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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

The 8-Ball 12.16.13: Top 8 Potential Off-the-Wall WWE Gimmicks
Posted by Mike Hammerlock on 12.16.2013

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The Magic 8-Ball is a fickle object. I ask it questions. It gives me answers. Simple relationship, right? Wrong. Sometimes it only gives me five or six answers and I'm all like "What part of ‘eight' do you not understand?" It responds that I think it's fat and that I don't cuddle after I shake it. Then there's lots of yelling and tears. Sometimes we can't even be in the same room for days. Other times it starts spitting out random answers to questions I didn't even ask.

Well, we're having one of our spats this week and the 8-Ball has told me I'm just going to have to make due with some of those extra answers it's given … because it's brilliant and beautiful, and it doesn't need a man to validate its self-worth. The upside is the 8-Ball has been randomly generating ideas to put over various WWE wrestlers. Might as well distribute these as Christmas gifts. Not every "superstar" is well off with presents from WWE creative under their trees. Some of them lead lives of quiet desperation, not sure when or if their next push is going to come. By the grace of the 8-Ball, here's a way forward for those unfortunate souls.

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8. Give Jinder Mahal an elephant

I go back and forth on whether the WWE's bull rush through the cultural china shop is endearing or embarrassing. It's certainly a wrestling tradition to boil a character down to a handy ethnic stereotype (e.g. every Russian during the Cold War). In a way it hearkens back to a more innocent time when going to a wrestling show didn't require thinking about stuff. Yet it gets tiresome when every guy from a given place has the same gimmick. I found it kind of refreshing when Jinder joined 3MB and became an air guitar maestro. It broke him out of the angry-guy-with-a-turban rut he'd fallen into. He transformed himself into a goofy dude who happens to be named Jinder. At the very least, 3MB kept Mahal, Slater and McIntyre employed.

Yet 3MB has run its course for the most part (even though I love their recent gimmick-of-the-week gimmick). It's time for Jinder to morph into something more than he's been. JBL provides a blueprint for how to do that. The gave him a limo and made him a stereotypical Texas tycoon. If Texans were offended it never reached my ears. So give Jinder an elephant and let him go all Bollywood. It's what P.T. Barnum would do if he were running the show, and what is Vince McMahon if not the modern P.T. Barnum? I mean that as a compliment. Plus, they're both from Connecticut. Barnum knew how to put on a spectacle, and he'd totally spend the coin to give Jinder an elephant entrance. If you enter the arena on elephant back, you're an instant star. Mind you, the WWE should only do this if it wants to sell out every live show featuring Jinder, ramp up its PPV sales into the family market and sell an ass-ton of Jinder Mahal merchandise.

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7. Kofi Kingston, American Ninja Warrior

I like Kofi. I even think he's one of the few performers in WWE who legitimately can complain he's been the victim of a glass ceiling. Kofi's been over. He's had big moments in big matches (Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank), but he never wins them. Fans have become conditioned to believe that Kofi's been all he can be. He's fun to watch and you'd root for him with more gusto, but you get the sense he isn't going anywhere. He needs to re-convince the audience. Maybe the best way to do that is to show off all that athleticism in a different arena. I'm going to hazard a guess there's a fairly large crossover audience between American Ninja Warrior and the WWE. Athletes from other sports have tried their hand at ANW without a ton of success. Yet Kofi might have the skill set to thrive in an obstacle course contest. If he could make it through the regional rounds to the finals of ANW he'd have a brand new buzz. That could get a WWE audience firmly behind him, which hopefully then could get the booking behind him. People pay money to see gifted athletes.

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6. Who's the baby daddy?

Whenever a female performer gets pregnant, she disappears from WWE programming. Obviously she can't wrestle or even bump, but there's gold to be mined in a pregnancy storyline. One of my core assumptions is that pretty much every WWE fan is familiar with the trash television excellence of the The Maury Show. Seriously, it's one of the orienting principles in my life. Actually, I assume everyone has a weak spot for paternity test drama. The woman 250% certain the guy is the father. The guy insisting she's slept with every man in a 20-mile radius. The white knuckle moment when Maury reads the results. The run off stage, and the results waving I told you so or the run through crowd slapping high fives afterward. That would translate perfectly to a wrestling ring. It would be way more entertaining than MizTV. You could test and exonerate almost the entire roster until some unlucky schlubb draws the short straw. It was a crying shame when a pregnant Dawn Marie left the WWE in 2005, as she would have been perfect for this. Of course that means it could still be done.

Getting Maury Povich whenever the WWE rolls through the New York City tri-state area would be easy. He's part of a daytime trash TV empire that rules the roost in Stamford, CT along with the WWE (and General Electric Capital). Maury would be down. The main complicating factor here would be Total Divas. We now know way too much about the actual personal lives of half the divas roster. If Eva Marie or Cameron suddenly found themselves in a family way, we'd know the culprit. Too bad, because, since Eva Marie can't wrestle, this would give her something to do. However, one of these days a WWE diva will get pregnant and they need to pull the trigger on the paternity hijinks.

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5. Damien Sandow's word of the day

Sandow cuts a good promo, but he's strayed a bit from his intellectual and cultural pomposity to being more of a vanilla heel. I still look forward to seeing him, but he needs to get more than cheap heat from the audience by being full of himself. So let's go back to him being the intellectual savior of the masses. How is he going to achieve that? Well, he could ape Stephen Colbert and incorporate a word of the day in his promos. Makes perfect sense for a supercilious fellow like Sandow to toss around some ten dollar words into his schtick. You see he's trying to better you while he's explaining why he's going to pummel his next opponent. "Today's word is rodomontade, which means vain boasting. You see Big E comes out here, waves his Intercontinental title belt in front of your face and tells you he's some kind of champion. You, being the gullible and credulous lot that you are, believe his (pause) rodomontade. Yet who has Big E beaten in his career? It's a short list of non-descript performers. Meanwhile I own victories over a veritable who's who of the WWE. He is only champion because he has yet to get in the ring with someone of my caliber. That will change Sunday at the Royal Rumble, where all the world will see his (pause) rodomontade for what it is and I will emerge the new champion. And as champion I shall enrich history of the Intercontinental title just as I continue to enrich your vocabularies. You're welcome." It's the little things that make all the difference. Act snooty and they'll politely boo you. Try to make them learn and they'll rain vitriol upon you.

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4. The AJ comic book

I maintain AJ is the breakthrough talent women's wrestling has been seeking since forever. I'd even say her potential is way higher than the WWE perhaps realizes. Her ceiling isn't a Playboy cover and spread. AJ is more than the right curves with a pretty face. She can become a pop culture icon in a way we haven't since Hulk Hogan. From what I gather, she is massively over at comicons, probably because she's like a real life Hit Girl. She has captured the geek set. Now all she needs is an actual comic. Make her a secret agent fighting bizarre criminal conspiracies or a human trying to survive in a rapidly mutating world or the reluctant savior of underground America. If it's done well, you're looking at merchandise, movies (animated and live action) and perhaps a legion of young girls following AJ like she was the Fabulous Stains. Give AJ a comic and, one panel at a time, she will conquer the world.

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3. Red State/Blue State

If Jinder's getting a fresh start complete with his own personal pachyderm, then Heath Slater deserves a little something. He busts his tail. He's taken fake rock star farther than it had any reasonable right to go. Slater's never going to be a singles star, but he could be a legit player in the WWE's rejuvenated tag division. The only question is "How?" As it happens, Slater does a spectacular job of playing a redneck savant. He lacks impulse control and boasts an impressive amount of irrational self-confidence. It creates a "this is so crazy it just might work" effect. Much as Slater might be inclined to be a one-man tag team, he really should have a partner. And it's high time the WWE took advantage of the U.S. being a nation divided.

Slater gives you a red state representative. Now he needs a blue state counterpart. There's two ways to play this. The first is Odd Couple style, two guys with nothing in common thrown together. We'll get back to that in a moment. The second is knucklehead sympatico. North or south, it doesn't matter because there's goofball locals wherever you go. The natural pairing for that would be Zack Ryder. He could bring the fist pumping and catchphrases. Slater perhaps could bring a fondness for power tools (visions of him chasing off the opposition with a weedwacker dance in my head). Back to the mismatch idea, Damien Sandow leaps to mind as an obvious partner, but he's making headway as singles title contender. David Otunga is another guy who'd be a perfect mismatch: A-list wife, Harvard law degree. They could play it as Slater constantly getting in legal trouble and Otunga being assigned to keeping Heath out of jail. I suppose Alex Riley would be a fit here, but I don't particularly want to see that. Maybe someone up from NXT would work. Slater could bring along the new guy. Oliver Grey perhaps, though he's British. It would be more like Redneck/Blueblood. Yet if I could pick anyone on the planet to form a Red State/Blue State tag team with Heath Slater, it would be Alex Shelley. Buy him away from New Japan (let him heal up a bit) and you'd have a tag team that would click instantly with Shelley and Slater.

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2. Give Naomi's booty a name

Naomi's booty has made a place for her in the WWE. You could argue her booty put over Brodus Clay as well. The Funkadactyls are the WWE's best special effect. Regardless of which male wrestler comes out to that entrance, it should stick around for years to come. The people of the world respond enthusiastically to Naomi's outrageous curves. She's even based a finisher on her butt. I assume her opponents go down because they're overwhelmed by its lusciousness and not because it's hard as a brick. Yet she still hasn't played her prominent posterior to perfection. That derriere is another-worldly force. It has its own personality. It demands your attention. It may just go off and have adventures at night while she's asleep. What it needs is a name: Ms. Bounce, the 4th Dimension, the 9th Wonder of the World, Girlfriend, Mother Superior, Yolanda, Gloria, Lady Oomph, the Hypnotizer, the Fabulous Bootay, Starship Wonderland, Foxy McCray, the Huntress. I could list names all day (and you should in the comments section). Given a name, Naomi's rump will be trending worldwide on a regular basis. Imagine the tag-in when Naomi and her booty work a tag match together. Most of all, she'd soon have the most famous ass in the world.

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1. Santino becomes Cobra Mask

While we're dealing with multiple personalities housed in the same body, let's address Santino and the Cobra. Clearly the Cobra has a mind of its own. It can be charmed by music or a lovely lady. Santino's control of the Cobra is tenuous at best. Time to take the next step. You could go subtle: the Cobra begins to take over Santino's personality after it bites him. That's the danger of dancing with the Cobra. You also could go over the top, Santino suffers an industrial accident that causes him to merge with the Cobra. Either way, the end result is the same - Cobra Mask. Time to stop wearing a mask on your hand and put it on your head. Does Santino dare to become Cobra Mask, knowing the chaos he could unleash? What happens when Cobra Mask takes control and refuses to release its grip upon him? Approximately 100% of the people in the world like masked wrestlers. The WWE needs a few more of them. Santino could put it over easily and what would make a better mask than a cobra? Above is the cobra goalie mask once worn by Gary Simmons of the California Golden Seals in the 1970s. It's awesome. You almost can't go wrong with the mask + cobra equation.


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