every college student ever.  His theme song alternates between the opening music to “Pete & Pete” or Journey’s “Faithfully.”  His gimmick is that he scares children.  And he made this training montage:

With his sense of humor and early-’90s references, Taylor is one of the best proponents to show the fun, light-hearted side of wrestling, and along with the next guy, is one of the more talented non-“Big Three” guys out there.

COLT CABANA

Cabana is the Marc Maron of wrestling, and I don’t think he’d chafe under that label.  The host of “The Art of Wrestling” podcast, Colt digs deep into the background of the famous and infamous of the pro wrestling circuit.  He’s also an aspiring stand-up, a small business man who has his own studio…apartment.  He doesn’t look like your typical wrestler, but he makes up for it with a sharp wit, inventive characters, a willingness to wrestle for juggalos and some of the coolest t-shirts in the industry.

CM PUNK

Most wrestler get mainstream attention for dying.  Punk himself has pointed this out.  Meanwhile, the Best In The World has gotten more mainstream attention than you can shake a Samoan Superstar at by winning the WWE Championship and subsequently “quitting”, and lately by making Chris Brown look like a complete bitch.  Setting aside the purity of the motives of this and the disturbing dissonance of Austin vs Brown, he’s gotten on TMZ, Hot97, comedy/current events podcast Who Charted? and all over the news cycle.  This is nothing but good for Punk and the WWE.  For one, if Brown accepts a challenge he will get destroyed, if he runs from it (likely) then he looks like a coward.  The company gets to begin to dig itself out of the Benoit Nuthouse and show the world that there are some decent human beings out there that like to pretend to hurt people for a living.

Furthermore, as a straight-edger, the odds of Punk being found in a hotel room with Lindsey Lohan and a suitcase full of blow is none to none.  Salty language aside, a clean-living guy who has his own moral code and spends his free time reading comics is a pretty great role model and spokesperson for WWE to have, as well as being funny and charismatic enough to attract people like the girly girl Sarah Jessica Parker fan I mentioned last week who now counts herself one of his fans.

If anyone, anywhere has the slightest curiosity about pro wrestling, there are tons of clips and material from these fine athletes to show this person that wrestling is more than just guys in there forties wearing sunglasses indoors.  C’mon.  Wrestling is life is a garden… you dig?

THE GREAT BEYOND

The best radio guys on the planet are Fred Toucher and Rich Shirtenlieb.  They host a sports radio show on the Boston Sports Hub 98.5.  They’re funny, but not in a crude, throwing-lunchmeat-at-strippers-asses way.  They actually are witty, and with some of the best and most diverse musical tastes out there.  Unfortunately rock radio is dead so they do all sports now.  But that allowed a crossover to happen as CM Punk spoke with them on Monday before Raw.  Listen, enjoy, discover, subscribe on iTunes.  You’re welcome.

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