A Matter of Character - Brodus Clay
Very few things in wrestling these days surprise me. A lot of what the WWE does is telegraphed weeks in advance and if you are looking for the right story cues, you can accurately predict where things will go on WWE Television. One thing that truly surprised me earlier this year was the return of Brodus Clay to Monday Night Raw. After weeks of having his return delayed by then GM John Laurinaitis, Clay Finally surfaced on the January 9th edition of Monday Night Raw, and in all estimations shocked the WWE Universe when he danced to the ring with the Funkadactyls to “Somebody Call My Momma!”
No one I had heard from was expecting him to return in such fashion, and as stupid as it may have seemed initially, the Shock Value alone made you happy it happened. It’s not often that we are that surprised in a direction the WWE takes one of its characters. Unfortunately it has become apparent in recent months that Brodus Clay isn’t a character, but simply a gimmick known as the Funkasaurus. He’s lost the surprise factor, and the novelty of the character has worn off, leaving behind a goofy dancing big man with no rhyme or reason for existing.
This week’s “A Matter of Character” is going to put the spotlight on none other than the “Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay. I will analyze his character and point out his strengths and flaws, as I perceive them, while making suggestions for improvement where I can. So enough wasting time, Let’s Do This!
Standing at 6 feet 7 inches tall, and weighing in at a whopping 375 pounds, Brodus Clay is a large mammal, to say the least. He is pretty nimble on his feet; especially for a man his size, and his vast array of suplex variations can make his matches more fun to watch than most big men whose repertoires are generally more limited. I don’t look at the guy and expect any 5 star contests, but he sells well for a big dude, is strong, looks imposing, and can pull off more than just a body slam, punches, kicks and splashes, which puts him slightly ahead of the curve for men of his girth.
He has a good look to go along with his size and ring presence. Clay’s Mohawk, tracksuits, fedora, and colorful Funkasaurus singlets have easily made him stand out from the rest of the WWE roster (a job that would have been easily accomplished by his size alone). At first glance, you are interested (at the very least morbidly) in finding out more about this character, based solely on his physical appearance. Brodus’ look draws attention, which is the name of the game when trying to separate a character from 60+ other superstars.
Brodus, from what we can tell during his appearances on Monday Night Raw, is nothing more than a fun loving guy. He cares about the WWE Universe immensely, which is why he invites them into the ring to celebrate with him after he wins, and he wants to put on a show when he’s in the ring. It’s hard to imagine that much makes him serious, aside from people trying to injure him like Sandow and Big Show.
Comparing the Funkasaurus to Rikishi is inevitable in my opinion, and in my opinion, Rikishi was a better character for a multitude of reasons, one of which was his personality. In the ring, Rikishi was a serious competitor. Aside from giving his opponents the Stink Face, at which point he would become more animated and fun, Rikishi was all business in the ring, trying to pick up the win unlike Clay, who toys with his opponents 99% of the time, always putting on a show. There were two sides to Rikishi, the serious Samoan Brick Sh**house competitor, and the dancing machine he became when the music hit. It was a strange duality that made the character fascinating in its own way. I think Brodus needs something like that added to his character, I know that he a big dude that likes to have fun, but add another level to it. The Funkasaurus could be a quirky Tarantino-esque kind of character rather than a one-dimensional cartoon.
Words and Actions
Brodus hasn’t ever gotten a lot of mic time. However with the little time he’s given to showcase his ability to talk, I’ve found him enjoyable to watch. Even extremely corny things like telling everyone to call their mommas on Mother’s Day, he finds a way to make in more fun than excruciating. Even in his serious confrontations with other superstars (which haven’t happened often) he performs well. He has very good timing and is honestly one of the more solid acting superstars on the roster. The a natural quality and earnestness that he brings to the ridiculous gimmick, which makes it work on some levels, even though it really doesn’t on others. If there’s anything that I miss about the Funkasaurus, it’s the Funkasaurus-isms he used to yell out during the match like “Should I Get Him!” and “Suplex!” Those were fun.
I hate to bring up Rikishi again, but another reason he was a better character than Brodus Clay in my opinion, was that Rikishi could actually dance. Obviously neither would make you think they are professional dancers, but Rikishi had rhythm where as Brodus, at least in my estimation, seems to be far less coordinated when he’s getting down. It’s a small thing, at and the end of the day, I commend Brodus for taking the gimmick given to him and running with it despite not being a very capable dancer, but with Rikishi and his ability to bust a move in my memory, doing the Pterodactyl and jiggling just don’t cut it.
This is where Brodus, and quite frankly many other WWE Superstars are lacking development. For all the dancing and telling us to call his momma, I have no idea what motivates Brodus as a character. Why does he love to dance? What gives him the confidence to be so ridiculous (given that his favorite music hasn’t been popular for at least 30-40 years)? What does he want out of his WWE career besides meaningless matches and Boogieing Down? These are all things we should have learned about Clay since his return in January, and we don’t know any more about the man behind the character than we did then. The only thing that’s changed is the surprise and the novelty have worn off, and the gimmick has no steam left. A good character behind the gimmick could have kept viewers interested, but it seems as though the WWE didn’t really have a character in mind, just a cheesy gimmick.
Brodus could have been a lot of things. For instance he could have been somebody that was very violent and angry in his youth. He could have hurt someone so bad during a fight, that it even scared him what he was capable of. Brodus started listening to mellow funk music soon afterward and realized that it keeps him calmer and more in control of his emotions. He wrestles now to constructively dispel anger and fight in a competitive setting, and his unwavering love for funky grooves is a way to keep him from losing control, letting loose the anger that plagued him in his youth and hurting his fellow WWE Superstars. If we understood this much about him, the Funkasaurus would be more than just a silly gimmick. Brodus would have a reason for wanting to keep things light and fun, and it would be interesting to see heels try to bring the monster out of him.
With no true motivation, any conflict present is completely superficial. For example, Brodus’ feuds with Big Show and now with Damien Sandow have both been predicated on violent attacks that lead to injury. While this is a good reason to take issue with a specific person, it lacks any real substantive character growth for Brodus.
The character that I created for Brodus in the Motivation section would struggle with relatable inner turmoil. He is still that angry guy that just masks it better than he did when he was young. I’d tune in every week to see if this week would be the week that he loses control, and once he does, I’d want to see him overcome his inner conflict.
To make this character interesting to watch again, it needs to be more than just a gimmick. I need to understand and be able to relate on a human level to the Funkasaurus as a character. I actually like my idea for his character’s back-story. It makes the character more empathetic and real to the viewer, because they know the circumstances that lead to him being where he is today.
The easiest way to start to reveal the tortured soul hidden under the Funkasaurus would be to have Damien Sandow push him over the edge, and cause Clay to attack him savagely. Clay would beat him down, doing so much harm to Sandow that even Brodus’ Funkadactyls Naomi and Cameron would be scared of their man. Afterward, Brodus would come back to his senses, see what he has done, and immediately feel regret.
Weeks later, Sandow would return and say that what happened to him was a travesty of epic proportions. He thought he was dealing with a social misfit, an imbecile, but in truth he was wrestling a psychopath, a deviant, and dangerous human being. He would then go into detail about Clay’s past violent episodes and his problems with managing his anger. He would then warn each and every superstar in the back that Brodus was dangerous and could lose control at any moment, and that they needed to think about their careers before they thought about venturing into the ring with this monster. He would then say “your welcome” for informing the uninformed masses about who and what the Funkasaurus really is.
From there you’d have Brodus try to explain himself in his own words, and continue feuding with Sandow, the first guy in years to push his buttons and make him lose control. Sandow would relish in the ability he had to push Clay’s buttons, and Clay would need to overcome Damien Sandow and his slanderous tongue to show people that he truly was in control of his anger issues. It would be an interesting story to tell. The WWE Universe would root for Clay to overcome his issues and stick it to the diabolical Damien Sandow.
There you have it, but what do you think? Are you as bored of the Funkasaurus “gimmick” as I am? Do you think supplying him with a viable back-story would help peak your interest? What would you do to make Brodus Clay more than just a gimmick?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying Rest In Peace Tony Scott, one of the most inspirational Filmmakers of our time. He will be greatly missed.