Bleacher Report has been on fire since the end of the biggest pay per view event of the year. Whether you loved the show or hated it, it cannot be denied that WrestleMania 26 has left an indelible mark on our hearts and wallets.
From the retirement of Shawn Michaels to the vindication of a fallen hero—and even to a surprise Money in the Bank victory for Biff Tannen...er...Jack Swagger—this entire community has gone nuts with post-WrestleMania fever, and that is a good thing.
In the midst of this incredible surge of quality writing and commentating on pro wrestling, there is one thing that I think we’ve all missed and glazed over since Sunday, March 28. In the spirit of writing for Bleacher Report, I’m here to remind everyone of the real
biggest story that unfolded on Monday night.
Orlando Jordan debuted his new gimmick on Monday night’s episode of TNA iMPACT.
What, in the blue hell, was THAT?
For those of you that didn’t catch iMPACT,
Jordan was essentially lowered from the rafters to the ring covered with yellow police line tape. Once he released himself from the harness, he crawled from the ring to the ramp and made his way to a makeshift set.
Once at the set, he did a little shimmy and a curtain fell, which revealed an effeminate man and a random woman sitting on a white couch. Jordan perched himself between the two and glanced seductively at the camera. He may have mouthed something inaudible as well (and it wasn’t the effeminate man or random woman...I’ll get to that later).
One nanosecond later, the feed goes backstage to a confused Jeremy Borash, who tried his best to remain professional after witnessing the debut of Jordan’s gimmick.
As a matter of fact, here’s the [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...]
. Skip ahead to 7:52 and watch it for yourself.
By now, we all know that Eric Bischoff firmly believes that “controversy creates cash.” If you managed to peek at my recent piece about ratings, we also know that ratings equal money. So in effect, controversy creates ratings, and ratings are translated into views. The more controversial the product, the more people will watch it and comment on it, and the steady revenue will follow shortly.
When you think about it, OJ’s gimmick is a sure fire way to guarantee TNA some buzz which will eventually bring in good money for the company. It’s a very sound and smart tactic, especially with the WWE currently airing reruns of Go Diego, Go!
on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.
We all also know that OJ is openly bi-sexual and enjoys “exchanging familiarities” with both men and women. In fact, it had been speculated that OJ pitched this gimmick to Vince McMahon when he worked for the WWE...and thus began the road to his eventual career in TNA.
Having said all of the above, I personally have no issue with the gimmick. Most wrestlers that really get over with fans usually have gimmicks that are huge exaggerations of their natural personalities. Let’s not nitpick about it, but the “Stone Cold” character was just an exaggeration of Steve Williams’ personality, just as Dwayne Johnson’s “The Rock” gimmick was himself jacked up 400 levels.
If Orlando Jordan is allowed to be himself, in a sense, then he’ll definitely be able to get over with the fans in one way or another. Even if you don’t agree with or like the gimmick, his character will be memorable and we’ll tune in to see him win or lose.
My problem is not with the gimmick, but is with the booking and creative direction
of the gimmick. So far, it’s just plain terrible!
This brings me back to a sentence I made earlier in this piece:
“What, in the blue hell, was THAT?
Years ago, popular music artist Prince made billions off of presenting fans with an androgynous cadre of musicians and performances. At one point in time, it was apparently cool to be a man but dress and sing like a woman, and vice versa. See Michael Jackson and Grace Jones for more information.
The lines of sexuality, gender, and everything we were taught regarding the roles and attributes of men and women were blurred, and this explosion of sexual freedom and exploration caused a whole lot of people to not only find themselves but contract several forms of venereal disease as well. Those were the days.
So far, Jordan’s gimmick seems to be a reiteration along those same lines and could definitely work in today’s pro wrestling and status quo world. Believe it or not, the Goldust gimmick was eerily over with fans way back when, and the ambiguously gay gimmicks of Billy and Chuck (played by “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo) were over with the fans as well.
Heck, look at recent WWE Hall of Fame inductee “Gorgeous George” Wagner; this could actually work for OJ!
These gimmicks worked with fans not simply because they produced intriguing characters, but because the storylines for were well written and
the characters were booked appropriately. For every Chuck, Billy, Gorgeous George and Goldust, there is a Kwee Wee, Rico, and Kanyon.
These gimmicks worked because they blurred the lines of everything we thought of as being black or white. Goldust made sexual advances towards Razor Ramon, but he cavorted around with a voluptuous female valet; Chuck and Billy dry humped each other in the ring and were about to get “married,” but then admitted they weren’t gay.
Gorgeous George was a mean, charismatic figure, but he was prissy and called himself “gorgeous.” People loved every minute of it.
From the initial looks of things, OJ’s character is more of Kwee Wee than a Gorgeous George.
Some fans will say, “Just give it a chance,” but I contend that no one ever gets a second chance to make a first impression. Whenever you step out to present something to someone else, you want to make sure that you put your best foot forward.
You always want people to know what you’re capable of doing so they’ll be more willing to invest in your potential to do even better than that.
In light of what we saw with the debut of OJ’s new gimmick, the fans are placed in a weird position of wanting to seriously invest in the gimmick and the character while being confused at what the hell they were looking at.
For example: I feel that OJ’s gimmick doesn’t blur or “cross” the line, but actually blows it up and gives itself a hand job over the charred remains. The success of this gimmick and character lies in TNA’s ability to blur the lines and not cross them completely.
Fans seemed to be more tantalized by guessing what a character as such will do next, rather than knowing flat out what the character will do next. Unfortunately for OJ, as much as a large segment of our society is ready to accept his lifestyle, the majority of fans and Americans still have conservative views on sexuality.
This gimmick could potentially turn away those conservative fans that only want to see their women suffer wardrobe malfunctions, or even the occasionally tease of HLA (remember those days of Bischoff’s tenure in the WWE?). That’s a significantly large number of people to turn away from your product, especially in light of the recent 0.6 ratings point for Monday night.
Mike Tenay, Taz, and Jeremy Borash were not only confused at what they saw, but the spectacle was never mentioned anywhere else in the broadcast.
There wasn’t even the slightest hint of an explanation as to what was going on, and the broadcast team had to pretend as if they didn’t know who was being lowered from the ceiling even though the words ORLANDO JORDAN
appeared on the screen immediately behind their heads.
OJ descended into the ring covered in yellow police tape, and Taz made mention to him “crossing the line.” I thought that was pretty cool, but it looked like he crossed the line and rolled around in the tape hedonistically for a few hours afterwards.
Then I thought that OJ was naked…but thank God, Zeus, and Heracles that wasn’t the case. Spoilers for this particular iMPACT
noted that the fans in the arena chanted “That was creepy,” but who listens to crowd reactions in TNA anyway?
Vince Russo’s style of creative writing is either hit or miss, and I believe he specializes in confusing fans with ambiguous characters and storylines rather than telling a black and white story of good conquering evil or evil gaining steam over good.
Look at Sting’s recent heel turn; most fans loved this, but have we even been given a reason as to why
Sting is mad? A dark, brooding, and pissed off Sting is great, but are we to believe he just woke up mad one morning and decided to take it out on everyone at work? Those people are called terrorists, and we don’t like them.
So the real issue is with the handling of OJ’s character and his gimmick. Given Russo’s style of writing, there is a strong chance that the superstar’s push could either fail miserably or succeed beyond our wildest imaginations. In light of Russo’s style of writing, however, the former is more likely to happen than the latter.
In no way am I suggesting that Jordan’s gimmick be watered down to some generalized, cookie-cut family friendly character that dances fancifully around the ring. But in order to truly get OJ over, TNA will have to push the boundaries without forcing the character down the throats of the fans.
TNA will also have to work extra hard at making his character relevant to those fans that are not bi-sexual and may not agree with the lifestyle. That means, and I want you to say this along with me, that TNA WILL HAVE TO BE CONSISTENT WITH HIS CHARACTER.
It will do the company very little good to have OJ float down to the ring in yellow tape and crawl to sit between a half naked man and woman, only to have him disappear for three weeks and to show back up again in an equally dramatic and confusing fashion.
I will proudly admit that TNA has succeeded in sparking some interest with their product. OJ’s new gimmick is in an area that the WWE wouldn’t dare touch right now. If handled properly, TNA could bring about an era of pro wrestling that pushes the limit on what’s acceptable and controversial.
Then again, this can only happen if the character and his gimmick are handled properly.
So what do you think about Orlando Jordan’s new gimmick? Will it work, will it fail, or [IMG]file:///C:/Users/Devin/AppData/Local/Temp/moz-screenshot-41.png[/IMG]do you just not give a hoot?