So, I’m checking out the other columns on this site when I see Glen has a new one up. I check it out to see which direction he’s going and find a nice little “put over” for me (thanks Glen) and my column.
Then, Glen challenges my opinion of why I think AJ Styles is being wasted by TNA’s writers. He goes on to quote my thoughts and then puts his 2 cents in starting with an “uh” as an attempt to make my thoughts sound stupid and to “big himself up” (as we say in England) in the process.
So, I figure I should set him straight.
Glen, EVERYTHING I said about AJ is 100% correct regarding his talent, his devotion to TNA and what I believe the companies devotion to him should be.
Can you honestly say it’s going to have ANY fan taking him seriously when he’s wearing a turkey suit on TV? I understand the idea is to have fans dislike him, but there’s a BIG difference in dislike and disrespect.
I believe that booking him to look a fool is simply “lazy booking”. It’s a “quick fix” to establish that people shouldn’t care for this guy. It’s a desperate attempt at irony and it ruins characters.
WWE can REALLY be bad for this.
Take “Mr Perfect” for example. He was a guy who was pushed as a guy who “never makes a mistake” and can do ANYTHING… PERFECTLY!! He ran through the WWE roster for a year and at first people had a little chuckle at the name (I’m sure most guys were calling themselves this to women EVERYWHERE) but little by little, the gimmick got over and people started taking him seriously because the character had integrity. Eventually, “Mr Perfect” was facing Hulk Hogan in main events around the world and people were WORRIED about Hulk even though:
-he was the most over guy in history
-he was probably 75-80lbs of muscle larger than Hennig
-he was pushed as “unbeatable”.
To the casual fan or observer, there was NO WAY Hennig looked like he had a chance against a monster like Hulk. But due to being consistent to the character and not scrubbing the idea out for a cheap laugh that would be forgotten about 20 minutes later, Hennig looked like “the man who would be king”!
Now, if Hennig were brought in today with the current writing, he would be called “Mr Perfect” and then the writers would say “y’know what’d be REALLY funny?. What if he lost at EVERYTHING??!”
So Hennig would go out and would miss a 3 foot putt on the green and get mad (for laughs), or he’d strike out at a batting cage while a child would “tater” a few (for laughs) and while people would get the short term “irony laugh” out of him being the opposite of what he said he was, when it came time for him and the Hulk to face off, NO ONE would be worried about Hulk losing. There would be NO drama and thus, NO story.
Nothing worth my money as a wrestling fan.
It’s simply not interesting to see a hero beat an inept fool. It’s far more interesting to see a hero overcome an INCREDIBLE foe.
Batman doesn’t fight jaywalkers, he fights guys who want to destroy the city.
And even if they look weird (ie. the Joker), they are STILL taken seriously because their CHARACTERS have integrity.
AJ isn’t a guy who would wear a turkey suit on his own. Therefore, this is AGAINST his character. Plus, having him put in a situation where he get gets laughed at and humiliated by the audience takes away from the babyface doing it personally.
You’ve laughed at him, but taken away someone for the audience to cheer for.
Which brings me to the point that your heels MUST be strong and taken seriously in order for your babyfaces to matter. As I’ve mentioned before, a hero beating a SERIOUS bad-guy something to admire and even be inspired by. But beating a fool means nothing.
If an audience is laughing at AJ, it’s one small step away from saying “I could kick that guy’s ass because he’s so stupid”, not “I will pay to see the babyface kick that guys ass as I DOUBT I could”. People will pay to see people do something they can’t (or at the very least doubt they can) do, not something they can.
Plus, if the babyface loses to AJ, then he’s lost to a fool, not a serious contender and his stock goes down in the eyes of the fans.
Do you think the Hulk would be worth money STILL if he was made to look a fool?
What about Austin?
Or the Rock?
Or the Undertaker?
A common thread with these guys is that they were able to move from babyface to heel and back a 100 times because they weren’t made to look foolish. When I’m at the autograph table at any show in the world, I’ll STILL see people in T-shirts from wrestlers who don’t make you feel a fool for supporting them.
Not all great wrestlers, but ALL booked as SERIOUS talents and NEVER as fools.
Surprisingly, not a “Doink” in the bunch!
Wrestling has always been looked down at due to the usual cliched stuff people have seen over the years. Big, shirtless men shouting at the camera in silly costumes. I’m as guilty as anyone at laughing at some of these things but at the same time I really believe the industry doesn’t have to live up to these poor images to turn a buck.
AJ shouldn’t HAVE to look like a fool to make him a heel. And if you have to work THAT hard for the fans to accept him as a heel, maybe you should listen to them (since it’s their interest and their cash keeping us in business) and make him the babyface he was probably meant to be in the first place.
You made a career by playing a “foolish character” and that has done well for you. But once again, that was your character from the start. I remember you tried to shift from “Disco Inferno” to “The Serious Glen Gilberti” briefly in TNA. Apparantly you cut a WONDERFUL promo (this was the week before I got there so I wasn’t able to see it, but EVERYONE was talking about it) regarding wanting the NWA/TNA title (see titles can/SHOULD draw interest) and no more BS.
The week I got there, the show opened with a limo arriving outside the arena (VERY WWE) and you got out, looked around and laughed. The audience was with you and then you handed the driver 1 or 2 dollars and walked away. The audience laughed at the “cheapskate” gimmick, but after spending the week previous talking about getting serious, you got them laughing AT you… not WITH you.
Once you got in the ring in your bell-bottoms instead of an “image overhaul”, people saw the same “ha ha” Disco Inferno gimmick they had always seen and the angle bottomed out.
You conducted yourself as the character you’d portrayed for years (consistency to that “ha ha” character kept peoples ideas of you the same as they’d been, not looking at you in a new light as a main eventer) so you wound up being regarded as a “ha ha” guy after all of your work to get their perceptions to change.
They were ready to accept you as a main event “ass-kicker”,disregarding the humor in favor of something larger for yourself (you’ve got the physique, the energy, the athleticism), but once they laughed at you, it was all over.
Now, you’ve always been comfortable in that role and I can’t deny your success in getting and maintaining work for yourself. But you HAVE to admit, consistent, main event MONEY PLAYERS have ALWAYS been guys booked to be taken seriously.
“Uh, that’s the truth”.
I have a million more examples, but I think I’ve made my point.
All the best and God Bless.
Joe E Legend