Professional wrestling needs gigantic. The high-fliers and those with technical talent may produce the more exciting matches but in an industry where extremes are there to be embraced and not hidden away, the gargantuan size is perfectly suited. Fervent wrestling enthusiasts often bemoan the presence of giants, yet fail to see what distinct advantages they bring. The colossal combatants are here to stay and because of it, the WWE should thrive.
It is ironic that Raw, Smackdown and ECW are aired on Sky Sports in the UK because wrestling is not a sport, it is entertainment. Vince McMahon wants his in-ring employees to be given the moniker of superstars and the penchant for guest hosts on Monday nights further proves that wrestling wants to captivate outside of the ropes as much as inside them.
And what beguiles us more than anything else is gazing at things we never to expected to behold. Jeff Hardy’s daredevil antics and Shawn Michaels all-round outstandingness are enthralling but how the hell was the Great Khali created? Look at the bloody size of him. We want to see things that shock and absorb us in equal measure and these genetic freaks of nature – being kind of course – have no trouble doing that.
The wrestling talents of these enormous souls are a far cry from those of Kurt Angle et al but while their in-ring encounters are nothing to be in awe of, the spectacle they provide is. Few will list Khali v Big Show as a classic, even fewer will be ecstatic at the Punjabi Playboy’s current feud with Kane or the persistent one-upmanship storyline between Vladimir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson but seeing monster figures stood toe-to-toe does raise a smile, if not full blown happiness, especially for the general WWE fan i.e.) not those reading this article.
Don’t believe me, just wait. The seeds are being sown for a re-coming together of WWE’s long-serving tyrant Big Show and basketballing behemoth Shaquille O’Neal. The wrestling could be a car crash, the exhibition will be engrossing and tons of people, plus a plethora of US news outlets will be waiting with bated breath for it to happen. It won’t be sport but it’ll definitely be entertaining and is almost certain to draw bigger than a scintillating wrestling match between the likes of a Tyson Kidd and a John Morrison.
Yet the talent of the larger wrestler is not restricted to conflict with one of their own – big-on-big is engaging but big on-little is perhaps even more so. In what field would you get someone of Mark Henry’s size locking horns with someone of Evan Bourne’s ….well, lack of it? If you saw it on the street, you’d be disgusted, when you witness it in the ring, you’re delighted. The extreme opposites make the meeting extremely compelling, especially when the squash match is replaced by comprehensive combat and when that does occur, it does wonders for the less-ample man.
A strong performance against a giant or even better, a victory, gives a remarkable rub of the green to a performer, helping them to move swiftly up the card. Beating men your own size is all well-and-good but slaying a monster proves you can defeat anyone and that makes you world title material. Actions speak louder than words and it is a far better way of announcing yourself than a meaningless promo of intent.
Jeff Hardy is at the zenith of WWE because he is charismatic and adored but intense skirmishes with Undertaker a few years ago and Umaga upon his return, helped him to show he belonged in a higher place than the mid-card, Dolph Ziggler started his upward trend by facing Khali and Rey Mysterio has made a career of surmounting the giants. Trekking this path often sets you up on the road to glory.
But far from just being stepping stones for the bright young things, some of these goliaths are immensely popular in their own right. Most of them begin their WWE tenure in the stereotypical way, dominate a nobody and eventually face-off with a somebody – a boring, uni-layered heel. Yet when the opportunity to turn face arises, some do it with aplomb. Coasting as bad men, Khali and Henry have recently switched to the good side and are treasured by the WWE faithful because they can now destroy the heels we hate and not the faces we fawn over.
The giants have their limits but they are not as limited as is often suggested. They grab the attention, shock us with their size and allow the less large to prosper. In a business where different is a blessing, the big boys will always have a place and as long as they are used correctly, that slot in the roster is fully deserved.