By Chris Shore
Wednesday January 11, 2012
Brodus Clay made his much anticipated—at least for this viewer—debut this week, and much like the Chris Jericho return the week before, it was a polarizing moment for viewers. Some loved it. Others, including me, thought it was a disaster. But unlike the Jericho return, which hinged on "getting it" to some degree, the Clay debut simply split fans into two distinct groups that can be readily defined: the "here and now" group and the "big picture" group. Both groups have valid points and even share many opinions, but they have wildly different core philosophies on how wrestling should be presented.
"Here and now" fans live, well, in the here and now. They want to be entertained right this moment, and often don't care about what that means for tomorrow. They love the swerve, even if it doesn't exactly make sense or perhaps might damage a character long term. They mark out. A lot. Not only do they love marking out, but defend it as natural and what "real" fans do. They come to be entertained, and if you don't entertain them then by god they will turn the channel and not come back. Except they rarely ever leave because wrestling entertains them and maybe it will be better this week.
Those fans are the ones who loved the Clay debut. It was fun. It was exciting. It certainly wasn't what we expected. Clay really seemed to get into his character, so who are we to call it bad? And besides, what is better than the Funkasaurus, right? They see the "big picture" fans as too concerned with details to simply enjoy the show. For what it's worth, these also tend to be the fans that take to social media and email to demand wrestling reporters stop watching if they don't like a particular segment.
"Big picture" fans, which includes most of the Internet journalists, tend to be more subdued about any given moment and instead look at what that moment means in the grand scheme of things. They want wrestling to use more logic, even if the rules of logic used are different from the real world. They look for consistency and legitimacy in storylines and titles. They are not big fans of the swerve unless it makes sense in some grander way. These are the fans that will actually turn the channel, as can be evidenced by the ratings swing when the nWo debuted, and when the wheels started coming off WCW.
These fans didn't like Brodus Clay's return all that much. They wanted consistency that goes back to the "Fall of Humanity" vignettes and the absolutely fabulous promo Clay cut at the end of NXT Season 4 (which whether you loved or hated his return is a must see for ALL wrestling fans). They don't see money with this character, and are frustrated by what they see as the misuse of a talent. They see the "here and now" fans as short sighted, and not concerned enough in things making sense.
To be sure, very few, if any, fans actually fall into one category alone. Much like in politics, very few people are hardcore, 100 percent liberal or conservative. "Here and now" fans obviously want wrestling to survive to entertain them another day, and "big picture" fans don't want dry, boring, predictable stories. But also like politics, the desire to please as many people as possible leads to some strange moments and characters, like the new Bodus Clay.
WWE pleased the "here and now" fans with the swerve. Eventually, they will turn Brodus into the "monster heel" and please the "big picture" fans. How much money will they leave on the table in the process? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure though, the "here and now" fans will continue to argue and debate with the "big picture" fans. Neither will gain ground, but perhaps wrestling will get better as a whole from the fruits of the discussion.
Dot Net members are getting my personal thoughts and feelings on the Brodus Clay debut and character in the new Audio Slant show. Sign up now to access the audio, plus access to the ad-free version of the site at http://www.prowrestling.net/amember/signup.php.
Comments? Questions? Anyone? Anyone? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheShoreSlant.
Shore's Blog: Why some fans love, and others hate, the Funkasaurus debut of Brodus Clay
Jan 11, 2012 - 03:00 PM
Jan 11, 2012 - 03:00 PM
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