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Posted in: Column of the Month
May 2015 CotM: The Freedom That Isn't (rayhagan1)
By rayhagan1
Jun 19, 2015 - 8:56:10 AM

LordsofPain.net is proud to present to you the May 2015 Columns Forum Columnist of the Month, rayhagan1. Since his debut, he's impressed the Forum with not only his ability to write well-thought out columns, but also the great numbers of unique ideas that he brings forth. We hope you enjoy this piece!


Surfing the Main Page last night I had the opportunity to read Cody Rhodes’ heartfelt words about his father. If you haven’t read the beautiful eulogy that Cody composed, I highly recommend that you take the time to find it and read it. If you’re a fan of Cody, or a fan of Dusty, or even just someone who appreciates a person putting their heart and soul into something it’s well worth reading. As I read the words I thought long and hard about how impressive a picture of Dusty Cody was able to paint. He wove a tale of Dusty, not as a wrestler, but as a father and a man that was deeply touching. Cody took the time to craft something that spoke to friends, family, and fans alike. He did not have a lot of time to craft his speech, Dusty passed only 6 days before Cody had to deliver it. Yet what he was able to put together was something incredibly impressive. It got my wheels turning; I wondered if Cody was capable of creating and delivering a speech of such magnitude to honor someone who he considered his hero, what would he be capable of doing if he were to craft the words for his character.

I hate to take the tragic passing of The American Dream and turn it into a commentary on the state of promos in wrestling today, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I think in some ways that’s a fitting tribute to a man who was known for delivering fiery, passionate promos. Imagine if Dusty were handed a script and told to go out and say what he was told, would we consider him the great orator that he was? I doubt it. So much of what Dusty did was convey a passion and a presence to the audience. He didn’t just hold our attention, he captivated us. Dusty was a remarkable speaker who could conjure up images and feelings in fans nationwide with his words. Rhodes represented the common man in the most uncommon way possible. When he spoke, we listened. When he expressed his pain, his anguish, his anger, we felt them all. We felt them because Dusty, like Cody eulogizing him was given the freedom to speak in his own words and tell his own story. Dusty Rhodes took that ball and ran with it. When a talent is given the freedom to go out there and sell themselves in their own words I believe it’s a much more powerful experience. I think we’ve seen a lot of that in nXt where HHH has acknowledged that he gives the talents bullet points, but that he allows them deliver things in their own words. For me that’s the ideal. Talents should know the points that the company wants them to hit, but they should have the freedom to do it in their own words. They should sink or swim based on what they have to say and how they choose to say it. The list of some of the biggest stars in the business is littered with names that had the freedom to deliver promos their way. From Dusty to Flair to Piper to Hogan and beyond the best promo men in the business did things the way that they wanted to.

In today’s WWE we see a guy like Ambrose who is undeniably charismatic when he speaks. Right now he’s gotten massively over speaking other people’s words in his inimitable style. There’s something to be said for that. I’m very impressed with the way that Ambrose handles himself with the microphone. But I don’t think that we’re seeing the best of Dean Ambrose. When you look at The Rock and Steve Austin they were given incredible levels of freedom in their promos. They also happen to be two of the greatest promo men of all time. It begs the chicken or the egg question; were they given that freedom because they were so good, or were they so good because they were given that freedom? In the case of Austin I’m guessing it’s the latter. He has spoken about how Paul Heyman gave him the freedom, direction and encouragement in his brief stay in ECW to deliver compelling promos. Heyman was instrumental in creating the Austin that we know and love, and much of that was due to the incredible freedom that he was given. In turn, Dusty Rhodes was responsible for crafting Paul Heyman into the brilliant speaker that we see today. He once asked Heyman “where’s the money?” in one of his promos. It was the question that would open the door for Heyman to realize that he wasn’t being paid to go out there and speak. He was being paid to go out there and sell. Let me take a brief detour and throw in a bit of my personal experience. In my life I work for a sales organization. On the day that people start here they’re given a script and told to go sell. Some people do a nice job selling from the script, but at the end of the day the people who make the best sales reps at this company take the points from the script that they’re given and take the freedom to put it in their own words. Once someone gets to deliver things with the words they feel comfortable using it’s amazing the heights they can go to in sales. Now let’s bring that full circle with what Dusty said to Paul. Where’s the money? Every promo is a commercial for a character, for merchandise, for a match, for a PPV, for a Network. They are promoting themselves, their clothes, their match and their company. The greats can take you to a place that you feel you haven’t been before, making you forget that they’re selling you. That’s when the sale truly happens. When you let your guard down, when you get immersed in what you’re hearing, you lose yourself in the words of a great orator. Make no mistake though, they’re selling; every second of every promo is a sales pitch to get you in the building or to get you to pay to see the blow-off match.

Where I work we learned quickly that you can arm a sales rep with a sales pitch, but it will only take them so far. You can take a wrestler and arm them with what you want them to say and to sell to the fans, but it will only take them so far. I want to see WWE start to take the cuffs off. I want to see them let their younger stars spread their wings. Vince wants these guys to “grab the brass ring”; if they’re going to do that they should be able to do it armed with their own wits, their own words and their own desire to succeed. You can’t ask your stars for Ruthless Aggression when you neuter them. WWE seems to want it both ways. They want stars to take risks and to maximize their minutes; but they want them to do it while playing it close to the vest, and saying what they’re told to say. That just doesn’t work. It’s one thing to feed them words until they’re ready to do it on their own, but at some point you have to let them fly. There’s a reason that kids don’t wear floaties on their arms after a certain point when you’re learning to swim. There’s a reason that the training wheels eventually come off of a bike. You can’t learn to swim if you can never sink, and you can’t learn to ride a bike if you can’t fall. Talents need the opportunity to fail in order to succeed.

Cody said it beautifully in his eulogy to Big Dust. “He liked to fix things…a propensity for misfit toys…broken people. If you were overweight, or covered in tattoos, or having just been through a divorce…he wanted to take your pain and make it your power. To arm you with weapons for your profession.” The last part is the key to what Dusty taught, and to what a great promo is. Dusty knew how to emote. He knew how to take pain and turn it into power. There’s nothing better in a promo than when a man makes you feel what his character feels. Dusty understood what made things work, and listening to Cody it appears that he does too. Hopefully WWE will take something from this. I hope that they find a bright spot amongst the grey clouds of Dusty’s passing. It’s time to let tragedy turn to triumph. WWE must heed Cody’s words about Dusty. They must arm their stars with weapons for their profession; but they need to leave it to the talent to learn how to use them. You don’t just give an officer a gun; you give him the freedom to use it. You don’t just give a firefighter a hose; you give them the freedom to use it. You don’t just give a wrestler a promo…you give them the freedom to sell it.

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