Given WWE’s increasing focus on providing its TV audience with outrageously bad comedy, nonsensical swerves and unpredictability to generate Twitter-trending topics as opposed to delivering solid storytelling and developing compelling characters for the long-term good of the company, it shouldn’t be surprising that Brodus Clay, a classic throwback monster heel with tremendous potential, finally made his delayed re-emergence on Monday’s RAW as “The Funkasaurus,” a jivin’, boogeyin’ babyface with the mannerisms of “the American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, Flash Funk and Akeem” the African Dream.” (I wonder if some kayfabe-era fans saw “Funkasaurus” trending Monday and wondered if Terry Funk was back once again with a silly gimmick a la “Chainsaw Charlie.”)
Bringin' the Funk: Brodus Clay's new Dusty Rhodes-like gimmick is risky bidness, baby.
History shows that when a monster heel is switched for the sake of comedy, it’s usually the beginning of the end for the character–when the aura of mystique and invincibility have been eventually shattered after several months or years of buildup before falling to the top babyface in a series of matches and then dropping bouts to give a rub to second-tier stars. (Think Kimala/Kamala toward the end of his Memphis and WWF runs.)
On Monday’s RAW, I was expecting Godzilla and wound up the Godfather, accompanied by dancing hos. Adorned in a red tracksuit and bucket hat, the big man looked like he’d just eaten Run, DMC, and Jam-Master J. While the makeover was certainly shocking and did in fact get Brodus trending on Twitter (which carnival-barking Michael Cole was quick to point out), the timing of the gimmick is suspect.
In a new series of vignettes in November building up to Clay’s reappearance, it appeared the company was dedicated to getting Brodus over as an unstoppable force, much like the brilliant job that Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler did with Bam Bam Bigelow in Memphis. Maybe I’m too old-school, but I loved the oddball look of the Brodus character, as he stood out among a cluster of muscular clones in today’s WWE.
With the right push and a series of dominating wins on RAW, Brodus could have been the next big heel in the business instead of being wasted as Alberto Del Rio’s flunky as he’d been portrayed in the past. Taking him off TV was a step in the right direction, but Monday’s long-delayed follow-through may have been the fatal stake in the heart of the beast, as the man from “Planet Funk” (hey, it could be worse…could be Planet Stasiak) shucked and jived his way to a win over Curt Hawkins, despite being packed like a sausage in a bright-red singlet.
Now we get the re-masked Kane chokeslammed down our throats again as a movie-monster-type heel, regurgitated like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Leatherface, etc,. in so many sequels and remakes that don’t do the original version justice. With Kane getting the mega-monster push, perhaps WWE felt a bruisin’ bad-ass Brodus would get lost in the Big Red Machine’s massive shadow. But I just can’t see The Funkasaurus having a long shelf life–again, this is more like a gimmick that winds down a career when the fans no longer take a big man seriously like George Steele’s transformation from “the Animal” to the lovesick puppy dog chasing Miss Elizabeth in 1986. (Granted, that new direction gained Steele a lot of money and noteriety, but it was effective because we’d seen him as a crazed maniac for several years, so the babyface turn meant more as they successfully executed the “Beauty and the Beast”-type angle.)
For Clay’s sake, I hope I’m wrong. Nothing would make me happier if the guy made the funky-like-a-monkey routine click with the people like Dusty decades before. But personally, I’m rooting for WWE to get the Funk out as soon as possible and mold Clay into the monster he was destined to be.