Charisma is Key: Wrestling’s toughest talent to find

After reading Mr. Tito’s last column, I sat down and reflected on what he said and the challenges that wrestling faces. Not the tribalism part because that is just life in general and you can find it in every walk of the world. I am talking about the one thing that separates the great standouts from those who are forces to do the indy style.

It’s called charisma and charisma is the dreaded word that you can’t define or teach but everyone wants.

Despite what you read from TW5L, Mr. Tito, Myself, Dave Meltzer or anyone else online, this is true about every star in the wrestling business. They have or had charisma that made you want to watch what they did or listen to what they say.

You would hang on their every word, listen to what they said as if it was gospel, and then talk about it the next week. Even if it was corny, you believed what they said because you felt it as if they were talking to you.

Randy Savage was one of the ultimate Charisma guys as he just OOZED it. If you typed out what he said on paper, it was ridiculous and you would have laughed and called it crazy because it made zero sense.

Look how many wrestlers grew up idolizing the Macho Man because of his mannerisms, his trademark elbow drop, the manic look and his delivery. His charisma allowed him to go from villain to good guy to villain and back to good guy despite the fact he would often stay the same guy.

And yet there is no way to replicate what Savage did nor can you teach it or copy it because to do so would be viewed as a cheap copy. He just had it, this natural charisma that he was born with that allowed him to take this and run with a gimmick that should have failed but instead flourished.

It’s easy to be like Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson because being a wrestler in the grand scheme of things is easy. Its repetition, hard work, dedication, perseverance and some athleticism to become like him. You go to a gym, learn some moves, go to a wrestling school and just endure and you can become like him.

Just look at AEW, NJPW, Dragon Gate, ROH, NXT and other promotions and you will see tons of wrestlers like him. They are the easiest guy to make which is why more people try to emulate him because it’s the easier path.

The harder path is to follow the Cody Rhodes/Dusty Rhodes path which is more nuanced and difficult. And it not everyone has that in them to be what those two are which are master storytellers and charismatic.

The rise of Cody has been more about him to lean into being more of a story teller, becoming a character, resonating with a crowd and the common fan than doing high spots. He has become more like his father by embracing a persona that fans can get behind and believe.

Personality is the one common theme between all groups of combat sports (pro wrestling, MMA, boxing) in that the box office stars are the stars who have huge personalities. They have charisma and charm to spare and develop huge followings of fans who will watch them on multiple platforms.

Look at the last big names in boxing who did big numbers; Canelo Alvarez, Anthony Johsua, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Tank Davis and Ryan Garcia. With the possible exception of Pacquiao (who is an ICON globally for his brilliance) the rest of them are huge personalities who make you want to watch.

In MMA we saw the rise of Jon Jones, Conor McGregor, Chael Sonnen, Colby Covington, Ronda Rousey, Diaz Brothers, Daniel Cormier and Brock Lesnar be household names. They were all dominant and they all were outspoken, player they trash talking card and knew how to be villains. Characters sell and people love to feel either way about someone.

But it’s tough to teach because most people right off the bat are terrified about speaking in public. I understand as I have family members who can’t even give presentations are work in front of 10 coworkers, let alone 100 co-workers.

Now you’re trying to get a bunch of athletes and indy wrestlers to pretend to be a character and deliver lines. Athletes and wrestlers who a lot of them have ZERO acting ability and have never gone to acting class or theatre training.

All of us love to make jokes about bad pro wrestling promos but think of how bad you would be to deliver a promo in front of a live crowd. You all would be crapping green apples at the mere though and mumbling words as if you were stoned or tripping balls.

Now trying doing these promos and making people believe what you say and care about what you say. Good luck as only a rare few can do it and even those that can, it takes them along time to develop it and nurture it.

Sami Zayn is the perfect example of a guy who has modified his style and become better by changing. He was the original Will Ospreay, a guy who had banger matches, crowd chanting “This is Awesome”, and a guy who was stuck in NXT and in the WWE mid-card.

Do you know when he TRULY became a star, when he embraced his charisma and leaned into his comedy and acting ability. When he became the master strategist and started showing his comedy side and less of the 5-star side.

The common wrestling fan loved his segments with him and Brock Lesnar because it was more memorable. Just go to YouTube and check out those segments and check out the clicks and likes.

Check out the banter and it shows a genuine charisma that you can’t teach that Zayn has. It allowed him to nearly hijack the Rhodes-Reigns WrestleMania 39 march and turn it into Sami-Mania

But once again, not everyone can pull it off and it’s tough to teach as people have tried and failed. Austin Theory is an example of a guy who was put in with John Cena with the hope that Cena’s experience and charisma would rub off on him. To date it has not and while its unfair, it is proof that you can’t teach Charisma or even develop it artificially.

Take a look at who WWE has been signing recently from AEW and it’s mostly been more charismatic personalities. Cody Rhodes, Ethan Page, Jade Cargill, Lexis King and Shawn Spears are all performers who can get over with personality. Personality is the toughest thing to find and develop.

Its why the WWE signs 20 something NIL athletes every class and often will cycle through alot of them. It’s tough to find the ones who can stand out and captivate people and make them want to come back for more.

Just look at last night and you can see what I am talking about as the stars of the night were CM Punk and Seth Rollins. Two men who didn’t throw a punch, didn’t curse, and basically talked for 15 minutes and yet their segment captivated us. They both have charisma that you need to make people care about watching the current wrestling product.

Without it, it’s basically just watching a bunch of moves that you can watch from a video game online from a YouTube channel.

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