Thought of the Day: One Of A Kind

In something that won’t be said either before or again, this is going to be about a Dirty White Boy, Bismark, North Dakota and Big E. Langston.Back in the mid 1990s, the WWF had a stupid idea for a lot of one note characters, such as a wrestling monk, a rock guitarist, a magician (I think that one had potential but that’s for another time), cowboys, a garbageman and a tag team called Well Dunne.  All of these were really basic characters with only the cowboys (Smoking Gunns) going anywhere.  In addition to all these guys, there was one in particular I want to focus on: T.L. Hopper, as played by Tony Anthony (who wrestled as Dirty White Boy in SMW).

T.L. Hopper was a wrestling plumber.  End of gimmick.  Seriously, that’s it.  He was a wrestling plumber and nothing more.  We didn’t know whether to cheer him, boo him, or anything about him other than his job.  Why was he a wrestler?  Why not stay a plumber?  Was he the WWF plumber?  Was it a side job?  Why are we thinking of all these questions?  In short, there was nothing to this character and it didn’t shock anyone when he was gone in less than a year.

At the end of the day there was one major issue above all others with Hopper: there was nothing special about him.  Open your phone book and see how many plumbers you find in the yellow pages.  There are probably dozens if you live in a decent sized city.  In other words, there’s nothing special about a plumber.  This one happens to wrestle and that’s the end of the differences between him and any other plumber you can name.

Flash forward to about 2011.  Down in Florida Championship Wrestling, a power lifter turned wrestler joined the WWE developmental system.  His name was Big E. Langston and all we knew about him was that he was strong.  He needed a nickname so he was christened Florida’s Strongest Man.  Uh…..ok?

That’s kind of impressive but is he stronger than everyone in Oregon?  On the street I live on?  Can he out lift everyone in Bismark, North, Dakota?  Tell you what: I’ll go to Oregon and if the strongest man there sucks, I’ll come buy a ticket to see Langston, providing there isn’t a flight to Bismark later in the day.  It also didn’t help that there was a guy on the main WWE roster known as the World’s Strongest Man.  It really makes Langston look like a low rent imitation, so why would I want to pay for someone who might be one of the strongest men in the country, let alone the rest of the world?

The lesson here should be obvious: make the gimmick something you can’t find elsewhere.  Look at Kurt Angle when he debuted.  The emphasis was on the fact that he was the ONLY Olympic Gold Medalist in WWF History, as in no one else has ever done this.  Randy Orton is the APEX Predator, as in the top of the food chain.  Most titles are the WORLD Heavyweight Championship, not the Louisiana and Missouri Champion.

In short, make a gimmick something that will draw a crowd, not something that makes people look at what better options there are.  Make them say “I want to see THAT!”

1 comment

  1. Rocko says:

    I heard (though this might not be true, it seems plausible) that the reason for all the dumb characters back then was so they wouldn’t just be a plain jobber.