WWE has always striven to build up their roster with quality characters and performers, making sure that when someone is very good in the ring and questionable elsewhere they still have a place in the company. This structure has enabled the likes of 3MB, who are good in the ring but their work in the back and on the mic hasn’t gained them much ground with the crowd. Groups and individuals like this are used to giving the audience some comedic relief but are mainly used to “put over” other wrestlers.
Many talented wrestlers/entertainers are more than capable of standing on their own, selling loads of merchandise and connecting with the crowd (I’m looking at you Dolph Ziggler). The issue with several of those characters is that the real life person has made comments or a few too many mistakes, frustrating the higher-ups and resulting in punishment.
Far too many talented members of the roster are put down, humiliated by the characters they are given to play and never truly recover from it; other times, the talent invents a role that won’t get them anywhere and don’t realize it until it’s too late.
Brodus Clay is a great example of the former, being given a silly character as punishment for making public comments that angered Vince McMahon. After being the “Funkasaurus” for so long, Brodus will never be taken seriously, no matter what tweaks are made; his former role is too ingrained in the audience’s mind for him to come off as a legitimate threat.
The best example for the latter scenario is Titus O’Neil.
Titus was in a tag team with Darren Young, called The Prime Time Players (PTP). They were a gag tag team, never really being a serious threat to any title holders and only around for some comedic relief. What group of guys in the crowd didn’t start swaying with each other and chanting, “millions of dollars, millions of dollars” when the Prime Time Players came out? They were fun, were often hysterical and they usually put on a good match (even if it was usually at their expense).
When Titus split from the PTP, he wanted to do so in an effort to be a legitimate contender. It was a mistake to have him break off at that specific time, as it was made obvious there were not any solid plans for him — other than a short feud with Darren — but it was a necessary break to have happen at some point.
I believe that if Titus were to break away from a few character traits that he’s built into his persona, he could be incredibly successful. The man is a physical marvel, both tall and supremely in shape. He’s an ideal candidate to be a Mega Star, if you go by Vince’s typical checklist of what a perfect wrestler/entertainer is.
Tall? Check. Muscular? Check. Good looking? Check. Tons of endurance? Check. Mic skills? Check.
The man has it all, including an in-ring personality that you just can’t stand. He’s a natural heel with a great ability to talk, engage the crowd and also has the physical presence to back it up. The problem is that he’s not booked in a way that reflects that fact. For whatever reason, WWE is still stuck in the days of him being a PTP and refuses to move on from it completely.
Currently Titus is in a feud with Sheamus, and a match should be booked to make both look like incredible athletes due to the fact that they are. The issue is that the fans don’t believe Titus can beat anyone he gets into the ring with, which is why Sheamus was able to win with a Brogue Kick in just a few seconds on Smackdown.
One stride towards a better character was made: Getting rid of the whistle. Titus now needs to start looking at the other aspects of his current persona, forgoing a few other traits that, while they may make him seem more real because they’re an actual part of his real life personality, are not helping him in WWE.
If he gets rid of the “frat-boy” part of his persona, begins to call out his opponents and goes out and dominates them, I feel he would break the chains that have bound him to the past. He could unleash the potential I know resides in him and launch his career into the upper echelon of WWE.
The whistle has been set aside; now it’s time to put the “dog” down and let the monster out.