Last week I inexplicably caught about and hour of Impact Wrestling and was shocked by what I saw. MVP, Bobby Lashley, and Kenny King, three African American wrestlers were basically running the show and were presented in positions of power. They were outsmarting their opponents, had distinct roles in the faction they had created, and were pretty damn entertaining as a trio. It has been years since I last watched Impact and while I’m not a huge fan of the company, as a black wrestling fan it was great to see three African American superstars displayed in such prominent positions on a nationally televised wrestling program. These three men, all of which were with WWE at one point or another (technically Kenny King was on Tough Enough, but close enough), came across as infinitely more interesting, entertaining and cool than any of the WWE’s current African American Superstars.
Now I’m not saying the WWE is racist or anything, I love watching the WWE and I don’t think that they have an agenda to hold the black man down as it were. That being said, WWE’s black superstars being trotted out for weeks to be victims of #RacitsRusev is a far cry from the position the African American superstars are in on Impact Wrestling. Again, I’m not trying to accuse the WWE of being racist; they have a lot more talent on their roster than TNA does, and it’s hard to find the right role for all the guys they employ. While things don’t look promising for African American superstars at the moment, there are a few on the roster with potential, namely Xavier Woods (who is very young, a great worker, and with a better character could be doing so much more) and even more so Big E Langston (yeah, I still say Langston, just Big E seems boring to me).
It’s safe to say that the WWE has taken a few missteps with Big E Langston since they called him up to the main roster. The first mistake if you ask me was splitting him up from AJ because they were turning him babyface. I was really digging Big E and AJ’s friendship, because they had a great rapport and there was so much potential for storytelling keeping them linked. The second misstep was putting the Intercontinental Title on him and then losing him in the shuffle. He needed to be around to be seen, heard and grow into a superstar people wanted to have around. Those mistakes aside, the biggest error the WWE made when bring Big E Langston to the main roster was not bringing the 5-count gimmick that got him so over on NXT.
It isn’t too late, and that gimmick can still be resurrected. It worked so well for him on NXT and the fans at Full Sail really got into Big E and the 5-count gimmick in all his matches. In honor of Big E Langston’s 5-count gimmick, here are 5 reasons why reviving it would make Big E a better character.
His Entrance Music Would Finally Make Sense
For those of you that have never watched NXT (there are definitely some out there) or just never watched it when Big E Langston was on the rise, the lyrics to his entrance music make little to no sense to you given how he has been portrayed on the main roster. Every time his theme hits and the lyrics “Three ain’t enough man I need five!” are heard, people unaware of his history on NXT must be left scratching their heads and trying to parse out what the origin or meaning of that phrase is. Here’s why that line is there:
When he was on NXT, Big E Langston was in search of a real test of his strength and ability. Big E insisted that to challenge himself, he would win all his matches by 5-count, putting himself at a considerable disadvantage, while also requiring that he inflict considerably more damage to his opponents in order to get the 5-count necessary to win. The gimmick became wildly popular and Big E became one of the cult heroes at Full Sail University because of the extraordinary lengths he went to test his own abilities.
He dropped the shtick when he was called up to the main roster and weirdly enough was given “I Need 5” as his entrance music after he stopped using the gimmick. If this gimmick were brought back to Big E on Raw and Smackdown, at the very least his theme music would make sense.
He Would Appear Far More Impressive
Some people would claim that it’s just a silly gimmick, but there was simply something impressive about Big E brutalizing his opponents and incapacitating them enough to keep their shoulders pinned to the mat for a 5 count. It was validation of his strength, his ability, and his dominance.
Since coming to the main roster, Big E Langston has been missing that. He’s still a pretty great worker for a man his size, has been involved in a few exciting bouts in his time on Raw and Smackdown, but has lacked a cool and interesting way to display how impressive he is. Bring back the 5 count, and it will be impossible for people not to at the very least recognize that Big E as a character is dominating his opponents and that his victories are not ordinary. You can fluke your way to a 3 count, but a 5 count, now that’s absolute domination. I’m pretty sure that given time, people would get into Big E Langston, master of the 5 count, and would be impressed by his displays.
He Would Come Across As The Perfect Mix Of Cocky And Confidant
If there is something that wrestling fans (and fans of any kind of storytelling to be honest) love these days is confidence. Not simply confidence that you can do what is expected of you and more, but more like confidence bordering on arrogance. It’s why people love The Rock, it’s why moviegoers loved Jack Sparrow, and it’s why Tyrion Lannister is one of the most popular characters on Game Of Thrones. We know that they all have weaknesses, but if you asked them, they could do anything, and they’d throw it in your face that they could too.
When Big E Langston was using the 5-count gimmick on NXT, he was in the same category. He was so confident in his ability to destroy his competition that he felt he needed to make things harder on himself. He insisted that he need a count of 5 to win while his opponents could stick with the standard 3. It was certainly a display of confidence so brash that it bordered on the line of cockiness. In fact there was definitely a bit of arrogance in the demand, but that was what made the people like him. Not only did he believe in himself, but he truly believed that nobody could take advantage of him tipping the scale in their favor. Bringing back the 5 count gimmick give Big E some of the edge he had on NXT back, and would make infinitely more enjoyable a character to watch and root for.
The 5-Count Itself Is A Great Visual
It was always cool to watch Big E finish his opponents on NXT. He would drop them with the Big Ending and the referee would count the three. The three count was generally followed by a menacing stare from Big E to the referee, who would hit the mat two more times in fear of being eaten by the massive Big E Langston if they didn’t.
Those sequences never failed to entertain and conveyed so much to the audience about Big E. He was a dominant performer, he was an intimidating presence, and he had an intensity that you didn’t want to be on the wrong side of between the bells of a match. It is moments like these that need to be recreated to make the people that never witnessed this side of Big E on NXT, fall as in love with his character as the fans at Full Sail University did.
It Gives Him A Distinct Character Trait To Build Upon
One of Big E Langston’s biggest weaknesses at the moment is that he doesn’t have a character trait to build how he interacts with the world around him off of. He kind of did when he was paired with AJ, but when that link was severed, the WWE failed to replace that relationship with a new trait that the whole character would build from. We’re supposed to think Big E is tough and that he wants to win as much as the next guy but that isn’t enough.
On NXT, Big E wanted his victories to mean more than the average superstar’s victory. He wanted to demonstrate that he was better than everybody every victory he got. He never fluked into a win, he earned every one that he amassed. It seems simple enough, but that desire to prove more than the average man becomes the basis of everything the character does. Every decision he made and how he related to people all could be traced back to his innate desire to prove himself in ways that are extraordinary rather than ordinary.
If that was the Big E character presented on Raw, we would either appreciate his confidence and his desire to push himself harder than everyone else does, or hate him for his arrogance. Right now he has nothing of the sort to really get behind or to despise. He simply exists, and that isn’t enough. Give the man back his 5 count and give him a real shot to get people behind him.
There you have it, but as always I want to know what you think! Do you think Big E needs his 5-count gimmick back? Would the fans get into it as much as the Full Sail University crowd did? Do you think the WWE made a mistake not sticking with what was working on NXT when they called him up?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas wishing Lance Stephenson a fond farewell from the NBA Playoffs. It was fun while it lasted Lance, don’t ever change! Have a great weekend everybody!